Concert Review Archive

 

Cruise to the Edge? YES please!

Day 1 - Day 2 - Day 3 - Day 4 - Day 5

7th-12th April 2014
MSC Divina

Article and photos By Menno von Brucken Fock

When the news broke Yes had planned a 'prog-cruise' there was discussion between the DPRP reviewers. Then it became obvious the "Cruise To The Edge" wasn't the only one. Another cruise with metal artists, a cruise with Transatlantic (and Mike Portnoy) and -right before the Yes-cruise- a cruise with the Moody Blues. Qualifications as 'madness', 'decadent' and 'only for the super-rich' were thrown on the internet fora. Personally I think every man and woman should be able to choose for him- or herself and in my opinion the market determines whether a plan like this is viable or not. Obviously there is a market for cruises out there because last year's cruise with Yes had been a sold out event. Not so much this year to my utmost surprise, although the ship was pretty’full’. The line up was absolutely astonishing in my humble view.

I never took an interest in concerts abroad, most certainly not overseas because of the expenses of travel from Europe to across the Atlantic. But when I had the privilege to speak with Annie Haslam late fall 2013 she mentioned Renaissance would be performing on the "Cruise to the Edge" and also it was an all in event for around 1700 dollars. She had to explain to me what the "Cruise to the Edge" was, but when I heard her talking about Yes, Marillion, Tangerine Dream and Queensr˙che I went online straight after the interview and I saw some more names: Saga, UK, Three Friends, Patrick Moraz, Steve Hackett, Sound Of Contact, PFM, Electric Asturias, Strawbs and more to come! From all those artists I have numerous albums in my collection so decided to subscribe to the newsletter.

In the weeks that followed I began to get more interested in this event every day realizing that the chances bands like Renaissance, Three Friends (ex-Gentle Giant), PFM or Electric Asturias would be performing in my own country (Netherlands) would be rather slim, I decided my wife and me would be part of this cruise.

Transportation from the airport to the harbour proved to be a piece of cake and the whole embarking process went very smoothly. Boarding he ship was like entering the lobby of a five star hotel: everything shining and glittering, spacious, tastefully decorated and people offering help or guidance virtually everywhere. Upon entering the majestic vessel background music to my taste (old music by Yes) and in the Atrium, a place in the centre of the ship on floor five but accessible from floor six and seven, there were two guys playing on acoustic guitars. The duo appeared to be called Heavy Mellow and were playing their acoustic versions of heavy metal and hard rock classics. Songs by bands like Iron Maiden and Metallica and numerous other artists were arranged in an extremely tasteful manner and the skilful way the lads were playing their guitars harvested an enthusiastic response from all people attending this first gig on the cruiseship. They would be performing a couple of times in the days to come…

 

Day 1

Saga

Host Jon Kirkman announced the sailing away show by Saga, scheduled around 5.30 pm, would start a little while later. On deck 14 (the Pool Deck) it was quite windy and after the 'black out picture' the first real show by Saga could start. Later I heard the Canadians had only arrived in Miami an hour before embarking the ship, so they had to rush from the bus to the stage. Jim Crichton and Jim Gilmour were checking their electronics. No sign of Ian Crichton and maybe that was the reason his amplifier right behind him was terribly loud, disturbing the balance of the sound right before the stage where I stood as photographer. All the old classics were played and in spite of the gig only lasting one hour, a drum solo was included. No new material from the upcoming album unfortunately.

Steve Hackett

Right after Saga's show half the people (the 'blue group' had to rush downstairs to decks 6 and 7 to the magnificent Pantheon Theater seating approximately 2000 attendees, to be witness of the Genesis Revisited show by the Steve Hackett Band. Around the same time was scheduled a 'Moon Safari storyteller'. As would appear during the cruise, most artists combined playing some song (acoustic and/or electric) and answering some questions coordinated by Jon Kirkman. I decided to sneak in the Pantheon Theater to see Hackett (being one of my favourites). Although I was declared a member of the 'pink group', I was granted a mediapass so the security let me in.

The Pineapple Thief

Photographers were only allowed from the far sides of the stage so in spite of the stunning performance by Hackett and his band I decided to leave after a few shots and try to be in time for the show by The Pineapple Thief. Obviously a lot of people were attending the Hackett Show (rightfully so!) and others were in the dining room having supper. So not too many people turned up at the Black & White Lounge. Only a small stage there with minimal a very limited light show, but again a superb sound quality. A very nice performance by Bruce Soord (guitar/vocals), John Sykes (bass/vocals), Dan Osborne (drums) and Steve Kitch (keys).

Electric Asturias

After this gig my wife and I went to the Atrium where Electric Asturias would have a storyteller's session. Because of the very limited knowledge of the English language by this Japanese quintet, to my utmost delight the band performed most of their songs scheduled for their main show the next day. Well dressed and extremely skilful the band played several highlights of their instrumental music composed by bass player Yoh Ohoyama. Resemblances with Jerry Goodman's music on albums like Ariel and of course with Kansas. Violinist Tei Sena proved to be a musician extraordinaire as well as the other members of this very talented band.

