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An Evening of Yes Music Plus
Artist: Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe
Label: Voiceprint  (www.voiceprint.co.uk)
Length: 2 hours, 22 mins

In all but name, this is a key Yes DVD (or 2-CD set), catching them still fresh from their peak (up to Relayer), but not yet jaded and out of ideas (the nineties). Steve Howe is still recognisable as a youngish guitarist, developing traits of the Dr Death look he currently employs, and Rick Wakeman sports a fine mullet.
 
At the time the Yes name was owned solely by Chris Squire, who was playing elsewhere, while having one of his spats with the other players, so the real band had to adopt a new name, one far less creative than the music featured here. While the Squire's away, the serfs will play – and play they do.
 
The early part features plenty of solo material, often played solo. Jon Anderson opens proceedings by walking in through the crowd, singing a medley of (largely) “Owner of a Lonely Heart” and “Time and a Word”. After a while on stage he hands over to Steve Howe, who gives a fresh, expanded “The Clap / Mood for a Day” medley. Wakeman's set is over before you know it and Bill Bruford waits until after an excellent “Long Distance Runaround” before hitting his drum solo.
 
The set list would have been a problem for the band at this time, as there simply would not have been time for all the classic tracks. The pieces omitted in Squire's absence hint at some of the material he may have preferred. There is nothing from Topographics or Relayer here. What is included of the Yessongs material is noticeably clean-sounding and lively, due largely to a combination of different, more trebly, keyboards being used and Bruford's powerful, complex drumming.
 
“And You and I” is as starkly beautiful as ever, continuing to earn its keep as one of rock's greatest ever tracks, and ”Heart of the Sunrise” sounds majestic.  It is here that Bruford picks up some of Squire's bass lines on his synthesized drums. Howe and Wakeman clearly enjoy playing these pieces and the whole ensemble display stunning virtuosity throughout. Their dreamy, misty “Close to the Edge” has moved on from earlier versions and is a true highlight here.
 
To keep up-to-date, there is newer material here, such as “Brother of Mine,” which alternates memorable vocal sections with more noodly parts.
 
There is little that could improve this set, short of replacing the limp “Themes” with something as good as “Awaken” or “Silent Wings of Freedom”. Despite some slightly shaky vocals from Jon Anderson, “Starship Trooper” having one cylinder out and the lack of bonus material, this lengthy set is magnificent. It comes with more tracks than the website claims and is highly recommended.

Derek Walker


 
 
 
 
 
 

 
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