Bird Of Prey (Siréne-200)
Kouseinenkin Kaikan, Osaka, Japan – March 12th, 1973
Disc 1: Firebird Suite, Siberian Khatru, Heart Of The Sunrise, Sakura Sakura, Mood For A Day, Clap, And You And I, Close To The Edge
Disc 2: keyboard solo, Roundabout, Yours Is No Disgrace, Starship Trooper
Bird Of Prey contains an almost complete new audience recording that has never circulated before for Yes’ concert in Osaka on their first tour of Japan. The sound quality is distant, thin and hissy being taped a fair distance from the stage.
The older tape source was previously released on silver on And You And I (RDM-942007A/B) on Rag Doll Music and Sirene used this source for a cut in the newer source at 16:28 into “Close To The Edge” for about a minute. Comparing the two, the older one sounds a bit better than the new with more dynamics and makes the use of the new tape source questionable.
A remastered version of the older Osaka tape might have been better than using the newer source for most of the show. Regardless Bird Of Prey is enjoyable enough and contains a very good show by the band. There is a similar dynamic to the Tokyo shows with the opening numbers sounding stiff but with the band loosening up considerably as the show goes on.
Wakeman has tuning problems on the mellotron during the opening number “Siberian Khatru”, but “Heart Of The Sunrise” is played much better. Jon Anderson sings the traditional Japanese ballad “Sakura Sakura” accompanied by Steve Howe on the acoustic guitar.
Howe is given a two song acoustic set for his solo piece and he plays “Mood For A Day” and “Clap” individually and not as a medley as he had the previous year. The latter contains a reference to “Classical Gas” as it did in 1970 and 1971 and Howe also becomes a bit lost in the middle.
Before “Close To The Edge”, the centerpiece of the evening, Anderson says, “Thank you. As time goes on we seem to find, make an album very different and this is the long track from the last album we did and we hope you’re going to like it. It’s a song relating to the way we feel about music. Music is a very strong influence somewhere along the line and lots of things. I know you can’t understand what I’m saying but I’m sure you understand lots of things about music that most people don’t understand our music. It’s a strange thing to say isn’t Edward? Yeah I think so too. Really. This is a song called ‘Close To The Edge’.”
What follows is arguably the very best early live version of the piece to a quiet and attentive audience following every twist and turn in the music. Wakeman’s solo follows the piece and is very similar to the other stops in Japan. It is based upon excerpts from The Six Wives Of Henry VIII with Handel’s Messiah and a boogie piano interlude thrown in for good measure, all in good fun.
“Roundabout” is used as the set closer as it has on the Close To The Edge tour. In the future it would serve as the first encore. Both of the encores, “Yours Is No Disgrace” and “Starship Trooper”, are thankfully present in their entirety. The first reaches almost fifteen minutes in length and is another classic version of the song. Many tapes run out during the second encore but thankfully all eleven minutes are recorded and this version is very loud and almost blows the roof off of the venue!
The final section is a masterpiece of dramatic construction and builds until the final extended cadence. Bird Of Prey is packaged with glossy paper inserts with several rare live and candid shots, including from a press conference, on the inserts. It is limited to three hundred copies.
Since tapes do not exist for the March 11th Nagoya and March 14th Kyoto concerts, this release, along with Heart Of The Sunrise (Sirene-044), Close To The East (Ayanami-255), and Yes In Japan (Sirene-071) gives us all the extant shows from Japan by the progressive rock fans behind the Sirene label. It may be too much to hope that tapes will surface for the other two shows so with these four releases we have an almost complete record of their entire tour in very good quality.