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Yes - In The Present - Live From Lyon CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.53 | 133 ratings

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Symphonic Team
3 stars No disgrace

In The Present is a live album featuring a line-up consisting of core members Chris Squire, Steve Howe, and Alan White, with Rick Wakeman's son Oliver replacing dad on keyboards and Benoit David (Mystery) replacing Jon Anderson on vocals. Oliver Wakeman has a playing style very close to his father and he deals with the Yes material with competence. David's voice is likewise very similar to his predecessor, though it is the weakest link in the chain here. Despite being backed by Squire's and Howe's characteristic harmony vocals, David's vocals inevitably invite direct comparisons to Anderson's and inevitably feel like ersatz- Anderson here. I have respect for Benoit David and especially his band Mystery, but he lacks a unique voice of his own coming across an anonymous and watered down version of Anderson. If they had to replace Anderson, I would have preferred a vocalist that does not sound at all like Anderson to avoid inviting direct comparisons. It would be more interesting to hear how Yes would have sounded like with a completely different type of vocalist. But I guess I will never know.

The set list focuses heavily on songs from The Yes Album, Fragile, Close To the Edge, and Drama--which happens to be my top four favourite Yes albums, all of them five star albums in my book and containing some of the best music ever put to record. The Yes Album is represented by three songs in Starship Trooper, Yours Is No Disgrace, and I've Seen All Good People; Fragile is represented by Roundabout, Heart Of The Sunrise, and South Side Of The Sky; Close To The Edge by And You And I and Siberian Khatru; and Drama by Machine Messiah and Tempus Fugit. Out of these, the latter two are by far the most interesting in the present context. Songs from Drama have rarely been played live before due to Jon Anderson not being the original singer on Drama (and presumably didn't want to sing these songs live on subsequent tours). Now that Jon was no longer part of Yes, these Drama songs could finally be dusted off and performed live on stage. As I said, Drama belongs to my all-time favourite Yes albums and it is a delight to hear some songs from that great album finally being performed live. Benoit David sings these songs well and his vocals hold up better in comparison with Trevor Horn than with Anderson.

The oldest song played in this set is Astral Traveller, originally from Time And A Word from 1970. This is an interesting choice and again a good version containing a short drum solo. The 1969 self-titled debut is passed over as are Tales From Topographic Oceans, Relayer, and Going For The One. The underrated Tormato, on the other hand, is represented by the melancholic Onward. The newest song is Owner Of A Lonely Heart from 90125 from 1983. I don't care too much for this tune, but it is fun to hear Howe's persistent backup vocals on this one. Howe also hand in an acoustic solo performance in Corkscrew.

With so many excellent Yes live albums (and videos) on the market, In The Present is hardly noteworthy. The songs from The Yes Album, Fragile, and Close To The Edge in particular have been played live so many times and been included on many a live album. The present versions are not bad, but they inevitably add little to the many older live versions (my favourite live releases include Yessongs, House Of Yes, and Symphonic Live). The interesting songs here are primarily the few rarer ones which makes this disc worth hearing for devoted fans like myself.

SouthSideoftheSky | 3/5 |


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