Our third day was a travel day on the high seas. On a typically cruise, that would mean spending way too much time at the buffet or relaxing by the pool, but on the Monsters of Rock Cruise, it meant that we had more than twelve hours of music ahead of us and an encore of Karaoke with Brian and Izzy in the after hours Viking Crowne Lounge.
This was the first time I’ve caught a performance from the Pat Travers band, who offered up some straight ahead rock ‘n roll to a nice crowd in the Royal Theater while it appeared that the rest of the cruisers (at least those who’d made it out of bed by noon) were in the photo experience line for Beasto Blanco, Red Voodoo and Slaughter, which was rapidly filling the promenade.
I had the day off from photo experience duties as I was on a mission that afternoon to pick up a personalized signature on my Vandenberg signature series Peavey guitar.
Much to my delight, Adrian Vandenberg obliged on his way to soundcheck for a Vandenberg band performance in the Royal Theater. You can listen into the full story and lots of exciting Vandenberg news in our cruise recap interview.
And, great minds think alike as cruiser Geoff Fauver joined me in front of the theater to get yet another signature on his impressive Whitesnake guitar.
The revised schedule allowed for me to catch another performance by Dangerous Toys on the pool stage and I would be remiss if I didn’t highlight the exciting news about toys frontman Jason McMaster and guitarist Paul Lidel returning to MORC 2023 with the recently revived Dirty Looks and that Dangerous Toys just got confirmed for Monsters on the Mountain.
Following toys there was an epic trio of Swedish spendor kicking off with Mats Leven fronting Vandenberg in the Royal Theater, and then Kenny Leckremo fronting H.E.A.T. in Studio B and then Danny Rexton fronting Crazy Lixx on the pool stage. You’ve got to wonder what’s in the water over there, seriously!
The second Vandenberg set of the week actually turned out to be the band’s first of two shows on the cruise. This was allowed by gaps in the schedule due to last minute cancelations and demanded by fans who, like myself, were elated to have such a legend on board. The show covered much of the same ground as the pre-party set with one exception, they added “Wait” from the band’s debut album. A special treat for me as Mats surprised me by offering the mic during the chorus because I was singing my head off in the front row.
I still find it very hard to believe the these guys had so little practice prior to the cruise. When I spoke to Adrian, he noted that most of the practice they did have was guitar, bass and drums given that the three of them hail from Holland. But, the chemistry between him and his new frontman was electric. They were having so much fun on stage, which of course made it that much more special for anyone watching. And the band is just getting started, with a new album in the works along with tour plans.
Once again the award for the best hair flips goes to Kenny from H.E.A.T. who showed up dressed for a sweaty encore in Studio B, while Crazy Lixx heated up the pool stage showing their love for the USA (and in related news, Crazy Lixx seem super excited to visit “Wild America” again on the Mountain in August, so mark your calendars!)
Next up were some of our domestic favorites like Lillian Axe, who picked things up in Studio B. Founding members guitarist Steve Blaze and bassist Michael Darby were still in check with a new frontman Brent Graham.
One of my favorite albums was always Love + War so it is no surprise the songs that stand out to me are “All’s Fair in Love and War” and “Ghost of Winter.” I was actually sad that they performed “True Believer” so early in the set, because I was distracted trying to get these shots (though it did allow for lots of Stevie smiles).
I can still remember that video from MTV and my friend’s band covering it back in college. And honestly, I think that is a big part of why we all love this cruise, the bands and their music take us back to a different time. Something we probably needed more than ever on this cruise.
So this time my camera was in check for Winger and I was anxiously awaiting the awesome medley again, but also enjoying a bit of fresh air upon the pool deck after the crowd of their previous theater performance. I’ve seen these guys a lot this year (Live United Live, Monsters on the Mountain, RokIsland Festival, and some local shows) but they keep mixing it up a bit, which is fun, and they never disappoint!
