–By Sean Derrick
For anyone who is a fan of the progressive rock group Yes seeing the current tour for ARW should be high on your priority list. The band came through Saint Louis on Wednesday for a performance at the Fabulous Fox Theatre and certainly did not disappoint.
ARW is an amalgamation of Yes comprised of three of the most iconic members of the band: Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin and Rick Wakeman. Now, that is a large step and is not saying that they were the only important ones as there were several members of Yes over the years, 19 to be exact. But these three could arguably be called three of the most influential living members of Yes.
They haven’t played together on tour since the Union tour in 1992, and some fans didn’t know whether it would ever happen.
Vocalist and founding member Jon Anderson was the main voice behind the band for most of their existence with his unmistakable high range and one of the main lyricists for the band’s mystical
arrangements and messages of hope and love.
Trevor Rabin was a vocalist and guitarist for the band during the peak of their popularity resurgence in the 1980’s. He was largely responsible for the group’s resurgence during their 1980’s heyday.
Rick Wakeman was an instrumental force behind the group’s mystical stylings and odd time signatures of the 1970’s. Wakeman was exceptional during the night, segueing his performances from one genre to the next with no problems at all. He seemed excited and engaged throughout the night (no curry needed during this performance, that’s for sure).
Opening with “Cinema” from their 1983 smash album 90125 they segued nicely and effortlessly into “Perpetual Change” from their 1971 The Yes Album. It was a hint that the show would be a seamless blend of the contrasting styles interwoven perfectly throughout the night.
In fact, they pulled material from many parts of the Yes catalogue while pulling four songs each from 90125 and Fragile while touching on tracks from Union, The Yes Album, Close to the Edge, Going for the One and Big Generator.
They played a wide range of material, from their hit “Owner of a Broken Heart” to even tackling the nearly twenty minute opus of “Awaken”. All of which kept the audience happy and glued to their seats.
For many in the audience seeing the trio perform Yes’ most iconic songs that guided them at some point in their lives was almost like a religious experience. Many fans were openly being swept up in the mysticism that surrounded the Yes style.
Playing in front of a backdrop that at points went from resembling a flower to a sun rising in a valley, the props were simple, yet highly effective in preserving the ethereal effect from the Yes material.
Anderson was hobbled by a virus that prohibited him from his full vocal range, but even at 70% he still managed 100% effort and somehow remarkably sounded sharp.
His ailing voice didn’t stop him from performing all the necessary Yes material. Anderson asked “Is it Tuesday, or Wednesday? It’s Wednesday? Then let’s rock” before diving into “Rhythm of Love”.
He also stopped to pay homage to Yes legendary bassist Chris Squire, who passed away last year, dedicating “Long Distance Runaround” to the late Yes co-founder. This drew a standing ovation from the crowd at The Fox.
The band’s rhythm section of drummer Louis Molino III and bassist Lee Pomeroy were solid, with
Pomeroy showing off his exceptions skills on “The Fish” with phenomenal jaw-dropping bass lines that would have made Squire proud.
Growing up in the 1980’s YES played a big role in shaping my musical preferences. I was fascinated by the musical genius that was 90125 followed by Big Generator. From there I delved deeper and found the progressive stylings of early 70’s YES to be mind-altering, especially on Fragile and The Yes Album.
Yes is up for induction this year in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (Third time the charm?). And for anyone who is looking for a true recreation of the best of both worlds of Yes, this is the tour to catch. You will not leave empty.
Don’t miss the photo gallery after the setlist.
Cinema (Yes cover) 90125
Perpetual Change (Yes cover) The Yes Album
Hold On (Yes cover) 90125
I’ve Seen All Good People (Yes cover) The Yes Album
Lift Me Up (Yes cover) Union
And You and I (Yes cover) Close to the Edge
Rhythm of Love (Yes cover) Big Generator
Heart of the Sunrise (Yes cover) Fragile
Changes (Yes cover) 90125
Long Distance Runaround (Yes cover) (Dedicated to Chris Squire) Fragile
The Fish (Schidleria Praematurus) (Yes cover) Fragile
The Meeting (Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe cover)
Awaken (Yes cover) Going For the One
Owner of a Broken Heart (Yes cover) 90125
Roundabout (Yes cover) Fragile