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Lifesigns on the Carribean

Day 6

All At Sea


It’s a bit disorientating the first morning when you wake up on a ship. Mainly it’s because you are in an unfamiliar room but also because there seems to be an awful lot of water outside the window and nothing else. The water moves up and down a bit as well which doesn’t help matters. I turn the telly on and see Man Utd playing Everton so I do a mental calculation using the clock on my computer which is still on Tokyo time to deduce that it must be a live broadcast. Then I get confused because the time shown on the bedside phone doesn’t match the computer or the telly. Hmm…well it’s either almost 7am or almost 8am and either is good for breakfast.


I discovered in the Garden Café that actually, it was almost 6am as there was almost nobody else there and upon asking a steward, he informed me that we were now on Ship Time; the phone is correct. I load up a plate with half a dozen rashers of bacon, two eggs, breakfast potatoes and two bread rolls. I also can’t resist the slices of Havarti and Finocchiona so the plate is close to overflowing when I put it on a table by the window before I go back for coffee and orange juice. Eating slowly, I contemplate the day ahead. Nobody made any plans to meet up today and Lifesigns are not due to play so we are all free spirits. No doubt we’ll all bump into each other somewhere.


Back in the cabin, Wolves are now playing Fulham. I have a shower and then check the first band I want to see today. 10:30am at the Pool Stage so I let the time slip by reading before walking the ten yards to the elevator which takes me up to Deck 12. It’s another beautiful day and there’s a healthy crowd already gathered to see Wishbone Ash. I first saw them in 1977 and last saw them in 1982 when they supported Ian Gillan at Wembley. The line-up has changed, only Andy Powell remains of those days but they still have that lovely twin guitar and twin vocal harmonies that defined them. Andy recounts a story of how he discovered the Rolling Stones Mobile in Canada and the memories it brought back of when they recorded Live Dates, their 1973 album on it. Then they played The Pilgrim and just for a moment, I am back in time, back at The De Montfort Hall in Leicester, a teenage boy watching the original line-up.


Towards the end of their set, I make a mad dash to the Stardust Theater. A favourite of mine since the eighties, I’ve seen Simon Phillips play a dozen times in different bands including Protocol. He has his Tama Mirage kit with him so you can see every little nuance and flick that he does and I’m spellbound as he and his band go through Solitaire, Isosceles and Passage To Agra. Again, it’s a level of musicianship I can’t comprehend. Simon mentions that Solitaire is written about the 007 character in Live And Let Die and that he loves Bond trivia. Should the opportunity arise, there is a conversation I’d like to have with him as I am of the same ilk.* The show ends and the audience show their appreciation with a thunderous applause and lots of whooping and hollering. Outside, I check the time and it’s one o’clock. Time for lunch, hum de dum de dum.  


After scoff I return to the pool deck to see The Steve Morse Band. This time I’m a lot closer to him and I notice he isn’t wearing a wrist brace which was something he had to do in his later concerts with Deep Purple. His playing is spot on during John Deere Letter and Cruise Missile; he’s still one of the best in the world. Ray finds me. He, Maisie and Sam have commandeered sun loungers and are soaking up the rays. Time for a beer, my first of the day and Maisie insists it’s her round. I’m not one for bathing in it but it’s good to feel the sun on my bones after the Tokyo winter and I’m quite happy loitering with intent to drink more beer for a while before heading off to the Flying Colors Q&A session. On the way, when the elevator doors open, Klone are in there and whilst handing out business cards, I mention I like their stuff and that I’m looking forward to seeing them. Yann Linger laughs saying ‘You told us that at the airport’ and I feel a bit daft but judging by the following banter, no harm done.


Steve, Casey, Mike, Neil and Dave answer questions about writing and working together and then the question everyone wants answering is asked: ‘Will there be a fourth Flying Colors album?’ The answer is positive in that they would all like to but scheduling due to everyone’s commitments to other bands makes it difficult. This is especially true of Mike who, having recently re-joined Dream Theater, is pretty much tied up for the next year. The session ends and we are none the wiser to a new album but us fans live in hope. I wander the ship for a while and bump into Steve Morse whom I have interviewed in Japan a couple of times before. I jog his memory. His handshake is warm and friendly and I send regards to him from friends in Japan who asked me to should I meet him on-board. I tell him it’s lovely to see him on stage again, nothing more needs to be said. More wandering finds me watching Airbag for a few songs. I didn’t know much about Airbag before this cruise as their albums have never been released domestically in Japan (Norwegian Prog Rock isn’t very big there) so I’m playing catch-up with them and what I hear makes me make a note to catch-up a bit more when I return home.


There’s a bloke standing beside me with a T-shirt on that says ‘Even Richard Dawkins thinks Steve Rothery is God’. 24 hours into the cruise and the T-shirt raises a smile but all is not well elsewhere. I’m sitting in the Atrium with Sue and Tony who is fuming as somehow the link between his room key and credit card has vanished leaving them in limbo – they can’t even get a drink. To make matters worse, the staff can’t seem to understand the problem or how to fix it. He’s called back to the desk on three occasions and each time the problem is compounded by something else. Also at the desk are Dave and Sharon. One of their bags has still not been delivered to their cabin and it’s got some important stuff in it. They remember tagging it at the port but no one has seen it since. Seeing both of these incidents at the same time causes me to wonder how many other things have gone wrong for passengers - let’s not forget Tony Levin’s missing Stick.  Down at the Stardust again, this time standing in line hoping to get into see Marillion, I am distracted by something outside on deck. Looking through the window, three photographers are surrounding a lady and a man. The lady seems to have no idea of what’s going on. A few other Marillion fans notice and there’s a bit or murmuring. The man drops to one knee and produces a ring in a box, the photographers snap away, our noses are pressed to the window urging her to say yes which she does with tears of happiness and for the second time that day, there is much whooping and hollering. 


Marillion is full so I take the opportunity to see Jane Gettner’s Premonition. She’s playing the Spinnaker Lounge up on Deck 13, further forward and indoor from the Pool Stage which you have to traverse to get to the Spinnaker. It’s windy as I walk through and see Haken’s crew setting up for their show in an hour. The Spinnaker is a comfortable venue with the stage set in a ¾ circle; a cabaret lounge style set-up. Jane apologises as they’ve had technical problems at the soundcheck and as her set gets underway, the ship starts to roll although not so much as to make anyone queasy. I watch a half an hour of Jane’s show but I am starting to feel tired and I really want to watch more bands tonight so it’s off to The Great Outdoors, an open deck café and bar at the stern of the ship for one of my Dolly Parton Specials. It’s breezy back there and the roll of the ship is measurable by the flow of coffee in my cup. A couple of the guys from Marbin are giving an impromptu gig with two acoustic guitars and a sax player from elsewhere. They play Django Reinhardt and songs from that era and are astonishing to say the least.


With caffeine in my veins I’m back at the pool deck watching Haken play a terrific set with a laser light show. I have heard some of Haken’s songs before but only the heavier stuff so am delighted at their intricate arrangements both vocally and instrumentally which as a combined force is overpowering. Cockroach King and Crystallised are stellar pieces and Visions is a stunning closer. They even throw in a bit of My Heart Will Go On which is gloriously apt on a ship.


Upstairs, Ray, Sam and Maisie are also watching. It’s cape night and there is a fair selection, the majority homemade. JP joins us and I mention I haven’t seen him around much. ‘No…I was in bed most of the day’ he says nonchalantly. Julie walks by our table but somehow doesn’t see us and no amount of shouting ‘Julie!’ at the top of our lungs gets her attention although we do get the attention of everyone else on the starboard promenade. Eventually she comes back, her red cape billowing and looking for all the world like Merlin’s apprentice. We all head to the Spinnaker to see Lonely Robot and a few minutes later John enters; we haven’t seen each other since we boarded. John is concerned about getting Simon’s kit on the stage as it looks small but both Ray and Sam assure him they can and a few options of positioning are discussed. Lonely Robot are a bit late and apologise as they had technical issues. This concerns me having seen Jane Gettner earlier with a similar complaint but it’s probably not a good time to mention it to anyone. Any previous technical issues are quickly forgotten or ignored by John Mitchell and the band as they start with Airlock and go into God vs Man. John’s funny and an informative well-sailed man (stay away from the greasy food and you’ll be ok) having been on ships and yachts since he was nine years old. Steve Hogarth joins them for backing vocals on Why Do We Stay? and then later for Humans Being. It’s a great performance. I’m close to the doors and do not see anyone leave before the end.


