Classic Prog-Rockers Yes recently headlined a floating progressive rock festival dubbed “Cruise to the Edge” in honor of their Spring 2013 tour as they’re performing three classic albums in their entirety: 1972’s Close to the Edge, 1971’s The Yes Album and 1977’s Going for the One. This Sunday, they will be appearing at the Sands Bethlehem Event Center at 7:00 PM where you’ll get to hear two of the three albums. Don’t think you’ll get to hear all three because you won’t. You will hear Close to the Edge and one of the other remaining two as they seem to be alternating between them.
I speak from experience because I’ve actually been on a Yes concert binge for the past week and a half. As a longtime fan of the band, I felt obliged to hop aboard the Cruise to the Edge in what would be my maiden voyage on the high seas but not before checking out their show at the Seminole Hard Rock Live Arena in Hollywood, Florida the night before embarking on the cruise which also made one day stops at ports in Georgetown, Cayman Islands and Ocho Rios, Jamaica.
Aboard the massive Italian cruise liner, MSC Poesia, Yes joined forces with about ten other bands departing from Fort Lauderdale, Florida on March 25 for a five day prog extravaganza that also featured former Genesis guitarist, Steve Hackett and his band performing their Genesis Revisited show, Carl Palmer Band performing their ELP Legacy show, UK (recently reunited), Nektar, Ambrosia (last minute fill-in for Tangerine Dream), Zebra and several other up and coming progressive rock acts from around the globe.
With the stars aligned, but barely visible at night due to mostly cloudy conditions for much of the journey, I was joined on this excursion by my new bride, Donna, who got to experience a honeymoon that rocked and rolled – literally! The Poesia sailed over some rough seas with high winds making the crew’s efforts as well as the roadies (or should I say swabbies) much more difficult than expected. They logistically adjusted well on the fly with only a couple performances cancelled. Schedules were juggled and tweaked but everyone seemingly had a good time rolling with the changes.
During the cruise, Yes actually performed two shows in MSC Poesia’s plush indoor venue, Teatro Carlo Felice, with the first on Monday the 25th featuring Close to the Edge/Going for the One and the second on Wednesday the 27th featuring Close to the Edge/The Yes Album which was the same show I saw at Seminole Hard Rock.
The pitching and lurching of the ship while navigating through rough waters made these performances quite interesting for the artists and audiences alike. Yes guitarist, Steve Howe, had to stop his steel pedal guitar from rolling across the stage and away from him by extending his leg and hooking his foot into it while continuing to play guitar -- quite a feat with the feet! A truly funny moment occurred during their curtain call after the first performance when they all lined up at the front of the stage with arms over their shoulders but then all stumbling sideways across the stage as the perpetual motion of the boat caught them off guard.
Rock cruises have become the latest fad where fans get to rub elbows and party with their favorite bands for five days of non-stop music at both indoor and outdoor venues on board these enormous vessels. Most notable and recent on the MSC Poesia were the Monsters of Rock cruise featuring bands Cinderella, Tesla, Queensryche, Y&T and Great White and The Moody Blues cruise dubbed “The Voyage” which featured Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Little River Band, The Zombies, The Strawbs and Stephen Bishop.
Although Caribbean cruises have been getting some bad press lately for mishaps at sea with stranded passengers foundering and sweltering without electricity, air-conditioning, fresh food or water, these MSC rock-themed cruises have been executed flawlessly with less than a day’s turnaround before they’re fully loaded and back out at sea. The only thing they can’t control is Mother Nature but it doesn’t stop them from trying.
So my two week Yes binge comes to an end this Sunday at the Sands Bethlehem Event Center on good ole terra firma. The band is in fine form as they continue these double album shows and they can only get better without having to endure vertigo and seasickness. Doors open at 6PM and the show is at 7PM.
Stay tuned for more stories and concert reviews from my “Cruise to the Edge…”