Anderson, Rabin & Wakeman
The Apollo, Manchester
25 March 2017
The last date in the UK on a tour which has seen the three former members of Yes wow and whoo audiences across the States, Europe and in the UK. Another chapter in the ongoing chronicles of a band called Yes which seems set to run. Mike Ainscoe reviews.
So will the real Yes please stand up. Having had the latest incarnation of Yes perform at the Apollo last year, fans couldn’t fail to rejoice at the prospect of ex-Yessers Jon Anderson, Rick Wakeman and Trevor Rabin reuniting in the slightly less mouthful of ARW to play some ‘Yes music’. They can also cope with any possible confusion and simply be thankful and turn out to pack every seat as the likelihood of seeing their likes again diminishes.
Even the ticket states ‘Yes – featuring Anderson, Rabin & Wakeman’ in a fashion not dissimilar to the ABWH (Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe) offshoot from Yes that excited fans in the late eighties. While Yes remain an ongoing concern in their own right, marshalled in the main by Steve Howe there’s no doubt that the names of Anderson and Wakeman carry some weight – fair do’s to Trevor Rabin too whose part in the Yes story might be as more of a bit player but without his input in the mid eighties, things may have turned out differently if not at all.
The Rabin/Wakeman relationship is one that has its roots in 1991 when Yes toured as an eight piece lineup – what a noted friend calls the Tom, Dick and Harry Tour, as most everyone who’s been a part of Yes put down their handbags and did the business onstage for eighty dates.
Their mutual respect and admiration has been on the backburner yet remains an eternal flame; even as they walked onstage to kick into the opening Cinema fanfare, the first thing the pair do is embrace. They even have a wander together into the crowd – pursued by the camera crew filming the evening’s activities – as the band rock out on Owner Of A Lonely Heart, Rick doing well not to trip over his cape and a proper one at that – more a robe, ankle length and decorated with ornate patterns and sparkly things
Making up the band are a rhythm section who are no slouches either – drummer Louis Molino III (think Groucho Marx meets tony Levin) getting an early chance to rumle round the kit while his elders take a breather following the initial exertions and Lee Pomeroy whose star continues to rise and shine. His bass and beyond duties having been well received in his role in Steve Hackett’s abnd and also a long time ally of Wakeman, he ultimately cuts the mustard when he steps up to deliver the Chris Squire showcase on Fish, respectful yet with suitable aplomb.
The setlist may almost pick itself – an ‘old – new’ tradeoff between the Rabin years with plenty from the 90125 album which rejuvenated the Yes model, scattered inbetween classic Yes and based seemingly round Fragile and their early days, bar a concession to a ‘newer’ song in 1977’s Awaken. Twenty minutes of glorious splendour and one of those songs that the trio have given a little refresh with a deep Eastern themed overture ahead of the instantly recognisable Wakeman intro. The middle section includes Anderson on a very prog portable harp before the “Master of images…” section took off, never failing to do anything other than lift and inspire.
Some might bemoan the lack of an intimate Anderson/Wakeman moment on The Meeting which has been featuring, but with such an embarrassment of riches, you can never please everyone all the time. They may also point to the fact that Jon might have missed a verse in Rhythm Of Love – the hybrid Yes song which recalls the early Seventies with its Siberian Khatru-ness lines of “morning daydream, midnight fever” and the more contemporary rhythm of love itself – but no apology or explanation was necessary.
Regardless of whatever name you wish to use, an evening of Yes music and more was purely a cause for celebration and a chance to marvel at old pros who are still cutting it in their advanced years. None more so than Anderson – faint traces of his Lancastrian/Accrington roots still there – who at the age of 72 has no right to be singing as well as he does. The trio are clearly having a ball, evidenced by the ongoing nature of the collaboration and in the true spirit of Yes, who knows where it may lead.
The ARW website
All words and live photography by Mike Ainscoe. You can find more of Mike’s writing on Louder Than War at his author’s archive. He can be found on Facebook and his website is www.michaelainscoephotography.co.uk