Jon Anderson & Co just as sweet, but much more spontaneous than Yes
By Louis Du Moulin
ROTTERDAM — Exactly how much Yes is there in the concert luggage of Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman & Howe? As much as possible, is the redeeming answer to this key question, given by the reunited quartet of ex-members last night in an Ahoy' filled with 7,000 curious people.
Also on stage, the foursome, led by singer Jon Anderson, are musically just another continuation of Yes, the renowned symphonic rock formation that was allowed to leave its mark on the seventies until the punk revolution. But without the bass-throbbing executioner and co-founder Chris Squire, who with others still sails under the (with people over thirty) well-known flag.
Hence the official avoidance of the obvious group name by the reunions. ABW&H have repeatedly claimed that they have no problem with that, but on the other hand they have started looking for a lure in the vicinity of the tried-and-tested code name. As a result, they are now touring under the just permitted title 'An Evening Of Yes Music Plus...' In terms of content, the extras were limited to the (titleless) album released this spring, on which Jon Anderson in particular was allowed to indulge himself as composer and producer. Earlier, during the penultimate regrouping of Yes, that was not possible due to the emphatic presence of guitar talent Trevor Rabin. This young South African may have turned the figurehead of sympho-pop into a solid rock band, Jon Anderson& Co are now following the more familiar paths. ABW&H — in touring line-up supplemented by guest musicians Tony Levin (bass), Milton McDonald (rhythm guitar) and Matt Clifford (keyboards) — sound just as apple syrupy and vulnerable as Yes in the early 1970s, before the exodus began. The many quotes from that most memorable period (marked by 'The Yes Album, 'Close To The Edge' and 'Fragile') fitted in seamlessly with the most recent repertoire, which is at most slightly more accessible.
Compared to the last Yes concert on Dutch soil (July 1984), ABW&H twice for about five quarters of an hour was a real breath of fresh air. Because as much as possible, all instrumental powerhouses and other effects were avoided. Not the show element, but the music — often presented modestly and excellently amplified — was central. The spontaneity went so far that there was even room to submit requests (of course 'Heart Of The Sunrise'). Added to this the relatively simple way of touring (not by personal limousines, but by bus) one should perhaps give ABW&H the benefit of the doubt: contrary to what is often suspected, this renewed collaboration is not directly based on financial motives.