Ray has mentioned a couple of times that Dave and Sally are doing an unplanned set at the Atrium at the end of the night and we arrange to meet there. On the way, I pass the Stardust and nip in to see the tail end of Klone’s show. Dave and Sally are still setting up when I arrive and see Ray. We grab a couple of seats in the Gods and watch with glee as they play four songs, each one graciously received by the audience. Sally’s voice is to die for; Ray mentions that Dave’s playing is unbelievably precise on the guitar, something I concur with and we both envy.  After an inspired rendition of The Last Voyage, a song written by Kerry Minnear of Gentle Giant fame - Sally’s father - I head back to my cabin. Ray wanders off elsewhere.


Day 7



I finished my bacon and eggs in time to watch Liverpool vs Man City. It’s an edge-of-your-seat game ending in a fair 1-1 draw. There are no bands scheduled until this afternoon as we are docked in Cozumel, an island in the Caribbean where you can go snorkelling, scuba diving and all that malarkey. We were originally planned to put into port at Ocho Rios in Jamaica and Georgetown in the Cayman Islands but a couple of weeks ago, Berth 2 in Ocho Rios was recently damaged so a lot of the cruises have been diverted here. A tad disappointing as us 007 fans were looking forward to seeing locations used in No Time To Die, Live and Let Die and Dr. No., including in that last film, the very beach where Ursula Andress walks out of the sea. Never mind, I’m sure Cozumel will have some good things to do.


Well, it did but nothing I was particularly interested in so after a brief look around the souvenir shops of which there were many and not much else, I plonked myself in Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville and ordered a Mojito; another one off the bucket list. It was only 11am but what the hell because as the song says, it’s five o’clock somewhere. I had just finished my ridiculously expensive but admittedly highly palatable drink when Tony and Sue show up and order me another. There card problem is fixed and we all have the same opinion of Cozumel so we talk about bands and our lives where we live. I invite them to Japan to stay with me whenever they want. It’s a genuine offer as I like them a lot. Just after midday, I head back to the ship and make my way to see the Lifesigns photoshoot.


Set in the Spinnaker, there are these events every day where three bands greet hundreds of fans and have their photo taken with them. Today, along with Lifesigns, it’s Queensrÿche, Flying Colors. It’s part of the agreement for the bands doing the cruise but I have to admit, I would have difficulty keeping up the enthusiasm for an hour as fan after fan comes in and you have to make them feel like they are the only fan in the world. Lifesigns manage this with aplomb and I make a mental note to talk to some fans later about their experiences meeting the band, here and elsewhere. As the last fan skips out the door, I notice the mojitos and sunshine have gone to my head a bit and check my schedule. Nothing for a while so plenty of water and an hour’s rest in my cabin is appealing after which I go to eat. Dave and Sharon have just finished lunch when I arrive and they recommend the chocolate cheesecake. This is great. Not only have I found fellow 007 fans on this cruise but cheesecake comrades as well.


I’m just a couple of minutes late to see the start of The Flower Kings who are having guitar problems. Thankfully it’s all sorted by the second song and their atmospheric and dramatic pieces that include sixties melodies and harmonies, attract an audience from the Norwegian Gem which is in port next to us. Their songs also have crescendos that you want to go on and on but then end perfectly. A special mention goes to Lalle Larsson for a wonderful piano solo.


