Yes, it’s Yes and Wakeman


Well, here’s a coincidence. Prog rock luminaries Yes play Sheffield City Hall next Wednesday, followed by keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman, who used to be in the band, the following night.

Both are harking back to some of their glory days.

Yes will perform their three albums, The Yes Album, Close to the Edge and Going for the One in their entirety, keeping the tracks in the order they appeared on vinyl. It means reprises for the likes of Yours is No Disgrace, I’ve Seen All Good People, Starship Trooper, Close to the Edge, And You And I,” and Wonderous Stories.

“We performed these three albums in their entirety on our North and South American tours, and the fans absolutely loved it,” says guitarist Steve Howe.

“And so did we,” adds co-founder and bassist Chris Squire.

“Plus, we’ll be performing pieces we’ve rarely played live. In fact, I believe the one song we never performed in concert before our three album tours is A Venture from The Yes Album.”

The job of stepping into singer Jon Anderson’s shoes goes to Jon Davison, but otherwise it’s a familiar line-up completed by Alan White (drums) and Geoff Downes (keyboards). Meanwhile, Rick Wakeman, last seen in Sheffield giving a wonderfully entertaining one-man show in the nave of the Anglican Cathedral before its restoration, is bringing his Journey to the Centre of the Earth tour to the City Hall next Thursday.

The timing is appropriate - the 40th anniversary of the classic-rock album and the 150th anniversary of Jules Verne’s book.

The keyboard player (and Grumpy Old Man in latter years) will be appearing with The New World Symphony Orchestra, accompanied by The English Chamber Choir and the English Rock Ensemble, and the narrator will be actor Philip Frank.

The first half of will see Wakeman alone on stage at the piano, telling in his irrepressible style the story of the many trials and tribulations in the making of the original album and the following world tour, based on his acclaimed Edinburgh Festival show.

The second half will feature a performance of the work, which sold 15m copies.

“This is the start of a new Journey,” says Rick. “The original score for the album had been lost for so many years, making any new performances impossible, but after it turned up without warning, we managed to restore it and add missing music that was not included in the original performances.

“It has taken another half decade to develop it into this tour, but I can’t wait to take Jules Verne’s magnificent story on tour again.”

Reassuringly, early reviews of the tour have him taking to the stage in a flowing, diamond-encrusted cape. Oh yes, that’s how we like to remember him.