Stage Fright

26 November 1968 - 20:00


Peter Bayley

Fan memory

The four of us arrived early at The Hall. We had crammed into our tiny Mini and had to park a long way away and walk to the Hall. We met other fans on the way, chatting excitedly and increasing our anticipation.

We were so excited, whilst being so sad the gods of blues-rock were leaving us.

We had tickets with what we thought were strange numbers on them, but we really didn't care exactly where we were going to be, as we knew that we were going to be up close (I think the tickets said "choir")  and in the presence of our heroes. Little did we know how close that was to be.

As we arrived into the lobby, we were directed through a small door and into the auditorium. The atmosphere hit us like a wall of anticipation and joy, loudly. We looked quizzically at one another as we saw that we were just to the left side of the stage. The usher led us to the seats - no, chairs - ON THE STAGE.  We were speechless. We were seated just forward of the amps on the left of the stage, feet away from them.

Taste tore through their rip-roaring blues set, but seemed a little out of their depth outside of their usual habitat of a small, sweaty club. Yes made a big impression on us. Their music was fresh, new and incredibly accomplished. Then the interval. We struggled to get a beer each in time to get back to our amazing perches. We were still in shock at where we were seated.

Then the lights went down, Peel did the intro, I think, and the musical gods descended from their Asgard.

Jack Bruce wandered across the stage directly towards us, nodded a cheery hello and picked up his bass. JACK BRUCE NODDED A CHEERY HELLO, I SAID!

Then we were off. They were amazing. We had seen them twice before, but they were magnificent this time. A couple of times, Jack stepped back far enough for my friends Paul and Gaz to have to move their feet. You can glimpse us briefly in the concert film.

We wanted it to go on forever. 

After the concert, we each bought the enormous, blue-washed "Farewell" poster and I bought the Yes album (their first) in the lobby.

We went home in a daze of mixed emotions. 

36 years later, I was there for the reunion, but far away in the standing upper circle. Never mind, my memories of that first "Farewell" were fresh in my mind. Incredibly, the band were even better, this time. Two golden, never-to-be-forgotten Albert Hall memories.

Peter Bayley.


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