August 18, 2012
Humphreys Concerts By The Bay
San Diego, CA

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Review by Annette Higby
Photos by Brian Tierney

Humphreys Concerts By The Bay went back in time with Yes and Procol Harum performing on the same night to a full house of faithful fans. Procol Harum started things off. The band’s sole original member, Gary Brooker, carried the show and the audience straight back to the 60s with their classics, beginning with “Wall Street Blues” and “As Strong As Samson.”

The crowd went wild when they played “A Salty Dog,” originally recorded in 1967, which began and ended with the sounds of whales and seagulls. “A Whiter Shade Of Pale” seemed to be the song everyone was waiting for, and the band received a standing ovation when the song and the set were over.

Although the focus was mostly on Gary Brooker, the entire band played well together, demonstrating their individual talents in the long instrumental sections. In addition to Brooker on vocals and piano, the current line up of Procol Harum features Geoffrey Whitehorn on guitar, Matt Pegg on bass guitar, Geoff Dunn on drums, and Josh Phillips on the Hammond organ.

When Yes hit the stage next, the crowd roared their excitement, even before the lights came up. The started out with “Yours is No Disgrace” with Steve Howe showing his stuff on the guitar, followed by “Tempis Fugit” from the 1980 Drama album. A second guitar was brought out on a stand and Howe alternated between the two. New singer Jon Davison received a warm reception following his introduction. He did a great job performing these classis hits; his vocals were clear and faithful to the originals.

I enjoyed “I’ve Seen All Good People” the most, with the crowd clapping along. During “America,” originally recorded by Simon & Garfunkel, keyboardist Geoff Downes had his hands full. Literally, he had at least six keyboards and it looked like he never had both hands on the same board at the same time.

Steve Howe played a guitar solo that was smart and playful and didn’t fit any one particular style — sort of like a fusion between rock, jazz and classical — and was then joined by Davison for “Leaves Of Green,” excerpted from Tales From Topographic Oceans.

“Fly From Here,” the title track from the only Yes studio album to feature Davison’s predecessor Benoit David, pushed all of the players to excel at their instruments and then some. Howe ended up playing two guitars and keyboards, Downes was fully stretched out over his keyboards, Chris Squire played electric bass and stand-up bass, and Davison took up the guitar as well as digital congas. Drummer Alan White kept it all together and made it look easy. The LED backdrop showed airplanes, flying scenes and old newspaper articles.

“Wondrous Stories” and “Heart of the Sunrise” included all sorts of eclectic instrumental tangents — first slow and then fast, then lyrical and later playful. Like most Yes songs, each has its own story to tell.

“Awaken” began with Downes displaying his agility on the keyboards and then Squire switched over to a wicked looking triple-neck bass with two 4-string necks and one 6-string neck. For the encore of “Roundabout,” the crowd surged up to the foot of the stage as the YES logo in psychedelic and flowery letters showed up on the screen behind them.

Howe started off with a solo, Downes strapped a keyboard around his neck and the entire band delivered the final song with an almost operatic flourish that had the crowd screaming. Most surprisingly, they didn’t play their biggest hit of all, “Owner Of A Lonely Heart.” Perhaps with Trevor Rabin, the song’s composer, out of the band for nearly 20 years, they felt it was finally time to pull it from the setlist. That and the fact that the band is more tuned into their classic music from the 70s than their more commercial hits of the 80s. At the end of the night, no one was the wiser.

More Procol Harum & Yes Photos

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