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Symphonic Live

Review by Gary Hill

This was released on DVD before, but they have just now chosen to let it lose in CD format. It is a recording of Yes on their symphonic tour and includes some great live Yes music, much of it augmented by orchestra. This is certainly an interesting live album, but probably not the quintessential entry in that department. I like the performance here and there are some magical moments. Since I’ve reviewed pretty much every track here in another format on a different album review I  am just going to address this specific performance here – look to the other reviews for more detailed descriptions of the songs.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 2 at

Track by Track Review
Disc 1
This is a classical music introductory piece.
Close To The Edge
The orchestra lays a bit low as the band work out into this killer classic epic. Steve Howe’s guitar soloing on the introductory segment seems more pronounced and “in your face.”  The orchestra rises up near the end of the extended intro and joins the band in the climactic segment that brings us into the next movement. In many ways the symphonic elements really add a lot, without becoming overpowering, as they continue on. There are sections here that take on some major drama with the addition of the orchestra.
Long Distance Runaround
The symphony leads this off with an introductory movement. It’s actually quite an involved and extended introduction but then the band launch into the classic and the orchestra resumes its support role. At the close it feels like they might move out into the counterpart, “The Fish,” but instead they end it.
Don't Go
A track from Magnification this is a great number and has the symphonic element built into it from the start. It’s bouncy and solid. Interestingly enough, though, the orchestra seems to play less of a role here than on some of the other material. 
In The Presence Of
This comes from the same disc as the last one. It’s a much more powerful and expansive track, though. I’ve loved this one from the first time I heard it and it’s great as presented live here. 
The Gates Of Delirium
At times the mix seems to become a bit “busy” with the addition of the orchestra to this epic. That said, there are other portions of the track where the symphonic elements really add a lot. Besides, it’s always great to have a live version of this track that isn’t often performed live. 
Steve Howe Guitar Solo
Steve Howe delivers his solo performance sans orchestra and it’s an extensive one that pulls in the familiar pieces that are the mainstays of his solos while also breaking new musical ground. 
Disc 2
Starship Trooper
A staple of Yes’ live set for years, this one doesn’t get a lot of addition from the orchestra. In fact, I don’t really hear them on this. 
Here’s another that had the symphonic arrangement built right into it since it came from the disc of the same name.  This is an epic piece and they put in a great live performance. For a basic idea of the track check out my review of Magnification, but I will say that I think it really becomes much more intense in this live telling. I love the studio version, but this one is even stronger. 
And You And I
This is a powerful live rendition of one of my favorite Yes songs – in fact, depending on the day it’s been my favorite at times. The orchestra steers pretty clear of this and therefore this is a strong rendition, but not dramatically different from some of the other live takes out there. I do like all the versions where Chris Squire plays harmonica – and this is one of those. Later in the piece, though, we get an expanded symphonic role and it works well to intensify the mood and the tone of the song.
Here’s another epic that doesn’t get played all the frequently. The symphony really adds a lot to this and I’d almost say that this cut feels like it was built for this type of treatment. 
I've Seen All Good People
Here we get a scorching rendition of another Yes classic. The orchestra adds to this somewhat, but it’s really the band who drive it. 
Owner Of A Lonely Heart
One the group’s two mega hits, this one’s never done all that much for me – and the version here doesn’t change my opinion.
I guess you can’t have a Yes show without “Roundabout.” It’s just so overplayed. If they do it as the encore I usually head to the car because I’ve heard the song so many times. This is OK, but just how many times do I need to hear it and how many versions do I need to own.
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