Review & Set List: ARW (Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, Rick Wakeman) - An Evening of Yes Music and More @ Buffalo, NY

by Roger Wink, VVN Music

Those of us who write about music tend to refer to all musicians as artists but, in reality, there are the generic artists and the true ARTISTS, those players whose talent, professionalism and musicianship puts them in the realm of the true elite of the industry.

The main members of ARW, Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin and Rick Wakeman, definitely fall into the more elite classification. All three are ex-members of Yes, Anderson from 1968 to 2004, Wakeman at various times from 1971 to 2004 and Trevor Rabin from 1982 to 1994 and are all well experienced in the complex rhythms and dynamics that are inherent in the band's music.

They have each also made their marks on their own. Anderson has recorded solo, been a member of Anderson, Bruford, Wakman and Howe, guested on numerous albums and recorded in partnership with Jean Luc-Ponty and Roine Stolt.  Wakeman, along with his work with ABWH, has written and recorded a number of concept albums including The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Journey to the Centre of the Earth and The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Trevor Rabin left the mainstream music industry for twenty years and became a composer for films including Con Air, Armageddon, Enemy of the State and National Treasure.

That's a lot of talent to put on one stage and we haven't even gotten to Leo Pomeroy, who has played with Jeff Lynne's ELO, Take That and Steve Hackett, on bass and Louis Molino III of Cock Robin on drums.

ARW played Wednesday night at the University of Buffalo Center For the Arts in Buffalo, NY, a beautiful facility that boosted the quality of the show even higher. There was no opening act with the band taking the stage at 7:35 and playing straight through to 9:45.

Being that much of Yes follows the progressive/symphonic route of longer multi-movement pieces, ARW only fit fifteen songs into the 2-1/4 hours of show but it seemed like so much more as pieces like And You and I and Awaken wind their way through their various, distinct portions.

There was almost an even divide between 70's Yes and 80's Yes with eight from their first phase, six from phase two and a single song from 1989's Anderson Bruford Wakeman and Howe.  Fragile (1971) and 09215 (1983) was represented the most with four songs each.

Anderson, currently 72, is in truly amazing voice, hitting every note cleanly and clearly throughout the night and staying animated with motions as if he were directing an orchestra.

Wakeman, 67, is a keyboard genius on the multitude of instruments with which he is surrounded. Still wearing a cape after all these years, he provides the symphonic background that is so important to the best of Yes. Unfortunately, at one point, one of Rick's keyboards broke down so, while the crew was doing repairs, he came to the front of the stage to tell joke after joke until returning to his "safe place" behind the banks of keys.  He did venture out one more time with his keytar during Owner of a Lonely Heart to walk through the crowd with Rabin.

Rabin, 62, may be slightly rusty on guitar but it didn't show during the evening. Moving between multiple instruments, he not only nailed the 80's music of Yes, but also covered iconic guitar parts from I've Seen All Good People, And You and I, Long Distance Runaround and Roundabout with ease.

As for Pomeroy and Molino, they both embraced the music of Yes and were each given their own solo sections that showed them both to be true masters of their respective instruments.

It's hard to pick out highlights from the show as each piece had its own specific crowning moment. I would have to single out the harmonies on I've Seen All God People, the ethereal quality of And You and I and the stark The Meeting which saw just Wakeman on piano and Anderson singing.

If I had to make one criticism, it would be with the mixing on some songs. Anderson's vocals were occasionally mixed too deep, not allowing them to stand out above the rest of the instruments. That was also the case, on certain songs, with Rabin's guitar.

The set list:

Main Set
  • Cinema (from 90215, 1983)
  • Perpetual Change (from The Yes Album, 1971)
  • Hold On (from 90215, 1983)
  • I've Seen All Good People (from The Yes Album, 1971)
  • Drum Solo
  • Lift Me Up (from Union, 1991)
  • And You and I (from Close to the Edge, 1972)
  • Rhythm of Love (from Big Generator, 1987)
  • Heart of the Sunrise (from Fragile, 1971)
  • Changes (from 90215, 1983)
  • Long Distance Runaround (from Fragile, 1971)
  • The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus) (from Fragile, 1971)
  • The Meeting (Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe, 1989)
  • Awaken (from Going For the One, 1977)
  • Owner of a Lonely Heart (from 90215, 1983)
  • Roundabout (from Fragile, 1971)

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