D.A. Payne: YOU ARE ABSOLUTLY CORRECT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! NOTHING HAS EVER COME CLOSE TO THE 1978 OR 1979 TOUR. 1976 HAD THE BEST STAGE, AND ALL THE TOURS HAD AMAZING SOUND, BUT IN THE ROUND 1978 & 1979 HAD THE BEST SOUND EVER!! BEYOND THE POINT OF PANDAMONIUM!!!!!!!! I SAW 6/30/79 THE LAST REAL YES SHOW
52 now...let's see...I was 22 then and was heavy into qualudes...ah yes...it is all coming back to me now! This had to be The best concert Ever that I attended at the Greensboro Coliseum...and there have been many. If I remember correctly, someone took out a frisby before the performance and was tossing it around...pretty soon, everyone was watching that frisby...if someone jumped up and made a good catch, the crowd would cheer...if it hit someone in the back of the head, the crowd would laugh...then one guy threw it as hard as he could and it went into the top balcony, which was closed off...people boo'd and were yelling death threats at this guy...attention quickly shifted though when Yes started playing. I took a lude when I took my seat...I remember holding on to peoples heads sitting in the row in front of me when I had to go to the restroom. I do remember Rick Wakeman's solo...he was my idol since I was a keyboard player.
This was my 2nd show, after seeing them in Charlotte, in Oct of 1972. I liked the in the round setting..Awaken was just mind blowing. Steve Howe was really on that night
D. A. Payne
So many Yesshows over the years and so little time to write about them. Today's window seemed appropriate for discussing the best one.
Like Mr.[Ms?] Beacham below, 14 Sept. '78 was my first. Two September days will remain burned in my memory banks after all others have faded - one being very recent, obvious and unpleasant; the other 3 days short of 23 years more distant and quite a contrast when viewed in context of the overall human experience.
Like many who saw Yes in their prime and write of it here, I was a teenager at the time; 15 to be exact. Naturally one's perspective at 15 can't be compared to 39, but no one at any age could possibly have missed any of that concert's magnificence. I can vividly remember every thought and every emotion as if they were yesterday. Later Yes encounters in '84, '88, '89, '91, '94, '99 and 2000 all had their moments [particularly 2000], but each was missing at least one component or property of 1978's power. I absolutely guarantee my opinion would not change if I could travel back in time to experience it again. If time traveling ET's are in fact among us and regard us as something more than food, I would welcome their call and generosity!
Enough background, qualification and disclaimers - on to the show:
Sound - Beyond debate the best even among my collection of attended Yesshows. Omnidirectional PA was a major factor, but others had to be crucial as well [engineers with true Yes consciousness not the least among them]. Despite today's even more amazing technology no band I have seen-not even Yes themselves-has achieved what Yes did then. Every single instrument could be heard perfectly no matter what, where or when. As just a few examples I can remember Alan's metals and Rick's minimoogs slicing right through everything and sounding utterly interdimensional - it seemed their sounds could be touched or even caught as they rushed right past the concertgoer. Jon sounded as if he were singing for you in your own living room, and his harp work in Awaken was astonishingly loud and clear. Steve and Chris both had a presence neither has duplicated since, at least that I have heard [though they came close during Masterworks 2000]. Chris' bass [harmonized Rickenbacker?] in particular had a sound and feel much missed in later concerts. A friend who tragically was not there heard it in recordings years later and called it, aptly, a "bengal tiger". Everyone was in perfect balance, and no one drowned anyone else out. Later tours did not have such a balanced mix. Also the loudest I've heard them, which did not detract but definitely enhanced.
Performance - The virtuosity we've seen since, but never quite the energy or spirit. Enough said.
Set List - Wonderful, appropriate and fresh. As others have said, warhorses like Roundabout and AGP hadn't yet been played for the billionth time and were still as easy to revel in as were later pieces from Relayer, GFTO, etc. I remember vividly Future Times, including Jon's introduction of it spiked with a "little joke" about the new album [Tormato] slated for release "in a few months". He then corrected himself and said it would be "about 2 weeks", which turned out to be true. Point being in those days we anticipated each new Yes album like a new set of Tablets from the Mount. Yes was about mystery as much as anything then - before the Internet and its tradeoffs. Nothing compares to the experience of hearing a new Yeswork for the first time live with absolutely no prior clue, and I've always liked Future Times better than many other people do probably because it was so introduced. Circus of Heaven didn't register as clearly, though I remember a bit of it and thinking it must be new also. Somehow Silent Wings got completely lost - I don't recall them playing it at all though I'm sure they did. Must have been unconscious from what had already transpired [I did no drugs]. Maybe Silent Wings was just too mindblowing to keep queued that night. It is arguably one of Tormato's best numbers if not its best.
Arrangements - Brilliant and vital beyond words. The medley's construction, arrangement and progression were pure genius. If I'm not mistaken it contains Rick Wakeman's first and only performance of Relayer material ["Soon" and last part of "Battle Section" from Gates of Delirium]. His interpretation and arrangement of these were quite awesome for someone who has expressed so much disregard for Relayer's music. His approach to Awaken was his best ever in my experience. See: Tormato Tour/any bootleg audience tape made with decent equipment and unedited - I recommend 1979's third consecutive New York performance to anyone who can find it.
Lights - Here I confess to a [then] 15 year-old's inability to process absolutely everything. Subsequent Yes lighting schemes actually made a greater impression - Big Generator and Masterworks I think eclipsed '78 for lighting effects, though certainly only in that regard. If their light shows had been presented with Tormato tour's sound, energy and presence I would probably still be in a coma. Fate placed the '76 tour, with its supernatural lighting and a gloriously Patrick Morazified Yes, exactly one year short of my first Yes contact and awareness [Awaken 2nd Movement on the FM 2 weeks or so before GFTO's release]. Definitely have to add a '76 Yes gig or two - maybe all of them - to my time travel itinerary.
Overall Energy and Consciousness - Can't possibly be described to anyone not there. Strong though varyingly diluted doses of it could be had in subsequent tours, but Yes somehow never completely regained their "Trooper" aura and excitement.
Post-Trooper Yes have had many a great night since to be sure, but that 1978 concert was truly and completely in its own league as I'm sure were hundreds of others in its era.
Next installment: ABWH '89. Until then, enjoy all the memories at hand.
P & J Beacham
The '78 Tormato show was my first Yes concert, and it was a magical experience. They made their way through the totally pschyced audience, to that amazing round stage, and played the most amazing set of inspired music. Highlights were "Awaken", "Starship Trooper" and a medley that covered lots of musical ground. The sound and lights were out of this world, and Greensboro Colisieum isn't known for having the best acoustics. I think they may have played a few selections from Tormato which was'nt released yet.