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Yes - Like It Is - Yes at the Mesa Arts Centre CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.07 | 87 ratings

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3 stars Welp, here it is, the latest-dated Yes material to feature Chris Squire (who died in 2015 from cancer, R.I.P.). After the release of Heaven and Earth, Yes did some token promotion of it in their concerts, but the main attraction was clearly the band's decision (after the success of the 2013 "Three Album Tour") to play both Close to the Edge and Fragile in their entirety. As before, Howe and Squire mostly sound fine, White sounds sluggish, Davison sounds anonymous, and Downes sounds passable but fairly generic. As before, this album is somewhat redundant and unnecessary, but it also features two of my favorite albums (and this time ups the ante by including two of my favorite 25 albums or so rather than two of my favorite 100 albums or so), so I ultimately end up enjoying it at a gut level even if I roll my eyes a little at an intellectual level.

The inclusion of a full performance of Close to the Edge (presented in original order even if, in concert, they did it backwards) is not especially noteworthy, seeing as most of their live albums since 1972 had included at least one of the three tracks (and in some cases all three). The performance of "And You and I" is extraordinary, an emotional assault that probably would have left me breathless if I had seen it in person, but both "Close to the Edge" and "Siberian Khatru," while perfectly fine (if a bit slow as had become customary), sound as if the band had long passed its prime in terms of playing them (which it kinda had). Now the Fragile material, well, this is where a bunch of novelty lies, for good and for bad. True to advertisement, they actually perform both "Cans and Brahms" and "Five Percent for Nothing," and while I think both are great tracks in the context of the original album, they sound kinda silly here. As for the other material, it's generally fine; the opening to "Roundabout" is tweaked in a curious way that I don't think is for the better, but I'll never get sick of hearing live "South Side of the Sky" versions (I don't care how many live versions have been put out in the 21st century, it was the great lost Yes gem for 30 years and is forever immune to any complaints about overexposure), and "Heart of the Sunrise" sounds especially crisp here (I'm kinda bummed that they didn't go full out and include the "We Have Heaven" reprise at the end, though). I do kinda wish that "The Fish" had been more stretched out in a more typical way rather than condensed to more closely mimic the studio version, but again, they were going for a specific performance vibe, so I don't especially mind it.

Frankly, I believe that a Yes fan should either get both this and its predecessor or get neither; even if the two albums are from two different tours, they serve identical purposes, and I feel nearly the exact same way about them. In a perfect world, neither of these albums would exist (Yes would have disbanded in 2004), but they're enjoyable enough and worth hearing a couple of times.

tarkus1980 | 3/5 |


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