The classic rock band Yes, which was forced to cancel their 40th anniversary tour this year due to the illness of its lead singer, has decided to relaunch the tour with an “understudy” — a Yes tribute band singer.
Benoit David, who sings in several Yes tribute bands in Montreal, will replace Jon Anderson on the “In the Present” tour, which kicks of Nov. 4 in Ontario, Canada, according to bassist Chris Squire. “I think it’s all going to work out fine,” Squire told The Associated Press on Wednesday. “Of course, realistically, there’s an element of risk, but there always is.”
Yes, which consists of Squire, Anderson, guitarist Steve Howe and drummer Alan White, scrapped their anniversary tour in June after Anderson suffered acute respiratory failure and was ordered by doctors to rest six months.
Squire found David on the Internet after a friend sent him a YouTube clip of David’s tribute band, Close To The Edge. Squire liked what he saw and called David to offer an audition.
“The first thing he said to me was, ‘Well, I’m looking around to see where the cameras are in case I’m being punked,’” Squire said. Yes has taken a page from another classic rock group, Journey, who selected Arnel Pineda, a sound-a-like of old lead singer Steve Perry, to be their singer after the group discovered him singing Journey songs on YouTube. Pineda sang on the group’s successful comeback album this year and has also been touring with them.
It’s not the first time Yes has had a singer besides Anderson. Trevor Horn sang on the 1980 Yes album “Drama” when Anderson briefly left the band. Squire hopes to work songs from that album into the set for the upcoming tour, plus a few songs he said were not Anderson’s favorites to perform live but the rest of the band likes.
“You can’t ever really replace Jon Anderson, because he’s been such a force in the music business,” Squire said. “We look upon his replacement as more of an understudy.” Squire said he is hopeful Anderson will be well enough to do shows next year.
Yes’ hits include “I’ve Seen All Good People” and “Owner of a Lonely Heart.”