Yes was one of my favorite bands back in the 1970s. I loved their progressive rock sound, their long, complex songs, and they were a great band live as well. Their three-LP live album, Yessongs (Amazon.com, Amazon UK) was arguably one of the best live albums of the period, along with the Grateful Dead’s Europe ’72, and I spun both of them a lot back in the day. And the companion film – which, while it shares the same name, but not the same performances (Amazon.com, Amazon UK) – was a staple of midnight movies on the weekends in Queens, New York, where I grew up.
I saw the band live twice, in September, 1978, at Madison Square Garden, when they performed with a rotating round stage in the center of the arena. Unfortunately, this was during their Tormato tour, with that horrendous song Don’t Kill the Whale, but they did play some of their older songs.
The music is pompous and overwrought, but it is powerful music nonetheless. The 18-minute studio version of Close to the Edge is perhaps the epitome of progressive rock, and even live, it works well (which is not always the case for progressive rock bands outside the studio).
Yes is releasing a new set called Progeny, which features restored recordings of seven concerts from 1972, that were taped for potential use on their live album. (Amazon.com, Amazon UK) This will provide an interesting look at the band’s live performances, few of which have been released officially. But Rhino Records, who releases the Grateful Dead’s many live recordings, have taken over Yes’s catalogue, and this may be the first of many.
The set contains the following concerts:
31 Oct 1972: Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
01 Nov 1972: Ottawa Civic Centre, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
11 Nov 1972: Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA
12 Nov 1972: Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, North Carolina, USA
14 Nov 1972: University Of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA
15 Nov 1972: Knoxville Civic Coliseum, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA
20 Nov 1972: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, New York, USA
To be fair, each of these shows is essentially the same. Unlike the Dead, whose setlists varied greatly from one show to another, Yes had a fixed setlist.
Opening (Excerpt From Firebird Suite)
I’ve Seen All Good People
Heart Of The Sunrise
Clap/Mood For A Day
And You And I
Close To The Edge
Excerpts From “The Six Wives Of Henry VIII”
Yours Is No Disgrace
It’s very possible that one or two of these concerts will be enough for anyone, and there will be a double-CD “highlights” set as well, featuring all the songs from a selection of different concerts. (Amazon.com, Amazon UK)
I’m looking forward to hearing more live Yes from the period, especially if the restorations make these shows sound better than Yessongs (which has a notoriously poor mix).