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Yes - In the Present - Live from Lyon CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.52 | 147 ratings

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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.

patrickq | 3/5 |


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