Yes : Symphonic Live

Prog-rock pioneers Yes have never been lacking in sonic texture, and although they had long-desired to play with a symphony, it’s hard not to wonder why.

They made it happen in 2001 in Amsterdam at the Heineken Music Hall while touring behind Magnification, an album that also boasted the accompaniment of a symphony. To commemorate the momentous event, the band filmed the entire performance, and a year later, delivered the DVD Symphonic Live. It has been a decade since the performance, and Yes’ international appeal hasn’t waned, although technology has taken leaps and bounds. So what better way to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Symphonic Live than with a Blu-Ray update to the concert release.

Running through over two hours of classic Yes’ compositions and cuts from the then-new Magnification album, the band weaves and winds with prodigious grace. At the center of it all is Steve Howe, whose fretwork shines on each and every track. Stand-out segments include the opening “Close to the Edge” suite, and classics “Starship Trooper,” “I’ve Seen All Good People,” and “Roundabout.” And the contributions of the European Festival Orchestra? Let’s just say that it is a nice addition, but when supporting a band whose sound is so colorful and progressive, their contributions are underwhelming.

The transition from DVD to Blu-Ray is a highlight of the release, the crystal clear visuals emphasizing the multiple camera angles and the massive production. Even the distracting, digitally animated introduction and between-song forays are given new life through the format.

Symphonic Live is an impressive performance, and the playing – particularly that of Howe – is truly worth the price. It reaffirms why Yes’ catalogue is a staple on classic rock radio and will surely remain so for decades to come.

Symphonic Live is out now on Eagle Records.