Our first full day at sea began with the traditional ‘Bloody Mary’ jam hosted by Joel Hoekstra (Whitesnake), who was later joined by Greg Smith and Y&T’s Mike Vanderhule, as well as special guests Danny Vaughn (Tyketto) and Dave Ellefson (Kings of Thrash, Dieth). While the show would normally have taken place in the sunshine on the pool deck, the weather forced everyone in-doors this year. But, the concept remained the same, Bloody Mary drinks for all, free shit giveaways, and a set that began quiet and acoustic before transitioning into a true rock show with songs from The Doors, Whitesnake, and even AC/DC.
Anyone who was awake in time that morning also had the option to meet and greet some of their favorite artists in the Star Lounge with back to back photo experiences. The optional event features a few bands at a time with a priority access queue (just like the concerts on the boat) for those who upgraded to Gold and Silver VIP status.
With most Covid travel concerns behind us, many European bands had opted-in for these special events again this year. And, I had the great pleasure of working with Vandenberg. Our event began at 12:30 just after another photo experience with DORO, Chez Kane, Wig Wam, and The Cruel Intentions had ended.
To ensure success, I had arrived early to practice portrait settings and check my equipment as this promised to be a highly attended event featuring Vandenberg, Hardcore Superstar, Queensryche and Extreme.
We estimated that over 350 people went through the line that was moving in two directions at times in an attempt to cut down on the queue, which we were told had wrapped to the eleventh floor! Everyone worked hard and did their best to get as many fans through before the event ended, all while fighting to keep stationary on a moving ship! Photo experiences are included for all cruisers. It is also free to download and share these coveted fan photos, which can be found at www.vipcruisephotos.com for all past sailings.
After some downtime, I headed to Studio B for more from SOTO. For his third MORC 2023 performance, Jeff Scott Soto brought back the full SOTO Band, which included Tony Dickinson, Jorge Salan, BJ Singer, and Edu Cominato. And, by show end, any Swede that wanted to jump on stage (and of course former Talisman guitarist Jason Bieler) joined in.
Special guests included Mats Leven (Vandenberg) and Erik Martensson (Eclipse), and former Talisman drummer Jamie Jompa Borger (Treat) who took over Edu’s seat behind the kit as they paid tribute to the Swedish band Talisman and their departed founder Marcel Jacob. The set ended with a sing along to “I’ll Be Waiting,” which now seems to be a MORC tradition.
Later in Studio B, Ted Poley continued the showcase of special guests with the frontman of Wig Wam, drummer from Faster Pussycat, and members of Stolen Prayer joining the party. We thoroughly enjoyed the energy behind the show, and the newer additions to the set from Danger Danger’s catalog. From a fan perspective, these two performances were much more fun than the pre-party showcase, because you could actually see the band from anywhere in the venue (which certainly wasn’t the case in the jam-packed convention center ballroom).
That evening, when the pool stage finally opened, we were treated to a performance by Great White which featured their new frontman Brett Carlisle from All or Nothing rolling his way to centerstage on Heelys!
While we enjoyed the energy, we were left so frustrated by the stage lighting that most photographers left the pit before our three-songs were even over. I was one of them, but I simply stepped back to enjoy the show.
The kinks were mostly worked out before Lynch Mob finally fit in that “sail away” performance sometime just after midnight, but first we headed to the Viking Crown (also known as the karaoke lounge) for some comedy.
You might be surprised that the comedy act that we speak of showcased Queensrÿche frontman, Todd LaTorre. Honestly, I’m not sure if I’m taking the fun out of the visual by removing the Pepto-Bismol pink lighting that was used to oversaturate Todd’s performance at Punchlines and Backlines, but I opted for a more aesthetically pleasing black and white take on the capture below…I point this out because the Queensrÿche frontman did do a few jokes related to the digestion of cruise food during his well-received comedy skit, which also included some band-related humor such as a detailed explanation on how to pronounce his last name (depending where you are from or what era of Queensrÿche fandom you identify with).
Todd ‘Not Geoff Tate’ was one of two rock stars who took the microphone in the Viking Crowne lounge this year, and the other was the always hilarious Reb Beach (Winger) who performed that Tuesday evening. Both were given support by That Metal Show alumni Don Jamison and Jim Florentine, who joined their former co-host Eddie Trunk along with Nikki Black, DJ Will, and Keith Roth as cruise hosts. But, the true star was the hilarious Courtney Cronin Dold, who not only turned the musicians into comedians with her writing talents, but also delivered a hilarious performance herself, which included walking us through an explicit story featuring the names of each and every band on the boat!
Since the pool stage was closed the previous night, Hardcore Superstar was rescheduled inside to Studio B allowing time for Lynch Mob to set-up on the deck following Great White. As a fun surprise, we learned earlier that the band had brought with them one of several Crazy Lixx stowaways, Joel Cirera who filled in for drummer Adde Moon with full force.
In fact, the Hardcore Superstar show brought with it so much energy and crowd participation that I actually felt like I needed to rest after all the jumping around I did! It is no surprise that die-hard fans travel the globe to feed off the energy of this band from hands in the air participation to on-stage shots during “Last Call for Alcohol,” the show was nothing short of epic!
And finally, George Lynch on the pool stage as our clocks technically flipped over to Monday morning in conclusion of our second day on the ship. So thankful to have stayed awake for this performance given that Mr. Scary was feeling under the weather by the final day on the ship. For this show, the wind was blowing, and the band was on fire in the tropical heat of the Caribbean.
The current Lynch Mob line-up includes frontman Gabriel Colon, bassist Jaron Gulino, and long-time drummer Jimmy D’Anda. With favorites like “All I Want,” “River of Love,” and “She’s So Evil But She’s Mine,” the show was well worth the wait. Keep watch for what came next as we continue our coverage at port in the Dominican Republic.
Follow us @ThePureRockShop for more for more cruise recaps coming soon. In the meantime, check out our pre-party coverage, Dominican Republic highlights, beach day in Haiti, and our final day at sea, as well as the full story behind last year’s 2022 Monsters of Rock Cruise sailing.
Lots happening this past month as well as upcoming captures, recaps, news, and interviews from of local and regional concerts and festivals including Jackyl, Faster Pussycat, Chris Jericho’s Kuarantine, and more this summer so check back often.
Recap and Live Photos by Editor and founder Kara Marie Uhrlen for The Pure Rock Shop. Posted on 6/2/2023.