After playing ‘Roundabout’ for the better part of 40 years, the Yes rhythm section, bassist Chris Squire and drummer Alan White, decided to give one of the band’s signature songs a break.
Bad idea. “We really heard it from the fans,” White says while calling from Buffalo. “They wanted ‘Roundabout’ and I guess you have to give the fans what they want.”
Yes, which will perform Friday at the Tower Theatre, is doing just that. “Roundabout’ is back in the set after a two-week hiatus.
“It’s there when we come out for the encore,” White says. “It’s tough playing all the favorites when you want to play some songs we don’t play as often.”
Yes is rendering the seldom played ‘America’ and ‘Awaken,’ along with ‘Tempus Fugit.’ The visceral latter number, which was rarely performed during the ‘80s and ‘90s since it was not a favorite of former vocalist Jon Anderson, is part of the set, according to White, since fans love the song.
“I don’t want to tell you too much more since I don’t want to give it all away,” White says. “I can say is that we’re trying to mix the well-known songs with the songs we haven’t played in awhile. It’s all working out.”
White will mark his 40th year with Yes next week. “I started with these guys on July 26, which is coming up soon,” White says. “That’s 40 long years.”
White and Squire, who is the lone original member left in the band, have seen musicians come and go.
“It really is amazing how many people were part of this group,” White said. “There were quite a few.”
The list reads like a phone book, ranging from short-lived keyboardists Igor Khoroshev and Oliver Wakeman, the son of Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman to the aforementioned Anderson, who was a primary member of the band for much of its existence. Anderson bowed out since he’s not up for extensive touring due to health and lifestyle reasons.
These days, there is White, Squire, guitarist Steve Howe, keyboardist Geoff Downes and its most recent addition, singer Jon Davison, who joined the band in February after Benoit David left the band due to a respiratory illness.
Like David, Davison once fronted a Yes cover band. “Who would believe that we find another singer like that (from a tribute group)?,” White says. “But it’s worked out well. Jon has great range, fabulous singer.”
It’s worked out so well that White believes that Davison is the long-term solution. He also noted that fans should expect a new Yes album. “We’re really inspired since Jon is a songwriter,” White says. “Benoit was not. We’re going to take advantage of that. We’ll write some new songs and hope to have an album out next year. We can play new songs for you then.”
Until then, expect Yes to play ‘Roundabout.’ “That’s what the fans want to hear,” Davison said. “There’s nothing wrong with that.”