Then it’s time to try and see Marillion again and again, it doesn’t happen. It was worth queuing up for though as I am inline behind Kali Armstrong, the backing vocalist with Lonely Robot (also in the band is her uncle Rick, the keyboard player). I introduce myself and we get chatting. Once we learn that the theatre is full, she says I must come and meet her Dad. It’s a pleasure to meet Mark and an honour to meet the son and granddaughter of the man who in 1969, was the most famous man on planet earth. I’ll let that sink in…

Julie and I are having a beer on the Pool Deck and I mention that Lifesigns seem to be bigger amongst the audience than advertised. She agrees and teases me about tomorrow’s gig saying I’ll be surprised just how big they are. We go to see Gryphon and are joined by John and Sally. Amazingly, Gryphon still have three founding members from 1973 and with the younger members, look like a random selection of time-travelling minstrels who all fell out of a VW camper. There are lots of jokes about age and their music is of another time to say the least but so charming and engaging you just love it. Their instrumentation includes bassoons and krummhorns and an umbrella. Tree Song is an outstanding piece delightfully introduced and then beautifully performed and I particularly enjoyed a track from their last album titled Norman Wisdom From The Swamp (A Sonic Tonic). John, Sally and Julie leave a couple of songs from the end to have dinner in the Artists dining restaurant and I join them after Gryphon’s set has finished. I’m still not feeling right since my excursion to Cozumel so I stick to drinking water while enjoying the conversation which starts with music but soon moves away to life. Marvellous.


Replenished with the water, I am up for more music and opt for Baraka. The three-piece Japanese band play well-constructed instrumentals that never linger too long on one part and the separation between the instruments is crystal clear – think along the lines of Rush’s instrumental parts but extended and expanded. I stay for half the set and would have stayed for more but one of my favourite bands is due on. I saw Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin in Japan a few years back performing the Susperia soundtrack live to the film projected behind them. This time it’s a greatest hits set kicking off with Brain Zero One and then going straight into the heart-racing Il Cartaio. The wind is up and bassist Cecillia Nappo’s hair is flowing as she locks into Federico Maragoni’s drumming. Daniele Amador seems unphased by his hair wrapped around his face as he plays his solos while at the front, Claudio tinkers away with computer precision and human feel.

Then it’s lasers time and the show becomes an overload on the senses sonically and visually, the sound mix being the best I have had heard so far. It draws me in, mesmerised, I have to get closer to the front and do. The combination of music, video and lighting during The Exorcist segment is hypnotic. Towards the end of the show, I start to move further back and see Tony and Sue sitting gaping in awe at the spectacle unfolding. We exchange a few words of praise and it’s around midnight when Goblin say goodnight and I head off to bed. It’s been a helluva day.


Day 8

Cozumel and Lifesigns first show

Bacon, eggs, etc and I’m ready for the day. Overnight, the ship moved to a different port on Cozumel and again there’s no gigs in the morning so again I take the opportunity to have a look around. It was more places offering the same adventures and selling the same T-shirts so I was back onboard in an hour. Julie’s comment from last night comes back to me on a couple of occasions as both on Cozumel and onboard, there was a significant increase in people wearing Lifesigns T-shirts.


In the early afternoon I go to the Stardust where Lifesigns are due to perform at 3pm. Simon’s kit is already set up by his Tech, Bob Graham, so I introduce myself, say hi to Sam and Ray who are discussing what will go where and I take a close look at the drums. Things are a bit ahead of schedule and then the monitor guy appears and starts throwing his weight around. Sam asks for some power to be run out to the front of the stage but the monitor guy isn’t happy and says he’ll do it when he’s ready as he doesn’t officially start until 1pm. I check my watch and its 12:47pm. Sam, Ray and I have encountered this type of jobsworth/nob many times in our years on the road and they just make life more difficult, especially at festivals when timings are so tight. I decide it’s best for me to observe from offstage and jump down into the seats where Julie is.


Suddenly it’s 2:15pm, the band have arrived, the show starts at 3pm and now everyone isn’t moving quick enough for the monitor guy. Even from the seats I can see Sam and Ray gritting their teeth to just get on with the job which they do. They know their stuff and even though the soundcheck runs right up to the last minute before the doors open, (which, incidentally, on most shows is 5-10 minutes before showtime), the band are happy with their onstage sound. Credit to them, no matter what, the gig always comes first, true pros, even when dealing with the rubber stamper stage left.


