6 October 2016

Steve Howe at Landmark Arts Centre

Having paid a reasonable amount of money to see Yes play the Albert Hall a couple of times in recent years I was not going to miss the chance of seeing Steve Hose play at a small local venue for little more than the cost of a pizza.

I had been thinking about seeing Steve Howe in Central London or even Farncombe when the gig at Landmark Arts Centre popped up. I walk past it to and from work every day so it is about as local as you can get. That locality also meant that I was able to go there in my lunch break to buy tickets. I was the first person to buy any so I chose three next to the central aisle in the front row. Steve made a strong plea for no photos so You'll have to settle for one showing how the stage was set but without him in it.

There was a food offer too, aubergine curry, which readily solved the where to eat beforehand question. With that in mind I arrived promptly, i.e. just before the advertised time for the doors to open, only to find nobody else there and no sign of doors about to open. I was a little worried that it had been cancelled and I'd missed the email (it happens) but there were soon some signs of life and the doors eventually opened and everything was fine.

The curry was nice enough and they got lots of decent beers in, e.g. Twickenham's Naked Ladies,  so the evening was set.

Not knowing any of his solo work, apart from that which appeared on Yes albums, I was not sure what to expect. It was quite a varied performance and Steve introduced each song to tell us its history and why he wanted to play it.

There were quite a few fragments from Yes, including a song that he described as buried somewhere deep in side three of Tales of Topographic Oceans (I was glad to hear that he still thought of it as a double vinyl album too). There were a lot more of his compositions for solo guitar and I was surprised to hear that some had made their way into the music curriculum.

With just one guitar, and sometimes a voice to go with it,  it was a gentle evening and a very pleasant one too. The room was packed and everybody sat in respectful silence punctured with loud applause at the end of each song. We were watching a legend at close quarters and behaved accordingly.

It was a thoroughly entertaining evening with plenty of good music and interesting stories about it. I left with even more regard for Steve Howe than I started with, both as a musician and as a person.

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