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Prog-Rock Kings Yes Return To Play Their Three Greatest Albums Live

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A high school friend who saw a particularly rowdy Yes concert at Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City in 1976 swears he witnessed Howe perform a miracle of musical dexterity. Although he can't quite remember whether it was a beer can or a Frisbee, something flew out of the unruly audience and crashed against Howe's fretboard in the middle of a typically complicated guitar run. What happened next?

Nothing. Howe's steely concentration couldn't be broken for even a millisecond.

"Well, I'm delighted to hear that," laughs the man himself, all the way from England via telephone. "That sort of occurrence at Yes shows is very rare. Now we just get people filming the whole show on their phones, which is rather annoying. These people are watching the whole show through a camera lens, so they could just as well be home than in a theater."

Fans aiming their smartphones at the current tour will capture Yes alumni Howe, Chris Squire, Geoff Downes, and Alan White, along with new lead singer Jon Davison, performing the entirety of three of the most enduring and popular albums in Yes' discography -- 1970's The Yes Album, 1973's Close to the Edge, and 1977's Going for the One. But don't worry, they encore with a rousing "Roundabout."

The idea to perform complete albums in concert has been in vogue for quite some time, but it's something new to Yes. Howe suggested they perform three complete albums, since they haven't done anything like that that since first touring in support of Tales from Topographic Oceans nearly 40 years ago.

"When we did that album, we played the whole thing live, and a little bit later we only did sides 1 and 4. I would welcome playing it again," says Howe. "For this tour, we chose The Yes Album, which is the first one I played on when I joined. It made sense since it had a lot of the songs we always play live. And Close to the Edge -- we'd dropped those songs from the set, so people would be excited to hear them again."

Going for the One arrived in stores at a time when punk rock emerged to put music back into the hands of people who couldn't play it. In the rock history books, this generally is portrayed as a good thing, and in some ways it was.

If you want to look at it another way, it was the first genuinely conservative movement in rock.

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Serene Dominic
Contact: Serene Dominic