(All Album Reviews by Sean)
This is a sort of an odd album that falls into the Yes catalog by default. Evening of Yes Music Plus is a live document of Yes offshoot Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe. Bascially a "Yes" in everything but name. Reason for that is because the name YES was owned by Chris Squire and was being by the 90125 lineup; including Trevor Rabin, Tony Kaye and Alan White. At the time, ABWH and Yes had a short court battle. In the end ABWH was allowed to call their tour "An Evening of Yes Music-PLUS".
For fans of 70s prog inspired Yes, ABWH was the first chance for many of them to hear their faves from the 70s in a live setting for the first time since the 70s (or at all if they got into the band after the 70s). The 90125 lineup did four or five Yes classics in their sets, but those versions don't really do the tunes justice. On this album justice is served by the men who wrote the great tunes like "Heart of the Sunrise", "Starship Trooper" and of course "Close To The Edge".
Pros- There are some very spirited versions here. The tunes from the ABWH album sound much better and benefit from the energy of the live setting. "Birthright", "Themes" and "Brother of Mine" in particluar are standouts. Of the classics the version of "Close To The Edge" is the showstopper. Probably the best live version committed to disc this side of the superior version on Yessongs. "CTTE" is worth the price of the cd alone. "Heart of the Sunrise" and "Long Distance Runaround" are quite nice too. Everyone is playing like they are happy to be with each other again. Howe and Wakeman in particular seem rejuvinated and inspired.
Cons- No Chris Squire! His absence is what makes ABWH a different beast. That is well and good, but his tone and style are sorely missed on the 70s Yes tunes. Here we get jazz-whiz Jeff Berlin subbing for Tony Levin, who was out with food poisoning. Berlin saved the tour by learning the set in three days. He is to be praised for that, his tone though really throws the sound askew. This isn't even close to a Yes bass sound. Still, he plays the right notes so that factor isn't too major. Wakeman's fluffy, digital keyboard patches though and Bruford's electric drums are far more obtrusive and push the sound of the 70s classics into places that scream "This is 1989!". That causes the proceedings to sound more dated than they need to be. Also the inclusion of a solo spot from each member was a nice way to get reacquainted with the old boys, but was a waste of set space, imo. Other classics were dropped in favor of the solo spots. Yawn....
This cd and it's dvd are worth seeking out if you want to see/hear classic Yes with an 80s spin. It is easily the best live document of that music in the 80s. It does sound dated, but the energy here makes this cd good listening for fans of classic Yes and even better if you can watch this set. There is more energy here than you will find on later Yes live efforts like Keys to Ascension and even the Yes Symphonic dvd from a few years ago.