Monday, 24 October 2016

A Stellar Brew Steve Howe Civic Centre Trowbridge

The first surprise was the venue, set on the edge of a park and next to an Odeon Cinema and ubiquitous eateries, it was modern and fresh. 

The crowd, a very pleasing and probably 150, nearly filled the Centre and Mr Howe (D) Subterraneans, which was played over the PA, set the mood for the evening. 

Dressed in a suit Mr Howe (S) launched without ceremony into "Classical Gas" a wonderful combination of an anchored strong repeating melody but with room for exploration and variations the true stuff of the original progressive rock, blending the accessible with the surprising in a communicative way. Ambition drove the musical choices as he played and sung the "Leaves of Green" section of the Ancient and this set up a recurring theme through out the recital. This was an evening by the Yes Guitarist in a solo setting always bringing the music and the conversation back to his dedication and love of the mothership. 

"J's Theme", one of the strongest pieces from Natural Timbre, is played with a real sense of Invention music pushing the boundaries. He also played "Corkscrew" which for me is every bit as memorable as Clap and Mood and should have been a solo piece on Yes Tor rather than developed into the song Countryside. The classical set closed with "Mood For A Day" which the crowd appreciated. What I really appreciated was the reverential silence that Steve was accorded and the Holy of Holy's in 2016 not a smart phone in sight. 

The more gritty metallic sound of the Steel String sets followed. The highlights were "Intersection Blues" and the one I played on the journey home both Timbre and Band version, the criminally neglected "To Be Over"

The pairing of the early verses from "The Remembering" and "It Was All We Know" made me smile because I see the latter as evoking the same semi folk style of the song section of Remembering. Steve sang and his voice was very anonymous and lacked attack and clear diction, the only time in the evening when I wished he had not sung. The piece though is a bona fide gem from Heaven and Earth and if wasn't for the politicisation that exists around Yes, people would see it as a great miniature with a nice curved ball in the middle.

The break and whether it was the glass of Merlot but the 175 section came over with its echo and effects in a dreamlike reflective way almost like his Sutin CD as he played Dorothy and a couple of trio pieces including Sweet Thunder. A sort of guitar tone poem of themes.       

The concert is well paced and for a man on his own you never feel the result is to narrow but in this last quarter we get the man laid bare. A wired version of "Sketches of the Sun" another top ten Steve Howe solo piece. His homage to Chris "Last year was a shocker", where we were encouraged to sing along with him had me in tears during "Onward" and tapping away to "Good People"

The encore set the seal on this being a solo Yes concert and entirely connected, with a great "Roundabout" with all the elements included and because it is solo reminding us how great the arrangement with Bill and Chris was. Steve reminded us on number of occasions that Yes = arrangements and that may bode well for any new music. Thats the distinction between the Bruford Band and all the other eras, spurred on by Jon, the other four "Built" music. The closest they have come to that is with oddly enough Trevor Horn and his auteur production. 

Clap and Yes we did. 

It was great to see Pam for the first time since Malcolm's funeral. 

I am quite happy growing old in tandem with Steve he is a man of passions and those passions are existential rather than mirroring. He is not there to feel the love or show how clever he is, he is there to celebrate the things he loves and so was I and it was a great celebration.