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5 stars OK, let's deal with the elephant in the room .... Can HE (you know, that OTHER guy) ... can HE perform Jon Anderson's vocal parts? Well actually, yes HE can. When Benoit David's vocal came in I expected it to jar me, a picture hanging at the wrong angle... but NO... this works , it works well! I was already familiar with the voice ( the vox with Canadian Band Mystery are wonderful .... and of course there is the excellent on the new studio effort too) but there was that lingering doubt about the old stuff. I actually caught the band on the We Can Fly tour, and hears him sing these songs live .... and loved that .... but in the cold light of day ..... listening to a CD ... well yes he does sound good! This is a nice selection of material from the 2009 dates too...with two gems from Drama (Tempus Fugit; Machine Messiah ) making a welcome return after so many years ... and then there are the Jon Anderson songs, from Astral Traveller - to Owner Of A Lonely Heart, with the classics in between. i honestly urge the sceptical to try this - I was pleasantly surprised.... and we also get the oft neglected Onward from Going for the One too! Givie it a chance.
Report this review (#585740)
Posted Saturday, December 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars There is no other way to say this. This is (or was) Yes.

This album catches the band sounding their most vital and energetic for years. The additions of Benoit David and Oliver Wakeman well bedded in by this point, the energy and spirit of Yes and their erstwhile leader are evidently not as mutually exclusive as we might have previously assumed.

Having seen the now current line up twice on the 2011 tour, and thrilled at the addition of Geoff Downes, who knows how to get the right sounds under his fingers, I was unsure how Wakeman would sound. For the most part, I find him the weaker link of the two - not technically, he's a fine player, but the organ sounds are a bit plastic, and the moog doesn't have the balls it used to. Allied to the anaemic string part in the bass solo in 'Heart of The Sunrise' and in 'And You and I' (Downes using 'tron sounds for both), it's a bit of a let down on an otherwise first class live album.

The performances themselves far outstrip anything Yes have released in years, missing the all too evident studio reworking of Keys to Ascension, House of Yes, Yessymphonic and Tsongas. This is a live record, like Yessongs and Yesshows were. It's imperfections are part of it's charm. I say part of it's charm because in truth, there really aren't many of them at all.

A great live document of arguably the most turbulent period of Yes' long and distinguished career. One through which they've again flourished.

Report this review (#586998)
Posted Monday, December 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Hmmm.........

The Yes purists will gather around the speakers now and poke their walking sticks into them. The question is: Is Benoit David any good ??? Or let me re-phrase that: IS BENOIT DAVID ANY GOOD ??? Or to re-phrase that: Isbenoitdavidanygood???

The songs here are the usual best of Yes type of stuff with perhaps their massive hit single Owner Of A Lonely Heart as a sore thumb in the set list. Well, for me it is. The inclusion of Onward and Tempus Fugit is a welcome change of set list. Machine Messiah too is great. The rest is the typical best off stuff. And the band is performing them excellent. The solos is a bit boring to say at least.

Then we have Benoit David......

OK, he is 90-95 % from where Jon Anderson was in the 1970s. Benoit David cannot quite reach the high notes Jon reached on the classics like And You And I and Roundabout. That is Benoid David's shortcoming. And it is pretty visible when you sit and wait for that tone....... there...... there.... THERE !! .... not quite !! He missed it !!!

Then again..... Is Jon Anderson still as good as he was in the 1970s ? Would he reach these notes too ? I don't know. But Yes with Benoit David on the road is a very credible rhythmic orchestra and this live album proves that shelling out money to see them is really a no brainer. The alternative is to buy a time machine and go back to the 1970s. In that case, we are talking substantially more money than going to a Yes gig anno 2012 would set you back.

How would I rate this double album compared to Yesstory and others ? For a start, Awaken is sorely missing. But this is still an album just a notch below the great albums and an essential album for Yes fans.

But the bottom line is that this is a great double live album.

4 stars

Report this review (#587147)
Posted Monday, December 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Obviously, if you are new to Yes, and have never heard a live recording, then you should be marching right down to your local record store to experience Yessongs.

But for the Yes fan, who has followed this band through triumphs and changes and wrong turns and comebacks, this album represents a fantastic discovery. Yes exists, even without the great Jon Anderson, and there is life in this material, even if you have heard these songs a thousand times before.

Yes has probably not sounded this good since the 70's. Benoit David brings a sweet sincerity to the vocals which has been lacking for the last couple of decades. He just carries such a friendly presence, that element which has been so special and positive about Yes. You can tell he really loves to sing in this band, and that he has a great deal of reverence for the songs.

