The Royal Affair Featuring Yes, Asia, John Lodge and Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy Touches Down at Irvine’s Five Point Ampitheater
By Andy J. Gordon
Progressive rock pioneers and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees Yes are headlining this summer’s A Royal Affair, with Asia, John Lodge (of The Moody Blues) and Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy all traveling together for the first time. The Southern California stop of the tour hit the Five Point Amphitheater in Irvine on July 27, 2019. And boy, did they all deliver with virtuoso performances by each of the four bands, the show spanned well over three hours and thrilled the mostly baby-boomer audience.
Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy band opened the show. The tribute to late ELP members Greg Lake and Keith Emerson featured the still-impeccable drum technique of Palmer. Shock-rock pioneer Arthur Brown belted out vocals for a portion of the set; his own 1968 chart-topping smash, “Fire,” by The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, was a crowd favorite. Palmer was the drummer for that pre-ELP band, so the two go back a very long way.
The classic ELP songs like “Karn Evil 9” and “Hoedown” drew big applause as guitarist Paul Bielatowicz (who has been with Palmer since 2003) and bassist Simon Fitzpatrick wailed away. Palmer, still looking fit at 69, stripped off his t-shirt, a staple of his performances from the 70s through the 90s, while playing a lengthy, thundering drum solo during the set-closing “Fanfare for the Common Man.”
John Lodge’s set featured classic hits by Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees The Moody Blues. Lodge played his bass and sang hits like “Timothy Leary,” “Gemini Dream” and “I’m Just a Singer (in a Rock and Roll Band).” Jon Davison, the vocalist for Yes, joined Lodge for a duet on the set-closing Moody Blues favorite “Ride My Seesaw.”
Asia blasted onto the stage as John Lodge rolled off. Back in 1981, Asia was a successful super-group spin-off project made up of Steve Howe and Geoff Downes from Yes, Carl Palmer from ELP and John Wetton from King Crimson. Wetton passed away in 2017 and guitarist and vocalist Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal has joined the group for this 2019 tour. Both keyboardist Downes and bassist Billy Sherwood do double duty, playing with both Asia and Yes. Howe remained off-stage, however, for the early part of the Five Point set, with Thal handling vocals and blistering solos on a double-necked guitar.
The band opened with “Go” and “Don’t Cry” before launching into The Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star.” Downes explained that he was a founding member of The Buggles and the song had the distinction of being the first video ever played by MTV on August 1, 1981. At the end of the song, Steve Howe came out of the wings to thunderous applause and the band played the distinctive opening chords for “Wildest Dreams.” The still-super group followed with “Sole Survivor,” “Only Time Will Tell” and closed out their set with “Heat of the Moment,” which included an audience sing-along.
That revved-up crowd went wild when the members of Yes came out to close the night of historic prog. Original drummer Alan White was not on stage for the start of the set as the versatile Jay Schellen handled the drum kit, joined by Howe, Downes, Sherwood and Davison. The band played several of their longer classics including Drama’s “Tempus Fugit” and Close to the Edge’s “Siberian Khatru.” Along with those, this tour’s setlist also boasts “Going for the One” and “I’ve Seen All Good People.”
Davison does an incredible job of duplicating the alto tenor range of original band vocalist Jon Anderson. The other musicians played with such precision that it was almost like hearing the studio albums again. Howe was particularly impressive playing various electric guitars, a pedal-steel guitar and a lute. His solo acoustic guitar performance of “Clap” from The Yes Album nearly stole the show.
Alan White finally came out to take over on drums for Paul Simon’s “America,” a song that Yes rearranged and recorded in 1970. The band then launched into “The Gates of Delirium,” a heavy, long track from 1974s Relayer album that is based on Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Downes and Howe played impressive solos during the instrumental portion of the song before finally ending the set.
The band came back out for an encore with John Lodge joining them. To highlight the evening’s British theme, the band performed a version of John Lennon’s “Imagine” with Davison and Lodge on vocals. Drummer Alan White played on that song ‘s original recording and other Lennon solo material. Lodge exited the stage as Yes launched into scorching versions of “Roundabout” and “Starship Trooper” to end the night of a memorable performance and prove that Yes is very much still vital in 2019.
July 27th, 2019 - FivePoint Amphitheater, Irvine, California
Review by James West, The-Rocker.com Photos by Danette West, TheRockerChic.com
The Prog Rock Gods blessed Five Point Amphitheater in Irvine, Ca recently with what truly was “The Royal Affair” for all to witness!
