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Yes - Like It Is: Yes at the Bristol Hippodrome CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

2.81 | 85 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
2 stars Forgive me for ignoring the two CDs in this three-disc set and going straight to the DVD. Both formats document the same May 2014 performance song for song, the redundancy in presentation matched by a likewise disposable performance. And that's a sad thing to write, especially about one of the bands that made this web site possible. What happened / To this song / We once knew so well..?

Pop the video disc into its player, and the menu displays a montage of ticket stubs, stage photos, and other concert memorabilia from the band's mid-'70s peak, underneath the familiar symphonic walk-on of Stravinsky's "Firebird Suite". The visual medley, together with the evocative touchstone of Roger Dean's cover illustration, are sentimental reminders of a Yes nowhere to be found elsewhere in the package.

Forty years later the band with the same name has been reduced to little more than a tired nostalgia act, something Progressive Rock was never meant to become. A freshly-minted studio album with new vocalist Jon Davison ("Heaven and Earth", 2014) was already in the can, albeit not yet released when this show was recorded. But the setlist for the gig was strictly regressive, exhuming the classic albums "Going for the One" and "The Yes Album" in their entirety, every note played verbatim but at a more age-appropriate tempo.

It must be hard to maintain your Progressive credentials with such a complacent agenda. Were it not for the (relative) fresh blood in the 44-year old Davison, the show might have been an ideal afternoon's diversion for the shut-ins at the local Bristol geriatric hospital. The new singer actually presents a not-unpleasing facsimile of expatriate Yes-founder Jon Anderson, lacking only his role model's infectious New Age charisma and enthusiasm. But the combined age of the remaining quintet, if placed end-to-end, would stretch all the way back to the reign of King George III, and their energy level here was equally moribund.

To be fair, the Bristol audience wasn't any livelier. You can see them whenever the cameras pan over the crowd, sitting stone-faced in passive attendance to the museum display on stage. There's a discouraging sense of obligation to the whole event, visible on either side of the footlights. Older fans can be very forgiving, but not even the strongest of rose-colored prescription lenses can restore the band's youthful vitality, or transform Geoff Downes into Rick Wakeman (the latter is sorely missed on the "Going for the One" songs).

The final insult to Yes aficionados can be glimpsed on the big overhead screen during the song "Yours Is No Disgrace": images of "The Yes Album" cover from 1971, cut to match the Bonanza-like rhythm of the opening theme but carefully framed to omit every band member except Steve Howe and Chris Squire. Was it an unhappy legal necessity, or an obvious historical whitewash?

At least the album's title is honest. "Like It Is"...which I suppose can be translated to mean "Take It Or Leave It". Given that choice, even the most devoted Proghead might be tempted to consider the second option. One guttering star, with a second white dwarf added in memory of bygone glories.

Neu!mann | 2/5 |


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