70s Progressive Rock Invades Valley with YESTIVAL at Celebrity Theatre


Review and photos by Fred Kuhlman
Promoter: Danny Zelisko Presents
Venue: Celebrity Theatre
Date: Friday August 25, 2017

Celebrity Theatre Stage for YESTIVAL concert. All 3 band’s Equipment

The first thing you noticed when you entered the Celebrity Theatre was, “Oh My God” there was so much equipment on the stage, how are the band members going to fit.  They had all of the equipment for all 3 bands all crammed on the round stage.  Because of the 3 bands performing tonight, they started the show earlier than normal.  Carl Palmer and his band started at 7PM.

Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy

Carl Palmer of Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy

Wow, what can I say but the band’s performance was great.  Carl Palmer is one of the five greatest rock drummers from the 60s and in the top 10 overall in rock.  He is a legend for both his performances and talent.  In the 60s Carl join with legendary rock stars, Keith Emerson and Greg Lake to form the second great rock power trio of that decade, Emerson, Lake and Palmer (ELP) (Cream being the first).  ELP performed all through the 70s to sold out stadiums and sold millions of albums.  A few years ago, Carl has put together a new band with Paul Bielatowicz on guitar and Simon Fitzpatrick on bass.  Together they attempt to create the sound of ELP and in my opinion, they do an outstanding job.  It is really hard to replace legends, but Paul and Simon do an amazing job.  I saw ELP three times in the 70s including their fantastic “Welcome Back My Friends Tour” and “Works Volume 1 Tour”.  This was my second time to see Carl’s new band and other then tonight’s short set, it was great.  They started with “Hoedown” and moved on to “Karn Evil 9” followed by “Knife Edge”.  2016 was really a lousy year.  We lost a large number of great rock legends include Greg Lake and Keith Emerson.  Carl dedicated the next song, “Lucky Man” to his great friend Greg.  They ended their set with “Fanfare for the Common Man” where Carl performed a drum solo.  The only thing missing from a true ELP performance was the vocals.  The sound produced by Simon and Paul on guitar and bass almost mirrored the sound of Keith on organ and Greg on bass or guitar.  Carl did hint that they might be back later this year and perform a 2-hour show.  I can only hope.

ELP never had a top 10 song or album, but they still were able to sell out stadiums and concert venues.  To this day you still hear their music at different sporting events (Karn Evil 9, “Welcome Back My Friends to the Show that never Ends”) and Greg Lakes timeless “Lucky Man” can be heard on radio stations.

A lot of people call ELP’s music pretentious.  Personally, I view ELP’s music as similar to classical, not something you dance to, but something that you listen to.  If you have every listened to a great orchestra perform Bach, Beethoven or Mozart then you can understand what I am talking about.  There are people who just produce music for the masses and then there are people and groups that create truly timeless music and I truly believe that ELP was one of those groups.  If you want to hear music to dance or wiggle your butt to, then go see the latest pop diva or boy band.  But if you are looking to listen to some great music performed by truly talented and outstanding musicians, then you should really checkout Carl, Simon and Paul.

Photos © Fred Kuhlman 2017

Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy Setlist:
Hoedown                                              (Aaron Copland cover)
Karn Evil 9: 1st Impression, Part 2         (Emerson, Lake & Palmer cover)
Knife-Edge                                            (Emerson, Lake & Palmer cover)
Lucky Man                                             (Emerson, Lake & Palmer cover)
Fanfare for the Common Man                (Aaron Copland cover)
(with Drum Solo)

Todd Rundgren

Todd Rundgren & Band

After clearing Carl Palmer’s equipment from the stage, it was time for Todd Rundgren.  The lights dimmed and all of a sudden you see 5 men walk on stage in black suits and red ties.  At the center of the stage is Todd in his black suit and typical sunglasses.  The music starts and 2 ladies come out on stage and flank Todd on either side.  They are dressed in tight black leather dress, pageboy black wigs and sporting oriental fans.  Immediately they launch into “Come”.  Todd grabs his retro “Shure 55 style” microphone and started prowling around the stage singing to different audience groups.

After the first 3 songs, Todd finally strips off his suit coat, shirt and tie and relaxes into a sleeveless shirt.  The majority of the songs for tonight’s show were all from Todd’s newer albums, White Knight, Global, State and Lairs.  The last 3 songs of the set were from his older works include his band Utopia.  During “Hello Its Me”, the crowd starts to sing along.  They ended the set with “Just One Victory”.

