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 Yes - Symphonic Live (194 Minutes, 2 DVD’s)

Yes - Symphonic Live (194 Minutes, 2 DVD’s) Inspired by the 2001 release “Magnification,” an evening of the Yes symphonic tour of 2001 is documented magnificently on “Symphonic Live,” a two DVD set. The European Festival Orchestra accompanied the legendary progressive rock band on a world tour that will be forever held close to everyone’s heart that had the experience of enjoying their expansive catalog of music complimented so beautifully by the young orchestra.

I noticed how much the orchestra members enjoyed playing with the group. Several times during the filming members of the orchestra are shown smiling and rocking back and forth, just as if they were a long time fan fulfilling a lifetime dream seeing them play live, which I will be doing in a few days myself in Albany, NY.

Several times during the running of the first CD, two icons appear on the screen, one on the bottom left hand corner of your screen will be a portrayal of an ancient gong design (which is also shown on the cover of the DVD), and then in the upper right hand corner there is an icon of a video camera. I kept wondering what this was for. Finally, when the concert was complete and I saw the different choices I could make running the DVD, only then I understood what was going on. If you click on either icon, an animation comes up in lieu of the concert! I got a taste of that watching the second CD viewing “Don’t Go.” I would recommend watching the concert first then on a second run checking out the colorful animations if you are interested.

All of the timeless songs that they have recorded over the course of their 32-year history get a generous treatment of orchestration and improvisation, much to the appreciation of the adoring crowd in Amsterdam on this historical evening. “Close To the Edge” leads off the set, then after several songs are complete from the groups’ well-known repertoire and the crowd is good and warmed up, guitarist Steve Howe takes the stage himself to perform “Vivaldi lute concerto in D 2nd movement, Mood for a Day.” I could not help thinking of Andres Segovia, whom I had the privilege of witnessing play live one year before his passing. Howe improvises and makes the classical composition sound more like Flamenco and Latin infused jazz with classical underpinnings. I noticed that Howe looks more like the astute professor than a rock legend these days, although at the end of the concert he is smiling along with everyone else onstage when the orchestra comes out to dance to “Roundabout.” Jon Anderson, the elegant and expressive vocalist, sounds wonderful and he has not shown any indication of his voice weakening, while the band in total has managed to stay on top of things and stay as tight and dramatic as they always have been, regardless of father time and the advancing of technologies. “Ritual” is their defining moment of the evening as long solos are the featured event provided by Howe and Squire. Howe is such a diverse a player that he has an electric guitar strapped on, an acoustic over the top of that and a lap steel in front of him, enabling him to switch back and forth in a moment during a song. Squire plays the bass like a lead guitar at times, coaxing all sorts of heavy echoing sounds from his instrument. In turn, Alan White is constantly in motion and he seemingly becomes one with his drum kit. The looks on his face express the power and thunder of the percussive instrument quite well. I must also add that Tom Brislin fills in admirable for the absent Rick Wakeman.

This is an excellent quality DVD with superior sound. It really captures the essence of a Yes performance, and from many different camera angles, I might add. The group’s long awaited orchestra accompaniment reaches its summit on this night. They could not have chosen a better night to film the musical event, which I am sure people are still buzzing about one year later.

The bonus CD is a revelation called “Dreamtime,” a documentary to “Magnification,” and how it came into being along with the development of bringing the music to life onstage with an orchestra. All of the key people besides band members talk about how everything happened and what processes it took to reach its fruition. “Don’t Go” is a bonus video that breaks into many different screen angles with colorful effects.

I was completely pleased and continually entertained throughout viewing this marvelous DVD set. It does not have to be dreamtime anymore if you have been wondering what its like to enjoy a Yes concert. This is a real keepsake for all progressive rock fans worldwide.

© Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck
Posted By: Keith Hannaleck
Genre: Progressive Rock
Record Label: Eagle Rock Entertainment

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