Sure weren’t bodily current on Cruise to the Edge 2022, having dropped out of the floating pageant the 12 months earlier than. And some may need labeled that omission a vibe-ruiner: The band, whose 1972 LP impressed the occasion’s very title, has been a daily for the reason that inaugural 2013 voyage.
However Sure did make a quick however notable cameo, at the least in spirit: Deep right into a dynamic theater set on Might 6, the fest’s last night time, prog-metal band Haken tipped their caps to the OGs, boosting their neon-tinted “1985” with “Proprietor of a Lonely Coronary heart.” The theme of survival appeared clear all through the five-day tour, led on the marquee by Alan Parsons, Marillion and jazz-fusion guitarist Al Di Meola. Regardless of the quite a few obstacles (no namesake headliner, late-in-the-game cancelations of a number of different bands, limitless social media grumbling from followers, two earlier cruise postponements, total COVID-era anxiousness), the ship sailed on.
Attendees did encounter loads of logistical bummers and bitter surprises on day one, after making it onboard Royal Caribbean’s huge Mariner of the Seas (and, fortunately, offering a vaccination document and proof of a destructive COVID take a look at). Italian prog icons Le Orme have been introduced as a really last-minute cancelation, and technical challenges resulted in absurdly lengthy present delays. (Transatlantic, that includes former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy, took the stage practically two hours after their initially scheduled time.) A number of bands soldiered on by way of personnel hurdles: Flower Kings chief Roine Stolt, battling vocal points, needed to reshape his set by leaning into instrumentals and extra singing from guitarist Hasse Froberg; quite a few different acts, together with eternally underrated arduous rockers Wishbone Ash and tribute gods the Zappa Band, utilized fill-in musicians to plug lineup holes.
That resiliency fueled a few of the pageant’s apparent highlights: Wishbone, after a trilogy celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of 1972’s Argus, ended their late-night pool-stage set with a gloriously spacey rendition of 10-minute epic “Phoenix”; in the meantime, Zappa Band — that includes quite a few Frank Zappa alumni, together with multi-instrumentalists Robert Martin and Mike Keneally, bassist Scott Thunes and singer and guitarist Ray White — recruited virtuoso fill-in drummer Marco Minnemann for joyous salutes to their former boss, showcasing Zappa’s proggier aspect on anthems like “Village of the Solar + Echidna’s Arf (Of You)” and “Metropolis of Tiny Lites.”
Keneally may have been the occasion’s sleeper all-star: Nearly at all times beaming a childlike smile behind his white beard, he bounced from fluid electrical guitar solos to daunting keyboard runs to soulful concord vocals, typically in the identical music. And he introduced that very same “serve the music but rip when relevant” mentality whereas accompanying King Crimson’s Jakko Jakszyk for a pair of gigs.
Regardless of depressingly scant attendance and some comprehensible hiccups, Jakszyk’s dynamic Friday-night theater present — starting from his semi-recent, cowritten Crimson songs (the livid “Meltdown”) to an array of latest solo materials (the frivolously jazzy prog-pop tune “It Would All Make Sense”) — felt like a headline present in disguise. (There was loads of big-draw firepower onstage: Thunes and Martin have been additionally a part of the stay band, which hadn’t performed stay earlier than the cruise. “Welcome to the second and final date of our two-date tour,” Jakszyk informed the group, including, “[It’s] additionally our second rehearsal.”)
Perseverance was additionally essential for former King Crimson member Adrian Belew, who lit up each the Studio B and pool phases, regardless of a number of loop-pedal glitches and ridiculously scorching temperatures on the latter gig. The singer and guitarist, a uncommon songwriter who compellingly fuses prog and pop, showcased powerhouses from his solo catalog (the driving “Ampersand,” the belted “Younger Lions”) whereas revisiting staples (“Body by Body,” “Three of a Good Pair”) from his Crimson years. (He additionally did all of it whereas sporting the fest’s finest threads: a floral shirt he wore onstage whereas touring with David Bowie in 1978-79.)
“Let’s transfer on to a band that a few of you may have written throughout your chest,” Belew mentioned at Studio B, surveying the group’s Crimson apparel. (A fan fired again: “Mild Large?” Belew, seconds earlier than roaring into “Dinosaur”: “Not fairly.”)
Furry dudes in Larks Tongues in Aspic T-shirts will at all times want a secure place to geek out. And although the pageant typically felt doomed by exterior forces, Cruise to the Edge greater than delivered.
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