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Legendary guitarist talks about delayed Yes tour
He was due to lead prog rock legends Yes on a UK tour two years ago, but then the Covid pandemic hit and everyone's plans were thrown out of the window. But now Steve Howe, guitarist in Yes since 1970, is hoping to make up for lost time as the band prepares to embark on its Close To The Edge 50th anniversary tour, which includes Symphony Hall, Birmingham, on June 24. The tour is dedicated to long-serving drummer Alan White who sadly passed away at the end of May.
So how is life treating Steve? He says: "Life at the moment really is okay. We are all learning just how to get through things in a different sort of way but yes, we are all moving on." Does it really feel like 50 years ago since Close to the Edge was released? "No, to be totally honest with you it really doesn't. If I am honest with you, then it really is a bit of a shocker especially when you get those types of anniversaries come around. The fact that this album is still resonating in its own sweet way, really is quite remarkable and quite enjoyable. We have most probably never gone on stage without playing one of the songs from the album." Playing the entire album will be a "delight" as it gives you the chance to settle into the time warp of 1972, he adds.
Steve joined the band in 1970. Credit Gottlieb Bros
Yes will perform Close to the Edge in strict chronological order. Steve says: "It's a very adventurous record when you think of it in 1972 terms. Yes was a band that was wanting to be symphonic; they wanted to expand the music, and we were never going to be trapped with the three minute song concept where you got an introduction, verse one, and then the chorus. We all totally hated that. So, we basically threw it out of the window and got on with inventing our own imaginative arrangements, which involved many songs, together with many instrumentals." Steve says he is looking forward to being back out on the road "immensely". He adds: "It will be almost three years since we last toured, and let me tell you, that is a very long time. People have told me that after the break you do feel really good; you get back in there and think 'oh yes, this is great'. What you have to remember is that I am 75, I am pretty healthy, touch wood, and I am kind of ticking over on my music and my love of the guitar the same as my love for my children, my grandchildren, and my wife. Basically, they have all kept me balanced. Having said that, for me to get back on stage is going to be interesting, if not fascinating for a while."
Does Steve agree with the title of prog rock pioneers? "To be totally honest and open, I don't know if pioneers is the right word when you consider King Crimson and Pink Floyd were around at the same time as Yes. You have to remember that psychedelia started all of this, and therefore what happened during the 70s was that the musicians who were hot to trot in the psychedelia era, like me, were then moving onto a new platform and they had to get more sophisticated, a bit more real, but certainly not commercial. Basically, Yes became an album band because of the musicality that we offered together with the length of the songs. There was suddenly a freedom, and that has always been my first requirement, as a musician, to be free to do as I like."
Steve Howe talks about going back on the road again. Credit Gottlieb Bros
Yes 2022 tour dates Wed 15th June Glasgow Royal Concert Hall Fri 17th June Manchester Bridgewater Hall Sat 18th June Nottingham Royal Concert Hall Mon 20th June Liverpool Philharmonic Hall Tues 21st June London Royal Albert Hall Wed 22nd June York Barbican
Fri 24th June Birmingham Symphony Hall
Sun 26th June Newcastle O2 City Hall
Tues 28th June Dublin Vicar Street, Eire
Wed 29th June Cork Opera House, Eire
Tickets remain valid for the rescheduled shows. For full details, and to book tickets, go to the venue's website or yesworld.com/live