The Extraordinary World Of YES

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YES Update - Live DVDs 2003 to 2008 Review  

In "The Extraordinary World Of Yes" I wrote of the difficulty in choosing the definitive live recording of Yes. Since then three live DVDs featuring the classic Yes lineup have been released, namely "Songs From Tsongas" (recorded 2004, released 2005), "Live at Montreux 2003" (released 2007) and "The New Director's Cut" (recorded 2003, released 2008).

"Songs From Tsongas" is the most visually satisfying Yes DVD to date and surprisingly, the only fully authorized Yes DVD so far (ABWH is excluded) to feature a Roger Dean designed stage. However, the shoot was not without problems because the airconditioning at Tsongas Arena in Lowell, MA crucially failed prior to the show on an extremely hot night. Jon Anderson told me: "It was 120 degrees (F) on stage and the heat kept sending Rick's keyboards out of tune…It cost $250,000 to film…The problems will have to be fixed later in the studio." The show was consequently not the best of the tour but the finished product on the DVD is nevertheless impressive in DTS surround sound.

"Live at Montreux 2003" contains an excellent performance but the production is less refined than that of "Tsongas". However, the sound has an immediacy that cuts through magnificently when heard at volume in DTS surround mode. "The New Director's Cut" covers two complete UK Yes shows but the first one from NIA Birmingham is diluted by the inclusion of interview footage between the songs. The second from Glastonbury is particularly fascinating because it reveals Yes captivating a mostly neutral festival audience with a spirited performance, albeit with the production somewhat marred by a limited selection of camera angles.

In truth none of these three DVDs alone could be considered "definitive" although each is undeniably well made. Importantly, each DVD is complementary to the other in offering a different perspective of Yes live on stage and viewed as a whole together, they are perhaps as close as we are likely to get to a definitive live DVD of the classic Yes lineup in the modern era.