Thursday, September 18, 2014

YES: "35th Anniversary Concert Songs From Tsongas Special Edition"

Rating: Live
Label: Eagle Records 2014
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

The "Songs From Tsongas – The 35th Anniversary Concert – Special Edition", contains an extra 70 minutes of Yes from their performance in Lugano, Switzerland in 2004. YES played the outdoor festival with a stripped down stage set and full on rock versions of the acoustic tracks from Tsongas (Massachusetts). Indeed. The unplugged section done in a similar style as their acoustic DVD, clearly the worst part with Tsongas in my humble opinion.

I'm not keen on watching some of my favorite YES songs as the mellow bonfire gathering (Zzz!). For instance, "The Meeting", Wakeman and Anderson hanging and waiting around on stage for the others to come up one by one as they continue with not-so-fun acoustic versions of "Long Distance Runaround", "Roundabout" and "Owner of A Lonely Heart". etc. Now you can skip them and instead watch the Lugano show. Excellent. I only wish they could have performed "Wonderous Stories", "Time Is Time", and "Show Me" in their original versions too. But sadly no such luck in Lugano.

The 35th Anniversary Tour in 2004, was in fact the last (?) tour by the band to feature the classic line-up of Jon Anderson, Steve Howe, Chris Squire, Rick Wakeman and Alan White. The Tsongas concert shows a massive stage, designed by their long-time art-work and cover man, Roger "Art Machine" Dean. They walk out to the playback of "Firebird Suite" and kick-off the show with "Going For the One" and Steve Howe's lap guitar. The geezers are strictly professionals and there are not many of the long and at times boring solos in the set. Yet they all get a turn in the spotlight. The impressive original vocalist may not be able to reach those really high notes and pitch of the past. However, it comes with aging and every vocalist experiences it. Squire does beautiful bass work and lines on "Turn of the Century" and Howe plays the breathtaking solo in "Yours Is No Disgrace". Wakeman is perhaps not as animated as in the past?

The only real downer with the original release? Hardly the wink nor smile, or even the nod of appreciating from your fellow band member. Strictly business and Wakeman and Anderson left the band after the tour. The BluRay, highly visual quality and the simply flawless production. The total running time of 252 mins. - the perfect work-out and YES marathon. Highly Recommended.

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