(25 August 2004) On January 26, 2004 Yes played their very first all acoustic live set from a studio in Los Angeles after the premiere of the theatrical release of YesSpeak. This performance was transmitted via satellite to twenty five theaters in the US. What followed was one of Yes' finest performances capturing the band in great form and spirit.
The DVD opens with a beautiful shot of the stage lit with candles with Rick's solo piano in the background--indeed very atmospheric and moody and it sets the stage for what is to come. The opening track "Tiger Rag" is a jam number played by the band as a sound check. Steve is absolutely on fire on this track as is Rick allowing them to showcase their respective skills with a different style than the normal prog rock Yes is known for. They pull it off with stunning results. It is a a highlight of the show and quite frankly we weren't expecting it to be. As the song progresses Jon asks each band member to play a solo bit for the sound check and Jon improvs with some very funny lyrics as well. The band is in great spirits and everyone is clearly having a great time.
"Long Distance Runaround" is the next track and it's a bit abbreviated from the regular album version. Jon's voice has never sounded better and this track is perfectly suited for an acoustic rendition. Rick and Steve’s harmonic intro sounds great. Chris on acoustic bass and Alan on his scaled down drum kit hold down the rhythm section perfectly. This song is simply gorgeous and performed acoustically it really is a highlight of the show. "South Side of The Sky" starts with Rick playing a gorgeous melody on the grand piano followed by the first three verses of the song. The band has been playing this song live on tour in the electric format for the last two years and this track has been a fan favorite of the Yes live show. The song has been reworked for this acoustic version and its given new life to a Yes classic. Jon's voice is clear and strong soaring above Steve's acoustic slide guitar work. Chris' acoustic bass and Alan's brush work are rock solid. Rick's piano flourishes are brilliant throughout the track. After the band part of the song ends Rick closes the number with a few minutes of what has to be some of the most melodic piano parts he has ever played.
The Jon Anderson composition "Show Me" follows and has also been played on the last tour by Rick and Jon. A beautiful song which showcases Jon’s gorgeous alto tenor voice. Rick's piano parts are once again stunning particularly the middle break. Chris provides some great melodic bass work and Steve and Alan add little flourishes to this beautiful song. "Roundabout" is completely reworked in a lounge/shuffle style and works perfectly. Steve starts the piece with some beautiful solo acoustic guitar followed by the classic acoustic guitar intro. For a song that has been a classic rock staple since 1972 this new version sounds fresh and alive and breaths new life into this classic track.
"Time is Time" from the Magnification album follows and is perfectly suited for an unplugged rendition. This short but melodic piece is a perfect end to this acoustic set but the show wouldn't be complete without one more track which brings us to "I've Seen All Good People." The first half of the song originally is all acoustic and this version has improved on that as well. Steve's melodic guitar parts shine and Chris' classic bass lines sound great on acoustic bass. Jon, Steve and Chris' vocal harmonies have never sounded better. The second half of the song is where the band lets loose and it's refreshing to hear all of Steve's great solo guitar parts on acoustic guitar played perfectly which is no easy feat! A fine ending to an absolutely magnificent performance.
Bonus features include four TV trailers for the YesSpeak DVD as well as two further cinema trailers. A "behind the scenes" featurette of unseen excerpts of what happened before the band went live with rehearsal footage is an extra treat. Rick Wakeman's narration of "behind the scenes"--complete with dead pan commentary--is not only hilarious but is quite special. Some truly "Spinal Tap" moments come to mind and Rick's comments on all the band members and what went on that day are alone worth the price of admission!
Filmed in 16:9 widescreen, picture and sound are stunning throughout as are the camera angles. The stage is beautifully lit and the show expertly directed by Robert Garofalo of Classic Pictures. Dolby digital 2.0 stereo, 5.1 surround and stereo DTS audio options are available. All in all this is a must have for any fan of great music. Yes has never sounded better and this acoustic reworking of some of the bands best tracks breathes new life into these classic songs. The band is currently on tour and still has the magic and virtuosity that made them the progressive rock giants they are and this DVD proves that. This DVD is sure to please fans for years to come. Simply a must have!--Scott Bassin in New York