When three-fifths of the classic lineup of rock band Yes joins two more gifted musicians under spotlights, musical magic apparently happens.
The core trio, billed as "Yes featuring Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin and Rick Wakeman," has released a new concert DVD, "50th Anniversary Live at the Apollo," which boasts spectacular sound and visuals. The document proves that Anderson still possesses impressive singing skills, while Rabin and Wakeman retain their spots in popular music history as a great guitarist-singer and keyboardist, respectively.
Yes classics like "I've Seen All Good People," "And You and I," "Heart of the Sunrise" and "Long Distance Runaround" are powerful without ever losing their original melodic flavor, as do Yes' 1980s favorites "Owner of a Lonely Heart," "Rhythm of Love" and "Changes." Fueled by Rabin's gritty guitar — that guitar intro has to be one of the most-recognized sounds in all of rock — "Owner of a Lonely Heart" impresses, but it's the DVD's version of "Changes" that reaches new heights of greatness.
The 120-minute concert, which also is available in Bluray, CD and vinyl-record formats, also shows band newcomers Lee Pomeroy (bass) and Louis Molino III (drums) doing their fair share of metaphorical heavy lifting. Pomeroy digs deep into his Rickenbacker's strings to perform the seemingly impossible, summoning some of the tones originally created by Yes' original bassist, the late Chris Squire; Pomeroy's tight playing possibly shines brightest on set-closer "Roundabout."
Resembling Journey drummer Steve Smith in looks and, at times, in style, Molino does the equally difficult task of covering the drum parts originally laid down on vinyl by Alan White and Bill Buford. Molino's drum work is fluid and meshes flawlessly with the other instruments, and it's a bonus that Molino and Pomeroy both provide harmony vocals.
Not only are Pomeroy and Molino expert craftsmen, but they seem to really be buzzing from the opportunity to be playing with Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman. The instrumental chemistry is evidenced in the players' chops and smiles.
Yes, it's true that this version of Yes is one of two incarnations still touring. The other Yes has been simply billed as Yes and includes Steve Howe, Alan White, Geoff Downes, Jon Davison and Billy Sherwood. Some fans have bickered with each other about which version of Yes to support, as if it were another one of the million DC-versus-Marvel arguments that plaque the Internet.
Regardless where those fans feel their allegiance should fall, one thing is without question. "50th Anniversary Live at the Apollo" is deserving to grace the collections of all Yes fans.