Steve Howe at The Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh was one of those rare chances to catch up with not only a prog music legend, but one of the most respected rock guitarists of his generation in (for him) a small and fairly intimate venue.
Steve Howe is currently on a 14 date solo UK tour to support “Homebrew 6”, the lastest release in his ongoing “Homebrew” project.
I have to admit early in this review that, although I have been aware of Steve Howe’s work through some of his solo work and of course his work with “Yes” (and to some extent Asia), at the time my musical interests were in completely different directions. If I am honest, maybe a little too complex both musically and lyrically for me at the time. For me, this show was an opportunity to finally sit down and listen to the music of Steve Howe, stripped back to a solo performance and in a venue with great natural acoustics to complement his guitar playing. Judging by the many “Yes” T-Shirts in a full venue tonight though, the loyal fans of many years had turned out in very good numbers to hear Steve play, and their familiarity and respect for the man and his music was obvious.
Steve Howe is a hugely gifted musician who has had a long and very successful musical career, so I was not sure what type of person I would be coming to see tonight...a rock legend come down to earth for a few hours or just someone playing their music. The answer was a bit of a surprise – a man who, if he ever had any of the sometimes arrogant trappings of a superstar, has had them well and truly washed away by the river of time. The Steve Howe on stage tonight was just a very pleasant, gentle and courteous man who so obviously still loves his music and loves playing to an audience. There was also a look that was a mixture of just joy and wonderment on Steve’s face as he played his guitars (he brought four with him). Even after all these years, that pleasure of hearing the endless possibilities of musical sounds and phrases has not left him…Steve Howe is very much still exploring his musical abilities. A very polite request too about the sound of camera shutters in the second number as they were obviously very audible to him and not something he wanted to hear. A request I have to say that was granted by a very polite and respectful audience here who had simply come to hear a great musician play.
This was a very warm show to be at – not temperature wise but in feeling as both Steve and his music just gave the whole evening something very special to be at. A simple show at its heart with one man playing his music, talking about his family (Steve’s son Dylan had been performing at this venue last week with Wilko Johnson). What music though...so much music here from so many different influences – classical, renaissance, flamenco, rock, country, blues...and special mention to an early influence – Chet Atkins (three songs here were Steve in a Chet style) the list just goes on. Also, some wonderful reminiscences of earlier years with bands (and of course some nice Yes memories), friends, producers.
Some specialist websites already have whole set lists for earlier shows in this tour online, and that is something you will not get from this review as I always feel there have to be some surprises for an audience when they pay to go to a show. I don’t think I am giving anything away by saying that the set includes "Classical Gas", "Leaves of Green", "Roundabout" and of course "Clap". Also, a little trip back down the psychedelic road to “Tomorrow” with “My White Bicycle”.
A touching moment too, a heartfelt musical tribute to Steve’s long time friend, the late and much missed Chris Squire.
I know I have concentrated more on the man than his music in this review, but so much has been written about the musical prowess and the music of Steve Howe over the years that there is little really to add to that, and at the end of the day (or any show) the music has spoken more than any amount of words about it ever will. Just simply a great evening in the company of a great musician and very pleasant man sharing his love of music with everyone who was in the audience.
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Review by Tom King