[N.B. This was a comment that appeared for approval, and I was so taken with it, that I thought it would make a great post. Hope you agree. And, welcome to Erik and a huge thanks to you for taking the time to write]
by Erik H.
I’ve been waiting to find time to answer this post, now I finally have it. I can state, with great precision, the time and place that the prog gene became irrevocably encoded into my DNA (or awakened from dormancy, if you will): June 23, 1979, approximately 9 PM to midnight, Rupp Arena, Lexington, KY. I was a few days past my 15th birthday and had in my hands one of the presents I received – a ticket to see Yes in concert. They were touring in support of Tormato and on their 10th anniversary. The stage for the show would be ‘in the round’, a revolving stage at the center of the arena.
I knew very little about Yes at that time. In school, a month or so prior when the concert had been announced, some friends there had assured my I should go and that it would be worth it. I casually mentioned to some in my family that I would like to go, and it was taken as the hint it was, resulting in the ticket I later received. Still, I hadn’t really sought out to listen to any Yes prior to the night of the concert and knew very little of what we call ‘prog’. Unbeknownst to me, I actually had one prog album in my collection by then – ’2112′ by Rush, but I nevertheless did not know much about any genre of prog. I just knew I liked that album without wondering if there was more music like it.
So off to the concert I went that night, not having any huge expectations other than to enjoy myself and have a good time listening to a band play some music. You could say I got much more than I bargained for, in a good way – and in a life-changing way. Simply put, I was blown away. This wasn’t just a rock band, and this wasn’t just a rock concert I was witnessing, it was something completely on another plane. While I was unfamiliar with their catalog at the time, I clearly remember them playing ‘Future Times/Rejoice’, ‘Heart of the Sunrise’, a great acoustic guitar solo by Steve Howe, and the dreamy harp/organ section of ‘Awaken’. It was quite apparent that these guys were significantly more talented than most other rock musicians out there, and quite apparent that the guitar, bass, and keyboards were particularly unique relative to any other music I had ever heard. Thankfully, this would only be the first of six times I would have the pleasure of seeing Yes in concert.
Leaving Rupp Arena that night, I was not just impressed, but I was *hooked*. Within a year I had every album between ‘The Yes Album’ and ‘Tormato’, and was anxiously awaiting the release of Drama (although saddened that Anderson and Wakemen had left by then). But Drama impressed me quite a bit as well.
During the same period, I became familiar with some of the other popular progressive rock bands of the time, acquiring albums by Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, ELP, and more Rush. As the years went by, my search for more progressive rock led me to some of the neo-prog bands of the 80′s and into the back catalog of other 70′s prog bands I had previously missed, such as Gabriel/Hacket-era Genesis, Rennaissance, various solo works, and so on. And in the last decade plus, thanks to the internet, I’ve run into the happy problem of discovering that there is more prog out there than I will ever be able to listen to in my lifetime.
There is plenty of other music that I like and have listened to over the years outside of prog. But prog is still unequivocally my first musical love and will remain so until the day I die, and I can trace it right back to the fateful Saturday night in Rupp Arena.