Yes, They Can | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Yes, They Can

The progressive-rock pioneers of the band Yes will perform music of three full albums July 18 at Thalia Mara Hall.

The progressive-rock pioneers of the band Yes will perform music of three full albums July 18 at Thalia Mara Hall. Photo by Courtesy Yes

Yes has never been a band to rest on rock music conventions. Along with Genesis and Emerson, Lake and Palmer, the band helped popularize what became known as "progressive rock." Throughout the past 40 years and 20 studio albums, Yes has seen its share of success. I dare anyone to listen to Classic Rock radio and not hear a Yes song being played during the day.

Yes will perform the music of three complete albums during this summer's tour: 1971's "The Yes Album" (featuring hits like "Starship Trooper" and "I've Seen All Good People"), 1972's "Close To the Edge" (many consider the band's masterpiece and a landmark prog-rock album), and 1977's "Going For the One" (an album that was initially overlooked but is now highly regarded).

The Jackson Free Press spoke with founding Yes member and bassist, Chris Squire, to ask a few questions.

When you and vocalist Jon Anderson formed Yes, were you guys aware that what you were doing would become commonly known as "progressive rock?"

No, not really. I think the descriptive term came much later. I think we were just making music in a way that we wanted to. The kind of music we were making became known as progressive rock. Of course, there were later bands that fit into that genre of classically influenced rock 'n' roll. Jon and I both have a love for symphonic classical music as well as groups like The Beatles and other groups that had been happening in England during the '60s when we were kids. We ended up melding it all together and creating what became (known as) progressive rock.

How did you guys select the three albums you will be playing on this tour?

It was an idea we had hanging around for a while to do a sort of tribute to our own albums from the '70s. We thought about different ways of doing it and, since we didn't have a new product out in 2012, we thought we'd try doing the three-album set from that era. It whittled down to the fact that we thought those three albums complimented each other.

"The Yes Album" was the first one that put us on the international stage. It brought us to the attention, especially in the U.S., of a larger audience. "Close To the Edge" was the first one where we attempted to do a long piece of music that lasted the whole side of the vinyl album, so that has its place. And "Going for the One" was the first one we recorded outside of the (United Kingdom), so that has its own milestone quality about it.

Most people associate progressive rock with complex instrumentals, but listening to Yes, some may be surprised by the difficult vocal arrangements.

Yeah, that was sort of the blueprint we started off with for Yes. We wanted to have a band of accomplished musicians who could play their instruments, but we also had a real appreciation for the vocal harmonies. We wanted to get a bit of everything into our music.

You are playing halls and auditoriums for this tour. How do these settings translate between the band and audience?

We try to play in places where the sound is good, which is our primary concern, but, of course, over the years we've played in everything from clubs to stadiums. It's great to know we still have such a great audience and a lot of die-hard fans. These days, we have a lot of younger people who come to the shows as well, which I'm always glad to see.

Chris Squire, along with guitarist Steve Howe, drummer Alan White, keyboardist Geoff Downes and vocalist Jon Davison, will play the music of three albums in full at Thalia Mara Hall July 18 at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $35.50 with V.I.P. packages available and are available at ardenland.net.

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