I love Yes. I have all of their albums, even the ones the band would rather forget (here's looking at you, Talk). I saw them live in 1999, in support of their album The Ladder, and enjoyed it immensely. So I was excited to pop in this 2003 performance from the Montreux Jazz Festival, which featured the classic lineup of the band: Jon Anderson, Steve Howe, Rick Wakeman, Chris Squire, and Alan White. Sadly, it seems that in the intervening four years, the band's energy level has waned considerably.
The group performs a combination of new material and old, but the wild energy of their youth are long gone. From the opening guitar of "Siberian Khatru," you can tell the band is playing more slowly, although perhaps with more precision. But the sound is of a band playing without enthusiasm. Perfunctory is a good word to describe their level of commitment.
The band is at their best on the new material, which they haven't played to death and thus have an enthusiasm for. Their performances on those are on such a higher level than on the more famous tracks that it makes the blander moments all the more disappointing. At no point is the band flat out bad, it's just that they're capable of doing so much better. I wish there was more to say, but there isn't. There are some incredible live recordings of Yes or its constituent band members out there. Albums like Yessongs or An Evening of Yes Music give the sense of excitement of seeing these musicians live, along with performances that equal or better the studio recordings. You get nothing of the sort with Live at Montreux 2003. It feels like the band doesn't even want to be there.
The songs performed during the show are as follows:
The Blu-ray Disc: