(All Album Reviews by I.M. Weasel)
Yesshows, the second live album put out by Yes, was released on November 24th 1980. Yesshows, much like Yessongs, was intended to be representative of Yes' live shows, however, this album drew from 2 incarnations of the band on 3 tours. Yesshows is unique in Yes' catalogue, because its the only live album to feature Patrick Moraz on keyboards, albeit on only two songs. Also to note that this album contains almost none of the "hits" that Yes was known for up to that point, mainly songs like "Roundabout", "I've Seen All Good People", or "Starship Trooper". Except for one song, all the live material is drawn from the era of Tales from Topographic Oceans to Tormato. This album does has a good overview of that era as well, though there are some glaring omissions, such as the lack of inclusion of songs like "Soundchaser", "To Be Over", "Awaken", or "On the Silent Wings of Freedom".
The album starts off in familiar fashion, with the closing of Stravinsky's Firebird Suite, with Yes adding textures and sounds over the music, then into "Parallels". The soaring energy of "Parallels" translates well to the live arena, however, Wakeman's incredible organ playing is sorely missed on this track, but he provides some excellent keywork nonetheless. Howe's ending guitar solo (in my opinion one of his best pieces on any Yes song) is done well, though without a lot of the beauty of the studio cut.
Next up is "Time and a Word", which represents the only pre The Yes Album live material heard up to that point. TaaW comes across really well in the live setting, much more so than the original studio cut. This version was part of a "medley" Yes did on the 1978 tour, yet it still works pretty well on its own as presented here.
The end of "Time and a Word" leads directly into "Going for the One", the title track from the album of the same name. G4T1 has a ton of energy in the studio version, and its recreated faithfully here. Howe's slide guitar is especially good and it provides a rip roaring good time. In my opinion "Going for the One" is the best straight "rock" song Yes ever did.
The final song on the first disc is the mega-epic The "Gates of Delirium". This song is a major favorite among many Yes fans, and also my personal favorite. The live version presented here shows Yes in top form. Howe's guitar is strong and cuts like a knife; Anderson's vocals are more powerful than on any recording I've heard, as he belts out lines like "burn their children's laughter onto hell". Alan's drumming is incredibly sharp and Squire's bass rumbles its way through the tricky and melodic runs. If there's one complaint, its that Moraz's keys are mixed way too low; but his playing overall is fantastic, and its easy to see why many Yes fans hold him in such high regard.
Disc 2 starts off with the short eco-song "Don't Kill the Whale". While not one of their better tracks, DKtW is another song that comes off really well live, and it seems to lose much of its characteristic Tormato sound in the live setting, which is for the better.
Next up, after an interval where Jon Anderson introduces the tour's road crew, comes the final epic presented on Tales from Topographic Oceans, "Ritual". Here, because of limitations on the original vinyl record, "Ritual" is presented in two parts. The first part runs from the beginning of the song to the end of the first vocal section, with the second part picking it up there and running through the long instrumental section, drum solo, and the final verses of the song. Ritual is simply incredible here; again, Yes is at the top of their game. The famous percussion section is as intense a piece of music as there is in their catalogue, surpassing the driving power found on the studio cut.
The final song is the minor-hit "Wonderous Stories", a dreamy song with some sparse but excellent playing by Howe and Wakeman.
Yesshows was released amid the original breakup of Yes, and may have been intended as their final release. It serves as an excellent bookend to the "classic" period of Yes, showcasing the talents of Howe, Squire, White, Anderson, Wakeman and Moraz, without being too nostalgic of a release either. If you are a fan of classic Yes, this release is a must have, simply because it features live renditions of songs usually not played by Yes; it took them 25 years to play "Gates" and "Ritual" again!