This set included “You Are the Saint, I Am the Sinner” in the place of “Battlestations” and “Rat Race,” but the one that I keep hoping they’ll throw back in is “Rainbow in the Rose,” my all-time favorite. I think I’ve only heard it once this year at M3 Rock Festival last July.
Richie Kotzen was the only performer that got good lighting in the Studio B so kudos to whoever made that happen, because I got some cool shots that without an explosion of orange and yellow across their faces. The trio featured Kotzen on guitar and vocals, Dylan Wilson on bass and Tal Bergman on drums.
I admit, I had to reach out to Dylan to get the scoop on their drummer, and little did I know, Tal has performed with the likes of greats like Billy Idol and Sammy Hagar, and the list goes on to include LL Cool J and even BB King. So wow!
Whenever possible, I try to catch a Kotzen show and I’ve seen him do a few club gigs and even got a chance to catch up with him in Chicago when he was touring in support of Salting Earth, which you can find in our archives.
He’s currently been touring under the billing Smith/Kotzen, but we got a typical, eclectic Kotzen show which included favorites like “Help Me” and of course “Stand” from his time with Poison.
I was really sad to miss one of my favorite events of the cruise, Tyson Leslie’s Rare Hare jam with various musicians from different band’s coming together to perform rarely heard “hair metal” classics. It’s fun to see musicians thrown out of their comfort zone and it is always a great party. We heard that the lounge was at capacity and I simply couldn’t find the time to get there. So, I headed to the pool stage to shoot my friends from TUFF who put on another great show with lots of favorites from What Comes Around Goes Around.
In case you couldn’t get a glimpse into the fantabulous Star Lounge, the band’s current line-up includes frontman Stevie Rachelle, founder Todd “Chase” on bass, Billy Morris on guitar and Tod T Burr on drums. I had so much fun working with these guys during the photo experience and even more fun shooting this show. Everyone knows the ballad “I Hate Kissing You Goodbye,” but I prefer the fun songs like “Ruck a Pit” or “In Dogs We Trust” because it’s so much fun to dance and sing along.
One of two bands I got to catch three times this week was Buckcherry, and that was because I started my week off in Orlando. We drove to a cool venue called Henry’s Depot, where they were performing an early outdoor show. These guys really never disappoint from clubs to motorcycle rallies to festival events. The best part of these shows on the boat was that they had room to move, especially the always dancing frontman Josh Todd. And for that reason, I can’t wait to see them open for Alice Cooper at Heinz Hall in Pittsburgh, where by nature those billion dollar babies and Frankenstein antics require a big a theater stage.
The final show of the night was The Quireboys, who were performing in Studio B. It was a different show for the band with Spike unable to make the trip. I was a bit perplexed as to how the band would sound without those raspy Rod Stewart like vocals that give them their signature sound. But when I caught up with Keith Weir earlier in the week, he assured me that Griff knew the songs and that it wasn’t the first time they’d performed with out Spike, so all was good.
And it was, Guy Griffin took center stage and covered it all from the newer favorites like “This is Rock ‘n Roll” and “Mona Lisa Smiled” to the classics from their debut “I Don’t Love You Anymore” and of course “7 O’Clock.” Excellent way to end the day as always.
For more coverage from the cruise, check out the pre-party re-cap as well as day one and day two coverage, and visit our archives for interviews with Richie Kotzen and members of H.E.A.T., Crazy Lixx, Lillian Axe, Winger, TUFF, and more…
Our latest interviews including cruise recaps with Chip Z’ Nuff (Enuff Z’ Nuff) and Adrian Vandenberg (Vandenberg), as well as interviews with Chris Caffery (Spirits of Fire, Savatage, Trans Siberian Orchestra), Roy Cathey (Cold Sweat, The Fifth) and Olli Herman (Reckless Love).
Follow us @ThePureRockShop on Facebook and Instagram for more local show coverage like Buckcherry and Alice Cooper, Firewind and Dragonforce, Firehouse, and Slaughter, as well as festival coverage including more from the Monsters of Rock Cruise and upcoming M3 Music Festival in May in Baltimore and Masquerade in Philadelphia in July.