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ARW @ The City National Grove of Anaheim (12.2.16)

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“Overall, Friday’s ARW show at The National Grove of Anaheim was one for the ages and probably the finest progressive performance I have seen all year – a definite must see show in my opinion.”

 When YES fans got wind that three of the group’s best known past members, singer Jon Anderson, guitarist Trevor Rabin, and keyboardist Rick Wakeman might be reuniting for a world tour, speculation began to swirl throughout the progressive music scene.  The trio had not played together since 1990 on the highly successful YES Union Tour, and a collaboration with these three iconic musicians would be a dream come true for fans all around the globe.  In late June, rumors were finally put to rest as ARW formally announced it would be uniting once again and embarking on a 55 city US and European/Asian tour.  Original YES front-man and vocalist extraordinaire Jon Anderson summed up the reunion with Rabin and Wakeman the following way:

To be able to sing and perform with Rick and Trevor at this time in my life is a treasure beyond words.  I’m so excited to create new music and revisit some of the classic work we created many years ago, it’s going to be a musical adventure on so many new levels.” 

At the end of the day, ARW’s goal in reuniting was simply to restore the standard of excellence in performance that was established with their 1990’s shows – one which saw YES members past and present come together for the first (and only) time of the legendary band’s career.  And if that was not enough, legendary concert promoter Larry Magid (considered by many to be the architect and leader of the modern concert business) would be producing the worldwide tour.  This was going to be a show for the ages. When the dust had settled, The City National Grove of Anaheim (one of Southern California’s premier concert destinations) made the cut and would be hosting the reunified trio for a night of YES songs that would sure to please any YES aficionado. December 2nd could not get here soon enough.

Kicking off ARW’s set on a blustery Friday evening (at least by Southern California standards) was the Grammy Award winning song, “Cinema”, off the 1983 multi-platinum album - 90125.  From the first note, you could immediately tell that Anderson, Rabin, and Wakeman had an amazing chemistry about them and really enjoyed playing together.  You could not pry the smiles off their faces.  Next up from the YES vault was 1971 classic “Perpetual Change”.  This is definitive YES at its best and the first time of the evening that we got to hear the iconic voice of Jon Anderson.  His voice sounded fantastic and seemed to virtually transport you back in time to simpler time and place where the music was all that mattered.  A few songs later, “And You and I” was up.  This was, in my opinion, the best track off the Close to the Edge album and truly highlighted the keyboard mastery of Rick Wakeman.  Bottom line, this man is simply brilliant. 

One of my favorite songs of the night was another 90125 hit, “Changes”.  This song really showcased the incredible guitar talent of Trevor Rabin and IMO solidified his place as one of the finest progressive guitarists of our time.  It was face-melting at its finest.  And as a tribute to the late Chris Squire, Lee Pomeroy set the stage on fire with an killer rendition of "The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)".  It’s not often that a bassist can truly electrify an audience, but it happened Friday night here in Anaheim.  The show wrapped up with fan-favorites, “Owner of a Lonely Heart” and encore “Roundabout”.  Jon Anderson had the entire crowd off their feet and singing along to two of YES’s most famous tracks.  What an epic way for ARW to end a phenomenal night of progressive music in the heart of Orange County.

Walking back to my car, I could not help but smile knowing that I had just witnessed three of the most influential musicians on the planet today absolutely kill a 14-track set of classic YES songs.  Not only were Anderson, Rabin, and Wakeman spot-on the entire evening, their supporting cast of Lee Pomeroy on Bass and Louis Molino III on Drums were equally as amazing.   I can see why ARW chose these guys as each demonstrated flawless technique and a passion for YES music that was second to none.   Overall, Friday’s ARW show at The City National Grove of Anaheim was one for the ages and probably the finest progressive performance I have seen all year – a definite must see show in my opinion.  And as devout YES fan, all I can hope for in future is continued collaboration between these three magicians – including some fresh new material along with another world tour.    Until next time…

Stay Frosty and Rock On!




Matthew Belter

Executive Editor - Long Beach

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