The 2017 traveling progressive rock tour titled “Yestival” made a stop at Cleveland’s Jacobs Pavilion on Sunday Night. The “Yestival” featured Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy, Todd Rundgren and of course, YES.
Carl Palmer opened the show with some amazing drum work. His band, comprised of a guitarist, a bassist and himself, put on an impressive display of musicianship. Although no one sang,the music of ELP rang true throughout the Flats.
Opening with a cover of Aaron Copland’s “Hoedown” the band then went into three classic ELP tracks: “Karn Evil 9,” “Knife-Edge” and “Lucky Man.”
Palmer did step out from the kit to address the crowd and introduce each song. This five song opening set concluded with an amazing cover of Copland’s “Fanfare For The Common Man” which truly showed off Palmer’s incredible skills on the skins.
Next up was Todd Rundgren who is out supporting his latest release White Knight.
Rundgren and his great backing band consisting of: Prairie Prince on drums, Kasim Sultan on bass, Greg Hawkes from the Cars on keys, Jesse Gress on guitar, came out wearing matching black suits and red ties.
The first couple of songs felt very similar to a techno rave, complete with two backup singers/dancers that even had Todd busting some moves with them.
It wasn’t until the fourth song, “Sir Reality” from 2013’s State album that saw Todd take off his jacket and tie and strap on a guitar.
The band was clearly having fun, but I’m not sure how many die hard YES fans appreciated the techno/dance music that Todd played for most of his set.
It wasn’t until the end of the show when most of the crowd recognized Utopia’s “One World” as a song that they knew.
Then it was a double shot of hits as Rundgren played a faster version of “Hello It’s Me” and a great rendition of “Just One Victory” before leaving the stage.
YES was the final act on this triple bill. This incarnation of YES features long time members and new Rock Hall inductees Steve Howe and Alan White. Other members of the band include keyboardist Geoff Downes, bassist Billy Sherwood and vocalist Jon Davison. Howe’s son Dylan also helps out on drums.
For this tour, the band decided to play one song from each of the first ten albums in order. Starting with “Survival” from the 1969 Yes album through “Machine Messiah” from 1980’s Drama album, all aspects of their first twelve years were represented.
Steve Howe is a legend on guitar. His mastery of the instrument was on display all evening as he switched from an electric, to an acoustic to a pedal steel guitar; sometimes on the same song!
The rest of the band are fine musicians in their own right. Billy Sherwood did an admirable job filling in for the late, great Chris Squire on bass. Geoff Downes held down the many layers of keyboards that surrounded him and Jon Davison’s voice is very similar to that of Jon Anderson.
After “Machine Messiah” was played, the band returned to encore with two more songs from the 1970s, “Madrigal” and the ever popular “Roundabout” making this evening of progressive rock complete.