Yes - "In the Present: Live from Lyon" CD Review (Frontiers Records) ~ BrooklynRocks: NYC Music Blog

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Yes - "In the Present: Live from Lyon" CD Review (Frontiers Records)

Yes - 'In the Present: Live from Lyon' CD Review (Frontier Records)One of the challenges in writing a review of a long-running band’s “greatest hits” album is that the band (most often) has an established and well-known sound so the reviewer adds little value. I feel like I’m in that quandary with the latest live album from Yes, In the Present: Live from Lyon, as Yes has already released over a dozen live albums, CDs and DVDs and the set list on this new disc is predominately comprised of Yes’ greatest hits. One could argue that this is the first live album with vocalist Benoit David but, while his voice sounds closer to Trevor Horn’s than Anderson’s, he delivers the songs in the same style as Anderson so that doesn’t seem to be a valid counterpoint. Songs like “Roundabout” or “Starship Trooper” simply haven’t changed that much over the last 30 years (see comparative Anderson / David live videos below).

In the Present: Live from Lyon was recorded on 12/1/09 at La Bourse du Travail in Lyon, France during the band’s 2008-09 “In the Present” tour. This tour served to introduce Benoit David to Yes fans so the set list consists of the ‘chestnuts’ that are likely on ALL of Yes’ previous live albums along with a few ‘surprises’ in the set list – “Astral Traveler”, “Machine Messiah”, “South Side of the Sky” and “Onward”.

Here is the track list:

Disc 1:
1- "Siberian Khatru"
2- "I've Seen All Good People"
3 - "Tempus Fugit"
4 - "Onward"
5- "Astral Traveller"
6 - "And You And I"
7 - "Corkscrew" (Steve Howe Solo)

Disc 2:
1 - "Owner of a Lonely Heart"
2 - "Southside of the Sky"
3 - "Machine Messiah"
4 - "Heart of the Sunrise"
5 - "Roundabout"
6 - "Starship Trooper"

While this show doesn’t break any new ground (and I assume its main point is to prove that Benoit David can sing like Jon Anderson in a live setting), it captures a solid performance by the band. My one complaint is that the band slows down the tempos on some of the faster material so it is a bit disconcerting not to hear the expected burst of speed and energy as (i.e.) songs like “Your Move” shift into “All Good People”. This complaint, though, isn’t unique to this new recording as Yes has been slowing down for the last couple of years. My other complaint is that Oliver Wakeman doesn’t have the flair of his father and the keyboards sound rather bland. The good news is that Steve Howe and Chris Squire both sound perfectly on-point (and Howe adds a spark to the end of “Yours is No Disgrace” with some innovative guitar work) and Howe and Squire’s backing vocals perfectly balance David’s alto tenor.

There are a number of live video from this show posted to YouTube so you can check out the recording in advance to see if this is for you.

It would have been nice if this record had broken some new ground (a complete run-through of Drama would have been brilliant) but In the Present: Live from Lyon doesn’t diminish the band’s 40+ year legacy.