“Yacht Rock,” the very words conjure up images of stuffy, ascot adorned, wealthy individuals on insanely large boats; or perhaps Ted Knight’s Judge Smails character in the comedy cult classic, “Caddyshack.”
Recently however, “Yacht Rock” has taken on a different meaning with a new feel. There are no boats, no water, no salt air or stuffy sailors; in their place are Captain hat wearing, mostly middle-aged denizens who are transported back to their youth via what was once classified as, “Adult Contemporary” or “Soft Rock” music.
The “Rock The Yacht 2019 Tour” features 70’s rockers Ambrosia and a cast of their closest friends in a two hour, time travelling, memory evoking show that features something for everybody. Music, it’s said can either make you laugh, dance, sing or cry; it can take one back to their youth, a first date, a first kiss, a first dance or joy rides with friends and it can also reduce even the strongest of us to tears.
Recently Ambrosia performed and remained on stage throughout the evening as a house band for classic acts such as Looking Glass’s Elliot Lurie, John Ford Coley, Wings and Moody Blues guitarist Denny Laine and Peter Beckett (Player, Little River Band) at two venues in New Jersey; The Mayo PAC in Morristown and the Music Box located in The Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa in Atlantic City.
The night at The Mayo PAC opened at 7:32 p.m. with a pair of songs from Ambrosia; one of which was mega hit, “You’re The Only Woman (You & I).” They quickly ceded the stage to Elliot Lurie whose first offering was the King Harvest hit, “Dancing In the Moonlight.” Lurie then brought out a surprise guest, Looking Glass drummer Jeff Grob to perform, “Jimmy Loves Maryann” and one of the most played rock songs of all time, “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl).”
An Ambrosia interlude was next featuring a staple found at many a wedding reception cocktail hour, “How Much I Feel” got the crowd dancing in the aisles and was followed by a comedic introduction by drummer Burleigh Drummond for the next performer.
John Ford Coley took to the platform and instantly began telling stories from the road and also spoke of his former partner England Dan Seals who passed away in 2009; England Dan was the younger brother of Jim Seals of Seals and Crofts. Coley wasted no time getting laughs from the crowd before breaking into, “Nights Are Forever Without You” followed by, “We’ll Never Have to say Goodbye Again,” “I’d Really Love to See You Tonight” and the Todd Rundgren penned, “Love Is the Answer.”
Certainly doing his part, Coley was funny, energetic, crisp and the only act to receive a standing ovation when his set was finished as the crowd ate up his talent like the finest caviar on board this now rocking ship.
Ambrosia took over once more and did a spectacular version of former band mate Bruce Hornsby‘s, “That’s Just the way It Is;” featuring keyboardist Mary Harris. This brought the first half to a close and a brief 20 minute intermission.
The Beatles “Magic Mystery Tour” was how Ambrosia opened the second half; a number they had contributed to the soundtrack of, “All This and World War ll.”
Moody Blues founder and Paul McCartney‘s right hand man Denny Laine was up next and he did not disappoint. Ending his three song set with, “Band On The Run;” he created a definite highlight of this greatest hits evening and one that had the crowd singing along from start to finish.
After another spoonful of Ambrosia, Peter Beckett confidently strutted upon the stage and amused those in attendance with anecdotes and tales from bands past. He then drove down memory lane with a three song set that included, “Baby Come Back.”
The final helping of Ambrosia came in the form of 1980’s, “Biggest Part of Me” from their “One Eighty” album as this wrapped up the show. Before docking in port there was one last wake left in the harbor; the encore which featured the entire cast ensemble.
This two song medley began a bit auspiciously and was really the only blemish on an otherwise night of smooth sailing. It seems there was a mishap with modern technology as the tablet that apparently had the lyrics in plain view went on the fritz. So the song (which this reviewer was unable to decipher) quickly became a rockin’ blues jam and after a short pause broke into a far more familiar piece led by Burleigh Drummond’s pounding of the skins; Led Zeppelin‘s,“Rock and Roll.”
A second standing ovation moored the yacht in port and the voyage ended at 9:48 p.m., more than two hours after it set sail. The impressive thing about these types of shows is not only the performances by these experienced musicians but also the response from those in attendance. The mostly 50 something demographic had its smattering of 20 to 30 somethings as well; yet age didn’t matter as all sang, swayed and danced in the aisles just the same.
Music leaves impressions and strikes chords and many on this night laughed, reflected and some even cried but what no one did was go away disappointed.
To discover more about “Rock The Yacht Tour 2019” or Ambrosia, please visit www.ambrosialive.net.