RATINGS: A = must own B = buy it C= average D = yawn F = puke

Yes – Songs From Tsongas: Yes 35th Anniversary Concert
Eagle Rock Entertainment

http://www.eagle-rock.com

Rating: A

Band Members:
Jon Anderson
Steve Howe
Chris Squire
Rick Wakeman
Alan White

Thirty-five years is a long time to survive just about any endeavor. To make it that long in rock and roll is quite an achievement. Despite numerous band lineups, changing tastes in music over the decades, and the grinding wear and tear of an increasingly inhospitable music industry, Yes has managed to continue playing amazing music for its fans.

Songs From Tsongas is a celebration of the band’s remarkable success over the course of thirty-five years (at the time of the performance). The newly issued 2014 deluxe edition DVD not only features footage from the 2004 concert at the Tsongas Arena in Lowell, Massachusetts, it contains a full seventy minutes of additional material from a rain-soaked concert in Lugano, Switzerland. It also features bonus tracks of the song “Ritual” and an interview with artist Roger Dean discussing his innovative three dimensional stage design.

This DVD is an absolute must own for die-hard Yes fans. It features the band members typically considered to be the most definitive lineup. All the performers are at the top of their game and genuinely seem to be enjoying playing the old songs together. It is very well produced and a real treat for Yes fans wanting one more time to relive the lineup of our memories, one that may never again be revisited.

The DVD begins with the band coming onstage accompanied musically by the final moments of Stravinsky’s “Firebird Suite” – an unmistakable homage to their classic 70’s live album Yessongs. From there the band plays songs spanning the full breadth of their extensive catalogue. The middle of the Tsongas concert features an extended all-acoustic portion that includes performances of “Long Distance Runaround” and “Wondrous Stories”. It also includes a unique Chicago-style blues rendition of “Roundabout” that should not be missed.

There are some unforgettable moments on this DVD. Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman perform “The Meeting” as a duet that is simply beautiful. We also get treated to the iconic Wakeman manning his banks of keyboards, including a heavily utilized original Minimoog, turning the adjustable pots and all! Steve Howe brilliantly performs “Second Initial” and cranks out a screaming solo in “Yours Is No Disgrace”, showing once again why he is one of only three guitarists named Best Overall Guitarist for five consecutive years by Guitar Player magazine.

That’s only a small sampling. Don’t forget, there are two concert performances on this DVD!

My favorite part of this release is the bonus track featuring the song “Ritual”. The song is off the Tales From Topographic Oceans album, a two record album (remember those?) that contains only four songs. It’s a bit of an obscure album but many avid Yes fans recognize it as one of their finest. The band really embraces this song and the performances are stellar. The song lends itself to solo expression and all the members get their time in the limelight. At one point just about everyone is playing a percussive instrument of some nature. It’s a bit interesting to watch Chris Squire playing tympanis! Anderson is all over the place singing, playing both guitar and synthesizer, and even playing behind his own mini-drum kit!

The nostalgia this DVD inspires should not take away from the current Yes lineup. It must be remembered that these performances took place ten years ago. Yes has always been a band that continually evolves (dare I say, perpetually changes? Sorry). I like the new album and the member lineup. I enjoyed seeing them in concert recently. The current direction of the band should be judged on its own and appreciated for what it is.

Having said that, seeing Jon Anderson on stage and hearing his voice once again guiding me though the old songs brought on the inevitable sense of longing and the feeling that this DVD may well represent Yes’ last best efforts. For that reason alone it should be prized by all Yes fans.

There is a lot a good material on this DVD. If you like Yes you will not be disappointed. I do, and I wasn’t.

By Roy Rahl

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