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Monday, 21 April 2014

Yes, Steve Hackett, Marillion Bring Progressive Rock to the High Seas With ‘Cruise to the Edge’




“All those numbers in 7/8 — can you dance to that?” asked prog-rock guitar master Steve Hackett, chuckling onstage at the MSC Divina’s regal Pantheon Theater, just after his ace band wrapped the jazz-fusion climax of Genesis’ 1976 epic ‘Dance on a Volcano.’

It’s an obviously rhetorical question, of course: Everybody onboard this year’s floating Cruise to the Edge prog fest had already swapped out their dancing shoes for wizardly capes — soaking in five indulgent nights of Moog solos, time-signature shifts, and supergroup jam sessions. All told, it was an incredibly strange experience, but also simply incredible: There were nearly 30 bands, both ancient and infantile, spanning nearly the entire planet, mingling their heady riffs in the Cozumel breeze. Call it ‘The Moonlit Knight’ meets ‘The Love Boat.’

The 2014 edition, held April 7-12 and once again headlined by Yes, was a major upgrade from the previous year: Not only was the cruise’s line-up nearly triple in terms of pure size, the sheer eclecticism — from Italian proggers PFM to metal-leaning mainstays Queensryche to up-and-coming math-rockers Scale the Summit — made the 2013 version look like a rough warm-up. And the non-musical display also amped up the bang-for-buck through various Q&As, storyteller sessions, meet-and-greets, art showcases (from Yes album cover artist Roger Dean and Renaissance vocalist Annie Haslam), and master class events (including UK violinist-keyboardist Eddie Jobson).

The smallest details added to the nerdy giddiness: eating roast duck at a classy sit-down restaurant to a soundtrack of Rush, watching middle-aged men out-prog each other by playing Pink Floyd on the atrium piano, sharing hot tub prog-war stories with a surprisingly insightful dude who kinda looks like Tommy Lee. (One night, during “prog karaoke,” a British gentleman tackled Genesis’ ‘Firth of Fifth.’ Keep in mind, this is a nine-minute song, so he probably could have finished his tax return during the keyboard section.)

Read on....

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