For those of you who know me personally know that I am mostly a “classic rock” kind of guy who likes to write mostly about bands like Zeppelin, Sabbath, and Kiss. In reality, the only “progressive” type rock bands that I really got into in the 70s were bands like Rush, and…. Rush, and…. Oh, and then there was this band called Rush…. Don’t get me wrong. During the 70s and 80s I did enjoy songs like Roundabout, Ride My See-Saw and Heat Of The Moment, but they didn’t have that “Hard Rock” heaviness that I craved and still crave to this day. So, this evening would prove to be both an eye-opener as well as an ear-opener for me in more ways than one, starting with Carl Palmer.
The Royal Affair Tour July 27, 2019 FivePoint Amphitheatre Irvine, CA Concert Review & Photo Gallery
Review & Photos by Charlie Steffens
Some of progressive rock’s most revered performers — Yes, Asia, John Lodge, and Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy — joined an enthusiastic crowd of their fans for the Southern California stop of The Royal Affair Tour.
Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy, a trio paying homage to Emerson, Lake & Palmer members Greg Lake and Keith Emerson, opened the show as people were still showing up (as is typical on a sunny Saturday, the freeway to the venue was loaded with summer traffic). In addition to drummer Carl Palmer, ELP Legacy features guitarist Paul Bielatowicz and bassist David Pastorious.
Classic Emerson Lake & Palmer songs such as “Karn Evil 9” and “Knife-Edge” sounded true to form in the instrumentation, adding a nuance here and there. Guest singer Arthur Brown (The Crazy World of Arthur Brown) at 77 years old added crowd-pleasing levity to the set, performing his 1968 hit “Fire,” which Palmer appeared on. Amazingly fit for a rocker in his late 60s, Palmer’s extraordinary drumming was showcased throughout the set, notably in the last song, “Fanfare For The Common Man.”
The Moody Blues’ longstanding member John Lodge, who was in good voice, played bass on a string of Moody’s songs like “Legend Of A Mind,” “Gemini Dream,” and “I’m Just A Singer (In A Rock and Roll Band)”, sharing the music he has performed for over 50 years.
Lodge was joined by Yes singer Jon Davison for “Ride My See-Saw,” amid a cheering audience, many of whom were on their feet dancing and singing along. The 1968 Moody Blues smash hit proved its timeless magic with the crowd, ending the set on a high note.
At sundown, Asia came onstage, welcomed by the applauding three-generation audience. Original Asia members Carl Palmer and Geoff Downes were joined by Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal on guitar and lead vocals, with Billy Sherwood on bass and backing vocals. Downes and Sherwood had been pulling double-duty with both Yes and Asia on this tour. Palmer was multi-tasking as well, but didn’t falter whatsoever.
The band’s set sounded top-notch instrumentally, but you couldn’t get around the fact that John Wetton’s distinct voice was missing from the equation (a co-founding member of Asia, he died in 2017). A couple of songs deep into the set, Downes took the mic and cited the origin of “Video Killed The Radio Star” from his former band the Buggles. There may have been hundreds in the audience who didn’t know that the song was the first video ever played by MTV in 1981 — until Downes told the story.
The excitement spiked as Yes’ Steve Howe got onstage for “Wildest Dreams.” This was the moment when the Asia set really got started. Howe took guitar duties while Thal set his axe aside, putting his focus into belting out the lead vocals. The loud, brooding intro of “Sole Survivor” was enthralling — a memorable Royal Affair moment with Downes, Howe, and Palmer all together playing the 1982 classic. “Only Time Will Tell,” an even bigger hit in the commercial sense, followed and “Heat Of The Moment” closed the set to cheers.
Yes opened their set grandly with “No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed” before tearing into “Tempus Fugit,” a track from 1979’s Drama album. Singer Jon Davison, who has been with Yes since 2012, looked relaxed and sounded more confident than in previous outings with the band. Several times, a faint-sounding “He sounds just like Jon Anderson” could be overheard from the crowd.
While there are only two longstanding Yes members (Steve Howe and Alan White) in the current lineup, the complex songs, spanning every era of the band’s career, were played particularly well. For Yes fans — unless you had taken a peek at a set list of a previous show on this tour to see what you were going to hear ahead of time — this varied set had some surprises in store.
Bathed in the spotlight, Howe played “The Clap,” his remarkable acoustic guitar instrumental from The Yes Album. Drummer Jay Schellen filled in for White at certain points of the show, performing his duties deftly, while staying low key. A surrealistic vibe loomed over the crowd during “The Gates Of Delirium” as Downes and Howe displayed their mastery.
