On Sunday November 20th, ARW (3 members of the legendary group YES) came to the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix, Arizona to delight the fans with an outstanding 2.5 hour show of classic YES music. ARW is made up of Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin and Rick Wakeman. Lead singer, Jon Anderson was amazing with his signature vocals. Even in his seventies, Jon has a strong and clear voice that was able to reproduce his classic sound of the early 70s YES albums. Rick Wakeman is still a master of the keyboards and provided the classical and symphonic background sounds of YES. Trevor Rabin provided the signature guitar riffs so prevalent throughout all of the YES songs. The band was completed with the addition of bassist Leo Pomeroy and drummer Louis Molino III.
YES was known for their progressive rock style with complex rhythms, complex time signatures and amazing vocal harmonies. Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman left the band and just this last year decided to tour on their own as ARW. The show consists of YES songs from the early days to the 1983 release of the album 90215 that provided their first #1 US hit, “Owner of a Lonely Heart”.
Rick Wakeman entered the stage in his Black and Silver cape and immediately encircled himself in his massive 10 rig arrangement of keyboards and synthesizers on one side of the stage.
Trevor Rabin took up his position opposite Rick. Since Trevor had a guitar tech providing new guitars as needed, his setup was minimal on stage.
The last to enter was Jon Anderson, who took center stage with his single mic stand.
The show started with YES’s Grammy Award winning song, “Cinema”. The first real highlight of the night for me was “I’ve Seen All Good People”. It started with Jon’s amazing vocals, then in the middle, both Trever and Rick came in with their signature riffs. During “Heart of the Sun”, the bassist, Leo Pomeroy, came out to the front of the stage for a mini solo. At the completion of the song, the crowd stood and gave the band a minute long ovation (the first of many). Next Trevor got to sing lead on “Changes” while Jon played acoustic guitar. Co-founder and longtime YES bassist, Chris Squire, died a few years ago and Jon dedicated the next song, “Long Distance Turnaround” to Chris. I always like it when the band gives a little background about a song. Jon told the story about being on the island of Montserrat and playing a game of cricket and being beat by a group of 9 and 10 year old kids from the local school. Later that night, the band went and recorded the song “The Meeting” at George Martin’s studio on the island. During “Awaken”, Jon plays the harp while Rick was on one of the keyboards configured like a church organ. It was amazing to listen to and it almost made me believe I was listening to one of the classical master like Bach, Mozart or Beethoven. The final song of the set, “Owner of a Lonely Heart” started with Trevor providing the signature guitar riff. Rick joined Trevor and Jon at the middle of the stage with a keytar (keyboard/guitar) to jam and then Trevor and Rick moved into the crowd. Danny Zelisko (promoter) was lucky enough to get a personal jam session by both Rick and Trevor as they passed by his seat, prior to them returning to the stage. The audience was on their feet cheering as the band gathered together midstage for a bow. After a few minutes they came back for an encore and played the fan favorite, “Roundabout”.
Having been a fan forever, all can I say about the show is superb, amazing, and outstanding. If you are a fan of progressive music, like YES or just like musicians that are truly talented and not just some people banging on their instruments, then this is a show to see.
Again, what can I say about the Celebrity Theatre as a musical venue, it is wonderful. They upgraded the lighting and house sound system to truly provide an outstanding experience for everyone attending. Tonight’s show was in their ¾ house setup where the stage did not rotate. I was all over the venue taking photos including up front and almost at the last row and I never had to use ear plugs and the music was crystal clear everywhere. If you get a chance to see a show here, I would highly recommend it.
Review and photos by Fred Kuhlman
Promoter: Danny Zelisko Presents
Venue: Celebrity Theatre
Photos © Fred Kuhlman 2016
Perpetual Change (The Yes Album)
Hold On (90215)
I’ve Seen All Good People (The Yes Album)
Lift Me Up (with Drum Solo) (Union)
And You and I (Close to the Edge)
Rhythm of Love (Big Generator)
Heart of the Sunrise (Fragile)
Long Distance Runaround (Fragile)
The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus) (Fragile)
The Meeting (Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe)
Awaken (Going For the One)
Owner of a Lonely Heart (90215)