By now, Juie and I have moved back towards the mixing desk, said hello to Steve who is busy twiddling knobs, pushing buttons and faders. We have take a couple of the prime seats in the house for view and sound. Artists privileges? Yes, but remember we come last when it comes to seeing Marillion. The doors open and a tidal wave of fans flood in, filling the theatre in less than five minutes. I race to the back to see every seat taken and some people still outside. Julie wasn’t joking; this band are far bigger than I realised.


Lifesigns come onstage to a very warm reception. Amazingly, there is still someone I haven’t met up there and that’s the fill-in backing vocalist, Someone in the audience asks who is behind the drumkit and JP replies that he thinks it’s God. They start with Altitude. John’s voice is sonorous and envelopes the entire theatre, JP moves over to Dave’s keyboard rig for the end section. For the next number, John asks if anyone would like to clap along with Simon for the next one - Different – and of course everybody does. At the end, John introduces the band including their fill-in backing vocalist, Catina Deluna who amazingly, I am still yet to meet. JP introduces John as ‘Mr John Young on bassoons and krummhorns’. John’s MC for Impossible is ‘the closest we’ve come to a greatest hit as it was marginally successful in certain areas of The Netherlands.’ Dave adds that it was also popular on hospital radio in Leicester and goes on to say that ‘Unfortunately, half the prospective buyers died before they could buy it’ which brings a huge laugh from the audience. After Impossible, another person in the audience shouts out for Total Eclipse Of The Heart, John having worked with Bonnie Tyler for three decades and John obliges with a few notes. JP joins in the fun and quips the next song is Total Eclipse Of The Heart Of The Sunrise. The audience love all this John singing Happy Birthday to three fans who are in the audience. Shoreline is next which is followed by Fortitude and th…BWAAAARRRRP! What the…? Dave has stepped forward over his pedals and it looks like his guitar lead has caught one of the knobs. There are looks Dave’s way from everyone but no one misses a beat and the problem seems to be fixed by the last song, Last One Home. This piece has to be one of the best set closers ever written and Dave’s solo is sublime. At the end, they receive a standing ovation and the biggest cheers I have heard so far. Indeed, I have greatly underestimated this band. I need to talk to a few fans…

*It didn’t.


The official explanation was that ‘a pier fender – a protective structure that helps prevent ships from colliding with the pier — fell off amid strong winds’.

The Lifesigns Family.jpg

The Lifesigns family.
Catina, Simon, JP, Sharon, Dave, Julie, John, Steve, Sally


I still wasn't tempted.

クルーズ・トゥ・ジ・エッジ パート3)








 キャビンに戻ると、ウルブスはフルハムと対戦中。シャワーを浴びて、今日最初に観たいバンドをチェックする。プール・ステージで10:30AM。デッキ12に上がるエレベーターまでの10ヤードを歩く前に、読書をして時間を潰した。今日もいい天気で、ウィッシュボーン・アッシュを観ようと、すでに元気な観客が集まっている。彼らを初めて観たのは1977年で、最後に観たのは1982年、ウェンブリーでイアン・ギランのサポートをした時だった。ラインナップは変わり、当時の面影を残すのはアンディ・パウエルだけだが、彼らを特徴づけていた素敵なツインギターとツインボーカルのハーモニーは健在だ。アンディは、カナダでローリング・ストーンズのモービルを発見し、1973年のアルバム『Live Dates』をレコーディングした時の思い出を語る。それから彼らは「The Pilgrim」を演奏し、一瞬だけ、私はタイムスリップして、レスターのデ・モントフォート・ホールに戻り、オリジナル・ラインナップを観ていた10代の少年に戻った。


