CD Review: Yes – Like It Is: Yes at the Bristol Hippodrome

2 CD/DVD Review: Yes – Like It Is: Yes at the Bristol Hippodrome
Frontiers Music Srl
All Access Rating: A-

Yes - Like It Is: Yes at the Bristol
Hippodrome 2014
The path's been pretty well beaten by now, the progressive-rock elders of Yes having performed live the favorite songs of 1970's The YES Album and 1977's Going for the One so often they could be forgiven for being bored to death with them. On its spring 2014 tour of the UK, Europe and Canada, Yes pledged to play both of them in their entirety, however, delving ever deeper into two of the most iconic records of their extensive catalog.

Playful and eager to engage in extended jams stretching the boundaries of famously complex arrangements, Yes breathes new life into dusty old compositions on the engrossing and expansive two CD/DVD set "Like It Is: Yes at the Bristol Hippodrome," the venerable masters taking liberties with subtle, nuanced alterations. A rollicking, extended piano run here, some extra guitar noodling there, and a gorgeous blending of vocal harmonies thrown in everywhere make for a joyous, captivating listen – the sound so vivid and clear, emphasizing the band's full-bodied instrumental flourishes and calculated precision, off-kilter melodic shifts and wonderfully interwoven vocal harmonies.

Summery and cheery, "Starship Trooper" culminates with a spiraling crescendo, the entwined machinations of guitarist Steve Howe and bassist Chris Squire sending wordless messages heavenward, while "Yours Is No Disgrace" motors through complicated twists and turns with easy grace. The proggy hootenanny of "Going for the One" is an aural ballet of elongated movements, the swooning "Wondrous Stories" and "Turn of the Century" are beautifully rendered to win over even the most jaded of audiences and "Awaken" swells majestically. And if it's intricate acoustic guitar picking you want, Howe obliges, with his folksy, whimsical turn on the lively instrumental "Clap."

Occasionally, he strains to reach certain notes, but otherwise, vocalist Jon Davison handles the material with warmth and skill, while Geoff Downes' keyboards add symphonic color to and shade in grand arrangements and Alan White glues it all together with intuitive rhythmic dynamics. Doing just one classic album in a concert setting seems to be passe for Yes, who've taken the concept to a whole new level. Not long afterward, they would attempt three on another series of live outings. Would it be too much to ask for four?
– Peter Lindblad

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