Seminal prog pioneers YES hit the road for an extensive UK and European tour at the end of this month…. April 2016. The band will be performing 1971’s ‘Fragile’ and 1980’s ‘Drama’ in their entirety, the latter for the very first time, plus other seminal tracks including ‘Owner of a Lonely Heart’ and ‘Starship Trooper’. They recently lost bassist and co-founder Chris Squire, a tragedy that left the prog world in mourning. His replacement Billy Sherwood found a big pair of shoes to fill, as YES set out to honour his memory by keeping the band’s legacy alive. The band recently toured the US with fellow prog legends Toto to an enthusiastic reception.
Guitarist STEVE HOWE spoke to the Classic Rock Society in an interview to be published in the upcoming issue of Rock Society magazine. Talking about the live shows, he was asked firstly about the format of this tour…
SH: That’s right, we’re doing Drama and Fragile which we haven’t played here, and we haven’t played Drama anywhere, so this is a premiere of that one. We did Fragile in America and that went really well – we did it with Close To the Edge so it’s been a major musical development for Yes – to realise that anybody can play a Yes song but in a way only Yes have the right to play an album. Yes did a whole album – Tales From Topographic Oceans – in ‘73 and yet we never revisited that idea for like 40 years – so we dropped that idea and didn’t realise the importance of it.
RS: It’s interesting that you say that – I’ve actually seen you many times from the Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe tour onwards, and whilst it’s not necessarily a criticism, it’s an observation that Yes shows tended to have maybe one or two new pieces but there was a sort of tendency to play a lot of the same material all the time…
There was – you can call it ‘Yessongs’ if you like because in a way it also covers what in America they call your greatest hits tour, and yeah I think that was a real mistake that we made because each time we did include something that was rare and unheard it gave the whole tour a purpose. So yes that’s a good observation – I’m glad we’ve sort of changed the code of conduct as far as that goes; we’re now seeing this album development as something wonderfully enjoyable.
It also goes to looking at Yes music as a body of work, in the same sort of vein as a composer’s canon if you like, and Yes music suits that approach
That’s a very good point. Originally when somebody joined Yes or rejoined Yes they would only play the music they were involved in. This became a problem because it meant that we never played anything from Relayer for example. About 10 years ago that rule was thrown out – now if you want to join Yes you play anything from the Yes repertoire. That’s what I agreed to do when I rejoined in 1995; I was happy to play Owner Of A Lonely Heart, Then, Astral Traveller, you know anything out of my domain. So the precedent got set that if you were in Yes you’ve got to be able to kick the ball at any music from any era. That’s why Geoff [Downes] is quintessential. He has a great retort to the idea that he plays Rick Wakeman’s keyboard parts; he doesn’t, he plays Tony Kaye’s, Patrick Moraz’s, he plays all the keyboard players that have been in Yes, and to some extent I do that with Trevor Rabin and Peter Banks. It’s not about me, it’s not even about Jon Anderson, it’s about what Yes did collectively. All the different people who contributed to the compositions is immense, and when you think nobody could have written 5% For Nothing other than Bill [Bruford] and the same with Onward which was so Chris Squire – we all had our trademarks to leave.
The full interview will be published early in May in Rock Society Issue 213, which you can purchase from this website
To coincide with the tour, Warners will release Drama on 22nd April and Fragile on 6th May on 180gm Vinyl with replicas of the original gatefold sleeves. Fragile will also include a smaller inner booklet. This product has been expertly recreated to match the original in every way from content to physical material and product specification.
Warners has recently released all of their catalogue YES albums Mastered For iTunes. These include The Yes Album, Fragile, Going For The One, Time and a Word, Yes, 90125, Tales From Topographic Oceans and Drama. You can buy them from http://geni.us/YESMFiT.
The full UK tour schedule is as follows
Wed 27th Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
Fri 29th Newcastle City Hall
Sat 30th Manchester Apollo
Mon 2nd Liverpool Philharmonic
Tue 3rd Sheffield City Hall
Wed 4th Bristol Colston Hall
Fri 6th Birmingham Symphony Hall
Sat 7th Brighton Brighton Centre
Mon 9th Oxford * New Theatre
Tue 10th London** Royal Albert Hall
UK Tickets are £39 for all venues except London. Oxford* £39 + £1.25 venue restoration levy.
London** £55 (boxes), £48.50, £45, £38 Tickets are available from 24hour Ticket Hotline: 0844 338 0000 and Online from BookingsDirect.com. Showtime is 7.30pm. Tickets and VIP upgrades are also available from – http://yesworld.com/2015/06/yes-uk-european-tour-spring-2016-fragile-drama/