PFM

In the mean time there had been a storyteller's session with Lifesigns with John Young, which we didn’t attend. From10.15 until 11.30 pm a headline show by PFM was scheduled so of course we had to be there. Original guitarist Mussida opened the show on his acoustic guitar and the rest of the band joined in playing a lot of their music dating back to the seventies. Three original members, Franco Mussida (guitars, vocals), Franz Di Cioccio (drums, vocals) and Patrick Djivas (bass), together with hired hands on keyboards, violin and an extra drummer played a magnificent show and it was a real treat to hear songs from Chocolate Kings and to see the 69 year old Di Cioccio jumping around the stage as if he was 29 years old. A classic touch, magnificently performed, by the band promoting their latest album PFM in classic. Beautiful arrangements of classical pieces by the great composers like Mozart. Two drummers duelling behind the one drumkit was also entertaining. Participation of the audience in Celebration went down very well and one could feel all attendees were already thinking they would attend to next show by PFM as well!

Because of heavy rains and wind the show by Sound Of Contact on the Pool Deck had to be cancelled. While PFM was performing, at the same time IO Earth were doing a storyteller’s session, while the Strawbs were performing in another lounge: the Golden Lounge, somewhat smaller than the Black & White Lounge and with even more limited light show. As if the choices weren't difficult enough, during PFM's show, Tony Levin's Stickmen were also performing in the B&W lounge. All of those we weren't able to see. Still the performances we were able to witness, made us hungry for more the next day (to be continued).

Setlist PFM
Rain Birth
River Of Life
La Luna Nuova
Out Of The Roundabout
Harlequin
Romeo & Guilietta
Promenade The Puzzle
Maestro Della Voce
Mr. 9 'Till 5
Altaloma Nine Till Five
William Tell
E' Festa

Celebration + part of Impressioni (Di Settembre)
Slideshow day1

 

Day 2

A gorgeous and luxury breakfast buffet took care of thirst and hunger and the first event we chose to attend was the Yes book showing by Jon Kirkman instead of making our way to Armando Gallo, photographer and biographer of that illustrious band in the seventies, who was scheduled to speak about his book on Genesis. Kirkman explained how his YES-book was conceived and that this first limited edition was indeed a very luxurious one, with an impressive price tag. In the fall, so he explained, there will be a cheaper version available but with a soft cover and in a far more ordinary fashion. He emphasized all interviews are very honest, open hearted but some of the members of Yes could not be interviewed because of contractual limitations or, in the case of Igor Khorosev, could not be traced: the man seems to have vanished from the face of the earth. Same contractual limitations apply to the autographs: not all members of Yes were allowed to autograph the book. Anecdotally Jon Kirkman referred to the differences in characters between the individual members, mimicking the way some of them had been answering his questions. Jon explained among others that Benoit David was not fired from the band but resigned on his own initiative. The premier limited edition of 350 copies contains three framed prints, the book and two cd’s with all the interviews. If you can afford it, it’s a must for every genuine YES-fan……… I guess! More information on this website and for the latest news.

We didn’t have time to go up to the Pool Stage where Presto Ballet was scheduled to perform. Neither did we go the ‘meet & greet’ session with Saga, Queensr˙che, Moon Safari, PFM, Pamela Moore, IO Earth and Soft Machine. While the duo Heavy Mellow was playing in the Atrium we made our way to the B&W to see Lifesigns, the band with keyboard-player John Young.

Lifesigns

Although the traditional ‘prog’ sounded really nice, we definitely got that so called ‘déjŕ vu’ feeling so we decided to make our way to the Pantheon Theatre since Renaissance was to perform there (open seating! So lining up necessary to make sure to be in one of the front rows). It became clear all the music lovers now had discovered their way around on the mighty MSC Divina, because we learned through the day if you wanted to attend a certain event, you just had to come very early to have a nice view and a good seat.

Renaissance

Renaissance 2014 consists of the original member and vocalist extraordinaire Annie Haslam, keyboardist, composer and arranger Rave Tesar, bass player David Keyes, drummer Frank Pagano, keyboardist Jason Hart and -replacing the late Michael Dunford- Ryche Chlanda on guitar. Haslam, deaf on her left side and now well in her sixties shared her previous experience on a ship with the audience. It must have been somewhat difficult and distracting for all musicians because at the time of the show the huge ship was definitely moving and rolling and one could feel those movements clearly. The band opened with Prologue and Carpet Of The Sun, followed by two other classics: Running Hard and Ocean Gypsy. Of course the whole show was dedicated to the Renaissance’s mastermind, Michael Dunford and Annie stated she was very pleased to have Michael’s widow Claire and their two sons on board. After having explained why there will be a new version of the last album Grandine Il Vento, with an extra three songs, one of them composed by Rave Tesar especially for Dunford: Renaissance Man. Of course the cover features brand new artwork (by Annie of course) and the album will be distributed worldwide. This new version will be named Symphony Of Light. The band went on to perform an absolute mindblowing & absolute perfect version of the title track. The audience responded with a standing ovation. Haslam seemed to sing slightly out of tune just occasionally but the overall experience was really, really magical and one could feel the people attending watched the band with great admiration. There was an amazingly positive vibe all around. Apparently the band felt that too and another track from the new album, being one of Annie’s faves, was performed exquisitely: The Mystic And The Muse. The band was only allowed to play for five quarters of an hour and personally I would have loved to have Renaissance playing a full show, but unfortunately they had to stick to the time-frame. After the encores Blood Silver Like Moonlight and Mother Russia the band had to say goodbye, but not without mentioning the storyteller’s session later the same day and their other performance later in the week on the Pool Deck.

