Addicted To Vinyl Musical thoughts from the open road, with headphones on

22Aug/101

Setlist: Yoso at The Kent Stage, 8/19/10

I caught the Cleveland area debut of Yoso on Thursday night at The Kent Stage.  Judging by the small number of folks in attendance, I'd say that most of you reading this right now probably missed the show, so I'll be happy to fill in the gaps and let you know what you missed.  Yoso is the new project featuring former Toto vocalist Bobby Kimball with former '90s Yes guitarist Billy Sherwood (the creative mastermind of Yoso, who shifts to bass playing duties with this group) and original Yes keyboardist Tony Kaye (with a couple of auxiliary players filling out the lineup on guitar and drums). I'd classify the show as "good but not great," which is not meant to be a slam - it's just constructive criticism of the show that I saw.

Most of that falls on the hit and miss vocals from Kimball - when he was on, he was great (for example - a great solo piano version of "Burn Down The Mission" by Elton John), but when he was off vocally, it was pretty painful to listen to. The Yes material is pretty far out of his vocal comfort zone and he even sounded suspect on some of his own material from Toto (although "Rosanna" and especially "Girl Goodbye," were great). Sherwood took many of the lead vocals on the Yes material and hearing the title track from the 1997 Yes Open Your Eyes album was a really nice surprise. Kaye had all of the keyboard samples properly dialed in, so all of the Yes and Toto material sounded faithful to the recorded versions, which is always a plus.  Quite a bit of the material was padded with additional pre-recorded vocal samples which actually served the band well, fleshing out the sound of the material without feeling too much like cheating.

While new material can often be a liability for classic rock-based projects, the material from the band's Elements album was actually some of the best stuff in the setlist for Thursday night's show.  Kimball's vocals would seem to be a curious match with the proggier sound of Yes-like material, but as it often happens, the songwriting wins out on this project and delivers a successful music mix that is a very enjoyable listen.  Sherwood was one of the high points in a lot of the Yes material from the '90s, so it's no surprise to me that this album is as enjoyable as it is.

It's a shame that more people aren't aware of the musical pedigree that makes up Yoso (something that hurt attendance for the show), because overall it was a lot of fun to watch the combined musical talents of Sherwood, Kaye, drummer Scott Connor and guitarist Johnny Bruhns (himself sourced from the Yes tribute band Roundabout) that were on display for a set that stretched out for nearly three hours (and Kaye's instrumental medley of really old Yes stuff was killer).  It was really nice to hear a few different cuts from 90125 and not just "Owner."  While this style of music is still very popular in Europe, it's much harder to find an audience here in the States, so it's rare that to see U.S. dates from a project like this, which made these U.S. shows even more of a pleasure for those that were able to witness them.  After hearing the material from Elements, I'd welcome further material from this group and hopefully the chance for additional U.S. dates in the future.

Here's the setlist from the evening:

(And now you can download an audience recording of the whole performance from Dimeadozen.)

Yoso
Girl Goodbye
Hold On
New Revolution
Yes Medley (instrumental solo from Tony Kaye)
Cinema
Where You'll Stay
Open Your Eyes
Acoustic Guitar Solo (Johnny Bruhns)
Africa
Changes
Walk Away
Burn Down The Mission
Owner of a Lonely Heart
Drum/Bass Solo
Path To Your Heart
Rosanna
To Seek The Truth
Hold The Line

encore

Roundabout
Louisiana Blues (Muddy Waters cover