 セットが終わる頃、私は猛ダッシュでスターダスト・シアターに向かった。80年代からのお気に入りで、サイモン・フィリップスがプロトコルを含むさまざまなバンドで演奏するのを何十回も見てきた。彼はタマ・ミラージュのキットを持参しているので、彼がプレイする小さなニュアンスやフリックの一つひとつを見ることができ、私は彼と彼のバンドが「Solitaire」、「Isosceles」、「Passage To Agra」を演奏するのに魅了された。繰り返すが、私には理解できないレベルの音楽性だ。サイモンは、「Solitaire」は『Live And Let Die(邦題:死ぬのは奴らだ)』の007のキャラクターについて書かれたもので、ボンドのトリビアが大好きだと話している。機会があれば、私も同じ007ファンなので、彼と話してみたいことがある。ショーは終了し、観客は万雷の拍手と大歓声で感謝を示す。外で時間を確認すると1時だった。昼食の時間だ。ルンルン。


 食べ終わってプールデッキに戻ると、スティーブ・モーズ・バンドがいた。今回、私は彼との距離がぐっと近くなり、彼がディープ・パープル後期のコンサートでいつもしていた手首のサポーターをしていないことに気づいた。「John Deere Letter 」や「Cruise Missile 」での彼のプレイは的確で、今でも世界最高のプレイヤーの一人だ。レイが私を見つける。彼とメイジーとサムはサンラウンジャーを占領し、日光浴をしている。今日初めてのビールを飲む。メイジーは自分の領地だと言い張る。私は日光浴が好きなわけではないが、東京の冬の後に太陽の光を骨に感じるのは良いことで、フライング・カラーズのQ&Aセッションに向かう前に、ビールをもっと飲むつもりでしばらくうろうろしているのはとても幸せだ。途中、エレベーターのドアが開くと、そこにクローンがいて、名刺を配りながら、彼らの作品が好きで、彼らに会うのが楽しみだと話した。



 スティーヴ、ケイシー、マイク、ニール、デイヴが作曲や共同作業についての質問に答え、そして誰もが答えたいと思っている質問、「フライング・カラーズの4枚目のアルバムは出るのか? 」と訊いた。答えはポジティブで、みんなやりたいとは思っているが、他のバンドとの兼ね合いがあるため、スケジュール的に難しいというものだった。特にマイクは、最近ドリーム・シアターに再加入したため、今後1年間は拘束されることになる。トークセッションは終了し、私たちは新しいアルバムの存在を知ることはできないが、私たちファンは希望を抱いて生きていくことにする。しばらく船内をうろうろしていると、以前何度か日本でインタビューしたスティーブ・モースにばったり会った。私は彼の記憶を呼び起こす。彼の握手は温かく親しみやすいもので、私は日本の友人たちから、船上で彼に会ったらよろしくと頼まれたと伝えた。私は彼に、彼がまたステージに立つのを観るのは素敵なことだ、これ以上何も言う必要はない、と言った。さらに彷徨っていると、エアバッグの演奏を数曲観ることになった。日本では彼らのアルバムは日本では国内発売されていないので(ノルウェーのプログレはあまりメジャーではない)、このクルーズに参加するまではエアバッグのことはよく知らなかった。だから、私は彼らと質疑応答し、私が耳にしたことは、帰国後にもう少し深堀りするためのメモになる。






 カフェインを補給しながらプールデッキに戻り、レーザー光線を使ったヘイケンの素晴らしいセットを観た。ヘイケンの曲はいくつか聴いたことがあるが、ヘヴィなものばかりだった上に、ヴォーカルも楽器も複雑なアレンジが施され、それが一体となって圧倒的な迫力を生み出していることに満足している。「Cockroach King」と「Crystallised」は素晴らしい作品であり、「Visions」は見事なクロージングナンバーである。さらに、船上での演奏にぴったりな「My Heart Will Go On」も挿入されている。


