YES: SYMPHONIC LIVE
Review by Michael Jacobson
Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, Steve Howe, Alan White, Tom Brislin
Director: Aubrey Powell
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital Stereo
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.77:1
Studio: Eagle Eye
Features: Animations, Bonus CD
Length: 157 Minutes
Release Date: November 25, 2003
take love for granted…”
has been a favorite band of mine for forever…seemingly for as along as I’ve
been able to say the name. And
I’ve been pleased to see them enjoying some resurgence in recent years. After it seemed like their best work was behind rather than
ahead of them, they released The Ladder, possibly the most joyful album
in the group’s 30 plus year history. Then
in 2001, they followed up with the bold Magnification, bringing a
symphonic element to their already legendary progressive sound.
tour with a symphonic orchestra followed, and Yes: Symphonic Live preserved
a piece of that history for all times. Four
core members in Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, Steve Howe and Alan White were
joined by the young keyboard phenom Tom Brislin for an evening of classic and
new rock made even bigger through orchestration.
rank this amongst the best Yes concert videos I’ve seen (and I’ve seen
pretty much all of them). The
backing orchestra, conducted by Wilhelm Keitel, helped to expand and elevate the
songs, leading them into new territories without costing them any of their
familiarity. The song selection is
good, too, with three of their epic album side length tracks included (“Close
to the Edge”, “Gates of Delirium” and “Ritual”). Though “Edge” is taken just a tad slower than we
remember, “Gates” is an all out sonic assault of power and melody.
It alone is worth the price of the disc.
Jon Anderson never seems to age to me, though guitarist Steve Howe (a long time
inspiration to me), looks a bit grandfatherly with his glasses and astute
approach to his instrument. Bassist
Chris Squire still bounds around like a 20 year old, and drummer Alan White
still pounds the skins with ferocity. Newcomer
Tom Brislin is a perfect fit with his acrobatic work on the keys.
like “I’ve Seen All Good People”, “Long Distance Runaround”,
“Starship Trooper” and “And You and I” are always a joy to hear, and the
newer tunes such as “Don’t Go” and “In the Presence Of” prove the band
still has their vital creative juices flowing.
All of these songs get the benefit of orchestral support, and the results
are crowd pleasing. Though Yes
tried the symphonic route once before, all the way back on their second album Time
and a Word, this time they were ready, with stronger tunes and a bigger
sound than they had in the early days.
finale of “Roundabout” is a smile-inducing piece of closure…the many
attractive women in the orchestra join the band out front and dance as Yes fires
through their classic song!
is simply a great old band showing signs of re-invigoration through a new and
terrific musical idea. Recording
and touring with an orchestra was a solid idea, and Yes: Symphonic Live will
serve as a testament to this experiment phase in the group’s history.
concert was recorded on video, so there are some natural limitations apparent.
You don’t get the sharpness and clarity of film, nor the full integrity
of colors, but overall, this is still a very decent presentation.
My favorite viewing aspect is that you can turn off the ridiculous
animations that seem to disrupt almost every Yes performance video. Call me kooky, but when I watch a concert, I want to see
singers singing and musicians playing…bravo, therefore, to a good use of the
DVD medium in presenting that choice.
both Dolby Digital and DTS surround tracks, your living room will sound like a
concert hall. The audio is strong
and wonderfully dynamic, with plenty of room for you to hear the rock and
symphonic instruments in force. Surprisingly,
despite having one of the greatest rock bassists ever, the .1 channel isn’t
harnessed much, leaving the satellite speakers to carry most of the low end.
Still, with concert hall ambience and the sound of a live audience with
you, this is a nice reproduction.
previous issue of this title included a studio documentary and a video; these
are now gone. All we have here is
the option to turn the animation on and off and a bonus CD of some of the