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Fragile, At Club Riga, Southend, April 6th 2001

By Steve Lacey, David Ogden & Guy Rickard

So, Going for 2001 kicked off in Southend as the band made their debut at the Club Riga. Question was, with the new material extending the set still further had the band emerged from their winter "break" able to improve on the "Roundabout 2000" tour? Steve Lacey went and sent us back his review. Also at the show were David Ogden and Guy Rickard seeing the band for the first time, what were their first impressions of the band?

 

 
 

They played South Side of the Sky !!!! - Steve Lacey

Okay so it's a 4 hour drive to Southend from Dudley, but it is the first gig of the year, and I can't contain my curiosity to see if Fragile can maintain the very high standards set during last year's tour.

So, was it worth the 8 hour round trip and a stay in a Westcliff-on-Sea guest house?

You bet your ass it was ! It's difficult to be objective about Fragile, purely because they are so damn good, and are obviously passionate about reproducing YES music as near to the real thing as possible. Although I have to say, listening to the live 'I've seen all Good People' from the Keys to Ascension CD in the car on the way home just confirmed how good the band are, Fragile's rendition is far superior !

Congratulations to the management of the Riga in providing Southend with a great venue for live music. Very friendly people, and a great sound setup. Thanks also for letting Fragile back on for a rousing 'Roundabout', even though it was well after the scheduled 12 o'clock finish time.

The new set list for 2001 retains some old favourites from last year, 'Siberian Khatru', 'Heart of the Sunrise', 'Starship Trooper', 'And You and I', and the afore mentioned 'I've seen all Good People'. There are 2 new numbers from 'The YES Album' included, a perfectly played 'Clap', and an absolutely awesome 'Perpetual Change'. The band's mellow reworking of 'Owner of a Lonely Heart' sounds better with each hearing, and the self penned 'Theme' fits into the set list perfectly, along with a well crafted medley of other classic YES songs. I personally preferred last year's 'Cinema' intro to this year's 'Endless Dream'. But this is just nit picking, as it was nice to hear something from 'Talk', (how about 'State of Play'?).

 
 

 

A beautifully harmonised 'Wonderous Stories' ended with all the band breathing a sigh of relief at completing their first rendition of the song so brilliantly, and was well received by the crowd. YES performed this song back in 1977 on the 'Going for the One' tour, but it wasn't played live again until 1998, introduced halfway through the 'Open Your Eyes' tour. (Thanks Colin !). (There are rumours that ABWH rehearsed it, but no confirmation of it being played live.)

My particular highlight, however, was a breathtaking version of 'South Side of the Sky'. It has always been a favourite track of mine from 'Fragile' (the album !!), and 'Fragile' (the band !!) did every justice to another extremely complex song. Again, YES very rarely played the track live, the last time being on the 'Relayer' tour in 1975. Even on the 'Fragile' tour it was only played very occasionally as an encore.

Enough of the anorak stuff, and back to the 'Going for 2001' tour. There are plenty of opportunities for you YES heads out their to catch this magnificent band during the year, so make the effort, I promise you will not be disappointed.

Many thanks to Steve, Rob, Jon, Gonzalo, Tom and Mitch, for yet another memorable evening. See you in Crewe !

Steve Lacey

 

 

 

 

Squire-Bruford Pile-Driver! - David Ogden

A tribute band to Yes? THE best band in the world? Right on! So my mate Colin and I, both of us the wrong side of forty, duly trooped off to Club Riga in Southend. I can't say I wasn't a little nervous... half expecting either a group of spotty Trevor Rabin wannabees or the dubious pleasure of listening to half-hour long opuses about god-knows-what. What we saw was nothing of the sort. Here was Yes at its height.

At its heart was the Squire-Bruford pile-driver supplied by Jon Bastable on bass and Mitch Harwood on drums which formed the framework for those gorgeous Kaye/Wakeman/Howe/Anderson melodies that I have adored for a quarter of a century!!!

This was the first time I had seen Fragile and I was blown away by how good they are. And how friendly... I had a quick chat afterwards and can vouch for zero rock pomposity.

The first thing that struck me was how good the reproduction of the awesome Yes sound was. However, the band were not averse to putting in the occasional clever twiddly [but still 'in keeping'] bits to keep it fresh. Their version of 'Owner of a Lonely Heart' is better than the original [I can't be the first person to say that]. And... whisper it softly... Steve Carney has a better voice than Jon! He rather cleverly achieves the Accrington-cum-Los Angeles phrasing but without the painful straining for notes.

All the virtuosity of Wakeman, Kaye and Moraz was supplied by Gonzalo Carreras and Robert Illes got spirit of Howe down to a tee: honky tonk to down and dirty. Tom Dawe: lovely rhythm guitar and 'Ian Dury' cheeky chappy banter. A large part of the Yes sound was the vocal harmonies and this lot do it WELL!!

 

 
 

A big chunk of the set is a medley of tracks... including the transcendental glory that is... 'Gates of Delirium'!!! Great stuff. It's a sublime riff which always makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end... but when the band shifted from 'Fish' straight into the frantic end bit of the tune I was really moved. I had to bite my bottom lip! Amazing.

The bulk of the set covered the first four albums... which suited Colin and me just fine as this is where the good stuff is to be found! As I had never seen the band before, I was surprised that 'Perpetual Change' was new to their set. It sounded great. And to finish... 'Starship Trooper' of course... a rock classic and played AMAZINGLY. As the band were introduced they each played a snatch of other bands of Yes' ilk: Tull, Zeppelin, etc. which was a bit of fun and a nice touch.

