The new 50th Anniversary concert video celebrating legendary progressive rock band Yes — titled Yes featuring Anderson, Rabin, Wakeman – Live At The Apollo (in Manchester, England) — is overall a fine tribute to the group. The performances are exemplary and the sound quality is pretty terrific in either LPCM Stereo or DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 surround sound options, both effectively complementing the tight, rich video. The surround mix is somewhat conventional using the surrounds for concert hall ambiance, but it does make for a bigger sounding listen.
And bigger is the way to enjoy Jon Anderson’s voice which is a joy to hear, still singing like the sweet bird of peace he has always been; we are especially thankful for his presence after his near death health issues of several years back. Keyboardist Rick Wakeman is in fine form replete with a fresh new wizard’s cape (an iconic part of his stage presence back in the band’s 1970s “classic lineup” heyday). And, 80s-era guitarist, singer songwriter Trevor Rabin brings a happy passionate spirit to the stage that has been missing for this writer in the other touring version of Yes which is out there (more regarding that later).
If you saw this band on this tour (which was initially billed as ARW — for Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman) you know you’ll want to get this concert Blu-ray Disc. They are looking and sounding great! Some of my favorite songs on this Blu-ray Disc are the epic “I’ve Seen All Good People / Your Move” (from The Yes Album) and the fine version of “And You And I” from Close to the Edge. “Heart of the Sunrise” here is pretty stellar! And even 80s-era tunes like “Changes” sound fresh (I admittedly was not a fan of that era of the band back in the day but its grown on me over time). I love the updated version of “Long Distance Runaround” (from Fragile) which is punchy and almost a bit funky. Fun!
My only real nit pick on this release has nothing to do with the audio, the video or the performance. It is simply that the packaging design is lackluster for a release of this caliber. Even though the cover art does not feature design by Roger Dean — the legendary artist whose images have become somewhat synonymous with the band — the logo used here is rather … well… pedestrian. Its just not not iconic enough to match the stature of the band and this performance. This band deserves better.
Regardless, I like this Blu-ray Disc so much I might order up the limited LP pressing I just noticed up on Amazon (3500 copies made of this three LP set on opaque orange vinyl!). If you are curious to hear the album now and have a subscription to the Tidal streaming service, you can click here and you’ll find the whole album playing there on demand in CD quality. And… get this: you can get this Blu-ray for a ridiculously low price on Amazon (around $12 last time I checked!). Talk about a no brainer purchase!
My last comment has nothing to do with the album at hand but is simply a plea for the band members who have splintered to find the light to kiss and make up. Unite the differing factions into a whole. Mix it up all for once and for all. Play really old songs Play new things. Play new versions of old songs Put on epic long shows like Bruce Springsteen. Play Drama and Talk era stuff. Play Magnification. Play The Ladder. Play Fly From Here. Play deep tracks from Tormato! Make it all a loving super group family affair and the fans will love it back. Make it a party. A super “Union” show. Bring on the multiple drummers. Bring on the multiple singers. Bring on the multiple keyboard players. Bring on special guests by past members and associates who may not want to tour the globe. Time is ticking folks.
Paraphrasing a couple of John Lennon’s songs: Come together…. all we are saying is give Yes a chance…