Yes Featuring Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman: North American Tour 2017 [Concert Review] 5 642

Yes Featuring Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman: North American Tour 2017 [Concert Review] 5 643

Yes Featuring Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman: Fraze Pavillion, Kettering, Ohio – Sept. 12, 2017

The “New” Version of Yes hit all the right notes! As a newly-minted member of the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame you would think that all would be peace and love in Yes world. In case you haven’t been following along with their internal politics … shortly after bass legend Chris Squire passed away in 2015, the other co-founder Jon Anderson (who had been kicked out of the band in 2008) contacted two other former Yes-men, Rick Wakeman and Trevor Rabin, and a new band was born. They touted themselves initially as ARW but earlier this year they officially began using the Yes name – creating a universe with two competing Yeses. Oddly enough, this sort of thing has happened before with Yes. However this being 2017, things are a lot different now and there is a real divide between fans of the Steve Howe-led band and this upstart unit. The frostiness extends to band members who cold-shouldered each other at the Hall Of Fame induction and during interviews and Facebook posts. All of that partly explains why this version of Yes works so well: they actually seem to enjoy playing together. And Tuesday night’s performance at the Fraze Pavillion confirmed that they seriously intend to compete with Yes (Official).

The short instrumental “Cinema” opened the show and that is important for a few reasons: it set the tone for the Rabin-era heavy set, it’s responsible for the band only Grammy and it sounded extremely impressive. But it also served to give Jon Anderson a solo entrance on “Perpetual Change”, a song from 1971’s The Yes Album. As the oldest song on the night’s set list it was refreshing to hear it reworked with care. The rhythm section of Lee Pomeroy on bass and drummer Louis Molina III added punch and professionalism but their inclusion makes perfect sense. Pomeroy has worked with Rick Wakeman before (as well as ELO and Steve Hackett) and Molina has done work for Rabin and his film scores. There’s familiarity but there’s also great cohesion as a musical unit. This materialized most effectively when the band delved into their radio friendly 80’s material. “Hold On” and “Changes” fared particularly well. Rabin would clearly rather play his guitar riffs than Steve Howe’s. His energy level was much higher during songs from 90125 and Big Generator. Rick Wakeman was (conversely) very active on tracks he did not originally play on. His finger dexterity is still very good and one expects him to shine on prog epics like “Heart Of The Sunrise” or “And You And I”. But on the more accessible songs his ever-busy and ornate playing cut through and added what those tunes always needed in the first place: Rick Wakeman.

Throughout the night it was a revitalized Jon Anderson that stole the show. After being forced out of the band he co-founded for respiratory issues it was a joy to witness his angelic tenor at full strength. He remarkably hit all the high notes. At 72, that’s pretty impressive. Like a guy with something to prove. Not that there was even a trace of bitterness in the performance. Only joy at being able to play this music. Or in the joy he took when a hawk flew over the stage – his eyes transfixed on its beauty in flight. It’s hard not to find his harp and his hippie love sensibilities charming in these angry times. Though the average age of the crowd was not much younger than Anderson, there were a splattering of younger fans there as well. They were there to see him. To these fans, Anderson is the true voice of Yes and this version of the band is the more legitimate one. A convincing argument in that case was Going For The One stand out track “Awaken”. It’s one of those songs that is supposed to transport and enlighten – the very essence of a Yes show and a real test of the band’s moxy. With the aforementioned harp in hand, Anderson led the quintet through a superb rendition and set the show up nicely for the predictable finale of “Owner Of A Lonely Heart” – complete with Rabin and Wakeman (with keytar) wondering through the crowd, followed by an abbreviated “Roundabout” as an encore. And that, to me, is the core of the debate. This band gives more weight to the eighties, the Howe-led one to the seventies. But at the end of the night no one was really thinking too much about that. They were there to celebrate life. They were there to celebrate Yes.

