Yes Live 1969 – 1971

Yes Live 1969 – 1971
YesI am going to spend a week or so reflecting on the Yes concerts I have attended. I’ve seen Yes 14 times and have always been a fan, although there are times that I lost touch with the band and their ever-changing line-ups. I am going to start with a little self-indulgence by recapping on three Yes concerts that I have already written about, as the band were supporting another act.
I was luckily enough to see Yes in the very early days. The first proper gig I attended was Yes (along with Roy Harper) supporting the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band at Sunderland Empire on 8th March 1969. Yes were simply a revelation for me that night; they fascinated me with their bright, sharp, jazzy mix of rock and pop. And they played some songs that I knew: “Something’s Coming” from West Side Story and The Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby”. They also played the excellent “No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed”, the Richie Havens song which appears on Yes’ second album, opens with the theme from the film “The Big Country”, and remains one of my favourite songs to this day. Yes had yet to release their first album, and the line up at that time was Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, Bill Bruford, Peter Banks and Tony Kaye. I was impressed by how Jon and Chris were dressed; Jon in a cool cheesecloth smock top and Chris sporting a natty hat and impressive flares and fringed boots.
ironbprogThe next time I saw Yes was once again at Sunderland Empire, supporting the Nice on 1st February 1970. By now they were playing material from their second album “Time and a Word”; the set again included the excellent “No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed”, “Then”, “Sweet Dreams” (an early single which has featured in their set off and on to this day), and “Astral Traveller”. There was an acoustic part to their set which featured the track “Time and a Word”.
I saw Yes again in 14th January 1971, supporting Iron Butterfly at Newcastle City Hall. By the time of this gig, guitarist Peter Banks had been replaced by Steve Howe, and the rest of the line-up was Jon Anderson (vocals), Bill Bruford (drums), Chris Squire (bass) and Tony Kaye (keyboards).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 were just about to release their classic third lp “The Yes Album”, and the set featured tracks from that new album and their previous two releases. They were just great that night. Their entrance on stage was heralded by the powerful “Also Sprach Zarathustra”. I think they opened with “Astral Traveller” and I also recall “Yours Is No Disgrace”, and “Clap” as highlights. yesfluyer71mitchI 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.
That major success soon arrived. Later in 1971, Rick Wakeman joined, and Yes released their fourth album “Fragile”. “Fragile” was the band’s greatest success to date, reaching No. 7 in the UK, and included one of their most well-known songs “Roundabout”. Yes returned to the City Hall later in 1971 (thanks to Mitch for the picture of his flyer for that gig); for some reason I missed that gig. The next time I saw Yes was at the time of their 6th album “Tales from Topographic Oceans”. I’ll write about that show tomorrow.

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Paul on March 3, 2015 at 8:27 pm

    As I am currently writing a book about the illustrious line up of bands to have performed in the Great Hall of Lancaster University, I would be interested to know if you may think that this line, up under the Bonzos might have played in November of 1969, at Lancaster ?
    I do know the Bonzos appeared on 14 Nov 1969



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