Yes - 'Like It Is: Yes at the Bristol Hippodrome' CD Review (Frontiers Records) ~ BrooklynRocks: NYC Music Blog

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Yes - 'Like It Is: Yes at the Bristol Hippodrome' CD Review (Frontiers Records)

Yes - 'Like It Is: Yes at the Bristol Hippodrome' CD Review (Frontiers Records)
The latest album from Yes, Like It Is: Yes at the Bristol Hippodrome, was recorded this past May during the band’s “triple header” tour where the band played 1971's The Yes Album, 1972's Close to the Edge and 1977's Going For the One front to back during its shows. I have mixed feeling about this new live album as it comes right on the heels of 2011’s In the Present – Live from Lyon where the band played three of the six songs from The Yes Album and this recording only includes The Yes Album and Going for the One sets.

Before getting into the album, I should note that I never got around to listening to Yes’ latest studio album Heaven & Earth so this live show was my first exposure to vocalist Jon Davison and, vocally, he is more of a dead ringer for Jon Anderson than Benoit David was. Now for the show – the mix on this recording is extremely crisp and the contributions from all the members of Yes are clearly captured. Across the disc, Steve Howe’s guitar work and Davison’s vocals, along with some strong keyboard and piano flourishes from Geoff Downes, drives all of the songs.

When describing the impetus behind the ‘triple header’ tour, Steve Howe told Billboard: "We wanted an easy time and a hard time -- in other words, we wanted some challenges to rise to make the three-album concept work…So 'The Yes Album' is kind of the easy stuff because we've played a lot of it pretty regularly. And the challenges were bringing back 'Close to the Edge, which wasn't too tricky, and then doing 'Going For the One' really did give us some challenges because 'Turn of the Century,' 'Going For the One' (the song), 'Parallels,' those are formidable arrangements and (songs) we haven't done for a long time. We seem to have radically upped the game."

The positive side of this disc is that only a small handful of tracks from Going for the One have been included on previous live albums so it was great to hear this album performed live. Some of the highlights from this set are Howe’s flamingo guitar work on “Turn of the Century” and Downes’ piano/keyboards on “Awaken”. The negative side of this disc is that most of the tracks from The Yes Album have been on numerous other live discs from Yes and the ‘definitive’ live versions of these songs can be found on 1973’s YesSongs. Also, now that there is a well-established expectation for what these songs should sound like live, sluggish tempos on some of The Yes Album songs on this new live recording make these versions sound somewhat disconcerting (i.e. the transition as “Your Moves” shifts into “All Good People”). On a positive note, slower paced numbers like “Perpetual Change” sound brilliant with Davison’s soaring vocals and Howe and Downes put down some great jazzy licks on “A Venture”.

The Bristol Post covered this show live and here is a link to their review: