What have they done? No Relayer! 524

Produced by Wayne Hall and Jeffrey Crecelius

I was on the road this week but still managed to catch up with Mark and Henry Potts to discuss the news that Yes will not be playing Relayer on the upcoming tour but have opted to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Close To The Edge instead.

I was in a hotel room with just my laptop but this news was clearly too important to miss.

  • Why has Relayer been shelved?
  • Will we ever hear the full album live?
  • Is it too soon to play Close To The Edge in its entirety again?

Listen to the episode and let us know what you think!


50th Anniversary Celebration

of Close to the Edge

for UK

The Album Series Tour in June

8th March 2022: Progressive pioneers YES have announced a change to their forthcoming The Album Series Tour 2022 as they will celebrate the 50th anniversary of their iconic album Close to the Edge. This tour, twice rescheduled due to the Covid pandemic was intended to showcase YES’s 1974 classic Relayer album but will now feature Close to the Edge, performed in full, along with other classic tracks from YES’s extensive catalogue.  An announcement regarding the European dates will be made shortly.

The tour line-up features Steve Howe (guitars), Alan White (drums), Geoff Downes (keyboards), Jon Davison (vocals), Billy Sherwood (bass guitar and backing vocals) with additional drums and percussion by Jay Schellen. All tour dates are as previously announced and all tickets remain valid. A full performance of the Relayer album will now be featured in a future tour in The Album Series.

The show will comprise full production and a high-definition video wall directed by Roger Dean who will also be joining the tour with an exhibition of YES related art.

Following the release of The Yes Album and Fragile, in 1971, YES released what is widely considered one of the most defining albums, not only for YES but for the whole progressive movement. Close to the Edge became an inspiration for their contemporaries and for successive generations of musicians.

We reached a real high, doing ‘Close to the Edge’,” said Steve Howe. “We valued the musicianship, the artistic ideas and the vocalising that people bring and that’s why we’re still doing it, because it’s exciting to do! ‘Close to the Edge’ was voted the most-proggy album possibly ever made. It was very experimental. We had already done 10-minute epics but with ‘Close to the Edge’ we just took it a stage further and I’m very pleased we were brave enough to do that.”

YES 2022 UK Tour Dates Are:

June 2022

15th June       Wednesday   Glasgow        Royal Concert Hall

17th June       Friday             Manchester   Bridgewater Hall

18th June       Saturday        Nottingham   Royal Concert Hall

20th June       Monday          Liverpool        Philharmonic Hall

21st June        Tuesday         London           Royal Albert Hall

22nd June       Thursday       York                Barbican

24th June       Friday             Birmingham   Symphony Hall

26th June       Sunday          Newcastle      O2 City Hall

28th June       Tuesday         Dublin Eire    Vicar Street

29th June       Wednesday   Cork Eire       Opera House

Tickets remain valid for the rescheduled shows. For full details and to book tickets for all shows go to venue website or where you can also book Meet and Greets with the band.

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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:

13 replies on “What have they done? No Relayer! 524”

Simon Barrow’s summary almost made the rest of the podcast unnnecessary, he summed it up so accurately. Henry’s comment about Yes not playing what was previously advertised is accurate, but not without precedent. I, like many, bought tickets to see Yes play TFTO “in its entirety”. OK, we got two sides plus “Leave of Green” and I suspect many would have been relieved at that! But this is far worse.

Can you imagine buying tickets to hear the CBSO playing Beethoven’s (excellent) 4th and 8th Symphonies, only to be told they’ve decided to play (the vastly more frequently played) 5th & 6th? No one is suggesting the 5th and 6th aren’t excellent, but it’s precicely beause they are played so regularly one buys tickets to the 4th and 8th (2nd pretty good too)

Guys, Yes haven’t said they aren’t doing any of The Quest on tour. I’ve been told they will be doing 2 Quest songs on tours this year, along with “classic cuts.” Steve likes to keep things close to the vest, but I think they will alter their promotions to ad that info. And I think they will still do 1 Relayer song this year, to get some live practice in before they do it all next year or in ’24, similar to when they did “Gates” in ’19 live. Steve is dying to do “To Be Over” again so we will see…

Re doing Relayer on tour, the plan is for Alan & Jay to perform, so if something happens to Alan before the band gets to a Relayer tour, then Jay will just play all of it with no problem.

