First of all, Devizes is nowhere near Surbiton! Surbiton is a suburb of London; Devizes is in Wiltshire, 80 miles west of London, 20 miles south of Swindon.
The Poperama was located in the old Corn Exchange in the centre of the town. I was 17 years old, the Beatles had just broken up. I think Yes had just released their second album, Time And A Word; my friends and I were huge fans. We saw the freshest, most energetic performance from a band we'd yet witnessed; not only could they *really* play, but they had the 3-part harmony thing down, and in tune. By the end of the night, we'd forgotten all about the Beatles.
It was a great combination of talents - a Hammond organ soul boy, skillful *jazzy* drummer, a boy soprano lead vocalist and two Rickenbacker guitars hooked up to Marshall stacks! The bass player clearly wanted to play lead, and was very loud. They played and sang like their lives depended on it.
They all seemed very happy and joshed along with the crowd. They'd apparently arrived earlier in the day and had visited the nearby picturesque village of Sandy Lane, which had left a favourable impression. Less so, a trip to the local cinema to watch 'Carry On Camping', Barbara Windsor having failed to raise their interest (no, I am NOT making this up!)
This week I learned of the death of guitarist Peter Banks. The memory of his performance that night continues to inspire me to this day; he had a unique, original approach and sounded like no other. The first two albums capture an all-too-brief period in British music when the adjective "progressive" meant exactly that; forward-thinking, gifted musicians stretching themselves to the extremes of their ability with no regard for earlier fads or styles. I have no idea who Banks' influences were - it doesn't matter - he was his own man and his contribution to the band's sound was hugely significant. Sweet Dreams Peter, and thanks for the music.