Words by: Robert Sutton
Images by: Robert Sutton Photography
Billed as the ‘The Album Series: Fragile and Drama’ tour it comprised of a ten date UK tour finishing up at the Royal Albert Hall in London. With the band then continuing with a fifteen date tour of Europe and then onto America for a three month tour. There was no support act for this event.
YES: were founded by Chris Squire and Jon Anderson in 1968, but recently lost bassist Chris Squire. With his replacement Billy Sherwood ‘finding it a big pair of shoes to fill, YES have set out to honor Chris’s memory by keeping the band’s legacy alive.
The band performed the 1971 ‘Fragile’ and 1980 ‘Drama’ albums in their entirety, the latter for the very first time, plus other classic tracks including ‘Owner of a Lonely Heart’ and ‘Starship Trooper’.
‘Most of the songs haven’t been performed in some 30 years’ – said Steve Howe. ‘Fragile and Drama mark two essential chapters of our career and we’re looking forward to share the whole journeys with our fans throughout Europe’.
They opened their set with ‘Onward’ on a backing tape with a single spot light on a bass guitar resting in its stand on stage with the back screen showing photos of Chris Squire as a fitting tribute to him and ending with a simple shot showing ‘Chris Squire 1948-2015’…to which the audience gave a very hearty applause to. Tribute was also paid to Peter Banks who died in 2013.
The band then came on stage and started with ‘Machine Messiah’ to mark the start of the album ‘Drama’. Jon Davison (lead vocals, acoustic guitars) joined the band in 2012 and it was his first time in Brighton. I thought his vocals were spot on all evening and seemed to fit right into the band and with him seemingly loving every minute singing and playing the songs. Billy Sherwood (bass) did indeed have a large pair of shoes to fill, but filled them well. Geoff Downes (keyboards) and Alan White (drums), as always gave a great performance, although we didn’t actually see too much of Alan ( only the top of his hat!) with him being tucked away behind the drum kit for the evening.. And with Steve Howe (guitars) showing us just how great a guitarist he is throughout the performance..(Although I think we all knew that anyway..)
There was not much verbal interaction with the audience with the band just letting the music do the talking for them and with the audience showing their appreciation at the end of each song. The only slight oddball song played for me was ‘Owner of a Lonely Heart’ before which Steve did mention that ‘this line-up of this band does play the YES songs from all the eras…’ Still a great song, but for me just doesn’t fit with the rest of the YES’s songs…
In the audience also watching the show were John Wetton (vocals –ASIA) and Roger Dean (who designed the artwork for the YES albums) and apparently also Saxon and Keith Emerson’s family (whom I didn’t spot..)
A super night’s entertainment and one that was not to be missed by any self-respecting Progressive Rock fan..
‘Drama’ album: (1- 6)
1: Machine Messiah
2: White Car
3: Does It Really Happen?
4: Into the Lens
5: Run Through the Light
6: Tempus Fugit
7: Time and A Word
8: Siberian Khatru
9: Don’t Kill the Whale
10: Owner of a Lonely Heart
‘Fragile’ album: (11-19)
12: Cans and Brahms
13: We Have Heaven
14: South Side of the Sky
15: Five Per Cent for Nothing
16: Long Distance Runaround
17: The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)
18: Mood for a Day
19: Heart of the Sunrise
20: Starship Trooper