Having said all that, I think, like everyone, that they have made a big mistake in switching up after over 2 years of promoting a Relayer tour.
I really feel for those fans who bought in on seeing all of Relayer in concert & can’t get a refund since the UK shows will happen, just with a different album focus.

Hi guys,

The announcement is very disappointing…I think Simon, Henry, Kevin and Mark expressed our feelings well. I think perhaps the Yes Organization could have made a better fist of it..perhaps saying due to the pandemic and cancelled tours they wish to celebrate the 50th anniversary of CTTE but will play tracks from Relayer, Tormato , their new album The Quest and classic tracks. So they could easily play 40 minutes of CTTE, The Gates Of Delirium plus To be Over..another 30 minutes..then On the Silent Wings of Freedom .then some of The Quest tracks and finish off with some perennial standards.

It was cathartic to hear the three of you discuss this disappointing news after I first read about it on Henry’s site. One point that’s painfully obvious to me, and I’m surprised Mark focused instead on Steve, is that Geoff did a dreadful job on Gates during the Royal Affair tour. I didn’t see it live, but I’ve heard multiple versions on YouTube — and I’ve honestly stopped listening to them, despite (because) of the fact Gates is one of my favorites. His missed timing during the battle sequence is especially painful, and there are multiple subtleties in which Tom and Igor did their part, but Geoff simply bowed out. If his work on Gates is any indicator, he’s the one I’m most worried about for Sound Chaser especially.

I gave Geoff high praise for the the FFH tour, so I have no agenda here — just calling it like I hear it. Unless Patrick or Tom or someone else who *gets it* can join on this tour, I highly doubt we’ll hear all of Relayer anytime soon.

I can’t say I am enormously surprised. My first thought was “how dare they?” but I imagine the decision was taken a good while ago rather than knee jerk and they waited to confirm until they were certain they could actually tour at all this summer. If there is CTTE product planned for the late summer this was a plan hatched at least six months ago .

Luckily I am of an age that I can console myself with having been at QPR and at least had one chance to hear the Relayer music played by the people who came up with it. And if the decision was somehow down to waning technical abilities then bravo for facing up to it and not short changing people. Could be all for the best.

I think I am now at the stage where going forward I want to hear the main sequence music played as well as possible by a UK based Mingus Dynasty / Zappa Plays Zappa type ensemble. Not a tribute band but the rock equivalent of one of those Early Music / H.I.P type ensembles. There is a big difference between those two things and the music deserves that kind of intense expert focus.

I am actually a little sadder than they have never tackled the Yes / T&AW / Yesterdays era material. I would love to hear this line up play that repertoire. I love Yes in “Beat Group” mode and from here on out I would be far more excited going to see a Steve Howe Trio date at Ronnies than Yes in any configuration or at any venue you care to mention (ok, I would definitely go see them at the 100 Club).

And if this is “it” for Yes as a touring band in Europe then It will be really nice to have the chance to say goodbye. Though at the same time if there were to be a Yessongs tour and box set announced for next year I would not exactly fall over with shock either.

Greetings. Yes, very disappointing. Personally, I was looking forward to Relayer as much as everyone. Originally, they hinted (or someone did) that it would be with Patrick Moraz, then not. Now, CttE instead. So, like the rest of you, I’m not that enthusiastic for this tour. I agree that if they do a couple of the best songs from The Quest, plus some deep cuts from past albums that they haven’t done in a while, I would be happy and inspired to go if the tour ever makes it to California.

How about this: Open with The Ice Bridge, onto all of CttE (or leave it til the end) and then the other deep cuts and hits; a couple from FFH. I’d sign up for that.

Great episode. Very naughty of Yes to do this. I was lucky enough (old enough?) to see the 1975 tour in Newcastle with the full Relayer, Ritual and accoustic Long Distance runaround. It was fantastic for me!! CTTE is great but is massively overplayed. The clear indication here is the band is getting old, and dont want to do a poor show. I will still go to the Birmingham show, I have even arranged my travel plans to get there. Maybe we will get quest songs which will freshen up the set list, even though I am not a great lover of this album n general, at least it will be new!! Keep up the good work guys, great discussion

Enjoyed the episode , if I had bought tickets I would be very disappointed to be honest . We may never know the actual reason , I doubt it’s from poor ticket sales as I believe the sales were very good in the UK . Maybe it’s for the best , I saw Gates in 2001 it was amazing , such a powerful piece of music that was mesmerizing from start to finish , then on the Royal Affair tour I heard it again , I enjoyed it but it was not the same , lacked something that was present in 2001 and not just the Anderson presence as I thought JD did very well.

