Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Jon Davison, Glass Hammer & Yes

There was much debate last year among the cognoscenti of prog about Benoit David's role as the singer with Yes, particularly after the release of the much-awaited album, 'Fly From Here'.  David had been a touring member of the band for a few years, but this was his first recording with them, and most people thought that he had done a creditable job, though Jon Anderson will always be regarded by the purists as the only 'true' singer with Yes.

On tour with the rest of the new line-up of the band last year he handled the 'classic' material well, and showed that his years as a 'Yes tribute' vocalist had not been wasted. But then news came that the rigours of touring, and of singing consistently in the ranges that Yes's music calls for, had taken their toll. The last few dates of the European leg of the tour were called off, and subsequently it was announced that Benoit had left the band.

A few days ago his replacement was revealed - another former Yes tribute-band singer, and currently vocalist with the group 'Glass Hammer', Jon Davison. I have to confess that I had been aware of Glass Hammer's existence for a few years but had never got round to listening to their music, but hearing of Davison's recruitment as the 18th official member of Yes in their history (their 4th vocalist) I made a point of listening to their two most recent offerings, on which Jon sings: 'If' and 'Cor Cordium'.

Listening to these recordings, I could immediately see why he had been chosen by Yes. Their influence on Glass Hammer is clear, but they are more than just another tribute band. Their style incorporates for me the best of classic symphonic prog, with hints of 70s Genesis and touches of ELP evident in their keyboard-driven tunes. Davison, clearly under the thrall of Jon Anderson in his singing, also brings elements for me of Rush's Geddy Lee in his prime to his vocals, and bassist Steve Babb shows a clear similarity to Chris Squire.

Someone commented to me recently that 'Cor Cordium' was the best Yes album of 2011, and it certainly bears more comparison in many regards with classic Yes than 'Fly From Here' does (echoes of 'Awaken' for me in the closing minutes of the final song, 'She, a Lonely Tower').

I wait eagerly for Davison to stamp his mark on this great, epic band, and take them into their next phase (assuming his voice holds out). "High vibration, go on!"


  1. Interesting post, John. I too am looking forward to seeing how Jon D copes with the role - probably the most demanding and thrilling in all of prog rock.

    I hope he will be able to record with the band - assuming Jon A doesn't come back, of course. Never a dull moment being a Yes Fan!!

  2. I agree! Jon Davison is a good choice. Unfortunately they tour now far away from my homeground. I would really like to figure out if this new constellation really works. I hope so.

  3. After 40+ years of waiting for Squire et al to tour here we get to see Jon D's first show with Yes in Auckland, New Zealand on April 1st. I imagine that will wear very well in history.

  4. band politics aside, i am JAZZED to learn this news!if we need our yes [and we do] then this guy can deliver! IF is a spectacular album-lovely! asking for cor cordium for my upcoming birthday as well. many thanx to benoit for bringing us this far and looking forward to hearing this new lineup this coming summer!

  5. Chris Squire explains all the changes of vocalists in Yes in this Youtube clip:


  6. I find it hilarious that Jon Davison's first gig with Yes will be on April Fools Day. I wish him luck, but Yes is flailing so badly that I don't think another singer will save them. Never have I seen so many captains jump ONTO a sinking ship. I loved Yes, but they're gone.

  7. The gig In Melbourne on 11 April to a sell out audience was a huge success. Jon Davidson started a little slowly in the first couple of songs but quickly won the audience over and gave what to this long time Yes fan was a flawless rendition of Yes classics old and new. This is not to say that I would not want Jon Anderson back but that I'd rather have Yes on the road than not . A bonus was the unexpected animation shown by Steve Howe which seemed to be a reflection of the very warm audience response to the band's performance

  8. Just saw the show in Westbury, NY Sat July 14, 2012 - WOW! Jon Davison did not disappoint. He's a natural fit! I too miss Jon Anderson and reluctantly accepted Benoit David as his replacement. I wasn't aware the Benoit wasn't touring with the band so when I saw Jon Davison take center stage I was a little apprehensive. It only took a few notes and I settled in for one of the best YES concerts in quite a while.
    The harmony with Chris was terrific. Geoff Downs was spot on as was Steve and Alan.

  9. Glass Hammer's latest, "Perilous" is their best, as much as I like "If" and "Cor Cordium". I highly recommend it.