The sound of the band is also great. The digital age has not been kind to Yes. Modern production techniques often made the band sound tinny and cheap on recordings in the 90's, because Yes songs have so much mid-range melody in them. The digital synthesizers that Rick Wakeman and Tony Kaye and Igor Khoroshev were palying didn't help matters. The keys played by Oliver Wakeman here sound just right, and the mix brings back the scope and grandeur and mystery of the music.

We have yet to hear what this band can really do. "Fly From Here" was a great resurrection of some Drama material, and a calling card for a resurrected band. I would love to hear what Benoit David could do as a writer, not having to jusitfy or apologize to fans for being the new vocalist, but being allowed to carry his own vision into the Yes of the future.

Anyway, this album documents a revitalized Yes on a special tour that showed how this music can still be played like it is meant to be played. I love it, and I am grateful for it!

Report this review (#588091)
Posted Wednesday, December 14, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars That is my first review on this website. Despite the fact that using extreme ratings is generally discouraged and should be sparsely imposed I can hardly find reasons for dropping even half of a star from the rating of this release.

If there are any drawbacks related to this live album, these were already mentioned throughout the Yes community. Frist of all it is absence of Jon Anderson, then lack of new material and the fact that it is their third live CD release since last studio output (though in my opinion every one of them was worth releasing), not to mention DVDs.

As of Jon's absence, for myself this album is the definite proof that he isn't in fact indispensable for the band, if Drama and Fly From Here were not enough for some folks. Benoit is singing efficiently and comfortably. His performacne on "Machine Messiah" is truly fantastic. He is in full control throughout the set and in that sort of shape I fully support guys in commiting to him as a full-time singer. That is all said with the experience of Dresden concert couple of weeks age wher he struggled and was mixed much too low. I hope that it has been only a one-off indisposition.

The music itself and disposition of the band is top notch here. They're perfectly tight. Tighter and better tuned together than during any tour in last fifteen years. Even young Wakeman whom disappointed me a bit during polish gig prior to this recording is playing magnificently. All three Squire, Howe and White are at least delivering at their usuall - extremely high standards. The sound is incredibly crisp and selective with good dynamic range. So there are lots of nice details, delicate ornaments delivered by Howe and Wakeman interwoven with raging bass-guitar and strong drums. Another thing is keboards sound, which is really refreshening and analogue. Young Wakeman surpisingly delivers some vintage stuff, which leaves me scratching my head with hindsight of fact that he was later released from the band.

Set list speaks for itself to anyone familiar with Yes' catalogue. Personally I am fed up with "I've Seen All Good People" which was included on couple of previous releases and does not appeal to myself musically. "Owner Of The Lonely Heart" is also quite dubious choice, but I admit that they've managed to rebuild it a bit. With rocky approach and nicely crafted guitar solo with great lining flowing in background by other instruments. The rest are just fantastic compositions, played with inspiration and experience. All in all this is fantastic live album and a great introduction to Yes heritage for any new fans and of course a treat to any open-minded longtime protagonists.

Report this review (#588426)
Posted Wednesday, December 14, 2011 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
4 stars 'In The Present - Live From Lyon' - Yes (8/10)

Without a doubt one of the best known and loved classic prog rock bands, Yes have a legacy and influence in music that few could parallel. Like a few of their lucky contemporaries, regardless of what they do now, they are virtually guaranteed a status as legends, not to mention one of my favourite bands. Despite being around for several decades going, Yes has struck a chord of controversy this past year over one major change in their sound; a new vocalist. While 'Fly From Here' showed the band playing 'somewhat' fresh material however, it's not until this live album where fans of Yes around the world will get to hear how new addition Benoit David matches up to the original Jon Anderson. Barring this point of interest, 'Live From Lyon' is a strong Yes concert experience, reliving some of the band's best-known and greatest songs.

Although only guitarist Steve Howe and bassist Chris Squire remain from the classic Yes lineup, the sound of this band is tight and suitably authentic. Although the music is aging, I hear it played here with an energy that proves that the band has still got it. As with any live album, the song choice is an important factor here, and with decades of music to choose from, Yes seems to have balanced their set between the best-known tunes, and some of their most classic prog pieces. It is also worth mentioning that, at over two hours in length, 'Live From Lyon' gives a pretty start-to-finish concert listening experience for Yes, or at least Yes as they are today. With that in mind, it is a time-consuming effort to get through the entire thing in one sitting, but for a fan intent on reliving the concert experience, 'Live From Lyon' gives a better 'live' impression than most live albums to have come out this year.

