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Yes - Keys to Ascension (DVD) CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.69 | 125 ratings

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3 stars The KEYS TO ASCENSION DVD, compiled from a series of 1996 concerts, features flawless, energy-charged performances of almost two-and-a-half hours of terrific, vintage Yes material. Sounds good, hey?

BUT (and it's a big but) it also unfortunately contains the dumbest, hokiest video and camera effects that I've yet had the misfortune to suffer through with this new medium. I want more from a good concert DVD than good music. I also appreciate the inclusion of "extras," such as backstage footage and/or interviews, and, more importantly, I prefer the show to be filmed, if not artistically (as with Peter Gabriel's superb SECRET WORLD LIVE), then at least in an unobtrusive, straight-forward fashion (as with Steve Hackett's top-notch ONCE ABOVE A TIME). Well, there are no such extras here, and the viewing experience is all-but ruined for this long term Yes fan by oodles of extraordinarily lame, cobbled-on visual "effects" that look like they were done by a cerebrally-impaired high school kid using early eighties technology. We get dancing black dots, band members' faces in various planets, nature scenes, and WAY too much slow-motion footage. To make matters still worse, the camera operators and/or editors seem to be unfamiliar with the band's music, or even the sounds of various ordinary instruments. A blistering Steve Howe solo? That's when, likely as not, we get a close up of Chris Squire on his bass! Look, chump, if you can't tell lead guitar from bass, then pull back, and at least let me see the full band - I know who's doing what up there!

Wait - there's more bad news: call me a nit-picker, but the various "getups" and hairstyles that these Yes-men choose to appear in public in are lamentably ill-considered, and just plain embarrassing. My wife (who likes Yes' music very much, thank you) soon started giggling at the sight of Jon Anderson sporting what can only be described as a mullet, white high-tops, and what appears to be one of Elvis's old mu mus -- replete with matching white cape. Squire, meanwhile, is clad in seven-league boots (that may well have been cool for a few weeks in the early 70s), and seems to be in serious denial regarding hair loss. Then there's prog poster-boy Steve Howe, hair woefully thinned, but still determinedly, nay -- even optimistically, clinging to his ponytail, and goggling froggishly at the audience in his guise as Elrond (the resemblance is downright disturbing) from The Lord of the Rings movies. Alan White gets the muscle shirt treatment (okay - he's a sweaty, hard-working drummer) and de-rigueur mullet, but Rick Wakeman, at least, shows class, having mercifully opted out of membership in the mullet club, and ditched (or did Jon pinch it, in a fit of jealous pique?) his former trademark white cape, in favour of a tasteful jacket.

True, the musical performances absolutely can't be faulted, but if you watch this one with your wife or girlfriend, guys, steel yourself for some serious snickering from across the room!

Thus, if you only care about the music, you can't go wrong, but this is one to watch with your "eyes wide shut." Yes? More like "maybe." Nice song(s) -- shame about the video!

Peter | 3/5 |


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