The new Yes album and other hot topics with Henry Potts – 580

Produced by Joseph Cottrell, Ken Fuller, Wayne Hall and Jeffrey Crecelius

This week, Mark and I were joined by Henry Potts to talk about the new Yes album, Mirror to the Sky as well as some of the more controversial topics of the day. In case you are unaware, Henry is one of the most knowledgeable Yes historians anywhere and his amazing online resource where he stores the chronicles of the world’s greatest progressive rock band can be found at 

See if you agree or disagree with what’s said and let us know by leaving a comment on the show notes for this episode.

  • Do we all agree on Mirror To The Sky?
  • Why was the Relayer Tour Cancelled?
  • Will we ever hear Sound Chaser live?

No Barriers from Scott Goodell

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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:

19 replies on “The new Yes album and other hot topics with Henry Potts – 580”

It’s always great to hear from Henry here. We’ve been internet friends for decades, and I’m glad to have met him at long last when I travelled across the ocean to attend the “Produced by Trevor Horn” concert back in 2004.

Hi All
Interesting discussion – I love the passion and fire! Me – I like Yes, no – I love yes in all its formats. As long as someone is playing the music – I am happy. I am lucky to have seen all four sides of Topographic Oceans and all of Relayer live too. The Relayer tour was unbelievable. As a teenager seeing them was a magical experience, and now I get the same feeling every time I see them ( whom ever) walk on stage… such a great band. I have a wish too- get Steve and the current band to remaster Time and a word and add parts to embellish the sound…. I like this album more and more!!
Keep up the good work!!

Thank you- I agree that’s what it’s all about. A new version of Time and a Word would be great!

Great show, as always. Thanks, guys.

Regarding the cancellation of the tour, it is implausible that Yes was unable to secure insurance. They may have simply made a calculated decision that the market rate for that insurance would make the tour financially unviable and, hence, canceled.

As for not playing Relayer, I’m with Mark. It is very disappointing and ethically questionable, in my view.

On insurance, I suspect that the level they wanted (specialist cover for war and terrorism) made it economically challenging… perhaps combined with lower than hoped for advance sales. Which may relate to ‘Relayer’, at least in the sense that (although it’s one of my own top three Yes albums), for a broader audience than the hardcore, and especially the more general rock audience, it’s probably not a “tour selling” album.

Re. the ethics, it’s difficult. Financial considerations will play are large role in determining the set-list, and while other bands might have more scruples or sensitivity on such matters, I don’t get the impression that Yes’s management or promoters are overly bothered that it will annoy the likes of us, unfortunately. It’s a business calculation. As it happens, I stretched my budget to straining point by buying tickets for all eight shows in the UK last time, on the strength of ‘Relayer’. So I was personally frustrated when it was then scrapped in favour of CTTE50 — though that turned out to be a good tour in its own right. But I’m afraid the powers that be just shrug about this kind of thing, because it’s a small number of us compared to overall tickets sales. Also, refunds have been offered this time.

I wonder if the insurance issue is related to some unrevealed matter concerning Steve Howe’s health, akin to the problems the band had in 1994 with Chris Squire. Rumors at the time were that Billy Sherwood was added to the tour to serve as an “emergency back-up Squire” in case it became necessary. Could Yes bring in another guitarist as a sideman? That might serve two functions: (1) solving an insurance problem (that remains entirely speculative, admittedly); and (2) easing a potential transition of guitarists at some point in the future, if Steve could hand-pick his own successor the way Squire and White did. That then begs the question: Who would be a good fit for such a role?

Hi Ray. For the info of everyone, Steve has no health issues that would cause a concern insurance-wise or for Yes. He’s very healthy, as he takes great care with his diet, exercise & meditation. Steve is much healthier than Alan or Chris ever were, sadly. And yes, there were problems with Yes getting insurance coverage for the Talk tour as Chris had some problems, so Billy was added to the tour as backup insurance in case Chris could not perform.

Wondering who could take Steve’s place is way off point for this episode about the new album, the next tours and other upcoming Yes items including Kevin’s book. But, I’ve always said that Jimmy Haun is the best choice to succeed Steve, based on his playing on the Union album, with Circa, and up to Arc of Life. Just watch him play guitar on the 40 minute Yes medley by Circa and there’s no doubt that Jimmy can play & sound like Steve, Peter & Trevor.

