Legendary Yes guitarist Steve Howe made a last minute stop at The Downtown in Farmingdale, Long Island, NY on Saturday 5/22. Howe's nearly hour & ½ acoustic set was a joy for fans of the man, Yes, the guitar, or just good music. Seeing a performance like this kinda makes you understand why Jon Anderson has dubbed him, "The Maestro."
Sea of Tranquility staff writer Steve Fleck was on hand for this special event, and gives us this full concert review.
First off, as Howe took the stage to a standing ovation from the 250 or so packed in the tiny Long Island club, the guitarist seemed genuinely humble, refreshing for a man who has performed for up to 50 to 100,000 people at a time all over the world. Maybe that's what made it "intimate" as advertised; it was just you, the diminutive guitarist & his acoustic guitar. He was within ear shot of the audience, and actually performed a few requests if he didn't just comment on them ("This guy wants to re-write my whole set," he joked at one point). What was cool is that he actually performed several of them, including "Mood For A Day," "Clap," Excerpts from "The Ancient," & "Dorothy," which was totally off the cuff.
Much of the material was culled from his Not Necessarily Acoustic album, including a mix of American Country/Roots tunes from the 20's, 30's & 40's ("If you haven't listened to Chet Atkins, you really should," he advised). New to the set was the freshly re-arranged "Australia," a smoking version of "Ram," & "All's A Chord" from his mid 70's solo albums. He also added a stunning instrumental version of "To Be Over," which had the audience singing, bringing yet another smile to this classy musician's face. The Union-track "Masquerade" was a welcome choice from Howe's Yes material.
The normally serious guitar Maestro was in a very loose mood, even making a mistake or two ("Sorry!" he apologized to laughs in the midst of one), all the while ripping off runs & chords some of us wouldn't attempt on an electric turned up to 11.
Basically, Howe came off as a real person, not a rock star, & based on the reception he received, he made a few new fans or won them over on Saturday night in Farmingdale.
Now, jeers to The Downtown for making the crowd wait nearly 1 hour outside before opening the doors. What exactly is it these clubs do in that one hour, besides create restlessness & tension among those soon to inhabit it? I've experienced this enough to ask: couldn't these clubs be making stupid money by serving these people overpriced booze & food in that same hour if they just let them in? I'm curious. Anyone own a club? Let me know.