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Anderson Rabin Wakeman live review - Los Angeles, Orpheum Theatre

Live Review

Venue: Orpheum Theatre, Los Angeles

Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin and Rick Wakeman revisit and revitalise classics from their former band Yes

It’s exactly five minutes to stage time and there’s chaos in the bowels of the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Los Angeles. Rick Wakeman has snatched a walkie-talkie from his exasperated tour manager and is broadcasting misleading information. “Nine minutes to stage time,” he warns, his voice crackling through the backstage area as his victim’s face sags. “Twelve minutes to stage time,” he adds, confusing matters further. “Stage time next Thursday,” is his final update before he’s ushered away for an appointment with Classic Rock’s photographer, joining the other four members of ARW for a session that lasts less than two minutes. Things are running late.

It’s already been a busy day for Wakeman and Jon Anderson. Two hours earlier, following soundcheck (a bright Rhythm Of Love followed by a wonky stab at the theme from The Muppet Show), both men are huddled together at the front of the stage, sharing a mic and tackling questions from those who’ve stumped up several hundred dollars for VIP tickets.

Trevor Rabin is under the weather and absent, seeing a doctor (Wakeman, of course, jokes that he’s undergoing a vasectomy), but no one seems to mind. For the most part they’re simply keen to establish a connection between themselves and the band… and the band they used to be. One punter says he first saw Yes in Tulsa in 1973, another at a festival in 1970. Most have followed Yes since they were teenagers, and – surprise, surprise – a few of them are teenagers.

There are questions about Stravinsky, and about the special pleasures offered by long instrumentals, but most just want to say thank you. Then there’s a meet-and-greet, the pair sitting at a table in the lobby as dozens of fans patiently wait their turn for a photo, or an autograph, or to say thanks again. Being in a band didn’t used to involve this much work.

“I really enjoy it,” says Wakeman, relaxing in his hotel lobby the following morning. “My late father said to me once that the people walking towards you always have a story to tell, and the chances are that it’s more interesting than yours. Some of their stories are gobsmacking, and I’m very aware that the hard-core who come to the meet-and-greets are our lifeblood. They enable us to do what we do, and it’s lovely. Over the years a lot of these people have become close friends.”

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