Quintessential YES: 50th Anniversary Tour Featuring ARW

ARW=YES performing at Celebrity Theatre

Review and photos by Fred Kuhlman
Promoter: Danny Zelisko Presents
Venue: Celebrity Theatre
Date: Friday August 31st, 2018

YES is a British progressive rock band that is celebrating their 50th year since they were originally founded in 1968 by Jon Anderson and Chris Squire.  Over the years, the band has gone through a number of different lineups with 19 different musicians playing in the band at some time.  A few years ago, Jon Anderson got together with Trevor Rabin and Rick Walkman (YES alumni) and formed ARW.  They are now touring as ARW=YES.  Jon Anderson is known as the voice of YES.  Rick Wakeman joined the band in the 70s as the amazing and colorful keyboardist.  Trevor Rabin joined YES as their lead guitarist in the 80s with Jon Anderson and helped produce YES’s first #1 hit song, “Owner of a Lonely Heart” in 1983.  The current band is rounded out with Lee Pomeroy on bass and Louis Molino III on drums.  Jon is the lead singer on most songs with Trevor, Lee and Louis providing backing vocals.  However, for a couple of songs, “Hold On” and “Changes”, Jon shares the lead singing role with Trevor.

Jon Anderson, Lead Singer for ARW=YES

The show started with everyone but Jon on stage playing “Cinema”.  After a couple of minutes, Jon joined them and started singing with his distinctly wonderful voice.  For “Hold On”, Jon turned over the initial singing role to Trevor.  Trevor also started the song with a 12-string guitar to give the opening of the song its unique sound.  Personally, for me, the highlight of the show was when they played “Heart of the Sunrise”.  For the last song of the set, they performed a combination of “Owner of A Lonely Heart” and “Sunshine of Your Love”.  During the song, Rick came out from behind his massive keyboard setup and played a keytar.  Both he and Trevor initially jammed in the middle of the stage, and then much to the fans delight, they left the stage and went into the audience.  Trevor went to the left side and Rick went to the right.  Finally, they ended up together at the back and played for Danny Zelisko (the promoter).  During this time, Jon was playing acoustic guitar and jammed with Lee on bass.  Eventually everyone returned to the stage and they completed the set.  After a short break, they came back for their encore and played the fan favorite, “Roundabout”.

The Celebrity Theatre is a small venue and for tonight’s show they only utilized half the venue, since they did not want the stage to rotate.  Because of the small setup, we did not get the full effect of the ARW=YES show.  We missed out on the backdrop screen and laser light show.  What we did get is the raw sound and incredible musicianship of the band.

Jon Anderson singing “Hold On”

Jon Anderson is the voice of YES and tonight we got to experience the raw power and magnificence of his voice.  At first, I was wondering why Jon was wearing a golfing/workout grove on his left hand.  Then I realized that he was wearing it to protect his hand as he played the different tambourines.  Jon was also wearing a truly amazing jacket.  It was a white jacket with colourful green streaks all over it.

Rick Wakeman playing keyboards on opening song, “Cinema”

Rick is an impressive presence behind his multiple keyboards in his flowing multi-color cape and tonight he showcased that he was the true master of the keyboards.  Probably the highlight was when he emerged from behind his keyboards and played keytar in the middle of the stage.  With his impressive height, flowing hair and stunning red cape, he looked like something out of the renaissance.

Trevor Rabin plays 12 string guitar of “Hold On”

Then there is Trevor Rabin on guitar.  I believe that he is one of today’s most underrated guitarists.  The way his fingers floated over the frets and his way of pounding out the riffs shows that he is truly gifted guitarists.  One thing most people don’t realize is just how complex some of YES’s songs can be and what it really takes to master them and Trevor is marvelous.

It only took 34 year for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to induct YES.  For some strange reason the voters seem to dislike all of the great progressive rock bands of the 70s and 80s.  However, the fans love YES and continue coming to shows even after 50 years.  Their music is so powerful and loved that they are getting remixed by the extraordinary sound engineer Steven Wilson.  If you haven’t heard the remix of Fragile, then you are missing a truly stunning album.  It brings a remarkable new sound to this already phenomenal album.  I would recommend checking out the album remixes.  Also, if you get a chance to see ARW=YES, you will not be disappointed., they put on a great show.

Photos © Fred Kuhlman 2018, All Rights Reserved

YES (ARW) Setlist:                                (Album)
Cinema                                                 (90125)
Hold On                                                (90125)
I’ve Seen All Good People                      (The Yes Album)
Changes                                                (90125)
And You and I                                        (Close to the Edge)
Rhythm of Love                                     (Big Generator)
Perpetual Change                                   (The Yes Album)
Lift Me Up                                              (Union)
I Am Waiting                                          (Talk)
Heart of the Sunrise                               (Fragile)
Awaken                                                 (Going for the One)
Owner Of A Lonely Heart / Sunshine Of Your Love       (90125 / Cream cover)
Roundabout                                           (Fragile)


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