The YESTIVAL 2017 tour officially kicks off tonight (August 4) in Greensboro, NCfeaturing 2017 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees YES, special guest Todd Rundgren and an opening set from Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy honoring the magic of Keith Emerson and Greg Lake. YES—Steve Howe (guitar since 1970), Alan White (drums since 1972), Geoff Downes (keyboards; first joined in 1980),Jon Davison (vocals since 2011) and Billy Sherwood (guitar/keyboards in the 1990s and the late Chris Squire’s choice to take over bass/vocals in 2015), plus touring member Dylan Howe also on drums–will perform at least one song from each of the band’s first 10 studio albums starting with 1969’s Yes to 1980’s Drama, showcasing the storied history of one of the world’s most influential, ground-breaking, and respected progressive rock bands.
Prior to its launch, the stars of the 31-date North American tour sat down to answer a few questions about what to expect on this summer’s outing and more.
YESTIVAL 2017 Q&A
Progressive rock has continued to defy musical trends and recently gained further momentum via the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame honoring artists in the genre such as Yes and Rush. Artistically, progressive rock offers musicians the opportunity for the most imaginative musical explorations and fans an unparalleled musical journey. What are your thoughts about this?
Geoff Downes/Yes: There has been a school of thought that the Hall of Fame has overlooked British Prog Rock, which should really be defined as classic rock, but there you go. Now hopefully they will move onto ELP, Moody Blues and other classic bands.
Todd Rundgren: “Progressive” means embracing progress so you would assume that the genre is infinitely adaptable. It’s no surprise that there are young musicians that are exploring the possibilities of modern music and revitalizing the ethos that the progressive movement represents.
Carl Palmer: While I respect the work of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and have a great relationship with the museum in Cleveland, being in it has limited importance for me as an artist. As far as I can see, I was inducted in the real Hall of Fame decades ago and celebrate each day I perform. The real Hall of Fame are the thousands of music lovers and progressive rock fans that come to my shows year in and year out. That’s who matters. If someday ELP is inducted it will be an honor, but I am not losing sleep over it until that day…Trust me. As far as what progressive rock offers musicians, it is really no different in spirit or execution from any other music genre. Good music is good music. It has to do with how the musician interprets and executes the music he or she is playing.
Yes, Todd Rundgren and Carl Palmer all on one bill is a true musical summit. Can you each talk about how you’re excited to check out each other’s sets?
Geoff Downes/Yes: Yes and ELP have pushed boundaries together for many years, a natural fit, and especially this year as we all wish to honor Keith and Greg. Todd has been at the peak of the American answer to the British prog movement and it is a fascinating mix.
Todd Rundgren: It’s an embarrassment of riches, both for us and the fans. Any one of the acts could fill an entire evening so figuring out a balance that works is the biggest challenge. I’m pretty sure there will be something for everyone, us included.
Carl Palmer: Yes has a special place in my heart. They are all my mates, and in the early days, Yes had its first exposure in America opening for Emerson Lake & Palmer. I have been working with both Geoff Downes and Billy Sherwood in ASIA, so it is already a musical family that weaves itself in and out of each other. I am looking forward to touring with Todd Rundgren, as well. The work he did with his Utopia project was exceptional and reminded me of some of the best moments of Frank Zappa’s music. So, I think the fans will have a wonderful evening of music.
What can fans look forward to in your YESTIVAL set?
Geoff Downes/Yes: A track from each of the first 10 albums, sequentially, and a couple of encore staples. Plus we are raising the bar again with our production. Last year we were very proud of the “Tales from Topographic” and “Drama” production, and this year Roger Dean has again formed the foundation of our new stage show, which this year reintroduces lasers. Lasers and Yes are very happy bedfellows.
Todd Rundgren: I’m still promoting White Knight, so there will be some of that. We’re adding a little bit of Utopia music for those who really want to relive the old days. Whatever we’re playing, we like to put on a good show and get people on their feet if we can.
Carl Palmer: I have some surprises in mind. We are the opening act, and our set is only 30 minutes, so will need to focus on the shorter, radio hits of ELP; things like “Hoedown” and “Lucky Man.” There will be some music that most fans will not expect to hear. So, as we say: “Welcome back my friends…to the show that never ends…”
YESTIVAL runs through September 19 stopping throughout the U.S. and Canada. See below for the full list of tour dates. Tickets for all shows are on sale now; go to www.yesworld.com for details. Click here to watch the YESTIVAL promo reel.
YESTIVAL 2017 Summer Tour Dates:
White Oak Amphitheatre at Greensboro Coliseum Complex
Holmes Convocation Center
Pier Six Concert Pavilion
Upper Darby, PA
The Grand Theater at Foxwoods Resort Casino
Ford Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk
PNC Bank Center
The Palace Theatre
DTE Energy Music Theatre
Festival Park – Grand Victoria Casino
Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica
Oklahoma City, OK
The Zoo Amphitheatre
Sugar Land, TX
Smart Financial Centre
Las Vegas, NV
The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino
San Diego, CA
Los Angeles, CA
Grand Sierra Resort – Grand Theatre
San Francisco, CA
Queen Elizabeth Theatre
Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium
Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium
Bluestem Center for the Arts Amphitheatre
Cedar Rapids, IA
Roc Dome Arena
The Wilbur Theatre
** YES only
~ with Carl Palmer only
^ with Todd Rundgren only