Monsters of Rock Cruise – Day 1 at Sea – 3/2/2024

I was rested and even decided to squeeze in a quick run in Miami before we jetted off to the port that Saturday morning. In hindsight, probably didn’t have time for that run, but I knew the only running I’d be doing on the ship was from show to show with a heavy backpack behind me.  So, I tossed everything into my luggage and enjoyed the fact that someone else was driving as I continued to throw myself together. The check-in process went pretty seamlessly as I’d learned to put my camera bag on wheels and coast through the line without breaking my back.

We were promised one hell of a start to the day with voice of the legendary Glenn Hughes echoing through the promenade on deck 5 with his Q&A as we handled last minute internet purchases and other customer service issues before the music started.  Unfortunately, challenges around equipment and crew arrivals as well as the assembly of the pool stage made for a chaotic start to the cruise as nobody really knew what was happening when, and we pretty much had to throw the schedule out the window as we waited for Quiet Riot to start the day and learned that Firehouse would be rescheduled for later in the week.

I know everyone wants to jump on the blame game bandwagon as drama around late performances is making waves online, but I had a candid conversation with Rudy Sarzo that evening and he shared that the band was up at 6:30 am and on the first shuttle to port a few hours later, giving them plenty of time to soundcheck and kick things off at 1:45 pm. But, it simply wasn’t possible because they had no equipment to soundcheck with and no crew to make the magic happen.  This seemed to be a trend as other bands were missing equipment and we were missing an entire pool stage at 4pm when Firehouse was expected to perform.

Regardless of how many times we do this, we are on a charter and we are most definitely not their normal clientele.  I was even warned by our room attendant that my bags could be detained for having chords in them (not quite sure how to access my hard drive or charge my computer without them, I was a bit panicked, but they eventually did arrive).

What can we say, shit happens and the show must go on even if it goes on late.  And, Quiet Riot was on the boat people, how can we complain!! It was awesome to have Jizzy Pearl return and bring out some Love/Hate (you can find video of “Blackout in the Red Room” in my feed) and for his first time ever, Rudy Sarzo joined us on MORC and it was nothing short of epic!

From Quiet Riot to Whitesnake to Manic Eden (who coincidentally are releasing the celebratory 30th Anniversary reissue of their supergroup album on April 12th) we consider Rudy Sarzo one of several legends to join the cruise this year and no show delay was going to take the joy away from banding our heads as he attacked his bass.

Given the late start, plans for the day went sideways to be completely honest, April Wine was on our list but we missed them completely along with Armored Saint, and sadly that was our only opportunity to see Armored Saint on the boat, because their second show was washed out by a thunderstorm (just like Treat last year).  We will get another chance locally, however, as they’ll be supporting Queensryche on the origins tour which comes through Pittsburgh on April 24 at the Roxian Theater.

So, we headed to the pool stage to catch Black ‘N Blue after dinner and despite Firehouse’s reschedule announcement, they were still running behind with soundcheck.  We tried to stick it out and watched as MORC family joined together to set up the stage as quickly as possible.  For example, young photographer and musician Shannon Wilk who became an honorary member of Black ‘N Blue’s road crew that night setting up mic stands and taping off guitar picks in the whirling wind from our sail away into the Caribbean and guitarist Brandon Cook later told us how thankful he was for the help.

But ultimately, we decided to regroup at Studio B for Crashdiet, who we’ve been trying to catch live for some time now. In fact, we had planned to see them in Cremona, Italy last summer but they unfortunately never made it to the festival.

We were pretty pumped to finally catch a show but this seemed to be one of those cases where timing was bad given that Gabriel had just left the band in weeks prior to the cruise and John Elliot (Confess) was still learning the material.  This first show seemed a bit off from the piss and vigor we’d anticipated, and the new frontman could even be found walking off stage in an instance where we were pretty sure he’d forgotten the words.  We hope to see them back because we just love this band, and we know things are only going to get better!  John has incredible stage presence and they were a blast to watch live, we could even see things starting to jell more during their second show on the boat.

