In an alternate universe where the coronavirus hasn’t shut down the entire concert industry, progressive-rock fans from around the globe are heading down to Florida to set sail on the Cruise to the Edge next week. The lineup this year included Yes, Marillion, Steve Hackett, and other giants of the prog-rock universe.
Yes backed out of the cruise last week and there was a brief moment when the cruise planned on carrying on without them, even though the thing is named after one of their most famous records, Close to the Edge. But sanity eventually prevailed, and the plug was pulled on the whole cruise. After all, your typical prog fan is a bit on the older side and cruise ships are a notorious breeding ground for viruses. Had they been foolish enough to set sail, things could have gotten very dark.
As of now, Yes are still booked to begin a European tour in late April, when they’ll play their 1974 LP Relayer in its entirety every night. That seems like a pretty dicey proposition at this point, considering that we’re in the early days of the pandemic and it’s impossible to know when mass gatherings will even be legally allowed again.
For context, it’s the Steve Howe/Alan White incarnation of Yes we’re talking about here. There’s also Yes Featuring Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin and Rick Wakeman. They have been inactive since 2018, though they have said they plan on launching a farewell tour later this year. But there hasn’t been an update on that for several months and it’s possible their plans have changed.
The last time that Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman played with Yes, outside of their two-song set at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 2017, was on the group’s 35th-anniversary tour in 2004. Here’s footage of the band playing “Long Distance Runaround” at the Lugano Estival Jazz in Lugano, Switzerland, on July 8th, 2004.
The group devolved into complete chaos and warring factions after this tour ended. Fans continue to dream of another Union tour, which would unite all the living members — but that’s quite unlikely. “I would give the first rehearsal half an hour before somebody walked out,” Wakeman told Rolling Stone in October 2019. “What would be achieved by everyone getting together and trying to do a reunion? We wouldn’t achieve anything.”
No matter what happens going forward, at least they were smart enough to pull out of the Cruise to the Edge this year. They would have been cruising to the edges of their immune systems — and the whole thing could have wound up uglier than rehearsals for a Yes reunion tour.