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Yes launching tour with new singer

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Yes launching tour with new singer


A 40th anniversary Yes tour in North America without ailing original frontman Jon Anderson.

On the surface it sounds problematic, especially given reported unhappy rumblings from Anderson about the trek -- which launches tomorrow night at Hamilton Place before a Wednesday night stop at Massey Hall -- on his website (which have since been removed).

"That's a bit of a mystery because Jon's been party to all the plans all along, so you never really know these days who's putting out things on the Internet under who's name. So that's not exactly true," said bassist Chris Squire, hunkered down with the rest of the veteran British prog-rock group in Hamilton for the past two weeks for production rehearsals leading up to the launch.

"As far as I know, yes (we have his blessing), seeing as how he's been unable to speak much, we haven't really spoken, but our manager, who manages Jon as well, has been keeping him abreast of all developments. He has a very bad asthmatic condition, basically. Hopefully by next year he'll make a full recovery. He may be able to do some shows in the future but it's uncertain at this time."

Basically, Squire says the group felt it owed its fans some live performances after a five- year absence from the concert scene.

"It was (a hard decision) because we'd been sort of hanging back, as it were, for the past two or three years because of Jon's reticence to tour, and obviously he was having some problems with his respiratory system anyway. But at a certain point we thought, 'Well, the Yes fans out there are getting a little itchy, they're not getting their fix, so we'll go ahead with this other idea,' " said Squire.

To backtrack, Yes originally was scheduled to go out with Anderson earlier this summer, including a date at the Molson Amphitheatre, but then Anderson suffered a severe asthma attack and was diagnosed with acute respiratory failure, forcing the band to scrap the tour.

Following that, Anderson's temporary replacement, 42-year-old singer Benoit David of Montreal Yes tribute band Close To The Edge, was discovered on YouTube by a London-based friend of Squire's in late summer.

"I saw Benoit performing and thought he would be a good replacement or stand-in," said Squire. "I thought, 'Well, let's give this guy a go,' and he came along and we've been working with him and he's been great."

Preliminary rehearsals started in L.A. in September before Yes arrived in The Hammer and Squire said the set list will include classic songs, tunes from the Anderson-less 1980 Drama album, and even new material written by Squire and guitarist Steve Howe. (The rest of the lineup is drummer Alan White and Rick Wakeman's son, Oliver, on keyboards.)

Squire, the only member of the group to have appeared on every Yes album, said the band at 40 feels pretty good.

"It's crazy, really, that we've actually had this length of a career," said Squire, who is also working on a new side project album with Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett that will include a tour next spring.

"There have been a few changes over the years. When we first put the band together, Jon and I, in 1968, just prior to the Beatles' breakup, and their visible career really was from '63 to' 69, I remember thinking at the time that was a real long career in rock 'n' roll -- six years. And of course, who would have ever thought that it was possible to have a 40-year career in the same band. But there are others before us, you know, the Rolling Stones and the Beach Boys, they're still doing it."

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