Sunday, 13 November 2011

Yes Glasgow 1977

Yes Glasgow 1977

5th of November 1977

Glasgow Apollo

This was the One.  The Big One.  The Going for the One One, even.

I have never before or since looked forward to a concert with such anticipation as this one, for Yes were my Gods as a teenager.  The early 1970s had seen me flirt with first Marc Bolan and then David Bowie, but the horizon titled one evening in 1974 at a friend’s house, when I first heard the album Close to the Edge.

It just seemed so utterly strange and alien and yet, so familiar - as if it was music I had been waiting for all my life (Yes, I know the reference!).  The frantic opening to the title track appeared chaotic and yet structured, after which Jon Anderson’s ethereal voice entered chanting these lyrics which managed to be simultaneously completely nonsensical and yet bafflingly deep.  I hadn’t before realised a rhythm section could sound like this: deep thudding bass guitar which you felt in your chest, over which Bruford’s paradiddles skipped and glided.  Sorry, I realize I am getting a bit silly here, but it was how I felt.

All my pennies (of which there were never very many) went on collecting the band’s output.  Even Topographic Oceans, which cost me a whopping £4.99 at the time, seemed a worthwhile (essential even) outlay.  So thus it was from the ages of 15-18 (formative and impressionable years, I think you would all agree), I lived and breathed Yes.  Being such a nerdy devotee, perversely, even brought me a bit of cache amongst the musicerrati at school; rare indeed for someone as low on the food chain as myself.
Forward to May 1977, and 24 hours after the announcement of gigs in Scotland to promote the Going for the One album, found me on the bus through to Glasgow to pick up the best tickets possible for friend P and I.  Best is usually closest to the front, is it not?  I would soon discover, however, this particular rule did not apply to the Glasgow Apollo.

Donovan was the support for the tour – an odd choice I thought.  He came on dressed in white, with a white guitar, and filled half-an-hour with a set of unfamiliar (to me) songs.  Having been born in Maryhill, I thought he may have warranted a warmer response from his home town, but I recall him having to endure a number of hecklers.

Sitting during the interminable Roadie’s Cabaret I became vaguely and then acutely aware that my pre-gig beer was looking for a way out.  But I refused to go.  I didn’t want to miss a single second of the concert.  Not even the recorded Firebird Suite intro which I knew would herald the start of the performance proper.  This, I believed fervently, was an integral part of the experience.  By the time the lights finally went down, and the opening bars of Stravinsky’s masterwork wafted across the audience, my bladder had swollen from the size of a grapefruit to that of medium galia melon. 

As the white gauze curtain raised and the band moved into Parallels,

it became immediately apparent I had stupidly bought tickets too close to the front.  Not only was the precipitous 8 foot high stage going to tax our neck muscles to the max, but from our fourth row seats we could only see Rick Wakeman from the chest up, and Alan White was but a disembodied bobbing head.

But even with this, and the relentlessly swelling bladder, I was happy as a pig in shit.  I must have looked a slightly disturbing sight: staring up at the stage grinning like a fool, an expression approaching beatific rapture spread across my pimply face.  I blush about it now, but it truly did feel like I was experiencing something quasi-spiritual.  I hooted with delight at the jokes made at the expense of the England football team in the lyrics of Tour Song, I clapped with sincerity at the end of the cringingly twee Colours of the Rainbow piece, and cheered like a half-wit when Rick Wakeman played a few bars of something classical with his feet – even though, from our position we could see nothing of him below nipple height.

Each song was greeted by myself with a sort of semi-orgasmic ecstacy (although that may have been in part due to the fact my bladder was now threatening to prolapse my prostate out of my anus).  Although curiously, the song Turn of the Century seemed to have been swiftly erased from my memory.  For years I swore blind that it was never played. 

The band encored with Roundabout and Yours is No Disgrace – I would have preferred Starship Trooper,

but what the heck.  I had worshiped at the altar, and it had felt pretty darned good.  It also felt pretty darned good to finally worship at the porcelain altar in the Gents afterwards.

Set List

Your Move/All Good People
Close to the Edge
Colours of the Rainbow
Turn of the Century
Wonderous Stories
And You and I
Going For The One
Flight Jam/Awaken

Yours is No Disgrace

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