Dave Watkinson is back to tell us all about Yes concert opening music – 526

Produced by Wayne Hall and Jeffrey Crecelius

It was great to speak to Dave Watkinson once again on the show this week. Some time ago he published an article on all about the variety of music Yes have used to open their shows over 50 years and more. Mark and I very much enjoyed finding out more from Dave and here is the article – 

After that conversation, there is a contribution from Daniel and Amanda Krohn with a different spin on the change from Relayer to Close to the Edge on the upcoming tour – do stay tuned for that.

  • What kinds of music have been played before and after Yes shows?
  • Isn’t it always The Firebird?
  • Have the band ever played their own music as an introduction?

Take a listen to the episode and then let us know what you think below!

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Theme music

The music I use is the last movement of Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite. This has been used as introduction music at many Yes concerts. My theme music is not take from a live concert – I put it together from:

8 replies on “Dave Watkinson is back to tell us all about Yes concert opening music – 526”

Hello Chaps,

Very much enjoyed the episode. I was surprised that you did not mention by name the Tony Scott album “ Music for Zen Meditation “ which has been opening music a few times. I do remember once asking Steve Howe at one of his early solo shows what that “ Japanese music” was and he told me. It really is a great album and thank you Steve for introducing me to it.

There just wasn’t enough time to go through all of them but it is in the long article. It’s a lovely album and if anyone want piece and some mindfulness moments then this is the one to go to for it.

Thanks David for your comments. In terms of interesting opening music by other artists…on the Hold Your Fire tour Rush had the whole of Big Generator at the NEC Birmingham, on I think 2/06/87 Neil Young had all of Sgt. Pepper again at the NEC. The most surprising opening music for me was at The Que Club again in Birmingham when David Bowie toured the Earthling album and the opening music was his own songs!! That takes some bottle…I was at all these shows … hopefully my memory is not playing tricks on me!!!

Gosh the whole of Big Gen! Well I am surprised, goes to show how much they loved Yes now. The others you mention equally surprising, I love it, Rush made quite an effort with it all and a band now who take great care in the whole presenting package are Tool. Do listen to the intro music again track them all down and explore their differences and feel.

Tool are a wonderful band..their music is extraordinary…they take too long to make a record and there is that friction between Maynard and the rest of the band…they can easily play some of that darker music but I think Maynard no longer relates to it…I think his other bands Pusifer and A perfect Circle are more his mindset….having said that I am looking forward to the upcoming Tool shows in the U.K. I also really enjoyed the new Tool album…despite the rip off physical version copies…the artwork was brilliant, but the cost of the various products was high. I think I paid £75 for the original version and £45 for a later copy without the little video screen. Both are still in their wrappers and I just listen to the songs on YouTube.

This week, Kevin asked about appearances of Chris Squire music. Most appropriately given the rest of this week’s subject, I can attest that for the last few years, Marillion have been playing “Hold Out Your Hand” over the PA about 15 minutes before they come on. It always revs me up for what’s to come. It’s probably no coincidence that this song was covered by Marillion’s Steve Hogarth on “A Life In Yes: The Chris Squire Tribute”.


On a totally different was with great sadness we heard this week of the death of Taylor Hawkins from the Foo Fighters ..he was a great drummer and singer and apparently a really nice guy. Of course the Yes connection is his friendships with Jon Davison and Chris Squire. He was only 50 years old.

Huge thanks to Dave for his continuing and really important endeavours in curating what would otherwise be overlooked aspects of Yes history. And to YMP for highlighting it, and doing similar important work.

I hope many fans of the band will have listened to the whole of the Firebird Suite by now. Remarkable music. My second favourite is the Britten, of course… but there are some other imaginative ‘introductions’ throughout the band’s history, as Dave reveals.

One small ongoing mystery is the introductory music for the Talk tour. I assume it’s a piece of filmic Americana written by Trevor Rabin. Someone really should ask him. The discussion in this episode of YMP focuses on ‘Perpetual Change’. But that was really part of the first number played by the band, segueing into ‘The Calling’, rather than intro music.

Two other related issues could be explored from all this. One is classical quotations in Yes music or live concerts. I’ll start with Jon Anderson singing the iconic opening bar of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring on Yessongs, just before the keyboard solo.

Another is track segues in concert performance. The other obvious example of this is the 1978 tour (for an album of whose title Kevin will undoubtedly be able to remind us!) and the inventive medley Yes created for that.

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