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Heavy / RPI / Symphonic Prog Team
4 stars This is the suite of the Yes live at the Bristol Hippodrome of last year, recorded this time in Arizona, August 2014. It represents something special, because it's the last Chris Squire presence on a DVD release. They could have put those two shows on 1 Blu-Ray since it's only 1 hour and a half each show, or at least gives us a complete concert with the encore. The visuals have more importance on this one than on the previous DVD that had a poor light show. The camera angles gives us a better view of the whole stage. In the first minutes of "Close to the Edge", the video and the audio are not synced up correctly for a few seconds. But the stereo mix is fine with each instruments clearly heard. I can't help myself to have a closer look at Chris Squire who was looking healthy with his finger and leg in the air, and thinking that there's no justice when someone is hit by a disease that led him to the inevitable in only one month. I surprised myself enjoying againthe song "Roundabout" again after so many years with the unique Steve Howe guitar sound that i always enjoy. In the song "Cans and Brahms", Downes has to put his glasses on to read the notes.After the two shorts songs, "South Side of the Sky" that the band brought back about ten years ago is that nice little epic song that display some piano lines that could be perceive like a metaphor for someone climbing a mountain. I forgot about that little instrumental piece "5% for Nothing" that doesn't sound like Yes. It is in fact a Billl Bruford contribution and a joke on the music business. And how appropriate to see near the end of the show the song "Fish" with the unique solo and huge bass sound of Squire. I could not imagine Billy Sherwood replicate this in the future. For me this is a more enjoyable release than the Bristol show, and i am sure that many Yes fans will want this to complete their collection
Report this review (#1440567)
Posted Tuesday, July 14, 2015 | Review Permalink
3 stars I think that this is the last YES's new official release on which Chris Squire appears. But in fact it was released shortly after his death in June 2015.

It is good to see Squire playing with the band during his last tour with them in 2014. This concert video / CD was recorded in August 2014 in Arizona with the band playing all the songs from two of their most popular and successful albums from the early seventies: "Fragile" (1971) and "Close to the Edge" (1972). From which is considered the "Classic Line-up" of the band which recorded both albums (Squire, Steve Howe, Jon Anderson, Rick Wakeman, Bill Bruford) only Squire and Howe remained by 2014. Alan White replaced Bruford at the very last moment in 1972 for the "Close to the Edge" tour, and with Squire, Howe and White being by 2014 the members of the band which had a lot of years of being playing with the band since 1972 (with Howe being out of the band for several years). Since 2012, the line-up of the band had Squire, Howe and White joined by another "old" member, Geoff Downes, and by new lead singer Jon Davison. They had the idea to tour playing some of their old albums in full. In 2014 they previously played in full in concert their "Close to the Edge", "The Yes Album" and "Going for the One" albums. The songs from the "Going for the One" and "The Yes Album_" albums appear in their live album "Lke It Is - Live at the Bristol Hippodrome" which was released in late 2014.

If their concert in Bristol lacked some power and some good playing by the band as a whole (particularly in the songs from the"Going for the One" album), this concert in Arizona shows the band in a better shape, playing the songs with energy and better, even if the management of some tempos is not very good by the band as a whole. Anyway, the band sounds like they rehearsed better for this Arizona concert, and maybe the songs from the "Fragile" and "Close to the Edge" albums were not as demanding from them as some songs from the "Going for the One" album could have been, on which particularly Downes seemed like having some problems on songs like "Awaken". Or maybe "Fragile" and "Close to the Edge" are among Downes's favourite albums from YES (he and Trevor Horn said that both were fans of the band when they joined the band in 1980 for their "Drama" album).

All the members of the band played very well all the songs from the "Close to the Edge" and "Fragile" albums. Maybe the member who shines more is Jon Davison, showing a very solid voice. His voice is somewhat different to Jon Anderson's, but Davison reaches the original very high notes without apparent problems.

"Siberian Khatru" is really played very well, with Downes playing very well the harpsichord parts. He also plays "Cans and Brahms" in a very similar way as Wakeman played it. But in this song I think that he used some programmed keyboard parts to play it properly. In "South Side of the Sky" he also does a good job with the piano parts and the synthesiser solo at the end of the song. The band also used some pre-recorded vocal parts in "We Have Heaven", and in "The Fish" they also used some pre-recorded bass guitar parts apart from Squire playing his bass guitar on stage, having a lot of fun. In "Heart of the Sunrise" Downes played the song in a very similar way to the original studio recording (something that even Wakeman never did in concert!). In the "Close to the Edge" album title song Downes plays a different but very good organ solo.