Set List:

1. Cinema
2. Perpetual Change
3. Hold On
4. South Side Of The Sky
5. And You And I
6. Changes
7. Rhythm Of Love
8. I Am Waiting
9. Heart Of The Sunrise
10. Awaken
11. Owner Of A Lonely Heart
12. Roundabout (encore)

Scot Lade

Scot Lade

Scot is a classically trained guitar player who has played in such legendary Florida bands as Disorderly Conduct, Foul Existense (sic) and, most recently, wedgepiece. He currently resides in Bellefontaine, Ohio.
Scot Lade
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  1. Nice to see that they played “I am waiting” from TALK, one amazing YES albus/disc that rarely, if ever, was performed live.

  2. Looking forward to seeing ARW for the 3rd time this tour! Aka YES also! . I love how Jon tells stories about the songs and how it relates to the band. Trevor is awesome as usual! Rick is great! Love that cape! When Jon brings out his harp it’s awesomeness in itself! He is the only rocker who dies this! So I’m going tonight! Thanks fir your review!

  3. Excellent review! Went to the show in Vienna, Virginia on the following night. Truly a magnificent performance by the entire band – extremely tight. They played their hearts out, and it amazes me that Jon Anderson can still sing so beautifully, so consistently, and with such amazing passion. My 20 year old daughter (a music major for vocal performance) accompanied me to the show, and she was enthralled by Anderson’s angelic voice. Great mix of classics (Fragile-heavy) and 80s (90125-heavy). I thought my heart was going to explode when, after a very cool intro (Cinema), the band launched into Perpetual Change. Awaken pretty much sent the audience to another dimension…

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Ruby Boots: Don’t Talk About It [Album Review] 0 507

Ruby Boots
Don’t Talk About It
Bloodshot Records [2018]

Fire Note Says: Aussie country rocker with promise debuts States-side for Bloodshot Records.

Album Review: The second album from Ruby Boots roars out of the gate with “It’s So Cruel,” a cow-punk rocker that recalls the energy of Jason & The Scorchers. But before you get your hopes up, producer Beau Bedford (of The Texas Gentlemen), perhaps eager to display the singer/songwriter’s versatility, offers her up in the big doo-wop wall of sound of “Believe In Heaven,” nostalgic for the early days when Phil Spector was producing girl groups as rock & roll was first finding it’s way into the mainstream. “Don’t Talk About It,” the album’s title track, follows. It’s another ballad with orchestration that draws inspiration from that old school retro-sound.

Ruby Boots (real name, Bex Chilcott) comes from Australia via Nashville and had one previous album on an Aussie imprint before this debut on Bloodshot Records, a journey made by Kasey Chambers and others. Following the first three big production numbers, Boots sounds more at home on “Easy Way Out,” with a chord progression borrowed from the Tom Petty songbook, and the country weeper “Don’t Break My Heart Twice.”

The second half of the album sticks closer to country/rock formulas, with “I’ll Make It Through,” co-written and with harmony vocals by Nikki Lane, “Somebody Else” and “Infatuation,” are set up by punchy rhythms, strong vocal hooks, and solid, rocking guitars and minimal twang. Okay Boots has some twang in her voice on “Infatuation.” On these three, and the closing angry, country kick you to the curb slow burner with bluesy guitar and honky-tonk piano/organ that is “Don’t Give a Damn,” Boots sounds a bit like a young Lucinda Williams as the song heats up like a Rolling Stones’ song.

It’s the nearly a capella, almost hymnic “I Am A Woman,” that exhibits Boots’ voice in all it’s unique purity, in a spiritual song that declares her feminine gifts and her internal strength of being, echoing strength alongside vulnerability. On the whole this is a solid, inviting outing, driven by good songs and equally solid performances. Ruby Boots will be one to watch.

