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In the present: live from Lyon

January 10th, 2012 · Posted by Skuds in Music · No Comments · Music

The year is ten days old already and I haven’t written a thing about prog rock. How did that happen? Perhaps I should mention the latest Yes CD: In the Present: Live from Lyon, which I treated myself to as a belated crimbo present to myself.

Since I already have 4 live CDs by Yes, not to mention 10 live DVDs and VHS it was a bit of an indulgence. Did I really need a 4th live version of And You & I or Roundabout on my PC or yet another verson of Starship Trooper? Probably not, but I just couldn’t resist it. for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, although it is not my ideal Yes line-up it is, as far as I know, the only official release featuring both Benoit David and Oliver Wakeman. I think he was only a second keyboard player on Fly From Here.

Secondly, it does contain a few tracks that aren’t on any of the other live albums I have – Machine Messiah and Tempus Fugit from Drama and Astral Traveller. I think Jon was always reluctant to do songs from Drama for obvious reasons.

The big question was always going to be how does Benoit David cope with being Jon Anderson? For me the answer is that he is OK. Better on some songs than others. I think he comes across better on the unfamiliar songs, which makes it a bit of a shame this didn’t include any of the new tracks (though I’m sure that album will be out this year).

In some places he did seem to be struggling a bit, but to be honest Jon sometimes did but he always got away with it because there wasn’t someone he was living up to. At the root of it all is the problem that Benoit is impersonating Jon rather than being himself and that is always hard to pull off. Any time you try to add anything, a little flourish or a different intonation it will be assumed that you couldn’t do it the right way. Mike Yarwood used to end his shows with impressions of singers like Tom Jones and Frank Sinatra. No matter how well he did them, nobody would have wanted to see him do a whole concert as Frank Sinatra if they could have the real thing instead.

Considering the circumstances I reckon he does a good job and doesn’t distract from the rest of the band who are on absolutely top form. I think that Steve Howe puts in his best performance ever on this CD, truly outstanding, Oliver Wakeman is as good as his Dad or Igor Khoroshev, and Alan White and Chris Squire are as solid as ever. In fact White puts in a fine solo in Astral Traveller that is reason enough to get the album.

Despite the initial misgivings about having a stunt vocalist, I really enjoyed this. The sound is far better than the House of Yes album and the inclusion of some less familiar tunes makes it worth having. On top of all that it comes beautifully packaged and with a 3rd disc of video extras like interviews and live clips.

I haven’t watched the DVD yet. Saving that for a rainy day.


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