You Told Us: The “Best.Show.Ever” – Yes/Gentle Giant

Pink concert crowd

Editor’s Note: We recently asked our readers to share memories of their favorite concert experience, aka “Best.Show.Ever.” We’ve gotten some incredible stories — and are always game to hear more (send ’em to: and yours might end up in print on our site). In the meantime, here’s one great tale that came over the transom.


The best concert I ever saw was Yes with Gentle Giant opening — I think on July 24, 1976 — at the Memorial Coliseum in Portland, Oregon. As is likely the case with most “best concert” experiences, the magnitude of the impact was at least partly due to the emotional context (my age and the nature of my exposure to these two bands on vinyl) as well as the quality of the performance.

I was 17. Had progressed (so to speak) from Deep Purple and Creedence four years before, through ELP and King Crimson to Yes, which I had regarded as my favorite band for the preceding year or so. As a teen coming of age in the dying timber port of Coos Bay, southern Oregon, surrounded by rednecks, jocks, and potheads, we took inordinate pride in being prog fans who listened to music nobody around us had ever heard of — including Atomic Rooster, The Nice, and Be-Bop Deluxe.

Two buddies and I had bought tickets for the Yes show that spring and would have to drive more than 200 miles from downstate for it, but then one of them played GG’s Free Hand album for me, which utterly blew my mind. The best part, he added: We already had tickets to see them, because they were opening for Yes!

Yes was dependably memorable (this was during the brief period after the release of Relayer when Patrick Moraz had replaced Rick Wakeman, but more than 7 years before Rabin and the “Owner of a Lonely Heart” single) . . . still, there was something cool and distant about them; they seemed like gods who had descended briefly from the heavens to serenade us mere mortals for an hour or so . . . while Gentle Giant had a very “Aw shucks, we’re just five regular blokes having a fun time up here” demeanor — all the while doing astonishing musical things on stage.

My allegiance switched, then and forever, to GG . . . where it has remained ever since.

After the advent of the internet, I hooked up with Gentle Giant fans. I’ve been to party gatherings of GG fans and even sung the national anthem to open local pro (minor-league baseball and hockey) games with Gentle Giant fans I met through the online community. And when the band issued a massive retrospective boxed set of 29 CDs last fall, including remasters of all their studio albums and 16 live shows, with accompanying booklets, titled Unburied Treasure, you can bet I ordered one of just 2,000 copies at just under $350 including shipping from the UK!

-David Loftus

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2 comments on “You Told Us: The “Best.Show.Ever” – Yes/Gentle Giant

  1. Richard Short

    Probably my favorite was seeing the Stones in Will Rogers Memorial Auditorium in Ft Worth Texas right after they had come out with the album “Some Girls”. The concert was on July 18, 1978. My brother got us 8th row on the floor dead center seats. Now mind you this was like a high auditorium size wise, small and intimate. On the bill was Doug Kershaw the rubber legged cajun fiddler and the Peter Tosh reggae band. All acts were phenomenal. I was 26 at the time, my wife 21 and my brother and 2 more friends. Seeing the Stones do “Shattered”, “Beast of Burden” etc. was great. But as an added bonus the people in the row in front of us were almost as good as the Stones. It was 2 stoners and their dates up from Houston and we got to be good friends for that one night. One of the guys, “Whitey” was dressed completely in white. White overalls, white shoes, white blond long frizzled hair and a white towel that he waved like a helicopter rotor over his head the entire night shouting “ROCK AND ROLL” at the top of his lungs. No kidding. His friend we dubbed Elvis because of his striking resemblance to Elvis Costello. Elvis’s girlfriend passed out before the show and woke up as everyone was leaving. Missed the entire show. We were laughing and sharing various substances back and forth the whole show. That concert is available on dvd and you bet I have it. I must also however give shoutoutz to Paul & Wings, Linda Ronstadt and Dan Fogelberg for outstanding shows also. What a time to be alive!

  2. Mark Hudson

    Blimey David – my 2 favorite bands on one bill ! Nice.

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