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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 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.

tarkus1980 | 3/5 |


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