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LIVE AT MONTREUX 2003

Yes

Symphonic Prog


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4 stars A good Yes show, but not so excellent. Actually, Yes shows from 2004 were much better, with the band more rehearsed and playing better and tighter. This concert begins very uninterestingly in my opinion, with a calm rendition of Siberian Khatru, where the band doesn't seem to be enjoying playing. But as the show continues, they get better. Highlights: In the Presence Of, one of the few good things Yes did recently. This song is really a new Yes classic. South Side of the Sky, which the band played in 2003 for th first time. However, this song, like others, would get better in 2004, especiallyh the jam in the end. The Fish is great! Chris and Alan show a perfect balance and groove. I love the way they play On the Silent Wings of Freedom. Awaken is another killer. By then, the whole band was already playing as usual, and they do a great job!

So this is a normal Yes show. Which means very good. But there are better ones out there (Keys to Ascension, Yesshows, Yessongs, Songs From Tsongas, and also bootlegs...)

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Send comments to Evandro Martini (BETA) | Report this review (#138352)
Posted Friday, September 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Another year, another live album by Yes, you may start to think. But the mindset stops there. This is easily one of Yes's live albums ever, let alone since Yessongs. While it doesnt beat Yessongs, its definatly up there in the quality and musicianship. The album starts of with a great rendition of Siberian Khatru, that sounds great with both modern recording technology as well as modern sound equipment and keyboards. The album is two discs long and takes the listener from the beginning of Yes's career up to the present with its song list. Of course songs like Roundabout, Siberian Khatru, Heat of the Sunrise, And You and I etc are present, the album lacks two of my favorites: Close to the Edge and Starship Trooper. Although, the lack of those two songs are compensated by the amazing list that is present. Special mentions go to Clap (Steve Howe is brilliant, as always) and South Side of the Sky. Im no Yes expert, but this one is rarely played live, and features a special jam session at the end between Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman.

Overall, this is one of Yes's best live albums. I'd put it above Keys to Ascension and Tsongas. It definatly deserves 4 stars.

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Send comments to Tarkus31 (BETA) | Report this review (#139293)
Posted Thursday, September 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
ghost_of_morphy
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.

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Send comments to ghost_of_morphy (BETA) | Report this review (#219996)
Posted Saturday, June 06, 2009 | Review Permalink
TheGazzardian
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars This album's relevance has recently dropped due to the release of Symphonic Live this year. But for two years, this album was the only place a fan of Yes music could get an official CD release with music off of Magnification; specifically, In The Presence Of and Magnification. It also includes South Side of the Sky, which was largely ignored by Yes for years despite being an amazing track, and an excellent version of Don't Kill The Whale. Also of interest to fans of Yes, Steve Howe plays an acoustic version of To Be Over that sounds sublime, and Jon Anderson sings an otherwise unreleased track, Show Me, which is nice if not amazing. The Rick Wakeman solo on this disc is quite good, and Chris squire and Alan White do an excellent job on The Fish.

Unfortunately, everything else on this album is lacking. There are better versions of Awaken, I've Seen All Good People, Roundabout, Siberian Khatru, and And You And I elsewhere (and if you're enough of a fan for the material above to matter, you've probably heard them dozens of times arleady). So while this is actually a pretty great live album for Yes fans, those who are more interested in their classic period would be better served skipping this one.

Overall, 2 stars, but 3 for Yes fans.

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Send comments to TheGazzardian (BETA) | Report this review (#257479)
Posted Wednesday, December 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars I am the first one to admit that I should really spend some more time with the Yes studio albums. This live album is therefore my first ever meeting with a song many regard as their best ever song; Awaken.

So I came to this live album, a bit unprepared. That is maybe why I like it so much. This live album was done with the classic setup, minus Bill Bruford. Alan White does a more than good enough job here so Bill Bruford is not in particular missed. The songs are from the whole of Yes classic symphonic prog era. Thankfully, the pop songs and their greatest hit Owner Of A Lonely Heart has been omitted from this album (they did not do it at this gig). So has the plastic fantastic sound from that era too. Their more organic sound from the 1970s has been dusted down again and taken along to Montreux. Unfortunate, the synths is a bit too clinical digital at times, but that is forgiven. This was 2003 and not 1973. The best song here, by many miles, is Awaken which has made me putting in an order at Amazon for the Going For The One studio album. The rest of the songs are also very good. Yes is Yes. We know what we get when they put their heads together and do a set with their symphonic prog songs. No further words are therefore required.

I think this is a great live album which I really enjoy. I should really get my act together and listen more to the Yes albums. That's the lesson I have drawn from this live album.

4 stars

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Send comments to toroddfuglesteg (BETA) | Report this review (#267089)
Posted Friday, February 19, 2010 | Review Permalink
ProgressiveAttic
COLLABORATOR
Eclectic Prog Team
3 stars Good but not great...

Of all the "classic Yes" lineup live albums this one is far from being the best.... The first responsible for this is the sound quality, again, it's good but not great (and the mixing could have been much much better). On the other hand we have some disappointing performances of the Magnification album (I had big expectations of Wakeman playing these songs) and some musical flaws here and there + the best sections (which are many) aren't even close to the best performances of the pieces, but are amazing nonetheless.

The highlights: Siberian Khatru (this one could never go wrong), And You And I (good performance), To Be Over (presented as a Steve Howe solo and as delightful as always), I've Seen All good People and, the reason for buying this album, the Fragile performances (they should play those more often) + the solo performances are as incredible as you may expect.