 2階では、レイ、サム、メイジーも観ている。岬の夜ということで、かなり幅広いセレクションから演奏されたが、大半は自作曲だ。JPが合流し、私は彼にあまり見かけないねと声を掛けた。「いや...今日はほとんどベッドにいたからね。」とあっけらかんと彼は言う。ジュリーは私たちのテーブルのそばを通りかかったが、どういうわけか私たちには気づかず、いくら大声で「ジュリー!」と叫んでも彼女の目には留まらなかった。やがて彼女は赤いマントをなびかせ、まるでマーリンの弟子のような姿で戻ってきた。ロンリー・ロボットを観るためにみんなでスピネーカーに向かうと、数分後にジョンが入ってきた。彼には乗船してから一度も会っていない。ジョンは、ステージが小さく見えるため、サイモンのキットが乗せられるか心配していたが、レイとサムは乗せられると断言。そして、ポジショニングのいくつかのオプションについて説明する。ロンリー・ロボットは少し遅れているが、技術的な問題があったとのことで謝罪した。以前、ジェーン・ゲトナーが同じような苦情を訴えていたのを見たことがあるので気になるのだが、このことを誰かに言うのはまだ時期尚早だろう。それまでの技術的な問題は、ジョン・ミッチェルとバンドによってすぐに忘れ去られ、無視された。彼女ととバンドのステージは「Airlock」から始まり、「God vs Man」に入る。ジョンは9歳の頃から船やヨットに乗っている、面白くて情報通の航海家だ(脂っこい食事には近づかないようにすれば大丈夫)。スティーヴ・ホガースがバッキング・ヴォーカルとして参加したのは「Why Do We Stay?」だ。その後、「Humans Being」にも参加した。素晴らしいパフォーマンスだ。私はドアの近くにいて、最後まで観客が誰も帰るのを見なかった。


 レイは、デイブとサリーが夜の終わりにアトリウムで予定外のセットをやることを何度か話していたので、そこで会う約束をした。途中、スターダストを通り過ぎ、クローンのショーの最後尾で観に寄った。私がレイに会った時、デイブとサリーはまだ準備中だった。私たちはゴッズの席をいくつか確保し、彼らが4曲演奏するのを歓喜とともに見守った。その一つひとつを観客は快く受け止めた。サリーの歌声は死ぬほど素晴らしい。レイは、デイヴのギターの演奏は信じられないほど正確だと言っていた。私もそう思うし、羨ましい限りだ。サリーの父親で、ジェントル・ジャイアントで有名なケリー・ミネアが書いた「The Last Voyage」が演奏された後、私はキャビンに戻った。レイはどこかをふらついている。





 リバプール対マン・シティの試合観戦に間に合うようベーコン&エッグを作り終えた。1-1のフェアなドローで終わる、ハラハラドキドキのゲームだ。午後まで出演が予定されているバンドはない。シュノーケリングやスキューバ・ダイビングができるカリブ海の島、コズメル島に停泊しているためだ。当初はジャマイカのオーチョ・リオスとケイマン諸島のジョージタウンに入港する予定だったが、数週間前にオーチョ・リオスのバース2が破損したため 、多くのクルーズがここに迂回することになった。私たち007ファンは、『No Time To Die』、『Live and Let Die』、『Dr. No.』で使われたロケ地を楽しみにしていただけに、ちょっと残念だ。ウルスラ・アンドレスが海から歩いて出てくる浜辺だ。気にしないで、コズメルではきっといいことがあるはずだ。










 ジュリーと私はプールデッキでビールを飲んでいた。そして、ライフサインズは宣伝よりも観客の間で大きな存在になっているようだと述べた。彼女はそれに同意し、明日のギグについて私をからかう。彼らの人気の大きさに驚くだろうと言って。私たちはグリフォンに会いに行き、ジョンとサリーと合流した。驚くべきことに、グリフォンには1973年からの創設メンバーが3人残っており、若いメンバーも加わって、まるでフォルクスワーゲンのキャンピングカーから抜け出してきたタイムトラベル吟遊詩人たちのようだ。年齢に関するジョークがたくさんあり、彼らの音楽は控えめに言っても過ぎた時代のものだが、とても魅力的過ぎて、ただ好きになってしまう。楽器はファゴットとクルムホルン、そして傘だ。「Tree Song 」は、楽しく紹介され、そして美しく演奏される傑出した作品であり、私は特に「Norman Wisdom From The Swamp (A Sonic Tonic)」と題された最新作からの曲を楽しんだ。ジョン、サリー、ジュリーは、アーティスト・ダイニング・レストランで夕食をとるため、終わりから2、3曲のところで退場し、私はグリフォンのセットが終わった後に合流した。コズメルでの小旅行以来、まだ体調が万全ではないので、音楽から始まる会話を楽しみながら、水を飲むことに専念していたが、すぐに生活の話に移った。素晴らしい。


