“We are calling it ‘An Evening of Yes Music & More,’ ” says keyboardist Rick Wakeman. “And that is exactly what we want the pieces to be: ‘and more.’ So people go, ‘Wow! That was a diversion! They did that [differently].’ ”
Keyboard virtuoso Wakeman has a long and tumultuous history as a key member of Yes, the renowned British progressive rock band. Over the course of that group’s history (1969 to the present), Wakeman joined and left no less than five times; he left for good in 2004. The group’s original and distinctive lead vocalist Jon Anderson left in 2008.
But as far back as the early 1990s, Wakeman knew he wanted—someday—to work with Anderson and guitarist Trevor Rabin (a member of Yes 1982-1994) outside that group. When the sole remaining original Yes member, bassist Chris Squire, died in 2015, Wakeman decided the time was right for the long-delayed project. Yes’s original manager Brian Lane is managing the group, dubbed Anderson Rabin Wakeman. “We set the ball rolling,” says Wakeman, “and it’s been a bit of a roller coaster ever since.” The group’s name is part of a long tradition of naming supergroups—bands made up of musicians renowned in their own right—in an equal-billing fashion (see also: Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young; Emerson, Lake & Palmer).
The shared and often overlapping Yes history of the three musicians provides them with a deep catalog from which to build a set list. The trio got together in August to work up a list of potential songs. Wakeman says that the thinking was to rehearse a lot of material, “more than we actually need in the show. And it may well be that as the show progresses, we go, ‘You know what? Maybe we should put this piece in and take that one out.’ The only way to find out is to go and play them, really.”
Wakeman is enthusiastic about performing a set of Yes music for the first time in many years. He’s not quite as sold on the idea of an ARW studio album…yet. “I think there’s the rule, ‘Oh! Here’s the order you do it: You make an album, [then] you go out and tour it.’ No, no, no. Because it would look like, ‘Oh, they’re doing it for the wrong reason. They’re just doing it to make some music, make some money and get out.’” Wakeman describes ARW instead as “a long-term plan; we’re looking at a minimum of three years.” (Bill Kopp)
November 5, 8pm at Chicago Theatre, 175 North State, (312)462-6300; $48.50-$128.50.
With a background in marketing and advertising, Bill Kopp got his professional start writing for Trouser Press. His more than 2,500 interviews, essays, and reviews reflect Bill’s keen interest in American musical forms, most notably rock, jazz and soul. His work features a special emphasis on reissues and vinyl. Bill’s work also appears in many other outlets both online and in print. He also researches and authors liner notes for album reissues, and co-produced a reissue of jazz legend Julian “Cannonball” Adderley’s final album. His first book, “Reinventing Pink Floyd,” is due from Rowman & Littlefield in February 2018.