The encore was 'Roundabout'... paradise! I was half expecting Steve Carney to say 'Do you want some rock and roll' like Jon Anderson said in a live album... but he didn't! No matter... it WAS and IS rock and roll. In fact, earlier in the set guitarist John Dawe, obviously the band wag, said 'It's only rock'n'roll but I like it!' Absolutely right... Yes used to be the best rock'n'roll band in the world and Fragile are keeping that tradition and that quality alive.

Fragile won't appeal to every Yes fan. Not much for the Rabin/Horn generation... but no matter. We all know when Yes made their best stuff and if you want to hear it played as it should be: Fragile are your men. Thanks to them I had the best night out I've had in ages.

A footnote... Club Riga: A great night out in Sarfend-on-Sea Club Riga gig in Southend-on-Sea has been a venue for ever and has developed into an institution. Tiny yet well maintained with a friendly atmosphere and evident respect for its clientele and Music [capital M!] While waiting for Fragile we were treated to a documentary about Yes and a fairly reasonable local support band.

David Ogden

 

 

 

This Was The Seventies Wasn't It? - Guy Rickard

 

Scanning through the local paper on the 4thApril, my eye caught the word "Fragile". As a Yes fan of thirty years, I was subconsciously drawn to focus in on it and see more "........Yes tribute band.....Club Riga.....£6 on the door.....8.30....Friday 6th April". I've heard of these tribute bands - look great, sound crap to average....but it's Yes!! In all these years I have never seen Yes live, and if I didn't give this lot a chance, I may regret it..we'll see!

Arrived early around 8.20, couldn't get in. Called in the "The Cricketers" next door, to enquire if I'd got the right entrance. "You in the band?" said the barmaid. Boy, I felt like a rock god!! After a stroll to take up some time, got in to Club Riga, paid my six quid, drank a beer, watched the support band "Time Will Tell" who opened with a tasty instrumental, but then seemed to lose it a bit when the vocalist came on. After a pair of eyes peeked through the main stage curtain (Tom?), there was the intro, the curtains opened, there was the intro, there was the band, there was the intro (still), the band, the intro etc. Through my mind went the briefest of "Uh-oh's". And then, it happened!!!! Fragile started to play. I say Fragile, but surely this was Yes up there wasn't it? This WAS the Seventies wasn't it? I HAD gone back in time, hadn't I, and was now hearing Yes at their finest. From Siberian Khatru, through a superb Heart of the Sunrise and that song's great climax, to Starship Trooper, And You and I (excellent), South Side of the Sky (awesome), and a truly climactic encore with Roundabout. Perpetual Change was a winner, reproduced perfectly. Some Six Wives, the enchanting Wondrous Stories and a unique Owner of a Lonely Heart, all conspired to make a Wondrous gig. No pretensions, just communication.

For me though, the highlight was what was simply described as a "Medley". In the dictionary, medley is defined as "a collection of things, incuding music, providing an interesting effect". When this particular "Medley" includes my favourite passage from The Gates of Delirium, and not a below par segment anywhere in its sweeping tour of the emotions, as only Yes can engender, I'd say "interesting effect" is selling it a bit short!! I've now changed the dictionary to read "Fragile have redefined this word!" This was an evening of what, for me, was the best and purest years of Yes concentrated around The Yes Album through to Close to the Edge, with acknowledgement to Relayer and Tales....

 

 

 

If you cannot enjoy this you are dead from the soles up!

So that was the set..but what of the guys on stage - Jon Anderson's vocals just cannot be 100% replicated. That's a fact! But I'll settle for the 99% I got from Steve. Phenomenal keyboards form Gonzalo, who looked a little too like Jon Anderson on occasion. Mitch on drums was a powerhouse, doing a great "Tales..." solo, and making those Bruford/White rhythmns sound SOOOO easy!!!. Jon on bass - Mr Laidback but one hell of a player, and made me appreciate exactly what Chris Squire brought to the band. Tom....a headcase but so, so solid on the rhythmn guitar and I'll come back to him! But I shared his frustration at some elements of the audiences inability to enjoy themselves! Hell...if you cannot enjoy this, you are dead from the soles up!! Oh..and there was some bloke on lead guitar! Actually, he was more than a bloke..he was more like abso..bleeding..lutely incredible!!!! Rob's little finger must be about the length of my forearm!! Every solo perfect, from the Clap to the atmospheric acoustics of And You and I to the power of Yours is No Disgrace etc etc. Twelve times I counted his fingers, and each time still only came up with ten!! "Howe" does he do it?!?

It's really difficult to put across how many highs there were, but it's like when you see a great comic, and every joke is a winner, and you want to capture that moment of sheer joy so you can tell everyone about it...and then you get outside and you've forgotten half of the great time you had, because it was all so good. That was this concert. Yeah, sure..the intro did seem too long, even for the band(!) but these guys played for 2 hours plus, even bravely including their own material Theme (which was excellent), rounding it off with a great encore, but even then there was no short cuts. The introductions of the band were accompanied by accomplished solos, and none more so than Tom (I said I'd get back to him), who strolled to the front of the stage and then just BLEW ME AWAY with a lean mean, and I MEAN mean, Whole Lotta Love, before the band went into Paranoid. AWESOME. Mitch gave us Pink Floyd's Comfortably Numb. Pure and simple, this is the best gig I have been to IN A LONG LONG time. Club Riga did their bit in letting the gig continue so late but sadly it meant no time to part with the cash for a copy of "Live at the Half Moon". I feel an internet order coming on!!

Fragile achieved everything they set out to do..play Yes music, and play it damn well. Thank you, Fragile, for a mighty night! "Are you in the band?"....I wish to hell I was!!!

 

Guy Rickard

 

 
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