Complete Dramatized Tour (Highland HL 025/26#Y7)
Hartford Civic Center Coliseum, Hartford, CT – September 1st, 1980
Disc 1: Intro:Britten, Does It Really Happen?, Yours Is No Disgrace, Into The Lens, Clap, And You And I, Go Through This, Keyboards solo, Parallels
Disc 2: We Can Fly From Here, Tempus Fugit, Amazing Grace / Whitefish, Machine Messiah, Starship Trooper, Roundabout
What is most striking about Yes in late 1980 was their utter audacity and hubris. After Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman left the band that spring, Chris Squire wasted no time finding replacements, recording a new album and booking a tour. According to Chris Welch, much of this caught even the band members by surprise. And after the release of Drama they chose to not break in the new band with low key club dates, but rather played in some of the biggest arenas in front of the most vocal fans. The show in Hartford on September 1st is the third show of the tour, following dates in Toronto and Montreal, and is a week before three shows at Madison Square Garden in New York, whose dates were all sell outs and a commitment to have the third show broadcast live on WPLJ.
Complete Dramatized Tour is one of the earliest Yes titles on the Highland label and one of four shows they released with this line up. The sound quality of the tape is excellent with an amazing amount of detail present. There is a buzz coming out of the PA throughout the show and the tape may run a bit too fast, but it is not enough to cause distraction. There is a small cut nineteen seconds in “And You And I” but is otherwise complete. Since Hartford is only the third show enough in the tour, it is before Horn’s voice began to show strains of hitting the high notes and he delivers a generally effective performance. On this tour they replaced the “Firebird Suite” with Benjamin Britten’s “A Young Person’s Guide To The Orchestra” before the curtain was raised on the round stage. “Does It Really Happen?” opens the set and Steve Howe plays an abrasive guitar solo at the end.
This is followed by a version of “Yours Is No Disgrace” where Horn had difficulty hitting some notes. But the song is carried by Howe anyway with his excellent soloing in the middle. Trevor gives a nervous introduction, saying: “We’re going to play something from our new album. It’s called Drama. The song isn’t called Drama. The song is called ‘Into The Lens.'” Of the newer material this is one of the most intriguing. It has its origins with The Buggles (and would be released in its original form on their second LP after the breakup of Yes), but this arrangement sounds closer to Nursery Cryme era Genesis. Howe has the first solo spot of the evening with a brisk version of “Clap.” After “And You And I” and a member of the audience begging for “Close To The Edge” Horn introduces the next song by saying, “Thank you. This is something you’ve never heard before. Because it’s not on any of the old albums or even the new album. It’s a piece of rock ‘n roll and it’s called ‘Go Through This.'”
It is somewhat ironic that two of the best songs from the Buggles-Yes lineup were not included on Drama. “Go Through This” has a basic rock beat in the two verses connected by a meditative guitar break reminiscent of “Sound Chaser.” After this is the second solo spot of the show. Horn says, “The guy standing under here you might notice in a silver suite. His name is Geoff Downes. He’s going to play something which is from Dramawhich we’ve extended slightly and this is called ‘The Man In The White Car Suite.'” “White Car” is merely a fragment on the LP but Downes expands it to include The Buggles’ hit “Video Killed The Radio Star” including synthesized vocals in a moment that can only be described as magic.
“Parallels,” one of the best Chris Squire tunes, makes a rare appearance in the set. It was played only twelve times in forty-seven Drama dates. Horn sings it straight except for the very high notes “it’s the beginning of a new love in sight” where he brings the melody down. “We’ll it’s great to be in Hartford. I actually, I actually live a place in England called Hertford. It’s a long way off. This is something that you’ve never heard before too. It’s the first song we, that we ever wrote together when we first met around about last May and this is called, somewhat simple I think, ‘We Can Fly From Here’.”
Squire plays his solo spot after “Tempus Fugit.” This includes his arrangement of “Amazing Grace” that he worked on in the sessions for Going For The One but only now received its public airing. The hymn segues into the familiar melodies of “The Fish” before returning to “Amazing Grace.” Horn introduces “Machine Messiah” by saying, “Those of you who bought a program tonight might notice the words of this next song written out with a picture of a robot next to it. It’s got nothing to do with robots or cybernetics but it’s called ‘Machine Messiah.'”
The set ends with “Starship Trooper” which in this show is not bad but would become worse as the tour progresses. Complete Dramatized Tour is packaged in a double slimline jewel case with several interesting photos of the recording sessions on the inside. Highland also employ rare picture discs for this release, replicating in detail some of the incongruous details from the album cover. This is a very old release but one of the best ever produced by Highland and is almost impossible to find today. But it is one of the titles that is worth hunting down.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)