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The Royal Affair Tour: Live From Las Vegas

Review by Gary Hill

This live album from Yes is a couple years old. It has some interesting songs that aren't often performed by the band. I think the performances are solid. It also has the distinction of featuring a version of John Lennon's "Imagine" that includes John Lodge in a guest performance. While I wouldn't consider this a definitive live Yes album, there are some things here that are unique and make it well worth having.

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Track by Track Review
No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed
Getting a live rendition of this early Yes number is such a great thing. This feels updated from the version that was heard on the studio recording all those years ago. It has plenty of energy and rocks well.
Tempus Fugit
Here is another where just having a live recording of the song is such a great thing. I've always been a big fan of the Drama album, and while if I had to pick one song to have a live version of from that album, it would probably be "Machine Messiah," this would probably be my second or third choice. This a great performance that really captures the magic of the song. I particularly love the bass sound on it.
Going For The One
This title track rocker is played well here. The instrumental section feels a bit different than the studio version, but overall this is fairly faithful rendition.
I've Seen All Good People
Now, here's one that's been done plenty of times. Still, it doesn't really get old. I've heard this song so many times, and in so many different performances, that it seems like every one is faithful to me.
Siberian Khatru
I've always loved this song, and it's another I don't get tired of. In fact, it's probably one of my three or four favorite Yes songs. This live version works quite well. There are some parts that take on somewhat different tones or flavors. I really love the bass driven movement later. While it feels a variant from what I'm used to it, it has a lot of magic to it. I have always loved Steve Howe's jamming on the closing parts of this song. In fact, his solo as the track works toward its close on Yessongs is some of my favorite guitar work of all time. He really puts in some exceptional playing on this as Billy Sherwood's bass drives the number like crazy.
Now, while I like this ballad well enough, it's never been a favorite. This live rendition does it justice, though.
Here they give us a live rendition of the classic Paul Simon cover. Yes really made the track their own, and this live performance captures their version pretty well. They play it pretty straight, but the jamming really feels fresh and inspired in a lot of ways. Part of that is because it includes a Steve Howe composition in the midst of it.
While this might seem like an unusual inclusion, there is a Yes connection to the John Lennon song because Alan White was the drummer on that recording. Here Yes are joined by John Lodge of the Moody Blues. They put in a cool rendition. It doesn't feel decidedly Yes-like, although Steve Howe gets to explore the sonic landscape quite a bit, and Billy Sherwood's bass playing is decidedly in line with what one expects from the band.
If there's a Yes song I can use a break from this is it. Many times when I've know that they were closing the show with it, I left as it started, rather than waiting. This is a solid version, but I'm generally done with this track having heard it so many times. It can grab me from time to time, particularly when they change it up a little, but overall it's been played to death. The closing is an interesting variant, but not enough to really save this one for me.
Starship Trooper
I think I might have heard this song live as many times as I have "Roundabout," but somehow it holds up better. This rendition is nothing very different, but just an effective performance. Personally, I would have been happy if they had replaced these last two songs with some different choices.
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