New Blackfield Album with Steven Wilson delayed until January 2017

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Kscope have announced Blackfield’s fifth album – Blackfield V – which will be released in November. The good news is Steven Wilson has once again fully collaborated with Aviv Geffen on this release.  Wilson had taken a step back from the band’s fourth album, and even announced his departure from the band due to preferring to concentrate on his solo career. Fans will be hoping this album can repeat the creative highs of Blackfield I and Blackfield II.

Official announcement from Kscope’s Facebook page:

BLACKFIELD V will be released on 18th November by Kscope, and sees a return to the full partnership that made the first two albums such firm favourites with fans. Written and recorded over a period of 18 months in both Israel and England, Blackfield V contains 13 linked songs that form a flowing 45 minute ocean themed song cycle. With the pair expertly handling vocals, guitars, and keyboards, Tomer Z from the Blackfield band on drums, and string arrangements performed by the London Session Orchestra, the album is a powerful journey through catchy melodies, lush arrangements, and stunning production. Legendary producer / engineer Alan Parsons produced three of the album’s key tracks.

Both musicians consider Blackfield V to be their best collaboration to date. The album will be released by Kscope as a Digipack CD with a 16 page booklet, CD/Blu Ray with high resolution audio, and double vinyl.

Cover photography by long term Steven Wilson collaborator Lasse Hoile.


Steve Hackett – The Total Experience Live In Liverpool

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Released on InsideOut Music this Summer, ‘The Total Experience Live In Liverpool – Acolyte to Wolflight with Genesis Classics’ provides us with a welcome souvenir from Steve Hackett’s  2015/2016 ‘Acolyte to Wolflight’ tour. Review of the 2 x dvd / 2 x cd version by Tim Darbyshire.

My review of the 2016 Canadian shows can be found here

My interview with Steve from Quebec 2016 is here.

After touring Genesis material exclusively in  2013 – 2014,  Steve Hackett returned to the stage in 2015 with a new stage show.  With 2015 marking the 40th Anniversary of Steve’s debut solo album ‘Voyage Of The Acolyte’, and the release of his latest studio album ‘Wolflight’, the first set was based around these albums.  The second set featured Genesis material, a lot of which Steve and band hadn’t played in 2013 – 2014, including a welcome outing for ‘The Cinema Show’.

For the first time, Roine Stolt (Flower Kings, Transatlantic, Jon Anderson) was added to the touring line up on bass, replacing Nick Beggs who was unavailable due to his Steven Wilson touring commitments.  Long time band members Roger King (keyboards), Rob Townsend (wind), Gary O’Toole (drums) and Nad Sylvan (vocals) once again provided the support for Steve. At the filmed Liverpool show, Amanda Lehmann and brother John Hackett were also welcome special guests.

After kicking off with the timeless instrumental ‘Spectral Mornings’, the bulk of the ‘Wolflight’ material  – with Steve handling the lead vocal – was well received.  ‘Every Day’ – always a favourite on every tour since 1979 – is played in the middle of the new material and flautist John Hackett makes a welcome return to duet with his older brother on ‘Jacuzzi’. The big surprise in the solo set list was ‘Icarus Ascending’ from 1978’s ‘Please Don’t Touch’ album, with Nad Sylvan ably handling Richie Havens’ original evocative vocals.  ‘Star of Sirius’, ‘Ace of Wands’ and a heavier than usual ‘A Tower Struck Down’  – all from ‘Voyage Of The Acolyte’ – lead into the full version of ‘Shadow Of The Hierophant’ with guest Amanda Lehmann providing the vocals.

Set 2 is the Genesis material. Again Steve sets the bar high by selecting lesser played songs, and surely surprises all Genesis die-hards by including ‘The Cinema Show’, the second half of which is perennially seen as a Collins-Banks-Rutherford workout. Other highlights are the woefully underrated ‘Can-Utility And The Coastliners’ from 1972’s ‘Foxtrot’ and ‘After The Ordeal’ from ‘Selling England By The Pound’, which was never performed live by Genesis. Total familiarity is restored with stage favourites ‘The Musical Box’ and the encore ‘Firth of Fifth’.

With the show split into 2 sets, plus encores,  the concert is approaching nearly 3 hours in total. It’s nigh on impossible to cover over forty years of Steve’s solo material plus Genesis classics into one evening, especially with a new album to promote too. This said, I don’t think anyone can have any complaints about the selections played.

Of course, the dvd is very well filmed, with multi-angles highlighting the prowess of the band’s technique and the imaginative light show makes this dvd pleasurable viewing as well as an accurate reminder of the live show itself. The concert film is contained on the first dvd, and the bulk of the second dvd is comprised of a behind the scenes documentary and rehearsal  footage, with 3 music videos from the ‘Wolflight’ album completing the content.  It’s a must buy for anyone who attended the shows in 2015/2016, will surely be of interest to all Hackett fans and is a welcome addition to the oeuvre.

As 2017 fast approaches, Steve is showing no signs of slowing down. He is currently busy working on his 18th solo studio album, and tour dates are starting to be announced. Already confirmed is a welcome return to the 2017 edition of ‘Cruise To The Edge’ in February, and an intriguing date in Buffalo in March with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. More North American dates are to be added around this time – hopefully to include Canada again!

The package itself is a high quality 8-panel digipak, in a similar style to the recent releases ‘Live At Hammersmith’ and ‘Live At The Royal Albert Hall’. There’s no booklet included, but it’s a minor gripe…..This release is also available as a single blu-ray disc with the same content.

Order from, or Burning Shed.

Line Up:

Steve Hackett – Guitar, Vocals
Roger King – Keyboards
Nad Sylvan – Vocals, Tambourine
Gary O’Toole – Drums, Percussion, Vocals
Rob Townsend – Saxophone, Woodwind, Percussion, Vocals, Keyboards, Bass Pedals
Roine Stolt – Bass, Variax, Twelve String, Vocals, Guitar

With special guests: John Hackett, Amanda Lehmann

2CD/2DVD Digipak Track listing

CD 1:
1 Corycian Fire Intro
2. Spectral Mornings
3. Out of the Body
4. Wolflight
5. Every Day
6. Love Song to a Vampire
7. The Wheel’s Turning
8. Loving Sea
9. Jacuzzi
10. Icarus Ascending
11. Star of Sirius
12. Ace of Wands
13. A Tower Struck Down

CD 2:
1 Shadow of the Hierophant
2. Get ’em Out by Friday
3. Can-Utility and the Coastliners
4. After the Ordeal
5. The Cinema Show
6. Aisle of Plenty
7. The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
8. The Musical Box
9. Clocks
10. Firth of Fifth

DVD 1:
Full concert as per track listing on CD1 and CD2

DVD 2:
Live in Liverpool – Behind the Scenes
Somewhere South of the River – Rehearsal Documentary
– Corycian Fire
– Wolflight
– Love Song to a Vampire

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Steve Hackett – Exclusive 2017 Genesis show with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra



According to, Steve Hackett and his band  will be performing a ‘Genesis Revisited’ show with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra (BPO) as part of the BPO Rocks season.  Tickets are already on sale for the March 3rd 2017 show, available from the BPO website.

The only details on HackettSongs describes the show as follows: Exclusive Genesis show with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra with Steve and his band on March 3!  Following the Cruise Feb 7-11, Steve will also be playing various N American dates all to be arranged shortly. Watch This Space!
Kleinhans Music Hall, Friday 3 March 2017, 8:00pm…

Other than Steve’s welcome return to the 2017 edition of ‘Cruise To The Edge‘, no confirmed North American dates have been announced yet, just hoping Canada is once again included in the tour which will presumably be around mid February to March 2017.

The BPO website adds little detail, other than to muddy the waters slightly with the following: Genesis lead guitarist and rock innovator Steve Hackett displays his chops in the world premiere of his symphony show, concert featuring Genesis classics and solo hits.  

Whether the show is Genesis exclusively or Genesis with Solo material, the chance to see Steve performing these songs with an orchestra is not to be missed.

Steve Hackett BPOSH BPO3


King Crimson – On (and off) The Road, 19 disc 1980s Box Set Coming


Another wallet-busting super-deluxe King Crimson box set is coming October 2016!  After last year’s THRAK reissue, DGM’s 2016 release focusses on the band’s 1980s output and includes 5.1 mixes by Steven Wilson of ‘Discipline’, ‘Beat’ and ‘Three Of A Perfect Pair’  …..

Preorder now from Burning Shed

From SuperDeluxeEdition‘s website:

All discs are CDs unless stated otherwise.

Disc 1: Discipline

Mixed and produced from the original multi-track tapes by Steven Wilson and Robert Fripp (2011). Mastered by Simon Heyworth and Robert Fripp (4)

Disc 2: Live in Japan

Taken from an audience cassette recording at Kokusai Hall, Tokyo on December 18th, the final concert in 1981. Audio restored & newly mastered at DGM by David Singleton and Alex R Mundy 2016. (1)

Disc 3: Beat

Mixed and produced from the original multi-track tapes by Steven Wilson and Robert Fripp (2016). Mastered by Simon Heyworth and Robert Fripp (4)

Disc 4: Live at Alabamahalle

Recorded September 29 in Munich, the final concert in 1982. Remastered and recompiled 2016 by David Singleton and Alex R Mundy with six tracks from new audio sources. (2)

Disc 5: Fragmented

Mostly recorded January 17-30, 1983 at C.V. Lloyd Music, Champaign, IL Recording Engineer: Gary Platt, Produced by Robert Fripp and David Singleton. Two new bonus tracks 2016. (3)

Disc 6: Three of a Perfect Pair

Mixed and produced from the original multi-track tapes by Steven Wilson and Robert Fripp (2016). Mastered by Simon Heyworth and Robert Fripp (4)

Discs 7  & 8: Absent Lovers

Live at The Spectrum, Montreal, July 11th, the final concert of 1984. Mixed by David Singleton & Robert Fripp from the original multi-track tapes for the DGM release “Absent Lovers” (1998). As newly recompiled in high-resolution for inclusion on Disc 15

Disc 9: Are You Recording Gary?

An insight into the inner working of the band, and the familiar heard in an unfamiliar way. Edited & assembled by David Singleton from original album session tapes, with additional downmixes by Alex R. Mundy

Disc 10: DVD-A Discipline

Audio content: 5.1 surround mix; original mix; 2011 mix & additional tracks in 24/96 and Album rough mixes in 24/48

Video content: Old Grey Whistle Test (4)

Disc 11: DVD-A Beat

Audio content: 5.1 surround mix; original mix; 2016 mix & Alternate Album in 24/48

Video content: Heartbeat promo; two tracks live in Munich (4)

Disc 12: DVD-A Three of a Perfect Pair

Audio content: 5.1 surround mix; original mix; 2016 mix in 24/48

Video content: Sleepless promo (4)

Disc 13: BLU-RAY DISC Discipline

Contents as Disc 10 (audio 24/96) plus:

Video content:

Moles Club French TV interview
Live in Frejus 2016 audio & video transfers

Disc 14: BLU-RAY DISC  Beat

Contents as Disc 11 (audio 24/96) plus:

Video content:

Complete Alabamahalle TV broadcast (widescreen format).

Disc 15: BLU-RAY DISC Three of a Perfect Pair

Contents as Disc 12 (audio 24/96) plus:

Video content: Three of a Perfect Pair – Live in Japan (Widescreen format).

Japan April 29th 1984 Part Show;

Japan April 29th 1984 (single camera);

Japan April 30th 1984 (single camera).

Audio content: Absent Lovers

High resolution and surround sound

Bonus Disc 16: Live at Moles Club

Taken from an audience cassette recording of April 30, 1981, the very first performance by Belew, Fripp, Bruford & Levin, while still called “Discipline”. Remastered and recompiled 2016. (2)

Bonus Disc 17: Europe 1982

A newly discovered unreleased live album. Mixed by Brad Davis & Robert Fripp in 1983. Taken from the concert in The Arena, Frejus, August 27th 1982. Plus four bonus tracks from the remainder of the concert

Bonus Disc 18: DVD More Neal and Jack and Me

Video content: The Noise – Live in Frejus as previously released on the DGM DVD Neal and Jack and Me (2002). Plus Three of a Perfect Pair – Live in Japan – re-assembled from newly discovered master reels with previously unseen footage. Both in their original 4:3 standard definition format.

Bonus Disc 19: DVD The Town and the City

Audio content: Live in Philadelphia, Asbury Park, Cap D’Agde, Frejus 24/48 high-resolution stereo, Europe1982, previously unreleased live album 24/96 high-resolution stereo

Video content:

Alabamahalle TV broadcast in its original

4:3 standard definition format

Also includes:

40-page album-sized booklet with

previously unpublished photos by Tony Levin, and sleevenotes incorporating Robert Fripp’s diaries, new interview material with all band members written by Sid Smith and David Singleton

2 concert posters, concert programme, setlist, concert tickets, press releases, promo photo and other memorabilia


From Burning Shed’s website:

The 19-disc limited edition box set ‘On (and off) The Road’ presents a complete overview of the enduringly popular 1980s incarnation of King Crimson. (Robert Fripp, Bill Bruford, Tony Levin and Adrian Belew).

Featuring a wealth of previously unheard audio and / or upgraded audio from the band’s first to final performances, stereo and 5.1 editions of Discipline, Beat and The Three Of A Perfect Pair, plus video recordings of some of the best live shows the line-up played and substantial new concert footage, all presented to the high standards that have been a staple of King Crimson boxed sets of recent years.

Contents include:

* 9cds including new Steven Wilson and Robert Fripp stereo mixes of Discipline (2011), Beat (2016) and Three of a Perfect Pair (2016), and the final concert from each of the band’s tours: Japan 1981 (new to CD), Germany 1982 (new mixes for this edition), Canada (Absent Lovers) 1984 (remastered for this edition)

* 2cds of additional studio recordings including 1 cd containing edited and expanded of sessions for the abandoned third album and a ‘making of…’ CD featuring studio snippets and outtakes from across the studio recordings (providing a fascinating audio insight into the ‘Crimson process’)

* 3dvd-a discs (hybrid discs compatible with all dvd players and rom-drives, region free, ntsc) feature the three original studio albums in high-resolution stereo (new & original mixes), 5.1 Surround Sound mixes and additional audio and videos on all three discs

* 3 blu-ray discs containing all the dvd-a disc material plus extensive additional video material including: Frejus live (Discipline), Alabama-Halle (Beat) (footage unseen since original 1982 broadcast), Japan 1984 (Three of a Perfect Pair) and additional hi-res audio options

* The Three Of A Perfect Pair blu-ray also features previously unseen footage from the final run of 1984 Japanese concerts plus 2 sets of ‘single camera footage’ recordings with shots focusing on each of the individual musicians

* Absent Lovers concert is also included in a new Surround Sound mix on the Three Of A Perfect Pair blu-ray

Presented in a 12″ box with booklet, memorabilia, extensive sleevenotes and eyewitness accounts of KC live.


From DGM Live (King Crimson):

On (and off) The Road presents a complete overview of this enduringly popular line-up. All three studio albums are presented in remixed stereo editions on CD (Discipline in its 2011 mix), as are the final concerts from each year of touring. Two further CDs present newly edited & extended takes from the ‘Champaign-Urbana’ sessions for the band’s proposed third album & a ‘making of’ CD which provides a fascinating audio insight into the studio recordings. New Stereo, 5.1 Surround, original stereo editions & videos appear on the DVD-A discs.

The Blu-Ray discs bring full 24/96 stereo & 5.1 Surround sound plus extended video/concert footage including the Frejus concert, the Alabamahalle concert (unseen since its 1982 broadcast) an array of previously unreleased additional concert footage from the band’s 1984 Japanese concerts, along with audio only options for some of the footage. Two bonus CDs present the band’s first gig as Discipline, from an audio restored bootleg at Moles Club Bath & the unreleased live album that was prepared from the Frejus tapes, with the additional recordings from that concert also included, complete the audio & visual features.

With a wealth of previously unheard audio and/or upgraded audio – from the band’s first to final performances, newly issued stereo & 5.1 editions of two of the band’s studio albums – Beat & TOAPP, the classic Discipline album in stereo & 5.1, audio and video recordings of some of the best live shows the line-up played plus substantial new concert footage, all presented to the high standards that have been a staple of King Crimson boxed sets of recent years, this is an essential edition for the many fans of this era of King Crimson.

When Robert Fripp declared in 1974 that King Crimson had ‘ceased to exist’ nobody could have foreseen that the band would return in 1981 with a radically different line-up & sound, elements of which had, perhaps, more in common with the then current post-punk new wave than the band’s notional progressive rock past. 

Returning initially under the name Discipline for low-key gigs & then as King Crimson proper with an album called ‘Discipline’ & as different from the 1970s King Crimson, as the 1970s line-ups had been from the 1960s band, the new quartet of Robert Fripp, Bill Bruford, Adrian Belew (Zappa, Bowie, Talking Heads) and Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel/Paul Simon), rapidly established itself as a force on the live circuit. The longer songs of the 1960s & early 1970s & the extended improvisations of the live performances from the earlier touring bands were replaced with a series of  short taut songs & instrumentals imbued with a minimalist aesthetic that featured complex interwoven guitar lines from Fripp & Belew, (coined ‘rock gamelan’), Adrian’s distinctive vocals & sharply apt lyrics, Bruford’s new armoury of electronic percussion & Levin’s fluid bass & Chapman Stick lines.

