ANDERSON, RABIN and WAKEMAN Celebrates Classic YES at the Fox Theatre

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If you read my concert reviews regularly you’ll notice a trend—I much prefer the older acts, the classic rock and roll bands that are now regulated to “oldies” stations. The best shows I’ve ever seen have consistently been by veteran talents. ARW, consisting of Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin and Rick Wakeman of the seminal progressive rock band Yes, proved once again that terrific bands, like fine wine, only get better with age. Why Yes isn’t already in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame I can’t even begin to fathom.

Yes was co-founded in 1968 by frontman Jon Anderson and bassist Chris Squire. Over the years their membership seemed to revolve constantly, with some nineteen musicians at one time or another being credited as members. Rick Wakeman brought his keyboards to the group in 1971, and South African guitarist Trevor Rabin joined in 1983, bringing a more commercial sensibility to a band that at the time favored longer concept songs similar to early Genesis and Rush.  The three musicians only worked together on the tour for the Union album in 1991-1992, but they had not worked collectively in the studio until Wakeman brought ARW together in the wake of Chris Squire’s death in 2015. This is how Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman came to perform on the “An Evening of Yes Music and More Tour” at the Fabulous Fox Theatre in St. Louis on November 9, 2016. If the tour comes anywhere close to your town, I strongly encourage you to make plans to see them!

The three rock legends hit the stage along with Lou Molino III on drums and Lee Pomeroy on the bass guitar for a solid two and a half hours of expertly crafted music, bright, uplifting lyrics and the realization that Trevor Rabin may just be the most underrated rock guitarist of all time. I used to think Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac or Alex Lifeson of Rush were at the top of that list, but I had never even considered Rabin at all. He melted my face off the entire show, making his guitar soar with Jon Anderson’s natural alto tenor voice or Wakeman’s Minimoog synthesizer. Wakeman drew some appreciative shouts from the audience for his retro attire, sporting an early 1970s classic prog rock sequined cape over a basic gold tunic and trousers. He looked like a Middle Earth village Bürgermeister, or a late 70s professional wrestler. He only came out from behind his extensive rack of various keyboards and synthesizers to do mock battle with Rabin on the most 80s of instruments: the keytar, but on the way back to his usual position he took a moment to play the end of the song from the wrong side of the instrument. He nailed it, of course. That’s what rock gods do. Anderson apologized very early in the set for being under the weather, and indeed his voice was a bit raspy and weak at first. As the show went on, however, he seemed to overcome his malady and hit his trademark high octaves. His voice still rings out as strong and unique at the age of 72 as it ever has. I still can’t hit some of his higher notes without vocal cords immediately going on strike. 

The set list included 90125’s “Cinema,” “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” and “Changes,” Close to the Edge’s “You and I,” The Yes Album’s “Perpetual Change,” and “”I’ve Seen All Good People” and of course “The Fish,” “Long Distance Runaround,” and “Roundabout” from Fragile.

 My Uncle Mike was always a big fan of Yes, and he is a big reason why I found myself diving headfirst into the whole progressive rock scene almost two decades too late in the early 90s as I finished high school. He turned me on to Peter Gabriel-era Genesis and while I had already become a Yes fan thanks to the heavy rotation of “Owner of a Lonely Heart” and “Leave It” during MTV’s zenith, I had yet to really understand or appreciate the epic grandeur of progressive rock’s long concept pieces.  Thank you, Uncle Mike, for inspiring me to stretch my music horizons.  

For more information on ARW and their tour schedule, please visit, and keep an eye on for more great shows coming to the storied stage of St. Louis’ historic venue.

5.0 / 5.0