You can take the guys out of Yes, but you can’t take Yes out of the guys.
That’s the word from the venerable progressive-rock band’s former lead singer, Jon Anderson, who on Saturday joins the band’s most revered keyboard player, Rick Wakeman, at Tropicana Atlantic City.
“It’s a stage presentation of the two of us performing classic Yes songs we wrote together,” explained Anderson during a recent phone conversation. “They all sound like they were written two months ago. It’s like a modern-day recital. We talk about the songs—it’s a reflection of how we feel about them in the present day.”
There will also be non-Yes material included. And there may even be a giggle or two thrown in for no extra charge. “He’s funny, crazy, wonderful, world-class,” said Anderson of Wakeman. “He likes to tell jokes. He does stand-up comedy on [British] TV and radio.”
According to Anderson, the two veteran British prog-rockers—who, at this point, appear to be gone from Yes for good due to seemingly irreconcilable differences—forged their bond in 1974, after Wakeman, now 62, suffered his second heart attack.
“I went to see him in the hospital, and he was so glad to see me,” recalled Anderson, who turned 67 this past Tuesday. “I always kept in touch with him as a friend.” That led to a tour of the United Kingdom last year. It was successful enough to merit the duo’s current U.S. road trip.
The two have also been composing together, although they seldom share the same physical space. As Anderson explained, Wakeman will send him a track electronically and “I put it on my computer and turn the microphone on. It’s spontaneous. It’s the same as him being in the same room. It’s a musical feeling. We’re on the same planet.”
Anderson hasn’t been putting all his musical eggs in one basket. In addition to working with Wakeman, he continues to do things on his own. To celebrate his birthday, Anderson on Tuesday released “Open,” a 21-minute opus that Yes fans should find pleasing because it sonically hearkens back to his former band’s 1970s heyday.
“I still feel I’m creating Yes-style music. It’s in my DNA,” he said, adding the piece will connect with “everyone who loves Yes’ music.” But beyond its sound, “Open” claims great relevance to its creator.
“It’s all about what I feel about my future of my music and my life,” he said.
For more, go to www.jonanderson.com.
Tropicana Atlantic City, Boardwalk at Brighton Avenue, 9 p.m., $65, $55 and $45, 800-736-1420, www.ticketmaster.com.