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Yes - The Royal Affair Tour: Live from Las Vegas


by Kevin Wierzbicki

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There is no dispute that English rock band Yes are the godfathers of prog rock, and in 2019 the band celebrated their longevity by putting together The Royal Affair Tour, a prog extravaganza that featured themselves as headliners with John Lodge of the Moody Blues, Asia, Carl Palmer and Arthur Brown as openers. The spectacular was topped by a career-spanning set of Yes hits and deep cuts; this show was recorded during the tour's stop at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas in July. Notably there is no stage patter included here and the crowd noise is muted to a very low level too, nice features as those things can detract from listening enjoyment upon repeat play. And Yes fans will definitely be playing this one a lot.

The show opens with a take on the Richie Havens chestnut "No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Required" and here the song, which the band covered on their 1970 album Time and a Word, is a prog rocker flavored with sitar-sounding guitar and other effects that very much reflects its original era, a bit of "swinging London" if you will. The big keyboard sound of "Tempus Fugit" follows and it is a showcase for bass man Billy Sherwood who does an excellent job of channeling the song's original bass player, the late Chris Squire. Guitarist extraordinaire Steve Howe plays pedal steel on "Going for the One" but switches to acoustic guitar for "I've Seen All Good People," also a highlight for vocalist Jon Davison as he sings lead and harmonizes with other band members. "Siberian Khatru" is probably one of the band's most-influential cuts ever, and here the 10-minute cuts demonstrates the group's consummate musicianship.

An emotional moment comes about half way through the show as the band perform the Squire-penned "Onward;" again there is no commentary but Squire's words about leaving this mortal coil, sung so well by Davison, no doubt caused many in the audience to choke up for whatever reasons of their own. A couple more of the band's favorite covers follow; a take on the Simon & Garfunkel classic "America" and another emotional cut, John Lennon's "Imagine." Combining to run about 21-minutes, the show ends with favorites "Roundabout" and "Starship Trooper." This one belongs in every Yes fan's collection and those who saw the tour in person will especially love it.
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