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Yes – Dramatic Play (Virtuoso 032/033)

Dramatic Play (Virtuoso 032/033)

Boston Garden, Boston, MA – September 9th, 1980

Disc 1 (68:47):  Young Person’s Guide To The Orchestra/Close Encounters Theme, Does It Really Happen?, Yours Is No Disgrace, Into The Lens, Clap, And You And I, Go Through This, White Car Suite (Geoff Downes solo), Parallels, We Can Fly From Here

Disc 2 (49:44):  Tempus Fugit, Amazing Grace / The Fish, Machine Messiah, Starship Trooper, Roundabout

Just over a week into the Drama tour and still on a high from three sold out nights in New York sees Yes playing a scorching show at the Boston Garden.  This particular Yes lineup produced one of the most interesting albums in their catalogue with fascinating ideas of what the new band should sound like.  One can make the claim that Horn and Downes were instrumental in forming a neo-The Yes Album sound with borrowings from Nursery Cryme era Genesis.  Virtuoso use a phenomenal sounding audience recording on Dramatic Play.  This tape was pressed earlier on Drama in the Garden (RR00-019), Dramatic Yes (four tracks), Where The Lens Is Wide (Fat Cat Records FCR-CD 90124) and finally Return To Drama (Highland HL649/650) which incorrectly attributes this to New York.  Virtuoso is louder and a bit more clear and lively compared to the Highland release making this an improvement in sound quality.  There is a cut after “Starship Trooper” but nothing is lost from the performance.  

Although it is true that many fans were surprised by the lack of Anderson and Wakeman and some walked out, by the evidence of the tapes from the shows on the east coast at least they were received warmly and with much enthusiasm.  They carried over the Britten/Williams medley for the pre-recorded opening from the Tormato tour before hitting the stage with “Does It Really Happen?” followed immediately by “Yours Is No Disgrace.”  “Well it’s really great to be here in Boston. This is the first time I’ve been here. I’ve heard so much about it. I hear you can get a really good cup of tea here” Horn jokes before “Into The Lens.”

Steve Howe takes the first solo spot of the set with “Clap,” played straight with no elaborations.  Downes accidentally leans on his keyboard halfway through.  “And You And I” follows and it is obvious, even at this early stage in the tour, that Horn has tremendous difficulty in reaching the higher registers.  This song would degenerate in performance as the months go on.  “They told me that Boston has a loud audience and they were right. Here’s something that is completely unfamiliar to you because you never heard us play it. This is..uh something that we didn’t put on the last album. It’s a piece of rock ‘n roll and it’s all about things that you find in people’s pockets and it’s called ‘Do We Have To Go Through This’.”  The first of two unreleased songs played in the set.

Downes follows with his solo set with “Man In A White Car Suite” which is basically an expansion of the “White Car” melody with The Buggles’ hit “Video Killed The Radio Star” sung through a Vocoder.  “Parallels” from Going For The One follows and it makes sense this track was chosen since it is one of Chris Squire’s best songs.  The studio and 1977 live versions worked so well because of Anderson’s soaring vocals and Wakeman’s church organ, neither of which is duplicated here and the song falls flat as a result.  It would appear only twelve times on this tour before being thankfully dropped.  “The next song is the first song that we ever wrote together. You never heard of it because we never recorded it but we all met about last May in old England versus New England. We met in England. We wrote this song. It’s called ‘We Can Fly From Here’.”  Horn and Squre share lead vocals on this effective song. 

Squire plays the final of the solo spots, playing his arrangement of a tune called “New Britain,” which was adapted for John Newton’s hymn “Amazing Grace.”  “Machine Messiah” is introduced as a song about “escaping from systems of  various kinds.”  It begins with electronics blips before the heavy metal introduction.  This is the only multi-part mini epic produced by this lineup and the are able to capture the spirit of the track very well onstage.  Horn has difficulty with “Starship Trooper,” the final song of the set, and “Roundabout” is the only encore performed.  Dramatic Play is packaged in a double slimline jewel case and pressed on nice, shiny silver discs with great use of the Drama motif.  There have only been two silver releases of shows from this tour in the past decade and both are of the same concert.  It is understandable why since this is a fantastic sounding tape.

If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)

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  1. I own a few (four or five) DRAMA TOUR b**ts, and this one boasts, by FAR, the best sound quality of all! I still await a soundboard/ambient pressing, but I won’t hold my breath. Truly a must for the collector!

  2. This is my first DRAMA bootleg and, most likely, the definitive (unless a nice soundboard sees the light of the day). As the reviewer wisely states, the sound is phenomenal and it’s what I’ve been waiting for. This is a MUST!!

  3. I would agree that Drama is a better album than is often suggested. I particularly like Machine Messiah and White Car and, of course, Horn’s vocal limitations are covered up by studio technology. It would indeed have been interesting to see where this line-up of Yes would have gone next. I will cetainly be acquiring this title.

  4. “Video Killed The Radio Star” was released as a single in 1979 and reached #1 in the UK in October of that year. The Age Of Plastic wouldn’t be released until 1980, the same year as Drama. What is truly bizarre is that Horn and Downes didn’t perform it live together as The Buggles until 1998.
    I remember listening to the WPLJ broadcast when they played in New York and thought the “White Car Suite” was the coolest part of the show. I liked how they expanded the song from Drama but also added The Buggles’ hit. And it is truly beautiful. Drama is one of my all time favorite albums and really wished they continued instead of breaking up.

  5. Just to clarify, The Buggles song “Video Killed The Radio Star” pre-dates their involvement with Yes, despite “The Age Of Plastic” being released the same year as “Drama” and even as recently as the Asia tour for “Aura,” Downes performed a solo version of similar ilk, albeit primarily on piano. Thus, the “White Car Suite” is indeed a hybrid of both “White Car” from the “Drama” album and “Video…” And, quite frankly, when you strip away all the synth-pop layers like Downes did on the “Aura” tour, and even this recording, it’s pretty clear the song truly is beautiful.

  6. I wrote: “Downes follows with his solo set with “Man In A White Car Suite” which is basically an expansion of the “White Car” melody with The Buggles’ hit “Video Killed The Radio Star” sung through a Vocoder.”

    That isn’t correct?

    “Amazing Grace” is the name of the text written by John Newton. He didn’t write the music though, but his text was adapted to the tune called “New Britain” which was an old Scottish hymn. This is common knowledge in hymnody.

  7. The review has only one factual error: “Man in a White Car Suite” was based on the track “White Car” from the Drama album. And I’ve never heard of “Amazing Grace” being referred to as “New Britain.” Where did that bit of info come from?

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