Concert Review: Yes & Toto (Hard Rock Vancouver, Sept 12, 2015) @yesofficial @toto99com

Yes played a true fan's dream concert with a set list stacked with both obscure delights and time -tested classic favorites. Here you can see them perfectly executing a stunning live version of one of Yes' greatest but least appreciated songs:
Yes played a true fan’s dream concert with a set list stacked with both obscure delights and time-tested classic favorites. Here you can see them perfectly executing a stunning live version of one of Yes’ greatest but least appreciated songs: “Tempus Fugit.” Props to Billy Sherwood for tying it all together seamlessly with that genius Chris Squire signature bass line. And all the vocals were uniformly superb in an expertly balanced and crystal-clear live mix.

It was a mind-blowing two concerts in one.

Toto took the stage promptly at 8pm and then played a perfectly-paced, flawlessly professional 90-minute set. Then after an intermission for the equipment on stage to be switched out and in, and for concertgoers to have a bathroom break and buy more libations at the bar, Yes began their own 90-minute set with a classy tribute to Chris Squire at 10pm: a single spotlight on his bass, a video tribute in the background, and “Onward” played over the speakers.

I hadn’t read about the tour, so I was unprepared for the delightful surprises that ensued. Yes took the stage and proceeded to fill their set with a bunch of obscure songs that only true fans would know about and be thrilled to hear! It was pure Yes heaven, not only for that reason, but also because I have never heard a better sound mix at a Yes concert: everything was clean and crisp and detailed and pure sonic perfection. Toto’s mix was a little muddy with vocals and keyboards often being somewhat lost, which I have heard even at shows by Yes in the past, but this time Yes’s mix was everything I could ever ask for and then some: it was even better than listening to an album version!

And how many times can you say that about a band? Usually not. But on this night Yes proved to me that they are in a whole musical class by themselves, with definitive and irrefutable sonic proof. Even the Steven Wilson and Rush concerts I saw in the summer didn’t sound this good.

Despite some audience members being baffled (obviously the Toto-only fans) by the set list, once the band played “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” the crowd again rushed the stage and started back up with the frenzied audience participation that had marked the Toto set. Those antics from the previous two hours had been expertly stoked, thanks to Toto’s expert intuition for fulfilling every audience craving and for executing truly genius live arrangements designed to give the crowd maximum enjoyment.

From this “Lonely Heart” point on, Yes played more of their classic “greatest hits” and basked in the intense love from an appreciative audience. You know, I must note that the audience was having so much fun at this prog double bill that the joy echoed even in the banter in the restroom at intermission. As the washroom jammed up with a massive crowd (the mature crowd obviously had treated themselves to multiple rounds at the bar that they never could have afforded in their younger days), concertgoers loudly traded, above the din of the water closet, their respective happy memories of Yes concerts they had seen in the past. It was proggy locker-room camaraderie at its finest and it was totally hilarious. And the concert was still only half over!

Blame Toto for it, I guess, because they had whipped the audience into such a delirious state of prog bliss. Radio hits like “Rosanna” and “Africa” were extended into concert-tailored specialities with extra, prog-length guitar and keyboard solos and audience participation-singing shenanigans.

It’s hard to pick a favorite song from the Toto set, because every single song was live perfection, but personal highlights for me included the chance to hear “Great Expectations” live, as well as “Orphan”, off of Toto’s XIV — easily, but surprisingly, one of the very best albums of 2015 (and much better than Yes’s recent Heaven and Earth which sounds shockingly unfinished and I have to blame the producer for that failure). “I’ll Supply the Love” also blew me away live.

In fact, “Running Out of Time,” which Toto opened with, was so blisteringly perfect and infectious the I could not get it out of my mind for the whole night after the concert ended. I couldn’t stop singing it during post-concert burgers! Which just goes to show you how Toto has achieved total Jedi mastery of sonic hooks; somehow, I think those amazing vocal harmonies must be part of the method by which they can pull off such mind tricks.

I was stunned by how perfect the vocals sounded live. These guys are totally pro and settle for nothing less than the heights of musicianship. It is very satisfying to see such standards upheld in today’s live venues and I am proud to be part of the Toto generation that carries this torch.

And Billy Sherwood really impressed me with the undeniable vitality he brought to Yes’s sound, as his vocals blended in perfectly with everything and his bass skills were an exquisite match for the virtuosity of Steve Howe.

As I listened to Steve, I had to say to myself that this guy is the greatest guitarist on the planet; he sounds like he has gotten better with age, if that makes any sense. And it does. Perfect sense. His playing is so tasteful and not a single note is wasted or ever excessive, which is quite the realization once you remember the conventional knock against prog.

