Anderson Rabin Wakeman Deliver Yes Songs in NYC

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Anderson, Rabin, bassist Pomeroy and Wakeman at the Beacon Theatre, Nov. 1, 2016 (Photo: Greg Brodsky)

Anderson, Rabin, bassist Pomeroy and Wakeman at the Beacon Theatre, Nov. 1, 2016 (Photo: Greg Brodsky)

Fans of the rock band Yes—who have received their third nomination for a long overdue induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame—have two opportunities to enjoy the progressive rock group in concert. There’s the band that uses the official Yes name, and which features the longtime members, guitarist Steve Howe and drummer Alan White. And then there’s ARW, made up of Yes co-founder/vocalist (and primary songwriter) Jon Anderson, and keyboardist Rick Wakeman and guitarist Trevor Rabin, both longtime Yes members.

Anderson, Rabin & Wakeman are in the midst of a two-month U.S. fall tour of their new collaboration, billed as “An Evening of Yes Music and More.” When the band’s formation was announced in May, they were said to be “working on new songs,” but at their November 1, 2016 sold-out performance at New York City’s Beacon Theatre, the music was all Yes. (The lone exception: a beautiful pairing of Anderson and Wakeman on “The Meeting,” a track from 1989’s Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe album.)

The trio was more than capably supported by bassist Lee Pomeroy and drummer Louis Molino. Pomeroy is being asked to fill the very big shoes of Chris Squire, the Yes co-founder who died of a rare form of leukemia in 2015 at just 67. It’s a tough task yet on several songs, including “Long Distance Runaround,”—from 1972’s Fragile—Pomeroy briefly takes center stage as he very successfully tackles the songs’ bass solos that were always highlights of Yes concerts.

For his part, Molino takes a (literal) back seat to his band mates, save for a drum solo early in the program in which he is seen to be visibly beaming while enjoying his brief time in the limelight.

The band at a performance in Orlando earlier in the tour (Photo: Dan Higgins. Used with permission.)

The band at a performance in Orlando earlier in the tour (Photo: Dan Higgins; used with permission)

Rabin has numerous opportunities to stretch out, particularly on “Hold On,” which he co-wrote for the band’s 90125 LP, and the concert’s pre-encore finale, “Owner of a Lonely Heart.”

The progressive rock band routinely sold-out arenas during their world tours in support of their hugely successful run during the 1970s. (I attended several from way up in the blue seats at Madison Square Garden.) While lengthy album cuts like “Starship Trooper,” “Yours is No Disgrace” and “Close to the Edge” were favorites of free-form FM radio stations, it wasn’t until 1983’s “Owner of a Lonely Heart” that Yes earned a Top 10 pop hit. (The song reached #1 in the U.S.)

ARW’s Beacon Theatre set list focused on some unexpected gems in the Yes repertoire. Two early highlights, “Perpetual Change” and “I’ve Seen All Good People,” both from 1971’s brilliant The Yes Album, had the audience in rapt attention, particularly when Anderson enunciates “We have the whole world in our hands” during the former.

And when he sings the often-unnoticed background lyrics on “All Good People,” borrowed from John Lennon—“All we are saying, is give peace a chance”—his spirituality shines brightly.

For his part, Wakeman, resplendent in his King Arthur cape, delivers the majestic church organ on “All Good People” and on “And You and I.” The latter song allows all three of the band’s namesake members to shine. And halfway through, as the number transitions, Anderson motions ever-so-slightly to the audience that there was more to come with Wakeman’s playful keyboard leading to Anderson’s pretty “The Preacher The Teacher” section of the song. The audience sings along to every word.

Related: Our interview with Roger Dean, who designed Yes’ iconic bubble logo and many of their album covers

Another highlight was “Heart of the Sunrise,” from 1972’s Fragile. It’s not one of the first songs one thinks about from the band’s extensive output—Anderson doesn’t even begin singing until four minutes into its 11-plus-minute length. But it’s always been a showcase for the band’s musicianship. And Anderson commands the stage when he punctuates “Sharp… Distance…”

The middle section of the concert’s lone encore, “Roundabout,” allows Rabin and Wakeman one more opportunity to stretch out, supplemented by Pomeroy’s bass line.

Related: Recap of Yes’ Rock Hall Class of 2017 induction

Greg Brodsky

13 Comments so far

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  1. HerbSpeaks
    #1 HerbSpeaks 3 November, 2016, 18:35

    I was at The NYC Beacon Theater show. The review says it all. The band is excellent. It’s a warm wondrous and spirited performance.

    Reply this comment
  2. Mark
    #2 Mark 4 November, 2016, 15:02

    I was also in attendance. One of the best shows I have been to in the last few years. the band was tight but they looked like they were enjoying themselves. Anderson’s voice sounds as good as it did in the 70s.

