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A life on the ocean waves - Cruise To The Edge 2018

February 3-8, 2018 by Kevin Gower

Having flown 1st Class using my miles (the only way my wife agrees to let me go!), I had a couple of days in Tampa before setting sail again on the CTTE. This time our ship was the Brilliance of the Seas. This was my 29th cruise, but my first with Royal Caribbean and some of the first people I met in the atrium were the band and their partners. It was lovely to catch up with Pete and Fiona, Steve and Jo Rothery and Linette who was there with Emil (Vibes). The band were as welcoming as ever and seemed genuinely pleased to see me as they had on previous CTTEs. That almost changed when I offended them en masse, but more of that later.

We had lovely weather throughout and the band had a day off before they had any official duties. It

That night, they played their 1st show in the Pacifica Theater and they were on fire from the outset
was nice to bump into them around the ship and they were as charming and patient as ever as the fans from around the world asked for autographs and photos.

I first encountered Marillion by chance in October 1981 when Rothers was the only member who is still in the band. In all the years since, I have rarely asked for a photo with them and it has always been with only 1 band member at a time. On the 2nd day, there was an official Photo Experience and I saw it as a great opportunity to have a photo with all 5 of them. As I was ushered to stand with them, they remarked how I never ask for photos and I said this was different because “It was like meeting all 7 Dwarfs at Disney.” This made them crease up with laughter and Pete, who happened to be standing next to me, said “What are you trying to say?” I tried to explain what I meant, but they were too busy laughing and the photos will probably look quite strange as they are all giggling and pointing at me and I am no doubt looking embarrassed.

A life on the ocean waves - Cruise To The Edge 2018

The following day, I went to their Q & A. As the microphone was passed too me, h said “Oh no, we’re not talking to him, he called us the 7 Dwarfs!” This was in front of the many passengers who had gathered and it further added to my embarrassment, but as I had the mic in my hand, I attempted to justify myself. I explained that the 7 Dwarfs are only ever seen together at special ticketed Disney events and it was a rare opportunity to see all of the band together in the same place (apart from on stage, of course) h commented that I had had all night to come up with that explanation, but they seemed to accept that I hadn’t been insulting them. Phew! I asked what the weirdest gift was that they had received from a fan and that elicited quite a lively and interesting discussion and I think all was forgiven.

Red Show, 5.2.18:
That night, they played their 1st show in the Pacifica Theater and they were on fire from the outset. h said they had rehearsed hours of music to then be told they could only play for 90 minutes. He also said they would concentrate on F E A R tonight and play a different set tomorrow. We did indeed have all of F E A R (apart from Tomorrow’s New Country as usual) and it went down a storm.

Standing ovations throughout the audience and then we had Kayleigh, Wave and Mad easing into Afraid of Sunlight and a great version of Easter. They apologised that they couldn’t play any longer and left the stage. The house lights came on and the PA started playing Get Back and there was a bit of booing and a lot of unhappy faces. Quite a few people left, but the band came back on and played Three Minute Boy. The house lights were eventually turned off and we were treated to a lovely, long version with lots of audience participation. A real treat!

A life on the ocean waves - Cruise To The Edge 2018

Blue Show, 6.2.18:
Pete had very kindly put me on the guest list for the next night’s show, so I found myself in the VIP area, feeling very out of place. As promised, this was a different set, but it did begin with El Dorado, Living in Fear and The Leavers as per the previous night. The 1st change to the set was a sublime version of Sugar Mice and it was very strange that the audience didn’t all join in as they do in Europe and the UK. That was followed by the Wave/Mad/Afraid of Sunlight combo and then Easter.

They remarked how I never ask for photos and I said this was different because It was like meeting all 7 Dwarfs at Disney
Then another big change, This Strange Engine, and what a beautiful version it was. It was nice to see h let the front row play his cricket bat and the band left to tumultuous applause. Unfortunately the house lights came on and this time only h returned to the stage to apologise that they weren’t allowed to play any longer. Later, Mark told me that they had planned to finish with King, but the labour laws prevented them from running over their allotted time. I commented that 90 minutes seemed short for a co-headlining band and he ruefully agreed. Oh well, the main thing was that they had gone down a storm both nights and I spoke to many people who had seen them for the 1st time and were now definite fans.

Plaza Live, Orlando, 9.2.18:
Apart from the cruises, the conventions and a gig and coach in Europe in the 80s, I have never seen the band in another country. This was quite a nice venue and the 1st gig on the North American tour. They began with El Dorado and then played Easter. The 1st different track from the cruise was You’re Gone and that was followed by another 'new' track; Seasons End. It was a gorgeous version and Yenz’s lights were beautiful.

A life on the ocean waves - Cruise To The Edge 2018Sugar Mice was next, making this 1 of the best setlists ever compiled and then we had The Leavers in all its glory. The next non-cruise track was a stunning version of the Great Escape. We then had King, which would have been the encore on the 2nd night and then The Invisible Man. Great stuff!

Kayleigh, Wave, Mad and Arfraid of Sunlight followed and then there was a final surprise; a rocking version of Garden Party. They had blown the roof off and both Pete and Rothers were delighted with the reaction when I saw them after the show.

I had 6 nights at the theme parks after the show and then home, and the 3 shows stayed with me and I’m still recovering from them. It sounds a bit sad, but I was very proud of 'my' band doing so well in foreign climes. Thank you for making this CTTE the best yet.

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