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Yes: The New Director's Cut (2DVD)
'See Them Like You've Never Seen Them Before' yells the cover of the 2DVD set, The New Director's Cut from legendary prog outfit Yes. Only we have, haven't we? The Director's Cut already having been released as we see it here back in 2008 - while an audio version of the same show at the NIA in Birmingham in July 2003 was released the same year under the name Yesspeak; so called because mainly it was a visual documentary celebrating the band's 35th anniversary and interviewing the then classic configuration of Chris Squire, Jon Anderson, Steve Howe, Alan White and Rick Wakeman about how they came together and how they survived all those years. Back then the documentary carried snippets of the show we saw in full in 2008 and do again here. Confused?? I think that was the plan… Either way there are also a host of other visual and aural documents from the same tour, so unique this release most certainly is not.
So with that in mind, what is on offer? Well the full 17 song set from that Birmingham show and stunningly fine it is too, the eras of the band covered being as you might expect (so the Trevor years (Rabin and Horn) are ignored), the bulk of the set compromised of Close To The Edge and Fragile era cuts. A few surprises like the (at the time) more recent "Magnification" are thrown in and also handled supremely well alongside the expected and extended solo workouts. However, whereas originally the Yesspeak documentary was broken up by short live clips, here it's full concert which is still interrupted by the talking head sections - and good fun though they are, the stop start nature is hugely frustrating, hampering the flow of the whole spectacle. And after an initial viewing they really begin to cause things to drag. What is interesting is listening to the band big up this classic line-up and explain why it is the only real, proper version of Yes. Considering that Wakeman and Anderson haven't been part of their number since 2004 and are currently operating as Yes with Trevor Rabin, it makes a mockery of much of what is said. What is less chucklesome however is hearing Chris Squire, who sadly passed away in 2015, cheerfully admit that he's impressed that everyone in the band is still alive and kicking… we wish that was still true Chris.
I don't think you could describe Yes as a visually arresting band, and the stage set is as plain as could be (silver fabric draped over things and looking more like black refuse sacks…), but songs like "Roundabout", "Siberian Khatru", "Long Distance Runaround" and "I've Seen All Good People" are as captivating as they ever were and the performances displayed are a match for any from the band you'll see. So on that level it's hard to complain. Added on the end of disc two (which frustratingly, thanks to the documentary sections, features the final three songs from the Birmingham show separated from the rest on disc one) is a truncated version of the same set but played 5 days earlier at 2003's Glastonbury Festival. Thankfully this performance is presented without interruption, however it's a daytime/daylight show, and as such loses some atmosphere, but it is a welcome inclusion (even if it also featured in the 2008 release).
So, if you've never seen Yesspeak, or The Director's Cut from 2008, then this reissue will satisfy any diehard fan of the band. On stage they are peerless, but in all honesty the way they are presented here doesn't really do Yes justice.
1. Siberian Khatru
3. Don't Kill The Whale
4. In The Presence Of
5. We Have Heaven
6. South Side Of The Sky
7. And You and I
8. To Be Over
10. Show Me
11. Catherine of Aragon/Celtic Jig/Jane Seymour
12. Heart Of The Sunrise
13. Long Distance Runaround
14. The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)
2. I've Seen All Good People
4. Siberian Khatru
6. Don't Kill the Whale
7. We Have Heaven
8. South Side of the Sky
9. And You and I
10. Heart of the Sunrise
12. I've Seen All Good People
Added: March 4th 2018
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Yes World
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