Yes – Milano Stage ’71 (Highland HL407)

Milano Stage ’71 (Highland HL407)

Teatro Lirico, Milan, Italy – May 10th, 1971

(73:26):  Yours Is No Disgrace, I’ve Seen All Good People, Clap, Perpetual Change, Everydays, America

Yes’ first tour of Italy was a short three night trip on  May 9th, 10th, and 11th.  The first and third nights were at the Teatro Di Brancaccio Di Roma with the middle at the Teatro Lirico in Milan.  Milano Stage ’71documents the second night of the short tour utilizing a good audience recording of the complete concert.  There are several speed ups during the first song and during “Everydays” which sounds like the batteries failing.  It is nothing serious enough to hamper the enjoyment of the concert which is, by any stretch, fantastic.

Italy is one country that really embraced the British form of progressive rock and Yes were one of the first to our the country.  They played even before Genesis, whose popularity in the country is well known.  And Yes would continue to visit Italy on subsequent tours, even ending the famed Topographic Oceans tour in Rome.

The tape opens with a brief fragment of the Richard Strauss “Also Spracht Zarathustra” introduction, one that opened all their shows in The Yes Album era.  What follows is a typical set which is mostly drawn from the new album.  “Yours Is No Disgrace” is the opening number which regularly reaches twelve minutes with the guitar solo in the middle.  “I’ve Seen All Good People” is introduced as “a new song” and is played exactly as it is on the album.

Anderson announces that Steve Howe will play “a few songs” before his solo section of the set.  “Clap” by this time was augmented by Mason Williams’ “Classical Gas” in the middle of the piece.  It is interesting how the band wanted to showcase their new guitarist.  Howe’s piece lasts about seven minutes which, in a seventy-minute set, is a significant part.  

Afterwards Howe introduces “Perpetual Change” which is close to being their improvisatory number.  After the verses Howe tries gentle, lyrical themes before they increase the tempo and aggression.  Bill Bruford has a four minute drum solo in the latter half of the piece.  “Everydays” is the only older song to survive in the set by this point and would be dropped forever in a few short months.  Howe adds his own effects into the song which, compared to how the song was played only a year before with Peter Banks still in the band, is considerable.  While Banks was very linear in his playing and threw in snatches of different tunes, with Howe in the band the jazzy beat turns into an atonal cloud of fuzz with the guitar dueling it out with Squire on bass.  It’s a fantastic performance showing a adroitness that Yes are hardly given credit for.

The final song on the tape is a “America,” their big cover tune from the era.  Luckily the taper was able to capture the entire performance and what is present is a full, eighteen-minute epic of piece.  The officially recorded version on Yesterdays on vinyl in 1975 and as a bonus on the 2003 Fragile remaster clock in at about half that.  There are very few tapes in circulation of the song in its original long form and Milan might be the longest one on tape.  The band run through the range of tempi and long country-picking melodies by Howe on guitar all the strength of Kaye’s Hammond.  It is a breathtaking performance and is worth the price of this title alone.  Milano Stage ’71 remains one of Highland’s best efforts and is essential to own for this period of Yes’ history.   

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