The weekend kicked-off with a VIP performance featuring members of the Bulletboys, Trixter and Stephen Pearcy at the Sunset Pier at 0 Duval Street in Old Town. The atmosphere was tropical with boats and tiki huts crashing the party and colored umbrellas and stools sprinkled along the pier. It was quite the party with Eric Martin (and Trixter) guitarist Steve Brown taking the lead on KISS and Poison classics and Stephen Pearcy drummer Scot Coogan singling some classic Led Zeppelin.
Kicking off the festival itself on Friday evening were Oregon-based Black ‘N Blue. The band was formed in 1981 by frontman Jamie St. James and guitarist Tommy Thayer. They gained notoriety when Gene Simmons from KISS took over production (he later snagged Tommy to fill the guitar role in KISS).
The current members are lead vocalist Jamie St. James, bassist Patrick Young, and drummer Pete Holmes (Ratt), who can be found on those early albums. They are joined by guitarists Brandon Cook (The Loyal Order) and Doug Rappoport (Edgar Winter Group) who made his debut post-covid at Monsters on the Mountain just prior to their KISS Kruise performance. The band is best known for their song “Hold On to 18,” and other favorites like “Nasty, Nasty.”
We’ve gotten used to catching up with these guys at the beach, as their are a regular act on the Monsters of Rock Cruises. We love their energy, talent, and fun personalities both on and off the stage. Please join us in wishing both Jaime and Doug the happiest of birthdays this week as they like all of us continue to hold onto 18.
Stryper was one of the few bands that I actually caught live in the mid-eighties (you can hear that story in a radio interview we’d done with Michael a few years back), and it still amazes me how they have continued to build upon that multiplatinum success and top MTV hits to this day. In fact, it seems that they are one band that only gets better with age, and this show was no exception.
While it is still a treat to hear the Christian metal band’s songs like “Free” and “Honestly” live, we enjoy new favorites with each new album, as well as the various side projects that their label encourages. The band released their fourteenth and perhaps best studio album to date entitled The Final Battle in October, and Michael Sweet has an upcoming 2023 release with George Lynch in the works as well.
Stryper still has three original members including brothers Michael Sweet on guitar/vocals and Robert Sweet on drums, Oz Fox on guitar, and Perry Richardson (Firehouse) on bass. The quartet hit the stage at Rokisland with an energy that is apparent from the captures below, and was most certainly necessary given that they were followed by Extreme, who always turns it up to 11!
Eleven may even be an understatement as we think back to the set performed by Extreme. I learned from my experience at Monsters on the Mountain to expect the unexpected from frontman Gary Cherone, but we certainly didn’t expect him to actually leap off the stage during the show at Rokisland. It was quite the surprise from our vantage point behind the stage in Key West and we are guessing even a bigger surprise for those in front of the stage.
Before things really got crazy, the phenomenal frontman could be found feeding off the energy from this bandmates Nuno Bettencourt on guitar, Pat Badger on bass, and Kevin Kigueiredo (K Figg) on drums from the moment that they kicked things off with “Decadaence Dance” to when they closed with “Get the Funk Out.” In between there was a showcase of Nuno’s fretwork on songs like “Midnight Express” and “Flight of the Wounded Bumblebee,” but the song that made us jump for joy was a favorite from the soundtrack of the first Bill & Ted movie entitled “Play With Me,” that would have made Mozart proud!
While they don’t tour extensively, we are looking forward to catching Extreme again on the Monsters of Rock Cruise and at M3 Rock Festival this spring.
Styx released their fifth studio album 47 years ago, which is actually predates my birth. So, I won’t pretend to be an expert on the band. Yet, I still found myself starstruck as I photographed Tommy Shaw for the first time, because I was such a huge fan of his supergroup band Damn Yankees (which also featured Night Ranger’s Jack Blades and Ted Nugent).
Styx includes James “JY” Young on lead vocals and guitars, Tommy Shaw on lead vocals and guitars, Chuck Panozzo on bass and vocals, Todd Sucherman drums and percussion, Lawrence Gowan on lead vocals and keyboards, and Ricky Phillips on bass and guitar and vocals. Given the size of the band, their stage set-up had several platforms to showcase each talent, and we just loved the rotating keyboards and the flashy performance from Lawrence that brought keyboards center stage as that is certainly a rarity.
The band is still going strong with the release of The Mission, the band’s sixteenth and perhaps most rewarding release to date. The album is truly an artistic express with the storyline being co-written by Tommy Shaw and longtime collaborator Will Evankovich (Shaw Blades, The Guess Who).
Their set concluded the evening with favorites sprinkled through the set that included “The Grand Illusion,” as well as “Lady” and “Too Much Time on My Hands.” And afterwards the party continued on to Smokin’ Tune for some Eric Martin fun and The Backyard for a late night jam as noted in yesterday’s recap.
Check out our preparty coverage here, Wednesday coverage here, Thursday coverage here, and be sure to stop back soon for more event recaps Saturday’s performances at Rokisland Festival, and an interview with Wig Wam!
Follow us @ThePureRockShop for more local concerts including Kings of Thrash, Enuff Z’ Nuff, Queensryche, Ugly Kid Joe, Riki Rachtman, The Winery Dogs, and That Arena Rock Show, as well as festival coverage in 2023 including more from the Rokisland Festival in Key West, Monsters of Rock Cruise, M3 Rock Festival and more.
Coverage by Editor and founder Kara Marie Uhrlen. All event photos by Kara Uhrlen and The Pure Rock Shop. Contact us for licensing information.