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Cruise to the Edge Diary, Day 5

The Passage Home

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Photos by Jennifer Kantor

The last day of our cruise is a watershed moment. The choppy seas have set our boat to rocking and serve as a reminder that it won’t be long before we’re back in the Northeast. Oh well, we soldier on in the meantime, determined to enjoy the sun while it lasts.

Things kick off with a Yes Q&A in the Pacifica Theater. Topics of discussion include the Drama and (appropriately) Tales from Topographic Oceans albums; Steve Howe states the latter is “the only concept album Yes did in 50 years. Thank goodness we did that!”

Of course the band is prodded with a question about their potential live situation for the RRHoF. Howe says, “It’s a surprise. It may be a surprise for you, it may be a surprise for us.” Here’s hoping it’s a surprise we’ll all enjoy. The band also acknowledges they are possibly considering playing Relayer (their lone album with Patrick Moraz) in its entirety in the future, but that it will take “an enormous amount of work to capture the performances on that album.”

Asked if they will consider playing songs from 1978’s Tormato at future concerts, according to Howe, who answered the majority of the questions, the album “wasn’t designed for the stage” but “maybe one day we will try to revisit it.”

Here’s hoping.

***

A treat of today’s events is a live painting session from Roger Dean in the Viking Crown lounge. By its end, I know he likes acrylic paints, and that 80 percent of his paintings start as “hundreds of doodles in a sketchbook.”

Our afternoon is fairly quiet. I score the last autograph I need for my Kansas Power album. During an interview break, I make my way up to Steve Morse. He seems happy to sign, and remarks I’ve gotten everyone except Steve Walsh. Believe me, if Steve Walsh were on the ship, I would have done everything to find him. It’s all good as Morse completes the trio of Steves I’ve gotten signatures from, including Steve Howe and Steve Hackett.

While Jen enjoys the rays, I take one more sweep through the Windjammer, which yields selfies with Alan White and Geoff Downes. I have succeeded in achieving the total mass retain with Yes—having met and spoken to all five members in some capacity over the course of our trip, exactly what makes music cruises so special.

The afternoon concludes with checking out Swedish prog rock band Anglagard. After dinner, it’s time to pack up—boo— before savoring the last of the cruise’s events.

***

Kansas is our last concert, but it’s a dynamite show. Our camera almost doesn’t gain access as three separate cruise staffers ask to see a press pass. While we do get clearance, I think about mentioning that a huge percentage of cruisers plan to record parts of the band’s show (and all band shows for that matter). In the end, I think better of it.

For those who have heaped the “corporate” label on Kansas, take my word for it, this is a phenomenal rock band that knows how to pack the punch while staying true to its roots. They dazzle with the hits and wow with the anthems. I was told by multiple people on the ship their latest album, The Prelude Implicit is a must-have. After seeing the band perform, I’m inclined to agree – especially after hearing tracks like “Rhythm in the Spirit” and “The Voyage of Eight Eighteen.” Kansas vocalist Ronnie Scott carries the torch left behind by Steve Walsh wonderfully. He has the range, the leg sways—all that’s missing are Walsh’s shorts and knee-high white socks that screamed late-1970s.

We only experienced 90 minutes of the band on stage. For those planning to see Kansas in the near-future, expect another hour tacked on, as they will be tackling the whole of their magnum opus Leftoverture, as well as cuts from throughout their entire catalogue. Be prepared, and enjoy!

The septet leaves us with a terrific encore of “Portrait (He Knew)” and “Carry On Wayward Son.” At the end of the latter, drummer Phil Ehart unleashes a torrent of awesomeness before throwing his sticks in the air to signal the end of the show. Capturing this moment where Ehart looks as if he’s achieved musical salvation is undoubtedly the best photo I’ll ever take in my life.

A quick post of the pic to Facebook and Twitter before bedtime. In the morning, I was greeted with the great surprise of Kansas retweeting it. Thanks guys!

And so dear friends, the time has come to bid you all adieu from the high seas. It won’t be long now until we’re back in Boston, figuring how to get rid of the snow surrounding our house.

Thanks for joining me on this journey, and may your own ships, be they musical or otherwise, come in soon!

—Ira Kantor

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