Howe kept busy in Asia for a good chunk of the '80s, during which time Yes commercially reinvented itself with the Trevors — Trevor Rabin as guitarist and singer/songwriter and Trevor Horn producing. When a long-running, successful band never maintains a consistent lineup for more than two studio albums in a row, it becomes possible to summon up ex-members whenever someone leaves; Yes, for all its changes, has always been able to call itself Yes. So for those of you keeping track . . .

"The first two Yes albums I wasn't on," Howe says, "and I wasn't on the couple of albums that Trevor Horn was on. And then I did the reunion album in 1991, which had everybody."

That album, ironically titled Union, was not unlike when spouses remarry and they all show up for awkward moments at Christmas. The album sounds like a demilitarized zone, with several participants implicitly struggling to take control, but to Yes' credit and their accountants' delight, they toured as a nine-piece for the first and last time. Did they tag-team and jump onstage only for the songs they knew?

"There were different ideas on how we would do. In the end, we stayed on the stage the whole time," he says, with what sounds like measured displeasure. "I left for one song, and then I came back, and we couldn't get any of the other guys to leave."

Earlier this year, Howe decided to lighten his roadwork woes to concentrate on solo work and Yes, which meant bailing from Asia — which had been touring in its original lineup since 2006.

"I'd been doing two bands, Yes and Asia, and I got a bit squashed and stretched and pulled trying to do both. So I made the decision that Yes has more to do with my overall musicianship than Asia."

When asked which Yes songs he finds the most challenging, he laughs and says, "The ones I don't know how to play. One of the ones I hadn't played for a long time. 'Sound Chaser' is one I like that we haven't done for a while. And there are parts of 'Gates of Delirium,' all those bits in the arrangement you have to remember."

The process of relearning Yes is not unlike what a cover band of mere mortals would have to do — the difference for Howe being that at some point auto-memory impulses would kick in, and he'd be STEVE HOWE OF YES in big letters.

"Everyone has to do their homework before heading into rehearsals. You have to dazzle up the part, you have to study the arrangement on the record — that's your Bible, and you learn it very thoroughly with no compromise."

"Because," he says with some severity, "there will be questions."

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3 comments
suej1962
suej1962

I had such a blast in the past from this concert...loved all the hype.  These guys rock!!  If you missed it your out of luck cuz it was one of the best shows ever.

azrael5
azrael5

Best musicians group ever. Their masterpieces make eternal sound and also serious persons.

theloushow
theloushow

Error in Paragraph 6.  Can you guess what it is?
(Hint:  Geoff Downes)

 
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