If you aren’t familiar with Crashdiet, I’d encourage you to check out their catalog.  Some favorites include “Riot in Everyone,” “It’s a Miracle,” and “Queen Obscene.” You know we love our Swedish metal here and you can thank me later…

We returned to the pool stage to catch a the end of Black ‘N Blue with the promise that we’d see them again at their next performance (and we did).  Unfortunately, this stop made us late to the party for Queensryche where we were denied entry initially due to the theater being over capacity.  Eventually, I did make my way inside but there was no getting past the soundboard with the enormity of the crowd layered three or four deep in a standing room situation (even on the balcony) and there was still a line outside hoping that enough people would leave so that they could enter!

Of course everyone wanted in, Queensryche is a force to be reconned with from their latest release Digital Noise Alliance to their origins with the band’s self-titled EP. The band performed on back to back cruises before embarking on their headlining tour this week and we can’t wait to hear the EP and The Warning in their entirety live, but certainly were pleased with a more rounded “hits” set that included favorites off of Operation:Mindcrime and Empire on the boat.

Following Queensryche, we headed to the pool stage again to catch a bit of Spread Eagle.  We walked into a badass jam with frontman Ray West joining drummer Rik Deluca behind the kit and then the coolest thing ever was that they covered one of my all-time favorite bands INXS and performed “Don’t Change,” before ending the set.  I was sad I didn’t get there sooner, but there’s just too much to see on this cruise to do it all! (like remember that Bad Marriage was on the new schedule, that yes, I “threw out the window” earlier that day. How did I let that happen!).

I’ve always loved Spread Eagle from back in the day when “Switchblade Serenade” was on MTV and we’ve caught them over the years at Hair Metal Heaven and at BLE’s Masquerade in Philadelphia.  Would love to see them return to the boat and maybe make their way to the western side of PA as well! Bassist Rob Deluca is no stranger to Jergels after all, we’ve seen him there half a dozen times between performances with Sebastian Bach and UFO!

Before the first day concluded our friends from TUFF could be found performing in the royal theater, and I was super excited to not have to deal with the visual challenges of the Star Lounge.   Stevie Rachelle commands the crowd and tells great stories around the history of their songs, and the band is was so high-energy even playing well into the morning hours.  They pulled out all the favorites we’d expect, and we even got to hear “Summertime Goodbye” along with better-known favorites like “Ruck a Pit Bridge” and the ballad “I Hate Kissing You Goodbye.”

I’ve had more chances than most to see TUFF live given that bassist Todd “Chase” Chaisson and guitarist Billy Morris live in nearby Cleveland.  But I never tire of watching their set.  Keeping it in the family, the duo brought their food truck to Cleveland’s Agora last Wednesday and catered the meals for the bands and crew at the KK Priest, LA Guns and Burning Witches show in Cleveland with a unique menu that included “The Salad of Jayne” among other hits! I missed the fun at Cooking with Rockstars in Studio B on day 2 but heard that it was a blast!

We’d encourage you to check out Smokin’ Rock n’ Roll for some amazing ribs if you’re ever in Cleveland and of course keep watch for TUFF shows in the area as they always seem to warm up for bigger gigs at places like the Local Bar or Cincinnati’s MVPs when in town.

But, perhaps the coolest show we’ve seen locally was when the band joined Billy Morris & The Sunset Strip last spring at Temple Live in Cleveland, Ohio for a Tribute to Jani Lane of Warrant which included performances by the former Warrant guitarist and former keyboardist Shawn Zavodney, as well as Jani’s daughter Maddi who took lead vocals on “Heaven” and a fun dance with the “Cherry Pie” girl herself, Bobbie Jean Brown.   Now, wouldn’t it be awesome to see that on the boat sometime?! (wink wink, hint hint).

Check out our pre-party coverage, and check back soon for day 2!

Related Links:

Pre-Pary Coverage here
Day 2 Coverage here
Day 3 Coverage here
Day 4 Coverage here
Day 5 Coverage here!

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So, watch for continued coverage from this month’s Monsters of Rock Cruise as well as local shows and regional shows with Alestorm, Elvenking and Glyph; Joe Satriani and Steve Vai; Firewind; and Queensryche and Armored Saint shows coming next month.  And in May, you’ll find us at the M3 Rock Festival in Baltimore.

Coverage by Editor and founder Kara Marie Uhrlen posted on 3/23/2024.  All event photos are property of photographer Kara Uhrlen and The Pure Rock Shop.