Fragile (The Defintive UK based Yes Tribute Band)
January 31st 1999
Darenth Tavern, Darenth, UK
By Ed Sander


In the beginning of December we received an e-mail about a Yes Tribute band at DPRP. The band, called Fragile, would perform their debut gig in a place called Darenth in the UK. Never having heard of either the band or the venue in which they would play before I had my doubts about the whole thing. I shouldn't have ....

When it turned out that I would be in the UK for work around the same time as the Fragile gig I contacted DPRP buddy Neil to see if he was interested in going and if the place was anywhere near where he was living and I was staying. Darenth turned out to be very nearby and since both of us had nothing better to do, we decided to check out the band.
When I called the contact person of the band it turned out to be the lead singer's wife. In a short chat with her husband, Steve Carney, I found out that the band had done their real debut on Friday evening elsewhere and that they would only play one hour at Darenth since there was another (local) band playing as well. I was slightly disappointed by this but if I had to believe what the guy said they had been received very well on Friday. Something to look forward to after all ?

After Neil picked me up at the hotel we first picked up his girlfriend Sam (no stranger to those who visit IQ gigs in the UK regularly) and drove on to Darenth. We just thought that we must have missed a turn when an eye-catching tavern appeared by the side of the road. The doors were marked with a set of those cheesy 'walking lightbulbs' which gave the whole a rather weird appearance. In Holland there would definitely be no band playing behind such doors. We also assumed that the sign which said 'Visitors please leave quickly and quietly' was meant for after 11 o'clock.
After paying the 2 pound entrance fee we were inside this remarkable place. The venue was shaped like an 'L' around the bar. Opposite the bar there were bar stools which you would expect to find in a fast food restaurant; fastened to the ground but able to spin around. Bands would play in the short 'leg' of the 'L' shape. Strange enough, instead of a stage, that part of the tavern had a lowering in the floor, so the bands were actually standing below than the audience.

At 8.30 PM the first band started playing. They were called Threshold but since the guitarist didn't look like Karl Groom at all, this definitely was not THE Threshold. This band played a mixture of powerful rock with punk, metal and blues influences. Some of their songs were enjoyable, but most of the riffs seemed to be very familiar and resembled material of Black Sabbath and Thin Machine.
At about 9.30 Threshold packed their stuff while Fragile started setting up their gear. They were a very colourful lot and I cursed myself for not bringing my camera. The most remarkable band members were one of the guitarist (they had two !) which was a negro with a rather weird haircut (certainly not someone you would expect to play in a prog band) and the bass player who had shaved his head, wore a pair of sunglasses and a hilarious camouflage suit with grey and orange patches. I can still remember Sam saying:' This guy is going to have a hard time finding something to camouflage against'. Besides these two there was another guitarist, a keyboard player, a drummer and vocalist Steve in a black overcoat.

At 10.15 the band could finally hit it off with a taped Firebird Suite intro. They went straight into Roundabout after that. After a slighlty dodgy beginning the band really picked the song up very well and proved that they could indeed play very representative versions of the Yes material. The vocalist was not an exact John Anderson sound-alike but that did not bother me at all. He presented the songs with a lot of charisma, waving his arms about as an orchestra director. Neil, Sam and I threw each other looks of approval.
The second song was Owner of a Lonely Heart, a predictable choice but certainly not an easy one considering all of the strange effects in the song. The band did okay on this one and I was delighted when they played the full length album version with even an additional keyboard solo.
After a very Wakeman-ish solo the keyboard player went into the opening melody of And You and I which was performed very well also. The next two tracks Mood for a Day and Long Distance Runaround/The Fish gave both the guitarist with the strange haircut and the bass player with the camo suit a chance to show their skills while the singer fiddled around with samba sticks.
Now that everybody in the band had had their bit in the spotlight it was time for the drummer who performed a nice short solo. I couldn't contain my enthusiasm when I recognised the rhythm of Yours is no Disgrace and the band picked it up. What a wonderful version of this classic Yes track !
And if that hadn't been enough, the band closed their set with a splendid version of Starship Trooper with a nice tempo increase at the end of Wurm.
And then, after just a bit more than an hour, it was all over. Far too soon ......

I had a quick chat with Steve before we left and he turned out to be as nice a chap as he was on the phone.
Considering the fact that this only was their second concert and that other cover bands still don't have their act together after years of playing this band really gets both thumbs up from me. I hope they will continue to do more improvising and give their own style to the songs, like they did with some during this gig.
Knowing that they also do tracks like Onward, Time And A Word and Heart Of The Sunrise I can't wait to see them play a full length set on the continent.

For more information about the band please mail them at fragile.tribute@LineOne.net.

Setlist:

Firebird Suite intro
Roundabout
Owner of a Lonely Heart
- keyboard solo -
And You And I
Mood for a Day
Long Distance Runaround
The Fish
- drum solo -
Yours Is No Disgrace
Starship Trooper

 

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