You will be hard pressed to find a more positive concert review than this one. It seems to me that Mr. Sutcliffe really enjoyed himself. So read on!
Yes, the ocean monsters, send us home happy
Phil Sutcliffe catches the Yes tour in Glasgow
It ain`t easy being a Yes fan, you know. Reveal your secret in the wrong company and they go “ya boo”, and beat you about the head with Chuck Berry 78s.
The inverted rocksnob theory is that because the lads don`t encore with `Johnny B Goode` they`re strictly for bourgeoisie intellectuals from Pseud`s Corner.
Well, hear ye. Just cop yer whack for the new Yes tour. I`ve just seen three of the opening gigs and you can argue `til you`re blue in the suede shoes and you won`t persuade me that Yes are anything but one of the best rock bands in the world. That`s as in Rock On, Get Yer Rocks Off, ROCK.
After the relaxed delights of the Newcastle nights, Glasgow was the business end, notebook out, mental computer switched to “analyse”, self-inflicted third degree of “Ve haf vays of making you tell us vy you are enjoying yourself.”
A later than last minute dash up the stairs of the Apollo and there was Alan White, punching into the startling broken time opening of `Sound Chaser`. Short drum volleys surrounded by silence and a rippling run on electric piano. Just right for grabbing idle minds out of their between the acts lethargy.
Instantly the typical Yes audience concentration descended and there was a kind of mutual limbering up. `Sound Chaser` is no classic in terms of tune, but it does demand some of those moments when teamwork has to be so perfect, it`s an aesthetic thrill in itself.
It was so when Steve Howe and Chris Squire hit the main riff in high speed cohesion as if the ryhthm was flowing in one bloodstream, and again, when Jon Anderson went into his vocal percussion “Chas-Chas” backed by Howe and Squire. Their certainty and attack caught that big “Yeah” from inside you which is a clichè of soul music but means it`s buzzing whether it`s Beethoven or boogaloo.
Such a sense of abrasion – that was the surprise. First number over and the audience exchanging “this – is – really – going – to – be – something” glances. They switched on the glitter ball above the stage and in a rain of flickering lights the electronic crickets of `Close To The Edge` started chirping.
It`s never been better, a piece of music that grows and grows. `Close To The Edge` is packed with some of the richest themes that Yes has ever written, and they are given full orchestral weight by Moraz sticking to the Wakeman script on organ and synthesisers, working in intricate sympathy with Howe`s guitars.
The sheer size of it is very satisfying, but you don`t just sit there feeling mellow and inwardly syphonic. The composition is a compound of excitement and beauty and in Glasgow, more so than the earlier gigs, there was that new wildness in the playing. Not just commitment, but abandoned.
Although I have never been able to penetrate their words, their playing is dramatic in a purely musical sense, with no literal meaning, so it takes your emotions on switchback rides into regions uncharted by vocabulary.
In Glasgow, one floodlit second early in `The Edge` caught what I`m trying to express. The first movement is an all guns blazing chaotic attack in which Howe fires his volleys at will across the bass and drum rhythms. It was controlled bedlam and exhilarating in a strange way.
Responding to funk the pleasure is getting into a groove and staying there just bopping away. With Yes, their rhythms reach you alright, and you tap your foot and shake your head but the time criss-crosses and changes so much you never get it quite right so that you`re permanently under an ecstatic kind of stress.
Anyway, you`d about jerked yourself to bits in the chaos section when for that exquisite second everything stops, Anderson sings one long “Aah” into silence, then with eye-bugging precision, the pandemonium music rips away again.
Contrast is the name of the game. Yes are aware that it can be equally effective to use every one of their fifty million watts – or none. The three years matured version of `Close To The Edge` is the high point of their music to date, tasteful and tasty.
Have you ever had that feeling that you`ve covered two numbers out of a dozen and you`ve only got a hundred words of your allocation left? Hm. A summary of the evidence your worships:
Post orgasm on the edge `To Be Over` is sweet but anticlimatic. Pee time – and you probably need one as Yes value for money always means a set of more than two hours.
`The Gates Of Delirium` also seemed patchy until the simple, beautiful denouement with `Soon Oh Soon`, Anderson`s melancholy voice supported sensitively by Howe on pedal steel.
With which they switched to something entirely different. Yes go acoustic! Some story. A medley of old favourites, the lovely harmony vocals of `Don`t Surround Yourself` and `Long Distance Runaround` alternating with Howe solos (he did a bit of `Topographic` in Glasgow, but thought it wasn`t well enough known and said he`d revert to `Mood For A Day`), rounded off by `The Clap` as happy making as ever.
Also in there, the spotlight picked up Patrick Moraz at his other piano, the grand, and he performed an impressive piece of fast fingering which only took off when he veered towards a boogie for a few bars. Still, the Scots, like the Geordies, applauded him with real affection.
The whole segue is an excellent choice of programming, taking the tempo down while maintaining interest through the variety of sound ready for the big finish.
Which consists of `And You And I` (in fine shape with the intimate relationship between Howe and Moraz on the main themes again a feature), and `Ritual`, the fourth side of `Topographic Oceans`. What a way to go, as they say.
Of course, it`s mainly built on bass and drum leads and the result is naked excitement which can`t be reconciled with the group`s legendary stockbroker mansion lifestyle. You spill sweat with Alan White, then in comes Anderson, the gentle healer, arms flapping like a fledgeling bird, with the balmy beauty of “Nous Sommes Du Soleil”, and we`re all children in the sun.
They let the Glaswegians whip up the “encores!” into a fair old froth of frenzy, then gave them `Roundabout` (ah, `Roundabout`, shall I compare thee to `Brown Sugar` for thou fillest my brain with rock), and `Sweet Dreams`, which is a singalongayes of `Yesterdays`.
And we all lived happily every after. But may I mention two details which have escaped this highly audio and ever so non-visual account.
Chris Squire is wearing matching rings of ostrich feathers round his knees and ankles and therefore from the waist down, looks distractingly like a cross between a chicken and a shire horse.
As to the ocean monsters (Alan White`s has found a mate since the last tour), your enjoyment of them will depend on the prevailing wind. Waving their tentacles or ears in full view they looked extremely silly, but if the dry ice smoke wafts up and shrouds them they take on a light of their own in the primeval depths before we crawled out into the sun or Sauchiehall Street.
I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!
This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Frank Zappa, Gladys Knight, Women In Rock, Betty Wright, Steve Harley, Peter Frampton, Labelle, Peter Skellern, Ray Davies, Larry Uttal, Chris Spedding, Anne Murray, Sweet Sensation, Bernard Purdie, Mike Harding, Ronnie Lane.
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