 水を補給した私は、さらに音楽を聴きたくなり、バラカを選んだ。日本のスリー・ピース・バンドが演奏するインストゥルメンタル曲は、一つのパートに長く留まることなく、楽器間の分離も明確だ。ラッシュのインストゥルメンタル・パートを拡張したような感じかな。私はセットの半分に留まった。もっと居たかったが、私のお気に入りのバンドが出演する予定だったのだ。数年前、クラウディオ・シモネッティ率いるゴブリンの来日公演で、後ろに映し出されたフィルムに合わせて『Susperia』のサウンドトラックを生演奏するのを観た。今回は、「Brain Zero One」から始まり、「Il Cartaio」へと続く大ヒット・セットだ。フェデリコ・マラゴーニのドラミングにロックオンすると、風が上がり、ベーシストのセシリア・ナッポの髪が流れる。ダニエレ・アマドールは髪を顔に巻きつけながらソロを弾くが、フロントではクラウディオがコンピュータの精度と人間的な感覚を駆使してソロを弾く。そしてレーザーの時間となり、ショーは音的にも視覚的にも五感をこれでもかと刺激する。引き込まれ、魅了され、もっと前の席で聴きたいと思ってしまう。『The Exorcist』コーナーの音楽、映像、照明の組み合わせは催眠術のようだ。ショーの終盤、私はもっと後方へ移動し、トニーとスーが展開されるスペクタクルに畏敬の念を抱き、ぽかんと座っているのを見た。私たちはお互いに彼らへの賛辞の言葉を交わす。ゴブリンが「おやすみ」と言い、私がベッドに向かったのは真夜中だった。とんでもない一日だった。














 ライフサインズがステージに登場し、とても温かい歓迎を受けた。驚くべきことに、まだ私が会っていない人がいる。それはサポートのバックボーカルだった。観客の誰かがドラムキットの後ろにいるのは誰かと尋ねると、JPは神だと思うと答えた。「Altitude」からスタート。ジョンの歌声が劇場全体を包み込む。JPは最後のセクションでデイヴのキーボード・リグに移る。次のナンバーでは、サイモンと一緒に手拍子をしてくれる人はいないかとジョンが尋ねる。- もちろん、誰もがそうするよ。最後にジョンは、私がまだ会っていない彼らのサポート・バッキング・ヴォーカリスト、カティーナ・デルーナを含むバンドを紹介する。JPはジョンを「ファゴットとクルムホルンのジョン・ヤングさん」と紹介している。ジョンの「Impossible」でのMCは、「オランダのある地域ではそこそこヒットしたので、最もヒットした曲と言ってもいいかな。」だって。デイブは、レスターの病院ラジオでも人気があったと付け加え、「残念なことに、購入希望者の半数は買う前に亡くなってしまったけど。」と語り、会場の大爆笑を誘った。「Impossible」の後、観客の一人が「Total Eclipse Of The Heart」と叫び、ボニー・タイラーと30年間一緒に仕事をしてきたジョンはそれに応えた。JPも一緒になって、次の曲は「Total Eclipse Of The Heart Of The Sunrise」だと口走る。客席にいた3人のファンにハッピーバースデーを歌うジョンに、観客は大喜び。「Shoreline」の次は「Fortitude」、そして...BWAAAARRRRP!何なんだ...?デイヴがペダルの上に乗り出した時、ギターのリードがノブの一つに引っかかったようだ。誰もがデイヴに視線を送り、彼の一挙一動を見逃さないが、最後の曲「Last One Home」で問題は解決したようだ。この曲は、これまでに書かれたセット・クローザーの中で最高のものの一つに違いなく、デイヴのソロは崇高だ。最後はスタンディングオベーションで、これまで聞いた中で最大の歓声を浴びていた。確かに、私はこのバンドを大いに過小評価していた。何人かのファンと話をしていなければ...。



* 実現しなかった



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