'Siberian Khatru' and 'Yours Is No Disgrace' both tear down the house, whereas softer works like the immortal 'And You And I' balance off the sound with a softness and warmth that isn't lost in translation to the stage. Of course, the main thing fans of Yes are going to notice- and possibly attack- the performance for is the fact that, despite playing the songs of Yes, this is not the band as they are classically known. Fractionally speaking, 'Live From Lyon' is more un-Yes than Yes, with three members- including vocalist Benoit David- coming in to replace. Musically however, there is little truly lost; in fact, there are many times throughout the album where I think it is the real band playing, and I think other listeners will run into this as well. Especially impressing is Benoit's vocal delivery, who often sounds spot on for Jon Anderson's distinctive high register. Having played in Yes tribute bands (as well as his own band Mystery), Benoit has nailed the impersonation, although he sometimes lacks the feeling in his voice that makes Anderson's singing so warm to me.

Live albums are often a fans-only ordeal for me. After all, what newcomer to a band would want to hear a less-pristine recording of a song, over the belch and wail of a crowd? Although 'Live From Lyon' would be far from the first place I would point to a Yes initiate however, the production value and musical quality here, as well as the contrast between old and new, makes this one of the most notable live albums to come out in progressive rock this year.

Report this review (#590058)
Posted Saturday, December 17, 2011 | Review Permalink
Tom Ozric
4 stars Ah yes......I mean YES !!! What a high to go out on for 2011 !! YES are here in full-blown Sympho-Prog mode, offering us such classics as Siberian Khatru, Heart Of The Sunrise, South Side Of The Sky etc. but not many of us got the chance to hear what these old greats sound like with new vocalist Benoit David, and Wakeman Jnr holding the ever-important keyboards stool. AMAZING performance all 'round. This is an entire set recorded on December 1st, 2009 and you can really hear their hearts were in it. Surprising is the inclusion of such rarely performed tracks like Tempus Fugit, Machine Messiah (both from 1980's Drama album), the beautiful ballad Onward (from Tormato) and a real beauty in Astral Traveller (dating all the way back to Time And A Word, from early 1970). Benoit is a rare find for this band as his tone and delivery are a close approximation for Anderson, and this is a grand compliment !! Squire, White and Howe are all in fine form, especially Squire and his beautifully toned Rickenbacker bass. Wakeman's sounds are faithful and his playing, impeccable - just like his father, he loves his moog synth !! I find it difficult to pick fault with such a superb live album as this (discerning ears may discover something minor, under intense scrutiny..), and it's, of course, a very nice item on vinyl, though not as lavish as YESSONGS, the band's classic triple live album from 1973. A personal 5 star, though there is nothing revolutionary here.
Report this review (#591114)
Posted Monday, December 19, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars My prime motives to have this live set were two. First, and this has been a long awaited one, was the performance of tracks from 'Drama' album - an album where two major contributors of Yes were not involved in the recording,i.e. Jon Anderson (vox) and Rick Wakeman (keys). Second, to see how the new vocalist Benoit David measured up what had long been a major characteristic of Yes contributed by Jon Anderson. Recorded in Lyon, France, on December 1st 2009, "In The Present - Live from Lyon" is a collection of hidden gems and unforgettable classics, with new singer Benoit David breathing new life into each of the evergreen tracks. The package comes with a 55 minute DVD containing excerpts from the live performance, candid interviews and behind the scenes footage. The cover art features an original design by Roger Dean, author of most YES album covers including classics 'Fragile', 'Close To The Edge' and 'Drama'.

It's still YES ...!

There was an argument around the net where Jon said that without him was NOT Yes. The fact is, my view, I still get the Yes sound as I had been experiencing with Yes. I have no major issue at all having the voice of Benoit in Yes. In fact he can bring the voice of Yes throughout all tracks performed here in this live set. Congrats! Of course there is a difference between the two vocalist as voice is a God-given thing you have to accept it. But ....let me assure you that you would not be disappointed with this record at all! In fact, I suggest you take the Keys to Ascension CDs and compare it with this live set CD. I bet you would love both of them!

In terms of classic setlist that have been regular in Yes live albums, I actually do not expect much. In this case, if the performance is as the previous ones, I would consider it as an excellent one. For example the opening live track Siberian Khatru. I think the performance is standard of Yes and I consider it as an excellent one. But if you ask me which one is the best, I would choose the legendary Yessongs live set as the best Siberian Khatru played live. That version was really fantastic and it's been the all-time favorite of Yes live track. It's probably because of being preceded by Firebird Suite. Whatever the reason, I love that 70's Siberian Khatru. But don't get me wrong, this live set version is also excellent.

I've Seen All Good People is also another excellent performance as it has been performed nicely by Yes. The other classic live set that I find it interesting is Astral Traveller as this is performed a bit different than the studio version. The thing that makes it really interesting is the Alan White's drum solo that sounds really excellent. I am amazed with his age he still can play excellent drumming plus solo in this track. Yours is No Disgrace is also excellently performed by the band with a some differences from other versions where Steve Howe's guitar solo sounds smoother in style and it has many segments that feature his guitar solo combined with Chris Squire bass work. The track is still kicking! I like the guitar solo at the ending part. For those of you who like the guitar work of Howe, you will be definitely satisfied by this track - it's quite long and not boring at all!

