By BILL MANN
of The Gazette
If Peanuts and Charley Brown are art to a lot of people, then Yes is rock and roll to the same people.
Actually, Yes is the antithesis of rock 'n' roll: soft, cuddly, innocuous. The old Elvis Presley would have freaked if he had heard Yes lead vocalist Jon Anderson (group founder) called 'a rock singer'.
"Well, you gotta admit," long-time progressive DJ and music student Angus Mackay was saying at the jam-packed Forum last night, "They're the best of the whole bunch - Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Genesis, and the like." But the best of WHAT? Pretentiorock? Synthesized bubble-gum music?
A few years ago, when kids first started getting high a lot (there were 30 arrests for pot at last night's show, MUC police admitted, an unusually high figure for the normally bust-free Forum), they'd listen to The Beatles or Stones. Today, in Montreal at least, it's Yes, and yes, their music is as wimpy as their name, and Anderson's vocals have about as much clout a Tiny Tim's. [...]
They're huge in Montreal, and that's why the massive crowd last night.
It appeared as if the first act, respected singer-songwriter John Martyn, was walking into the lion's den. One man with acoustic guitar in front of 19,000 rock-crazed kids?
But Martyn, using an excellent sound mixer and tape-delay system, astounded just about everybody with an excellent show of eerie, spacey guitar effects. He should have done an encore, but didn't; he was warmly received.
Yes closed off with their Top 40 biggie, Roundabout, for an encore. They brought the place down.
This (shortened) review was published in The Gazette of Tuesday, 26 February 1974 on page 16.