DVDs are naturally designed for an artist’s existing fan base. So it’s reasonable to postulate that very few casual observers will invest in the 2-disc DVD from Yes called Yesspeak. This is a band with a tremendous worldwide following, so it is no small niche market that an item like this aims for. There are certainly some excellent concert performances included here but thanks to some ill-advised and overlong interview segments, the overall presentation comes across as pompous and self-important.
Obviously there is a world of difference between a concert film and a documentary. One suspects that the strengths of Yes might be better exhibited in the former as opposed to the latter. As a bonus feature on the DVD, there’s 2 hours of audio from concert performances that speaks much better of this band’s true worth than interview segments featuring grown men cavorting in colorful capes and wispy flowing shirts of shiny silk.
The worst offender is singer Jon Anderson, who comes across as a delusional little man and openly admits that life on the road is spent fantasizing about going home. Humble drummer Alan White and bookish guitarist Steve Howe both seem to have kept one foot in the real world, while Rick Wakeman is enigmatic, deftly holding down the disparate roles of screwy philosopher and the voice of reason. It is primarily Anderson and bassist Chris Squire who carry themselves with odious pride, their swelled heads vainly held aloft in the clouds. The abiding mood created by their interview segments lands just this side of nauseating. Even Roger Daltrey’s narration is overzealous and hyperbolic, as if describing the mystical machinations of a mysterious cabal. A fleeting glimpse of the band members’ personal lives would have made for a much more intriguing presentation of their offstage activities. Perhaps the best approach to this DVD is to keep the remote control in hand and skip over the interview segments. Limit your viewing to the live performances, which are nothing short of astonishing, and you’ll find few flaws with Yesspeak.