NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Who says you can't go back in time. You would be hard pressed to prove you can't listening to a night of Yes music from three former members performing under the initials ARW. Founding Yes vocalist Jon Anderson along with former Yes alums Guitarist Trevor Rabin and Keyboardist Rick Wakeman make up ARW and gave Yes fans a run through their greatest hits at the Saenger Friday night.
These days you have two touring bands of former Yes members playing the catalog. Over the years there have been so many hybrid combinations of ex-alums it's hard to keep count. This combination though includes Anderson and that's a great place to start.
The band hit the Saenger stage at 8:07 p.m. and after Rabin and Wakeman hugged on stage they broke into the instrumental cut Cinema from their 80's mega-hit 90125. Wakeman, draped in his classic wizard cloak, and Rabin indicated from the first notes this could be a special night. A bearded Anderson walked on stage and it was time to hear his famous vocal style on Perpetual Change off of The Yes Album, the bands breakout from 1971. It didn't take long to realize Anderson's distinctive vocal range had aged well.
After Hold On, another rocker from 90125 Anderson said they were there for a celebration of Yes music and "here you are" and "we love you." It was time for some classic Yes and they delivered a faithful version of "I've Seen All Good People." Rabin, who showed he is every bit the master guitarist, brought the songs rocking closing solo home with a flourish.
Soon after Anderson asked if "most of you were with us from the 70's right?" He said while working up songs for the tour one of them especially held true to them. And You and I from the classic Close to the Edge LP was the emotional highlight of the night. The sweet symphonic epic hit all of the marks with Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman rising to the occasion and the crowd responded.
One of Yes founding members and the rock of the band was bassist Chris Squire. He was the only one of Yes' revolving door of musicians to perform on all 21 albums through the decades. Squire passed in the summer of 2015 and no matter who tours playing Yes music no one can replace him. Anderson spoke of seeing his friend before his passing and said he "wouldn't be able to do what I do without him." They dedicated the popular Long Distance Runaround from their fourth album Fragile to their old mate. As on the album, the band transitioned into The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus) which is essentially a Squire bass solo. Bassist Lee Pomeroy, playing a Rickenbacker, (Squire's preferred bass) nailed the song providing a proper tribute to one of the greatest bassist in rock.
Yes had a few more special moments as they rounded home with a 20 minute version of Awaken, their magnum opus from Going for the One. As a prog rock band, Yes has had it's share of radio airplay and they closed the show with two of their most recognizable hits.
Owner of a Lonely Heart brought Yes back from near extinction in 1983. Rabin and Wakeman decided to add some excitement to the show by coming off of the stage and into the crowd, bringing fans to their feet. Wakeman wore a wireless keyboard and Rabin tagged along as the two walked up and down the Saenger aisles jamming a rousing final solo.
It wouldn't be right to end any Yes type show without playing the song that may define the band the best, the 1971 hit Roundabout. There was obvious joy in the band as Anderson grabbed a woman on the side of the stage and danced around as Rabin and Wakeman pounded away at the prog rock classic.
In the end an appreciative crowd sent the Yes alums home with a standing ovation and Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman group hugged at center stage. They then joined drummer Louis Molino III and Pomeroy for a final bow.
The 15 song, two hour and 10 minute set spanned nearly three decades of Yes music. Just when you question whether a band who got it's start in the 60's can still pull off a gig worthy of its legend, ARW proved Yes you can go back in time.