Fans raised their arms in supplication as the Quintessential Yes roared towards the climax of their 50th Anniversary Show at London’s 02 Arena (June 17th). They were moved by the sheer power of ‘Owner Of A Lonely Heart, ‘ the hit song that revived the band’s fortunes in 1983 and ensured another 35 years of classic rock excellence.
It was just one of a series of powerful performances that gripped the huge audience packing out the vast arena, many of the throng, so shaken by the roar of keyboards, guitars, drums and vocals, they were in danger of spilling their regulation plastic beakers of chilled 02 lager.
It was rare pleasure to see three of the key members of Yes reunited for a tour that is even now heading across the U.S. having delighted British fans, many of whom have supported all the tumultous, evolutionary stages of the group, since its birth in 1968.
“I can hear every word you say,” responded founder member, lead singer and composer, the indefatigable Jon Anderson, as someone yelled requests from the dark depths of the stalls. Or maybe it was simply a warm welcome. Equally welcome was the appearance of the wizard of the keyboards, Rick Wakeman, clad in one of the most tastefully glamorous stage costumes of his career, a red and gold cape worthy of Merlin himself. It certainly seemed to imbue him with magical powers as he powered up arrangements like ‘Cinema’ and ‘Hold On’ from the ‘90125’ album.
Trevor Rabin, the superb guitarist and songwriter who first brought his gifts to Yes with in the Eighties, transformation era, appeared alongside Rick and Jon, in a red and black outfit, as menacing in its way as his attacking, high speed barrage of notes and special effects.
Jon sang with all his old melodic, romantic splendour as he brought back old favourites like ‘I’ve Seen All Good People’ and ‘And You And I’ from ‘Close To The Edge’ and ‘Heart of the Sunrise’ from ‘Fragile.’
It was great fun when Rick and Trevor roamed out into the audience, still playing (Rick with a Roland keyboard strapped on like a guitar) for a musical duel, surrounded by security and fans armed with Smart phones, videoing it all for posterity.
Soon, it was time for the encore with a not so fragile ‘Round About’ and a chance to meet and greet the band back stage. As Jon said outside his dressing room. ‘Fifty years – I can’t believe it, And you and I were there at the beginning!’