Crystal Palace Garden Party V (Highland HL 420/421)
Crystal Palace Bowl, London, England – September 2nd, 1972
Disc 1: Opening Firebird Suite, Siberian Khatru, I’ve Seen All Good People, Mood For A Day, And You And I, Heart Of The Sunrise
Disc 2: Close To The Edge, Roundabout, Yours Is No Disgrace
In the opinion of Bill Bruford 1972 is the absolute pinnacle of progressive rock in which everything important the genre was written with the most impressive creation begin Yes’ Close To The Edge. After the band recorded the album in the spring of that year, he left partly because he felt the band could never top that achievement. The band played a month long tour with new drummer Alan White afterwards and they played two of the new songs, but the premier of the title track waited for their first show in England on September 2nd. Since the LP would be released almost two weeks after the event, this is the first time anyone outside the band heard it.
Their appearance at the Crystal Palace Party in 1972 is the second consecutive year they played in the summer series and represents their first European show with the new drummer. Also on the bill that day were Capability Brown, Gary Wright’s Wonderwheel, Lindisfarne, and the Mahavishnu Orchestra. The tape used by Highland for Crystal Palace Garden Party V is the only tape known to exist of the event. It is a fair to good audience recording with noticeable distortion present. The PA system was unbalanced and at times, like during the first two songs, Howe’s guitar gets buried in the mix. And an airplane can be heard flying overhead during the very beginning of “Heart Of The Sunrise.”
There are cuts between most of the songs and ten minutes into “Heart Of The Sunrise” but otherwise this represents Yes’ entire set. In a review a week after the event, Jerry Gilbert wrote in Sounds magazine: “There was a keen sense of anticipation as Yes and all their equipment moved on stage. For them the concert was synonymous with the first live performance of their new multi-coloured pastiche ‘Close to the Edge.’ It seemed that every device that incorporated a keyboard was surrounding Rick Wakeman at the start, and although the sound was not as perfect as one would expect at an indoor gig, there were a few hassles. Jon Anderson’s mighty ‘Siberian Khatru’ from the new album was the opener and the number at which the sound was at its worst. After that, everything went smoothly and ‘All Good People’ brought an applause of acknowledgement from the older Yes fans.
“But even with Steve Howe’s beautiful guitar piece ‘Mood For A Day’ and the loudly welcomed ‘Heart of The Sunrise’ there was still the feeling that we were sampling the hors d’oeuvres before the main course. And then it came. ‘Close to the Edge’ is a mighty composition which incorporates Jon Anderson’s keen melodic awareness and the many textures which Wakeman and Howe are able to create. ‘Close to the Edge’ may be long but the sequences are direct in structure and fall in perfect apposition in the overall composition. Alan White looked happy enough on his British debut with Yes and the band followed ‘Edge’ with ‘Roundabout.'”
The set list is similar to that used on the previous tour. “Clap” and Rick Wakeman’s solo were dropped for this one show, but they would be included again in the following show in Glasgow. “Thank you, thank you very much. It’s very nice to back here and play in London England. That was a song from the new album called Close To The Edge called ‘Siberian Khatru’. The next thing we’re going to do is from The Yes Album.” There is interference in the PA and Howe says, “The BBC also decided to come here and play today.”
His solo number “Mood For A Day” follows and is the loudest he is heard in the first half hour of the show. The song is played straight as it is on Fragile. During the introduction to the next song they work a bit on the PA: “Hope you’re having a good time here. We enjoy London here. Check the bass pedals. Chris down with it. This is before we get full power and now we’re back again. This is a song from the Close To The Edgealbum. This song relates to field of research of truth in mind and body which… It’s a little bit like sound city back here. Song called ‘And You And I.'” Of all the new songs this is the most rehearsed and tightest of them all.
After a very heavy version of “Heart Of The Sunrise” the band get ready for the premier of “Close To The Edge.” Anderson says, “we just recorded about four weeks ago and is coming out next week. Hope you like it. I hope we get in fucking tune. Here’s a song called ‘Close To The Edge.'” It is well rehearsed but Howe loses himself a bit in the opening salvo and Wakeman makes a small mistake during “I Get Up I Get Down.” During that movement’s final organ solo the keyboardist is left alone and that section sounds grandiose.
The set ends with “Roundabout” which Anderson introduces by saying, “Some gentlemen are trying to get us off here. We’re just going to finish off with one song. I’d like to thank you all very much for listening. I hope you enjoyed the afternoon’s entertainment. Here’s a song called ‘Roundabout.'” The sound becomes very faint half way through with only hand claps really being audible. It sounds like the taper put the microphone to the tape recorder down for a minute, but this is a fun version and Wakeman throws in a sea shanty during the organ solo.
In seeming defiance of the venue they come back for an encore. Someone in the audience begs for “America” (which they played the previous summer) but instead they get a twelve minute version of “Yours Is No Disgrace.” There is a small cut in the tape in the middle but that doesn’t detract from Howe’s tense guitar solo in the middle. The mc can be heard saying “the best rock we ever heard” as the tape fades out in the end. Crystal Palace Garden Party V was released by Highland several years ago and is the only silver title with this show. It is good enough to be recommended for the sound quality and for the world premier of one of rock’s greatest songs.