As 1972 came to a close, English progressive-rock group Yes were the hottest ticket in town. Thanks to the breakout success of their pioneering masterpiece Close To The Edge, the band embarked on a sold-out tour of the US and Canada, during which they road-tested their new material. The mammoth box set Progeny: Seven Shows From Seventy-Two collects seven of their most incendiary concert shows from that year across 21 slabs of vinyl, remastering every second of each setlist to capture Yes at their zenith for the sake of posterity.
Despite the departure of drummer Bill Bruford, newcomer Alan White more than holds his own behind the kit, meshing perfectly with the mind-boggling complexity of Steve Howe’s virtuosic guitar work and Chris Squire’s nimble bass. Similarly fleet-fingered, keyboardist Rick Wakeman truly shines throughout, while singer Jon Anderson sings with fervour and has never sounded better.
With new artwork designed by long-time Yes illustrator Roger Dean, the Progeny packaging itself is stunning: packaged in a cigarette-style flip-top box, each concert is pressed on different coloured vinyl to complement the new-found sonic clarity of the live material.
To help guide listeners through over 11 hours’ worth of music, here is our selection of the finest moments from each gig in the treasure trove that is Progeny: Seven Shows From Seventy-Two.
31 October 1972: Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario
Marking the first major appearance of Yes in Canada, the group’s 31 October show, at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens, gave the Great White North’s prog-rock fans a treat right from the opening notes of the Close To The Edge highlight Siberian Khatru. Amazingly, it was during this show that a Spinal Tap-esque mishap occurred, as Rick Wakeman’s towering collection of keyboards, organs, Minimoogs and Mellotrons inadvertently picked up a local radio signal. Ever inventive, the keyboard wizard ended up playing an impromptu solo along with the intruding broadcast.
Naturally, one of the biggest highlights of the set is Yes’ storming live rendition of Roundabout, the single which had hit No.13 on the US Billboard Hot 100 earlier that year.
Must hear: Roundabout
1 November 1972: Ottawa Civic Centre, Ottawa, Ontario
Playing to a reported audience of 7,000 fans, Yes’ Ottawa show is nothing short of wondrous, aided in no small part by Chris Squire’s deep and thundering basslines and Steve Howe’s epic soloing. Considering this is a live recording, the sound quality is crystal-clear, with Jon Anderson’s voice capturing all the magic that fans of Close To The Edge fell in love with.
The Ottawa performance of I’ve Seen All Good People, from 1971’s The Yes Album, differs considerably from the studio version, unfurling from a slow-burn amble through acoustic folk before breaking into Howe’s more familiar uptempo hyperkinetic riffing.
Must hear: I’ve Seen All Good People
11 November 1972: Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham, North Carolina
As Yes headed to Cameron Indoor Studio, in Durham, North Carolina, their momentum as the UK’s foremost prog-rock act continued unabated. For many of the shows captured on Progeny, singer Jon Anderson was reportedly suffering from the flu, but you’d never notice – as if sweating out his illness through sheer catharsis alone, he effortlessly belts out a slew of the best Yes songs like a trooper.
The ecstatic crowd reaction heard at the start of this night’s epic take on Close To The Edge’s title track was a frequent occurrence on Yes’ 1972 tour, prompted by a dazzling light display hitting a mirror disc to prepare the audience for the band’s jaw-dropping feats of showmanship.
Must hear: Close To The Edge
12 November 1972: Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, North Carolina
Performing in Greensboro just one day after their Durham show, Yes showed no signs of fatigue. Like Roman gladiators attempting to prize the teeth out of a vicious lion, the Yes bandmates play like their lives depend on it, leaving zero chance of getting a thumbs-down from any would-be emperor inside the Coliseum.
During this show, Rick Wakeman’s crowd-pleasingly jazzy piano solo on Yours Is No Disgrace leads into a rollicking 16-minute reinterpretation of the song, full of Steve Howe’s lashing guitar riffs and showcasing new drummer Alan White’s insatiable bloodlust behind the kit.
Must hear: Yours Is No Disgrace
14 November 1972: University Of Georgia, Athens, Georgia
With all the transcendental tones Yes summon during their show at the University Of Georgia, it’s easy to see why Close To The Edge remains such a classic prog-rock album. From Chris Squire’s rubbery bass to Rick Wakeman’s free-flowing keyboards, Yes were clearly in a league of their own, exploring undiscovered nuances in each song every time they picked up their instruments.
The symphonic rock opus And You And I is a truly rousing moment in this night’s set, with little more than a pin-drop being heard from the crowd during Jon Anderson’s soaring early verses before Steve Howe’s cloud-grasping guitar solo summons the divine.
Must hear: And You And I
15 November 1972: Knoxville Civic Coliseum, Knoxville, Tennessee
Picking up where they left off the night before, Yes continue to discover new facets to their sound during their stop at Knoxville, Tennessee. Despite the setlists for each show being identical, this is a band totally unafraid of improvising around their source material, making each rendition of a song sound revelatory.
Kicking off at breakneck speed, Heart Of The Sunrise, from the group’s Fragile album, is the sound of prog-rock at its most essential. An 11-minute sonic journey that shifts tempos on a whim, this live performance moves seamlessly from Chris Squire’s hypnotic bass groove to Steve Howe’s rapid-fire riffage before blindsiding the audience with Rick Wakeman’s organ and piano solos.
Must hear: Heart Of The Sunrise
20 November 1972: Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, New York
Closing the 21LP box set Progeny: Seven Shows From Seventy-Two, Yes’ performance at Nassau Coliseum, in New York state, sees each musician flaunt their prog-rock prowess. Chris Squire’s locomotive bass work on his famous Rickenbacker keeps things on track, while Steve Howe’s axle-grinding guitar-playing sends the group careening into the unknown.
As with most of the other shows on their 1972 tour, Yes walk on stage to an excerpt from Igor Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite, setting the scene for an incendiary performance of Siberian Khatru. Clearly, 1972 was a vintage year for prog-rock and, like a fine wine, Progeny is proof that Yes are a band to savour.
Must hear: Opening (Excerpt From ‘Firebird Suite’)/Siberian Khatru
More Like This
They were rowdy, rebellious and volatile, but Shane MacGowan and co built their catalogue to last – as the best Pogues songs attest.
The best Corrs songs grew from folk roots into pop-rock greatness, helping the group become one of the most successful Irish bands ever.
Be the first to know
Stay up-to-date with the latest music news, new releases, special offers and other discounts!