I didn’t put this in my original comment — for fear of coming off insensitive — but I think there is little doubt that the relative ages of some members (most importantly, Steve’s but also Geoff’s) may drive up the insurance costs to a point where touring becomes financially untenable for the band. Let’s face it, Waters can continue to tour the world despite being 80 this year because his draw is so much larger.

My apologies. I meant to mention this as well: In the case of Waters, not only is he older (though by all accounts quite physically healthy given his age), he clearly has some other baggage that very likely drive up his insurance costs even more. This suggests, even more strongly, in my view, that the cost of insurance relative to draw played at least a part in the band’s decision.

Nice interesting conversation. Prompted me to relisten to Sound Chaser. Great song of course. I’m sure Jon D could do the Chachachas. Kudos to Mark for speaking his mind. I agree with Henry-enjoy it all, whatever they can give. Praying Steve ages gracefully. Thanks for another great show.

This was a very interesting episode! I have to say I do agree with Mark on this one – as much as I am endlessly grateful to still have Yes music live in any capacity… I simply cannot see a reason beyond some members being unable to handle the material as to why we wouldn’t get the same bill for 2024. Having specifically booked to see multiple dates on this tour because Relayer is my favourite album, if it gets changed to another bill again, I will feel a touch hacked off. Just very much hoping whatever setlist we get still has Gates of Delirium on it!

Great conversation about several timely subjects.
1-I can’t express how disappointed I am that Yes have reneged on performing all of Relayer on tour. I really feel for those who have bought tickets & made other reservations specifically to be able to hear those songs, which many never did in the 70s, or those who did but wanted to once again. I did on the ’75 tour and was so looking forward to that experience again, this time with my wife, who didn’t see Yes before ’99.

2-of course it would be nice to hear more than 2 or 3 songs from Mirror on the upcoming US tour & the tours next year, but as was said, it’s a balance between what the promoters want, the band want to do, with the general audience expectation, which we have to remember, is not a 5 percenters Yes crowd, but often only know the radio cuts or the hits.

3- buy the new Yes album! It’s fantastic. I’ve been saying for weeks that it’s the best new Yes studio album with a keyboardist since The Ladder or before. The band keep upping their game, climbing back up after Heaven and Earth.

4-It’s been and is a banner year for Yes fans, with Jon touring with the Band Geeks, and with the Paul Green Rock Academy students, a new album, new Yes books, Record Store Day releases by Yes & Detective, Rick touring, the new DBA album coming, the Tomorrow album release, Yes Progeny vinyl box set, etc. Enjoy it all.

Great discussion. Here’s my 2 pence on some of the topics

Relayer. It doesn’t really bother me one way or the other. I think we should let it go. All together now, with me, take a deep breath and say “Let it go.” When Yes first said they were going to play Relayer live with Patrick M, I was excited. THAT I would go out of my way to see. That idea disappeared quickly. With Jeff Downes, not so excited. As you mentioned, a very different style of playing. So, I say, let them play what they want and don’t beat them up about not playing Relayer in its entirety.

Set list on the next tour. I haven’t heard all of Mirror to the Sky yet, but if it is as good as everyone says it is, then I’m excited for them to play at least 4 songs from it. We are the 5%, though. I agree that most ppl who go to a Yes concert will feel cheated if they don’t play Roundabout and Owner. Of course, they have to play the classics, but I’m with Henry on what I, personally, would love to hear. I’d be happy with 4 songs from MttS, 2 from The Quest, and then some of the classics, and possibly something from Fly From Here (what about Into the Storm!?)

On a side note, I hope they book some better, more centralized venues in California than they did their last tour. I live in the SF Bay Area which is pretty central for concerts. Lot of venues of all sizes in San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland. The only North California date they played was in the outskirts of Sacramento (yeah, look it up). I passed. I looked up the Southern California date (I think there was only one) and I think it was the same situation. So, I hope they fix that next time around.

Tales 50. I’d like to see some live recordings from the era, IF they are good quality and bring something fresh to our ears. I’m with Henry, not interested in re-issued, re-packaged product. With the Steven Wilson remixes, I think we have the best we are ever going to get from those original studio recordings.

