Having just returned from the first leg of the YES American tour, Rick has filed his report, (hot off the press as they say), especially for this newsletter. The second report will come at the end of the second leg in Europe at the beginning of June and the final report in September providing that he's still standing up!
Rehearsals started way back in March, which seems like ten years ago, in Pensacola in Florida. By March 22nd the revolving stage and lighting rig was in place, and with the stage divided into eight segments the stage crew jockeyed for positions for their respective musicians.
Sadly this staging is only for the USA as none of the European venues have roofs strong enough to hang all the equipment! Wembley will at least have the round revolving stage albeit without all the trappings.
The lighting rig is best described as a giant crab with movable pincers that are nothing short of spectacular, but you'll have to catch one of the USA shows to see them in action.
Having said all that the show has come together magnificently. A mixture of old and new, with more often than not everybody on stage at the same time quite the opposite as to what was originally thought. All eight appear on such tracks as "Changes", "Rhythm Of Love", "Heart Of The Sunrise", "Hold On" and "And You And I" to name but a few.
Solo spots for all were included for the American tour, but it is likely that they will be either scrapped or reduced for Europe. This is purely because of the time restrictions that are put upon the band over how long they are allowed to perform for.
The equipment travels in no fewer than five massive trailers whilst the crew, all 41 of them, travel in custom built luxury coaches sleeping in them over night whilst travelling.
The load in of equipment each day starts at 8am and is normally completed by about 4.30pm. To take everything down is somewhat quicker and the crew reckon to be on the road by 3.am. at the latest.
The tour actually commenced on April 10th and continued pretty non stop 'until May 21st. Just a few days were allowed to get the equipment to Europe giving each of the band just a few days at home to see their respective families and "recuperate" ready for part two!
Leg two starts on the 28th of May in Germany and finishes in the UK with shows at the NEC in Birmingham on the 25th and 26th of June and Wembley Arena on the 28th, 29th and 30th of the same month.
As for the record, which has already gone gold in America, it shot in at around number 7 in the UK and then true to form for all YES product, proceeded to trickle out again! However the interest all round has been quite phenomenal especially the other side of the big pond where for example Philadelphia sold about 50,000 tickets in a day for three shows!
The future looks interesting to say the least It is probable that the majority, if not all, the eight members will stick around at least for touring next year, for which offers are already in contract form for at least another 85 shows.
Complications will arise over how future recording is to be handled, but Rick feels if it's got this far through sensible negotiation then anything can be achieved.
Sidetracking a little Rick and Trevor Rabin have struck up quite a friendship and musical bond, so who knows what may happen there.
Jon and Rick have also discussed at length about putting a "songbook" album together along the lines of pieces like "The Meeting" from the ABWH album.
All in all Rick feels that there is a lot of life in and around the YES ORCHESTRA as the press in the USA have started calling it. (The crew call it the Antiques Roadshow!) Obviously by report number two, things should be even more clear as to the future so at the moment what's been written here is as up to date as anything you'll read anywhere.
The AMBIENT labels are progressing nicely although suffering with promotion due to the fact that Rick has been away on the YES tour. However that has not meant that things have stood still. Far from it in fact as Susie and Frank have been hard at work getting the masters and art work to the various licensees around the world as well as preparing the "Softsword" album.
Incidentally. for those of you in the Rochester region during the first weekend in June, make sure you catch the Marcher Lords' performance incorporating Rick's music. You may even catch Susie and Frank there who will be selling records, tapes and CDs of "Softsword", which is the title given to the re-adapted music from the original score.
Returning to the subject of album covers, a great personal friend of Rick's, Rodney Mathews, has produced a cover for "2000Ad Into The Future", that is nothing short of magnificent so watch out for that one when it's release happens. (To jog any memories, the music is all keyboard with no vocals, quite "classical rockish" and is adapted for that written for the Great North festival in Newcastle last year).
We are now close to a licensing agreement in the United States which Rick hopes to finalise by the end of August at the very latest, as with the success of the YES projects interest is very high on all solo areas at present.
A new subsidiary of Ambient Music is about to be launched in the shape of HOPE RECORDS. This will deal solely with any Christian music that Rick writes and performs, and will start with a complete re-recording of the Gospels, which will be re-titled "The Word" to match that of the video which Ambient Music has purchased for all worldwide rights with the exception of North America, from Central television.
It is sincerely hoped that "The Word" will be completed in time for Xmas.
ASAPH records in California who are one of the most successful Christian record labels in the USA kindly invited Rick to spend a day with them during the YES tour and basic agreements were set up for them to license all the Christian music that Rick produces.
ASAPH also handle "In The Beginning" for the ASSIST charity and have agreed to handle the second work, "Prayers" which it is also hoped will be ready by Xmas.
