Symphonic Live (2003)


  
Disc One 1. Overture 2. Close to the Edge 3. Long Distance Runaround 4. Don't Go 5. In the Presence Of 6. The Gates of Delirium 7. Steve Howe Guitar Solo Disc Two 1. Starship Trooper 2. Magnification 3. And You And I 4. Ritual 5. I've Seen All Good People 6. Owner of a Lonely Heart 7. Roundabout

 

A move that made sense. Initially anyways.

The latest Yes studio album, 2001’s Magnification was an attempt to stretch the boundaries of what the band was capable of by incorporating a symphonic orchestra into the production. It worked quite well. One of the main reasons was that the band didn’t simply use the orchestra as background filler, but made its presence very noticeable by bringing this accompaniment front and center. In other words, many of the songs seem to be written initially as symphonic pieces, and then they went back and added elements of Yes.

So why not bring an orchestra out with you on tour to support your latest release? The idea is a nice one, but when the band performs their older material, they play it too safe. We don’t get radically reworked versions of the classics, but rather the same songs we’ve heard over and over with the orchestra simply accompanying the particular song. So if predictably is your thing, you’ll probably enjoy this album just fine. My issue is that there have simply been too many live Yes albums as of late, and this thing really doesn’t add anything new.

We must then remember that most of Yes’ songs that are fan favorites are the longer (and I mean longer) pieces. This is actually a hindrance to a live record, because these fan favorites take up the bulk the album. Case in point – the three longest tracks on this album take up over 72 minutes on this release. Please read that last sentence one more time. And, yes, these three tracks have all been on previous Yes live albums, so I can’t help but feel somewhat bored.

Speaking of monotony, can we stop the same Steve Howe guitar solos on every live album? I’m sure it’s great to see him play Mood for a Day, but enough is enough. We also get the “Trifecta” closing numbers of I’ve Seen All Good People, Owner of a Lonely Heart and (wait for it!...) Roundabout. Yawn.

So, again, had they reworked these classics, this would have been a much more rewarding experience. The album delivers, but definitely not a necessary addition to one’s collection.

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