"Yes" soldiers on

Sat Sep 13 2008

Yes has seen its fair share of talented, distinctive musicians, but none so intrinsically linked to its musical image as the voice of Jon Anderson. You can’t peg a Yes tune just upon hearing Chris Squire’s bass or Steve Howe’s guitar until you’ve grown to know the band, but if you’ve heard “Owner Of A Lonely Heart,” you won’t ever mistake that voice for some other singer’s. Except maybe, Benoit David? Going the Journey route, Yes has hired this Yes-tribute-band singer to fill in for Anderson, who is suffering from a respiratory ailment. This won’t be the first incarnation of Yes without Anderson; he quit the group in 1980 and Trevor Horn joined as his replacement. The resulting album, Drama, and tour were a departure but still certainly sounded pretty much like Yes. And let’s not forget that Anderson was only brought into the band at the last minute for its biggest-selling album, 1983’s 90125…but it could be argued that that album would not have been a Yes album had Anderson not joined; the band was planning on calling itself “Cinema,” after all. As Squire continues to retain rights to the Yes name (the only member who has been in every official lineup), and knowing his history of squabbling with Anderson over the direction of the band, it’s tempting to think that he is using Anderson’s inability to perform as an excuse to exert complete control over the group. Squire’s comments regarding the decision to bring in a substitute singer seem a bit passive-aggressive, saying, “This isn’t an attempt to replace Jon Anderson, because as we all know, that would be impossible,”* but then adding that he would like to play “a few songs he said were not Anderson’s favorites to perform live but the rest of the band likes.”** No word yet on whether Squire has Anderson’s blessings for this venture; let’s hope he’s not composing a bitter tirade right now. The jury’s still out as far as fan reaction, of course, and will be until the tour is underway. But ultimately, this isn’t a truly relevant band any more, just a nostalgia act that happens to still be able to play complicated rock music really well (at least, as of 2005), and fans are likely to jump at their first chance in four years to see their aging heroes play again. So who really cares, right? I’m just hoping the first dates of the tour aren’t near Wisconsin. If people aren’t ripping David to shreds for his first few performances, and the band is whipping out “Sound Chaser” and “On The Silent Wings Of Freedom” and “Future Times/Rejoice,” I’m there. I think. It’ll be kinda like seeing the Packers without Favre…weird at first, but hopefully you get used to it as the game goes on.

*quoted from YesWorld.com
**quoted from Pollstar.com

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