ARW at the Wang Theatre in Boston, MA

ARW at the Wang Theatre in Boston, MA

I had the privilege of seeing Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman (ARW) play twice on their current tour, An Evening of YES Music & More.  I’m not exactly sure what the “more” refers to, except that they did play one bit from the ABWH album and their was a brief drum solo, but that hardly seems worthy of tacking “more” onto the title of the tour, but whatever – on with the show! 

Jon Anderson ARW

“That last song was about my wife. This next song is about the earth. Uhm… that’s pretty much the range of topics I cover. And YOU LOVE IT. NOW BOW DOWN BEFORE YOUR GOD!”

The last time I saw YES (in person and the live stream show), Jon Anderson was not amongst them.  That’s problematic for me – at best.  Anderson is the very soul of YES, so when he’s not there, it’s better than no YES at all, but it is a pale comparison. (Not to be confused with the current version of YES including Steve Howe and other people, which basically amounts to a YES cover band.) Fortunately, Anderson is back and in nearly top form (they played “Awaken” in a lower key than the recording – the only reason I can guess is because it’s easier to sing) and man it was great to see.  Jon Anderson forever!

Trevor Rabin in the house!  I’d never seen Rabin live before and he’s every bit as good as he was back on the old days.  These shows hammered home how much I prefer Steve Howe to Rabin, but that’s not a slight against Rabin – it’s just a matter of personal taste.

Trevor Rabin ARW

Also, as he’s gotten older, he started to look a lot like the Dick Tracey villain Flattop.

Another rare treat:  I got to see Rick Wakeman live for the first time and like Rabin, time has done little to wilt his divine powers.  I think it is a bit harder for him to get from keyboard to keyboard when he has to go over to a different rack quickly, but his hands are just as fast as ever.  The power of the cape!  Yes, he was wearing a cape, the legend is true, but underneath, instead of some intricate matching costume, he was simply wearing a t-shirt and sweatpants. I guess at his age, the show counts as a workout.  That’s fair.

Rick Wakeman ARW

The cape in action.

Rounding out the tour is bassist Lee Pomeroy and drummer Louis Molino III.  I thought Pomeroy has a very “I know exactly what you want and here it is” approach and the capability to do it while Molino kinda had his own ideas about how to play a few bits here and there, but didn’t deviate too much from the playbook.  Molino’s solo on “The Fish” was pretty much exactly what I’d heard Chris Squire play in the past – a fitting tribute.  Both of these guys seemed to be having a ball in a very “I can’t believe I’m in YES” sort of way and provided excellent backing vocals.  No complaints… but I’d love to hear Alan WhiteAlan White.

Look how majestic the cape is!  LOOK AT IT!  LOOOOOOOOOOOOOK!!!

If there’s anything I’m critical of on this tour, it’s the mix.  I’ve heard this show twice in two superb theaters and I didn’t love the sound.  It’s not bad, but it’s not perfect, either.  It’s often tough to hear the bass, sometimes Rabin is too loud, some (or at least one) of his pedals are muddy and I wasn’t in love with Wakeman’s mix, either.  He has so many keyboards that he’s running his own PA system (and, presumably, out from there to the house PA), so I guess the problem is there as sometimes, I just couldn’t hear him and one (or at least one) of his organ sounds was muddy to the point that it was tough to pick out what he was playing.  It’s not show ruining, but the mix could be better.

Video by someone who was closer than I was

After personnel, the setlist is always a huge concern when I go to see YES.  Given that Rabin was on the tour, I understood that they would mix their popular 70s stuff with songs from 90125, which isn’t exactly my favorite album, but this is a “when in Rome” situation.  So I get that, but I do with they would have found a better way to feature Wakeman, and more often.  Which brings me to:

I prefer “Close to the Edge” to “Awaken”
When it comes to 20 minute YES songs, I prefer “Close to the Edge” to “Awaken.”  While “Awaken” does give Wakeman a long solo spot, I don’t find it to be a particularly interesting solo and it kinda brings the festivities of a live show to a grinding halt.  I get that “Close to the Edge” features a ton of Steve Howe but I’d much rather hear Wakeman’s parts on “Close to the Edge” than his solo on “Awaken.”  It’s not close.

I was also disappointed they didn’t play anything off their 1994 release Talk as I had thought Anderson had mentioned this in an interview, but I can’t find it now. They’re closing the show with “Roundabout” as the encore, and I’m not a big fan of the bridgeless version in the sense that I think they should either play a song or not.  I understand that at some point they were playing “Starship Trooper,” but I didn’t hear that at either show.

All things considered, I had a great time at both shows and my complaints are mostly personal preference and nitpicks rather than actual issues.  If you get a chance, check out this tour – it’s a rare pairing of excellent musicians.

Oh and the concert tees are uglier than sin.


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About Jamie Insalaco

Jamie Insalaco is the author of, and editor in chief of

Posted on November 4, 2016, in music review and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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