    Reply this comment
  3. Paul Watson
    #3 Paul Watson 4 November, 2016, 20:43

    “Pomeroy is being asked to fill the very big shoes of Chris Squire, the Yes co-founder who died of a rare form of leukemia in 2015 at just 67.” Seriously? Fill Chris’s shoes? lol! Chris has never been in ARW. He was always in Yes. ARW is NOT Yes.

    Reply this comment
    • Greg Brodsky
      Greg Brodsky Author 4 November, 2016, 21:41

      So, Pete Townshend goes on a solo tour and performs “5:15.” The bassist in his band will forever be compared to John Entwistle. So in this case, Pomeroy is performing Yes classics some of which, like “Heart of the Sunrise” Squire co-wrote. I totally stand by what I wrote.

      Reply this comment
      • Howeis
        Howeis 5 November, 2016, 09:50

        And I completely concur with Mr. Brodsky. Yes is Chris Squire and Chris Squire is Yes. It doesn’t matter which songs or who is playing them. If there’s a base line in a Yes song (or Yes-related song) then the player of same will forever, rightly so, be compared to Chris Squire. Bassist Lee Pomeroy did a fantastic job invoking the bass mastery of Mr. Squire and I, for one, will always welcome his interpretations on those great songs.

        Reply this comment
    • JY
      JY 6 November, 2016, 11:49

      ARW is more Yes than Yes is at this point. You have to admit; no matter what, he’s doing Squire bass lines including”The Fish”….how can he not be compared to Chris. To his credit, he did a great job! Only comment I have is bass could have used more treble. His backup vocals were pretty good too. Motion was great too. Saw the show in Buffalo….it was great….. awesome to hear Jon’s voice again.

      Reply this comment
      • ARWisntYes
        ARWisntYes 23 December, 2018, 17:23

        I wish I’d seen this sooner! How in the hell do you figure that ARW is “more Yes than Yes”??? Yes is the band in which Chris Squire served from the first day of the band, in 1968, until his passing in 2015. The band exists today with his chosen successor, Billy Sherwood, playing bass. The recently formed Yes spinoff band, ARW, is not Yes, even though they claim to be. Yes came to their current lineup through a natural progression of personnel changes over the years, whereas ARW is a new band. The current members of Yes have a combined 36 appearances on Yes studio albums as members of Yes. That number for ARW is 28. Also the combined years of the tenure in Yes of the current Yes members is about 84 years compared to ARW’s 59 years (and that doesn’t even include Kaye who played every show of Yes’ most recent tour). There can only be one legitimate Yes and, for all of these reasons, ARW is not.

        Reply this comment
    • Ed Sullivan
      Ed Sullivan 3 May, 2017, 10:33

      Then, they shouldn’t be playing Yes songs, requiring some poor soul to fill Chris’s shoes.

      Reply this comment
    • nancimother*******sullivan
      nancimother*******sullivan 26 July, 2017, 00:31

      Clearly you are not High. Go find your precious there Gollum. You have the gift of a life time, and you are whining like a 4 year old who is crying because his birthday cake isn’t vanilla.
      How often does one of the most incredible bands from the 20th century in a very sophisticated genre undergo mitosis just in time for those of us who lived the message of Yes music to enjoy a final season by two separate bands playing the music written and inspired by my hero Chris Squire AT THE SAME TIME !

      So Paul, you are a naughty boy! You can only go to ARW concerts. Howe and White have been given your name and you are banned from their concerts because you will tell them that Geoff Downes isn’t Rick Wakeman, or Jon Davison (the most amazing pleasant surprise of the decade for us old geezer YES fans) isn’t Mr. Anderson

      I have never prayed for anyone, but I may start with you. Sir, you aren’t going to be allowed “IN” with that attitude. Please have a happy life from now on! Chris would want that for you.

      Reply this comment
  4. George T
    #4 George T 4 November, 2016, 20:49

    Didn’t Roger Dean also do Uriah Heep’s albums?

    Reply this comment
  5. Lacy
    #5 Lacy 6 July, 2017, 15:01

    I loved “90125” when I got it in “83 “Cinema” was the 1st song ( instrumental). Got another copy maybe ten years ago they put “Owner of a Lonely Heart” 1st I guess because of it being huge hit but changed the feel for me. Stupid record company move. Am I right?

    Reply this comment
  6. Yassman
    #6 Yassman 23 August, 2017, 08:49

    Newsflash! Beacon Theater crowds are made up of drunken loud heathens. Asking them to be civil? Impossible. As for the other version of Yes? Howe, etc (it really is only Howe, –Alan White was never a drummer of distinction!), lost most of it’s usefulness when Chris passed. Steve looks and acts like an un-charismatic curmudgeon. ad this is a Yes cover band..
    Yes really is Jon, and the other band phased him out while he battled his illness (asthma), never to bring him back! I’m quite glad Jon is on the mend, and Rick IS the personality in the group with the raging sense of humor (as exhibited at the R&R HOF induction.
    Long Live Jon Anderson!

    Reply this comment

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