Interview and story by Don Wilcock
The veteran progressive rock band Yes rolls into The Egg in Albany on Sunday (July 6), the second stop on a 35-date tour that includes Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium of Grand Ole Opry fame, the Big Apple’s Radio City Music Hall, and concludes at L.A.’s Greek Theatre. They will be performing in their entirety the albums Fragile and Close to the Edge, plus material from Heaven and Earth, a CD of new material to be released on Tuesday, July 22.
Jon Davison, the band’s current lead singer, was born the year the album Fragile was released – 1971. Drummer Alan White joined Yes just after their next album Close to the Edge came out in 1972. Even at that, he’s the second longest sustaining member of the band. Keyboardist Geoff Downes rejoined Yes in 2011 after an absence of 30 years. In fact, the only original member is Chris Squire, who formed the group in England in 1968.
With credits that include John Lennon & Yoko Ono’s Plastic Ono Band, White is sanguine about his tenure with Squire. “I guess we’re the only two that can put up with each other,” he laughs. “No, you know, I enjoy Chris’ playing. I enjoy working with him. In the beginning, we took quite a while to find our own styles to work totally with each other, but it seems as if the combination has played out through the many albums we’ve done, and the many years we’ve been playing.”
Not only does singer Davison bear an uncanny vocal similarity to original Yes vocalist Jon Anderson, but he wrote a lot of the material for the new CD. It’s just the latest round of a revolving door of personnel in a band whose storied members have also included Rick Wakeman, Trevor Horn, Tony Kaye and Bill Bruford. “I mean, we’re pretty organized,” says White. “Jon is a wonderful guy to bounce off, and he has good ideas musically, and also a great sense of coming up with melodies and (coming up) with great choruses. This album has a lot of great songs on it.”