Prog-nosis looks good as YES celebrate 50th anniversary
PROG rock innovators YES are celebrating their 50th anniversary, coming just 12 months after the band was inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame.
The band, formed by Jon Anderson and the late Chris Squire in 1968, has been responsible for some of the definitive prog rock albums, such as Close To The Edge, Fragile and Relayer, and for their upcoming tour they are planning something special.
The current line-up consists of guitarist Steve Howe (originally joined in 1970), drummer Alan White (1972, and an ever-present since), keyboard player Geoff Downes (1980), Billy Sherwood on bass (1994) and vocalist Jon Davidson (2012).
Steve says: “We want to mark this anniversary with a tour that encompasses some of our best loved work. And we want to play things we enjoy, maybe songs we haven’t done in a while.”
Their latest live album was released in November, recorded on last year’s American tour. The set was made up of the album Drama in its entirety (the first YES album Geoff played on) and most of the epic Tales From Topographic Oceans, and it is this double album that will feature heavily on the tour.
As well as many of the band’s greatest songs, such as And You And I, Roundabout, and Time And A Word, they plan to play sides one and four and excerpts from side three from Tales...
Geoff explains: “The fact is that we haven’t done Topographic Oceans in Europe before, although we have done it in the States. It’s a ‘Holy Grail’ album for YES fans and we have some stunning staging based on the original designs.”
Back in the day, YES tours were quite rare, but they seem to be touring constantly these days.
Geoff says: “I think a lot of it is down to the fact that we’re doing albums in their entirety, which makes it more interesting for us and the fans. It means that we are doing tracks that haven’t been played live before. All this helps to perpetuate the touring, there’s always an appetite for it and it’s a lot of fun.”
“Plus,” he adds, “we’re very lucky to have Jon Davidson singing, he has such a great voice that we can play all the songs in the original key.”
Geoff’s future plans include working with an old colleague.
“Myself and Trevor Horn are trying to carry on with The Buggles (who topped the charts in 1979 with Video Killed The Radio Star). We’re kicking around a few ideas and we hope to release something.”
“It’s great working with Trevor again and it’s nice that we’ve kept in touch.” And as for YES? “We’re hoping to do some new YES material. We’ve been a bit preoccupied with the 50th anniversary, but there’ll be time for a new YES album pretty soon. It’s important that we present new music.”