Soft Machine

Leaving the Pantheon Theatre still with goosebumps from this show we had to choose between the UK storyteller’s, a performance by the Prog Rock Orchestra in the B&W lounge or be in time for the storyteller’s session with The Soft Machine Legacy. Between the songs guitarist John Etheridge explained why drummer John Marshall was temporarily unavailable. The name Soft Machine Legacy became a subject for discussion and as suggested by host Jon Kirkman the name was instantly changed to SOFT MACHINE!! Replacing John Marshall the band had a very experienced drummer: Mark Fletcher. He proved to be a truly great choice and he played the drums as if he had been a member of this band for years. Theo Travis on flute and saxophone simply is a great musician and long time member Roy Babington on bass is still playing with an amazing ease. Obviously influenced by jazz and fusion music, the quartet performed a few songs, that for my taste were less psychedelic and ‘Canterbury style’ than those from the early days. Hugh Hopper was commemorated. What became very obvious was that these guys are not in the music business to become rich: they are passionate musicians and want to have fun playing music they love. Well done indeed and being not too familiar with the Soft Machine music we enjoyed every minute of the session.

Patrick Moraz

Next on our list was a performance by multi-instrumentalist Patrick Moraz, the former Yes keyboardist. Originally Patrick comes from the French speaking part of Switzerland and he currently resides in Brazil. He studied Latin and Greek and had his musical education at the conservatory in Lausanne. It appeared to be quite an ordeal to get all of his equipment up and running and it was getting way beyond 6 PM, nearly 6.30 when we had scheduled to go and see Three Friends. My wife left to try and get a good spot for Three Friends and I waited to get a few shots.

Three Friends

Because of the belated show by Moraz there was no way we could attend Pamela Moore at the Pool Stage nor the storyteller’s session by Lifesigns. In spite of my wife going there earlier we could hardly get into the completely overcrowded Golden Lounge. Although the sound quality was excellent we could hardly catch a glimpse of Three Friends, the band with former Gentle Giant members guitarist Gary Green and drummer Malcolm Mortimore. This part of the ship was absolutely packed and the atmosphere was hot and damp because of the relatively big number of people sitting or standing on this limited surface. Interestingly the band performed many Gentle Giant songs not played live before or at least not too often which makes the show even more interesting. The current singer of Ten CC, Mick Wilson, is also handling the vocal duties in this band and for the most part, he did a great job. His voice however doesn’t resemble Derek Shulman’s at all and one could argue whether that’s a good thing or not. One thing is sure though, the organizers underestimated the amount of people still fond of Gentle Gaint’s music, otherwise they would have put them in a bigger venue. Replacing Lee Pomeroy on the bass the band had Jonathan Noice (Jethro Tull among others) and instead of Gary Sanctuary the keyboard-duties were handled by Neil Angilley, an extremely dexterous musician. Songs like Working All Day and Proclamation sounded awesome and what a privilege it was for us to finally hear Gentle Giant music played live for us to see. Charlotte Glasson is most certainly a nice addition to the band with her violin and saxophone among others. In a way it felt similar to Hackett recreating Genesis music: this must be as close to the original performances as one can get!! One of the reasons to book this cruise was to see Three Friends and in spite of a different line up, the band met all expectations. Many thanks guys and please come over to Europe!! My apologies for the poor quality of the photo’s. It was too crowded, we were too late to get a good spot and the lights were awful.

We took a break to do other necessary thing (like have dinner), so we missed the storyteller’s session with Sound Of Contact, Scale The Summit in the B&W lounge, the storyteller’s session with The Pineapple Thief and to be honest still cannot understand how I missed Queensr˙che. Maybe because of some last minute contradicting information, because the information on the screens throughout the ship and in the elevators wasn’t up to date all of the time….

Renaissance Storyteller's session

Anyway we were well in time to hear Annie Haslam answering questions in the storyteller’s session of Renaissance (pronounced quite differently by Jon Kirkman). Unfortunately because Annie couldn’t hear her own voice she wasn’t able to sing more than some parts of songs, accompanied by Rave Tesar and David Keyes. Some jokes were shared and Annie proved she’s still on top of everything.

Yes

Than the big event of the day: YES playing the Pantheon Theatre. Although –in all honesty- we heard different comments, we were absolutely blown away. Kicking off with America, followed by Tempus Fugit we had already seen the covers of The Yes Album, Close To The Edge and Going For The One on the big screen behind the band, Steve Howe stated they were going to play The Yes Album and Close To The Edge in its entirety. Having seen many concerts by Yes from the early seventies onwards, I still count this one among my faves. Beautiful images by Roger Dean on the screen behind the band, an excellent sound quality and especially a very good performance by Geoff Downes whom

Yes

I didn’t think he‘d be able to play the parts by Mr. Rick Wakeman, but he proved me wrong. With an absolute favourite of mine, Heart Of The Sunrise, this evening couldn’t go wrong. With the encore Roundabout the band left a very enthusiastic audience after having played for well over two hours. Amazingly close how Jon Davison mimicked the voice of Jon Anderson. Surely Jon Anderson’s role in the band is without question but I doubt if he could deliver a vocal performance like Davison did. The lads will go on tour through Europe after this cruise performing the three albums mentioned earlier. I will be there again (my wife will pass) but I doubt if it will be as solid, majestic and superb as it has been on this April 8, 2014!!

