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




Symphonic Prog

3.97 | 146 ratings

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Eclectic Prog Team
3 stars A big disappointment for several reasons, but not at all a total one by any means, Yes's 2003 show at Montreux is great for fans who know and appreciate the material. But there are some problems. Where's Chris Squire anyway? Sure he is there, on stage, playing and audible and all that, but Squire is such a showman, it's a real shame that the only time the camera ever gives him any time is during his solo moments. Jon Anderson, the person who enjoys most of the time on camera, is usually known for his eccentric apparel even in more recent times, but on this show, it looks like he just got through with a brisk jog. The whole show is a bit strange in this respect. Anderson's goofy philosophizing in between songs is embarrassing, really. And why Wakeman suddenly dons sunglasses during the fourth song is beyond me. The footage is mainly of Anderson's throat and Steve Howe's fingers, but that's okay. The music is really good. However, the problems are evident immediately; as "Siberian Khatru" begins, it's clear instantly that either there are sound problems, or the soundman doesn't know what he is doing. The guitar is always too loud, the vocals fluctuate in volume, and the rest of the band is barely there. It takes several songs before this problem seems to be straightened out. "Magnification" sounds totally stripped down, as the keys of Rick Wakeman are not enough to compensate for the absent orchestra. On the other hand, "Don't Kill the Whale," an unexpected number, sounds more fleshed out than the original. The vocal harmonies are noticeably off with "In the Presence Of," and the echo on the vocals at the song's emptiest moment is laughable. The upside to this rendition is Wakeman's keys that fill things out a bit. "We Have Heaven," quite naturally, is a pointless inclusion on a live show, especially since most of the vocals are overdubs, and the song that follows is the dark introduction to "South Side of the Sky," and yet Anderson still goes on about how "we all have to climb mountains in life." That's fantastic, since the fate of the folks in that song is not a mystery. Sarcasm aside, that song is performed very well (almost as good as the Songs from Tsongas version). It's always impressive to watch Wakeman's right hand during a synthesizer solo, and it gives the piece, which can overstay its welcome, a cool (no pun intended) change. "And You and I" is less than perfect, but never fails to please or inspire. The biggest letdown, however, was seeing "To Be Over" on set list on the back of the DVD case- the impetus for my purchase- and coming to find out that it is merely a solo version on acoustic guitar by Steve Howe. I feel such things should be noted (like listing "Ritual" on the House of Yes DVD but only performing a brief, stripped down snippet). Howe's rendition is nothing less than amazing, and I'm thankful I got to hear it, but I still felt a little cheated. "Clap" follows, presumably so the band can continue with their break. "Show Me" from Anderson is a snoozer, but the solo bits aren't over. As I mentioned earlier, Wakeman's hands are such fun to watch, and he migrates from one keyboard to the next, playing excerpts from his own work. "Heart of the Sunrise" is a powerful rendition, and the visuals are great (especially all the red lighting). Howe's guitar phrasings are rather unique. After a solid version of "Long Distance Runaround," Squire gets the spotlight a little bit. Amusingly enough, Anderson accompanies Squire on percussion, and then can be seen leaving the stage as soon as Squire and White launch into an excerpt from "Tempus Fugit." Of course, Howe and Wakeman are gone to, but I find it funny that the camera is on Anderson during the transition. Watching Squire and White go nuts is a real treat. Soon the band returns to finish up "The Fish." Afterward, as Wakeman dazzles with his piano, Squire exits the stage, removing his Rickenbacker, which can only mean one thing: "Awaken." This version is certainly the highlight of this particular DVD experience. Howe's airy use of his steel guitar with Wakeman's bright synthesizer is simply beautiful. Squire's backup vocals are really full and spirited, and give the song a slightly heavier feel. Wakeman is astonishing in his solo bit during the middle, almost so much so that it would seem his actual solo spot was unnecessary. Anderson gets some criticism for his variety of instruments, including the harp, but the harp is an essential piece of this performance. The ending is perhaps more powerful than it has ever been, and makes this DVD well worth owning. The two obligatory pieces remain. "Your Move / I've Seen All Good People" is also extremely well done, particularly on Squire's end. It also isn't overly long and tedious (as the repetitive nature of the song can make it). After a short and out-of-place introduction, the band plays the final song, "Roundabout." As usual, the band rips out the middle section, only this time, bridging the verses and Wakeman's organ solo with some unnatural guitar bit. That said, it's a very energetic performance, probably the most so on this DVD.
Epignosis | 3/5 |


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