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Yes - Montreux 2003 (DVD) CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.97 | 146 ratings

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4 stars Having seen Yes live in the glory years doing their Tales from Topographic Oceans tour, I still remember the collective awe expressed by the 18,000 fans crammed into the Montreal Forum, dizzied by the seeming ease with which this complex music was being performed. We were a long way from the simplified blues-rock that generally characterized the arena events of the time. Looking at this live in Montreux performance some 28 years later, the admiration remains intact, even though the modern technology that surrounds us has made us complacent, as well as ultra-demanding, perhaps even blasť. Way back then as now, the thrill of listening to such masterful music played seemingly effortlessly still provokes deep trepidation. They are still introduced as five musicians combined as YES, all true masters of their craft, combining their efforts into this amazing musical display, a journey through time and space, the old classics just as resilient and relevant today than ever, alongside their newer material. Obviously, their repertoire of illustrious songs (Roundabout, Heart of the Sunrise, Siberian Khatru, And You & I , I've Seen All Good People, Long Distance Runaround, Awaken) have become legendary icons of enjoyment and art, played with apparent ease, flowing directly from their collective soul to the highly appreciative audience. Yes has often been accused of a certain coldness which I must rebuke with authority, as their live performances have rarely or never been mailed in, lackadaisical. This show is a case in point, while obviously respectfully composed in their stage appearance, Jon Anderson certainly exudes a certain worldly charm, Wakeman's usual eloquence draped all over his keyboards, Howe displays a dizzying command of his vast arsenal of six-stringed instruments while Squire still grinning like a cat as if the Owner of a Lonely Bass (reminding me visually of a British version of Gene Simmons). Alan White remains the consummate pro drummer, keeping this entire razzle-dazzle neatly in place. Contrary to reviewing a studio album, it's really superfluous to give a track by track account of a concert event that recapitulates all the band's historic episodes. Let it be said that all is there for a Yes fan to behold in total comfort, while non-fans should be impressed with this DVD, the usual suspects (See above ) being as always perfectly played , the cameo solo slots astonishing with Howe, Wakeman and Squire each unmistakably displaying why they continuously lead all fan polls for their respective instruments. As for the pieces, I sort of forgot what a great song "South Side of the Sky" was, having awoken to it recently via the latest Glass Hammer version (on their Culture of Ascent album), a magical piece that deserves more praise, proving once and for all Rick's rule over the ivories (a ridiculous Mini-Moog solo). "Don't Kill the Whale" has a revamped and reenergized grooming that rocks harder than the original version, with Howe in particular giving some much needed fret pizzazz. "In the Presence of" off the recent Magnification album also dazzles unexpectedly with some fine piano work, an instrument I have learnt to adore as I age elegantly, moving unhurriedly away from the enthrallment of the synthesizer. The entire piece ends as grandiose symphonic Prog of the highest caliber, with a hint of magic. My only slight peeve is the few occasional video glances at Squire, being a bass fetishist; I could just look at him playing all night, just like back in 1975! His solo spot is just not enough! A Fish is not enough! Finally, a word about the impish Jon Anderson, especially in an age where some of the past giants are loosing (or have lost) their voices, Jon keeps singing with that unique timbre he was born with, no one can accuse him of ripping off Elvis, Morrison, Bowie or Ferry. Hardly a bum note, remembering a vast catalogue of admittedly obtuse lyrics, the man still has the vocal goods, much to his genetic credit. The Montreux audience had as many younger people as old geezers, even a few hot babes which only proves again that Prog does have staying power. Viagra-Prog, indeed. In an interesting anecdote, King Crimson had played the night before in Montreux , eschewing all older material, playing exclusively contemporary material. Steve Howe stated to the press:" If Robert Fripp wants to do that, it's his choice , we like to make new music but combine it with old material. If Sinatra was still alive, you went to one of his shows and he didn't sing "My Way" or "NY, NY", you'd leave pretty disappointed". Yes, you certainly got that right. 4.5 Ouis
tszirmay | 4/5 |


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