For the first time since the 1980 Drama tour, British supergroup Yes is touring without frontman Jon Anderson, who fell ill after an asthma attack a few months back. In fact, because of this incident, the band's original plans for a 40th anniversary tour with the "classic" formation (Anderson, Chris Squire, Steve Howe, Rick Wakeman, and Alan White) were almost scrapped. That is, until Squire came across a YouTube video of the Canadian Yes tribute band, Close To The Edge.
The bassist and bandleader was reportedly impressed by what he saw and heard, and invited Montreal-born vocalist Benoit David to fill in for Anderson, who is expected to make a full recovery in the near future. Notoriously fickle keyboardist Rick Wakeman ultimately refused to rejoin the band without Anderson, so the band recruited his son Oliver to take his place.
Die-hard Yes fans need not cringe at the current lineup. Benoit David has an uncanny vocal resemblance to Anderson — evidence of this are the various videos posted on YouTube since the tour kicked off in Hamilton, Ontario. Howe, Squire, and White might not be aging gracefully, but they still form a tight unit, even after a four-year layoff from the road. Oliver Wakeman follows in his dad's footsteps quite well, and takes a similar approach on the keys.
Yes: Sunday, December 14. Hard Rock Live, 1 Seminole Way, Hollywood. Show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $45 to $275, www.ticketmaster.com
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The 64-year-old Anderson does not seem to have taken the band's decision to tour without him well, though. He wrote on his website that he is "disappointed by this turn of events." In spite of this, his fellow (former?) bandmates have expressed support to him, repeatedly stating in interviews that they hope for him to return to work soon.