(c) Rob Shanahan - 2012
There’s nothing like a good summer music festival -- make that a Yestival.
Hosted, of course, by legendary progressive-rock band Yes, the day-into-night Yestival will be presented, in full quadraphonic sound, on Saturday, Aug. 3, at the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden, N.J., which is near Philadelphia.
“This is a concept we've been trying to put into motion for some time, and only now we've been able to turn it into reality,” said Yes bassist Chris Squire. “We’re looking forward to starting Yestival out in the Philadelphia area, which has been a Yes stronghold since the ’70s.”
If you're a devout prog-rock enthusiast, you're sure to appreciate the main event, during which Yes will perform two classic album, each in their entirety: 1971’s “The Yes Album” and 1972’s “Close to the Edge,” the latter being one of the holy grails of the progressive-rock era -- and other material too.
Yestival will also feature Genesis tribute band The Musical Box; arty symphonic-rock curiosity Renaissance, including vocalist Annie Haslam; Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy, led by the virtuoso Emerson, Lake & Palmer drummer; Volto!, a new group whose superb drummer just happens to be Danny Carey of prog-metal powerhouse Tool; and other prog-centric acts.
“To say that I am excited to play the Yestival would be an understatement,” Carey said. “I have been listening to Yes for over 40 years now so this will literally be a dream come true." Volto’s debut album, “Incitare,” is due out July 23.
Yestival is hardly the first time Yes has had some fun with their own name. Check out their 44-year-old catalogue and you’ll embark upon “Yessongs,” the famed triple-LP live album from 1973; “Yesshows,” another concert set, from 1980; and “Yesterdays,” a ’75 collection of lesser-known gems; and don’t forget about “Yesyears,” a weighty 1991 4-CD retrospective.
This year has been an especially exciting one for Yes, whose lineup currently features guitarist Steve Howe, bassist Chris Squire, drummer Alan White, keyboardist Geoff Downes and vocalist Jon Davison, who is filling the vocal role usually reserved for Yes cofounder Jon Anderson. In fact, the group has been touring the world, and this romp marks the first time since 1973 that the English players have performed an album in its entirety -- make that three classics in their entirety: the aforementioned “Yes Album” and “Close to the Edge” plus 1977’s then-comeback album “Going for the One.” “Going for the One” holds a special place in this writer’s own prog-geek heart: When I attended my first Yes show back in the day at Madison Square Garden, the group was on tour for that record, performing in-the-round and opening the performances with the wonderful "Parallels."
Meanwhile, Yes' current tour through North America will continue beginning July 6 in Paso Robles, Calif., and include stops in Anaheim, Calif., Las Vegas, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Montreal, and, finally, Indianapolis.
At Yestival, The Musical Box will unleash their historically accurate reenactment of a Genesis concert -- and that would be the early incarnation of Genesis fronted by Peter Gabriel. To commemorate the 40th anniversary of Genesis’ album “Foxtrot” -- another sacred prog work -- the Box will perform their own “Foxtrot Show” just the way Genesis did it in ’73. When Gabriel himself saw a performance by the Box some time ago, he remarked, "The Musical Box recreated, very accurately, what Genesis was doing.” Meanwhile, Genesis cofounder, guitarist and bassist Michael Rutherford noted, “It was better than the real thing.” Featuring another iconic musician, Carl Palmer's ELP Legacy will definitely dazzle with inventive versions of classic Emerson, Lake & Palmer, the technically accomplished, keyboard-centric trio who will forever hold a lofty ranking in progressive-rock history. A confession: ELP was my own first rock concert, and the show I witnessed can actually be heard on “Live at Nassau Coliseum ’78.” But for an even better document of the live ELP, check out "Welcome Back My Friends to the Show That Never Ends: Ladies & Gentlemen, Emerson Lake & Palmer" -- another six-sided mega-recording that captures the uncompromising trio while they were touring the "Brain Salad Surgery" album. (Incidentally, that show was recorded at a time when ELP and Yes were selling out large arenas and sizable stadiums, sometimes in a matter of minutes, and they weren't just considered progressive acts but two of the biggest bands on earth.) But even with that kind of popularity, thanks to albums like ELP's incredibly arranged "Tarkus" and Yes' uniquely artful "Fragile," the heyday of prog has received its share of disses, like the ridiculous worst artists of all time list that Blender, an off-shoot of boob-happy lad-mag Maxim, published a while back before folding. ELP made the list at No. 2; Yes weren't on it, but their longtime keyboardist Rick Wakeman was (alongside famous non-prog acts like the Doors and Mick Jagger).
Renaissance, featuring vocalist Annie Haslem, has been making music for about the same time Yes has. At Yestival, their curious blend of progressive, symphonic music will counter the heavier performances in a delightful way.
Yestival will also include a second stage with performances by up-and-coming outfits such as Scale The Summit, a special appearance by The School Of Rock and an art showing by Roger Dean, whose fanciful covers and visuals of Yes, Asia and Uriah Heep have been an important element in the history of progressive rock.
Don't miss what will surely be an incredible day and night of amazing music.