With ‘Discipline’ charting in a number of countries including the UK & USA, the clamour for the band’s tours was further enhanced, often to a greater extent than could actually be fulfilled – not for the first or last time with a King Crimson line-up – due to the other time demands made on the individual musicians. Despite such pressures a further album ‘Beat’ appeared & charted in 1982 & when ‘Three of a Perfect Pair’ hit the UK Top 30 upon release in 1984, it was clear that King Crimson had managed not just to retain a large percentage of its original fanbase but had successfully reached a completely fresh audience also. However, three albums and a number of tours in as many years, for a quartet all of whom had substantial non-KC musical commitments, strained the line-up beyond its natural limit & King Crimson was again retired from active service, not to return until the mid-1990s.

Roger Dean – ‘Islands And Bridges’ Postage Stamp Collection


To coincide with Roger Dean’s current ‘Islands And Bridges’ Exhibition at the Manx Museum in Douglas,  a series of six stamps has been created for the Isle of Man Post Office.

One stamp features a new painting called ‘Meeting Place’, inspired by the Isle of Man’s landscape. Another called ‘Blind Owl Late Landing’ uses artwork that is as yet unreleased.

Others including ‘Pathways’, ‘Green Parrot Island’ and ‘Tales from Topographic Oceans’ use existing paintings from Yes albums, and ‘Sea of Light’ is a piece taken from the Uriah Heep album cover.

Roger adds,  “Of all the ways and in all forms that I have shown my work, this project has been one of the most exciting for me,” Roger says of the collection. “My paintings are landscapes that are mostly inaccessible; stamps are the means of paying for the passage of messages from place to place, I love the purposefulness of that.”

The ‘Islands and Bridges’ stamp collection is part of a collaboration between the artist, the Post Office and Manx National Heritage, which is also marked by the exhibition at the Manx Museum in Douglas, Isle of Man which runs from 20th August until 19th November 2016.

The stamps featured  in this presentation pack are:
• 45p – Meeting Place – painting inspired by the Isle of Man.
• 77p – Blind Owl Late Landing – artwork for the Blind Owl album, to be released.
• 95p – Pathways – cover artwork for the Yes triple album Yessongs.
• £1.24 – Green Parrot Island – from Yes – The Studio Albums 1969-1987 box set.
• £1.69 – Tales From Topographic Oceans – Yes album cover.
• £2.08 – Sea of Light – from the Uriah Heep album of the same name.

The stamps can be ordered here.



NEW Interview with Geoff Downes (14th August)

TD GD InterviewPhoto by Sue Hegedus

Pre-show at The Egg in Albany, I sat down with YES keyboard genius Geoff Downes to discuss the current tour, Drama in 1980 and the future for YES…….

Tim Darbyshire – Firstly thanks a lot for agreeing to this interview.
Geoff Downes – No problem at all.

TD – 2015 was obviously a difficult year for everyone involved with YES
GD – Yes, obviously because of Chris, it was tough, it took us all by surprise we were pretty shocked because we all thought he would pull through. The last diagnosis we had was he said I’m going to have this treatment then be ok. When it got more in depth and started to look more serious that’s when he decided he wouldn’t be able to do the tour, so that’s when we brought Billy in – we’d already brought Billy in before unfortunately circumstances prevailed. So yes it was a tough time – I mean thinking about Chris’ contribution, he was essential really to all YES’ music.

TD – After a difficult 2015, it seems YES in 2016 is invigorated, everything’s come back with a vengeance
GD – It was all going quite well until Alan got sick, but I think that again, you know, he knew only a week before the tour when he had the operation on his back – and his recuperation time was longer than anticipated …

TD – So I guess he’s out for the whole tour?
GD – I don’t know, he’s hoping to maybe make an appearance when we get to the West Coast, but at the moment he’s in convalescent mode recuperating. I speak to him every day or two, he gives me updates and says he really misses not being there. I think he feels that he’s letting the side down in some way, but I tell him, no, you just get well. And of course Jay is the guy he appointed, he said this is the guy that can do it if I can’t.

TD – So he could play it from the off? What was the rehearsal like?
GD – Well we looked at it about a week before and Alan said I don’t think I’ll be able to do it, so effectively he (Jay) had a week to learn the set.
TD – Is that different for a drummer than say a keyboard player, to learn the set quickly?
GD – I don’t think so necessarily, none of it’s easy you know, YES music is particularly demanding in every department, it’s not something that people can just walk on and start playing. There’s also a lot of ways that the numbers aren’t absolutely parrot fashion to the albums – so in that respect he took on quite a lot to get that together within a week, but as you’ve seen he’s playing brilliantly.

TD – Yes, we saw the show a couple of weeks ago
GD – It’s got very very tight as time has gone on – people always used to criticize YES saying they never rehearse enough, but I think we did enough to make sure everyone was at the same place.
TD – It sounded pretty tight two weeks ago, so I’m guessing tonight will be even tighter.
GD – Yes

TD – Billy of course has just shoehorned in there, a perfect fit
GD – Yes, it’s not easy for anybody you know, as I say, YES music is pretty demanding, not just musically but physically as well, especially for a drummer, which is probably one of the reasons why in Alan’s case unless he thought he was in tip-top shape physically he felt he might be doing a disservice – but he’s getting better and hopefully he’ll be fully fit by the time we get to the West Coast, or certainly by the time we go to Japan.