South Side of The Sky is also having different style performed here as there is a great instrumental piece at the end part that makes this great song sounds differently. I have always loved this track as the Fragile album represented my early introduction to Yes in 70s, altogether with the Yessongs. This track is rich in nuances and it has powerful melody backed with inventive keyboard work and piano solo. I love the parts where it has this lyrical verse: "were we ever warmer on that day a million miles away / we seemed for all of eternity" and also the part where it has piano solo. And .. Oliver Wakeman can play the piano part as Rick played it. Wonderful!. The ending part with keyboard solo and guitar solo is really great. Heart of the Sunrise is also greaaaaat ......!!!

The Drama sessions

As I said, one of my motives was to experience Drama tracks played live. In this case there are two tracks: Tempus Fugit and Machine Messiah played live and recorded in this live set. By definition these two tracks were the most wonderful ones coming out from Drama (1980) album and they have been my all-time favorites. Tempus Fugit is a heavy prog style music with great vocal line and relatively fast tempo. Jon had never wanted to play this track because it was not originally sung by him. This is a wrong ego! he should think YES and he should consider customers (listeners) satisfaction because I am pretty sure many Yes fans like this track and Machine Messiah. Steve Howe's personality is different: he has no problem performing Owner of a Lonely Heart as he has Yes in his heart, unlike Jon who has wrong ego by not wanting to perform anything from Drama album! I hate this non- progressive behavior. He should have thought with progressive mind. It's like having Ian Gillan of Deep Purple not wanting to perform 'Burn' because it was not originally sung by him. What a short sighted thinking and very ego centric.

The other great track Machine Messiah is another long awaited track that I want to listen to the live version from official release not from bootleg in the internet. This is a symphonic progressive track that has been my other all-time favorite. I think the band played this track wonderfully in this live set and I can sense total satisfaction with the performance of this track right here Steve Howe and Oliver Wakeman play their parts really great here. I always repeat this track when I spin this live set. "Machine messiah ....." .. Oh man ...... What a great track!!!!


With its not so good new album "Fly From Here" that was not quite satisfying me, I consider the release of this live set really pleases me to the fullest and I have no major concerns having Benoit replacing Jon and Oliver replacing Rick. In fact, I also enjoy the Live from the House of Blues version of Awaken played by Igor instead of Rick. That suffice to say that Yes music composition is fundamentally great and we still can enjoy the music even if the players are NOT the original members. I remember that in 2009 I facilitated a tribute to Yes nite titled as "An Evening of Yes Music Plus" performed by Jakarta-based prog band called Parallels. They could play Yes tracks wonderfully. The band was contributed by two musicians from Discus (Indonesian prominent prog band): Kiki Caloh (bass guitar) and Krisna Prameswara (keyboard). Back to his live set, it's really an excellent addition to any prog music collection with a 4+ stars rating. Highly recommended. If you are a die hard fan of Yes, this live set is a MUST! Keep on proggin' ...!!!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#603918)
Posted Friday, January 6, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars When it comes to classic progressive rock, you'll have a tough time discussing the genre before Yes comes up conversationally. Their legacy is one that few bands can rival, and a long string of classic albums have made them a staple in nearly every rock fan's collection. The latest incarnation of Yes, which contains vocalist Benoit David in place of Jon Anderson, has been met with some controversy, but I've actually been quite pleased by what the band has to offer with their new vocalist - his performances on Fly From Here are excellent, and I also remember being quite impressed with his pipes when I saw Yes in a live setting a few years back. To showcase this new lineup, the band has also released a new double live album from their performance in Lyon, France on December 1, 2009. In the Present - Live From Lyon mostly shows the band performing their most classic tracks from the seventies', and it's clear that the band is as inspired as ever - Benoit David's vocals are consistently excellent, and the rest of these aging rockers also sound fresh and inspired. While I would've liked to see a bit more focus on new material, In the Present - Live From Lyon is still a well-performed and highly enjoyable live effort for any fan of Yes.

On this live album, you get some of Yes' mandatory classics like "Siberian Kathru", "I've Seen All Good People", "Owner of a Lonely Heart", and "Roundabout", as well as symphonic epics like "And You And I", "Southside of the Sky", and "Heart of the Sunrise". The band delivers all of the songs with a high level of professionalism, and the warmth found on the studio versions is never lost in the live setting. Killer performances of songs like "Siberian Kathru" and "Machine Messiah" prove that Yes is still far from running out of energy, and the tasteful Steve Howe acoustic guitar piece "Corkscrew" as well as the AOR track "Owner of a Lonely Heart" means that all sides of this multifaceted act are showcased throughout In the Present - Live From Lyon. While the setlist will unquestionably satisfy most Yes fans (myself included), I would've liked to see a few tunes from their more recent catalog. As difficult as it is to complain about an album with this many killer tracks, the fact that most of these songs are readily available on other live albums makes In the Present - Live From Lyon more of a fan item than an essential part of Yes' canon.

