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Fragile at the The Gun Tavern, Croydon, January 13th 2000

By Simon Arnold

Fragile's second gig of the New Year came, as you know, amid chaotic circumstances for Steve who had the flu and whose wife had just presented him with twins! With equipment problems lurking waiting to pounce it was going to prove to be an interesting evening one way or another...

An Awful moment, moment, moment....

 

The intro tape, "Firebird" crescendoed, the smoke machines kicked in and the new lighting splayed the back bar of The Gun with patterns and colour, everything was ready. The band took to the stage and as the last notes of Firebird faded away Dave launched into the introduction to Roundabout... or at least the first note of it! And then there was silence as his pedal board stopped cooperating. A bit of technical fiddling and he was ready to start again, this time he got through one more note before the same problem re-occurred. For a guy who'd had a bare minimum of rehearsal and only one previous gig with the band this was an awful moment, in fact it was a bad moment all round as one faulty piece of equipment threatened to stop the show!

And here I think that the crowd played its part with yells of encouragment and applause as Dave wrestled with his recalcitrant board. Fortunately he worked some magic with it and the next time he tried everything went to plan and despite many nervous glances at it throughout the gig the board stood its corner and Roundabout came out and out! This is the first time that I had seen Dave in action and it was very easy to see why the band rate him so very highly. From this shaky start the gig really took off as Fragile worked their way through Yes classics such as "Yours is no disgrace", "And You and I", "All Good People", "Time and a Word" and the stunning "Heart of the Sunrise".

Owner like you've never heard it before...

 

There was a surprise in store as well as the band produced a new "swing" version of "Owner of a Lonely Heart". I guess you could say that for a tribute band to tinker with a song to the extent with which Fragile did to "Owner" is sailing fairly close to the edge... Fortunately they'd called it right and got a deserved round of applause for an excellent rendition which looks set to become a Fragile standard.

There were some glitches, when aren't there? Was anyone else at the BIC in '98 and recall that wonderful moment when Jon missed the "What happened to this song we once knew so well?" line... fabulous show and somehow that glitch added to it. The Gun Tavern saw a couple but nothing to take away from the overall impression of a solid performance. The gremlins in the pedal board stopped Dave from using his acoustic which is a shame because during the sound check his version of "Clap" sounded awesome.

A special niche in the world of Yes music...

 

 

I had planned to listen to "Yes" on the drive back to Portsmouth, I had The Yes Album and Going for the One lined up ready. I didn't though because somehow that would have spoiled the magic of the evening. That's not to say that Fragile is better than Yes of course, that would be foolish, but I do believe that Fragile are carving out a very special niche for themselves within the world of Yes music. And what's more I believe that the Yes world is a slightly bigger and better place for them.

Cheers, Simon.

As a footnote, I'm obviously fairly keen on Fragile... I'd love to hear from other people and what they thought about the gigs. If you'd like to write a review for this site then please do and send it to yes.fragile@which.net and I'll do the rest...

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