Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Broadway beckons

Yes on Broadway? With Jon Anderson back? A recent interview with Chris Squire mentions the idea in passing. It's an interesting interview, mainly about Squackett, but this remark, made in response to the familiar question of whether Anderson will ever return, is just the sort of whacky idea with minimal details that gets us fans speculating. So let's take a look at it. Here's what Squire says:
"There’s been talk of YES possibly doing something on Broadway in New York. People have approached me with that idea and there are discussions about that. A possible project like that and you might see Jon [Anderson] re-involved as you would other ex members of YES. Once again there’s nothing concrete about that yet and now that we have Jon Davidson [sic] on board, our next project will probably be making a studio album with him. But we won’t close the door on other possibilities in the future …we’ll see what happens."
In interpreting this, I would start with two big caveats: it's not at all clear what this is about, so let us recognise that we are speculating here; and, whatever this is, it's an early stage of discussion and so there's a high chance it won't happen.

Also, Squire says their "next project will probably be" a studio album with the current line-up. So, work on a studio album is unlikely to seriously start before the beginning of 2013, so if this Broadway thing is to happen, it would seem unlikely to be before the second half of 2013 and could well be much later.

So, what is it? My first thought was a musical based on Yes songs, with the band being involved putting it together and promoting it, but not performing, as Queen did with "We Will Rock You", as other acts have done. However, Frumious B on suggests some sort of run of special live shows, going back to a classic line-up of the band, connected to the band's 45th anniversary (although the timing, it seems to me, would put this activity possibly beyond 2013 and that anniversary). Those seem like the two most obvious possibilities, but could it be anything else?

There's been talk in recent years of a film using Yes songs. This would either involve Roger Dean and some fantasy story, the "Floating Islands" project (see this 2008 interview); or something biographical about the band's history, which Squire mentioned in a 2007 newspaper interview. The 2007 article made the comparison with "Yellow Submarine", so possibly there's a middle ground between these two approaches: about the band and a fantasy story. Could one of these ideas have mutated into a theatrical production? This would seem to get us back to some sort of 'Yes - The Musical'.

So two options: (1) Yes - The Musical (maybe somehow related to prior film ideas); (2) special live shows. Anyone else want to throw out other ideas?

Let's look at what Squire says more carefully. He speaks of "YES possibly doing something", so active involvement from the band. I'm not certain that really tells us much. They could be actively involved in a musical without performing, or that would readily fit a live show option.

He goes on: "and you might see Jon [Anderson] re-involved as you would other ex members of YES". Note he says "might" and note he talks about "other ex members", not just Anderson. If the plan was a special run of live performances re-uniting the classic band, you would think they would have to have Anderson or some other key ex-members (Wakeman R? Rabin?) on board. What would be the point of the current line-up doing it; how would it differ from any other live dates? It seems to me that this sort of optional involvement of various past band members might imply a musical, something where past band members can have input or help promote the endeavour (and they'd want to as it's a money-spinner for songwriters), but the process is driven by the Howe/Squire/White core regardless.

As I said, whatever it is, it probably won't happen! But if it did, what would you want to see? I've started a poll on the Where Are They Now? front page where you can vote for an option or make suggestions, or leave comments on this blog post the usual way.

[EDIT 25 May 2012] Squire has now expanded on the Broadway concept in a new interview. Frumious B was right. I quote:

Squire is open to the idea of a Yes reunion as part of a residency at a Broadway theater in New York. "The idea of 'Yes on Broadway' has come up," he says. "It would reflect the history of Yes. It requires the collaboration not only with Jon Anderson, but also other ex-members, including keyboard players like Patrick Moraz and obviously Rick [Wakeman] would be looked at as well. Of course, it would have to depend on if there's any interest from that side as well. It's something that's brewing, but it's very much on the backburner."