Yes

During the Yes-concert there were performances by Patrick Moraz, Heavy Mellow and IO Earth which we couldn’t see of course. After a nice night cap we laid our satisfied heads to sleep well after 1 AM…. To be continued.

Slideshow DAY2

 

Day 3

Sound Of Contact

Well, April 9th and again a very pleasant breakfast while Heavy Mellow were playing in the Atrium from 10 AM and then off to the pool deck where Sound Of Contact would play a full show at 11.30 AM. They hadn’t been able to perform on the Pool Stage on Mondaynight, because it was pouring heavy rains. It became clear to us the itenerary of the MSC Divina had been adjusted. John Wesley left to pursue a solo career and keyboardist Dave Kerzner also left not too long ago.

Instead of going to Honduras we were now sailing directly to Cozumel (Mexico) to avoid the bad weather. As result of this change of course it was windy but lots of sunshine and not too hot, so a perfect atmosphere for a nice ‘brunch-concert’. Since the debut-album Dimensionaut there have been some changes in the band around drummer/composer/vocalist Simon Collins. John Wesley left to pursue a solo career and keyboardist Dave Kerzner also left not too long ago.

Replacing Wesley Collins found guitarist (and singer/songwriter in his own right) Randy McStine and replacing Kerzner in the live band we recognized a familiar face: Bill Jenkins (of Enchant) while drummer Ronen Gordon already proved himself to be an assessment to the live band earlier on. Of course Matt Dorsey (bass, backing vocals) has remained a member of Sound Of Contact. John Wesley left to pursue a solo career and keyboardist Dave Kerzner also left not too long ago.

Frontman Simon Collins -in spite of the sunny weather dressed in his ‘dimensionaut suit’- sang, drummed and communicated with the audience like he’d been doing so for many years. A nice setlist and a wonderful surprise at the end of the show: Keep It Dark, a song from Genesis back in 1981, that used to be sung by Simon’s dad Phil Collins. That the band already is quite popular was obvious: many came to see and the response to the show was overwhelming.

Sound Of Contact

Setlist Sound Of Contact
Sound Of Contact
Cosmic Distance Ladder
Pale Blue Dot
I Am (Dimensionaut)
Not Coming Down
Remote View
Beyond Illumination
Only Breathing Out
Realm Of In-Organic-Beings
Closer To You
Omega Point
Mobius Slip
Part I – In The Difference Engine
Part II – Perihelion Continuum
Part III – Salvation Wound
Part IV – All Words All Times
The Big Bang
Keep It Dark
 

Soft Machine

Next in line at 2 PM on the same stage were Soft Machine as we call them since their appearance in the Atrium. Songs by Travis, Hopper and Etheridge were played with an intensity and dedication, only passionate pro’s can deliver. A lot less people present than there were during the Sound Of Contact show but still all the fans of the Canterbury based outfit were there. Again, a superb performance by stand-in drummer Mark Fletcher, a solid fundament by Roy Babington and some great soloing from John Etheridge and Theo Travis. Normally not my preference but both my wife and I enjoyed the craftsmanship of this quartet immensely.

Three Friends

While Roger Dean was about to do his ‘live painting’ session at 3 PM we were getting ready for Three Friends, again on the pool deck, scheduled at 4.30 PM. It didn’t feel right to leave after only half an hour while this band were playing some really marvellous Gentle Giant tunes, but we had to see UK performing at 5 PM in the Pantheon Theatre for the ‘Pink Group’ where we belonged to.

Not for the first time UK played a non-photograher’s show, so not a single shot from this gig. Although I feel one must respect the wishes of artist I cannot see how this will do the band any good. Most certainly not good for the ‘exposure’ of UK in the press or on the internet. After the intro on the green ‘led-lighted’ violin by Eddie Jobson, the band performed the first album in its entirety and to my surprise the King Crimson song Starless And Bible Black while we would rather have had the band playing more UK-stuff. John Wetton sang as in his best days but there seemed to be no real joy in his performing. Alan Machacek delivered some fabulous guitar playing both ‘Fripp-style’ as well as ‘Holdsworth-style’. His stage-performance however was very modest and static. John Wetton could handle his bass still quite well in spite of his handicap. Since a few years now he’s having less control of his fingers (thumb) due to neuron damage. The renowned drummer Virgil Donati played extremely well but still he is no Bill Bruford nor Terry Bozzio. Some interaction between Alan and Virgil, some grins on the face Eddie and that was it. Absolutely superb playing by these four gentlemen but no comparison to the far more entertaining and lively shows by Hackett, Yes and Marillion (as we would find out a day later).

More or less during the UK-concert from 5-6.30 PM there were also performances by Cheap Thrills (5.30 – 7 PM) in the Golden Lounge and by Presto Ballet in the Black & White lounge (5.30-6.45 PM), so unfortunately we didn’t have a chance to see them, also because we had to get a bite to eat and we wanted to sit on the first rows at the Pool Stage where Tangerine Dream would start playing at 8 PM.

