Menno von Brucken Fock reports on the 2022 edition of Cruise To The Edge in words and pictures. Don't forget to read about the Pre-Party and Day 1 as well. Here is Day 2, with The Flower Kings, Marillion, Justin Hayward, and Al Di Meola.
Day 2. This third day in May started a little later for us. The road-trip we had undertaken in the eighteen days before the cruise (we drove for more than 10.000 km's) and the many hours of standing in line the previous day had made us somewhat tired, so we decided not to rush things.
Our first show should have begun on 1 PM but as you might have guessed, the time schedule had to be adjusted again and it was past 2 PM before we could enter Studio B where The Flower Kings were to perform. When the show started, we were a bit surprised to see Roine Stolt sitting on a chair. He looked very fragile. After the opening track, sung by Hasse Fröberg, Roine clarified he wasn't feeling too well and that his voice was gone completely. He complimented Hasse for taking over practically all the vocal duties, and he apologized that the show would be very different from an "ordinary" Flower Kings concert.
So Hasse realised he would have to do most if not all the singing, only an hour before the show was scheduled to commence, giving him virtually no time tot prepare. He managed, the true professional he was, but nevertheless the tracks sounded quite different,also because Jonas Reingold was no longer in the fold. Reingold chose to go on tour with Steve Hackett and Roine's brother Michael was taking his place as a bass player. A different sound, a different technique and perhaps also too little time to learn all the stuff properly. Mirko De Maio on drums and Zach Kamins on keyboards were doing okay, but still we would have preferred one of the many line-ups from the band's past.
Only one song from the new album By Royal Decree was performed (The Great Pretender). The setlist included several tracks from the album Flower Power, and because of the re-release of Retropolis (plus some albums from the nineties), there were a few songs from that album too. The other two songs were from Stardust We Are.
The Flower Kings setlist
Deaf, Numb & Blind (Intro) Church of Your Heart Dawn Simple Song Business Vamp The Great Pretender Retropolis There Is More to This World Stardust We Are (last part only)
After the Flower Kings show, we went up to deck 11 to see part of the performance by Dave Kerzner and his all star band. We couldn't stay too long because the main event of the day for us, Marillion, would be starting within half an hour. So down we went to the Royal Theater.
The fans were in for a big surprise when Hogarth welcomed the audience and asked the rhetorical question why they shouldn't play the new album in its entirety. "Mmm... Well, fuck it.", and the band went on playing the whole of An Hour Before It's Dark.
The sound was superb, "H" was the charismatic frontman as usual and sang as good as 20 years ago. The band played really tight. This was the level of concerts as would we like them all to be! Absolutely top of the bill.
In support of Ukraine "H" had his nails varnished yellow and blue, a very nice gesture.
An Hour Before It's Dark: Be Hard On Yourself Reprogram The Gene Only a Kiss Murder Machines The Crow And The Nightingale Sierra Leone Care
encore: The Invisible Man Power (opening bars only, technical issue) Neverland
Immediately after the Marillion show, we went straight to Studio B, where we hoped to get a front row seat to see Moody Blues icon Justin Hayward. It was announced to be a "special performance". We were utterly surprised. While we expected a rather old man, just trying to survive by doing these semi-acoustic shows, we welcomed a good-looking, vivid chap, nowhere near retirement, full of stories to tell, and backed by a trio of very talented young musicians: Mike Dawes (guitar), multi-instrumentalist Julie Ragins (keyboard and vocals), and Karmen Gould (flute and vocals).
What an extraordinary performance this was. Hayward, now 75 years old, sang flawlessly and presented a sort of "best of the Moody Blues" plus Forever Autumn. He explained extensively how he was approached to sing this Jeff Wayne song and that he felt privileged and honoured to have been part of the War Of The Worlds shows in the past, and even very recently!
Such charisma and still that powerful voice, such exquisite and tasteful arrangements of all those great songs. We were truly stunned. What a great performer!
Justin Hayward setlist
Driftwood (Moody Blues) Tuesday Afternoon (Moody Blues) The Actor (Moody Blues) The Voice (Moody Blues) Forever Autumn (Jeff Wayne) Never Comes the Day (Moody Blues) Your Wildest Dreams (Moody Blues) Question (Moody Blues) Nights in White Satin (Moody Blues)
encore: The Story in Your Eyes (Moody Blues) I Know You're Out There Somewhere (Moody Blues)
Out of curiosity, we went up to deck 11 again (the Pool Deck), where a genuine storm was raging through this rather open space. The poor lads of Riverside had difficulty to stand straight and a huge compliment to those four musicians from Poland for being able to play under these circumstances.
A quick bite to eat in one of the many restaurants and then back to the Royal Theater to see the next "main event": Al Di Meola. We were naive enough to be expecting something like the legendary Return To Forever. So one can imagine how disappointed we were to see Di Meola with just an acoustic guitar and Richie Morales on percussion.
Of course, Di Meola is a fantastic guitarist, but somehow the acoustic performance didn't fit our expectations of a "prog-cruise headliner". His arrangements of some Beatles-songs were highly original and although we witnessed the whole show from up-close and could see the man's fabulous technique, we were still underwhelmed with this choice.
Around midnight, we went back to Studio B where District 97 would be performing. To be honest, the scarcely clad Leslie Hunt, the extremely high volume coming from the speakers and the tracks chosen were not our cup of tea. Adventurous? Yes, maybe so, but very loud and aggressive music sounding much more like metal than prog.
So after midnight we decided to see what was happening in the Royal Theater. Fabulous Austrian Trio (F.A.T.) were playing there in front of a handful of people. The Austrian guitar virtuoso Alex Machacek was playing there with drummer Herbert Pirker and bass player Raphael Preuschl. All three musicians were playing absolutely top-notch, but since they had virtually no contact with the audience and were only looking to each other or their instruments, it wasn't much of a show.
The music is further away from prog-rock, or has a smaller overlap, if you will. This is quite far into fusion or jazz territories. If you see Machacek's guitar and you hear him play, you would be forgiven for thinking Allan Holdsworth was back among the living. Exquisite playing, just not a genre we would be happy to listen to for long.
So while the storm was still raging on deck (but would eventually calm down), these two music-lovers decided it was time to go bed after a delightful shot of whisky. Another big day coming up tomorrow!