Yes: Symphonic Live [2 Discs] [DVD] [2002]

From the opening two minutes of this concert video, presenting Yes in performance with the European Festival Orchestra, this is one of the finest concert videos in this reviewer's experience -- and that comes from someone who never felt that Yes needed (or would benefit from) the presence of an orchestra anywhere in their music. Videotaped in Amsterdam, in what appears to be a high-definition format on the group's 2001 tour, this is a beautifully directed concert, captured from a dozen or more angles, every one of them (and their attendant close-ups) well chosen and integrated with the surrounding shots, for a visual content that is every bit as graceful and seductive as the music. As to the music, it's reassuring to know that Yes can still bring off performances like this, some 28 years after their first classic live album; the problem with a group of their longevity is usually that, as the technology advances, the members' musicality declines, but that hasn't happened here. They still play as tightly together as ever, with perhaps a greater emphasis on lyricism -- which, given the nature and content of their music, is no drawback -- and the orchestra does add some interesting edges to the material. The horn-laden introduction to "Long Distance Runaround" suddenly makes the listener feel for an instant like they've stepped into a movie scene scored by John Barry, but then the band establishes the core of the sound and from there on it soars, with the strings, harp etc. merely adding some gorgeous flourishes and grace notes. Jon Anderson is never far from center stage, and Steve Howe's guitars, electric and acoustic alike, have no real competition among the 45 or so orchestral players accompanying the band; Alan White's drumming is as powerful as ever, and he also steps over to the keyboards for "In The Presence Of", a gently lyrical number that is the best sung part of the concert; and Chris Squire's electric bass is still a wonder to hear, more than three decades after it came to notice. The keyboard spot is filled by non-member Tom Brislin, and conductor Wilhelm Keitel does a spirited job of leading the orchestra, which seems to be made up entirely of players young enough to have grown up listening to (or at least familiar with) Yes. Their presence on "Gates Of Delirium" does, indeed, impart to the piece the grandeur that was indicated in the writing but only hinted at in the official recording. Serious fans will also be heartened by the presence of "Ritual" from Tales From Topographic Oceans, which is also brought into its own by way of the orchestral accompaniment. The 190 minute performance offers a wealth of varying sounds and images, so compelling that this reviewer had to resist the temptation to watch most of it twice. In one fell swoop it makes up for such horrors of yesteryear as the Yessongs movie. The producers have also furnished a second disc, containing the "Don't Go" video and, much more importantly, a 30-minute documentary about the circumstances surrounding the orchestral tour and the recording of the Magnification album. The reminsicences by the members, supporting players, and longtime fans. The DVD opens on the menu automatically, which offers a selection of options involving animated sequences for some of the performances, and each song gets a chapter marker. The sound is rich, loud, and clean, and included a Dolby digital 5.1 surround option.
$13.99
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Overview

Special Features

  • "Dreamtime" documentary
  • Bonus video of "Don't Go"

Synopsis

Yes: Symphonic - Live in Amsterdam
Formed in 1968, Yes would go on to become one of the defining bands of the progressive rock genre with a career that spans over 30 years. Recorded during their 2001 Symphonic Tour and featuring the backing of a full orchestra, Yes: Symphonic - Live in Amsterdam includes the band performing such songs as "Close to the Edge," "Long Distance Runaround," "Owner of a Lonely Heart," and "Roundabout." ~ Matthew Tobey, Rovi

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