Tangerine Dream

Tangerine Dream are doing a sort of farewell tour because founder member Edgar Froese will be seventy this year and doesn’t want to go out on the road for a longer period of time anymore. A truly great sound quality but dimmed lights and so it was hard to see anything with the exception of the three ladies in the band being in the spotlights just occasionally. Linda Spa –still an extremely attractive lady- played flute, saxophone and keyboards, Iris Camaa was the ever smiling percussionist and the latest addition to the band was violinist Hoshiko Yamane, who had just a modest role. As far as I could see Froese didn’t play a note: nor on his keyboards nor on his acoustic guitar (you could hear the guitar playing long before he had the guitar on his lap, sitting with his back to the audience). Word goes round he has been playbacking for years (at least on the keyboards). I can imagine this to be true. Whether Thorsten Quaeschning was playing live or not, no one could see. Beyond a shadow of a doubt the music sounded great and the influence of Froese on Electronic Music in general has been beyond substantial. This show however, lasted even less than the scheduled 1 ˝ hours and we found this to be a little disappointing.

Electric Asturias

Knowing many people had responded enthusiastically to the previous Electric Asturias performance we knew we had to be in the Black & White lounge well in time. Again choices had to be made and since the TD concert was about the same time as the performances by Moon Safari (B&W lounge from 8.15 – 9.30 PM), the Prog Rock Orchestra (Atrium, 9-10 PM) and Tony Levin’s Stickmen (Golden Lounge, 9-9.45 PM), we couldn’t see any of these performances. By going to the B&W lounge right after the TD-show, we were able to get ourselves really good seats for the upcoming performance by Electric Asturias. A bottle of wine and a bottle of Pellegrino helped us through the wait. The Japanese band formed by multi-instrumentalist (but foremost bass player) Yoh Ohyama started playing round 11 PM. Wonderful instrumental music, based on the progressive music from the seventies but with a far more modern twist and influences both from jazz music as well as fusion. In Japan Asturias is often compared to Mike Oldfield and certainly there are some similarities but that’s as far as it goes for our taste. The violin, played dexterously by Tei Sena (who happens to be a very attractive woman), reminds of Kansas and artists like Jerry Goodman (although Yoh told me he’d never heard of him). With Yoh en Tei on stage there were Satoshi Hirata on guitar, Kyotaka Tanabe on drums and Yoshihiro Kawagoe on keyboards. Superb renditions of songs from their ‘electric’ albums like Fractals (2011), In Search Of The Soul Trees (2008) and Cryoptogram Illusions (1993). Absolutely amazing musicians and sophisticated melodic compositions. Currently Yoh hand his band are working on a new album so watch out for the new cd by Electric Asturias! Furthermore some of the other albums have been re-released and are pretty easy to get via the internet. Support this great band and buy their albums!

There were other things going on each late night like a ‘Late Nite karaoke’, an ‘After Hours Prog Jam’ (we happened to hear a fews songs from Emerson, Lake & Palmer) and ‘Movies At The Pool’ but we had enjoyed this EA-concert so immensely that we decided to stick together with our good friends from The Netherlands. So we finished our bottle of wine, drank another one, had a nice cocktail in the vicinity of the Atrium. Then we went off to bed around 2 AM, getting ready for the next day while the MSC Divina rested quietly in the harbour of Cozumel…. (to be continued).

Setlist Electric Asturias
Voice from Darkness
Deadlock Triangle
Undene
Saramander
Sylfeed
Gnome
Double Herix
Sirent Tears
Distance

Tangram Paradox

Slideshow DAY3

 

Day 4

After the wonderful concert by the Japanese quintet Electric Asturias we went to bed (of course we had a night cap first) and we got up fairly early. We were able to arrange an interview with Electric Asturias’ mastermind Yoh Ohyama and after a nice breakfast we sat down in one of the many lounges. Hiroshi Kono proved to be a wonderful help because he was able to translate my English into Japanese. Yoh hardly spoke a foreign language so on this moment again I say many thanks to Hiroshi!!

Meet & Greet Electric Asturias

The interview went well and the best news was that the band is currently working on a successor to the wonderful ‘Fractals’ album. After the interview we decided to leave the ship for 1 ˝ hours to explore Cozumel. We bought of few t-shirt, towels and goodies for people back home and went back to the majestic ship where we were able to see some of the last notes performed by prog-metal outfit Scale The Summit.

Scale The Summit

We had a quick bite, freshened up and went to one of the meet & greets. It was less casual than expected. The Black & White lounge was divided into sections, only accessible by a strictly guarded pathway. No conversations, no sharing jokes, just a quick photo with the band and that was it. Because we were VIP’s we could pass by the line up waiting to be admitted and said hello to Electric Asturias who were very pleased to see us (which made us feel very welcome) and subsequently we met Eddie Jobson, who was rather pissed off because the organizers skipped his masterclass. Guitarist Machacek and substitute drummer Virgil Donati were there too and of course John Wetton. Shaking hands was ‘forbidden’, only a touching by fist was allowed. Wearing my hand painted t-shirt by Annie Haslam I had to meet Renaissance and Annie was surprised to see me wearing ‘her’ shirt. The last band we wanted to ‘meet’ were the Strawbs. Although not a real prog band they stole my heart with Cousins’ vocal and of course because they brought Rick Wakeman to the attention of Yes…

Steve Hackett

After this meet & greet it was time to make our way for ‘our’ concert (the Pink Group) of Steve Hackett and his amazing band. Steve, Gary, Rob, Nick, Roger & Nad certainly didn’t disappoint. On the contrary: the show was vivid and the band seemed to be more at ease than ever. The Pink group was fortunate because Steve had invited a few celebrities to sing and/or play along as you can appreciate by looking at the setlist (see below). The masterful guitar player himself was in great form, Nick Beggs excelled on both bass, double neck and stick.

