At The Opera (YES 14112001)
Alte Oper, Hamburg, Germany – November 11th, 2001
Disc 1: Opening Act (Orchestra), Orchestral Intro, Close To The Edge, Orchestral Intro/Long Distance Runaround, Don’t Go, It’s Good To Be Here in Frankfurt, In The Presence Of, Gates of Delirium, Guitar Solo (Vivaldi)
Disc 2: Mood For A Day, Starship Trooper, And You And I, Ritual (Nous Sommes Du Soliel), introducing the band, I’ve Seen All Good People, Roundabout
Yes played a pair of symphonic shows on March 21st and 22nd, 1970 at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London drawn upon their second LP Time & A Word which was their first attempt to fuse rock with classical instrumentation. When Yes announced that their 2001 tour will be will a full orchestra many expressed skepticism. Some mentioned ELP’s disastrous 1977 tour where they had to abandon the orchestra several weeks into the tour. Most of us wanted to see Yes continue their recent addition of long neglected epics that were played on the Masterworks tour from the preceding year.
What eventually swayed opinion was the September 2001 release of Magnification, perhaps Yes’ strongest effort since the new material from Keys To Ascension and a genius fusion of their brand of progressive rock and orchestral arrangements. Also the orchestra wasn’t too intrusive and filled in for the missing keyboard (since Igor Koroshev left the band). In fact one of the biggest complaints was that the orchestra were drowned out by.
But what was audible was really beautiful and Yes delivered some of their most inspired concerts in years. At The Opera is released on the European YES label and uses an excellent DAT recording that is perfectly balanced between all of the instruments. The upper frequencies are sometimes distorted but otherwise the tape is very nice.
The set list is almost standard for the tour. Yes employed the European Festival Orchestra for the duration of their European trek and they play the introduction, a piece called “Give Love Each Day” which segues into the beginning of “Close To The Edge”. It’s an interesting decision to open the show with a twenty-minute piece but it sets the tone perfectly for their intent.
The first half of the show continues with “Long Distance Runaround” and then two songs from the new album, the pop “Don’t Go” (which is very catchy and has the goofy bullhorn interlude), and their new epic “In The Presence Of”, which is reminiscent of “To Be Over” from Relayer. The first set ends with a dynamic version of “The Gates Of Delirium” which many say is the highlight of the entire tour.
Steve Howe’s interlude is different than other shows. He most often played “Corkscrew” followed by “Clap”, but here plays Antonio Vivaldi’s “Concerto In D (2nd Movement)” in the same arrangement he recorded for 1979’s The Steve Howe Album, followed by the mellower “Mood For A Day”.
The second half of the show focuses upon the expected classics “Starship Trooper”, “And You And I” followed by the epic “Ritual”. The manufacturers issued At The Opera in a four-fold digipack with artwork pulled directly from the tour book. Overall this is a very nice production and is worth having.