Quick Hits – The concert critic version!

Another great GVC concert

And it may well be the best concert I’ve ever been to.

Of course, we’re talking about the Yestival last Saturday evening at Elgin’s Festival Park featuring Carl Palmer, of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Todd Rundgren and Rock and Roll Hall of Famers, Yes! And all three of those amazing rock icons clearly showed that if you avoid the worst of the partying and reasonably take care of yourself, age is no barrier to putting on a good show.


The 67 year-old Palmer attacked the drums like a man one-third his age with something to prove. It was fascinating to see the drummer be the center of power trio with no vocalist, too. In fact, I enjoyed the instrumental version of ‘Lucky Man’ so much that I didn’t catch the absence of lyrics until my wife mentioned it.

As the opening act, Palmer only got a half-hour to perform, so we’ll have to catch him when he comes around as the main act.

Then, Todd Rundgren was un-fucking-believable. The 69 year-old Pennsylvanian absolutely commanded the stage as he moved around about like he was still 25, occasionally dancing in perfect unison with his two young backup singers/dancers.

While I would’ve liked to see him perform all of his standards:

·         Bang on the Drum All Day

·         We Gotta Get You a Woman

·         I Saw the Light

·         Can We Still Be Friends?

in the end, I didn’t mind that most of the set came from his eminently political 2015 ‘Global’ album. Since the show, I have to say that I’ve been listening to ‘Rise’ quite a bit. The answer to that eminently old fart question; “where has all the good music gone?” is Todd Rundgren is still doing it!

Rundgren did do a jazzier version of ‘Hello It’s Me’ and ‘One World’ from his Utopia days, but the bottom line is, if he comes around as the main act, I’ll be there.

And what can one say about Yes? I know it’s hard to imagine them without Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman – and that breakup certainly was a sad one – but John Davison handled that countertenor role with aplomb and the rest of the group was unbelievably tight on the most complex of those complex Yes songs.

Back in those Evanston St. Nick’s early ‘70s school days, if you listened to ‘Roundabout,’ you were cool. And I’ve purchased every Yes piece of Vinyl to come out since that time. I’m not saying that loving Yes makes you more popular – especially in my case, but perhaps it does make you suck a little bit less!


Give the GVC credit too

The truth is, I haven’t been to a bad concert at Festival Park, but this one was exceptionally good. I’m starting to think those Grand Victoria folks have somehow figured out how to order up the best weather, too!

Given Manchester, everyone’s a bit more circumspect about concerts these days – especially open-air venues, but the GVC employed just the right amount of caution so that attendees felt safe, but didn’t walk away saying, “This was even worse that the TSA!”

The metal detecting wands and backpack searches slowed entry down a bit, especially for the lawn seat folks, but the crowd understood and the minor delays led to some interesting in-line conversations.

grand victoria

Between the City of Elgin and the Casino, Festival Park is always in great shape, there’s enough space to move around, there were enough porta-potties, the concessions lines never got too bad and the memorabilia and food prices weren’t ridiculous, either.

I picked up an Carl Palmer autographed  ‘Brain Salad Surgery’ LP for just 30 bucks and a really nice 100 percent cotton embroidered Yes baseball cap for $25. A bottle of water was only $2 and a Mike’s Hard Lemonade was just seven bucks.

Meanwhile, a light beer was $13 at the Soldier Field U2 concert.

Best of all, the sound was virtually perfect, and that’s a real bonus when you’re listening to an intricate band like Yes.

The 3,500 person crowd was great, too. Happy, polite, considerate and we old folks actually got to sit throughout the entire show.

I wish the GVC would put on more concerts, especially those of the classic rock variety, but I’ll take whatever I can get. Perhaps if the state of the State of Illinois ever improves, they’ll finally get that permanent stage.

But for now, here’s to people who know how to put on a concert!


 The EPD was great

Yes! (Pun intended!) The acts have to be good, the venue has to work and the sound system is important too. But a great police presence puts the icing on the concert cake, and those find EPD folks somehow strike the balance between making their presence known, but not deterring anyone from having a good time.


To wit, the EPD:

·         Makes it so easy to get in and out of the park.

·         Regularly smiled and greeted concert goers.

·         Always responded to a cheery “Hello!” in kind.

·         Were circumspect about dealing with folks who may have had one too many

Best of all, though they don’t make it obvious, a trained observer can see their constant vigilance as they survey the crowd for any signs of trouble.

Look! We all know that you can’t cross the street without the potential for being a victim of a terrorist attack these days. And after Manchester, we know that going to any concert carries a certain risk.

But when you combine a police force that understands they can’t be perfect, with a crowd that appreciates their efforts and is willing to take that risk, it doesn’t get much better than that.


Let’s not forget the City of Elgin

For example:

  • Parking is plentiful, simple, safe and free!
  • There are enough officers and community service officers on hand to do the job.
  • They clearly work hand-in-hand with the casino folks for smoother sailing.
  • They understand exactly what these events do for the local bars and restaurants.
  • The noise limitations are more than reasonable
  • They understand we’re all there to have a good time.

I’ll keep on saying it! These GVC/Festival Park concerts are a win-win situation for everyone!

One thought on “Quick Hits – The concert critic version!

  1. Because an internet search of the band “Yes” shows it to have been a composite band with about 75 artists being “members” of it over the years, when you bought your ticket, how did you know what you were actually “buying?”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s