Yes — In the Present - Live from Lyon
(Frontiers Records FR CDVD 537, 2011, 2CD+DVD)
by Paul Hightower, Published 2013-12-19
In the Present is a three-disk audio and video document (2 CD, 1 DVD) of Yes on stage in Lyon, France during their 2009 tour. In retrospect this was not Yes’ finest hour. Online sniping dogged the band as they crossed the globe, primarily due to the absence of singer and founding member Jon Anderson, but also because of the shaky quality of many of the shows, which this package unfortunately captures. From the opener, “Siberian Khatru,” singer Benoit David – plucked from a tribute band the previous year – struggles with pitch and is clearly straining in places, made all the more obvious by a mix that ironically enjoys marvelous separation and clarity. The band also obviously thought having a Wakeman — Rick’s son Oliver in this case — on keyboards would lend some legitimacy to offset Anderson’s absence. Except his performance is largely unremarkable, despite some earthy organ work on older songs like “Starship Trooper.” Perhaps most troubling is the lack of fire and the snail’s pace tempos throughout the set. Guitarist Steve Howe is playing behind the beat on many songs and drummer Alan White seems capable of only the most rudimentary of time keeping. On the whole the band is a plodding, aged shadow of their former selves. The highlight in the lineup is Chris Squire, whose familiar harmony vocals and bass work anchor the performances. Plus the set list offers a break from some of the tired chestnuts with the inclusion of songs like “Machine Messiah” and “Astral Traveller”.
The package improves on the DVD side, which takes a quasi-documentary approach with short interview segments slotted in between chunks of the band performing on stage. The lack of complete songs probably won’t be missed (though a complete “Machine Messiah” was nice) because most Yes fans already have umpteen video records of them. The interview material is good, though many of the usual suspects crop up (“What was it like playing with John Lennon?” for example). As an audio-visual offering In the Present has many things to commend it. Unfortunately for Yes, their abilities as a performing band isn't one of them.
Celebrate 10 Years of Fruits de Mer – As a special celebration for a decade of cool vinyl releases, our friends at Fruits de Mer records have prepared a limited edition reissue of an album by the first band ever to appear on the label: Schizo Fun Addict. The band is known for unusual release strag » Read more
Mega Dodo Presents New Charity Album – Our friends at Mega Dodo have put together a lovely compilation of their artists performing new arrangements of nursery rhymes, and all the profits from sales of the album will benefit Save the Children. It features a number of artists we've covered. » Read more
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more