Though at first it appeared Jon Davison would only be a stop-gap replacement as Yes’ frontman, it’s since become clear that Benoit David is gone for good. The question then becomes: Does Davison continue as lead singer past this ongoing tour?
Already, Davison is the 18th person to have been a member of Yes, and another chapter in what has become one of rock music’s most remarkable stories of continual evolution. David, who took over for original singer Jon Anderson in 2008, began suffering respiratory problems late last year as Yes continued its rigorous concert schedule in support of 2011’s well-received comeback effort Fly From Here.
Initially, the Yes camp seemed to be pointing to Davison’s role as temporary, stating in a Facebook posting: “Jon Davison will join Yes as lead vocalist for the upcoming dates in New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Indonesia and Hawaii. Yes really appreciate Jon Davison joining them for this leg of the tour and are sure this arrangement will satisfy all Yes fans.” Later, Yes added a photo of Davison — a singer with the American prog-rock band Glass Hammer, which has issued some 12 albums since 1993, including last year’s Cor Cordium — to its Facebook page, as well.
Yes co-founder Chris Squire, the only member to remain through its many incarnations beginning in the late 1960s, has since hinted that he’d like Davison to stay: “Jon Davison is coming in because of Benoit’s departure,” Squire said in an interview with Noise11.com. I always hope that when there is a member change in the band that it will be a permanent thing. Only time will tell really.”
But where would that leave Glass Hammer?
A new posting from overnight at Glass Hammer’s Facebook page says: “According to Jon — he’s not planning to leave GH. He’ll be cutting vocals for our new album in May.” Signed by Steve (presumably multi-instrumentalist band cofounder Steve Babb), the message is one of several addressing Davison’s new gig.
Ironically, David replaced Anderson four years ago after the Yes co-founder suffered his own series of breathing problems. The band initially announced it would add David as a temporary fill in, then eventually moved forward without Anderson. Is history repeating itself?
“Don’t believe everything you read,” another Facebook posting from Glass Hammer reads, “but then again — don’t necessarily dismiss it either. ‘Only time will tell,’ is the quote you should take away from this.”
Here’s a look back at our recent thoughts on Yes. Click through the titles for complete reviews …
YES – FLY FROM HERE: This album is, in many ways, better than it has any right to be. The band even attempts something it hadn’t in decades — a multi-part thematic suite, and to great effect. As always, bassist Chris Squire and drummer Alan White are compact and versatile, expertly facilitating complicated journeys like “Fly From Here Part III: Madman at the Screens,” which switches back and forth from a crunchy stomp to soaring ambiance. And the new singer acquits himself well.
YES – IN THE PRESENT: LIVE FROM LYON: There was at least one benefit to the departure of Jon Anderson from Yes in 2008: The presence of new lead singer Benoit David immediately opened the door for a rewrite of what had become a very rote setlist. David handles things as well as can be expected on the big Anderson-sung hits here — and that’s really all Chris Squire and Co. were looking for, I suppose. You get a broader sense of what he brings to Yes as it stands today, however, on a churning, metallic fever dream like “Machine Messiah.”
SOMETHING ELSE! FEATURED ARTIST: YES: We dig back into deep cuts and favorites from Fragile, Relayer, Drama, and 90125 — including “South Side of the Sky,” highlighted by “Chris Squire’s gurgling bassline. Listen closely: Bill Bruford is also mesmerizing behind the drums. It seems simple but it gathers steam as the song wears on, packing in more twists and turns than seems necessary and yet seems perfectly sensible. Rick Wakeman compliments all of this with organ and, in the breakdown, a beautifully elegant piano line. On top of it all, Jon Anderson’s airy vocals narrate a polar expedition gone tragically wrong.”
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