Yes with Special Guest Asia at The Capital One Bank Theater at Westbury, NY

Mike Perciaccante By

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Yes with Special Guest Asia
Capital One Bank Theater at Westbury
Westbury, New York
Friday, July 31, 2009

British Progressive supergroup Asia and Progressive Rock godfathers Yes each performed strong sets "in the round" on the revolving stage at the intimate Westbury venue on this rainy Friday evening in Long Island.

Asia, the early 1980s group created by melding the talents of members of King Crimson (bassist John Wetton), Emerson, Lake & Palmer (drummer Carl Palmer) and Yes (Steve Howe on guitar) and The Buggles (keyboardist Geoff Downes, who is also an alum of Yes) is deep into their reunion tour. The band walked on stage to a thundering standing ovation. Seconds after settling into their seats following the ovation, the crowd was again standing as the band launched into "Wildest Dreams."

Their set included the band's original hits ("Only Time Will Tell," "The Smile Has Left Your Eyes" and a mostly acoustic "Don't Cry") and the more recent composition "An Extraordinary Life." The band also played songs from the players' prior bands: The Buggles' "Video Killed the Radio Star"—the first song ever played on MTV; a solid rendition of King Crimson's "In the Court of the Crimson King," featuring a special appearance by the song's composer flutist Ian McDonald; and finally ELP's "Fanfare for the Common Man," which ended with a blistering drum solo and standing ovation. Because Howe was performing with Yes later in the evening, Asia didn't cover a Yes song. A powerful version of the radio staple "Heat of the Moment" finished off the set, as the crowd again rose to its feet.

After a short intermission, Yes took over for the second half of the evening. The group, which has had numerous line-up changes over the years, featured fill-in lead singer Benoit David on vocals (subbing for original vocalist Jon Anderson, who is out of commission due to respiratory illness), original member Chris Squire on bass, and long-time drummer Alan White on drums. Steve Howe (playing both ends of the evening by handling the guitar duties for both Asia and Yes and whom Squire introduced with the statement, "With James Brown gone, Steve is now the hardest-working person in show business...") contributed killer lead and guitar solos. The keyboards were manned by Oliver Wakeman, son of the band's primary ivory tickler, Rick Wakeman. The younger Wakeman looks and plays like his father.

Yes took the stage to the familiar strains of Stravinsky's Firebird Suite and launched into "Siberian Khatru" from the 1972 album Close to the Edge, (Atlantic). Any questions regarding David's competency were immediately put to rest as he and the band navigated a note-perfect "I've Seen All Good People." The version of "And You and I" was another noteworthy showcase for David's falsetto.

The middle portion of the performance featured the long-awaited Steve Howe solo performance (as none was offered during Asia's set). Sitting alone at center stage with an acoustic guitar, Howe finger-picked his way through "Georgia's Theme" and "Country Mix," a medley of Chet Atkins songs which, though somewhat out of place in this setting, was none-the-less stunning. Long-time Yes fans were treated to a version of the rarely, if ever, played "Astral Traveller," with its time changes, driving instrumental work and, on this night, a frantic drum solo courtesy of Alan White. Additionally, the faithful were treated to "Tempus Fugit" and "Machine Messiah," two songs from the underrated Drama (Atlantic, 1980)—an album on which Anderson did not sing.

Yes' set was also peppered with "Roundabout," "Heart Of Sunrise" and "Owner Of A Lonely Heart." Because the show was apparently running long, the band did not play their usual epic, set-closing version of "Starship Trooper." The band, which had been informed of the late hour, didn't leave the stage only to return for an encore. Instead, they announced that they were "not going back to the dressing rooms...we're just jumping right back in" and capped off a fantastic evening of progressive rock with the "Wurm" portion of Starship Trooper."

Visit Yes with Asia 2009 Tour on the web.

Visit Asia on the web.


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