The Midnight Round (Highland HL538/539)
Mid-South Coliseum, Memphis, TN – September 17th, 1978
Disc 1 (60:24): Young Persons Guide To The Orchestra, Siberian Khatru, Heart Of The Sunrise, Future Times/Rejoice, Circus Of Heaven, medley (Time And A Word/Long Distance Runaround/Survival/The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)/Perpetual Change/Soon)
Disc 2 (59:59): Don’t Kill The Whale, Madrigal / Clap, Starship Trooper, Madrigal (reprise), On The Silent Wings Of Freedom, Excerpts from The Six Wives Of Henry VIII, Awaken, I’ve Seen All Good People, ‘Til The Midnight Hour
Yes played at the Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis early on in the Tormato tour. A full week before the release of the new album, they play before an extremely happy, energetic and enthusiastic audience and deliver a fantastic show. The audience recording on The Midnight Round is very good. It emphasizes the high end and sounds a bit thin during the very loud parts. There several cuts between songs and in “Circus Of Heaven” at 2:09, in “Time And A Word” at forty-five seconds, in “Starship Trooper” at twenty-six seconds, in “On The Silent Wings Of Freedom” at twenty-nine seconds, at 5:29 and it fades out at 6:46. There is a cut at 3:11 in Rick Wakeman’s solo, at 1:02 in “In The Midnight Hour” and that song fades out.
The cuts are small enough to not really detract from what is one of the better sounding tapes from this tour. The Forgotten Yesterdays website claims that “Roundabout” was played as an encore this night after “I’ve Seen All Good People.” It does not appear on this release or any copies of the tape in circulation and it’s inclusion is purely speculative. It seems Yes dropped it in favor of the Wilson Pickett cover.
Looking at the setlist, it’s obvious that Yes had tremendous faith in the new material to play so much of it before an audience who really had not a chance to hear it. The opening two songs, “Siberian Khatru” and “Heart Of The Sunrise” were of course very familiar. But then Anderson introduces the new songs: “What we’d like to do now is play some new songs from our new album which we made a couple of months ago and will be coming out to the shops really shortly now.” The opening songs from Tormato “Future Times / Rejoice” sound much more aggressive in the live setting as a natural progression from Going For The One.
“Circus Of Heaven” also is received very well as it is on all the tapes I’ve heard. The audience cheer loudly when the Damien tape plays at the end. “As you know we’ve been getting for a few years now. We keep coming to play, you keep coming to see. So what we’d like to do is play for you one or two songs which you might remember” Anderson says before the long medley which lasts twenty-four minutes. Highland tracked the medley as one long song instead of giving reference points to each song. This medley, which would remain in the set for the next year, was an excellent way of playing some of the really old songs (“Time And A Word,” “Survival”), songs with not all the band members would want to play in full (the closing section of “Gates Of Delirium”) and some of the classics that hadn’t been played in years like “Perpetual Change” and “The Fish.”
The rest of the show is dominated with still more new songs. “Don’t Kill The Whale,” which Anderson dedicates “to all people who understand the need to keep the whale on the planet earth as they say,” would be the first single from the album and the one song they thought might be a hit. “Madrigal” is divided in to, used as introductions to Steve Howe’s solo spot “Clap” and Chris Squire’s big new showpiece “On The Silent Wings Of Freedom.”
“All these notes of music flying around all over the place, over your heads, beside me, for the next five minutes. A man who paints his toenails gold. Mr. Rick Wakeman!!” is Anderson’s cryptic introduction to Wakeman’s solo spot. This is the first tour in six years Wakeman played his solo in a Yes concert, and he begins it as on the Close To The Edgetour with the catchy melody from “Cathrine Of Aragon.” He also includes the famous waltz “Over The Waves.” “Awaken” is the finale lasting sixteen intense and meditative minutes.
The first encore is “I’ve Seen All Good People” and includes Jon Anderson’s introduction of the members of the band in the “All Good People” part. Each member takes a few bars to play something. The recording from Oakland on this tour was released as a single several years later. It is a nice touch of band solidarity which unfortunately didn’t last past this tour.
The final encore is a rather faithful cover of Wilson Pickett’s “‘Til The Midnight Hour.” Yes played this song two other times. One is on August 3rd, 1976 in Fresno, also as an encore. The other time was in the middle of the set on September 23rd, 1977 in Los Angeles and can be heard on The Shining – The Word Is Love II (Tarantura TCDY – 12,13,14) and Mike’s Mint (Virtuoso 006/007). It is also thought that they played it in their very first concert as Yes on August 3rd 1968 in Mersea but no tapes circulate of that historic event, where it is claimed they played a ten minute version.
The song fades out after a couple of minutes cutting off the end, but most of the song is preserved on tape and it’s not quite clear why they play it instead of “Roundabout.” It could have been motivated by the connection the song has to Memphis. It was composed by Pickett and Steve Cropper at the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968. The Midnight Round is one of the better latter day Yes titles on Highland before the closed and one of the best titles from the early Tormato tour in existence. It is, despite its minor imperfections, worth having.