Yes at the Royal Albert Hall 2024


Royal Albert Hall, London
Tuesday 4th June 2024

After attending shows in Belgium and the Netherlands, I simply couldn’t turn down an invitation to attend the closing show of the ‘Classic Tales Of Yes’ tour in the safe haven of the Royal Albert Hall (RAH) in London. A special return too: the place where it all started in 1968, as support act for Cream’s legendary farewell performance. Incidentally, none of the current line-up were present at the time, not even Steve Howe himself.

So on to the land of pleasant green hills, traffic on the other side of the road and a special sense of humour. A seemingly endless journey with subways, buses, planes, trains and eventually cars on the way to my regular stop-over in Surrey. And largely vice versa for the show that same evening in the legendary RAH.

The Royal Albert Hall

This magnificent building, dating from 1871, is a popular and frequently used venue for closing tours or multi-date shows. Yes is no exception in that respect. It can accommodate over 5,000 visitors, unfortunately they weren’t all present on this evening which made quite a difference. The building may be impressive, as is the venue itself, and you actually find yourself in some kind of super-theatre; nice and plush, with food and drinks close at hand. However, I’ve experienced a different, more electrifying atmosphere, for Yes in the past, unfortunately that was hard to find on this night. It should be noted that the band was not to blame.

Yes at the Royal Albert Hall 2024

The last show of the tour started at half past seven sharp, unusually early, with the band performing exactly the same setlist as the rest of the tour, with an excellent sound and a good, relatively simple light show. The reception from the audience however was somewhat disappointing, a bit lukewarm, with polite applause for the performance on stage. Was it due to the (lack of) interaction between band and audience? Hard to say.

Yes at the Royal Albert Hall 2024

But it certainly has to be said: Yes provided a good show, the band sounded like a well-oiled machine. Despite this fact, there was no sparkle, sparks did not fly, certainly not after opener Machine Messiah and also not after It Will Be A Good Day. At best after a wonderful version of Turn Of The Century, the spontaneous applause halfway through the song for singer Jon Davison’s vocal performance visibly threw him off and as a result he missed a few notes, touching. The obligatory half-hour break to stimulate beer sales hopefully had the same effect on the subdued audience.

Yes at the Royal Albert Hall 2024

Not everyone has taken their seats again after the break when the band started playing South Side Of The Sky, once again there is this somewhat shaky interplay between Howe and Downes. The new material in the form of Cut From The Stars is relatively well received. The Tales Medley, announced with some aplomb by Howe, again provides goose-bumps and a hesitant standing ovation. On the other hand, mobile phones light up in large numbers during inevitable crowd favourite Roundabout. The closing Starship Trooper even includes a mini fragment of the Beatles’ I Feel Fine.

Yes at the Royal Albert Hall 2024

Steve Howe’s performance is once again strong, focused and driven. Jon Davison’s singing is ok, however his stage presence leaves something to be desired. Billy Sherwood is in excellent form, especially his harmony singing and melodic bass parts are spot on. Drummer Jay Schellen is unobtrusively present and Geoff Downes can/should simply do better, I repeat myself. All in all a good performance by the Brits, unfortunately the reception of the crowd was not such that there was a spectacular ending to the tour.

Yes at the Royal Albert Hall 2024

Never before have I been outside so early, in the pouring rain, on my way to the tube station, together with hundreds of other fans. The sheer number of people in the tube at this late hour in the metropolis of London is awe-inspiring. The question has been asked more often: would you go again in 2025? Maybe not three times, but attending a show in Holland is an absolute must. Against my better judgment I also keep hoping for that special show in which personal favourite Relayer is played in its entirety. The album may be from November 1974, but with a bit of latitude it can also be counted as 1975. Which would justify a 50th anniversary in 2025. If only….

[Photos by Alex Driessen]

Set 1:

The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra (Benjamin Britten)
Machine Messiah
It Will Be a Good Day (The River)
Going for the One
I’ve Seen All Good People
Time and a Word
Don’t Kill the Whale
Turn of the Century

Set 2:
South Side of the Sky
Cut From the Star
Tales from Topographic Oceans Medley including excerpts from:
– The Revealing Science of God
– The Remembering
– The Ancient (including ‘Leaves of Grass’)
– Ritual (Nous sommes du soleil)
~ Encore
Starship Trooper

Jon Davison – Lead Vocals, Acoustic Guitars, Percussion
Geoff Downes – Keyboards, Vocals
Steve Howe – Acoustic & Electric Guitars, Vocals
Jay Schellen – Drums, Percussion
Billy Sherwood – Bass Guitars, Vocals

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