The 1991 Yes album ‘Union’ is one that very much splits opinion. Rick Wakeman famously nicknamed it ‘Onion’ as it made him cry whenever he heard it, and even from a fan perspective, it never really connected with a strong audience. Those who liked the poppier route Yes had taken in the 80s found musical kinship in the more commercial tracks – like the lead single ‘Lift Me Up’ and Billy Sherwood’s excellent ‘The More We Live – Let Go’ – but didn’t really like the proggier aspects, while the proggy fans welcomed the return of Steve Howe and a few more adventurous bits but still had no time for the pop aspects still present. It was a case of “too many cooks” – the album took in too much variation and enlisted five different producers – and in an attempt to please everyone, almost ended up pleasing no-one.
The tour was a different matter. The ‘Union Live’ shows were the first time fans got to experience many of the members from Yes’ long and complex history sharing a massive stage. More than a celebration of a new album and shared history, the tour allowed all aspects of the back catalogue to be celebrated in style.
A couple of the US shows from the tour were released by Gonzo Multimedia in a limited edition CD/DVD set a decade ago, but the deluxe version of ‘Union Live’ quickly became impossible to find.
A new ‘Union Live’ box set for 2021 aims to be the definitive ‘Union Live’ release bringing together 30 discs – 26 CDs and 4 DVDs – and showcasing eleven shows. Taken from different sources ranging from official recordings and fan-sourced materials, it won’t all meet the standards of the most picky audiophile, but in terms of historical interest, the collection promises to be unbeatable.
The shows included are as follows:
CDx2+DVD: Pensacola Civic Centre 9th April 1991
CDx3: Worcester Centrum, Worcester, MA 17th April 1991
CDx2+DVD: Nassau Colosseum 20th April 1991
CDx3: Hanns-Martin-Schleyer-Halle, Stuttgart, Germany 31st May 1991 (FM Broadcast)
CDx3: Wembley Stadium, UK (2 Discs) 29th June 1991 FM Broadcast + Star Lake Amphitheatre 24th July 1991
CDx3: Alpine Valley Music Theatre, Wisconsin 26th June 1991
CDx2+DVD: Madison Square Gardens, NYC 15th July 1991
CDx3 Spectrum Theatre, Philadelphia, 12th July 1991
CDx2+DVD: Shoreline Amphitheatre (Remastered) 8th August 1991
CDx3: Yokohama Bunka Taiikukan 4th March 1992
Also included in the box set are various pieces of ephemera, including a reproduction tour programme, reproduction laminate and limited edition certificate.
A video clip of ‘Roundabout’ live can be seen below. The massive box set can be ordered here.