For the encore, Lodge returned the stage to sing John Lennon’s “Imagine” with Davison. White, who had played drums on the original 1971 “Imagine,” also played and stuck around for “Roundabout” and “Starship Trooper,” where Yes proved again that they are, after all these years, still the kings of progressive rock.
YES brought their Royal Affair Tour to the FivePoint Amphitheatre in Irvine, CA on July 27. The band has been touring annually with changes in the theme each year. For this tour, YES has brought on board ELP Legacy's Carl Palmer, Moody Blues' John Lodge, and ASIA. Some of the groups have members in common like Palmer and ASIA, Geoff Downes with YES and ASIA, Billy Sherwood with YES and ASIA. Also, members of each group guested with each other.
This tour of prog-rock titans started at 6:30 PM with the incomparable Carl Palmer. His trio includes guitarist Paul Bielatowicz and bassist David Pastorius (filling in for Simons FitzPatrick). Palmer's lightning-fast set started with "Karn Evil 9: First Impression Pt. 2”. Joining Palmer was Arthur Brown, the leader of Palmer's first major band, Crazy World of Arthur Brown. Brown is as wild as ever with his appearance. Brown appeared throughout the set and it was a special reunion especially when they played "Fire." Palmer's set included one of his world-famous drum solos. With the passing of both Keith Emerson and Greg Lake in 2016, Palmer continues their legacy as one of the greatest prog-rock groups of all time.
The second act of the night was bassist John Lodge who was inducted into the Rock Hall of Fame just last year as a member of the Moody Blues. Lodge played a set of all Moody Blues songs except for “Saved by the Music,” which was recorded by Lodge with fellow Moody Blues bandmate Justin Hayward. For the last song, “Ride My See-Saw,” Jon Davison from YES joined in.
Second-to-last was none other than ASIA. Last month was former Guns N' Roses guitarist Ron Bumblefoot Thal's first show with the group. After many lineup changes over the years, the original lineup of Geoff Downes, Steve Howe, Palmer and John Wetton reunited in 2006. Howe left the group again in 2013 with the passing of Wetton in 2016, YES bassist Billy Sherwood took over. ASIA played a set full of hits like "Only Time Will Tell," "Soul Survivor" and ended with "Heat of the Moment.” Howe joined in for the last three songs of the set while Bumblefoot only sang lead vocals.
To end the evening, YES took the stage with their lineup of lead vocalist Jon Davison, guitarist Steve Howe, drummer Jay Schellen, keyboardist Geoff Downes, and bassist Billy Sherwood. Drummer Alan White is the longest standing member of the band, however, he didn’t join until the last song before the encore. YES played the epic 21-minute song “Gates of Delirium” with White and Schellen trading places twice throughout the song. YES swept the night away with hits such as “Going for the One” and “America.” The encore consisted of John Lennon's "Imagine," which White played on the original recording, "Roundabout," and "Starship Troopers.” As always, YES put on a magical show and took the crowd on a journey through their hits.
Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy Setlist:
Karn Evil Nine: First Impression, Part 2 - Emerson, Lake, and Palmer
Hoedown - Emerson Lake and Palmer
Knife-Edge - Emerson, Lake, and Palmer
Fire- The Crazy World of Arthur Brown
Fanfare for the Common Man - Emerson, Lake, and Palmer
John Lodge Setlist:
Steppin’ in a Slide Zone - The Moody Blues
Saved by the Music - Justin Hayward/John Lodge
Legend of a Mind - The Moody Blues
Gemini Dream - The Moody Blues
Isn’t Life Strange - The Moody Blues
I’m Just A Singer (In A Rock N Roll Band) - The Moody Blues
Ride My See-Saw - The Moody Blues (With Davison)
Video Killed the Radio Star- Buggles
The Smile Has Left Your Eyes
Lucky Man - Emerson, Lake, and Palmer
Geoff Downes Keyboard Solo
Sole Survivor (With Steve Howe)
Only Time Will Tell (With Steve Howe)
Heat of the Moment (With Steve Howe)
No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed- Richie Havens
Going for the One
I’ve Seen All Good People
America - Simon and Garfunkel
The Gates of Delirium (White and Schellen)
Imagine - John Lennon (With White and Lodge)
Roundabout (With White)
Starship Trooper (With White)
[Thanks to the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine for this backup of this Yes memory]