Return To Drama (Highland HL649/650)
Boston Gardens, Boston, MA – September 9th, 1980
Disc 1 (67:50): Young Person’s Guide to Orchestra, Does It Really Happen?, Yours Is No Disgrace, Into The Lens, Clap, And You And I, Go Through This, Man In The White Car Suite, Parallels, We Can Fly From Here
Disc 2 (47:08): Tempus Fugit, Amazing Grace/The Fish, Machine Messiah, Starship Trooper, Roundabout
It is said that Yes fans are divided into three groups: “Troopers”, “Panthers”, and “Generators” depending upon which era of Yes you like best. “Troopers” like everything from the beginning to Tormato, “Panthers” like the Buggles-Yes experiment in 1980, and “Generators” like the Trevor Rabin era material in the 80’s.
This division is very simplistic, and the truth be told honest Yes fans are all three (there’s great stuff on every LP). But it’s a convenient way to speak about the band’s long history and myriad line up changes. Return To Drama is the latest release from Highland and is their first documenting anything from the Drama tour in over five years.
The sound quality is excellent, very well balanced and captures Yes on an exciting night of an otherwise uneven tour. The artwork says this is from Madison Square Garden in New York, but is in reality the Boston Gardens show from September 9th, four days later.
Trevor Horn makes several references to Boston throughout the show including hearing that the city “likes tea!” It is good to hear a show from so early in the tour when the band in general and Horn in particular sounds fresh and enthusiastic. Horn’s voice, which sounds occasionally off-key on this recording, loses a lot by the end of this tour and in the UK.
The set list is typical with the addition of “Parallels” which was dropped soon after this. It was a noble idea to include it but Horn’s voice simply couldn’t handle the range required for an effective interpretation of the Chris Squire track.
The songs from Drama are very good and this show has a great version of “Go Through This”. And the moment in “Tempus Fugit”, when the band sing “from the moment you tell me: YES” brings a deafening roar of approval from the Boston crowd, momentarily drowning out the band! “Machine Messiah” sounds particularly heavy in this show.
Overall, despite the mistake with the date this is an excellent release and a very welcome addition to the Yes live catalogue. The Buggles-Yes era will always be very controversial and will never gain full acceptance even by certain members of the band, but the music produced by this outfit has aged much better than the Rabin era material and is still unique, unsurpassed and visionary.
Return To Drama is an excellent title worth owning to hear the potential, and also the limitations, this band possessed.