For those of you not up to date with this scenario basically Rick and Nina produced a recording of Bible readings and music for their great friend Dan Wooding in America who runs an Organisation helping churches and Christians who are suffering in many ways in third world and other suppressed areas. All royalties go to the charity and the record/CD has proved highly popular amongst both the Christian and secular audience alike. "Prayers" will be the second one for Dan although in the UK it will be released on HOPE RECORDS as part of the AMBIENT group. It is also possible that HOPE could end up with "In The Beginning".
Rodney Mathews has kindly agreed to do the artwork for "The Word" when it is completed and Rick looks forward to that as much as he does hearing the finished music!
Both Ramon Remedios and Robert Powell have again offered their services. The choir will be an extremely large one! (in excess of 150) from the Isle of Man, and there will be additional music written bringing the total performance up to around 2 hours.
It is extremely likely that at last we will be able to return to our Xmas performances of the Gospels and dates should be announced in the September issue at the very latest.
BDA, Rick's agents in Manchester, have put together a solid tour for the second in the series of the Classical Connection which runs solidly throughout November. A full date list will appear in the July bulletin.
Again featuring Davy Paton on acoustic and classical guitars a well as a varied assortment of basses, Rick will also be slightly expanding his set up somewhat and the show will definitely advance a further stage.
Everybody was delighted with the success of the first Classical Connection tour and album, and so it is important that this second tour and accompanying album goes that one stage further in order to establish this area of Rick's musical recording and composition.
"The Classical Connection II" will be recorded in September and will be released in October prior to the tour. An extensive radio and press campaign is planned throughout October in preparation for the tour and to promote the record.
If the record and tour are as successful as the first then this format will become a regular yearly event with at least 30 shows with accompanying recording.
The JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH performance in October in Moscow is looking more and more promising as the days go by. However Rick is deliberately not getting excited on this front as he has been let down so many times although it must be said that this time things have reached conclusive stages and should be tied up, signed sealed and delivered by the end of July at the very latest I so we'll say no more at present, but just keep our fingers crossed.
Should we get the green light then we will try and put a package together for as cheap as possible for any RWCC members who fancy the trip to witness this somewhat historical event.
Sadly the ENGLISH ROCK ENSEMBLE has had to be put out to graze for the moment as it has become financially non viable in today's musical climate to continue either recording or touring with the set up as it is.
Rick feels very much that the last ERE tour in 1990 took the band as far as it could go in it's current format and line up. The band played brilliantly and no more could be asked of anybody. However the problem would always be where to take it from there and Rick felt that the next stage would be to add a guitarist plus a lighting rig at the very least and this was just not financially on the cards and so rather than let the band stagnate on the road it was felt best to wait until the right situation presented itself for both touring and recording before dusting the ERE off and returning it to the forefront.
Wakeman's Music Emporium which handles all the merchandising and mail orders, now has in stock the "2000AD (Into The Future)" available on CD and Cassette as well as "Softsword" on vinyl as well as CD and cassette. Jane Collister will be happy to deal with all your enquiries and can be contacted on 0624 844138 or by fax 0624 844135. Written enquiries to Wakeman's Music Emporium, Bajonor House, Atholl Place Peel, Isle of Man, British Isles.
Well that just about sums it up for the moment. A lot is happening and the feeling is that of some great musical times to come.
Ambient is slowly finding it's feet, the overseas licensees are pushing ahead, Germany have offered a tour for the Classical Connection early next year, YES appear to be touring until Rick reaches pensionable age, (just over a year at this rate), Frank is opening up new markets faster than we can produce! Susie is due for a transplant of two additional arms to cope with everything and Nina has taken on the awesome task of holding it all together while Rick's on tour.
Final pieces of news include that of the Atlantic Boxed set of YES spanning numerous years.
Apart from the obvious pieces of music they have managed to dig some quite interesting stuff out of the archives as of now unreleased, such as a recording of Rick with Jon Anderson on harp, recorded in 1977 at a church in Vevey.
Also of interest are at least two tracks from the never released album that was started and aborted in Paris by the band in 1979. Rick has heard two of the tracks and says it will forever remain a mystery to him as to why the tracks were never released earlier. Some interesting solo stuff from various members past and present also appears and unlike most compilations this does seem to have been put together with some care and thought.
The price is as yet unknown. We dread to think!
Once again thanks for all your support, for some of you it's been many years now. All of us hope that you get as much pleasure out of what we're trying to do as Rick does out of producing the music.
So from all of us at Ambient, Wakeman's Music Emporium and Bajonor Studio that's Susie, Peter, Jane and Stuart plus of course Rick and Nina, we wish you a happy and musical summer and hope to see you at the upcoming shows.