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YES Yesspeak DVD
(Classic Pictures Entertainment) (2003)
Fly on the wall footage celebrates 35 years of Yes...

Yesspeak DVD

During 2003 Yes toured Europe and North America to celebrate 35 years of existence. Of course that is not 35 years of existence with the same lineup, as only bass player Chris Squire has remained throughout, but this tour re-united, for the first time in some years, the lineup from the mid-70s which most, though not all, fans would acknowledge as the `classic' lineup of Jon Anderson (vocals), Steve Howe (guitar), Chris Squire (bass), Alan White (drums) and Rick Wakeman (keyboards). The band having gone full-circle from what is acknowledged as their most creative period, this DVD is ample testament to the fact that all five have a renewed enthusiasm for the band and the music that they performed so well on tour this year.

Spread across 2 disks Yesspeak features around 100 minutes of documentary style footage and 90 minutes or so of live music in Audio only. Split into 10 chapters, 5 of which center on the individuals in the band, the video footage covers the history of the band and how this particular lineup came together. Though some of the splits and disagreements within the band's long history are covered, most of the difficult areas are skipped over and the early 1980s to mid 1990s period barely rates a mention. Thus if you are looking for an authentic `warts and all' story of the band, then this is not it.

That being said, the talks with the individuals are very revealing in their own way and go some way to explaining what makes each one tick, while the group segments show them working together and the respect that each has for each other. The perfectionism and professionalism of the band is amazing and their desire to perform as well as is humanely possible each and every night is astonishing. It is clear that they both enjoy the challenge of the music they play and the sight of the joy it evokes in audiences around the world night after night. What is also clear is that this is not a band playing out its time but one that is very much a unit that realizes that it has within itself the ability to produce another classic on a par with its output in the 1970s.

The package comes without a booklet, so I'm unable to tell from which concert the DVD audio is taken, but I can tell you that it is a fine performance and very representative of the summer tour setlist. What I found pleasantly surprising was the inclusion of so much material from the `Fragile' album, so there are nice surprises like `We Have Heaven', `South Side of The Sky' and `Heart of the Sunrise' as well as set staples like `Roundabout' and Chris Squire's solo spot `The Fish'. In fact `The Fish' is one of my favourite parts of the set and is leagues ahead of all other bass solos I've endured in terms of musicality, yet it is so long, that we learn from Rick Wakeman's video interview, that he arranges for his technician to bring him a nice cup of tea while it takes place. Aside from that we get half of the `Close To The Edge' material, the glorious `Awaken' and blessed little of the more modern material, which lacks the sparkle of the older songs.

Dolby stereo, 5.1 and DTS sound options are provided and there are subtitles in 4 languages and all of the segments and options are tied together with some very nice animation using the Roger Dean artwork that has become synonymous with the band. It's all very professional indeed, but if I was to sound a negative point it would be to criticize the narration by Roger Daltrey which is a little too theatrical at times. It's partly the script and partly his delivery. Perhaps it is not too annoying on a first listen perhaps, but I'm sure it won't bear repeated listens. Otherwise we have over 3 hours of great music and interesting chat with an excellent band in a package that will please all the fans of this great progressive rock band.

Review by Charlie Farrell

© 2003 All rights reserved.

***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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