YES Featuring ARW Electrify Long Island, NY 9-24-17

YES Featuring ARW Electrify Long Island, NY 9-24-17

Fatigued eyes lit up like luminous orbs back in April when Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, and Rick Wakeman revealed that they were planning a 2017 North American Tour under the name YES. An announcement that came after their rightful induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the project initially called ARW, was soon renamed to honor the icon band they were a part of for so many decades. In enough words, Anderson said, “It’s very simple: The fans want it, we want it, and it’s our right to use the name.”

Celebrating over four decades of visionary music created by YES that showered the desert parched souls of men and women the world over, the tour itinerary, which began at the end of August, will make stops along the way in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and ultimately wrap it up in Florida on October 10th. Amidst it all, on the eve of Sunday, September 24th, the group arrived at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts on Long Island in the village of Brookville. 

Admittedly, the signature YES sound has been making slinky shaped oscillating tidal waves for some time now, leaving their sonic imprint all over the world. That in mind, the band of Jon Anderson (vocals/guitar), Trevor Rabin (guitar/vocals), Rick Wakeman (keyboards), along with Lee Pomeroy (bass), and Lou Molino III (drums) still retains the freshness of a perfectly ripe fruit ready for plucking, thus quenching fans thirst for dazzling and peerless music regardless of age.

Each song is masterfully crafted and absolutely brilliant in design. These songs echo the angst and societal moods that infiltrate today’s mainstream society just as they did years ago when they first came out; which is why YES has enjoyed such longevity. That is why it is not surprising that YES have finally received a well-deserved admission ticket to the hallowed grounds of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to join alongside in immortal glory with their musician heroes and friends. On that historic night, fences were mended and a stronger YES emerged from the fire of ire. This was a most serendipitous moment, for YES had been reanimated by familial brotherly love and ready to trek and rock the world with the sword of song!

Sure, the lineup has changed, and they have endured the tragic passing of co-founding Bassist Chris Squire in 2015, but with this carnation of YES, it would be hard-pressed to detect a difference with the sound of the band onstage today and that of yesterday if you just closed your eyes. That just goes to show how well this ensemble of musicians embrace the essence of the band’s mission and how skillfully they meld into its core. 

This picture painted, the portal to the YES world was revealed by the wide open doors of the revered concert hall at Tilles Center, forcing all the cares on the outside to be dropped in a huge heap on the floor. The air crackled with the excitement as guests were greeted with a backdrop of vibrant blue with moving dark blue pin wheel shapes in various sizes and randomly assembled creating a visual environment of a psychedelic image in anticipation for the show to begin. 

Finally, the band graced the stage in their retro style outfits while keyboard master Wakeman was draped in a scintillating regal cloak of onyx shade and all joined together to pop off the champagne cork with a celebratory rendition of 1983’s “Cinema.” This was followed by an enthusiastic instrumental piece complete with melodic guitar riffs that emulated the tidal waves crashing against the beach of the mind reinforced with the lyrical chorus of inside out, outside in 1973’s “Perpetual Change.” Next was a crowd favorite “Hold On” with a kick ass drum solo introduction where the interplay of instrumentals with the crooning voice of Anderson had hands clapping and bodies swaying. 

Moving right along, “South Side of the Sky,” from 1971’s Fragile, was rife with kinetic energy rising and ebbing like the wind. The mixture of vocals and instrumentals gave way to the amazing keyboard solo that echoed off the walls and lulled minds with its timeless beauty. Notwithstanding any excitement, “You and I (Close to the Edge)” launched with a soft synthesizer solo touching a chord in the well of human emotion before building up a psychedelic overtone that awakened the visual and sonic senses of an inner world. Then, “Changes” began with a xylophone synthesizer sound that rose in crescendo and then tapered off to make way for the thoughtful reflection of the vocals sung with the warmth and high note intensity sustained by Anderson.

Equally mind-blowing, the raw sound of “Rhythm of Love” came before later YES song “I Am Waiting” with its powerful lyrics.  From there it was on to “Heart of the Sunrise” before the spiritual gem “Awaken.” Like each song before it, upon the conclusion, a standing ovation ensued in the music hall, showing the audience appreciated every moment. Additionally, Anderson showed off his harp skills as his fingers made magical sounds that would lull a giant to sleep with its beauty. Also, at one point, Wakeman wowed fans by getting offstage and walking down the passageways, giving himself access to all who gathered about within his reach. He enthusiastically shook proffered hands and basked in the limelight of admiration streaming off the bodies of all he passed by.

Acting as the end of the main set, the next musical hors d’oeuvre was the catchy and fast-paced hit “Owner of a Lonely Heart” with some of Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love” tossed in for good measure. Inspiring the crowd’s most rousing reaction yet, many were on their feet applauding thunderously as if in a stampede. So where do we go from here? Well, YES could not do anything else but show their gratitude by performing “Roundabout” as their grand finale.

All in all, concertgoers departed the beautiful Long Island music venue with faces aglow and a spring in their step. This was living history and a wonderful celebration of a labor of love. Everyone experimented, with tones and textures, a hallmark fabric of Progressive Rock! Jon Anderson has not lost his touch. In fact, he can still reach those highs and has the knack for spellbinding the audience with his vocals. This is while the band as a whole leave an indelible mark on the minds and hearts of every single person who hears them. A triumphant concert experience, a night out seeing this show is a perfect way to cap off an Indian Summer. 

Photo credit: Mark Schoen Photography

Tour Dates:
10/4 – Boston, MA, Orpheum Theater
10/7 – Niagara Falls, NY, Seneca Casino
10/8 – Red Bank, NJ, CCount Basie Theatre
10/11 – Clearwater, FL, Ruth Eckerd Hall

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Jackie Knightowl
knightowlghostwriter@gmail.com
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