Photos by the author
The genre of progressive rock—well at least the prog that doesn’t come from Germany—is cited by many a serious music fan as being one of the bigger blemishes on rock’s spotty face (along with jazz-funk and Oasis’ Be Here Now). We’re talking soulless muso music with oodles of noodles.
I too have held prog-as-exemplified-by-Yes-and-Genesis with smug derision for being all of the above and, well, just crap. Yet when Yes swept into Melbourne on their 30th anniversary ‘Full Circle’ tour, I couldn’t resist the offer of a free ticket, mainly to laugh at sad old men (and that was just the band). Then there were the Yesfanz, I would laugh at them too. But I didn’t, even though they all reminded me of the comic store guy from The Simpsons. My meanness left me as I started to air-bass-guitar along to one of Chris Squire’s shithot bass solos. And by the time the encore came, everybody was down the front dancing and singing along to Roundabout with gay abandon. Seriously, it was like a fucking religious experience for these people. It reminded me, perhaps scarily, of the town folk from The Wicker Man, thus was their devotion (and dancing style). By the end of the show the vibe in Vodafone Arena was electric. There were smiles all round and then I guiltily thought to myself, ‘who am I to look down my nose at these oldies and deny them one of the very few things that will bring them joy as their hairlines recede and their waistlines expand? Well, I didn’t think those words exactly but you catch my drift. Y’know I’m comforted that old blokes are getting their rocks off at Yes concerts. It comforts me because at their age it’s either a Yes concert or a sex tour of Thailand. Yes are a lot more wholesome. Yes rocked. Don’t make the mistake of denying your inner prog. And don’t laugh at old people, because chances are that in 30 years time you’ll be off to see an Interpol reunion tour, and they’ll be all fat and gross and popping outta their pinstripe suits too. HUGH OWENS