The 1970s was a decade of the supergroups - the likes of Led Zepplin, Deep Purple, ELO. Their like willnever be seen again.
In these days music was about performance and visuals at whatever the cost. Then came the stripped own new bands. The classic four-piece combo - two guitars, drums and vocals, replaced imagery and showmanship.
In the 90s the likes of Oasis and Blur stripped that concept down even further - a backlash to the U2 overkill of Zoo TV. But still a light flickers in the shape of supergroup survivors Yes.
Yes formed way back in 1968. The band has gone through numerous line-up changes but continues to record and tour to this day. The likes of Rick Wakeman have come and gone but founder members Jon Anderson and Chris Squire are still there.
This month the band releases a new studio album The Ladder - continuing their links with all things Beatles. The band's name was inspired by the film, Yellow Submarine and drummer Alan White played on the legendary Jon Lennon track Imagine.
The band's new album title comes from an early art exhibition held by Yoko Ono in London where she first met John Lennon. Visitors walked up a ladder at the exhibit and peered into a magnifyuing glass where they saw the word "Yes".
To promote their new release, the band have embarked on a UK tour and will appear at the Manchester Apollo on Sunday, February 13.
Guitarist Steve Howe is looking forward to the return to Britian. From his home in Devon, he revealed that even after all this time, the band was still set to achieve another first.
He said: "The first date of the UK tour is in Dublin and it will be the first time we have ever played there. We have had all these first gigs in places like South America and then there is this one on our doorstep.
"It will be nice to be back playing in the UK, which we haven't done for two years. I have played at the Apollo many times and I like venues that I know because it feels kind of familiar. Sometimes when I walk out at places like the Apollo I smile to myself and think 'here I am again'".
The UK tour follows successful shows by Yes in the US and South America which started onthe south east coast and circled around the country. After the 12 UK shows the band enters new territory.
Steve said :"We will sit down and assess where Yes is and where it is going. With every step we take we have to be certain it is the right move for the band."
Even in the days off hard-edge, no nonsense guitar bands - are Yes still relevent?
"We are evolving all the time and the fact that we have new personnel coming in it adds to that. We can offer something, hopefully, quite different, especially longevity and experience. We're not saying we get a lot of things right but we have something differnt to offer.
"We have always wanted to be a good touring band and if we can make good albums as well then that's two stars. We fell relevant even though what we have been doing sams a long time. The fact that Yes keep making records is part of the story.
"We know how popular the 70s stuff is but we don't want to play it into the ground. With the Ladder we feel that we have got some tracks that we want to keep playing.
A strange and exceptional evening !
Pre-show : As the show was about to start I was approached by (what turned out to be) the Apollo Manager. He enquired if I would be willing to swap my front row seat A27 for a few rows back.
"I don't think so"!
It then transpired that the seat was for Jon's wife Jane. I felt a little awkward, I would like to be a gent but this was a front row seat to see my favourite band. The lack of instant compliance on my part was greeted by a wonton act of bribery.
Two minutes later I am sat in Row K (still a great view) with a bag of goodies and inspecting my BACKSTAGE PASS.
I was like a kid at Christmas. I just had to tell someone!
Turning to the seat to my right, I recounted the events to the guy next to me.
"Oh, Yes." he responded "Jon always likes having Jane close by to make eye contact - It helps his performance".
This was not the reply I was expecting.
This man with snowy hair looked a little out of place at a "rock" show anyway.
I introduced myself "Hi, I am John".
"Hi, I am Jon's brother Stewart".
We chatted for a while. Nice guy.
ShowTime. I will keep this brief. My opinion on concerts like everyone's is subjective. It can also be affected by ones own mood. I have never seen a less than good YES show and in all honesty don't think I ever will. This show was not exceptional but was very good.
The Band : I was more impressed with Billy than last tour. Jon, Chris, Steve, Alan - great as always. Star performer Igor ! You can hear him better now and what an exceptional talent.
I think the new material came over really nicely. And was well received. Highlights AYAI , Hearts , Awaken (and Igor playing the cowbell while soloing in Roundabout). I personally think YIN Disgrace and Perpetual Change are too close together in the set. But hey, these guys know what works for them. Very nice show.
Aftershow : Having been sent outside by the security guards to wait with everyone else. I returned to the building "In through the out door". Subsequently told that there was no aftershow meetings by security. Sneaking back in and again being asked to leave.
My mood was one of total frustration.
Lucky for me the Manager was passing by and recognised me from earlier. He apologised for the cock-up and "asked" the "nice" and "helpful" security people to "sort it out". I am now sat in the "green room" a very shabby place for half an hour. I am about to go walkabout when Billy comes in he says hello signs some stuff and departs. Another fifteen minutes alapse I am again about to leave when the Manager again appears incredulous that I have been "taken to see the band". We go upstairs and meet some YES tour personnel. Bump into Billyagain who is outside by yhe tour busses and meeting the few fans who are left. I am informed that most of the band have now departed. "Oh well " I thought, "this is not meant to be". To my rescue then came Bob Quandt the tour manager. He was really nice and said Jon had wanted to say thanks. I thought this was a good bit of P.R. but I didn't quite believe it. He then asked if I would be able to attend the Liverpool show the next night with a friend - as a guest of the band and meet them afterwards. I said that I thought I could fit it in.( joke ) It was an interesting evening, a rollercoaster ride of highs and lows. My emotions overloaded I set off for home. I still had nagging doubts after the debacle of the security men.
