Signing up on a whim, we didn’t really know what we were getting ourselves into, but what an exhilarating way to experience some island fun!
Upon return, we partook in one of the best treats on the boat, a soft serve cone from the pool deck prior to cleaning up and resuming our concert schedule with Junkyard in the Star Lounge. As expected it was a challenge to capture any shots of the band, but thanks to some kind fans in the front, I was able to snag a few shots when special guest Tyson Leslie from Vixen joined the guys to jam on a few songs. Such a great band, hard to believe that we’ve only seen them live once before at Hair Metal Heaven, in the UK!
Following Junkyard’s set, I quickly headed down to the Royal Theater to catch a good bit of Tesla’s first show, opting to hang back and take in the crowd and the big screen. By the size of the audience it appeared that everyone was now back onboard and ready to hit international waters until morning to visit the private resort of Labadee, off the northern coast of Haiti on the Island of Hispaniola shared by the two nations.
Tesla’s set never disappoints, including a long list of guitar-driven melodies like “What You Give” and “Love Song”; a video montage that took us on a walk down memory lane; and some exiting news about Frank Hannon’s scheduled jam with Vandenberg later that evening.
The band now includes original members Jeff Keith, Frank Hannon, and Brian Wheat, who are joined by long-time guitarist Dave Rude and newest addition Steve Brown on drums. For more on Tesla, check out the interview that we did with bassist Brian Wheat about his book Son of a Milkman and our coverage from Rokisland festival back in January.
Another highly-anticipated show followed on the pool stage as frontman Gary Cherone used every inch of the stage to draw in the crowd, and Nuno Bettencourt impressed fans with his ode to the KIX band and his always-entertaining fretwork, drummer Kevin Figueiredo and bassist Pat Badger brought the funk as some rockstar fans pictured below watched from the back of the pool deck.
Unlike many festivals that save top billing for the end fo the day, the Monsters of Rock Cruise mixes things up with big artists like Tesla and Extreme performing in the early evening while saving late-night for things like cruiser jams and karaoke. But, as an insider tip, it is worth noting that schedules don’t show end times for band sets, and these two artists often hit closer to the 90-minute mark than the hour average of most other bands. Extreme’s set included a new singles “Rise” and “Banshee” from their highly anticipated new album Six which will be released on June 9th, as well as high-energy favorites like “Play with Me,” and “It’s a Monster.”
Having missed the local Michael Schenker Group performance with Eric Martin band back in the fall, I was very excited to finally catch Ronnie Romero fronting the band. Sadly, I wasn’t able to catch much of MSG’s. Their first performance on the boat took place while I was working in the photo experience the day prior, and, ironically, this show overlapped Vandenberg’s second show in the Royal Theater…yet another one of those difficult decisions.
As anticipated, this was one hell of a show as you can almost hear Ronnie’s voice in the photos I’ve captured. Michael Schenker has an incredible line-up with Steve Mann joining Shenker on guitar, the high-kicking Barend Courbois on bass, and Bodo Schopf on drums. And, it appears that Robin McAuley has now rejoined forces with Schenker for festival dates in Europe.
For many reasons, I swiftly headed to the Royal Theater to catch the majority of Vandenberg’s set, and was greeted by some kind friends and fellow fans who made room for me in front of the stage. While suffering from a hoarse voice, that we lovingly call ‘boat throat’ (the result of talking over music and singing along at dozens of shows), I did my best to remain audible when joining Mats Leven on the chorus of “Wait,” which amazingly (pinch me, I must be dreaming) seems to now be a tradition.
It was another energetic set of other Vandenberg classics like “Burning Heart,” and cuts from the band’s 2020 album like “Light Up the Sky,” as well as “House on Fire” from their upcoming release Sin and several Whitesnake favorites like “Sailing Ships” and the earth-shaking “Judgement Day.” But, for the true show-stopper of this set (and quite possibly the entire cruise), Tesla’s Frank Hannon joined the band to jam on “Still of the Night,” quite literally blowing us away! (check out the band’s social media if you missed it).
If you haven’t already listened in or read my interview recap of Vandenberg’s debut on the 2022 Monsters of Rock Cruise, check it out here!
All the fun in the Royal Theater set us back at arriving for the Eclipse show on the pool deck, but we arrived in time for most of the show. This was the second of three performances by Eclipse who surprised fans with a special pre-party performance as well as an island show that you can read about more in our Labadee recaps for the following day.
As we await new music from the band’s Megalomanium album due out this fall in tandem with their tour with H.E.A.T., Eclipse stuck to a high-energy set of favorites that included “The Downfall of Eden” and “Battlegrounds.”
The metal queen took her throne next delivering anthems like “Raise Your Fist in the Air,” and Warlock’s “All We Are” with guitarists Bill Hudson and Bas Maas, bassist Stefan Herkenhoff, and long-time drummer Johnny Dee. This was the first of two Doro performances with the second one competing taking place against Extreme’s theater show.
The band is already gearing up for their summer festival run as Doro Pesch celebrates her birthday today as I write this. We are looking forward to catching (and hopefully bringing coverage back from) Luppolo in Rock festival in Italy this summer where Doro will headline over Eclipse, H.E.A.T., Crashdiet and Dobermann on the first of a three-day festival July 21-23.
I would imagine that I had quite a different Winger show experience than most, as I headed to the balcony with Jeff Scott Soto in hopes of catching a few shots of drummer Rod Morgenstein and actually finding a place to sit down for the show. It was my first of three Winger shows for the week and I thoroughly loved just sitting back to take it in.
One of the fun benefits of cruising with a few dozen bands is moments like this, because in addition to hearing about the last SOTO show from his perspective, Jeff was also singing along to all the Winger songs in my ear prior to heading backstage to prepare for his two songs at the Rare Hare jam later that night.
With advance knowledge of the set list from organizer Tyson Leslie, I was very excited to finally catch Jeff belting out some Queen live, but perplexed as to why there was no break between Winger’s set and the Rare Hare jam to allow for the traditional tear down and sound check (but still very thrilled that they found a way to squeeze Rare Hare into the theater instead of a corner of a tiny bar).
One might ask what is Rare Hare…so let me explain…the multi-talented Tyson Leslie who performs with the otherwise all-girl metal band Vixen, hosts “Rare Hare” events on Broadway in Nashville bringing together musicians from various bands to perform together (and in some cases meet) for the first time without rehearsal. These artists jam on some rare gems from the hair-metal era for once-in-a-lifetime performances.
The event has become famous on the cruise as it is always well attended by performing musicians and their bandmates. Similar to the KISS jam on the MegaCruise, the jam finally made its way not the Royal Theater this year, allowing a proper showcase of many amazing talents, and giving some up and coming artists a chance to perform with their heroes. While the event ran later than anticipated, it included appearance from stowaways Brent Woods and Dave Ellefson; artists like Courtney Cox, Todd LaTorre (on drums), and Tyson’s former Vixen bandmate Janet Gardner; and MORC debuts from new artists like Shannon Wilk and members of Nashville’s Lost Hearts and Stolen Prayer. Highlights included a surprise appearance from KIX drummer Jimmy Chalfant and some killer solos from guitarist Dakota Denman.
Follow us @ThePureRockShop for more for more cruise recaps coming soon. In the meantime, check out our pre-party coverage, sail away day coverage, our first day at sea, and 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 6/3/2023.