red lights


Solo show success?
Yes indeed!

Steve Howe
Cubby Bear
Chicago, IL
April 27, 2006
Steve Howe Steve Howe

Story and Photos By Andy Argyrakis

Now that Yes is on a temporary hiatus, all of its members have time to embark on solo albums and side projects. Of course, that's always been part of the deal for anyone who's logged considerable time with the legendary unit, though this particular season finds enough extra time away from one another for the quintessential line-up to tour on their own. Leading the pack in America last fall was singer Jon Anderson, followed by the tag team of bassist Chris Squire and drummer Alan White in The Syn. Though keyboardist Rick Wakeman was scheduled to take the stateside stage this spring, illness postponed those dates until summer, leaving guitarist Steve Howe as the sole player on the road right now. Aside from hearing each of the guys' personalities outside that entity, these breathers are giving fans the rare chance of catching prog rock royalty in intimate venues (as opposed to the regularly scheduled arenas). Such was the case of Howe's windy city stop, which despite the unlikely sports bar environment of the Cubby Bear, was a rare chance to get comfy with only a few hundred other followers.

While time apart means a break from the Yes catalogue, it certainly made up a portion of the finger picker's performance, especially since that was what the bulk of attendees probably wanted to hear. But Howe is an accomplished solo artist in his own right with an incredibly prolific collection that includes the recent CD release Spectrum and the DVD Remedy Live. Still it was hard to predict just what he'd pull out of the rabbit's hat since there was no pre-planned set list and faithful regularly called out requests. At first, the legendary played focused on his own goals, such as the remarkably precise and sharply performed "Masquerade," "Intersection Blues" and eventually "Meadow Rag." Though he played various acoustic guitars, there were also moments he picked up the mandolin, plopped a steel guitar on his lap and even turned electric.

Prior to the plugged in portion, Howe gave a mini seminar demonstrating how that particular instrument worked, including examples of how the knobs could sound like a 12 string one moment and then a sitar with the flip of a switch. The most cheers came during the traditional electric riff segment, which was anchored with a short introductory tease of Asia's "Heat of the Moment," though he quickly ditched the pop direction even in the midst of some boos and bellows. While Asia wasn't a priority, he made a point of mentioning the short lived stint in GTR (also featuring Genesis' Steve Hackett), offering up the stunning "Sketches In the Sun" off its eponymous LP.

Yet it was the sprinkling of Yes material that made the most waves, such "Nine Voices" (from The Ladder), which had Howe step up to the microphone backed by a local young adult chorale. Since his range is considerably lower than the signature wails of Anderson, these extra voices were much appreciated, often covering up his off key moans. Luckily that choir returned during the encore of the even higher "Your Move," giving the classic segment from the "I've Seen All Good People" suit a gospel flavor, complete with hand claps and a congregational sing-a-long session. The momentum continued into the obligatory grand finale "Roundabout," again demonstrating Howe's skillful strokes and jaw dropping ability to make complicated chord progressions look quite simple. And in a flash he was gone for good, capping off a two hour set on a crest that made attendees appreciative of what they just witnessed, but also clamoring for the next official Yes collaboration.

What Do You Think?



City & State:

e mail:

Here's Your Chance to.... Respond!

Your feedback will be featured on
Rant or Rave within 24 hours.

Return to Reviews
Return to Menu