Key Tracks: “It’s So Cruel” / “Easy Way Out” / “Infatution”

Artists With Similar Fire: Nikki Lane / Lone Justice / Lydia Loveless

Ruby Boots Website
Ruby Boots Facebook
Bloodshot Records

– Reviewed by Brian Q. Newcomb

Scot Lade

Scot Lade

Scot is a classically trained guitar player who has played in such legendary Florida bands as Disorderly Conduct, Foul Existense (sic) and, most recently, wedgepiece. He currently resides in Bellefontaine, Ohio.
Scot Lade

Bill Mallonee & The Big Sky Ramblers: Forest Full Of Wolves [Album Review] 1 892

Bill Mallonee & The Big Sky Ramblers
Forest Full of Wolves
Self-Released [2018]

Fire Note Says: Bill Mallonee is one of those best-kept secrets you really want to share with the rest of the music loving world.

Album Review: No one is ever going to call singer/songwriter Bill Mallonee an under-achiever. His latest release, a 10 song full-length effort, Forest Full of Wolves is his 78th album by his own count. Mallonee spent the 1990s fronting the Athens, GA-band Vigilantes of Love, shuffling from one label to the next, driving a van from coast-to-coast playing every alternative rock/Americana friendly venue who would let them. Hometown friend, Peter Buck (R.E.M.) co-produced one of the band’s early more-acoustic albums, the Killing Floor. The band’s 1999 album, released on three different labels of the course of 18 months, Audible Sigh was produced by Nashville’s favorite side-man Buddy Miller, and includes a guest vocal by Emmylou Harris, as well as some of Mallonee’s best loved songs. Paste Magazine has named him one of the 100 greatest living songwriters.

A rough count, say there were 10 songs per release (usually there were more), puts Mallonee’s songwriting output at nearly 8000, and those are the one’s he’s recorded. Now basic logic would suggest that they can’t all be good, and surely not all of them are memorable, but Mallonee’s work, his actual raison d’’etre, has proven especially consistent over the decades, and in the 2010’s he’s delivered a solid album’s worth of tunes each year, with a noticeable uptick in production values starting with 2011’s The Power & The Glory. Last year’s excellent The Rags of Absence was a case in point, with Mallonee especially attentive to his lead guitar parts.

Forest Full of Wolves continues to chronicle the challenges to working class people and even songwriters, as if Mallonee is creating his own musical version of John Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath” for what he calls this “new dark age.” “Greed and fear (have) gained the upper hand,” he sings in “Changing of the Guard,” so he’s “grabbed a guitar & a notebook or two… became a phantom with some conjuring ‘neath the moon.”

Musically, Wolves takes the energy of Rags to the next level, with bigger, noiser guitar tones. Mallonee captures a Neil Young jamming with Crazy Horse in the garage vibe throughout, which is likely a lot harder to pull off since Mallonee’s playing all the instruments. Mid-tempo alternative country rock at it’s most earnest and relevant, and against all odds, Mallonee manages to offer a word of hope. “In the New Dark Age” he sings, borrowing the title from a different song that he recording on 2014’s The Winnowing, “the best thing you can do is fall in love.” Of course, “Love Is Always Risky Currency,” but it’s the best chance any of us have of surviving in this “Forest Full of Wolves.”

Like many artists scrambling to make art in the challenging digital marketplace and survive financially Mallonee has struggled to reach out and connect with Americana fans, break ground with new audiences, even though he’s stayed off the road in recent years. As a fan who first heard the singer songwriter live in the early 90’s, and many times over the years, Bill Mallonee is one of those best-kept secrets you really want to share with the rest of the music loving world. It’s artists who wear their passion on their sleeves, who keep pouring out their hearts in songs, that make the music that matters. (One reason to order the hard CD copy of this one, is the cover art produced by another singer songwriter, Chris Taylor, from San Antonio, TX.).

Key Tracks: “In the New Dark Age” / “Voodoo Ink” / “Trimmed & Burning”

Artists With Similar Fire: Neil Young / Bob Dylan / John Prine

Bill Mallonee Website
Bill Mallonee Facebook

– Reviewed by Brian Q. Newcomb

Scot Lade

Scot Lade

Scot is a classically trained guitar player who has played in such legendary Florida bands as Disorderly Conduct, Foul Existense (sic) and, most recently, wedgepiece. He currently resides in Bellefontaine, Ohio.
Scot Lade

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