Iron Butterfly, Yes and Dada Newcastle City Hall 14th January 1971
This was the first time I went to a concert at Newcastle City Hall, and because of that, I have pretty strong memories of the evening. I was 14 years old, and very excited at the prospect of going to a concert in the big city that was Newcastle. This was the “Age of Atlantic” package tour, named after the sample album of the same name and featured Dada, Yes and headliners Iron Butterfly. And all this for just 10/- (50p in new money)! DaDa were first up and featured Elkie Brooks, her husband Pete Gage, and her singing partner Robert Palmer. They were a jazz-rock fusion band with lots of members, and a brass section. In a way they were an earlier, jazzier and expanded version of Vinegar Joe, Elkie and Robert’s next and much more successful band. I arrived at the City Hall early, excited at the prospect of seeing a concert there and watched Dada’s entire set, enjoying every minute. Next up was Yes, who I was already familiar with. This was the third time I had seen Yes in concert, the first two being as support acts for the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, and The Nice at gigs at Sunderland Empire. By the time of this gig, guitarist Peter Banks had been replaced by Steve Howe, and the rest of the line-up was Jon Anderson (vocals), Bill Bruford (drums), Chris Squire (bass) and Tony Kaye (keyboards). Rick Wakeman was to join the band later that year. They had just released the classic Yes album, and the set featured tracks from the new album and their previous two releases. I was a big fan of Yes at the time, and they were just great that night. I recall Yours Is No Disgrace, and The Clap as highlights. I was just blown away by Steve Howe’s performance of the latter song, and was fascinated by the semi-acoustic Gibson, complete with f holes, that he was playing. I remember the whole hall clapping along while he played. The song which most sticks in my mind was their version of Simon and Garfunkel’s America, which was simply majestic; almost symphonic. Yes went down well with the crowd; it was very clear that they already had a lot of fans and that they were on the verge of major success. I wasn’t familiar with Iron Butterfly and their material, having only heard In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, and its that song that sticks in my mind from the evening. I remember lots of guitar histrionics and showmanship. Iron Butterfly were good, but for me the best band of the night was Yes. I spent many further nights during the 1970s at Newcastle City Hall. It remains one of my favourite venues; long may it continue to host concerts by great rock band such as these three.