When the news broke that Yes had planned a prog cruise there was discussion between the DPRP-reviewers. Then it became obvious that 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- one with The Moody Bues. 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 across the Atlantic. But when I had the privilige to speak with Annie Haslam late in the fall of 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 Queensrÿche 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 I 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 the 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 the ship was like entering the lobby of a five star hotel: everything shining and glittering, spaceous, 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…
Host Jon Kirkman announced the sailing away show by Saga, scheduled around 5.30 pm, would start a little 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 reaon 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. Unfortunately, no new material from the upcoming album. 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 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. Photographers were only allowed from the far sides of the stage so in spite of the stunning performance by Steve 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 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), Jon Sykes (bass, vocals), Dan Osborne (drums) and Steve Kitch (keyboards).
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 skilfiul, the band played several highlights of their instrumental music composed by bass player Yoh Ohoyama. Resemblances with the music of Jerry Goodman on albums like Ariel and of course with Kansas. Violinist Tei Sena proved to be a musician extraordianaire as well as the other members of this very talented band.
In the meantime 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 Franco 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 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 the 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 Strawbs were performing in 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, 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).
River Of Life
La Luna Nuova
Out Of The Roundabout
Romeo & Guilietta
Promenade The Puzzle
Maestro Della Voce
Mr. 9 'Till 5
Altaloma Nine Till Five
Celebration + part of Impressioni (Di Settembre)