STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
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Our sources at the Keswick Theater have told us that Oct. 15-16 dates with ARW will sell out.
But fear not, there is also an evening of “Yes music and more” Oct. 14 at the Sands Event Center in Bethlehem.
What’s all the excitement about? Singer Jon Anderson, guitarist Trevor Rabin and keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman haven’t shared a stage together since Yes’ 1991-92 “Union” tour, which had the progressive group’s ‘70s and ‘80s lineups in the same place at the same time.
Flash forward about 25 years and the trio have formed a new band, with Lou Molino on drums and Lee Pomeroy on bass. “It’s gonna be very exciting, very urgent,” Rabin said in a phone interview from his home in Los Angeles. “It’s as if we’ve been playing together 30 years, with none of the usual band politics.”
Although the South African native had doubts in the beginning, Rabin said ARW felt like it came together more organically than the eight-man “Union” Yes. However, even though ARW has still-unreleased new music to share when they come to the area, the song Rabin is enjoying playing the most on stage is “Lift Me Up” from “Union.”
Rabin has a distinct place in Yes lore for writing and singing their sole No. 1 hit, “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” and starting with the album “90215,” shifting the band’s sound from a tendency to meander and explore their musical virtuosity, to leaner, radio-friendly rock.
To this day, he finds himself turning down requests to sample “Owner of a Lonely Heart” in hip-hop songs with lyrical content he finds objectionable.
After leaving Yes and carving out a remarkable niche as a film score composer — including “Remember the Titans,” “Armageddon,” “Gone in 60 Seconds” and both “National Treasure” movies — Rabin found himself in an uncomfortable spot. At the 2012 ASCAP Film & Television Awards, he received a Henry Mancini Award for composing, as well as a request by the producers to strap on a guitar and play.
“I don’t really do that any more,” he politely told them.
But luckily, Rabin’s drummer son, Ryan, and his band, Grouplove, were in attendance. “Ryan said to me: ‘We’ll back you’.”
Still reluctant to perform, Rabin’s son finally changed his mind by saying: “Dad, just play ‘Owner of a Lonely Heart’.”
“That’s when I realized we’ve been playing it wrong in Yes all these years,” Rabin said, laughing.
Back in 1982, when Jon Anderson decided he was joining Rabin’s new band, Cinema — which was already comprised of Yes alumni Chris Squire, Alan White and Tony Kaye — Rabin was not keen on calling the band Yes, which had disbanded the previous year.
“I didn’t want to be a tribute band,” he explained. “I remember Chris Squire sheepishly telling me: ‘You know you’re going to have learn some of the old songs.’ In South Africa, Yes wasn’t a big band. But Rick Wakeman’s ‘Six Wives of Henry VIII’ was popular, and I liked that.”
When asked about his relationship with Squire, who died last year, Rabin said his death was a catalyst in forming ARW. “Chris was forever supportive of me. I have a very deep affection for the guy. We loved like brothers, and fought like brothers. I was the last bandmate, ex-bandmate, to see him.”