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Cruise To The Edge 2018

Steve Hackett's shows and other things to see on board

Let's celebrate a jubilee – The Cruise To The Edge that took place on February 3 to 7, 2018, was the fifth of its kind! I have attended all of them except for the first one on 2013, while Steve Hackett took part in all cruises except for the one in 2015. This year's cruise was the starting point, as it were, for his new tour. It is labelled Genesis Revisited, Solo Gems & GTR 2018 Tour De Force – and the tour de force bit fits this cruise. It was a day longer than the previous one, which raised the hope all the concerts in the various venues could perhaps be spread a little better. I have not checked whether this cruise had the same number of concerts and events as the previous tours, but many people still had the impression of missing out on something.

This is something of a Catch 22 situation for the organizers: If you invite fewer bands people are bound to complain of not enough variety.
Every act had two performances. Some bands, amongst them the headlining Yes, Marillion, and Hackett, also offered a Q&A sessions. These three headliners played their main shows at the big theatre on board the ship. Because of the size of the theatre only half the passengers were admitted to one show, while the others got to see the other show. Admission depended on whether you were assigned to the red or the blue group. It would only be fair if both shows had identical setlists. This was the case with Yes, as always, but Marillion varied their set and so did Steve:

1st Show:

Please Don't Touch
Shadow Of The Hierophant instr
When The Heart Rules The Mind

Icarus Ascending
Firth Of Fifth
Supper's Ready
The Musical Box
Dance On A Volcano

2nd Show:

Please Don't Touch
El Niño
Shadow Of The Hierophant
When the Heart Rules The Mind
One for the Vine
Firth Of Fifth
Supper's Ready
The Musical Box
Fountain of Salmacis

Yes, who provided the name for the cruise, got to play for two hours. 90 minutes each were allotted to Marillion and Steve Hackett. The shows went over time for a couple of minutes her and there. The “culprit” with Hackett's shows was the finale of Supper's Ready. The part from “and it's …” to the end is hardly three minutes long on Seconds Out, while it was a whopping five and a half minutes with Steve. He got big standing ovations for it. Whether Steve sings When The Heart Rules The Mind completely without any “support” is anyone's guess, but the hope that Steve Howe would sing with him (as he did on GTR) was not fulfilled (though Howe would only have needed to walk over from next door). Steve's bass player on this tour, Jona Reingold, fits in well; Steve already said that Jonas came perfectly prepared to the first rehearsals. He did, however, not do the stunt with the bass on his forehead, perhaps because the boat's movements were not always so calm…

Two other program items involved Steve. He did a Q&A where he was interviewed by a host but also took questions from the audience. One of the questions stood out. It did not simply call for a Genesis reunion, but it pointed out that Steve was de facto the only band member left who was able to cope with a reunion of the big five. However, Steve could not be tempted to say anything disparaging about the current abilities of his former band mates. During the session Steve asks his wife, Jo, to join him on stage, as she is an indispensable part of his work. She also answered a couple of questions about her input his his recent albums, stressing that they write together and that they are both responsible for the lyrics and the music.

The other event was one with Steve and Roger Dean. Roger has been there at all Cruises To The Edge so far, offering his original paintings for sale (prices for larger ones go far beyond five-digit numbers). Steve and Roger would mainly interview each other at this Q&A session, showing how much their creative processes differ – which is, in fact, not very much, except for the obvious difference that one works visually, the other with sounds. Rogar also created a new painting live (in the style of Yes album artwork). When it was almost complete someone from the audience suggested he add a tree because it looked so empty. Roger agreed, and with a few brush strokes he added some branches extending into the picture from the right – with those, it looked complete.

On the last Cruise people remembered John Wetton, who had died just before the cruise began. On this cruise there was a big tribute to John that included live interviews with some of his fellow musicians present, Steve Hackett included and a video of greetings from several others and recordings from the rehearsal room. Unfortunately, only part of the video could be played back because of recurring technical problems. The tribute to John Wetton ended with an acoustic performance of King Crimson's Book Of Saturday by Dave Kerzner, his guitarist Fernando Perdomo and Focus's Thijs van Leer on flute.

Speaking of Dave Kerzner – he is worth a special mention on this Cruise, though he has parted ways with Simon Collins. Dave was the one who had by the most guest musicians at his performances by a long stretch. He was joined, for example, by Jon Davison and Tony Kaye of Yes, by John Wesley and by Steve Hackett who got to play the guitar solo he recorded for Dave's song Stranded live. This was actually the opening song for Dave's show – since it was scheduled for 10:30pm he did not want to wait until the end. So Steve walks onstage a couple of minutes before the show to see if everything's ready and stands there for a while because, apparently, not everything's ready. A shout from the audience to the tune of “Hurry up, Steve Hackett wants to go to bed!” Steve hears it, grins and nods – a priceless moment!

Another thing that should not go unmentioned are the Late Night Live sessions the (amateur) musicians among the passengers set up to play loads of prog classics. These went from 11pm til 3am. Supper's Ready was played the very first night. They battled through, though it was a kind of bumpy ride. The good thing about these sessions is that some of the professional musicians will turn up. Nad Sylvan, for example, was there for Supper's Ready. He did not sing, though, he just watched it all for a while, then walked up to the stage at the right moment to say “A flower?” and that was that. Other passengers would play other Genesis songs. One of these was Seven Stones, with Yes's Jon Davison as guest vocalist. With him at the microphone the song sounded a bit like Yes not just because of his voice (for what its worth, he sounded a bit insecure only in the lower vocals), but also because they changed the ending: The mellotron bit was shortened and they repeated the line “I heard the old man tell his tale".

Ah yes, in case you are interested, the ship called in Belize City and Costa Maya, Mexico, so we were at sea for two days and in port for two days. Many passengers went on excursions to pyramids, nature parks and the like. I did not have time for that. Though there were few events in the morning, their number would pick up in the early afternoon, so I decided to take it easy aboard the ship so I could get to the afternoon shows nice and relaxed.

On the last day there was an official announcement that next year's Cruise To The Edge will take place aboard the same ship on 4 February to 9 February 2019. Information about booking options for the 2018 cruise appeared in early March, so it won't be long and we are all raring to go! Steve Hackett will almost certainly be there again. I am sailing, I am sailing (oops, wrong band!)

By Volker Warncke, English by Martin Klinkhardt
Photos by Volker Warncke