Over the Labor Day weekend Seattle fans were given a treat in the form of Yestival. Yestival was YES‘s summer tour that included Todd Rundgren and Carl Palmer on the lineup. When the tour was announced it was done so with an interesting concept. The 2017 Yestival shows consisted of one track from each studio album from YES (1969) to DRAMA (1980), chronologically, with a few surprises thrown in. Sadly for many, the last few dates of the tour were cancelled shortly after the Seattle show due to the tragic and unexpected death of guitarist Steve Howe’s beloved younger son, Virgil. We at YesterdazeNews want to extend our deepest condolences to Steve and his family in this very sad time.
For those of you who missed this tour or were planning on seeing one of the dates that were cancelled, we’ve got full show galleries you can view below at the bottom of our review.
As much as I deeply love music of all of these artists and the many times I have listened to so many of their albums, I have to openly admit that before this show I’d never had the opportunity to see any of these groups live before. I was really excited to get the chance to see them, and all in the same evening was a fortunate turn of cosmic events! To quickly sum up Yestival, it was a fun night that thrust fans into a journey of musical wonder and dreamy performances with a great hippy vibe to it.
The show was held at the Tulalip Amphitheater at the Tulalip Resort Casino just north of Seattle. The weather was perfect for an outdoor show at the end of summer. Fans of all ages and walks of life showed up early for this show as to not miss a single performer. Some fans took advantage of the meet and greet opportunities to be able to meet their musical idols before the show. Others were content to just sit back and soak in all the music and enjoyable vibes flowing throughout the venue.
Up first for the night was was the man who needed no introduction, Carl Palmer of the legendary Emerson, Lake and Palmer. His show is known as Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy. With Carl Palmer were his bandmates whom he made a point of telling the audience that they are the future of music and to make sure to take notice of who they were. Who he was referring were Paul Bielatowicz (guitarist and wizard of entertaining faces, check out our photos) and Simon Fitzpatrick (the calm and collected bassist). Between the three of the them they opened the show with a flair of great music, energy and talent. It was really fun to sit back and watch this show and how the audience reacted. From time to time Carl Palmer would step out from behind the drums and approach a microphone at the front of the stage and talk to the audience about the music. I always enjoy when artists take the extra time to make a show more personable, especially artists who’ve been pioneering the way for so many others in music. Toward the end of the set Carl Palmer invited fans to take out their cellphones and record the next song and share to social media then Todd Rundgren joined the band onstage and performed vocals for the song “Lucky Man”. Truly a wonderful performance. It was a shorter setlist than the other acts of the night but very enjoyable.
Second on the lineup for the night was Todd Rundgren. Does Todd really need any introduction? In my opinion, I think not! Todd Rundgren has been making music longer than my own 45 years on this planet. He’s a pioneer, a musical genius, a super entertainer and someone that fans only need to sit a back and listen to once to fall in love with his music. He’s pioneered the way with bands like Utopia, The Tubes, TR-i, his own solo work as well as producing for many other musicians among his many talents plus he’s spearheaded a charity that helps facilitate keeping music in schools called the Spirit of Harmony Foundation. He’s also very outgoing in his opinions and is not afraid of telling you what he’s thinking nor will he apologize for them either. Earlier this year he made waves when he openly told his fans if they were Donald Trump supporters, “Don’t come to my show,” Rundgren told Variety in May 2017, “Because you won’t have a good time “, “And also, I don’t understand your frickin’ values.” Some fans were shocked and offended and took to his social media accounts to lash out while other fans came to his defense saying that’s how Todd Rundgren has always been and asked offended fans how they could be shocked with him speaking his own mind. Controversial or not, there was a huge showing by Todd Rundgren fans at the show. With him on this tour were the Global Girls on back up vocals and dancing, a number of talented musicians who made up his band and even Kasim Sulton, who is also known as being a famed Utopia member who lately has been working with Blue Oyster Cult, Don Felder as well as his own solo work in which he released his album Live Bootleg in February 2017. Todd’s set was full of entertainment, he’s got a ton of energy that can easily put many younger fans to shame! The production was spot on, great lighting, great music and full on fun. If you have yet to see a live Todd Rundgren show, you HAVE to go see him. I sat mesmerized and perplexed at how I had never seen him live before. I can tell you with certainty, it won’t be the last live show I catch.
As YES took to the stage, I couldn’t imagine how I could enjoy the Yestival anymore than I already had with the opening lineup, I was already so overwhelmed with how much fun I’d had, but believe me, YES managed to top off the show in spectacular fashion. Just looking at their stage set up before they even took to the stage I could clearly see that the show was going to be something to remember. It’s not often you see a riser set to center stage with a multitude of keyboards that when all set up form U shape, how does one play that many keys and on different keyboards at the same time? Geoff Downes could show you, he’s mastered this! Then to look to either side of the keys and see two risers with two drum kits. One of course being Alan White‘s massive kit then the other that of Dylan Howe. Of course the keys and drums were set a little further back on the stage to leave room for Steve Howe and his guitar, Billy Sherwood and his bass guitar and let’s not forget Jon Davison, his guitar, tambourine and plethora of jingling bells that hang front and center from his mic stand.
I literally sat in complete awe for the remainder of the show witnessing such greatness unfold before my eyes. I kept thinking to myself throughout the show, “How great is this?” Being that YES was working through their early catalog of music the show had such a different vibe then fans who may have discovered YES in the era of post “Owner of a Lonely Heart” in the 80’s would have expected. I do admit, I secretly hoped that song would have been one of their surprises, but sadly it was not and it really wouldn’t have fit this particular show anyway. This show had a hippy, tree hugging, yoga loving, chai tea latte feel to it, if you get what I mean. It was a show full of peaceful energy on a cosmic level. No raging music, instead fans were treated to a really special evening of music showcasing YES‘s talent and musical versatility. Fans were able to witness the progression of YES‘s music, writing style and evolvement as a band through the years, all in one short evening and set to an amazing light show. As sad as I was prior to this show that I’d never seen them live before, I am actually thrilled this is how I got to experience them live for the first time. This was an amazing show and tour. The fans that had the chance to see this summer tour were given something to remember, something very special and will have them looking forward to the next YES tour.
Carl Palmer Setlist:
Karn Evil 9: 1st Impression, Part 2
Fanfare for the Common Man
Todd Rundgren Setlist:
This Is Not a Drill
Buy My T
Hello It’s Me
Just One Victory
Time and a Word
Yours Is No Disgrace
South Side of the Sky
And You and I
Leaves of Green
Going for the One
Don’t Kill the Whale