On tour with Yes for its 50th anniversary, singer Jon Anderson can’t believe it’s been five decades.
“I wake up every morning going, ‘What?!’ Anderson says. “What happened to all those years. The interesting thing is I don’t dwell on it. For the next 30 years, I have work to do.
“Last week, I was listening to music I did with Yes when I started. Chris Squire was amazing.”
He is referencing bassist Squire who died in Phoenix at age 67.
“Quintessential Yes: 50th Anniversary Tour” comes to the Celebrity Theatre at 8 p.m. Friday, August 31. The band features Anderson, Trevor Rabin and Rick Wakeman.
“I look back at those days when we did BBC shows,” he continues. “It’s so good, so fresh. When we started Yes, it was all about stage performance, not about recordings. If you put on a good show, that’s why you’re in a band. I’m still on that band mentality.”
That hasn’t stopped Anderson from recording music. He’s writing music with members of Transatlantic and others. Yes is expected to release its first new material in 28 years by the end of 2018, early 2019.
“Writing music is like breathing,” he says. “I wake up and I want to sing. It’s very inventive.”
He’s also interested in virtual reality because “billions of people are playing videogames.”
“But they’re not spiritually stimulating at all,” he says. “In general, 90 percent of them are just to make money. They’re blowing people apart or they’re crazy sex videos.
“If you think about it, in Asia, they have tournaments where people will go watch two people play each other on a big screen. They’re blowing people up. It’s all very vicious and part of the chaos of life. All these energies are very interesting. That’s not why we’re here. We’re connected through music. That’s the soul singing to us. In the next 10 years, virtual reality will take us to a place of love.”
Anderson is excited about bringing his music to Phoenix, as he has had great experiences in the Valley.
“The first time in Phoenix, our sound guy and I went horse riding on a local ranch,” he says. “I got very stoned. We just found California grass. In English, we smoke hashish and stuff like that. I was pretty happy we got on these horses.
“We trotted for about 2 miles out in the bush. We turned the horses around and they galloped back to the farm. We hung on screaming. They wanted to get back and eat something.”
He has plenty of stories from his 50 years in Yes, and he feels honored to be a musician.
“I’m blessed,” he says. “Musicians are blessed to do what they do. They are so blessed to be in the entertainment world.”
“Quintessential Yes: 50th Anniversary Tour,” Celebrity Theatre, 440 N. 32nd Street, Phoenix, 602.267.1600, celebritytheatre.com, 8 p.m. Friday, August 31, $45-$130.