Have you ever been to a concert where the attendees gave every single song a standing ovation?
It happened Aug. 24 at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles as English progressive rock legends Yes concluded a five-month tour. For the band that formed in London in 1968 it was a triumphant evening before approximately 5,000 rapturous fans. (Heck, even the two songs showcased from the just-released “Heaven and Earth” album got ‘em up and cheering.)
This tour saw the band perform two of its iconic early 70's LPs in their entirety, “Fragile” and “Close to the Edge.” The group's fourth album, 1971's “Fragile,” went double-platinum, reaching No. 7 here and containing the No. 13 single, “Roundabout” and the FM radio hit, “Long Distance Runaround”; while their fifth LP, the platinum-selling “Close to the Edge” was a concept album that reached No. 4 and included the lengthy “And You and I” and “Siberian Khatru” as well as the 18-minute title work.
Over the decades, members have come and gone... and come and gone again and again. This current Yes includes founding bassist Chris Squire, who is part of every Yes contingent as he owns the rights to the band's name, guitarist Steve Howe (first joined 1970), drummer Alan White (first joined 1972), and keyboardist Geoff Downes (first joined 1980). The years have done nothing to diminish their formidable skills as musicians.
Much of the credit for the success of the evening goes to 43-year-old Hippie flower child Jon Davison, the band's newest singer (he joined in 2012). Davison was born to front Yes, clearly savoring every note, every lyric (regardless of their mystic incoherence). The man is an exact sound-alike for original singer Jon Anderson and is a more charismatic and involving performer than Anderson, who left the group in 2008 and pretty much always just stood there and sang (Benoit David was Yes' singer in between until a respiratory illness forced his departure).
Davison, who lives in Laguna Niguel and was recommended to Squire by Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins, could provide years of added life to the group.
Yes closed the evening with a powerful run-through of the only single the band took to No. 1 on Billboard's Hot 100, 1983's “Owner of a Lonely Heart.”
British Invasion legends The Zombies gave a free concert on the Santa Monica Pier that drew thousands who jammed the pier's large performance area between the beach and the fun zone at the end of the pier. The band's set was a mix of hits, connoisseur classics and rarely performed deep cuts.
The band that formed in St. Albans, Herts, England, in 1962, still stars it two highly-regarded founding front men: founding keyboardist Rod Argent and singer Colin Blunstone. They scored hits from 1964-1969 with “She's Not There” (1964) “Tell Her No” (1965) and “Time of the Season” (1969). Of course, they performed each of these hits as well as a smash, 1972's “Hold Your Head Up,” from Argent's post Zombies band Argent (The Zombies broke up in the late 60s and finally regrouped in 2001). Of note is the band's bassist, 73-year-old Jim Rodford, who was with Argent for its run from 1969-1976 before joining The Kinks for 18 years, from 1978 until they broke up in 1996.
The band's 1968 LP, “Odessey and Oracle,” was ranked No. 100 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Five songs from this critically acclaimed album were showcased in a mini-set devoted to the album, including “A Rose for Emily” and “Care of Cell 44.” They also dug out Blunstone's minor British solo hit, “I Don't Believe in Miracles” (No. 31 in 1972) and “Old and Wise,” a song he recorded on The Alan Parsons Project's 1982 smash LP, “Eye in the Sky” that reached No. 22 here as a 45.
Two songs from Argent's self-titled band were delivered near the end of the set, both receiving rousing crowd approval, “Hold Your Head Up,” that went Top 5 here and in Britain in 1972 and a biggie in Britain (No. 18), the grandiose anthem from 1973, “God Gave Rock and Roll to You.”
Derek Rieth, percussionist for the Latin jazz and pop lounge music outfit Pink Martini was found dead at age 43 in his bedroom in his Portland home, reports the Portland Oregonian. His death was listed as a suicide by handgun. He had reportedly been “severely depressed” in the days before his death.
Also found was medication primarily used to treat bipolar disorder.
Pink Martini formed in Portland in 1994. The 14-piece so-called “little orchestra” released seven albums, three of which reached the Top 40.
The group's most recent album, “Dream a Little Dream” came out in March and is a collaboration with The Von Trapp's, descendants of “The Sound of Music” family now based in Portland and includes guest appearances by Wayne Newton and The Chieftains. The album peaked in the United States at No. 115, but reached No. 22 in Canada.
Among the recently released albums, digital reissues, MP3 downloads and box sets are a 2-CD, 33-track, “Eric Clapton & Friends – The Breeze (An Appreciate of JJ Cale) Deluxe Edition CD Box Set” that includes bonus demos, lithographs and an interview with Clapton; a 10-CD box set, “Oscar Peterson & Friends” includes the late Canadian jazz pianist's work with the likes of Louis Armstrong, Lester Young, Stan Getz, Ella Fitzgerald, Ben Webster, Buddy Defranco and others.
A 2-CD import, “Essential Recording” from American bebop jazz-singing and piano playing supper club performer Blossom Dearie, who died in NYC in 2009 at 84; a vinyl 2-LP import, “Great Gypsy Soul” from tragic singer-guitarist Tommy Bolin and Friends, including Allman Brothers guitarist Warren Haynes; and a 22-cut remastered “When the Lights Go Out (2 CD Deluxe)” (1988) from 80's singer-actress Pia Zadora; and a 5-LP vinyl box, “Breakin' the Rules 25th Anniversary Series” from Ocean City, New Jersey, journeyman blues guitarist Walter Trout, who played in both Canned Heat and John Mayall's Bluesbreakers.
Steve Smith writes a new Classic Pop, Rock and Country Music News column every week. Contact him by email at Classicpopmusicnews@gmail.com.