It's amazing to think that over 3 decades have passed since I went to this show, my FIRST EVER CONCERT! I had gotten the YES bug by hearing them on the radio; FM radio was still prog-accessible, and some of the late-nighters at WCMF (like the late "Unkle Roj" R.I.P) would actually play some extended versions of songs....it was probably him who played the full-length version of "Roundabout" real late-night around '74 or '75....though it could have been a fellow named Bernie Kimble, those 2 were prog-friendly DJs. But it was hearing "South Side of the Sky" late night on a Buffalo FM station that really got me hooked on YES...I had to have the 8-track of Fragile! The YES album, Close to the Edge, and Relayer would quickly follow.....I was hooked! In 1976, I was set to graduate from Holy Ghost Elementary School in Gates NY, and it happened to be right around the time of this show, so as a graduation present, my folks agreed to let me go....but not alone!! So it was agreed that I would go with my childhood school chum, Vinnie Brunette, who was keen....his Mom would drive us down, and my Dad would pick us up.....real excitement for 13-14 year olds! I remember it being kinda scary, dropped off at The War Memorial downtown for the first time without parental supervision, which was confirmed when we encountered our first aggressive panhandler! Once inside, the big concert hoopla for the first time was rather intoxicating....and that's without all the commestibles that were being ingested by many around us! The lights went down, and The Pousette-Dart Band took the stage, they put on a competent opening set, rather country-rock-tinged, from what I remember. When YES took the stage, it was rather other-worldly, with the Dean brothers stage design and laser lighting (remember them?), kicking off the show with Siberian Khatru....I remember then that they played I've Seen All Good People, Sound Chaser, and then The Gates of Delirium, folowed by a solo-ish segment (which actually had little of the solo album material) starting with Steve Howe performing The Clap, then Jon, Steve, & Chris doing a quiet acoustic rendition of "Long Distance Runaround" which led into a Patrick Moraz solo keyboard spot....they followed that up with Heart of The Sunrise before the highlight of the show (for me anyways), the epic Ritual from the 'Tales' album (which I had never heard before!)....besides being quite the visual spectacle, there was the memorable Chris Squire propelled fast-tempo jam out of the first vocal section, leading into the wild Bass & Dual-Percussion 'battle' (including Jon Anderson on the Tympanis!) which blissfully terminated with the wonderful Steve Howe guitar 'link' into the quietly beautiful vocal final and shimmering ending....the band finished it all off with the obligatory Roundabout encore. I really must say, it was a stunning 1st concert for me, which would point me down the long road of prog-rock exploration at the beginning of my teens......and I still have the tour programme!! Years later a friend would give me a promo poster for the concert, it had been used to announce a garage sale on the blank side! Totally black with flourescent green lettering, prominently displaying the Roger Dean YES logo......"tickets available at Midtown Records, $5-6-7!"....I still have that too.
29 years, 6 months and 15 days ago, so vivid in my mind, Siberian Khatru, The Gates of Delirium, The Ancient, And You and I, I still get goose bumps when I hear these songs. I'm transported back in time to a lighter, freer feeling when the world seemed more innocent. The War Memorial wasn't even half full, the sweet pungent smoke wafting up to the ceiling, Excerpts from "The Firebird Suite" playing on the PA as we took our seats, in anticipation of the show, my first with YES. I had no idea how that show and their music would transform my life. I will never forget that show, nor the rest I have been to. Truly Jon, Steve, Chris, Alan, Patric, Bill, Rick, Trevor,and all the rest of the YES experience are much more than mere mortals. Their memory will live on collectively forever.
If memory serves me, this show was at the Rochester War memorial, not the Auditorium theater. I also saw the show a week earlier in Philadelphia at J.F.K. stadium. 128,000 people. AWESOME!