TD – So, onto this tour – when I saw what you were going to play I thought that’s a brave set list. You know the Summer tours in the States tend to be a safer set list normally?
GD – Yes, it’s adventurous for the band in its own right because we’re not playing stuff that’s mainstream, familiarity stuff – a lot of the Summer tours are, you know… if you see Kansas you know you’ll hear ‘Carry On Wayward Son’, ‘Dust In The Wind’ and a few others. I think it makes a nice change, because we’ve played a lot of the mainstream core material for quite some years now and it’s two years since we brought an album out. The last couple of years has been relying on the old standards. Now we’ve shown the band has got some spirit to be playing two of the non-mainstream albums.

TD – Yes it would have been so easy to play it safe.
GD – I mean obviously it’s a bit more relevant in the case of Drama because I was on Drama, with Steve and Alan, so that was a given that we’d be doing that album at some point.

TD – It must feel good to be playing an album you featured heavily on and co-wrote?
GD – Yes, when Benoit was in the band and I first rejoined we were doing Tempus Fugit and occasionally Machine Messiah, but obviously the other 4 tracks have not been played live since the original Drama tour ….well Run Through The Light has never been played – even on the 1980 Drama tour.

TD – Live it seems it goes so fast (the Drama album)
GD – I know, I know, time flies
TD – Tempus Fugit…..

GD – But for me it was very interesting to look at Tales, because that’s really a kind of holy grail type album for a lot of YES fans, the real dedicated fans are really into that album. I’d kind of moved on, it passed me by.
TD – So it wasn’t an album you were heavily into at the time?
GD – No, no – and again, both albums that we’re doing were quite controversial. Tales From Topographic (Oceans) was controversial because of the way the music was presented on the album and I suppose Drama was controversial due to the fact that Trevor Horn and myself joined the band – and took YES in a …I would say more of a kind of …not a rock direction, but it was more of a kind of hard hitting edge and not so many dreamy sections and all that sort of stuff. It was a very powerful album.

TD – Let’s talk about Drama, the first time around and the circumstances around you joining – I remember as a 16 year old hearing Tommy Vance’s announcement on the Friday Rock Show (UK radio show)
GD – I remember that too, I was driving my car listening to the radio…
TD – All he said was Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman have been replaced by Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes also known as The Buggles – and that was it, no information. Today you can get information online, find out what’s what…..
GD – Yes he (Tommy Vance) had the Friday Rock Show, it used to run quite late didn’t it?
TD – 10 till 12 I think
GD – Yes that’s right, 10 till 12 and that was his breaking news that night, and I remember thinking oh yeah I guess it is pretty strange you know….

TD – Was the announcement well after it had happened then?
GD – Oh yes, that was after we’d agreed to do the album. Up until that point, we’d really just been providing them with some ideas because we had the same manager.
TD – Brian Lane
GD – Yes Brian Lane was managing both The Buggles and YES, and it was Chris who heard ‘The Age Of Plastic’ and said it sounded really interesting. We were rehearsing in the room next to them, they kind of came in and we started talking and they asked if we had any material they could use.
TD – Didn’t you find that quite strange?
GD – Well yes but we had some material that was not so mainstream Buggles, so we said we’ve got these couple of ideas. We did a demo – I think we got Bill Bruford to play on it at one point – it was actually the basis of Fly From Here. So that was the first track we came up with and Chris came and played bass on it, and said he quite liked it and did we have anything else. I think we had I Am A Camera which became Into The Lens and that kind of got incorporated… we started building these things up and Yessifying them, Machine Messiah sort of came out of all that. It started to escalate and at that point Chris said why don’t you guys join the band then?

TD – So you knew by then that the other two had lost interest? Jon and Rick had left the band?
GD – Yes, they were doing other things, Jon was working with Vangelis and Rick was doing his solo stuff. They’d had a disastrous attempt at an album in Paris with Roy Thomas Baker producing, which never really saw the light of day although I think some of the tracks that Steve, Alan and Chris were rehearsing at the time were parts of those reworked ideas.
TD – There’s a few tracks from the Paris sessions on the Rhino reissue of Drama
GD – Yes, I think some of the riffs and some of the sections they already had those, but the general vibe of the album was that it generally wasn’t happening, you know, what happened in Paris.

TD – So this was something you jumped at? Joining YES? I mean you were already a successful pop artist with ‘Video Killed The Radio Star?
GD – Yes but it was a totally different ball game, you know venturing over to the other side, the Prog side, even though a lot of people gave The Buggles credit for being a very musical pop outfit, there was subtlety not only in the production but also in the song writing. We were just kind of condensing it down to a very radio friendly format and I think when we joined YES and did the Drama album I think it showed – and Chris was particularly receptive to it – that YES could utilize that sound and take it even further into the mainstream, without you know selling out – some people say they sold out with 90125, I don’t think they did, they just redeveloped a different side of YES’ music. They’d done all the long albums, Tales, Close To The Edge in the 70s and Tormato their previous album, I don’t think they were all wholly satisfied with that album…

TD – I have a soft spot for Tormato as it was the new album when I got into YES
GD – We have considered playing it as one of the albums in The Album Series, but Steve doesn’t think it’s strong enough as an album.
TD – I think Side 1 is stronger than Side 2
GD – Alan feels the same, it’s not got that depth that the other albums have got, you know in terms of the writing. That album never really surfaced as a real possibility to be played. Relayer is up there as a possibility.
TD – I was going to ask if Relayer might be added to The Album Series?
GD – That would be particularly demanding from my standpoint you know, Moraz’s parts are exceedingly complex.
TD – Sound Chaser?
GD – Yes, and Gates Of Delirium you know – we’ve played Soon but that’s only a small section.
TD – Is it an album you like?
GD – Yes, it’s a very very masterful album, all the players are playing at the top of their game.
TD – I read that To Be Over might have been close to making the set list this year?
GD – Yes, we’ve actually discussed doing that at some point because we were going to do that on the Cruise, but it never happened, so we did Soon instead.

