Monday, February 24, 2014


Well, not really.

But there was some SMOKIN" music on the water last week on the first incarnation of the Progressive Nation At Sea.

Progressive Nation was a travelling progressive rock 'festival' headlined by Dream Theater, the concept created by then-drummer Mike Portnoy.

This year, he decided to float his vision between Miami and the Bahamas, inviting a host of fellow prog and metal musicians to perform for the 1,500 or so fans who shelled out one large for the privilege of seeing them.

I was one of those seafaring souls who set sail on the Norwegian Pearl for a three-hour tour. 

More like 92 hours.

There was an impressive lineup, with enough musical variety to satisfy all manners of musical tastes.

I was mainly there for Transatlantic and Spock's Beard, although there were many other bands I was interested in seeing. I saw both of those bands, and The Flower Kings, twice each, and in all I attended all or part of twenty-three shows.

A year's worth of concerts in four days.

Highlights for me were the three aforementioned bands. 

Transatlantic opened and closed the cruise, and their encore featured the band backing Jon Anderson and performing a few Yes songs. 

Spock's Beard's second show saw original singer Neal Morse coming out and fronting the band for performances of "June" and "The Light."

Adrian Belew's Power Trio kicked booty, and the Flower Kings were awesome live (better than their CD's).

Sadly, King's X was not as good live as I was anticipating-their CD's have a lot of melody lines that seemed to get lost in the performance which seemed geared towards metal fans.

Big Elf were at the "hard" edge of my range, but the shows were great, and The Dear Hunter shows seemed brief after the marathon show they played in Phoenix at the end of December.

Jolly's show was also more metal-leaning than I was expecting, but not so much that it precluded me from enjoying the set.

Haken and Riverside were treats, as I am a fan of both bands but thought I would never have an opportunity to see either one live as they are based in the UK and Poland, respectively. 

And since a member of Anathema and I share a surname, how could I not see them?

Whoever told me that Animals As Leaders were "jazzy" was fibbing. While they would start on some instumental lines that promised to be interesting, after a couple of bars they were back with the driving metal power riffs. Technically proficient, but a little too hard for my taste. Periphery and Safety Fire were also a lot harder than my tastes, but I was prepared for them, having heard their CD's. 

I was also disappointed with Pain Of Salvation, although in fairness to them, a primary band member was too ill to make the trip. Without Daniel Gildenlow, they were missing a key ingredient and came off simply too loud for my taste.

There were a lot of younger bands that showed promise, so it seems that the future of progressive rock is in good hands as long as the fans show up.

There were only about 1,500 in attendance, about half from the US with the remaining half representing more than 40 other countries. Attendance was far below the ship's capacity, but hopefully attendance numbers climb if the cruise is offered next year. 



And now, back to walking on dry land...


  1. That sounds pretty epic. I've never done a cruise and don't know how well I'd like it, but that one sounds like something I might be able to deal with.

    My brother and his wife recently returned from a Jimmy Buffet Parrot Head Cruise. They've been going on those for a few years now. This year they said they were disappointed in the food which is what I usually hear people raving about when it comes to cruises.

    Of course in the past couple years I've been hearing more about the diarrhea and vomit cruises and other catastrophic event cruises. Definitely enough to deter me from going on one.

    An A to Z Co-Host
    Tossing It Out

    1. I'd never done a cruise, either-I'd pretty much used all of my vacation budget for the last two decades visiting my parents, so when they passed last year, I resolved to do a real vacation, and then I got the e-mail for this cruise.

      I thought the food was good, although I do not know that I would rave about it. I actually came back five pounds lighter than when I left, but that was by design. I did not touch their dessert offerings and ran up and down stairs from the stages on deck 7 to the others on decks 12 and 13.

      Yes is headlining the "Cruise To The Edge" in can still probably book a cabin!

    2. I've made my plans for April. Besides my vacation budget is like yours used to be--visiting family.

      An A to Z Co-Host
      Tossing It Out

    3. About a month before the PNAS cruise, they ran a special-$500 for the cabin. You still had to get to Miami, but that was about 1/4 of what I paid.