Though a few newer Yes songs would've enhanced my general opinion of In the Present - Live From Lyon, there's still no question that this is an immensely entertaining live experience. The quintet is at the top of their game throughout the full set, and the wealth of classic tunes should satisfy any fan of the band's masterpieces from the seventies'. As a sampler of what Oliver Wakeman and Benoit David are capable of as members of Yes, In the Present - Live From Lyon is a more than worthy taste of their abilities. While In the Present - Live From Lyon won't hold much appeal to Yes newcomers, it is a solid live experience of one of progressive rock's finest assets. I'd say 3.5 stars are well-deserved.

Report this review (#605549)
Posted Sunday, January 8, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The only experience we had with an Anderson-less Yes was in the 80s with the Drama album, but now since 2010 he left the band after a long, long career, a French man named Benoit David took his place and challenged himself in order to fill those heavy shoes. However, he really suit in Yes' style since his voice is very alike to Jon Anderson's one, and since he really knows the band's music and goals. So when David joined the band, it was first called In the Present, which toured around the world giving some very good shows, at the point of recording and releasing one of them, from Lyon, France.

So this live album is an example of how Yes sounds in concert nowadays with the incorporation of this man, though the band's essence is the same with Squire, Howe and White, plus a Wakeman, not the original Rick, but one of his sons. Well, the beauty of this is that after more than 40 years of career the band still has a wonderful sound live, the same energy and the same quality as performers, if you do not believe me, I invite you to attend to one of their shows, or to get this album.

"In the Present ? Live from Lyon" is a two-CD live album that contains fourteen tracks that give us more than two hours of good music, in a trip to Yes discography, taking tracks from the 70s and 80s, and though I love the most of the songs here, I would have really loved to have at least a couple of passages of the "Fly From Here" album, which is the first Yes studio album with Benoit David as a full-time member. Anyway, put your headphones and listen to this excellent performance, which will make you have a very good experience.

In the first CD we will find classic songs such as "Siberian Khatru" which is opens the concert; along with "I've Seen All Good People", "Yours is no Disgrace" and "And You And I"; but we will also find lesser known pieces, but really good such as "Onward" (whose laid back sound really cause me goosebumps), "Astral Traveller" (with an Alan White's drum solo), or the addictive and intense "Tempus Fugit" taken from the Drama album. All of those tracks make a killer set list for the first part of the show, which finishes with "Corkscrew" a Steve Howe solo track in which we can appreciate his acoustic guitar skills.

The second CD contains six tracks but five out of them reach at least ten minutes. It opens with "Owner of a Lonely Heart" which might probably be the most successful Yes song, commercially speaking. And then, a feast of long, amazingly performed tracks begin. All of them are classic tracks that any Yes fan should know; songs from the 70s with the exception of "Machine Messiah" which is from the dramatic 80s (pun intended). So here we will really have a strong, solid batch of great classic tunes such as "Southside of the Sky", "Heart of the Sunrise", "Roundabout" and "Starship Trooper".

What a wonderful live show of this new Yes era. Recommendable for old, new, past and current fans of the band.

Enjoy it!

Report this review (#615094)
Posted Saturday, January 21, 2012 | Review Permalink
2 stars At the risk of sounding like a one-eyed man among the blind I have to say this two-disc concert recording deserves a nomination for the most pointless live album ever released. Even more so after the recent dismissal of lead singer Benoit David, since the primary reason for making the album in the first place was to consolidate David's already controversial position in the band, asserting his right to replace Jon Anderson by turning him loose in the Yes back catalogue.

A moot point now, but it likely would have failed even if David had stuck around a bit longer. His interpretation of classic Yes only reinforces the knee-jerk impression left by the "Fly From Here" album: that the new (and now former) Yes vocalist was little more than a wind- up facsimile of the band's original lead singer. Say what you will about Jon Anderson's fey personality, obscure lyrics, and often trite New Age mindset; he at least brought a passion to his performances totally lacking in this set.

And the weak link isn't just at the center microphone, either. On the DVD bonus disc David actually looks quite comfortable on stage, despite the obvious expectations weighing heavily on his shoulders. But the rest of the band was on autopilot for this gig, playing strictly rote versions of all the old chestnuts, and in the same order as always: opening with "Siberian Khatru", ending with the inevitable "Roundabout" and Starship Trooper", and with only a few unexpected choices ("Astral Traveler", "Tempus Fugit", "Machine Messiah") breaking the monotony of a very stale setlist.

