Sunday, 8 September 2013

Steve Howe Trio Live Swindon Arts Centre

My love affair with Yes began in 1971 and 1972 The two albums from that year took me in, hook, line and sinker.

I often reflect as to why I have stayed with the affair over 42 years, given I am a person whom loves the dynamic of change. The answer lies in the Yes families ability to keep on producing audacious moments of creativity which build on the promise of those albums. The first projects from Jon & Vangelis, The first version of Earth Works from Bill and Jon's acoustic progressive vision expressed on Change We Must and more recently "Open".

The Steve Howe Trio are beginning to build the same kind of momentum. The three new pieces "Buzzard...", "Devil...." and Joni Mitchells "Conversations" show the band on a creative wave, building on the first set of new recordings on the Haunted Melody. There was a focus and sense of purpose to these pieces which indicate they are pushing on developing the dynamic of their relationship exploring with even more certainty what the SH Trio means musically.

The concert had two sets, each contained new music, pieces from Burrell and Smith from the Haunted Melody and Yes show cases. I really enjoyed their performance and way of working three years ago but they injected the music with an additional confidence and playfulness last night. The understanding developed between Steve and Ross gives an additional edge to the music sometimes mimicking each other, sometimes working in unison and most satisfyingly trading the harmonics and the rhythm on one side for the melody on the other to such great effect.

So great recapitulations of Steve's various loves and audacious new music, but what about the music I began this review with, the bits of Fragile and Close To The Edge. The latter piece has been radically revised beginning with the third movement themes. However what makes all the big Yes pieces transcendent is : -

1) The exquisite interpretations by Steve of Jon's most powerful and profound melody lines. I was very moved by these elements Steve was constantly inventive.

2) Mr D Howe outstanding drumming. To watch him play Bills parts at their original tempo with such clarity incisiveness, dexterity and power is something I had never expected to hear live but his performance was utterly thrilling and more "right" than anything I have ever heard live. Bravo Dylan !

One final point not only were the arrangements and playing injected with humour and wit, but Steve was the perfect host self deprecating, ironic and full of humour himself. Maybe the fact that the audience listened carefully and respectively to the band and then applauded enthusiastically  had some thing to do with it. From where I sat there wasn't a cell phone or I Pad in sight, just people listening such bliss and magnification.