At The Gig
Martyn Williams Reports
This last Wednesday was a special night at the Thameside Theatre where a good sized and appreciative audience were treated to the very special presence of one of Rock’s great guitarists Steve Howe, appearing with his own Steve Howe Trio. I spoke to audience members and found that some had travelled from across the Thames from deepest Kent, and even farther afield, to hear and see Steve perform live. He ranks up there as one of the epic rock guitarists’ starting in the 1970’s as the composing driving force behind the mega successful progressive rock band YES, fronted up at the time by the distinctive and haunting voice of Jon Anderson and on keyboards by the great Rick Wakeman. Those of you that may not recognise the name of Jon will know of his voice from his collaboration with synth maestro Van Gellis in the 80’s. More news from Steve for diehard YES fans came later!
Steve has been and still is touring with his own trio that consist of him on guitar of course, his son Dylan on drums and Ross Stanley on Hammond organ. They set up simply on stage for an evening of focus on the music and they did not disappoint. They opened up with his own trio arrangement of his own YES track ‘Mood for a Day’ from his 1970’s album ‘Fragile’ and the goose bumps went up and down the spine as his truly distinctive and complex virtuoso style suddenly filled the theatre. A word of praise to the crew who got the balance and volume absolutely ‘spot on’ for the venue. We then settled back for a whole evening of Steve playing pieces that were either his own iconic compositions or those of others he loves to play including the great black jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell. What strikes you is how versatile he is and how musically tight and accomplished the trio are whether they are playing jazz numbers or their own truly engaging interpretation of movements of his melodically iconic and intricate pieces such as Close to the Edge, Siberian Khatru, and even with echoes of the style in another number that I identified as so reminiscent of his original acoustic track ‘Clap’ that is known to millions of YES fans. He and the guys would then slip effortlessly into covers of standards like ‘He ain’t heavy he’s my Brother’ and then one of Joni Mitchell’s songs. All through the concert you could hear the sheer musical driving force and utterly unique playing style of this guy that made YES what they were, a mega rock band of the 70’s, but here, right in front of us in this cosy and intimate venue of the Thameside Theatre! Dylan and Ross are truly excellent musicians themselves frequently taking off with their own riffs to the delight of the audience.
Steve chatted to the audience between numbers and happily made occasional references to YES to the delight of one and all and then towards the end reminded some of us, and surprised those that hadn’t heard, that YES will be reformed to perform at the Royal Albert Hall next May, if you don’t already know!
After the gig Steve came out to meet the fans, sign his CD’s (I got my YES album cd signed as well-Yeh!) and explained that he doesn’t shake hands as he’s protecting his priceless assets, his hands, from possible injury. Obvious when you think about it! What a great evening it was for those who love this genre and his style, and if you see he’s performing like this near you just go and see him, you won’t be disappointed.
Here is Steve in Interview with YT ‘s Mike Jones