I originally saw Todd with Utopia back in 1985.  Todd might have gotten a little older, but he is still an outstanding performer and his voice is great.  The band he has brought together is tight and the addition of the 2-female singer really enhances the overall performance.  Todd was a strange mix between two progressive rock bands.  But he pulled it off.  Todd’s current band for this tour consists of bassist Kasim Sulton, guitarist Jesse Gress, Greg Hawkes on keyboards and Prairie Prine on drums.  He also had 2 female backup singers, Grace Yoo and Ashley Worrick.

Photos © Fred Kuhlman 2017

Todd Rundgren Set List:      (Album)
Come                                     (White Knight)
Truth                                      (Liars)
Rise                                        (Global)
Sir Reality                               (State)
The Ikon                                 (Utopia song)
Buffalo Grass                          (One Long Year)
This Is Not a Drill                     (White Knight)
Party Liquor                            (State)
Past                                       (Liars)
Buy My T                                (White Knight)
One World                              (Utopia song)
Hello It’s Me                           (Something/Anything?)
Just One Victory                     (A Wizard, a True Star)


YES taking Bow

I first saw YES back in 1978 at the ASU Activity Center.  It was an amazing show with Jon Anderson’s vocals, Steve Howe’s fantastic guitar work and Rick Wakeman on keyboards.  This was the height of the Progressive Rock movement and YES was one of the main players.  Over the years the band has changed and members have come and gone.  For tonight’s show, 2 of the members from that 1978 concert were leading the current group, guitarist Steve Howe and drummer Alan White.  They have added singer Jon Davison, keyboardist Geoff Downes and bassist Billy Sherwood.  On a few songs, Steve’s son Dylan Howe would join in on drums.

Steve Howe of YES

The show consisted of songs from the first 10 YES albums.  Howe was not on the first album YES but was added for the US Tour supporting second album Time and a Word.  Alan White joined YES in 1972 for the US tour of the group’s 5th album Closer to the Edge.  They played favorites and well-known songs, “Survival”, “Yours Is No Disgrace”, “And You And I”, “Going For The One” and “Don’t Kill The Whale”.  They also mixed in a couple lesser known songs, “South Side of the Sky”, “Machine Messiah” and “Madrigal”.  Steve is still the master of the guitar.  He played 3 different guitars to produce the unique sound required for the different songs.  Alan was good on drums, with Dylan Howe’s helped at times.  Chris Squire was the original YES bassist but when he passed a couple of years ago, he told the band to have Billy Sherwood replace him.  Seeing Billy play, you could see why Chris liked him and tonight he did Chris proud.  Jon Davison’s voices sounded a lot like Jon Anderson’s which is requirement for YES songs.  Jon did well tonight, but it was hard to understand him on a lot of the songs.

Fan dancing during YESTIVAL Show

They ended the show with one of YES’s best-known songs, “Roundabout”.  Overall, they put on a good show.  A couple of fans sitting in front of me were up and dancing almost the entire show, to a point that people behind them had to ask then to please sit so they could see.  And then there was this man with a gray beard in the second row that was fantastic time dancing during the entire performance.  The only issue I had was the quality of the vocals, they seemed a little under powered and muddy.  Having been at a number of prior shows at the Celebrity Theatre I know it was not a problem with their sound system.  I believe it was more of a problem with the mix that was done tonight.  Steve’s guitars were a little over powered which might account for the vocals being drowned out.  The other big disappointment for me was the song “Starship Trooper” was on their initial setlist as the final song, but they cut it.

Photos © Fred Kuhlman 2017

Yes Setlist:                               (Album)
Survival                                      (YES)
Time and a Word                         (Time and a Word)
Yours Is No Disgrace                    (The YES Album)
South Side of the Sky                  (Fragile)
And You and I                              (Close to the Edge)
Leaves of Green                          (Tales from Topographic Oceans)
Soon                                           (Relayer – Part of “The Gates of Delirium”)
Going for the One                        (Going For The One)
Don’t Kill the Whale                      (Tormato)
Machine Messiah                          (Drama)
Madrigal                                      (Tormato)
Roundabout                                 (Fragile)


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