The final day of Rokisland festival began with a rained out VIP event on Sunset Pier, similar to the Friday jam hosted by the Bulletboys. Tesla’s Frank Hannon and members of Eric Martin band were in check, but the weather had other plans as the Bulletboys were set to close things out.
Luckily, the weather moved through quickly and the sun was shining when Autograph took the stage at the amphitheater that evening. After the passing of founding member Randy Rand, members Simon Daniels on guitar and vocals, Jimi Bell on guitar, and Marc Wieland on drums welcomed bassist Steve Unger (Metal Church) to join them as the move forward in tribute to the music of the late Randy Rand this past year.
The band is best known for the hit “Turn Up the Radio,” and has most recently released the album Beyond which seems so fitting as it was the last album that Randy performed on before his untimely passing. While legal battles are underway to determine who will control the Autograph name, the focus of the day was on the music and the memory of their friend and bandmate Randy Rand. Fans enjoyed classics like “You Are Us, We are You” during which Simon can be found blowing that kiss photographed below, as we sang it back to him. Other highlights included new favorites like “Get off Your Ass!” from the 2017 release of the same name.
Autograph always puts on a great show, and this performance was no exception, but for anyone wondering why guitarist Jimi Bell wasn’t connecting with the audience in his typical fashion, it is worth noting that he was under the weather from food poisoning and powered through the show for the fans.
The voice of Ratt, Stephen Pearcy, hit the stage next with an ensemble that included guitarists Johnny Monaco (former Enuff ‘Z Nuff) and longtime member Erik Ferentinos, drummer Scot Coogan (Lynch Mob, Ace Frehley) and bassist Troy Johnson from Stephen’s old solo band. Troy was left filling the role after the departure of Jerry Montano, who was initially replaced by Robbie Crane (Black Star Riders). But the band is said to be moving forward with Matt Thorne (Rough Cutt) as their new bass player.
As always, Stephen brought an arsenal of Ratt classics like “Way Cool Jr.,” “Lovin’ You’s a Dirty Job,” and of course “Round and Round” with the grit and the bling that we all know and love. As an added bonus, his drummer Scot Coogan could be found jamming at the pier with the guys from the Bulletboys during a Friday VIP performance as mentioned yesterday, but instead of singing behind the drums, he took center stage on lead vocals. After all, Scot is an Ace Frehley alumni and everyone knows that vocal ability is a prerequisite for the former KISS guitarist’s solo band.
Queensrÿche is performing hot on the heels of their latest album Digital Noise and can be found hitting the road with former Megadeth guitarist Marty Friedman’s solo band and Trauma. As such, the set included “Behind the Walls” from the new release in addition to revisiting several cuts from their Operation: Mindcrime masterpiece like “The Needle Lies” and “I Don’t Believe in Love” and Empire’s commercial hits like “Jet City Woman” and “Silent Lucidity.” But veteran fans were also kept happy with “Take Hold of the Flame” and “Queen of the Reich,” remain in the set for some fist-pounding sing-alongs.
Fronted by Todd LaTorre on lead vocals, the band includes Mike ‘Stoney’ Stone on guitar along with Michael ‘Whip’ Wilton, Eddie Jackson on bass, and Casey Grillo on drums, Queensrÿche continues to offer intelligent metal with the utmost precision and we enjoyed every minute of their set as always. Check back soon for coverage from The Roxian Theater show in Pittsburgh this April.
As I took a load off my feet after carrying my gear all over the island all week, Tesla hit the stage and I had to run to hit the pit for my last three-song coverage of Rokisland. A media colleague joked and asked if I would be shooting Tesla again for the 100th time (in reality it is probably more like 25 or 30) to which I responded enthusiastically, “YES”! How could I not, as I can’t help but sing every lyric and every note in my head as they power through classics like “Edison’s Medicine (Man Out of Time),” “Heaven’s Trail (No Way Out)” and “Song and Emotion.”
But, I was so caught up in my job that I didn’t realize until the show ended that the band had introduced “Modern Day Cowboy” second in the set. I actually shook my head wondering why they didn’t add that to the encore with the Five Man Electrical Band classic “Signs,” until someone told me my mistake. All I can say is that it was a long week, I was scrambling to get my job done, and yes I am having quite the laugh now as I see the unmistakable ‘Bang,Bang’ comic on the big screen that I clearly photographed behind frontman Jeff Keith.
The core members of the classic Tesla line-up are Jeff Keith on Lead Vocals, Brian Wheat on Bass, and Frank Hannon on guitar, who are joined by Dave Rude and Steve Brown. From afar many may not be familiar with the beast that is Dave Rude as the second guitar, especially when the venue spotlights rarely left Frank. Meanwhile, former guitarist Tommy Skeoch can now be found collaborating with former Lynch Mob and Blonz frontman Nathan Utz in the band Resist & Bite (for details follow the link for our interview with Nathan).
And, Steve Brown (Ronnie Montrose), who is ‘Wild’ Mick’s brother, and is not to be confused with guitarist Steve Brown from Eric Martin and Trixter) joined the fold at Monsters on the Mountain in 2021 in replacement for drummer Troy Luccketta who is taking a break from Tesla. In fact, we just caught Troy performing with The Guess Who at the Robins Theatre in Warren, Ohio following the festival (follow @ThePureRockShop for photos coming soon).
And for those who haven’t heard the backstory of bassist Brian Wheat, be sure to check out our interview with the ‘Son of a Milkman’ in discussion of his book release.
Follow us @ThePureRockShop for more local concerts including The Guess Who, 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.