A first studio product of them is yet to come. But as a live act, the Yes formation around Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin and Rick Wakeman has been convincing all along since 2016. The recording "Live At The Apollo" now documents for the first time the stage qualities of the Yes fission product. It raises the question of the true guardians of the rich heritage of progressive rock pioneers.
Yes are a cosmos in their own right. In contrast to Genesis, who simply lost more and more of their original members, the competition has constantly acquired new musicians, all of them masters of their trade. The first major upheaval took place at Yes in the eighties. On the album "Drama" Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman were replaced by Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes. Three years later they left again, Anderson came back, as did founding member Tony Kaye, and for Steve Howe Trevor Rabin was now with them. After "Big Generator" Anderson got out again and teamed up with Bill Bruford, Wakeman and Howe. The upheaval had become a rupture: There were de facto two Yes formations. The second caesura took place in 2008 with the departure of Anderson due to illness. The death of Chris Squires in 2015 drove Anderson, who in the meantime had teamed up with Rabin and Wakeman, to finally get the new band project up and running. Since 2017 they play under the name Yes featuring ARW.
eclipsed: Why did you record the concert in Manchester in spring 2017 for your first release?
Rick Wakeman: First Trevor decided that we should record what our Yes incarnation stands for, how we play this music, in front of a studio record on a concert recording. Then we looked at the venues, and the Manchester Apollo offered itself especially because it had the best pitches with the best perspectives for cameras.
eclipsed: The setlist contains material from the seventies to the early nineties. How do you approach these different periods?
Wakeman: It's interesting because apart from the "Union" tour, where eight of us were on stage, Trevor and I never played live together. When the idea came up with ARW, Trevor came to me for lunch in England. How do we do that? The music I was with and he wasn't, or vice versa? And he said, "What's your fear?" I replied, "That you're trying to play like Steve Howe." He then said that we have to try to add our own touch to each other's music without giving up what the music originally stood for.
eclipsed: What does that mean in concrete terms?
Wakeman: We came to the conclusion that with all these great songs like "And You And I", "Heart Of The Sunrise", "Roundabout" or "Awaken", where Trevor didn't play, he of course had to reproduce the typical guitar lines contained in them. At the same time he should imagine that he would have been in the studio with the original recordings. I did exactly the same with Trevor's songs like "Rhythm Of Love", "Changes" or of course "Owner Of The Lonely Heart". This literally took the tracks to another sound space, especially "Awaken".