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Starship Troopers

A Brief History Of Fragile by Steve Carney

Part I

  

Jon & Steve at an early show

Gameplan

Fragile were co-founded in May 1998 by Steve Carney and Jon Bastable. Steve had been a Yes fan since 1972, with Jon cutting his Yes teeth on Going For The One in 1977. As vocalist and bass player respectively, they echoed the dynamic which first brought Jon Anderson and Chris Squire together in 1968. Yes had just completed the UK leg of the Open Your Eyes tour, and Steve and Jon had witnessed a remarkable performance at the Hammersmith Apollo, London. On the journey home they discussed the possibilities of forming a Yes tribute band, could it be done?.

By July 1998, they had mapped out a gameplan and began recruiting the players needed to realise the dream. First in was Tom Dawe an established rock guitarist known to both Steve and Jon through long standing musical connections. Tom was to perform the role of rhythm guitarist and anchorman, and this would enable the lead guitarist to replicate the complex guitar work of Steve Howe. Soon after came Mitch Harwood, a highly respected drummer and vocalist who like Steve was lifelong Yes fan. Mitch brought an intimate understanding of the technique employed by both Bill Bruford and Alan White, and was able to replicate the vocal harmony parts employed by Squire and Howe. Martin Blackwell became the band's first keyboard player, and with the appointment of Micho Correa on lead guitar in September 1998, Fragile were finally underway. Rehearsals took place throughout the autumn of 1998 with good progress being made. However, November saw a major development with the talented Paul McGinley replacing Martin on keys. With this the final piece of Fragile Mk 1 was in place, and Fragile made its debut in January 1999 at the Half Moon, Herne Hill, London.

 

Seal of Approval

March 1999 saw a major development with original Yes guitarist Peter Banks joining the band on stage at the Standard Music Venue in London. Peter's appearance was a unique event and saw him perform Time And A Word live for the first time in almost thirty years. Also in the audience were the well respected journalist Chris Welch author of the Yes biography "Close to the Edge" and David Watkinson author of the forthcoming Yes history "Perpetual Chnage". With this seal of approval, Steve's dream had indeed been realised, and Fragile now set about the business of establishing themselves as the UK's Yes Tribute Band. The remainder of 1999 was spent gigging and developing the setlist, and by September the band had performed its first dates outside London. However, in a further line-up change Micho left the band by mutual agreement. It was not until November that his replacement, Dave Rollins (a Steve Howe soundalike) was named.

With the launch of the band's highly praised website www.yestribute.com in late 1999, Fragile indeed seemed set fair for the Millenium. With the arrival of the year 2000, Fragile had just completed a hectic period of rehearsals with their new lead guitarist. The band performed two low key comeback dates in January in preparation for a much expanded New Year gig schedule. But in a surprise development, Dave quit the band only days before the planned arrival of new keyboard player Gonzalo Carrera in early February. Dave's departure was a blow, but Gonzalo (a Wakeman afficianado and devoted Yes fan ) was already committed to the project. He had been waiting in the wings since October of 1999, and was already rehearsed-in. The question now was how could Dave be replaced, and indeed.. could plans for 2000 be salvaged!.

 

 

Banks on stage with Fragile!

Mitch - Cause for Concern!

Any fears abated with Gonzalo's suggestion that the band explore the possibility of recruiting a guitarist friend of his, Robert Illes. In a series of informal rehearsals Robert more than proved his worth, and he displayed a unique ability to play in whatever style required (Banks, Howe, or Rabin). Then, as Fragile prepared to resume live action in March 2000, Mitch Harwood was struck down with a serious illness which put the band out of action for over two months. Finally, in late May, the definitive line-up of Fragile (Carney, Bastable, Harwood, Dawe, Carrera,> and Illes) were born.

The year 2000 saw Fragile record their debut CD "Live At The Half Moon", undertake a national tour in the shape of "Roundabout 2000", perform outside the UK for the first time at Vervier in Belgium, support Pallas at the London Astoria, meet Rick Wakeman, and gain coverage in Q and Classic Rock magazines as well as local radio exposure. By the end of December 2000, positive reviews for "Live At The Half Moon" were appearing on web sites around the globe, and their gigs had become highly acclaimed events in their own right. The band's website reached 20,000 hits, and plans for 2001 were already mapped out.

 

With the lengthy 'Roundabout 2000' tour still fresh in the memory, Fragile wasted no time and hit 2001 running. January saw the band rehearsing new material in the shape of 'Perpetual Change', 'South Side Of The Sky' and 'Wonderous Stories'; Rob also added the much requested 'Clap' to his Howe portfolio. In February the band performed a warm-up date at Arsenal FC at the invitation of TKR Productions, repeating the success of their debut at Highbury in 1999. The first official gig of 2001 was at Club Riga, Southend, a new venue which has since become a favourite haunt. This performance confirmed the view that here was a band ever improving and pushing the limits.

April also witnessed the band returning to the much loved Spirit of 66 in Verviers, and as it turned out a snowbound Easter weekend in Belgium!. The spring saw Fragile play a combination of new and now well established haunts, with the ever expanding setlist pushing almost two and half hours of classic Yes material.

The summer saw developments a plenty on the business front with Fragile securing sponsorship from ETC Ltd, formal booking representation with Bullet Management, and on-line distribution deals for the sale of 'Live At The Half Moon'. In a further international breakthrough in August, Fragile played at the Tavastia Klubi in Helsinki, Finland, for the Collossus rock society. The band then returned to the UK for the autumn leg of the 'Going for 2001' tour, including Fragile's only London date of the year at the Standard Music Venue. The itinerary culminated in the band's first ever theatre date at the Winding Wheel, Chesterfield in November, just as Yes commenced a UK tour in support of their new release 'Magnification'. The Yes tour was the perfect end to another busy year for Fragile, and in a fitting conclusion Gonzalo Carrera met Steve Howe and Alan White after the band's final date in Manchester. CD's and kind words were exchanged and all took a well deserved Christmas break.

 

On To Part II | Back to the Page About The Band

 

 

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