TD – If you continue the album series, which album will be next?
GD – We’re still discussing whether to do that or not, nothing is set in stone, the balls are up in the air on that front, but with this line-up I don’t see us doing any other full album other than Relayer, if we were to do anything.
TD – Well that would be worth travelling a long way to see.

TD – So the Drama tour first time around – how was that?
GD – In 1980? Pretty formidable from my standpoint really, I’d never done anything like that before.
TD – As in touring?
GD – Well, being in front of that many people – it was quite an eye opener, as The Buggles were just a video band you know, appearing in magazines and stuff like that. We were never forced to get up there and play, but we had a fairly lengthy rehearsal period and I’ve heard some of the stuff from that period – when we actually got into the tour we sounded pretty good.
TD – Yes I dug out a few tapes from that tour, by the time you got to the UK, the audiences weren’t as receptive. I think that’s a British thing isn’t it? The Buggles are a pop band let’s knock them down?
GD – Yes the British are a bit more cynical when it comes to things like that. The Americans were very open about it and of course you had the spectacle of the stage being in the round and stuff like that – it was much more of an experience for the American fans to see it that way, because it was a show whereas when we got to the UK we were in the theatres you know. It wasn’t so much of a show, it was a case of let’s listen to the music and there was a lot of resentment from the diehards – not so much against me but more to do with Trevor. Obviously he was the first replacement for Jon Anderson, and now….. the ‘fairy’ figure wasn’t there anymore.

TD – Whereas you were on stage surrounded by keyboards…..
GD – It wasn’t so bad for me…..Rick Wakeman wasn’t the original keyboard player, that was Tony Kaye and they had Patrick (Moraz)….so the focus was less on me, although there still was a certain amount of resentment, no doubt about it – there still is you know.

TD – I know you keep half an eye on what’s being said online – at Straight after the tour you pretty much all went your separate ways – was there never any impetus to carry on?
GD – The negative response did have an effect on us. By the time we’d finished the UK shows – I think we ended up at the Finsbury Park Rainbow, I remember Chris saying I don’t think this is going to work.

TD – Yet you’d enjoyed being in the studio, making a good album?
GD – Yes but I think it was something he didn’t think was working anymore, although more recently he changed his mind on all of that. Chris was very much the guy – not necessarily the guy who made the decisions because YES is you know a very co-operative kind of unit – but he just didn’t think it was going to go anywhere, and then Steve and myself were at loose ends really. Chris and Alan were working with Jimmy Page……
TD – On the XYZ sessions…
GD – ….and I’d got on very well with Steve and we had a really good understanding between guitar and keyboard and you know, he wanted to preserve that……and that’s really how the ASIA thing started. John Wetton’s wife was working in Brian Lane’s office, so we kind of got mingling and talking about stuff and then somebody gave Carl a call, and it just came together like that.

TD – That’s 4 very talented musicians in ASIA, you just mentioned 90125 – it seems to me in the early 80s, a lot of this kind of music was going towards a more radio friendly rock sound?
GD – Definitely. 90125 is YES’ biggest selling album by some margin….
TD – But nowhere near ASIA’s first album…
GD – Not in the same division as that, no. But even when you think about Close To The Edge or Fragile or whatever…..90125 managed to strike a chord and they had a Number 1 single in America, which was unheard of for a band like YES.
TD – It’s still what the casual fan equates YES with – Owner Of A Lonely Heart.
GD – It set them on a course, they became more widely accessible to a lot of people, who would not normally be into YES music. And also the musical climate was changing, you know obviously MTV was out, starting to affect people’s perception – it wasn’t just the rock radio stations calling the shots anymore. There was a whole different world out there – people had this brand new shop window, so it was affecting the way people wrote music I think.

TD – When do you think that stopped? When did it become alright again to look back and start playing things like Close To The Edge live….I mean there’s nothing new out there anymore….
GD – No, there was a wave of alternative bands, the grunge stuff, bands like Maroon 5 came out of that…and then the BritPop bands, Blur and Oasis and Snow Patrol, you know all those kind of bands……but they didn’t have the depth of the music that YES had.
TD – Coldplay.
GD – Yes exactly, Coldplay. They’re sort of billed as the latter day Pink Floyd, in terms of the significance of them in modern music. You know, it’s not my bag, but good luck to them. It’s really only the last 5 or 6 years where a lot of reissues have come out – King Crimson deluxe editions – that’s really helped to revitalize the catalogs of the Prog rock bands.

TD – Some of the classic YES albums are out now in 5.1 surround sound, is there any talk of Drama getting the 5.1 treatment, even though it’s a decent sounding album and maybe doesn’t need the work maybe Tormato does?
GD – It’s a tricky one that because they don’t know where the multi-track masters are at the moment.
TD – That’s the same with Going For The One
GD – Yes, so there’s nothing you can do unless you locate the multi-tracks….

TD – Are you interested in that, or do you feel it sounds good as you made it?
GD – I like to listen to the albums the way they were originally recorded. I know Steven Wilson does a very good job, and it’s interesting to some fans but the problem I have with 5.1 is that unless you’re in the sweet spot – right in the middle of the 5 speakers – you don’t really get any perspective because if you move from that point….
TD – Or lie down….
GD – Yes, you have to be sitting there – which is maybe how some people like listening to music with the sensory surroundings, but if people are just listening to music as a general thing or as background or while having dinner….it’s a bit pointless you know because you really have to be a hi-fi specialist to be sitting there in the sweet spot.

TD – I guess at least it’s better than just another release of an old album, they are offering something new…
GD – Well the good side of it is it generated a lot of interest in that album, I think Close To The Edge benefitted from that.
TD – Yes, extra vocal parts were added back in to the quiet section of the title track for example, that’s on the new stereo mix, so you don’t have to listen in 5.1….
GD – That’s interesting to some fans, stuff they hid from the final mix originally. But I think you have to be a mega mega enthusiast to get into that side of it.