Even worse, the songs are all (repeat: all) played at a curious sleepwalking tempo. The plodding delivery drains the lifeblood out of every selection, suggesting that this once dynamic outfit is finally showing its age, or else revealing at last their total indifference to such overtired material (the normally forceful "South Side of the Sky" is particularly numbing) . I had to test the CD on two different systems to verify it wasn't just my own stereo on the fritz. No such luck: the band itself is to blame, and it's only the charity of an old fan that forbids me from listing the (many) ugly details.

The irony is all-too obvious. After hiring a Jon Anderson impersonator (discovered by Chris Squire on You Tube!), one of Prog Rocks most iconic ensembles has morphed into just another Yes cover band. And not the sharpest one of the bunch, either.

In a less polite mood I might use words like 'travesty' and 'embarrassment' to describe this album, but enough is enough. I've given it an extra sympathy star for old time's sake, but otherwise the performances heard on these two discs (and seen on the third) represent the desiccated fossil of a once progressive giant.

Report this review (#636834)
Posted Monday, February 20, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Prior to the release of Fly From Here, the Squire/Howe/White/David/O. Wakeman lineup did a fairly extensive amount of touring, and it was inevitable that a recording from that era would come out (this is from a December 2009 show, about a year after I last saw them). Aside from many of the standards, the band's shows featured some Drama material ("Machine Messiah," "Tempus Fugit") and a couple of tracks that had gotten shoved into a closet ("Astral Traveller," which Howe had been wanting to bring back for years, and "Onward," which Squire wanted since he'd written it). In terms of vocals, David is amazingly similar to Jon, and only a clear French-Canadian tinge to his voice betrays that it's not Jon singing here after all. The weak link, unfortunately, is Alan, who's clearly crossed a point of no return; "Tempus Fugit" is almost ruined by the careful, slow tempo that the band takes, and it becomes fairly apparent that this slow tempo (and others like it on the album) is to accomodate Alan.

Still, while Alan is clearly slower on that track and on a couple of others, his issues aren't especially noticable on most tracks, and the performances mostly work as passable additional renditions of these tracks. Steve continues his amazing march against father time; no, he's still not quite the same guitarist as he was in his prime, but he's become a master at accomodating whatever weaknesses he might now have and tinkering with his parts to make them enjoyable, even if in a slightly different way than he might have once upon a time (put another way, I far prefer his playing here to his playing on the KTA albums). I also quite admire how, after so many years if petulant resistance, he's finally put his own clear stamp on the entirety of "Owner of a Lonely Heart," whereas before he always seemingly wanted as little to do with it as possible. Squire sounds as fine as ever (he's even holding up pretty well on vocals), and Oliver is perfectly servicable.

If there's a clear reason to acquire this album, of course, it's to hear the resurrected version of "Machine Messiah." The keyboards are clearly slightly updated, and the song may have a little less menace than before, but the slow guitar crescendo in the beginning can't help but create a sense of giddy anticipation, and all of the great atmospherics and melodic ideas of the track live up to that anticipation. Yup, "Tempus Fugit" might be a disappointment, but the presence of "Machine Messiah" almost makes the whole fiasco with Jon leaving the band again worth it.

Of course, aside from this highlight (and to a lesser extent "Owner") and the novelty of having a live album with David on vocals, it's difficult to justify the need for this album, so I can't really give this a higher grade. It's definitely less satisfying, for instance, than the Live at Montreux 2003 album; that one may have had redundancy as well, but it also had Rick Wakeman playing Magnification material and the classic lineup playing "South Side" and Steve successfully condensing "To be Over" into four minutes on acoustic guitar. This is enjoyable, and hardcore Yes fans will want it, but not many others will.

Report this review (#775220)
Posted Wednesday, June 20, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars

The is a great live recording by three oldies who prove there is no age to good music, similar to the great old jazz artists that are still performing such as Ahmad Jamal, Sonny Rollins etc.

Side one with Siberian Khartu and I've seen all good people is fantastic.

Benoit David's singing is most of the times quite effective. Sometimes not really, as on "Roundabout". I don't always like the keys by Oliver Wakeman but overall they are quite effective. His playing on "Roundabout" is even very nice.

"Tempus Fugit" from Drama is rocking well. Still a great track from an album that deserved more credit. The live version of "Machine Messiah" is the ultimate Yes... It is a fabulous track and I really love it. Also great is the version of "South side of the sky"... Fragile... Those were the days, that album with that wonderful artwork...

I am glad to have "Owner of a lonely heart" on vinyl without having had to buy the horrible 90125. Onward is not too bad but I never liked Tormato (probably the ugliest sleeve I've ever seen).

