Prog-rock pioneers Yes have never been lacking in sonic texture, and although they had long-desired to play with a symphony, it’s hard not to wonder why.
They made it happen in 2001 in Amsterdam at the Heineken Music Hall while touring behind Magnification, an album that also boasted the accompaniment of a symphony. To commemorate the momentous event, the band filmed the entire performance, and a year later, delivered the DVD Symphonic Live. It has been a decade since the performance, and Yesâ€™ international appeal hasnâ€™t waned, although technology has taken leaps and bounds. So what better way to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Symphonic Live than with a Blu-Ray update to the concert release.
Running through over two hours of classic Yesâ€™ compositions and cuts from the then-new Magnification album, the band weaves and winds with prodigious grace. At the center of it all is Steve Howe, whose fretwork shines on each and every track. Stand-out segments include the opening â€œClose to the Edgeâ€ suite, and classics â€œStarship Trooper,â€ â€œIâ€™ve Seen All Good People,â€ and â€œRoundabout.â€ And the contributions of the European Festival Orchestra? Letâ€™s just say that it is a nice addition, but when supporting a band whose sound is so colorful and progressive, their contributions are underwhelming.
The transition from DVD to Blu-Ray is a highlight of the release, the crystal clear visuals emphasizing the multiple camera angles and the massive production. Even the distracting, digitally animated introduction and between-song forays are given new life through the format.
Symphonic Live is an impressive performance, and the playing â€“ particularly that of Howe â€“ is truly worth the price. It reaffirms why Yes’ catalogue is a staple on classic rock radio and will surely remain so for decades to come.
Symphonic Live is out now on Eagle Records.