As a whole, this live album and DVD is very good, showing the band playing and singing very well and having a lot of fun. Something which is not the same in their concert video and CD from Bristol. So, being this Arizona live recording the last official release from the band with Squire playing during his last tour with the band, it is good to see the band playing very well and the audience also having a good time. The recording and mixing of the sound and the quality of the images of the video are also very good.

A 3.5 stars rating for this album from me.

As everybody knows by now, YES still is playing on tour in 2016, but with Billy Sherwood replacing the late Chris Squire since their 2015 tour.

Report this review (#1570195)
Posted Tuesday, May 24, 2016 | Review Permalink
3 stars Welp, here it is, the latest-dated Yes material to feature Chris Squire (who died in 2015 from cancer, R.I.P.). After the release of Heaven and Earth, Yes did some token promotion of it in their concerts, but the main attraction was clearly the band's decision (after the success of the 2013 "Three Album Tour") to play both Close to the Edge and Fragile in their entirety. As before, Howe and Squire mostly sound fine, White sounds sluggish, Davison sounds anonymous, and Downes sounds passable but fairly generic. As before, this album is somewhat redundant and unnecessary, but it also features two of my favorite albums (and this time ups the ante by including two of my favorite 25 albums or so rather than two of my favorite 100 albums or so), so I ultimately end up enjoying it at a gut level even if I roll my eyes a little at an intellectual level.

The inclusion of a full performance of Close to the Edge (presented in original order even if, in concert, they did it backwards) is not especially noteworthy, seeing as most of their live albums since 1972 had included at least one of the three tracks (and in some cases all three). The performance of "And You and I" is extraordinary, an emotional assault that probably would have left me breathless if I had seen it in person, but both "Close to the Edge" and "Siberian Khatru," while perfectly fine (if a bit slow as had become customary), sound as if the band had long passed its prime in terms of playing them (which it kinda had). Now the Fragile material, well, this is where a bunch of novelty lies, for good and for bad. True to advertisement, they actually perform both "Cans and Brahms" and "Five Percent for Nothing," and while I think both are great tracks in the context of the original album, they sound kinda silly here. As for the other material, it's generally fine; the opening to "Roundabout" is tweaked in a curious way that I don't think is for the better, but I'll never get sick of hearing live "South Side of the Sky" versions (I don't care how many live versions have been put out in the 21st century, it was the great lost Yes gem for 30 years and is forever immune to any complaints about overexposure), and "Heart of the Sunrise" sounds especially crisp here (I'm kinda bummed that they didn't go full out and include the "We Have Heaven" reprise at the end, though). I do kinda wish that "The Fish" had been more stretched out in a more typical way rather than condensed to more closely mimic the studio version, but again, they were going for a specific performance vibe, so I don't especially mind it.

Frankly, I believe that a Yes fan should either get both this and its predecessor or get neither; even if the two albums are from two different tours, they serve identical purposes, and I feel nearly the exact same way about them. In a perfect world, neither of these albums would exist (Yes would have disbanded in 2004), but they're enjoyable enough and worth hearing a couple of times.

Report this review (#1612698)
Posted Monday, September 19, 2016 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars "Tell the moon dog, tell the march hare"

The present album is the second of two Like It Is live albums. The idea was to take some of the band's classic albums and perform each album in its entirety "like it is" in its original album running order. On the first Like It Is release it was Going For The One and The Yes Album that got the full treatment and this time it is Close To The Edge and Fragile - two of the absolute masterpieces of progressive Rock. While the first Like It Is album lacked excitement, this second entry in the series is clearly an improvement.

The most interesting tracks here are definitely Cans And Brahms, Five Per Cent For Nothing, and We Have Heaven, which have not been included on a live album before. The original idea for the Fragile studio album was to represent individually the members of the band at the time by having each member do a solo number on the album. Cans And Brahms was Rick Wakeman's individual selection and here we get to hear Geoff Downes perform it. Bill Bruford's Five Per Cent For Nothing is played by Alan White, and Jon Davison sings Jon Anderson's We Have Heaven. I do not think anybody ever expected to hear this! Mood For A Day and The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus) are played by their originators Steve Howe and Chris Squire respectively, the only two members who played on the original Fragile album.

The rest of the tracks from these albums have been included on a multitude of excellent live albums released over the years going back to the otherwordly Yessongs. Even though it is interesting for a fan like me to hear Geoff Downes replicate Rick Wakeman's parts, it is hard to motivate why one should listen to these particular renditions of these classic tracks given how many versions are already available on other live records. The weakest link in the line-up is again Jon Davison who fails to bring anything new and exciting to the songs.

Overall, a good but rather unnecessary live album.

Report this review (#1714250)
Posted Tuesday, April 25, 2017 | Review Permalink

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