The rest of the album is very enjoyable... And Steve's acoustic "Corckscrew" is one of his gems... What a player... Like "Fly from her" I would say 3.5 but I'll go for 4. Out of respect for the three old timers with a young heart!!!!!

Report this review (#827331)
Posted Monday, September 24, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Time inevitably passes.But some bands like Yes still need to work, not matter who is in the line-up anyway. Jon Anderson had to be replaced. He had health problems and they waited for four years for him to recover. So, finally, in 2008, they planned to do a tour to celebrate their 40th Anniversary as a band, with Oliver Wakeman replacing his father Rick who didn´t participate due to health reasons too. Unfortunately, Anderson became very sick, and had to leave the band. They saw Canadian singer Benoit David in youtube singing with a Yes´tribute band , and they hired him as a temporary replacement. But by 2009 he became officially Yes´ lead singer. I was curious to see how Yes sounded with David so I watched several videos from them on tour in youtube. Maybe I had bad luck because the videos from the concerts I watched there (taken by fans) were not very good, and I didn´t like the sound of the band, not because of David´s vocals only, but because all of the musicians´ playing. So, when I saw this album in the record shops I didn´t want to buy it. But, I bought it recently. What can I say? David is a very good singer, and he sounds very much like Anderson in several places, except in some high notes where his voice really sounds a bit forced. He did a good job, but being in Yes singing in high notes night after night on tours is very difficult (the same can be said about Trevor Horn, who replaced Anderson in 1980). Oliver Wakeman is a very good keyboard player, like his father, with very good musical background and technique, but obviously he doesn´t play exactly as his father, but in general he is the only musician in the band who plays in this album generally very well, albeit somewhat "restrained" in some places. The long time members of the band sound tired, and obviously they don´t play like in their twenties. The band in general sounds like only doing their job, somewhat tired. "Another town, one more show". The set list is very similar as in other tours. They play their most famous songs, like Pink Floyd, Genesis and other bands did, tour after tour. There are some surprises in the set list: "Tempus Fugit", "Astral Traveller" (very well played, and with a very good drums solo by Alan White), and "Machine Messiah", played well, but not so well because the rhythm and some other things are played in a different manner."South Side of the Sky" is very well played, with Oliver playing very good keyboard parts, and in "Starship Trooper" he plays some solos which are very similar as his father played them (one could think by only listening to them without knowing about the line-up changes that Rick played those solos!). Steve Howe fortunately played another acoustic guitar solo ("Corkscrew") instead of his "Clap" and / or "Mood for a Day" acoustic guitar compositions (thanks, Steve!). Alan White in general sounds tired. Chris Squire too. So, I understand they still need to work. Anderson maybe is not going to return to the band anymore despite what many fans think about Yes not being Yes without him. . The same could be said about Rick Wakeman. Both for health reasons can´t do long tours anymore as Yes wants and needs to do. So, the fans have the choice to "approve" Yes in any configuration, with any lead singer, any keyboard player or any other change in the line-up, or to simply look away. The band sounds very professional, but tired. The recording and mixing is very good, and the cover design by Roger Dean is similar to the cover design of "Keys to Ascension". This is a good album, but....not essential.
Report this review (#875188)
Posted Wednesday, December 12, 2012 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars No disgrace

In The Present is a live album featuring a line-up consisting of core members Chris Squire, Steve Howe, and Alan White, with Rick Wakeman's son Oliver replacing dad on keyboards and Benoit David (Mystery) replacing Jon Anderson on vocals. Oliver Wakeman has a playing style very close to his father and he deals with the Yes material with competence. David's voice is likewise very similar to his predecessor, though it is the weakest link in the chain here. Despite being backed by Squire's and Howe's characteristic harmony vocals, David's vocals inevitably invite direct comparisons to Anderson's and inevitably feel like ersatz- Anderson here. I have respect for Benoit David and especially his band Mystery, but he lacks a unique voice of his own coming across an anonymous and watered down version of Anderson. If they had to replace Anderson, I would have preferred a vocalist that does not sound at all like Anderson to avoid inviting direct comparisons. It would be more interesting to hear how Yes would have sounded like with a completely different type of vocalist. But I guess I will never know.

The set list focuses heavily on songs from The Yes Album, Fragile, Close To the Edge, and Drama--which happens to be my top four favourite Yes albums, all of them five star albums in my book and containing some of the best music ever put to record. The Yes Album is represented by three songs in Starship Trooper, Yours Is No Disgrace, and I've Seen All Good People; Fragile is represented by Roundabout, Heart Of The Sunrise, and South Side Of The Sky; Close To The Edge by And You And I and Siberian Khatru; and Drama by Machine Messiah and Tempus Fugit. Out of these, the latter two are by far the most interesting in the present context. Songs from Drama have rarely been played live before due to Jon Anderson not being the original singer on Drama (and presumably didn't want to sing these songs live on subsequent tours). Now that Jon was no longer part of Yes, these Drama songs could finally be dusted off and performed live on stage. As I said, Drama belongs to my all-time favourite Yes albums and it is a delight to hear some songs from that great album finally being performed live. Benoit David sings these songs well and his vocals hold up better in comparison with Trevor Horn than with Anderson.

