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Steve Howe Doing Double-Duty With Yes, Asia

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Sunday, July 19, 2009

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Yes and Asia fans will see two bands on Monday night at the DTE Energy Music Theatre — but only one guitarist.

Steve Howe is a founding member of both groups, having launched Asia in 1981 during a 14-year hiatus from Yes. Having the two bands on tour together means 50 minutes with Asia — which Howe says will focus on the progressive rock all-star group’s 1982 debut and last year’s “Phoenix” — and then another 95 minutes or so of favorites from Yes’ extensive catalog.

“I’ll actually be on stage about two-and-a-half hours, which was what Yes was doing back in (the fall),” said Howe, 62. “Physically, Asia’s a lot more demanding, guitaristically, a lot of flying around (the fretboard), and Yes has got a kind of smoothness, so I think it’s going to be easy for me to go from one to the other.

“It’s a great opportunity, really; all I’ve got to do is show up and play guitar. That’s not too bad, is it? And I think Asia’s going to be a tremendous opening band for Yes and ... push the ante up for Yes.”

Howe also expects to be making new music with both bands after the tour wraps up Aug. 2, though he insists specific plans are “hypothetical” at the moment. Asia, he says, is “hot on the trail of another record” after a “pleasant” experience making “Phoenix” — the first set of new material by the original quartet (Howe, Carl Palmer, John Wetton and Geoff Downes) in 26 years — and tends to be “more prepared and jumps at things more quickly.” Yes, meanwhile, “has got to pace itself,” according to the guitarist, especially with the two new members — vocalist David Benoit and former keyboardist Rick Wakeman’s son Oliver in his dad’s spot — in tow.

Howe does acknowledge, however, that the long-lived quintet has “other plans going through the year, but we’re not going to announce them yet. One thing at a time ... do a little bit more work and playing and then divert to recordings.”

Howe is also looking to release a pair of solo recordings, perhaps this year — “Motif, Vol. 2,” another collection of solo guitar pieces, and a live album by the Steve Howe Trio recorded during tours last year of England and Canada.

Yes and Asia perform at 7:30 p.m. Monday (July 20) at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $39.50 and $59.50 pavilion, $15 lawn with a $44 lawn four-pack. Call (248) 377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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