TD – So, the future for YES? It’s not long now until the 50th Anniversary and I guess do you as a band, or individually have mixed feelings about the upcoming ARW tour?
GD – I think we’re just, you know, we let them get on with it really…I don’t think there’s any……we just wish them luck. Anything that’s going out promoting the music of YES is good for everybody. It’s not a kind of us versus them scenario.

TD – Do you see a repeat of the late 80s/early 90s when 2 bands came together for the Union album and tour?
GD – Ummm, I’m not seeing that at the moment but you never know what might happen. YES is a very strange band (laughs…..) weird things happen with YES.
TD – I don’t really know what I want, as a fan – do I want Union 2? It seems a bit final to me somehow.
GD – I don’t know….if that would, I don’t know….there’s a lot of talk about the Rock n’ Roll Hall Of Fame, which members of the band would be inducted if YES ever got in there…I don’t know, I don’t really concern myself with those kind of things.

TD – I see a future for YES (this YES) with Jon D and Billy……
GD – Yes, I mean Billy’s done a tremendous job to replace Chris because, well a lot of people said you know Chris is irreplaceable, I think he couldn’t have done it any better you know, that’s for sure. It all sounds great – Chris’ parts are not easy for anyone to emulate, not just his bass parts but his techniques as well – his vocal techniques, because his voice was such a close blend with Jon Anderson’s, and Chris’ vocal parts were as important as his bass parts.

TD – A couple of general questions to wrap things up. When you write do you write for ASIA or YES or DBA, or does it depend on the style?
GD – Probably in my own mind I think it’d be more suitable if I get a basic idea of what something is for, like when I work with Chris Braide (DBA) or I just bag some ideas up that I think relate to that project, same with John Wetton you know. Generally in my mind I kind of split them up, there are obviously blurry elements, whereas sometimes you think maybe I should have worked more on that for another project…..

TD – There was a talk of an unfinished longer song with Jon Davison.
GD – Yes that’s still there, it’s not completely on the back burner.
TD – So is new YES music maybe in the plans for next year?
GD – I hope so yes, I think it’s always good to do new music, it enables the touring to have a different angle, I mean we’ve been doing The Album Series for a while now but when you have a new album out it’s always nice to throw in a couple of the songs.

TD – As a creative person you always want to keep creating.
GD – Yes, it not only keeps the fans interested I think, but it shows that we’re not just prepared to sit back and play the part, we always think about the future.

TD – OK, so was it always going to be a life in music for you? Your family were very musical I believe.
GD – Yes, a lot of music. I didn’t really feel like I had any choice.
TD – Well it sounds like a good non-choice to have!
GD – ..and I went to music college in Leeds as you know.

TD – Yes, 71-75 – did you venture down to Elland Road often?
GD – Yes I used to go there sometimes, and the cricket at Headingley.
TD – So I guess you lived near Headingley as a student?
GD – Yes, Hyde Park Headingley near the cinema.
TD – I was a Roundhay boy
GD – Oh yes, Roundhay Park
TD – I lived a 10 minute walk from the park.

GD – Yes it’s quite a ground Elland Road
TD – An old ground, apart from the East Stand – does Martin still have his season ticket and box there? (Martin Darvill – YES manager)
GD – Yes he shares it with a guy that runs that firm ShowCo, Mark Harding – a big Leeds fan, and a couple of other guys from the music business. They converge in the posh part, and have a bite to eat.
TD – The prawn sandwich brigade…
GD – Yeah yeah.

TD – Ok Geoff thanks very much for your time.
GD – Ok Tim, good to see you mate, enjoy the show tonight.


My review of the Albany show is here, with photos.

My review of the Lewiston show is here, with photos.

YES – Live at The Egg, Albany NY 14th August 2016

YES The Egg Albany 2016 15-small

With YES reaching the halfway stage of their 2016 US Drama/Tales 1 & 4 Tour, we headed south again into upper New York State, to The Egg (Performing Arts Center) in Albany to find the band still on top of its game …………review and photos by Tim Darbyshire.

With a capacity of under 1000 seats, the intimate setting of the Hart Theater inside The Egg provided the ideal setting to witness YES as the venue is known for its great acoustics. Although not quite sold out, the crowd welcomed the band enthusiastically as they entered the stage to the sound of Benjamin Britten’s ‘Young Person’s Guide To The Orchestra’.

As on all dates on this tour, YES immediately powered into 1980’s ‘Drama’ album in its entirety.  Released originally in 1980, it was an interesting time in YES’ often turbulent history as founder member Jon Anderson and keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman were replaced by  Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes – aka The Buggles who were best known for their hit single ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’.  36 years later, ‘Drama’ is widely regarded as a gem in the YES back catalogue.

‘Machine Messiah’ kicks off the album, and from the off it’s clear Geoff Downes in particular is in his element,  enjoying playing the material he first co-wrote for YES.  Billy Sherwood handles Chris Squire’s bass parts with aplomb throughout, highlighted on ‘Does It Really Happen’.  The Buggles’ Yessified ‘Into The Lens’ and the rarely heard ‘Run Through The Light’ lead into the album closer ‘Tempus Fugit’ – a storming climax to a remarkably fresh sounding work.

It seems ‘Drama’ is over so quickly (all 37 minutes of it – tempus fugit indeed), and before we know it we’re back in the familiar crowd-pleasing territory of ‘I’ve Seen All Good People’. A rousing ‘Siberian Khatru’ closes the first set, with Steve Howe relishing the solo at the end of the piece.

On paper at least, by playing half of ‘Tales From Topographic Oceans’ YES is challenging their more casual fans – but that’s par for the course, YES has always demanded listeners actually listen to the material which leads to great rewards on the most part.  A typically uplifting ‘And You And I’ with the customary sublime guitar work from Steve Howe opens the second set and leads into the two 20 minute ‘Tales’ tracks.