Tormato. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it for the last time now (I promise). I’d like to see/hear them RE-DO this album…from scratch. Have the present lineup take it apart and put it back together. Now THAT I would buy. For me the mix is the worst thing about this album. It has good bones, though. Rick Wakeman’s dog whistle tones really bug me and get in the way of the songs.

I live outside of Sacramento and went to that show–I’ve loved Yes for decades but I think I’m done seeing them live.

My take is that they can definitely play Relayer. I think the reason they are shifting gears is that now that they have finally been able to craft a new recording, that is more appealing to long time fans, they may feel more comfortable playing it live, and why not? That, coupled with the Tales 50th anniversary, seem like a logical answer to his change.

1. Ticket holders are right to feel justified that Relayer is not being performed. If I bought tickets to hear CBSO play Beethoven’s 7th Symphony, I’d be rightly peeved if they announced they’ d changed it to Beethoven’s 9th, 3rd or 5th – even if they are more popular – I’ve probably head the m several times.
2. I’m more disappointed as the fact that they are not playing at all at the venue I’d bought tickets for – the Eventim Apollo (or as I’ll always think of it – the Hammy Odeon). I’ve never seen them in a “smaller” venue and would love to. A tour of primarily new material (Quest, Mirror, atnticipated next album) in smaller venues (as it wouldn’t have the mass appeal of a legacy tour) would be great from some fans’ points of view and might be enjoyable for the band.
3. The fact they cancelled the Apollo, rather than postponed, adds some weight to the argument that it’s nothing to do with their ability to play all the material on Relayer. Having said that, there doesn’t have to be one reason only.
4. Kevin, M<ark and Henry – you are complete ******s! How dare you offer opinions about material we cannot hear until the 19th! So frustrating! (the more genreal discussions are fascinating though)
5. Whilst it's great to hear Yes moving forward, it still feels very lame compared with the early-to-mid 70's stuff. I'm not surprised. I fail to get excited by new msicin the way I did in my teens/twenties. With maturity, it seems the ability to become excited by experimentation diminishes. Whilst we do have younger blood in the band, if Yes is to fulfill the idea of "the band goes on but musicians will come and go" they really need new musos in their twenties rather than forties and fifties – with some of the older guys mentoring/channeling that energy. There aren't many examples of this I can think of, but the obvious one is what George Martin did with the Beatles. I'd love to think of Steve or Billy stepping into purely producer roles and allowing a bunch of 22 year olds to write and arrange new material that moves rock music forward (or "progresses" it).
6. Tales 50th. Well, I, like many, bought tickets for the Tales complete tour a few years back and was short changed.

Despite my gripes, the vintage material is arguably best left to the tribute bands who really love that material and want to play it. Yes should play the material they want to play and at present that appears to be new material. And that's great, I say.

I totally agree with Mark and his views on why Relayer won’t be played. Afraid that for me , particularly Geoff Downes simply isn’t up to playing to the required level that something like Sound Chaser would demand. Having missed out on “Gates” during the Magnification tour, then over the last 2 tours- well one + one no tour!- I am now done with seeing this current iteration of Yes live. I am however happy to see new material being produced but need to accept it on the level it is now at and enjoy it for what the band is now. The clock ain’t going back!

After seeing on YouTube some truly cringeworthy performances of Gates from 2019 — Geoff’s timing and missed notes alone sadly made them unlistenable for me — I fully agree with Mark. Whether overcooked or undercooked, we will never see this lineup perform all of Relayer, or even the complete TBO; it brings me 0 pleasure to say this, but I don’t believe Steve and Geoff can play them.

As a longtime fan who’s been lucky to see Gates with Tom and Igor (but never with Moraz), I now think Jon A and the Band Geeks are the best bet to perform faithful renditions of Gates and anything else from Relayer. Meanwhile, I look forward to seeing the current lineup perform new material, and perhaps a fitting tribute to Tales.

I also agree with Mark–and frankly seeing them many times in recent years, the last good show was Sacramento in 2014 (aside from Five Per Cent for Nothing). It’s a disappointment for me to see them not able to play their classic songs–I wouldn’t buy a ticket to see them attempt Relayer, but I would go see them play their new material.

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