Geoff Downes totally shone at the keyboards and laced everything together with his nimble playing. Every note could be heard with such clarity that it was a real treat. To hear such music on a record makes your jaw drop, but to hear it so effortlessly reproduced live without missing a beat is unbelievable.

But what I liked best was how Geoff even selected a bunch of unique keyboard sounds and timbres that were not in the original recordings but that were truly surprising and delightful live, making you wonder if you have just heard the greatest version of that Yes song ever! Probably. And you will never be able to hear it again! Wah. But what a happy memory!

Alan White, what can I say, the dude is amazing. He is so humble and does his thing without showing off but any musician with a brain knows just how essential what he does is. I envy the lucky fan that Jon Davison gave one of Alan’s drumsticks to. Alan makes me want to applaud his every drum fill, but I contain myself so that the other audience members can hear the show.

And finally we should note what a bundle of positive energy Jon Davison is, making him the perfect guy to lead up front. When he flashes that peace sign in “Your Move,” you cannot stop from smiling because it’s 100% genuine and no pose. With the rest of us true believers in the spiritual positivity of Yes, it is only something to which I can say, “YES!” Yes, Jon, you are awesome, and thank you for keeping Yes to be the greatest band ever (to quote Toto).

And on that note, total thumbs up to Toto for being such unrestrained Yes fans. They kept praising Yes throughout their set, which shows you what a class act they are. And those were not empty words: what better tribute can be paid to your lifelong inspiration, other than to make your own music that is perfect in its integrity and sealed with the highest standards of musicality?

Steve Lukather (guitar), David Paich (keys), Steve Porcaro (keys), Joseph Williams (vox), David Hungate (bass), Shannon Forrest (drums), you guys are incredible, and your integration of Mabvuto Carpenter (vox), Lenny Castro (perc), and Jenny Douglas-Foote (vox) into the show is totally pro. I admire your intense dedication to giving people a live experience that can never be matched by any audio reproduction. You may consider your musical flights to be lesser in comparison to Yes, but all I can say is, hey, “little wing,” fly on! (Yes, Steve, our minds are still blown by your solo.)

If you were lucky enough to catch this tour, count your blessings. For me, it was a rare and special occasion the likes of which we may never see again. Just last year, I was taking for granted meeting Chris Squire at a concert. Now, today, I look at that photo and I know that you never know what tomorrow may bring. So, carpe diem and savor those notes while you can. Long live prog!

In a match made in heaven, Yes and Toto closed their 2015 Summer Tour with a flawless show in Vancouver, Canada.
A match made in prog heaven, Yes and Toto closed their 2015 Summer Tour with a flawless show in Vancouver, Canada.

TOTO SET LIST:
Running Out of Time
I’ll Supply the Love
Hydra
Hold the Line
Afraid of Love
Holy War
Pamela
Instrumental (Steve Porcaro duet with Lenny Castro)
Keyboard Solo (David Paich)
Great Expectations
Without Your Love
Little Wing
On the Run / Goodbye Elenore
Orphan
Rosanna
Africa

YES SET LIST:
Onward (song played over speakers, with video as a tribute to Chris Squire)
Don’t Kill the Whale
Tempus Fugit
America
Going for the One
Time and a Word
Siberian Khatru
Owner of a Lonely Heart
Roundabout
Starship Trooper

2 thoughts on “Concert Review: Yes & Toto (Hard Rock Vancouver, Sept 12, 2015) @yesofficial @toto99com

  1. I’ve been waiting for Progarchy to review this Toto/Yes tour. When it was first announced, I decided to pass figuring I’d rather see a full Yes show. But with Chris Squire’s passing it became more that even that; it became tribute to Chris and a baptism for Billy Sherwood. From everything I’ve heard and read, both were a triumph. Thanks for the excellent review, Time Lord!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed, it was a full Yes show! True, they are capable of playing more than a 90-minute set — they did three whole albums on last year’s tour, which was wondrously good — but after 90 minutes of Toto, not only did 90 minutes of Yes seem like a full show, I still felt like we had watched two whole shows. A superabundance of excellent prog! I loved how they stuffed in a bunch of obscure gems. A lesser band would have played less than an hour of songs — and only their “greatest hits”! But not Yes. No way! For me, this concert was definitive proof of the eternally epic greatness of Yes — as if there was any doubt anywhere in anyone’s mind!

      Liked by 1 person

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