NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The initials ARW may not mean much to music fans at first blush but those initials represent the closest you'll get to a true Yes show this year. ARW is Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin and Rick Wakeman, formerly of Yes, and they bring their version of the historic prog rock band to the Saenger Friday night.
What makes the dynamics of the Yes family tree in 2016 so interesting is there are two versions of Yes touring the world. The one touring as Yes includes longtime guitarist Steve Howe and drummer Alan White while ARW includes Yes founding vocalist Anderson, keyboardist Wakeman and Rabin on guitar.
Confused? It certainly can be because Yes is one of those long lasting bands that has had a revolving door of great musicians. Despite it's ever changing cast, Yes maintained its ability to create some of the most sonically complex and interesting music of the 70's and 80's.
The genesis of Yes can be traced back to the late 1960's when Jon Anderson and bassist Chris Squire started the band.
While Anderson's voice is unequivocally Yes, Squire was the thread that tied it all together as the only member to perform on every album throughout its nearly 50-year career.
Sadly, Squire passed away in June of 2015 and there is no such thing as replacing Squire in any band playing Yes music.
It's an exciting time for a number of Yes alums as they are up once again for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Now may be just the time to see Yes inducted into the Hall. The past few years it seems the Hall has made sure long time snubs are corrected. Kiss, Rush, Deep Purple and Chicago had to wait for induction far longer than many would have thought.
Yes is now in that category and no ensemble this year is more deserving than the band that boasts more virtuosity than just about any in rock history.
From their breakout The Yes Album in 1970 to subsequent albums like Fragile, Close to the Edge, Going for the One and 90125, Yes are true genre benders. They could rock like giants or touch your heart with the sweetest harmonies and melodies. Yes tossed blues, classical, jazz and folk (among others) in a cauldron of sound unlike anyone before or since.
This leads to ARW's tour in the midst of their possible Hall coronation. Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman are crisscrossing America playing the best of Yes. Not unlike the many legendary bands from the 60's and 70's still filling up arenas and stadiums, ARW represents a major part of the Yes legend. As long as the original voice Jon Anderson is on stage with keyboard master Wakeman and uber-talented guitarist Rabin, there's a strong argument that this is the band to catch playing Yes songs.
If Yes gets inducted into the Hall only eight of its alums would actually go in. Jon Anderson, Bill Bruford, Steve Howe, Trevor Rabin, Chris Squire, Rick Wakeman, Alan White and Tony Kaye. Why in 2016 the most significant contributors can't somehow share a stage to play Yes music is a disheartening to a lifetime of fans. Until then, piecemeal Yes bands will have to do and ARW promises to deliver a show worthy of their history.
Next month fans will find out if Yes gets voted into the Rock Hall. If they do, it will be too late for one of its chief creative forces, Chris Squire. Millions though hope that if they make it, maybe the inducted members will get in a room and play one final time, as one, as Yes.
The ARW show is set to begin at 8 p.m.