‘Tales From Topographic Oceans’ was of course 1973’s controversial follow up to ‘Close To The Edge’, and for some fans and many critics it was a step too far.  A double album with one song per side – it even split the band. To other YES fans it’s a kind of holy grail and I think the decision to present the more accessible sides 1 and 4 (The Revealing Science Of God and Ritual) with the acoustic interlude ‘Leaves Of Green’ (from side 3 – ‘The Ancient’)  sandwiched between the two longer pieces should be applauded.

Vocalist Jon Davison effortlessly handles ‘The Revealing Science Of God’. That’s no mean feat considering some of the lengthy wordier sections, and Alan White’s temporary replacement Jay Schellen  – who does a commendable job throughout – gets the chance to shine during ‘Ritual’ which has Jon, Billy and Jay all pounding out rhythms towards the end of the song. The ‘Nous Sommes Du Soleil’ part of ‘Ritual’ remains some of the most beautiful music written by YES.

A barnstorming double encore of ‘Roundabout’ and ‘Starship Trooper’ brings the evening’s proceedings to a close – this is clearly a band on top form. The current line-up might not please every YES fan, but make no mistake, they are YES and I’m struggling  to recall any line up looking so happy to be on stage playing YES music.

(I interviewed Geoff Downes before the show which can be found here).


Line Up:

Jon Davison – vocals
Geoff Downes – keyboards
Steve Howe – guitar
Jay Schellen – drums
Billy Sherwood – bass

Set list:

Set 1 (8:00pm – 9:00pm)
Intro – Benjamin Britten The Young Person’s Guide To The Orchestra
Machine Messiah
White Car
Does It Really Happen?
Into the Lens
Run Through the Light
Tempus Fugit
I’ve Seen All Good People
Siberian Khatru

Set 2 (9:20pm – 10:50pm)
And You And I
The Revealing Science of God
Leaves of Green
Ritual (Nous Sommes du Soleil)

Starship Trooper


YES – Live at Artpark, Lewiston NY 2nd August 2016


With no Canadian dates scheduled for the Drama/Tales 1 & 4 YES Summer 2016 tour, we headed over the border to ArtPark in Lewiston NY to catch the band as they entered the second week of the tour…………review and photos by Tim Darbyshire.

As part of Artpark’s $12 open-air Tuesday night series, YES returned to Lewiston after an absence of 4 years with a brave set of 1980’s ‘Drama’ album in its entirety and half of 1973’s controversial ‘Tales From Topographic Oceans’, interspersed with classic YES staples ‘I’ve Seen All Good People’, ‘Siberian Khatru’, ‘And You And I’, ‘Roundabout’ and ‘Starship Trooper’.

Shortly before the tour began, it was announced that Alan White – ever present drummer since 1972 – had had to have back surgery and would be absent from (at least) the first few weeks of the tour. Thankfully Jay Schellen has stepped up to fill the drum-stool at short notice. Jay is known to most YES fans through his work with Circa and Asia, and it has to be said, he’s doing a great job.

In bright sunshine, the band kicked off with the ‘Drama’ album – released in 1980, it was at the time a difficult moment in YES’ history as founder member Jon Anderson and keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman were replaced by successful chart toppers  Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes – aka The Buggles.  36 years later, ‘Drama’ is widely regarded as a gem in the YES back catalogue.

Album opener ‘Machine Messiah ‘ is about as heavy as YES gets, and from early on it was clear that this was a relaxed band that appeared just to be happy to play. As an album, ‘Drama’ has a nice flow to it with ‘Does It Really Happen’ and ‘Into The Lens’ being neatly bookended by standout tracks ‘Machine Messiah’ and ‘Tempus Fugit’.

Having rejoined YES in 2011, I’m sure Geoff enjoyed playing the material he wrote (mostly) for the first time. Jay provided the energy the material required, and before you knew it we were back in familiar live territory with ‘I’ve Seen All Good People’ and ‘Siberian Khatru’ where Steve Howe rightly came to the fore. Set 2 started with the welcome return to the live set of the sublime ‘And You And I’, which as ever received a particularly strong reaction from the appreciative and large crowd.

I’m not sure what the more casual fan made of the ‘Tales’ tracks. 2 twenty minute pieces, with ‘Leaves Of Green’ (an acoustic duet from Steve Howe and Jon Davison from the third side – ‘The Ancient’) sandwiched in between. It’s heaven of course to the deep YES fan, culminating in Jon, Billy and Jay all pounding out rhythms towards the end of ‘Ritual’. In ‘Ritual’ especially Billy once again showed how comfortable he is filling Chris Squire’s shoes.

Jon Davison takes whatever YES throws at him in his stride, even if he did need an iPad to guide him through some of the lengthier, wordier passages of ‘The Revealing Science Of God’.  Jon’s voice always seems spot on, effortlessly rising to the challenge – I’d love to hear him tackle ‘Relayer’ in full, surely the only YES challenge remaining to him?

After a rousing double encore of ‘Roundabout’ and ‘Starship Trooper’ the enthusiastic crowd left happy, knowing that once again YES had undoubtedly delivered.

Line Up:

Jon Davison – vocals
Geoff Downes – keyboards
Steve Howe – guitar
Jay Schellen – drums
Billy Sherwood – bass

Set list:

Set 1 (7:00pm – 8:00pm)
Intro – Benjamin Britten The Young Person’s Guide To The Orchestra
Machine Messiah
White Car
Does It Really Happen?
Into the Lens
Run Through the Light
Tempus Fugit
I’ve Seen All Good People
Siberian Khatru

Set 2 (8:20pm – 9:50pm)
And You And I
The Revealing Science of God
Leaves of Green
Ritual (Nous Sommes du Soleil)

Starship Trooper