Steve Hackett

Wetton did a great job on one of our all time favorite tracks: Firth Of Fifth. Playing All Along The Watchtower was a great surprise and maybe it wasn’t the best rendition we’ve ever heard but seeing Wetton, Squire and Hackett together on stage is a little miracle in itself and brings goose bumps to every genuine prog-fan.

Setlist Steve Hackett
Squonk Genesis song)
The Knife Genesis song)
The Musical Box (Genesis song)
Firth of Fifth (Genesis song, with John Wetton)
Fly on a Windshield (Genesis song)
Broadway Melody of 1974 (Genesis song)
Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers... (Genesis song)
...In That Quiet Earth (Genesis song)
Afterglow (Genesis song)
Supper's Ready (Genesis song, with Simon Collins)
All Along the Watchtower (Bob Dylan cover, with Chris Squire & John Wetton)
 

PFM

With the last notes still in our heads we had to hurry to go the Pool Stage (7 decks up) to see the open air performance by PFM. Again Djivas, Di Cioccio and Mussida were in absolute amazing form and together with an additional drummer, a professional violinist and a professional keyboard player the band played a nice set, comparable to the one indoors in the Pantheon Theatre.

PFM

Of course in former days Bernardo Lanzetti was the better vocalist but Di Cioccio put up a great show and proved to be amazingly fit, certainly for a man his age. The audience, present in large numbers, participated in every way and responded very well to the invitation by Di Cioccio to sing along with Celebration. In the meantime Soft Machine were playing in the B&W lounge and Scale The Summit & Saga were doing their Q&A performances but like anyone, can’t be in two places at the same time!

Setlist PFM
River of Life
Four Holes in the Ground
Out of the Roundabout
Romeo e Giulletta
Generale
Alta Loma 5 Till 9
Impressioni di Settembre
Č Festa
Celebration
 

A quick bite and then it was time to make our way to The Black & White lounge, to see The Strawbs up close. Just like Yes, Renaissance and Genesis, this outfit dates back from the sixties. Although the band had many line ups, these last years the band with the exception of drummer Tony Fernandez consists of member who are or had been part of this band for a long time now.

The Strawbs

Dave Cousins, Dave Lambert, Chas Cronk and John Hawken (ex-Renaissance!) were part of the band when they played their most symphonic music from famous albums like Hero & Heroine, Burning For You and Ghosts. The harmonies were astonishing, Cousins’ voice was remarkably good and Lambert posed more like a hard rock guitarist than a musician playing mainly folk music. The higher notes seemed to become more of a problem for him. Fernandez played his drums powerful and enthusiastically, Chas Cronk obviously was and still is a very experienced musician and John Hawken played the keyboards & the mighty Moog with modesty but very skilful.

The Strawbs

The lounge was packed and the response from all attending was amazing, even for the band who didn’t seem to be expecting such an enthusiastic crowd. We enjoyed every second of this show and in spite of being huge fans of Renaissance we chose this performance and as later would be confirmed: we made the right choice. The gig by Renaissance was at The Pool Stage and all musicians had problems with the heavy winds up there. Especially Haslam -so we were told- was desperately trying to hold on to her cap more than that she was able to concentrate on her vocal performance.

Setlist The Strawbs
Tape Intro
New World
The River
Down By The Sea
Remembering/You And I
Autumn
Just Love
Out In The Cold
Round And Round
Hero and Heroine
Round And Round (reprise)
Lay Down

Burning For You
Heartbreaker
Here Today, Gone Tomorrow
 

In order to be in time for the big show of tonight (Marillion) we had to refrain from going to the Golden Lounge, where Cheap Thrills had their show. Also the Stick Men, led by Tony Levin and IO Earth wasn’t on our list because of the long show by Marillion. The Pantheon theatre was nicely filled and Marillion opened with Invisible Man, H being dressed up and with these characteristic expressions on his face as only he can do.

Marillion

Whether you’re a fan or not, H is a formidable show man and although Rothery sat almost the entire show, if it wasn’t for H, there would be no point in seeing Marillion live. Usually Mosley is hardly visible, unlike his replacement Leon Parr. Mark Kelly positioned behind his rack and Rothery has got his eyes closed 90% of the time but Hogarth…. He is really something else and he’s got it all: he sings brilliantly, he’s a performer, plays guitar and keyboard and…. A modified cricket bat!

Marillion

Good old English humor, crawling, laughing, howling, making fun… he does it all. Trewavas is the only other person on stage moving around a bit. A very nice setlist and quite a performance and a stunning sound quality! At the end of the show, well after midnight H invited everyone to come again Saturday night because he would like a full house during the last gig of the cruise. What an evening it had been and after this event we were already planning to go to this second Marillion show!!

