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Fragile at the Robin Hood, Brierly Hill, Dudley on 17th June 1999.

By Christopher Jones

Fragile arrived at the Robin Hood with a certain amount of trepidation. This was their first appearance outside London and the south-east and, so far, attendance at their gigs had been fairly modest although very enthusiastic. Early signs had shown that there was considerable interest in the band's appearance in Dudley that night, and advanced ticket sales had been good. It felt like something special might be about to happen.

Something special at The Robin

Fragile - something special about to happen?

Sound checks and rehearsals done, the band waited in the dressing room for the doors to open. Fifteen minutes after the doors opened there was a group of about a dozen punters at the bar. Perhaps it was going to be a low attendance after all. This was strange because cars were pouring into the car park. Half an hour later the crowd had swelled to well over a hundred. This was frightening! Ten minutes before kick-off the venue was packed to the rafters. This was unbelievable! The place was full of Yes t-shirts. These were serious fans. Probably there to see Fragile fall flat on their faces. A Yes tribute band? It can't be done! The recorded introduction played, the smoke billowed, and the band mounted the stage. There were a few whistles and calls from the crowd and then the band burst into 'Roundabout'. Thirty seconds later the Yes fans realised that it could be done and the place literally erupted! Fragile were on their way.

The set ran through such standards as 'Owner Of A Lonely Heart', 'Rhythm Of Love', 'Time And A Word', 'Onward', 'And You And I', 'Long Distance Runaround' and a truly frenetic version of 'Heart Of The Sunrise'. These were interleaved with solos from the various band members, the highlights of which for me were Steve Carney (the more than able "Jon Anderson" of Fragile) singing 'Leaves Of Green' accompanied by solo guitar and the brilliant drum solo from Mitch Harwood who was also outstanding for his backing vocals. They rounded off with 'Yours Is No Disgrace' and a finale of 'Starship Trooper' with an extended improvised ending which had the whole crowd yelling and screaming. They left the stage amid cries for more, but I don't think that they had much left to give. This was Fragile's finest hour so far. They had arrived.

There were numerous comments from the crowd when things had calmed down a little: "Gobsmacked", "Brilliant", "Blown Away", "Unbelievable", to repeat a few. Admittedly there were a few minor criticisms but these were from the hardened Yes fans who would comment if one note was played out of time. The overall impression was one of amazement that Fragile had managed to emulate Yes to such a high standard in such a short time. They were requested to return and they certainly will, probably to an even larger crowd if that is possible.


Chris Jones

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