Wednesday, November 26, 1969 (51 years, 2 months ago)
Jon Anderson (Vocals)
Peter Banks (Guitars)
Bill Bruford (Drums)
Tony Kaye (Keyboards)
Chris Squire (Bass)
12/06/69 Melody Maker Chris Welch
Swiss rolling and rocking with Yes
Mont Blanc is still standing. But much was shattered in Switzerland last week as YES took the country by snowstorm.
SHATTERED: One group, three roadies, two journalists and one promoter, known throughout the Alps as Swiss Chris the John Peel of Basle.
SHATTERED: Thousands of Swiss fans who discovered Yes to be one of the finest groups Britain has ever exported to the Common Pop Market.
The group celebrated their first year together with a hectic and often hilarious tour of the land of the cuckoo clock rock and the MM team of Welch and Wentzell was with them 24 hours a day, observing the worry, excitement, hustle and sheer hours a day, observing the worry, excitement, hustle and sheer slog that is the extraordinary life of a group "one the road."
The traveling band is a circus-like existence, where mountains of amplifiers and instruments replace the tents that have to be erected for the show every night, and a blurred chain of hotel rooms replaces the cruising caravan.
And the Yes circus was put through an endurance test as they covered hundreds of miles by jet and Cadillac, through snow and ice.
Yes are a happy group of gently extrovert ego-less super musicians. The feeling and work they put into every number is matches by a cheerful and essentially adult attitude towards the business of making music.
SNOW The accept the rigors of pop with good spirit and are determined to enjoy themselves, whatever the weather and business men are doing.
John Anderson (vocals), Tony Kaye (organ), Peter Banks (guitar), Chris Squire (bass) and Bill Bruford (drums), set off on their promotion trip in an atmosphere of trepidation.
The year's first snow had started to fall - right on Basle airport and the news flashed around the bar at Heathrow European Terminal.
"A glass of Boozo the Wonder drink. I think." said Tony when the cool, clinical lady announcer revealed Basle was probably cut off from the rest of the world, and only a madman would dare land.
She actually said "Flights may be diverted to Zurich," but in the event our REA Trident battled through and our captain was given a round of applause from British passengers as we landed in the white hell of Basle.
Guarding and guiding us from gig to gig was Swiss promoter Chris Schwegler, quickly nicknamed Swiss Chris. He arrived at the airport in army uniform and long hair. Even hippy promoters are liable for military service in neutral Switzerland.
The first concert was in a small, over-heated theatre with seating arrangements that would not be allowed in Britain. But it was a great success with the disarmingly enthusiastic fans.
It was not their best performance however, as Yes had to play over two hours without a break and some of the solos became over-worked.
During the brief rehearsal they worked out a new number to feature John and Peter on acoustic guitars called "Number 14 Bus." The rest of the group shouted abuse from the back row of the stalls: "It's bloody Nina and Fred!" yelled Tony. "Bring back the stripper!" bellowed Bill. "There's a pig loose in the theatre!" announced Peter.
At each gig the band played better and better. They have several string points - a magnificent sense of timing, drama and a proper understanding of the power of taste and excitement. Peter, John and Chris make a beautiful harmony team and John Anderson has one of the most expressive musical voices on the group scene. BOATERS Pete Banks' guitar work is always inventive and unique and on the few occasions when the band get into lengthy individual solos, his compate favourably with the best of the heavy mob.
Chris Squires, the tall, quietly smiling bass player with a penchant for straw boaters and an Eskimo coat, obtains a fiendishly fat sound that rocks somewhere between John Entwistle and Jack Bruce.
Bill, the ever cheerful drummer - "If it's good enough for Charlie Parker, it's good enough for me," is a jazzer who loves Yes and will cheerfully talk about drums and the band at the drop of a practice pad.
This incessant practicing has paid off, for his bright, accurate, intelligent drumming is a powerhouse and mainstay of the band.
Tony Kaye on Hammond, helps to make Yes sound like a big band. While irritated by some equipment problems, the languid off-stage lotus-eater becomes a madman at the keyboard, arms flailing, hair flying, great thundering chords contrasting with delicate passages played with cunning skill.
They make a marvelous band, and it was a shame some of their appearances were restricted to chic expensive night clubs, village halls and a late afternoon concert in Montreux Casino.
But at each gig they earned an ovation and at Solothol they played brilliantly and tore into an audience seated at wooden tables, drinking Coke.
CLEVER Between gigs the band talked about the tour - and their aims.
"I went to art school and when I was 20 I thought: 'The pop life for me. I'll be a millionaire by the time I'm 25," said Tony.
Said Bill: "John is pouring out new numbers for us to play, but we don't have time to rehearse. Usually he writes a tune and we listen to the tape and take it from there. We use complicated arrangements that can be great, or they can baffle and audience.
'The Prophet' has about five changes of tempo and key changes of tempo and key changes before the singing comes in. I suppose it is very easy to be too clever.
"Never mind - it's tough at the top. Day Four of Yes Expedition - going gets tougher. Our roadies have stumbled out into the snow. "It's been a great year for the band. Ye are getting more adult and less likely to break up. We have got to know each other and our abilities.
"This tour has really been a promotion for us. You can't really earn much money on the gigs because the country and the audiences are so small. We are primarily here to sell the LP. The last album is so old it is out of date.
"We are a band that plays songs. I don't play a drum solo and the long instrumental is on Peter's 'I See You,' which is completely free and makes a good contrast.
"We are content to cut good albums and lay good gigs. We are happy enough. We could dye our hair green and drop our trousers on stage, but we want to try and project excitement, personality and quality."
We bid farewell to Yes in the beautiful lakeside town of Montreux at 6 am having gone 24 hours without sleep after a final act of revelry in a medieval cellar known locally as the Museum Club and unofficially as the Monaster of Labour.
"Steady on," said Peter when Tony appeared besieged by Rhine maidens.
"Well you've got to laugh," said Tony. "Or you get frost-bite."