Marillion

With a tasteful Pina Colada in our hands we listened to the ‘after hours prog jam’ featuring songs of EL&P for a while and went to bed at around 2 in the morning…..to be continued.

Setlist Marillion
Invisible Man
You’re Gone
Warm Wet Circles
Power
Ocean Cloud
Sounds That Can’t Be MadeThis Strange Engine

Neverland
Slideshow DAY4

 

Day 5

Well, the last day… it promised to be a busy one and again a day with some difficult choices. At 10.30 AM there were two events of interest the same time the meet & greet with the likes of Steve Hackett and Renaissance among others and a lecture –enlightened with loads of his artwork via the big screen on stage- about the art of YES by Roger Dean in the big Pantheon Theatre. Not too many people were listening to Dean, nonetheless what Dean had to say was quite interesting if you always wanted to know how he came to paint all those awesome covers for the grandfathers of prog. At the meet & greet Annie Haslam (Renaissance) was pleased to see me wear ‘her’ t-shirt: a white shirt on which she painted an original artwork: I didn’t dare to wear it before this occasion. Like so many other artworks I bought from her it’s a gorgeous looking shirt (admitted, the man inside the shirt should be erased from the picture). You should check out her website. From the whole band only Mr. Steve Hackett himself was present and ‘granted’ me a genuine handshake instead of the obligatory ‘fist touching’. The man is quite a phenomenon!

meet & greet Steve Hackett

After this meet & greet session we made our way to the pool stage where we had an appointment with Gary Green (Three Friends, ex-Gentle Giant) for an interview. Many people had made their way to the upper deck to see and hear Marillion explain how things were done the “Marillion way”. Unfortunately we couldn’t hang around because of the planned interview but it was obvious both attendees as well as the members of the band had a good time. We were just in time to hear H emphasize again that everyone was welcome to attend the second show by the band because, being the ‘big closing act’ on the cruise he’d like a ‘full house’! We met Gary, accompanied by Fred Rosenkamp (guitarist of the Dutch prog band Lady Lake, a genuine Giant fan himself. A very relaxed Green answered my questions openly and talked about the past, the present and the future. I hope to present this interview to DPRP soon. It was already around 2 PM when we parted ways with Gary and Fred and had to conclude we missed the Yes storyteller’s session as well as the show by Sound Of Contact in the big theatre. Afterwards we were told Steve Hackett had been on stage with Collins’ band….

Presto Ballet

Via a quick look at the stage at the Atrium we listened to the soundcheck by Presto Ballet, the prog-band around guitarist Kurdt Vanderhoof. Although I’m very familiar with the music of this band in the vein of Uriah Heep, Kansas and Yes, the current singer Chuck Campbell turned out to have a voice that’s totally different from the previous frontman Scott Albright, whose voice I quite liked. Because we weren’t too interested in this kind of storyteller’s sessions we chose to go the Golden Lounge where Annie Haslam was presenting her artwork from 2.45 PM until 4 PM. She was kind enough to write a special note on the little painting we bought at her booth at the Pool Stage. John Hawken (member of the first incarnation of Renaissance, currently playing with the Strawbs) stopped by to say hello to Annie. At the same time there was a Questions & Answers session with Queensr˙che (from 3.15 until 4.00 PM). We left Annie with numerous fans to get a good seat for Saga’s second concert, again at the Pool Stage.

Saga

Amazingly, how good Sadler’s voice still is! The sound quality was much better this time and although the band adjusted the set list a bit, still the core business were the oldies from the seventies. In spite of the terrible tragedy that struck Jim & Penny Crichton last year in March (they lost their only child Will due to a traffic accident), Jim seemed to be in a very good mood as were all 5 of the members of the band actually. Every one of them was looking quite cheerful as they were watching each other struggling to cope with the firm wind that was blowing across the stage. Saga put up a professional show but still I would have expected them to play at least one new song, knowing there’s a new album coming, but no, they chose not to. While Saga were performing until 4.30 PM, for the Blue Group UK were performing in the Pantheon Theatre from 4 Pm onwards and Steve Hackett had been scheduled for a storyteller’s session at 5 PM. Blown away by the performance of Strawbs a day earlier, we chose to try to get to the Golden Lounge in time for a front row spot to see Strawbs again at 5 PM. Although the impact of this gig was a bit less than yesterday, still we were amazed by the symphonic music of this ‘prog-folk band. While Dave Lambert appeared to have more and more difficulties with the higher notes, Cousins sang beautifully and Hawken mastered his keyboards impeccably. Especially the songs from Hero & Heroine were truly monumental. Those pieces from 1973 stood the test of time!

Strawbs

Right after 6 PM we had to skip the Q&A sessions with Pamela Moore and the raffle (for the Mini Cooper car painted by Roger Dean and the drum kit from the Atrium, signed by many renowned artists). Also we chose not to attend the show by Queensr˙che (I had seen a full show in The Netherlands less than half a year ago) but instead we went to the Black Lounge and were fortunate enough to get a very good seat for the upcoming show by Patrick Moraz. A fellow countryman advised us to go the this show because there would be a special guest….

