Yes — 50 years!
Even the most die-hard Yes fans are probably confused about two different bands hitting the road this summer with productions billed as Yes 50th Anniversary celebrations. Having hosted dozens of members over the years since forming in 1968, the band split into two camps a few years ago while founding singer Jon Anderson was sitting out a tour due to health issues with his voice. Yes ended up hiring singer Jon Davison from a San Diego Yes tribute band, leaving Anderson, upon his recovery, to go solo (not for the first time). The “official” Yes is now guitarist Steve Howe (not a founder, but aboard much of the time since 1970), Alan White (drums on and off since 1972), Geoff Downes (first tenure as keyboardist in 1980, during one Anderson-less period), Jon Davison (vocals since 2011), Tony Kaye (keyboards 1968-1971 and 1983-1995), and Billy Sherwood (guitar/keyboards in the 1990s and now bassist, replacing late founder Chris Squire). That’s the version coming to Pechanga Resort on June 24, for a bill titled Yes50: Celebrating 50 Years of Yes.
Meanwhile, singer Jon Anderson, the only surviving founder in the current mix of Yes-men, is hitting Humphreys August 27 with Quintessential Yes: The 50th Anniversary Tour, pairing him with longtime Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman (in and out since 1971) and guitarist Trevor Rabin (first recruited in 1982), who has served as both replacement and companion (during the Union tour uniting multiple lineups) to now-rival Steve Howe. The situation is so confusing that Humphreys, on announcing their Yesshow, provided a link to the wrong band’s website! There seems to be plenty enough Yes music to go around, but a fan might have hoped that the 2015 death of founder Chris Squire would have resulted in another Union-style gathering of the tribe, rather than a splintering into confounding competitors. But, alas, that’s just not very rock and roll, is it?
Chvches — Epic bombast to spare
- Thursday, September 20, 2018, 7:30 p.m.
Open Air Theatre,
5500 Campanile Drive,
$28 - $98
Scottish electro-pop trio Chvrches will be touring with a live drummer for the first time when they open their upcoming tour at SDSU’s Open Air Theatre on September 20, where they’ll be plugging their third album, Love Is Dead, due at the end of May. Four singles have been circulated so far; “Get Out,” “My Enemy” (featuring Matt Berninger of the National), “Never Say Die,” and the newest, “Miracle,” which takes their propensity for epic bombast and bluster to levels that even Freddie Mercury might find a bit over-the-top. You can ascribe either thanks or blame for this newly double-stuffed wall of sound to the fact that, for the first time, their album isn’t independently produced. Instead, they brought in frequently flowery Eurythmics mainman David Stewart and producer Greg Kurstin, the latter best known as the primary musician on, producer for, and co-writer of Adele’s monster hit “Hello.” If you already thought Chvrches was pretty much the modern day incarnation of Depeche Mode and New Order, just imagine either of those bands fronted by Meatloaf and Kate Bush, and that’s a good idea of how the new album is likely to come off in a full live band setup.
J Balvin — Latin hit machine
- Friday, September 21, 2018, 7:30 p.m.
5500 Canyon Crest Drive,
$45 - $155
Columbian star J Balvin, a rising force in the Latin music scene, has a new album due at the end of May, Vibras, which he’ll promote with a tour arriving at Viejas Arena on September 21. Even if you haven’t heard any of his solo tracks, you likely know his songs from hit collaborations with Beyonce, Ariana Grande, Cardi B, Pharrell Williams, Justin Bieber, and more. Balvin cites as inspiration the first wave of Puerto Rican Reggaeton acts, which he melds with Columbian sounds and hip-hop lyrics and rhythms. Having learned English during his teens while living in Oklahoma and then New York before returning to Columbia, his major label debut, La Famila, spawned several hit singles, including the number two Billboard Hot Latin Songs hit “6 AM,” featuring Puerto Rican singer Farruko. A followup album, Energia, yielded four top-ten singles, and his 2017 song “Mi Gente” (with Willy William) helped him attain a reported 80 million social media followers, with a video for the track recently passing one billion views. The first two releases from Vibras, “Machika” (featuring Jeon and Anitta) and “Ahora,” indicate little change from his previous M.O., though modern technology makes it possible for anyone to create their own personal remixes of the songs by accessing previously unreleased a capella vocals and instrumental tracks from the album.
Judas Priest — plus Deep Purple!
It’s a summer for revised lineups, with Judas Priest coming to Mattress Firm on September 26 minus longtime guitarist Glenn Tipton, who recently retired from touring due to Parkinson’s Disease (although he sometimes shows up unannounced to play a few tunes). The 2011 loss of K.K. Downing had already left bassist Ian Hill as the sole founding member from their launch in 1969, although most people consider current singer (and occasional San Diegan) Rob Halford (frontman since 1973, other than a best-ignored period from 1992-2003) the definitive voice of Priest, whose Firepower album dropped in March.
Priest co-headliner Deep Purple has also experienced more roster changes than your neighborhood Burger King, though you’d still recognize at least three current members from the glory days of “Smoke on the Water,” “Space Truckin,” and “Highway Star.” In addition, they’ve had stellar Dixie Dregs guitarist Steve Morse since 1994, and he’s frankly been more versatile and willing to embrace modern rock than predecessors like the doggedly unchanging Ritchie Blackmore or inconsistent (though occasionally brilliant) contribs like Tommy Bolin and Joe Satriani. The current Purple lineup pairs Morse with the only remaining founder, drummer Ian Paice, alongside bassist Roger Glover and singer Ian Gillan (both in and out since 1969) and keyboardist Don Airey, who first began touring with the band in 2001 before being recruited as a member all the way up to their newest album, inFinite, released last year and produced by Pink Floyd/Alice Cooper/Kiss knob-twister Bob Ezrin.
Fleetwood Mac — minus Buckingham, plus Campbell and Finn
- Saturday, December 8, 2018, 7 p.m.
5500 Canyon Crest Drive,
$59 - $159
Tickets go on sale Friday, May 4, for this year’s incarnation of Fleetwood Mac, scheduled to play Viejas Arena on December 8. There’s been a lot of public skepticism over the past few weeks, after the announcement that Rumours-era guitarist Lindsay Buckingham was out of the band (again), to be replaced on tour by Mike Campbell (from Tom Petty’s group) and Crowded House co-founder Neil Finn. However, anyone who has followed Mac through its many, many lineup changes can attest that the addition of new blood (and, by extension, occasionally leeching off “old” blood) frequently revitalizes this band like an intracardiac injection of adrenaline delivered Tarantino-style, straight to the heart. Remember that Buckingham already stepped out from 1987 to 1995, replaced by sweet-sounding roots rocker Billy Burnette, so this isn’t exactly an unprecedented sea change, although it will be the first time in decades that Mac has hit the road with a hitherto unrecorded ensemble. A live album is being planned to remedy that newcomer status, An Evening With Fleetwood Mac, though it’s anybody’s guess whether the San Diego show will be among those taped. It’s not like there won’t be a hundred YouTube views of the concert online within hours of the closing notes, whether or not those notes come out sounding sweet or sour.