The oldest song played in this set is Astral Traveller, originally from Time And A Word from 1970. This is an interesting choice and again a good version containing a short drum solo. The 1969 self-titled debut is passed over as are Tales From Topographic Oceans, Relayer, and Going For The One. The underrated Tormato, on the other hand, is represented by the melancholic Onward. The newest song is Owner Of A Lonely Heart from 90125 from 1983. I don't care too much for this tune, but it is fun to hear Howe's persistent backup vocals on this one. Howe also hand in an acoustic solo performance in Corkscrew.

With so many excellent Yes live albums (and videos) on the market, In The Present is hardly noteworthy. The songs from The Yes Album, Fragile, and Close To The Edge in particular have been played live so many times and been included on many a live album. The present versions are not bad, but they inevitably add little to the many older live versions (my favourite live releases include Yessongs, House Of Yes, and Symphonic Live). The interesting songs here are primarily the few rarer ones which makes this disc worth hearing for devoted fans like myself.

Report this review (#1083599)
Posted Saturday, November 30, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars The first time Yes plays a song at its original tempo on In the Present - - Live from Lyon is nearly an hour into the show. Apparently this CD is the entire concert, perhaps with most of the banter removed, and it's easy to picture them taking their time getting up to speed. The opener "Siberian Khatru" is a bit slow - - though we've certainly heard it slower - - and a bit sterile compared to the version on Yessongs, for example. Two songs later is a disappointing "Tempus Fugit:" it's slow and sloppy, especially the keyboards, and frankly not like Yes. I got to see this tour about a year before this show, and I felt like new keyboardist Oliver Wakeman was still getting used to the material - -but it was just his fifth show with Yes. The show recorded for In the Present - - Live from Lyon was, but by my count, his seventy-ninth. Kudos to the group for not going back and fixing every error on the recording; I feel like this is an accurate transcription of the show. This even goes for the vocals. Even though Chris Squire's are obviously auto-tuned, this was done live.

Anyway, "Tempus Fugit" is followed by the already plodding "Onward," which is done beautifully, but the tempo reduction is almost putting me to sleep! Things pick up noticeably with the fifth number, "Astral Traveller," which was the highlight of the concert I saw. Here it's a bit slow, but it sounds great, including the organ parts. Interestingly, Squire is the only one on this recording who'd appeared on the original forty years earlier. Drummer Alan White does a nice job moving between Bill Bruford's original parts and his own straight-ahead playing - - and manages to squeeze in a precisely two-minute drum solo.

Finally we get to the the seventh song, "And You And I." The third movement, "The Preacher The Teacher," at 6:49 into the track, is played at the canonical speed! After a couple of obligatory solo acoustic numbers from guitarist Steve Howe, things stay on track with the first and only Rabin-era track, "Owner of a Lonely Heart," to which Howe contributes a very nice guitar solo. The next string of songs, "South Side of the Sky" → "Machine Messiah" → "Heart of the Sunrise," is the strongest on the album, despite the fact that the tempos flag a bit on the first two pieces. The concert closes predictably with nice renditions of "Roundabout" (at a good tempo) and "Starship Trooper" (a bit slow).

Of the fifteen tracks (including the Howe solo "Second Initial," included on some versions), only two - - "South Side of the Sky" and "Machine Messiah" - - are among the best live versions of their respective compositions, so it's tough to call this album essential, even to many Yes fans. But In the Present - - Live from Lyon is unique among official Yes releases as the only live album to feature Oliver Wakeman or vocalist Benoît David.

And David is completely fantastic throughout the concert. As has been said many times, he can hit every note as well as longtime lead singer Jon Anderson, and his voice is ideally suited for singing Trevor Horn's lead vocals on "Machine Messiah" and "Tempus Fugit." I'll also echo a common complaint about In the Present - - Live from Lyon: it's too bad that the official recording from this tour doesn't include "Aliens (Are Only Us from the Future)," which Squire sang at many of the shows earlier in the tour. Although Squire eventually recorded a studio version of the song with Steve Hackett, it was never released by Yes, live or otherwise.

In all, In the Present - - Live from Lyon is pretty good, especially compared to their other post-Anderson live albums.

Report this review (#2282413)
Posted Monday, November 18, 2019 | Review Permalink

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