Patrick Moraz

Earlier it was announced that the so called storyteller’s session (as Moraz was billed originally), now was to be a full length concert of 60 minutes. Moraz excused himself to the audience that his gear was giving the techs so much trouble but when everything seemed to work, he started out playing arranged solo pieces on his keyboards with accompaniment from sounds & percussion from a hard disc. After a few pieces the machine obviously didn’t do what Moraz wanted and he tried to make it work by smashing a few buttons. Maybe his nature or his adaptation to the South American temperament? Apparently the keyboard didn’t like to be treated that way and subsequently checked out. Moraz was told it would take some time before the system could be rebooted so he went on playing the grand piano. On his previous performance during the cruise he was able to compose a new song and it seemed to us part of what he played was improvised as well. After a while he stopped playing to invite a special guest to perform a piece from the Relayer album by Yes. He had done this piece just once before. Annie Haslam of Renaissance was introduced and sang ‘Soon’ beautifully. One of the highlights of this event and guest-performances like these was what we had hoped for and fortunately Patrick and Annie obliged! Moraz continued playing the grand piano in a bluesy style before returning to the electronic keyboards. This time everything seemed to be working just fine. He shared some information on his private life and explained he had been working on a book that is to be released shortly. If one realizes that the cruise of this vessel right before the Cruise To The Edge, happened to be the “Moody Blues Cruise’ one can imagine why Patrick stated with pride he that he was the only musician aboard who played both in the Moody Blues and in Yes. With his typically somewhat nervous style and with his funny French accent he explained proudly he will be presenting his biography shortly. One of the chapters in this new book will be called: YES, I’M MOODY !! Although there were improvisations within the pieces he performed, most of them were from his extensive back catalogue. If you realize Patrick is composing and performing from as early as the beginning of the seventies (extending from Mainhorse, Refugee, solo-works, Yes and his partnership with Bill Bruford) it’s no wonder the man has a vast collection of pieces he can choose from. A memorable performance!

Moon Safari

Due to the time out of his rack, Patrick stopped playing well after 8.30 PM and while at the same time there were performances by Heavy Mellow again as well as a full show by Tangerine Dream at the Pantheon Theatre, subsequently we would have had to choose between PFM storyteller’s, Three Friends at The B&W lounge or Moon Safari at The Pool Stage. Instead we had a lovely dinner with our dear friends Eric & José Oltmans (also from our home town Almelo and Eric, many thanks for your photos from Moraz and Queensr˙che!). After this supper we went up to the Pool Stage where we caught a glimpse of the superb Swedish act Moon Safari (I tend to call their music a gorgeous mix of Yes and the Beach Boys) and decided to join the queue for Marillion. Unfortunately there was a considerable delay due to technical difficulties.

Marillion

Marillion was scheduled to perform at 10.30, but it was well after 11.30 when the doors opened. Being in the ‘wrong group’ we were lucky and enough to get ourselves good seats for this show. I even ended up in the front row and was able to make a few nice shots. What an entertainer H is!! There are singers and vocalists, musicians and players, but the performance of these guys partly hosting this cruise, was truly awesome. Also this time Rothery was standing for a while. Hogarth is a top-class entertainer and an extremely gifted musician. Like him there aren’t many! To my utmost surprise and joy the band changed the set list: instead of the opener Invisible Man the band played Gaza and instead of This Strange Engine the encore turned to be one of my personal favorites: Easter. With a stunning performance, proper use of the screen behind the band, very comfortable seats and a perfect sound quality, one couldn’t have wished for a better way to end the music on this cruise. Although not scheduled as very last act, Marillion was in fact the last band to perform and to be honest it should have been scheduled that way from the start. While the mighty Cruise ship was making its way to Miami, we had a last night cap and went to bed. We already had packed most of our belongings so at around 2.30 we closed our eyes for a short night’s rest, dreaming about all the fantastic music we had heard.

In conclusion we would like to thank Yes, Marillion and our host Jon Kirkman and his crew for this opportunity to see so many great bands perform on such a terrific location. The crew did a fine job, all the staff were extremely helpful and very polite. The quality of the food was quite okay, the cabins outstanding so we don’t understand why this cruise had not sold out with a line up like this…. Being VIP’s had been a real treat and considering all the privileges, we were glad we had made the choice to go for the higher quality.

Some recommendations from our part should there be another Cruise To The Edge:

- Fewer bands. Although it seems really perfect to have that many acts performing, in real life it is virtually impossible to see all of them and one ends up to be a bit frustrated because there are too many things going on at the same time and it was really a pity we were forced to make some very difficult choices.

- A way to deal with the harsh winds blowing across the Pool Stage

- At least three concerts per day in the Pantheon Theatre: such a beautiful venue, comfortable seats and superb quality of sound should be used to its full extent.

- Optimize the use of the intranet & screens. Some changes weren’t visible on the screens throughout the ship, sometimes there was contradicting information; in other words the information wasn’t always updated in time.

- Only acoustic performances or performances by unknown acts in the Golden Lounge: it’s too small to have a great number of people watching a full electric show by a well-known band.

- A better ‘light show’ in the B&W Lounge.

- If possible a meet & greet should be less organized. A photo-shoot is really nice but there’s hardly any chance to have a decent conversation with one’s heroes….

I really hope there will be a next time and as far as I’m concerned, decadent or not, both my wife and me thoroughly enjoyed the luxury and the stunning performances and the fact we now had been able to see bands we never saw before.

I’ll start saving in case there will be a third cruise!

Slideshow DAY5

 


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