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Well-timed for their imminent return to the stage for both a 50th anniversary European/UK tour and various festival appearances, here we have a reminder of Yes’ virtuosic prog prowess from their 35th anniversary tour in 2003, from a show at Birmingham’s NIA on 3rd July, together with footage from their Glastonbury set four days previously. The lineup? Jon Anderson; Steve Howe; Chris Squire; Alan White and Rick Wakeman.

Previously released under ‘The Director’s Cut’ banner, this reissue has been billed as ‘The New Director’s Cut’, including what’s been described as extended, unseen material. At least, this is what the press blurb tells me. A little online digging seems to indicate that this has already been reissued precisely in this format in 2008. Hmmmm… a little bit crafty and deceitful, methinks. The combined running time across both discs is a whopping 256 minutes (as it was in 2008), so that’s a vast amount of (not new) Yes. But, is it up to much? Music-wise, it’s Yes, so yes. Overall quality of the package, it’s a resounding no.

While nicely packaged, in a minimalist, no-frills kind of way - the two discs that are housed within a DVD-sized digipak that’s attractive enough - there’s no accompanying booklet, and just track lists for each disc, plus publishing details, printed on each panel. Likewise, the DVDs themselves simply have the (previously) extended show materials, with interviews and a small amount of behind the scenes footage interposed within the performances themselves. It could be argued that any kind of extra features would be superfluous, as it’s all-inclusive within the 2+ hours on each disc. However, a retrospective piece would’ve been more than welcome. Yes members, as they are now, reflecting back on their 35th anniversary celebrations, which would’ve been rather apt considering they’ve just reached another milestone in the band’s history.

Music-wise, as I’ve already stated, I cannot fault this. It’s everything you’d want and expect from live performances from Yes, from both the NIA and Glastonbury sets. Their virtuosic musical chops are on display aplenty and a reminder that the “progressive” label once meant something, before it paradoxically became a genre of music in the contemporary, widespread interpretation of the word. Both shows have also been nicely filmed. However, videophiles will be sorely disappointed here. I realise this is only SD and not HD, but the 16:9 presentation of the concert footage is lacking in any kind of clarity and sharpness throughout, and with the image plagued by all kinds of undesirable compression artefacts - most notably, with pixilation and blotching. Likewise, the single audio track - a Dolby Stereo mix – lacks the wow factor. Also, the quality control of this release must’ve generally been pretty slack as the menu on each disc is identical, in that both state “Disc 1”. And it’s a thoroughly naff menu, anyway, with a terribly pixelated image. When a company can’t even get the basics right…hmmmm. And the review copy I’ve been provided with is the finished product. No excuse.

It’s Yes, so of course this is great. But, for me, the release loses points for the seriously underwhelming nature of the overall package, the deceitful “new director’s cut” claim, as well as a far from perfect DVD transfer and concomitant compression artifact issues. Buy with caution is my advice here.
Store for Music
Review by Mark Holmes
23rd Feb 2018
1) Siberian Khatru; 2) Magnification; 3) Don't Kill the Whale; 4) In the Presence Of; 5) We Have Heaven; 6) South Side of the Sky; 7) And You and I; 8) To Be Over/Clap; 9) Show Me; 10) Rick Wakeman Solo; 11) Heart of the Sunrise; 12) Long Distance Runaround; 13) The Fish; 14) Awaken; 15) I've Seen All Good People; 16) Roundabout
"...the release loses points for the seriously underwhelming nature of the overall package, the deceitful “new director’s cut” claim, as well as a far from perfect DVD transfer and concomitant compression artifact issues."