They should do as was suggested in the episode include TBO I can’t think of a reason they could not pull it off .

Now if they bring the CTTE tour to Canada of course I will go but they should “spice up” the show with as suggested the likes of Silent Wings , some tracks from The Quest , rework Wurm as to be honest it’s become very predictable, Anderson managed to rework it and it made it fresh and interesting.

On a side note with Anderson apparently touring with the Geek Band in 2023 playing YES music wonder if he will have the motivation do Relayer in full as the Geek band would have no problems playing for sure

Thanks for this discussion YMP!
In some ways I am glad Yes “Official” have pulled Relayer from their set. I dont think the band could do the album justice and it would have been dreadful and a far cry from the original sound and pace if the ‘70s shows. The whole “Relayer tour 2022” debacle has been handled really badly by the band (Howe?) and its management and shows a lot of arrogance and disrespect to fans/ticket holders who paid to see Relayer performed.
Moving on you guys mentioned “To Be Over” and “Silent Wings Of Freedom” as if they are easy to perform when compared to “Gates” and “Soundchaser”. In reality “To Be Over” is much harder to perform than you imagine and Downes and Howe could never recreate the nuance and fluidity of the piece. As for “Silent Wings” theres no way its ever going to match Wembley ‘78. I have played “Gates” in my band “SeYes” for some years now (several times for Roger Dean at Trading Boundaries) and although (as a bass guitarist) it is quite physical it pales in difficulty next to “Ritual” which is a right old handful I can tell you! As for detail and the Devil is in the detail with Yes music its not enough to just go through the motions with a piece assuming that turning up the treble on any old bass and any amp setup will produce instant Chris Squire or any alto male will give instant Anderson. I think we have a situation now where several Yes tribute bands perform the music better than the guys calling themselves “Yes” and some honesty towards the fans and ticket buyers wouldnt go amiss. It might be time for fans themselves to rethink how they blindly go on being fobbed off with cancelled and rearranged shows and allow the band to get away with treating them so poorly.

Interesting comments on an inevitably painful subject. A few additional thoughts:

1. The issue with ‘To Be over’ is the arrangement rather than the technical side. I still think (aside from ‘Soon’) that it’s the best option if the band is going to do *anything* from Relayer this time – though I doubt that they will.

2. I wrote a peeved but polite note to QEDG via their website. They indicate that they will try to respond within 48 hours. Absolutely nothing back. I gather YMP may be getting something in the upcoming episode, though…

3. On reflection, the issue we may be overlooking somewhat is the commercial one. Management may have felt that ticket sales were not going as well as hoped, and that CTTE would have a broader immediate appeal. If that’s the case, however, it logically raises questions about whether we’ll ever get Relayer in full. Or maybe the thinking is that for the first tour after lockdown, reconsolidating with the core listener base and its periphery is necessary. I can see the logic of that…

I’m not buying for a minute that the current band lineup cannot play this material, having demonstrated that by playing TGOD reasonably well live in 2019. Two of them were in on the writing of this material, and as such, know very much what it takes to pull of Relayer live. Great comment above from Pete Greenwood about Ritual being much more difficult to play, and from Simon Barrow regarding why this change was probably made, in that the band/QEDG have great visibility into how ticket sales were going, and seem to have decided to try appeal to a broader audience, making this a purely financial decision. On a separate note, I have to admit that I was excited to hear that Jon Anderson is putting together his dream set list of epics with the Band Geeks. His last tour with the School of Rock students, although well intentioned, seemed from the videos that I saw, to be a train wreck; overpopulated stages with hardly space to move, along with Paul Green bounding onstage to physically orchestrate the lineup changes for each song, with Jon looking, at times, very lost in the tumult (Yikes!). My 2 pence…

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