Keys to Ascension Concert Performance by Yes Released October 1996 Recorded March 4-6 at the Fremont Theatre, San Luis Obispo, CA Genre Progressive rock Label CMC International Keys to Ascension is the video release of a concert by the progressive rock group Yes recorded live at the Fremont Theatre in San Luis Obispo, California in March 1996. It marked the first set of Yes concerts to feature keyboardist Rick Wakeman and guitarist Steve Howe since 1991, and the first to feature this exact five-piece lineup since 1979. The three concerts with the newly reunited lineup were followed by two double albums entitled Keys to Ascension and Keys to Ascension 2, featuring all new material alongside live tracks from the San Luis Obispo shows. This along with these companion albums were reissued in 2010 as the Keys to Ascension box set. A world tour was abruptly cancelled when Rick Wakeman quit the band in mid-1996. He would not rejoin the band until 2002. Personnel Jon Anderson: vocals, guitars, harp, percussion Steve Howe: 6- and 12-string electric and acoustic guitars, steel and pedal steel, vocals Chris Squire: bass guitar, vocals Rick Wakeman: keyboards Alan White: drums, vocals Track Listing 1. Siberian Khatru 2. Close to the Edge I. "The Solid TIme of Change" II. "Total Mass Retain" III. "I Get Up, I Get Down" IV. "Seasons of Man"3. I've Seen All Good People a. "Your Move" b. "All Good People"4. Time and a Word 5. And You and I I. "Cord of Life" II. "Eclipse" III. "The Preacher, The Teacher" IV. "Apocalypse"6. The Revealing Science of God (Dance of the Dawn) 7. Going for the One 8. Turn of the Century 9. America 10. Onward 11. Awaken 12. Roundabout 13. Starship Trooper a. "Life Seeker" b. "Disillusion" c. "Würm" Version Control This was released on VHS, DVD, and laserdisc in 1996. There are multiple international versions of both the VHS and DVD, with some in PAL. It’s out of print, but there are used copies about. Discogs. The Concert There’s no opening menu – like a VHS tape it launches straight into the concert. But, it’s got widescreen video with decent DVD quality. It has Dolby Digital stereo and 5.1 – that’s all there was in 1996. There’s a screen in back of the stage with Roger Dean imagery on. There’s a lot of double imaging and other video editing tricks that really get in the way of just watching the concert – and much of the video is landscape that has nothing to do with the concert. There is no crowd noise - I’m not even sure there is much of a crowd. It might as well be a studio performance. The music oftentimes seems like it is not in sync with the video. In the end, it is perhaps better characterized as a long music video rather than a video of a concert performance. The surround mix uses the center channel for Anderson vocals and there is enough reverb to make the rear speakers worth having. Just a smidgeon of crowd noise, which makes me wonder if this is really a live concert. “Siberian Khatru” From Close to the Edge. White is in the back on drums, in front it’s Howe, Anderson, Squire, and Wakeman. Anderson is wearing a white robe, everyone else is dressed semi-normal. Seems like Howe is featured the most, and White the least, but everyone is featured at least a little. “Close to the Edge” From Close to the Edge. Starts with just video to go with the synth as prerecorded sounds of the intro. Lots more double-imaging of concert and scenery after that. There’s even triple imaging of concert, scenery, and lyrics at some points. But it’s a great rendition and you so get to see everyone play key passages. Really nice sequence from Wakeman in black and white. I though White didn’t get shown much in Yessongs because he had just joined the band, but he isn’t shown much here either. The only clip I could find – it’s 4:3 format so it must be from VHS rather than the DVD: “I've Seen All Good People” From The Yes Album. Howe starts it off on mandolin, but this one is a mainly a Jon Anderson show. “Time and a Word” The title track from their second album, which didn’t get into the rotation at all on Yessongs. Might be because Anderson and Squire were only two in the lineup on that album. Wakeman starts it off though, Howe joins in with acoustic guitar, then Anderson, and finally Squire and White. “And You and I” From Close to the Edge. As on Yessongs, they cover the whole album here. At the beginning of this track they show a shot of the outside of the theater with a Now Playing sign that says “Masterworks of Yes Recording Tonight 8pm”. They are playing in a movie theater and the big screen behind them is the movie screen. Lots of nice acoustic guitar work from Howe on this one. Squire plays harmonica. “The Revealing Science of God (Dance of the Dawn)” From Tales From Topographic Oceans. Another whole album side track. Starts off with double and triple imaging, but it’s at least a little bit cool this time. Wakeman sometimes looks like maybe he’s ready to quit again – which he did both right after this album and after this concert. “Going for the One” From Going for the One. Starts with skiing video as background. Mainly feature Howe on pedal steel guitar and Anderson. “Turn of the Century” From Going for the One. Howe on acoustic guitar and Anderson. Not what I would call a classic Yes track. “America” Simon and Garfunkel cover that appears on some editions of Close to the Edge. Get to see a bit of White, but more of Howe and Squire. “Onward” From Tormato. Howe on acoustic guitar again, then Anderson vocals. Double imagery with landscape video. “Awaken” From Going for the One. Wakeman starts it off with his keyboard set to piano, then Anderson vocals, the Howe electric guitar. Woman hanging by a rope in the background. Squire with a triple necked beast of a guitar. “Roundabout” From Fragile. Starts with Howe on acoustic guitar, and then we’re off with another rock song. I was beginning to worry. Wakeman plays real fast. They show a bit of a crowd and they seem to be into it. “Starship Trooper” From The Yes Album. Anderson with an acoustic guitar and there are stars and planets in the background. White gets a little focus. Nice finale that features Squire and Wakeman. ______ This is much better than the horrible Yessongs video, but it is also nowhere near as good as Symphonic Live. However, unlike Symphonic it has Wakeman on keyboards and features a number of really good tracks that aren’t on the later one, especially “Siberian Khatru”, “The Revealing Science of God”, “Going For the One”, and “America”. The song selection slacks off towards the end – doesn’t seem like three tracks from Going For the One is really necessary, or even one from Tormato. “Owner of a Lonely Heart” seems like a glaring omission. I would also say the audio greatly outshines the video that is often difficult to watch. Music – 2.5 Sound quality – 2 Video presentation – 2 Video quality – 2 Surround – 2 This exhausts my current three disc Yes video collection. Live At Montreux 2003 is only other one I know of that I am considering.