All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

457

Yes: Symphonic Live

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Of all the progressive rock groups that emerged in the late '60s to achieve widespread success, surely Yes is the one for which collaborating with a symphony orchestra was meant to be. Working with an orchestra too early on its second album, Time and a Word (Atlantic, 1970), Yes had yet to evolve towards the rock equivalent of symphonic music on the iconic Fragile and Close to the Edge (both Atlantic, 1972). Thirty years would pass before Yes would work again with an orchestra on Magnification (Eagle, 2001). Not in the league of Close to the Edge, perhaps, but respectable enough, and supported by a tour documented on the Symphonic Live (Eagle Eye Media, 2002) DVD.



It was one of Yes' best tours in recent memory, largely focusing on reworked material from the group's '71-'77 classics, but with some material from Magnification and a single nod to its '80s rebirth with the mega-hit "Owner of a Lonely Heart." With the double-disc set Symphonic Live Eagle Records finally makes the entire DVD concert available on CD. With four-fifths of the "classic" Yes line-up—everyone but keyboardist Rick Wakeman—the two-and-a-half hour concert with the European Festival Orchestra and guest keyboardist Tom Brislin winds its way through popular Yes material including the rocking "I've Seen All Good People," jamming "Starship Trooper" and dramatic "And You And I." Yes and bombast are two words often found in the same sentence, and though the strings, horns and percussion create no shortage of melodrama, equally there are unexpected passages of subtlety and nuance.



But it's the three extended pieces—"Close to the Edge," "Gates of Delirium" and "Ritual," ranging from 20 to nearly 30 minutes—that exploit the potent marriage of Yes' symphonic proclivities with the very real possibilities of an actual orchestra to its fullest. "Ritual," the closing movement from Yes' sometimes bloated Tales from Topographic Oceans (Atlantic, 1973), is transformed into the massive epic Yes always wanted it to be, with sonorous strings, blaring horns and thundering tympani. The equally expansive "Gates of Delirium"—second only to "Close to the Edge" in proving Yes' ability to deliver long-form tales performed with rock instrumentation but Stravinsky-like attitude—is the highlight, seamlessly blending blazing rock group antics with orchestral grandeur during its viscerally cacophonous middle instrumental section.



Throughout, the members of Yes—and Brislin who, while not considered a group member, should have been for his sheer energy and ability to distill the key parts of "true" Yes keyboardists that came before—play with a commitment that transcends any and all suggestions that Yes has devolved into a group of dinosaurs exploiting an aging fan base's desire to hang onto its youth. There may be some truth there—especially with tours that have taken place since then—but while Yes hasn't written any truly enduring material in a long time, Symphonic Live is proof that they are still capable of performing with all the qualities that made them such an innovative force back in the day.


Personnel: Jon Anderson: vocals, acoustic guitar, percussion, synthesizer; Steve Howe: electric, acoustic, classical and pedal steel guitars, electric sitar, background vocals; Chris Squire: electric bass, background vocals, harmonica, percussion; Alan White: drums, percussion; Tom Brislin: keyboards; European Festival Orchestra, conducted by Wilhelm Keitel.

Title: Symphonic Live | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Eagle Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Dawn CD/LP/Track Review
Dawn
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 27, 2018
Read Life Of CD/LP/Track Review
Life Of
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 27, 2018
Read Downtown Castles Can Never Block The Sun CD/LP/Track Review
Downtown Castles Can Never Block The Sun
by Gareth Thompson
Published: May 27, 2018
Read Enso CD/LP/Track Review
Enso
by Mark Corroto
Published: May 27, 2018
Read Let Your Light Shine On CD/LP/Track Review
Let Your Light Shine On
by Chris May
Published: May 27, 2018
Read Dirt...And More Dirt CD/LP/Track Review
Dirt...And More Dirt
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 26, 2018
Read "Heart Love" CD/LP/Track Review Heart Love
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 12, 2018
Read "Kalamazoo" CD/LP/Track Review Kalamazoo
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: November 2, 2017
Read "Straight Forward" CD/LP/Track Review Straight Forward
by David A. Orthmann
Published: March 14, 2018
Read "Marching Song Volumes 1 & 2 Plus Bonus Tracks" CD/LP/Track Review Marching Song Volumes 1 & 2 Plus Bonus Tracks
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 31, 2017
Read "The Conscience" CD/LP/Track Review The Conscience
by John Sharpe
Published: August 18, 2017
Read "Walk The Walk" CD/LP/Track Review Walk The Walk
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 21, 2018