brilliant bits of light on assembly music that probes the outer limits unnatural and extraordinary a thunderous ovation the group took possession of the crowd's mind
A capacity crowd in Memorial Gym gave Yes their heads to play with last Sunday night. All were returned in good condition. All Campus Programming Board produced the show with the help of Belkin Productions in Cleveland. If this concert is any indication, it looks like ACPB has really got it together this year, booking a tremendously popular group and actually having the show start on time for a change.
Lindisfarne played warm-up at the concert; “one of the most misunderstood” British groups. Their music was an easy-going combination of the Byrds and the Irish Rovers, but with its own distinctive blend of harmonic ballads and foot-tapping melodies. They were pleasant, competent, and well-received. Lindisfarne is the kind of group that invites more outside appreciation than gut involvement. It’s groups like Lindisfarne that make you marvel at how rock has become a melting-pot for practically every musical style, welcoming into its ranks everything from country to jazz to classical. But if the ballads of Lindisfarne seemed strange and unfamiliar, the incredible phantasmagoria of the Yes sound left everyone with his mouth open. Yes is a virtually indescribable group. Their music probes the outer limits of the imagination. Just when you think you’ve got it down, it jumps into another dimension and starts all over again, teasing your mind, making you grin like an idiot when you least expect to, leaving you stunned and inexplicably fulfilled. You’ve heard about how psychiatrists are able to induce euphoria in a patient by electrically stimulating the pleasure-centers of the brain. That’s what Yes does - without wires.
And the immersion was complete. Pulsating rhythms wrought of steel and electrons swum around the gym. Ingeniously intricate lighting kept tune to the music, accentuating and intensifying. Yes used every means possible to get inside its captive audience’s brains. They let you know they were playing with your head, too. As if the music itself wasn’t enough, a revolving reflection wheel strewed brilliant bits of light on the assembly, evoking “Ooh!” ’s and “Ah!” ’s from the astounded crowd. Keyboard man Rick Wakeman simulated a fire on stage, complete with smoke, sirens, and beacon. I must point out that, though the atrocious acoustics of Memorial Gym have always been notorious for chewing up good music and spitting out sound soup, it seemed almost a sacrilege to feed it Yes as a victim. The individual elements of their sound must be perceived separately, with the most discriminating awareness, to get the most out of it. The concert by Yes wasn’t as good as their concert at the Akron Rubber Bowl this summer, but, as a pale and drained Jon Anderson told me after the concert, the boys have been touring off and on for almost a year, and will soon return to England for a well-earned rest. So if they didn’t jump around as much as usual, they had good reason. I hope everyone at the concert noticed that Yes didn’t come out in jeans and flannel shirts, as has become the custom of groups trying to look more natural and ordinary. They didn’t, because they are unnatural and extraordinary. They dressed like the wizards they are, in colored suits of silk and satin and flowing capes embellished with stars and moons. The audience was impressed, if not a little shocked. The group took complete possession of their minds while they moved ritualistically back and forth in their seats, agog and dumbfounded. They showed their appreciation with a thunderous ovation, and were rewarded with a powerful encore of “Yours Is No Disgrace.” I confers. Yes brainwashed me, in every sense of the word. But if it feels as good as it did Sunday night, they can do it any time they want.