Monday, April 21, 2014

Lifesigns

Our first night aboard the Cruise to the Edge, as pink badge attendees (more details on that later), we had a relatively light schedule. We attended the Saga Sailaway show, enjoyed some time aft on Deck 15, watching Miami fade into the distance, had a nice dinner in the Black Crab dining room, then attended a show by Italian Proggers PFM (Premiata Forneria Marconi), as both of these shows did not require a pink or blue badge.

Afterwards, we wandered around. I'd had some video recording duties, but the venue I was going to after the PFM show was way too crowded for me to get in amidst all those attending to set up tripods and gear and sit on the scooter, so we headed to the Golden Lounge.

Within moments of arriving, Ed had the surreal moment of witnessing Eddie Jobson introduce Gary Green to Patrick Moraz. Yes, I understand that means nothing to you, but here is the moment.



While this was going on, there were many other performers in the lounge, and we hung out for a while. I took a short video scanning the room, in part to share for my travel agent friends to see what the ship would be like. Looking at it now, I see Jon Poole at one end of the bar with Lifesigns 'wrangler' Barbara, and Ed several feet away.

About a half hour later, we decided to go see what else was going on aboard ship, and as we approach the quite animated Jon, I ask when we'll get to see his band perform. Understand that even without the lanyards around necks, some of the performers just exude 'musician'-Jon is one of them.

We fell into conversation with Jon and Barbara. He told us that Lifesigns would be performing the next day in the afternoon. At some point, two other fans join in and we all are having a grand old time, chatting. Seems Jon's musical tastes and general sense of humor is similar to ours (and our fellow fans), and the time flew. We didn't get back to our room until nearly 4 a.m.

We'd had Lifesigns on the list of 'want to see', but the schedule conflicted-until weather postponed the Patrick Moraz show on the Pool Stage. As soon as we heard Jon Kirkman's announcement and I heard 'rescheduled' twice in the British pronunciation, I sought out confirmation-it was quite windy and hard to hear. Ed and I hightailed it down 7 decks and from the front of the ship to the very back, to the Black and White Lounge. We were going to see Lifesigns, after all.

The venue was packed. For those interested in sailing on MSC Divina, this is easily the largest lounge on the ship, and could probably hold 500 people sitting comfortably. There were probably 1,000 of us in there. We got there about 10 minutes before the show began and were in the very rear of the room.

This show was high energy, with very catchy, melodic progressive rock songs. The four musicians, John, Jon, Martin "Frosty", and Niko, are a cohesive unit and one wouldn't know that this wasn't the original lineup of the band. (John Young and Frosty Beedle started this project with Nick Beggs with Steve Rispin as their supremely talented sound engineer and 5th member of the band).

They were clearly enjoying themselves, with huge smiles and lots of bouncing around the stage, and the audience all were into this performance. Before they started the third song, Ed and I commented to each other that we WILL be buying this CD.

Alas, I didn't have my monopod for this show, so the video isn't the best, but this is one of two songs I taped, Carousel, the last track on the album:


Here in the US, we probably never would have seen Lifesigns live. The red tape involved with a fledgling foreign band makes it too expensive to come to this side of the pond. Heck, even our favorites, Marillion, only venture over here once a decade.

As a result, John Young told me about their efforts to raise money to come here. Taking a page from Marillion and their 1997 tour fund, Lifesigns is on Gig Pledge in the hopes that there can be a grass-roots effort to get the fans to bring them here. Hey, it has worked since 1997 for Marillion-they now self produce and distribute their own stuff, and handle all their own touring.

We feel very fortunate that a cruise liner, in international waters, made the visa situation a non-issue, so that we could see all the musicians and exposed us to some new music, too. Now in contrast to my crappy video, here are some links to Lifesigns on YouTube.

This is probably some of the most approachable prog for someone new to the genre. I ordered the CD the day we got off the ship, it arrived Saturday, and has had more listens than I care to admit in a very short time. It is THAT good. :)

First, my favorite, Fridge Full of Stars:


At the End of the World, the happiest song you'll hear about the end of time.


Lighthouse (and yes, I'm giving you the album completely out of order)

Telephone

Yes, it is only a five track album, but that's nearly an hour of good music. If you like, maybe you should get a copy of the CD, too. If you want to see them in the US, go visit Gig Pledge and help the guys out.

Ed and I are both lobbying for Lifesigns to return to Cruise to the Edge next year, and apparently, we're not alone. Many others agree that this was the happy surprise of CTTE. Heck, if GigPledge works out, perhaps they can do a show or two in the US after getting off the ship? I can hope.

We ran into Jon and John over and over throughout the week, and they both were genuinely nice (and funny) guys. It was a pleasure to get to know artists beyond the songs on the CD.

2 People talked back:

The Incredible Hulking Gentleman said...

Yes, please DO get the CD, and also to be released soon is a live DVD shot in London in January 2015. With little to no money coming in, Lifesigns will disappear if we don't support them and we can't have that, not after such a stunning debut album. They are also already booked for CTTE 2015 and are attempting to set up some US shows to coincide.

Suzanne said...

Oh yes, pledged on the DVD, a shirt, and the 5 print set. If the funds allowed, I would have done more. :)