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Yes: Live at Montreux 2003 (DVD)

Some may argue that one of the last things the world needs is another Yes DVD! Well, unfortunately, you need this one too. Recorded in July 2003 at the Montreux Jazz Festival in front of 4,000 fans, Yes Live at Montreux trumps the Songs from Tsongas DVD in every way: better performance, better set list than that of the ambitious but rickety 35th Anniversary Tour and no tacky inflatable stage props to render unintentional laughter.

There's no need to get into a detailed analysis of each song. You know them all and they are performed very well. Once the band launch into "Siberian Khatru", it's impossible to stop watching. While Yes' stage presence perhaps isn't as animated as it once was, Steve Howe goes nuts on most of these old warhorses. The cameras are largely focused on him and the man is still a wonder to watch.

There are innumerable highlights here: "Heart of the Sunrise" kills and the call and response jam between Howe and Rick Wakeman at the end of "South Side of the Sky" is a real corker. "Don't Kill the Whale" from the wrongly maligned Tormato album is given a new lease on life and works up some serious energy early in the show.

Nearly two hours later, we are treated to an awe inspiring "Awaken" and without question, this the best version currently available on home video. Forget about the House of Blues, forget about Keys to Ascension and forget about the admirable but cluttered Union tour version. This is the real deal. If you aren't choked up during the climactic passage as Wakeman's church organ comes crashing in, well…you just can't be human!

"And You and I" is a can't fail live favorite and as always, it delivers the emotional goods. Rick Wakeman's solo spotlight is always entertaining and the traditional "Excerpts from Six Wives of Henry VIIII" is altered to include a few surprises. The encores may be predictable but both "I've Seen All Good People" and "Roundabout" lighten the mood after the emotionally draining "Awaken".

Really, the whole band shines but my vote for MVP would go to Steve Howe. Chris Squire isn't given nearly the amount of camerawork that he deserves and Alan White is mostly photographed from behind the kit, but for what little one sees of them, they sound terrific. Jon Anderson is still Jon Anderson and whatever one makes of his cosmic shtick, the man can still sing.

The video and audio quality of Yes: Live at Montreux 2003 is excellent. There are three audio options to choose from: PCM stereo, 5.1 Dolby Digital and DTS. The High Definition video is equally impressive. As with most of the Live in Montreux series, there are no bonus features to speak of, but the booklet contains a nice essay from Classic Rock's Dave Ling. While the Yes Symphonic DVD is marginally preferable-we're only talking degrees here-, Yes: Live at Montreux 2003 is the best visual document currently available of the classic lineup. So fork over another $15 for yet another Yes DVD and pray that we haven't seen these legends on stage for the last time.

Track Listing

  1. Siberian Khatru
  2. Magnification
  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
  9. Clap
  10. Show Me
  11. Rick Wakeman Solo Medley
  12. Heart of the Sunrise
  13. Long Distance Runaround
  14. The Fish
  15. Awaken
  16. I've Seen All Good People
  17. Roundabout

Added: June 26th 2007
Reviewer: Steve Pettengill
Related Link: YesWorld: The Yes On Line Service
Hits: 4272
Language: english

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Yes: Live at Montreux 2003 (DVD)
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2007-06-26 14:48:49
My Score:

Just when I was starting to throw some jabs at Deep Purple for releasing so many live CD's and DVD's in recent memory and glutting the market like Yes has done for the last decade, here comes another live Yes DVD to the market, and it's a good one. Live at Montreux 2003 is a spectacular set recorded at the famous Jazz Festival in Geneva back in 2003, when the band were still promoting their Magnification album. While there has been much talk about which recent Yes DVD is their best (Songs From Tsongas and Symphonic Yes might get the slight nod in my book) this one is damn good and ranks pretty high up there, right alongside Keys to Ascention as far as a quality video and sound of a Yes concert. As with all the other DVD's to come out over the last five or so years, there's not much new to report here other than the fact that this show featured a great setlist of mostly classic material, a few pieces off of Magnification, and some solo moments, and it's all played with the usual perfection from Anderson, Squire, Howe, Wakeman, and White. Highlights include a super "South Side of the Sky", a majestic "Don't Kill the Whale", and the ever stunning "Awaken", "Siberian Khatru", "And You and I", and "Heart of the Sunrise". Sure, we've all heard "Roundabout" and "I've Seen All Good People" more than we'll ever need to, but thankfully the early part of the set has such solid newer pieces like "Magnification" and "In the Presence Of" as well as the rarely played classic ditty "We Have Heaven" from the Fragile album. Jon Anderson is in fine form throughout vocally, and chatters with the audience a bit, giving the whole show a very warm and fuzzy feel, and Howe & Wakeman seem pretty inspired musically during the whole set. One gripe I have is the camera crew pretty much ignores Squire and While during much of the show, settling on Squire for any length of time only on "The Fish". Visually this DVD is crisp and colorful, and the audio is pretty stellar, making for a fun watch.

Bottom line is-Yes fans will obviously have to have this and add to your ever growing library of live DVD's from the band. Casual fans who are looking to get the "ultimate" Yes live DVD, this, Songs From Tsongas, Symphonic Yes, and Keys to Ascension would be good choices from the more recent era, and of course if you want some 70's era Yes, Yessongs is a must have, despite it not being nearly the excellent quality that any of the newer ones are.

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