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Yes - Live at Montreux 2003 CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.85 | 169 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars As someone who has heard an awful lot of live Yes recordings (both licit and otherwise) I'm going to hit this particular album track by track. This is from the Full Circle tour, which didn't impress me quite as much as the 35th Anniversary Tour but comes close. Are you interested in Yes live music? Forgotten Yesterdays is the essential site to explore the rich and vibrant history of Yes live. This album presents one extremely good performance. As such, it is a bit unfair to compare this to classics such as Yessongs and Yesshows (which pick and choose performances), but it is entirely fair to compare this to such as House of Yes. Anyhow, this is the best official release of a complete concert that I have heard. The sound quality is unfortunately not state of the art, which seems to be de riguer for a live Yes album, and I have some quibbles with the mix (Squire is consistantly too low and Wakeman sometimes is too low as well), but this is a good live album. It's not as good as Yessongs or Yesshows, but it is better than House of Yes and much better than The Word is Live. So 3.5 stars is where this one falls, but I will generously bump it up to 4 since it is a complete concert and an interesting one by the classic lineup near the peak of their live performances.

I'll hit this track by track.

1. Siberian Khatru -- A live Yes album that doesn't start out with the Firebird Suite? This is so wrong. The tempo seems a bit off, but lots of accuracy, some really good work by Squire (who is unfortunately a bit low in the mix) and Wakeman (not to disparage Howe's or White's contributions of course), good vocals and harmonization... Siberian Khatru is a song that they usually get right. They get it right once again. My only real complaint is that Wakey isn't helping them transition from one part to another as much as he could. Steve really gets going in the last few minutes. 2. Magnification -- From a great song to something that is a bit of a let-down. I am surprised that this was even included in the set, given the problems of keeping up with the studio tricks that keep the album version going. That is painfully noticed in the first two minutes of this, and then Yes gets into the groove and things start dropping into place. You get a very un-Steve-like short guitar solo at the end which makes a very good transition into the next song.

3. Don't Kill the Whale -- Technically deft, but a little lifeless. Compare this to any of the recordings from the Tormato tour and it will be clear that some of the excitement and energy has been sucked out of this. Nevertheless it is technically apt and a very good live version.

4. In the Presence of -- This one is a bit restrained as well. What is looking more and more like Yes's last masterpiece isn't quite given justice here.

5. We Have Heaven -- A short nostalgiac fluff piece, but an EXCITING short nostalgiac fluff piece. It's enough to make you wish that they had resulted to all of that technologic fakery much earlier in their live careers.

6. South Side of the Sky -- I never understood why they didn't play this one more often. Of course, this one is very dependent upon Rick, but he's definitely on course here. And Howe is quite alive as well, without dominating the sound, as he does all too often.

7. And You and I -- This may be the best piece that Yes ever printed on vinyl, and this is a satisfactory live rendition of it. I tend to judge this piece by how well the part starting with "Coins and crosses..." sounds, and this one is fairly harmonious. Rick's intro into the third section (as for the rest of his contributions) are exceptional, and Anderson sings these parts quite well. (Heck, nobody is a slouch in the third section.) Not the best live version I've heard, but a worthy one.

8. To Be Over -- Steve Solo. A short two word review would be "Too Mechanical." What that would mean is that this starts out WAY too mechanical but loosens up to likeable after a minute or so. It's impressive, but it starts out way too... mechanically (I was searching for another word but just couldn't find it.)

9. Clap -- Steve Solo. It sounds like he's having fun here. Of course this piece always sounds like he's having fun, but this is one of the best live renditions of it that I've heard.

10. Show Me -- Steve and Jon alone for the most part. Nothing special from Steve, but a nice if typical performance from Jon. A yawner, but a relaxing one.

11. Rick's Solo Medley -- Six Wives > Something that the track list calls Montreux Jig but which sounds familliar but warped beyond my ability to recognize > Six Wives.

Compare this to Rick's Yessongs solo and it stacks up favorably. Maybe not quite as grand but definitely more energetic.

12. Heart of the Sunrise -- Much like Siberian Khatru, this is a good performance of a song that has had a lot of good performances over the year. It's an interesting performance, though. The vagaries of live music really come through on this one, and if you like live music this is a plus.

13. Long Distance Runaround -- The intro to this one got a WOW! out of me. Rick shadowing Steve is one of the things that made Yes great (think Roundabout off of Fragile) and here they are doing it live. The mix could be better when you get down to the meat of the song, but the performance is very good. Backing vocals were awkward once or twice.

14. The Fish -- The odd thing about Alan White is that when he is playing well, you usually don't notice him. The Fish, on the other hand, is stripped down enough that some of the really interesting things that he does come to the forefront. After decades of playing this with Chirs, they both obviously have it down and are very comfortable on this piece. No Anderson vocals at the end this time and the last part is quite extended, which I found to be interesting changes.

15. Awaken -- Live albums suffer from less than perfect audio quality. And that is the ONLY problem I have with this version of Awaken. It's not innovative or explorative for the most part, but it is a VERY faithful and VERY good version of my favorite Yes epic performed live.

16. I've Seen All Good People -- Backing vocals here are better than the usual offering. Unfortunately the Lennon lyrics get lost in the mix when Jon isn't singing them. It's clear that Jon's range has shortened, but he's adjusted well. Steve's on fire once again on this one, and Wakey is shadowing him once again in classic Yes fashion in the second part, at least for short segments. The Keys to Ascension II version is better, among others.

17. Roundabout -- Steve and Rick make their magic at up to the best of their ability, but Chris is so low in the mix that it's a crime. Only a misdemeanor though, because Rick and Steve are doing so many magical things. (And let's not forget White here. This may be straightforward for the most part, but he still comes through.)

So how to rate this? Recording quality for a live album isn't up to snuff here. This sounds like it was recorded in the '70's, and there are albums that were recorded back then that sound better. The performances are generally exceptional, but there are definitely lapses here and there. The set list is a good one, if at times a bit too ambitious. This is a better, (but not better recorded,) disc than House of Yes.

This falls somewhere between 3 and 4 stars. For now, I'll give it 4 stars, but I reserve the right to change my mind.

ghost_of_morphy | 4/5 |


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