Close Encounters (Siréne -268)
Richfield Coliseum, Cleveland, OH – September 19th, 1978
Disc 1: Young Person’s Guide To The Orchestra, Siberian Khatru, Heart Of The Sunrise, Future Times/ Rejoice, Circus Of Heaven, Time And A Word, Long Distance Runaround, Survival / The Fish, Perpetual Change, Soon, Don’t Kill The Whale, Madrigal, Clap
Disc 2: Starship Trooper, On The Silent Wings Of Freedom, Wakeman solo, Awaken, I’ve Seen All Good People, Roundabout
Close Encounters uses an almost complete excellent quality soundboard recording. This was first released a decade ago by Highland on Madrigal Mystery Tour (HL046/48#Y9). Siréne’s version sounds a bit clearer than the older release. Despite the audience sounding far away there is nice depth and dynamics to the tape placing it as one of the best soundboards to emerge from the Tormato era. The sound quality becomes duller in “Heart Of The Sunrise” between 1:00 to 2:26, and the balance bounces between the left and the right channels between 2:34 and 3:08 in “Awaken.”
There is also a cut in the tape between “Starship Trooper” and “On The Silent Wings Of Freedom.” Jon Anderson’s introduction of Chris Squire is missing as is the reprise of the new song “Madrigal” which serves as an introduction to both that and Steve Howe’s “Clap.” Some claim this tape originates from a radio broadcast on WMMS, but there is no evidence of this. There are no station ID’s, DJ chatter or static that one might find on taped radio broadcast. Further, with the audience faint and the bass so loud, it isn’t mixed properly for an FM broadcast. Yes taped almost all of the shows for a proposed live LP and this is most likely from that source.
There are several other tapes from the Tormato tours that also claim to be radio broadcasts but with the exception of the October 28th Wembley show, they all come from the soundboard archives. With such extensive taping done, it is a wonder that more haven’t surfaced in the intervening twenty-five years. This show at the Richfield Coliseum in Cleveland occurs lest than a month after the very beginning of the “10 True Summers” tour and several weeks before the release of their newest album. It began in late August in New England, traveled down the east coast and hit Tennessee right before the two shows in Ohio.
Many of the new songs were heavily featured in the set list including, on the first six dates, the impressive “Release, Release” which was subsequently dropped because it was too demanding to play. The Going For The One tour the previous year emphasized the band playing together, but this one sees the return of the individual solo sections with “The Fish,” “Clap,” and Wakeman’s solo section being included. “Firebird Suite” is replaced as a taped introduction by Benjamin Britten’s “Young Person’s Guide” and the “Close Encounters” soundtrack before opening with two older songs, “Siberian Khatru” and “Heart Of The Sunrise.”
Before the two new songs Anderson says, “What we’d like to do now is play a couple of new songs from the new album which comes out in a few weeks, a week. One week. This is a song called ‘Future Times’!” Wakeman sounds tentative during this song and Anderson misses a cue but it is a fun song.
“Circus Of Heaven” follows and Wakeman plays the opening notes to Julius Fučík’s “The Entrance Of The Gladiators.” Like every stop on this tour the song receives a warm reception. The band are slightly out of sync with Damion Anderson’s tape (“no clowns”). The “big medley” is introduced by Anderson as, “As you know, we’ve been getting together for a long time now… These are one or two songs we hope you might remember.” It is an excellent summary of their catalogue covering their first ten years together, pulling out seldom-heard nuggets like “A Time And A Word” and “Survival.” The medley is interesting because it is the first time in six years “The Fish” was played in the set list an the only time Wakeman played any material from Relayer, an album he didn’t participate on and didn’t particularly like.
“Cleveland, city of light, city of magic!” is Anderson’s introduction to the first single off of the album “Don’t Kill The Whale.” This eco-friendly song has a good rocking beat but is undermined by Wakeman’s cringe-inducing synthesizer solo, trying to replicate a poor defenseless whale being harpooned by an evil whaling ship. The new song “Madrigal” serves as an introduction to “Clap.” The second verse of “Madrigal” also serves as an introduction to “On The Silent Wings Of Freedom,” but is cut in this recording.
This is the last of the new songs played in the show and although Tormato is an uneven album, which Wakeman offering the weakest contribution, Squire’s two songs “Onward” and “On The Silent Wings Of Freedom” are two of the best and most underrated. He had been working on the song for over a year (the basic melody can be heard on sound check tapes from the Going For The One tour), and it a rare song where the bass guitar carries the lead. It is a magisterial live piece and it is a shame it was dropped after 1978 and only appears in “Whitefish” in 2002.
Wakeman’s solo follows and contains melodies from “Six Wives Of Henry VIII” and “Journey To The Centre Of The Earth” before he plays soft piano beginning of “Awaken.” Many point out that the versions on this tour are among the best, and this piece closes the set. “I’ve Seen All Good People” is the first encore and includes the band introduction in the second half of the song, with each member taking a little solo. This bit is a nice touch but was dropped after this year never to appear again. The expected “Roundabout” is the second encore.
Close Encounters is packaged in a double slimline jewel case with glossy inserts and several shots of the “in the round” stage. It is limited to three hundred copies and it serves as the final Yes release on the great Siréne label.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)