Members of Glass Hammer say their enthusiasm over bandmate Jon Davison’s performance with Yes late last month in Georgia could result in additional live dates. The band, which recorded two albums with Davison before he was tapped for a tandem gig fronting one of prog rock’s longest running amalgams, has rarely mounted wide-scale tours in the past.
Glass Hammer, based out of Chattanooga, Tennessee, was formed in 1992 by bassist and keyboardist Steve Babb and keyboardist and guitarist Fred Schendel. Some 12 releases have followed, with 2010’s If and 2011’s Cor Cordium having included Davison as well as guitarist Alan Shikoh. If was a 66-minute release featuring six tracks, including a stunning 24-minute finale called “If The Sun.” Cor Cordium again featured six songs, with standout moments including the epic “To Someone.”
[SOMETHING ELSE! INTERVIEW: Co-founding bassist Chris Squire gave an enthusiastic review after Yes’ first round of dates with Jon Davison, saying: ‘It’s been fabulous.’]
Over the years, however, they’ve essentially limited their concert schedules to large prog festivals, where Glass Hammer can reach the broadest number of fans at one time. Playing in a series of smaller venues would only bring them in front of a few hundred people at a time, they say, and the time away would mean less focus on crafting studio projects.
Then, Babb and Co. traveled to Alpharetta, Georgia, for a Yes show featuring Davison: “We watched him walk out on stage,” Babb told Steve DellaSala of Audioholics, “and within the first two seconds I was sold.”
Davison entered into a turbulent situation, becoming Yes’ third lead singer since 2008 — following co-founding member Jon Anderson and then replacement Benoit David. But his bandmates in Glass Hammer says he’s handling everything brilliantly. “I think the best thing about it is that he’s bringing some much-needed energy to the band,” Shikoh said. “It seems that everyone else in the band was happier and playing better than they have in years in part because of Jon.”
Up next, once Davison finishes the next round of dates with Yes, is a new Glass Hammer studio effort called Perilous. Then, band members say, maybe a lengthy new tour.
“On the drive home,” Babb told DellaSala, “there was a lot of talk about us playing live. It had a good effect on us because suddenly I was like, ‘Yeah, I kinda wanna do that.'”
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Here’s a look back at our recent thoughts on Yes. Click through the titles for complete reviews …
YES – FLY FROM HERE (2011): 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.
ONE TRACK MIND: YES CO-FOUNDER CHRIS SQUIRE ON “FLY FROM HERE,” “LIFE WITHIN A DAY,” “TEMPUS FUGIT,” OTHERS: Find out what sparked Yes to return to the long-form compositional style of its glory years on 2011’s Fly From Here, and how a failed early 1980s project with Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page ultimately led to the inclusion a Squire-sung track on 2001’s Magnification. Squire also talks about the difficulties of returning to music in concert from the underrated Drama album, and how he came to work with Genesis alum Steve Hackett as part of the newly christened Squackett project.
YES – IN THE PRESENT: LIVE FROM LYON (2011): 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 stood then, 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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