Interview with STEVE HOWE (YES)

Steve Howe (Yes)

Never a band to do things by halves, Prog Rock legends Yes are celebrating not one album, not two albums but three albums on their current tour that reaches the UK in a few days. Mick Burgess chatted with Yes guitarist, Steve Howe, about this ambitious

You’ll be starting your UK tour in a few days. Are you looking forward to getting back home to play for your UK fans?

We’re on the road around the world an awful lot at the moment and we’re very much looking forward to playing some shows in the UK. It’s been well over two years since we last played there so yes, we’re looking forward to it.

Many bands have played shows featuring a whole album in its entirety. You will be doing three, The Yes Album, Close To The Edge and Going For The One. What made you decide to undertake such an ambitious tour?

We needed to do things a bit differently. We didn’t just want to go on stage and play a song from this album then a song from that album. This is how we’ve always played since 1973 when we did something like this before so it’s almost like the 40th anniversary of that idea which is to play a complete album. We thought about doing two and playing a few songs from our other records but then we talked about doing three and it just seemed to be such a good idea. This way you’ll buy a ticket and know every song you’re going to hear.

Why did you pick those three albums in particular?

We just felt that these three albums deserved to be done on stage. They each have different challenges and qualities and give a good representation of the band. Going For The One has different sorts of challenges with some lighter sides such as “Turn of the Century” and “Wondrous Stories” and also has the Rock sides with “Parallels” and “Going For The One” itself and also the more serial approach to a song with “Awaken” so there’s a moving palette in the music that creates different colours and each of the albums work so well together in the show.

There must be a fair few of those songs that you haven’t played in years if ever. Were there any that you initially had trouble remembering how to play?

Not really although there was some detail here and there that we had to work on but the overall shape was still there. We have been playing many of the songs on and off over the years but there were a couple like “Perpetual Change” we haven’t played that many times so it’s good to revisit those again.

Doing three full albums must take up a fair chunk of your show. Is there space for any tracks from any other albums? Maybe “Machine Messiah” from Drama?

We’ll do the three full albums in the main show then we’ll come on and do an encore that ‘s often “Roundabout” but we may change it around but we don’t really feel that we need to do much more as we’ve already covered so much ground during the show. Three albums plus “Roundabout” is quite a lot of music.

Yes have always put on a great production to go with the music. What do you have lined up for this tour?

We’ll have projections and lights but it will be quite frugal in a way. We’ve never wanted to distract the audience with other stuff but we do start the show with a particular pattern of events. I say it will be simple but effective.

Your current line-up features yourself, Chris Squire as always, Alan White, Geoff Downes and new singer Jon Davison. He sounds like a real find. Where did you first come across Jon?

Paul, our tour manager knew of him and suggested we check him out. We had other people to look at as well but we knew straight away that Jon was really right for us. In no time he’d jumped aboard and we headed down to Australia. How he managed to do that in such a short space of time I’ll never know but he was fantastic. It was a difficult time when we realised that our previous singer, Benoit was going to be unable to carry on and we had a tour booked but we were lucky to have found Jon and have him able to fit in so quickly. It’s worked out really well for us.

It’s been a couple of years since your last album Fly From Here. How far are you on with new material?

We have a new album out in July called Heaven and Earth. It will include eight songs, three of which are almost 10 minutes long, so that gives us the chance to spread out a little. This is our first with Jon Davidson and he’s worked really well with us on this. We’re very pleased with it. We also worked again with producer Roy Thomas Baker which was great to do. It was good to work with Roy again as he knows us well and knows how to get the best out of us. I think our fans will be very happy when they hear it.

What else have you got in the pipeline in the future?

I’ll be touring most of the year with YES but I have some of my own solo shows later in the year with my Trio which I’m looking forward to very much. It’s going to be a busy time for me.

The Yes UK tour starts on 29th April 2014 in Oxford and finishes on 11th May in Bristol.

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  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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