Would my tickets be there ?
Would I get to meet the band ?
Would my wife believe any of this ?
My first show of The Ladder tour, and what a great occasion, albeit in a fairly poor venue - Manchester could do better than this surely. The set list was standard for the latter USA and UK dates and the playing was tight, although not as adventurous as I had heard on the Las Vegas show - missing some of the additional flourishes that make a show that bit special. (See Liverpool review tomorrow for contrast!). This was however a very very good Yesshow - no mistake.
There were so many highlights, but amongst the best of the best where Awaken, Hearts, And You & I, The Messenger, Face to Face and Perpetual Change. These all rank as A+ - the rest rank as A.
I was very impressed again with Igor, what a great addition to the Yes ranks - in my opinion he is now close to being the finest Yes keys man. Billy was solid, adding depth to the sound and excelling on the solos allocated to him - what a good idea to bring back Cinema and Hearts!
Jon was on fine form throughout the night, joking about Accrington Stanley, an old football club. He perfunctory loss of memory came in the middle of It Will Be A Good Day. Jon - "Golden Forest" are the words you were looking for.
Steve, Alan and Chris played the show fairly straight i.e. very well.
The show finished with the Thank You song tacked onto the end of Roundabout. A great 2.25 hours - Thank you and goodnight.
When a gig say's its starting at 7:30 on the ticket it really means 8:00. So imagine my surprise to find that the band were getting on stage as I arrive - you have been warned they come on early !!!
I was sat on the far left about half way back. At first the sound was rather poor during Yours Is No Disgrace with Steve's guitar low in the mix and the volume was quite low. The next two songs had Chris's bass low in the mix with Steve more prominent. By the time of Awaken things were well on track.
Overall a good show, not the best I have ever seen them. Going to Nottingham tomorrow so hope they are better.
The Manchester audience, like the band, took a few songs to warm up. Jon got everyone to stand up a couple of times, but not too much 'boogying' as he put it. The smoky atmosphere detracted from my enjoyment as did a few idiots in the audience who shouted out during quiet bits! The back-projected images were a bit distracting and looked a bit 70s. That's the bad bits first.
The setlist was as per Birmingham and to me the highlights were clearly And You and I and Awaken - perfectly performed. The show ran from 7.45 to 10.00. Jon remembered all his words tonight and even had a few things to say about Accrington Stanley.
So it's on to Liverpool Monday
As I bought tickets from there last time round, I was sent a flyer from Manchester Apollo. It arrived this morning, and I quote:
Dear Yes fan,
As a fan of the supergroup Yes, we are sure you will be pleased to hear the news that they are returning to the Manchester Apollo next year. Returning to the Apollo after a two-year break, they revisit the Apollo in February to start the new millennium off with a bang.
Jon Anderson (vocals), Steve Howe (guitar), Chris Squire (bass), Alan White (drums), Billy Sherwood (guitar) and Igor Khoroshev (keyboards) for the current line-up of Yes. Their mixed backgrounds and varied musical experiences lend themselves to the melting pot of ideas which forms Yes. Formed in the early 1970s, Yes have toured extensively across the globe, have a solid fan base, and have managed to maintain individual solo projects. Jon Anderson has forged a solo career for himself, alongside his role as frontman in the band. He has recently published a book of poetry and illustrations, "Fountains Of Gold", with Wendy Vig. Steve Howe formed a songwriting partnership with Jon in 1970, and they have since gone on to write such Yes classics as "Roundabout". Guitarist Billy Sherwood, one of the youngest members of Yes, has also released solo material and cites Pink Floyd, Paul Rodgers and Muddy Waters as influences on his style.
Chris Squire is described as the "lead bassist" in Yes; his contributions to Yes are most evident on material such as "Close To The Edge", "Relayer" and "Going For The One". Durham-born Alan White began playing the drums aged 13, and by the time he was 20 he was playing with John Lennon, Yoko Ono and Eric Clapton. It was whilst he was on tour with Joe Cocker that he received a call to join Yes. They ran a 3 month trial period... and 25 years later Alan is still performing and writing with Yes. Moscow-born Igor Khoroshev moved to America in the early 1990s where he worked as a church musician and dishwasher, whilst learning English. He met up with Yes through mutual friends, and has become a valued member of the team.
The band are currently writing and recording a new LP, "The Ladder", for release in the new millennium. They will play a mix of the new material and old favourites on their return to the Manchester Apollo in February 2000. Their last show here sold out in advance, so do not waste time. Buy your tickets now for one of the world's greatest supergroups.
Yes return to the Manchester Apollo on Sunday 13th February 2000 with a show crammed with old favourites and new material. Tickets priced at £32.50, £25.00 and £22.00 are available from Friday 8th October 1999 from the Box Office on 0161 242 2560.
It's nice to see that someone's doing some promotion, even if there are one or two errors in there.