Yes kicked off its Yestival tour over the weekend with unique headlining sets that included several rare tracks.
The group's 13-song set featured at least one track from each of its first nine albums, starting with "Survival" -- the opening track from Yes' 1968 self-titled debut album -- and including the first performance of "Madrigal" since 1979 and seldom-heard selections such as "South Side Of the Sky," "Machine Messiah" and "Soon" in addition to favorites like "Yours Is No Disgrace," "Roundabout" and "Starship Trooper."
Guitarist Steve Howe tells us that the group landed on the Yestival concept after a few years of playing shows that featured entire albums:
"We did focus on the 70s for quite awhile but that's not on exclusive thing, but at the moment we're still doing that. That also gave us a perspective about what Yes is and what this music's like, and what I particularly like about it, which we've never really done with the album series, is we've never showed a chronological development of Yes' music in the 70s, which I think is a great opportunity."
Yestival also features Todd Rundgren and Carl Palmer's ELP Experience, while Howe's son Dylan is part of Yes on drums for the tour.
Yestival runs through September 15, while Yes will host a Cruise To The Edge during early February out of Tampa, Fla.
Gary Graff is an award-winning music journalist who not only covers music but has written books on Bob Seger, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen.