|MILESAGO: Australasian Music & Popular Culture 1964-1975||Groups & Solo Artists|
"Close To The Edge" tour,
March 17 - Hordern Pavilion, Sydney
March 19 - Festival Hall, Brisbane
March 21 - Adelaide
March 23 - Melbourne
March 26 - Hordern Pavilion, Sydney*
(*This concert was recorded and has been 'bootlegged'.)
Jon Anderson - vocals, guitar, percussion
Steve Howe - guitars, vocals
Chris Squire - bass, vocals
Rick Wakeman - keyboards
Alan White - drums
Support act: Mother Earth
The acclaimed "Close To The Edge" tour was the first visit to Australia by Yes, who were by then porbably the most successful and best-known progressive rock group in the world. Regrettably for Aussie fans, the band has never toured here again. It was also their first major tour with their new drummer, former Plastic Ono Band member Alan White, the replacement for original drummer Bill Bruford, who had just left the group to join King Crimson.
The '73 tour is remembered both by group and fans as one of the best of their career, and the band were arguably at the strongest and most cohesive as a performing unit (at least in that phase of Yes's long life). It was a ground-breaking experience for local audiences -- the spectacular light-show, state-of-the-art sound, the complex music and arrangements and the bravura performances by the band made it one of the most exciting and impressive concert tours yet staged in Australia up to that time, and it won rave reviews from the press.
Many dates on the CTTE tour were officially recorded and the best performances compiled for the group's landmark triple-album live opus, Yessongs, released late in 1973. Their oft-criticised follow-up to the Close To The Edge, the ambitious double-album concept work Tales From Topographic Oceans was also conceived and partly written was during the Australian tour.
Sourced from the "Notes from the Edge" website
A number of contributers to NFTE from downunder have commented on the 26 year drought that we have endured since the one and only Yes tour in 1973. I was fortunate to see them in Sydney - not that I was a Yes fan at the time. I was really only aware of I've Seen All Good People as it had received limited airplay and modest chart success a few years earlier.
In the early seventies I was a uni student willing to try most things once -- and that was my attitude towards music. Touring bands from overseas were not common so along with my friends I tried to see as many acts as possible. Jethro Tull, Focus, Santana, Joe Cocker, Cat Stevens and Lou Reed featured amongst the eclectic array of performers. So my decision to see Yes was based on that attitude and the recommendations of friends. When they arrived in Sydney they were featured on the evening news and I remember most attention was given to Rick Wakeman's police siren that was used in his solo at the time.
The concert was held on a balmy March evening -
early Fall in Australia. It was held in the Hordern Pavilion, a
converted agricultural show pavilion that was the main indoor rock
concert venue in Sydney in the seventies. At the time the Musician's
union in Australia had an edict that every overseas act had to have an
Australian performer on the program. So the opening act
was a relatively unknown group called Mother Earth that subsequently split up and would have disappeared into complete obscurity except that their lead singer, Renee Geyer, has since become an icon of Australian R&B. She sang exceptionally well and I recall that Jon Anderson commented on her favourably in the local media.
The interval seemed to stretch for nearly an hour
-- the audience were getting restless. Suddenly the lights started to
dim and the strains of the 'Firebird Suite' were heard as we fled back
to our seats. I was so naive that I thought perhaps this was a Yes
recording! Anyway all was revealed
within minutes as that spectacular opening to their show unfolded with Wakeman playing the last chords under a spot with his long blonde hair cascading over his golden cape. Then suddenly the full stage lights came on as the group erupted into Siberian Khatru. Of course all of this has been so brilliantly captured on Yessongs and to this day just listening to
that opening track brings back floods of memories along with a tingle down my spine.
The concert stunned me. Never before had I been so
enthralled by the intensity of performance, musicianship, stagecraft
and music itself. Only knowing one of their songs was no impediment. I
was amazed at the length and complexity of their songs, yet at no time
did they seem too long. The interaction with the lights added another
dimension with each sequence being accompanied by the appropriate
colours, creating an ambience that at the time had not been seen before
in Australia. All commonplace now but not then. Rick Wakeman
particularly caught my attention. At the time I regarded keyboards as
largely an accessory to a rock group. For the first time I
could see how they could be vital to a groups performance, sharing the limelight with guitars and vocals. The range of keyboards that he played simultaneously was new to Australia. He influenced many budding keyboard players.
The audience was won over early and by concert's end nobody wanted to leave. We sat in the car park for quite a while later trying to summon courage to drive away as I was so emotionally drained by the experience. Needless to say they received rave reviews. I purchased Close To The Edge and played it constantly. They gave a second concert a week later. I hadn't planned to go due to budgetary constraints but I remained so affected by their performance that I at the last minute decided to try to get tickets at the door. Word of mouth had resulted in long queues outside the pavilion. The support act started and the queues were not moving. Then a guy came walking down the queue offering a spare ticket for sale -- I jumped at the opportunity and was soon inside. Needless to say it had an obscured view but it was near the front.
At the interval I noticed that the front row seats were empty so I decided to sit there until I was evicted. For whatever reason, this never happened so I sat in the front row a metre from the stage for their entire performance. It was as stunning as the previous one and confirmed me as a Yes fan.
Since that tour I have dreamed of Yes returning to
Australia. To be truthful, they are not very popular down here. Sure
there are plenty of diehard fans but in the main their music is
regarded with disdain by music critics, possibly more so than in the US
and England, and they get little
airplay. Apart from 90125, none of their albums have sold well for more than 20 years. Now their albums are rarely released here and we have to resort to imports. I am not confident that they will ever return - the cost of the trip is forbidding and I'm not sure they would attract sufficient
audiences unless they were to get airplay again. I am resigned to planning a trip to the US or Canada to see them again.
Did Australia influence Yes in any way? As the liner notes indicate, Tales From Topographic Oceans was written in part in Australia. Certainly Steve Howe seems to have been influenced as his two songs Australia and Red and White/Birthright indicate. I have also always wondered about a section of the song Sound Chaser that sounds suspiciously like the chant in a new car advertisement for the Chrysler Valiant Charger that was playing in Australia at the time. It went something like this 'Cha - Cha - Cha -Charger, Cha - cha - cha - charger ..... Hey Charger'. In the song it first appears around the middle and is repeated at the end.
Its been a great boon to discover NFTE and be able
to find out what's happening with Yes and their fans. My only
reservation is that there appears to be too much criticism of various
albums and group members. I can understand having favourite albums - as
with many fans from the early
seventies the music from that era is my personal choice. But all of the albums have redeeming features and none are really bad. Similarly with group members, I was initially annoyed by the changes that kept happening but eventually realised that it was the only way they could survive. No changes - no Yes at least 20 years ago. Now that the group has reached a level of productivity unmatched for the last 25 years, it will be interesting to see what they have left for us.
From The Edge
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