Conclusion: get it if you've already got Yessongs, Symphonic Live (outstanding, and probably best, 2000's live performance!) and Keys to Ascension (1 and 2)... Good and quite enjoyable but absolutely non-essential.

Total: 3 solid stars.

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Send comments to ProgressiveAttic (BETA) | Report this review (#278215)
Posted Friday, April 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
4 stars He's baaaaacck!

After the keyboard-less "Magnification", on again/off again keyboardist Rick Wakeman returned to the band for, I think, the fourth time, showing once again who is king of the keys (sorry, Keith). The band was in fine form for this tour, even though Jon Anderson's voice was starting to show it's age, and a lot of the songs, especially Siberian Khatru are played a little slower than we are accustomed to.

The songs from the latest album, Magnification and In The Presence Of sound much better with Wakeman, instead of the orchestra. And a lot of the songs, most notable And You And I, have instrumental arrangements that sound quite a bit different than previous recordings.

Sure, you've heard most of these songs on many different live albums. But this is Yes. You've gotta get it.

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Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#373847)
Posted Thursday, January 06, 2011 | Review Permalink
AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
4 stars The Montreux concerts are of considerable interest to me due to the rawness of the performances and plain concert stages - it is just the band and what they do - no frills. I wondered if Yes would suit this raw intimate stage environment. Yes, they do, I am pleased to state. I also have the DVD of this concert and I prefer indulging in that but the music is exceptional so this is a worthwhile album.

The best lineup of Yes play their greatest songs and it is a truly wonderful and remarkable achievement that they can sing and play so well at this late stage of their exceptional career. Highlights include 'Siberian Khatru', 'South Side Of The Sky', 'And You And I', 'Rick Wakeman Solo Medley: Catherine of Aragon/Catherine Howard/Montreux Jig/Jane Seymour ', 'Heart Of The Sunrise', 'Long Distance Runaround', 'Awaken', 'I've Seen All Good People' and 'Roundabout'.

All of these tracks are terrific in the live arena and having seen Yes recently I can vouch that they are able to easily capture the magic of the studio releases on every song. The concert is a wonderful captivating and memorable Montreux event. Not a masterpiece but still worth serious consideration for Yes and symphonic prog fans alike, from the masters of prog.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#763295)
Posted Monday, June 04, 2012 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 'Live at Montreux 2003' - Yes (70/100)

Live albums have fallen out of favour in the past generation, and I think it's for the reason that a recording of a live performance is accepted as never being able to capture the scope and spontaneity as if it were happening in real time. Just as importantly, most bands fail to add something fresh to the music in a live album; as a result, it ends up sounding like their studio work with the added strain of weaker mixing and hazy crowd ambiance.

I do wonder whether Yes really needed another live album. Nonetheless, it's something of a checkpoint for longstanding rock bands to record a performance at the legendary Montreux jazz festival. While Yes made a habit of looking outlandish in their classic live shows, Montreux was known for its stripped down, no-frills stage set. While Live at Montreux 2003 offers little visual indication as to whether Yes toned down their image accordingly, the album largely unfolds almost exactly as you would imagine for a Yes live album. Therein lies the problem of it; whereas Symphonic Live at least had the orchestral angle to differentiate it from albums past, Live at Montreux 2003 has come too late to the party to offer much worthy of excitement or surprise. It's a two hour-plus (!) performance of most of their best- loved songs. A lot of the set mirrors Yessongs and Yesshows too much to feel fresh at this point, but in this case, the music- as well as a hardy performance from Yes themselves- hold their own.

Although Live at Montreux is probably most notable for its twenty minute rendition of the immortal "Awaken", the spotlight is often fixed on their Fragile material. Barring a few of its solo pieces, Fragile is scattered throughout the set. Even the rare Jon Anderson song "Show Me" (written during the Fragile sessions) is included. "Heart of the Sunrise" and "Roundabout" are given straight-laced treatments here, not unlike the manner they were approached on Yessongs. Although Yes had been using "The Fish" as a way to sneak a bit of "Tempus Fugit" into their set since the '80s (Jon Anderson wouldn't sing anything from Drama), the only other live album of theirs that shows this gem is 9012 Live. Suffice to say, you're far better off hearing it here.

After "And You and I" (which benefits from some surprising harmonica during "The Preacher and the Teacher") the floor is given to Steve Howe, who delivers a gorgeous acoustic renditions of "To Be Over" and "The Clap". While "The Clap" stays true to form (it's a bloody classic of fingerpicking in any case), "To Be Over" is one of the coolest parts of this album; it shows Yes reinventing their music in a new and inviting way. Most of the other songs in Live at Montreux's favour are largely so because they weren't included on live albums past. "Awaken" is the real gem here (sounding as strong live as it does in the studio), and "In The Presence Of" off the latter-era masterpiece Magnification stands as being one of the best epics they've ever done.

There are surprises and fresh encounters on Live at Montreux; the setlist and performances are great, and the re-appearance of Rick Wakeman makes it special for Yes. Did we need another live album with "Siberian Khatru", "And You And I", "Heart of the Sunrise", "Long Distance Runaround", "Roundabout" or "I've Seen All Good People" on it? Probably not. As it stands, Live at Montreux is a fine live album, but I can't see any reason to recommend it over Yessongs. If you've already heard Yessongs however, and want more of the same, Live at Montreux stands as the second best among their live releases.

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Send comments to Conor Fynes (BETA) | Report this review (#1294819)
Posted Tuesday, October 21, 2014 | Review Permalink

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