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Yes - Symphonic Live (DVD) CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.59 | 354 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars Overwhelming

I had some misgivings when Yes announced that they were to tour with a full orchestra. Previous such indulgences by bands such as ELP, Deep Purple, Nice etc. had not always been entirely successful, often resulting in almost separate performances by band and orchestra.

I did however have the pleasure, no make that honour, of seeing Yes perform on this tour with an East European orchestra, in the Armadillo in Glasgow., This superb venue, vaguely similar to the Sydney Opera House, was perfect for what ranks for me as the best performance by Yes (or for that matter anyone else) I have ever seen. I was therefore slightly apprehensive when the DVD was releases as to whether it would manage to capture the magic of the experience, or whether it would tarnish my recollections. It was therefore extremely pleasing to find that my fears on all counts, were unwarranted.

While the "Magnification" album included new material recorded with an orchestra, the music performed live on the following "YesSymphonic" tour has never been (officially) released separately on CD. It has however been made available through this DVD, recorded on the Amsterdam leg of the tour. With the many live Yes albums which are available, it is understandable that not every tour is released in CD format. Given the added spectacle of this particular tour, DVD is clearly the most sensible option.

Unlike the aforementioned experiences of other bands, the orchestra here is seldom heard in isolation but is used throughout to enhance the overall sound. While a keyboard player -Tom Brislin - (not Wakeman, Moraz or Kaye!) was part of the line up, his role was much less to the fore than is usual for a Yes performance, the main function of the orchestra being to replace many of the keyboard parts.

The strategy gives pieces such as "Close to the edge" and "And you and I" an awesome and sometimes overwhelming majesty. The ending section of the latter is slowed right down, with ever increasing crescendos which almost literally push the listener back in their seat, such is the power.

There is a good diversity of old and new songs, including "Ritual", "In the presence of", "Roundabout" (band only encore) etc. During the latter, the youthful orchestra re- appear on stage minus their instruments, to "groove" to the music. How many orchestras would do that?!

The band is very tight throughout, perhaps reflecting the need to keep in perfect time with the orchestra, otherwise things could have become pretty chaotic. How they keep it all together on "The Gates of Delirium" during the "battle" section, is quite bewildering.

My sole disappointment with both the live performance and the DVD comes right at the start. The "Excerpt for the Firebird suite" has since the very early days of Yes signalled to the audience that the band were arriving on stage. It was of course played on tape. YesSymphonic offered the perfect opportunity for a live orchestra to perform the piece. Instead, a specially commissioned orchestral introduction was used. While this is pleasant enough, they should have used "Firebird".

The DVD is superbly filmed, recorded and presented, with a bonus disk of interviews and videos. At various points during the concert, there is the choice of either continuing to watch the performance, or to view animated films which compliment the music.

The YesSymphionic DVD is an essential addition to the collection of anyone who enjoys the music of Yes. It is arguably the definitive collaboration between group and orchestra.

Easy Livin | 5/5 |


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