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Sunday 26 Jan 2020

[@]Steve Howe - Homebrew 6 Tour 2016

Last night Band on the Wall, Manchester’s legendary venue on Swan St, was host to ‘Yes’ guitarist Steve Howe on his Homebrew 6 Tour. The album features 18 tracks and a set of comprehensive notes from Steve about their writing and recording.

The last time I saw Howe play, again at Band on the Wall, was a couple of years ago when he was touring with his trio and I sort of felt that it was going to be a last chance to see, but thankfully I was wrong.

Howe joined Yes in 1970 and plays on the ‘Yes the Album’ the third and quite possibly their major breakthrough album. In fact the last Yes tour the encore featured Starship Troopers proving the enduring appeal of this album and its collection of songs.

Howe appears regularly in the all time top guitar player lists, is highly respected by guitar players and Gibson have even created a couple of special guitar models celebrating him, one was launched 2002 and called the Steve Howe Signature ES-175.

Tonight Howe treated us to over two hours of solo guitar music and with a few tracks being sung. Whilst this tour is called Homebrew 6 he explains that there won’t actually be many tracks played form that album tonight but is playing music that he likes to play.

This is of little surprise and let's be honest he does have a huge writing back catalogue to draw upon and then there are other song writers he likes to play. Howe, in his own words, is more comfortable with the acoustic guitar and you get a true insight into how he creates and plays music.

The influence of classical guitar playing is clear in his writing; there are also strong allegiances to American blues and even rock ‘n’ roll. Listening to ‘Valley Rock’, a picking style piece, left me with the distinct impression that if you could master it you maybe able to play almost any Yes song.

The set included several Yes songs and a tribute to the late Chris Squire, bassist with Yes. Playing three of Howe’s favourite Squire compositions including ‘Onward’, which was also played as the tribute piece on the last Yes tour.

Howes encore was possibly predictable, even though he has played in both Asia and GTR and plenty of solo work, it started with a great version of ‘Roundabout’ and concluded with ‘The Clap’ from again Yes the Album.

If you are interested in guitar playing and want a chance to get to see and hear a world class expert, who claims he doesn’t read music, then I suggest that you grab some tickets and sit back to enjoy a few hours of fantastic music.

Band on the Wall is a great place to see artists play intimate sets it has an excellent sound system and the space, beyond a couple of structural pillars, affords the audience a great view and a close-up experience.

Its event calendar is full to bursting with bands, artists and even the very successful monthly Craig Charles Funk & Soul club, if you can get tickets...

Reviewed by on .

Rating: 5

Band on the Wall Manchester

25 Swan Street
M4 5JZ