Imagine a Hard Rock Festival filled with great bands. The bands arrive, go on stage, play and leave without you noticing but it’s great anyway, just because you could see all the bands playing together.
By Edu Lawless & Dani Gunther
Photos Edu Lawless
English version by Ju Gêbra Mota
Now imagine it with many more bands in a luxurious cruise ship, that is: a place with no escape (unless you jump into the sea). They either stay locked in their cabins or just join the fans and enjoy. Well, this was just what happened in the Monsters of Rock Cruise!
Even before the ship set sail the bands started warming up the crowd and the first to play on the lounge was HEAVY MELLOW (the side project of Benjamin Woods from Flametal). They blend Metal and traditional Flamenco bringing forth unusual versions of great classics like “Wasted Years” (Iron Maiden), “Too Young to fallin´ in Love” (Motley Crue), “Rainbow in the dark” (Dio) among many others.
With so many bands on board, the first day had many simultaneous performances so the audience could choose the shows to see. On the bright side, almost all bands would play at least twice on the cruise.
FASTER PUSSYCAT started rocking another lounge playing their classics led by Taime Downe and his known stage performance. They played again on the third and last day of the cruise.
Almost at the same time, BLACK’N’BLUE played for a rather shy audience that began to gather around the stage to see their idols. The band brought most of their original members – Shawn Sonnenschein replaced Tommy Thayer who’s currently playing on KISS – and Jaime St. James seemed to be back to the old days of Hard Rock singing out loud their great classics. They would play again on the third day with even greater energy.
The first tough decision was to choose between Cinderella in the main theater and Tesla playing on the stage by the pool. But one of the main reasons to come to Monsters of Rock Cruise was to see Tom Kiefer’s band up close so a decision had been reached.
Just before the beginning of CINDERELLA’s performance, the ship sailed but any shaking was totally ignored when they played the first notes of “Once Around the Ride”. The crowd went crazy as Tom Kiefer showed the drive of his voice on the microphone. Personally I can say it was a unique moment!
The set list was impeccable and made us want for more on the next day. Despite playing the exact same songs, they played better on their second concert.
Right after the excitement of seeing Cinderella, we checked out FIREHOUSE performing on another lounge of ship.
The band led by CJ Snare really had it. The energy and interaction with the crowd was such that they included two songs that weren’t originally on the set list. It was just sign of what was yet to come on the next day on the main theater of the ship to close the second night of Monsters. Also, they kept the same members for a long time.
ERIC MARTIN also put out a great clubby concert for the audience in one of the lounges, accompanied by Y&T guitarist – John Nymann – and his wife Denise on the drums.
On the set list, Eric included only big hits of Mr. Big: “Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy”; “Alive’n’Kickin´”; “Voodoo Kiss”; “Wild World”; “Eletrified”; “Superfantastic”; “Dancing with my Devils” closing with “To be with you”.
Eric performed again on the second day with his unparalleled vocal performance. On this performance, Denise gave room to Troy Luccketta (Tesla) while playing “Superfantastic”.
The first night was over after Y&T played on the main theater. Dave Meniketti was “on fire” and it was amazing. He plays with charisma and feeling in an impressive way.
The band performed again on the stage by the pool in the end of the second afternoon of the cruise, along with gusts of wind and a light shower. But none of that disturbed yet another great concert of Meniketti’s band that brought a different set list apart from a few songs, pleasing all the fans.
The second day started with the ship docked in Key West, for people to visit. In spite of the stop last until the middle of the afternoon, we got back early in order to see the first concerts of the day.
TED POLEY, singer of Danger Danger, was wearing sneakers KISS had his clubby performance in one of the lounges, playing classic songs from Danger as well as some from his solo career.
Soon after everybody followed to “Meet & Greet” many bands at the same time. It was a historical moment because we could see Y&T and KEEL, among other artists, in a social gathering.
During the concert of KIX it was really nice to see Danny Nordahl, bassist of Faster Pussycat, rocking in the middle of the crowd, just like a regular. A priceless moment!
Another highly anticipated attraction played in the theater on that afternoon: Jack Blades, Kelly Keagy and Brad Gillis original members of NIGHT RANGER along with Joel Hoekstra and Eric Levy really seemed frenzied on stage.
The other surprise was an acoustic set on the following day, which wasn’t any calmer or less fun at all.
At the same time there was another Meet and Greet. It was then that Stryper boarded while HELIX was playing on one of the lounges. More nostalgic fan could remember the good days of Hard´n´Heavy especially when Brian Vollmer intoned the famous Rock You to brightly end the concert.
Unfortunately Helix was one of the 3 bands that performed only once.
A great “Jam Session” also took place in one of the lounges, with presence of great musicians playing classics together: John Corabi, George Lynch, Oz Fox and many others that would switch places.
On the third day, the stop was in Nassau – Bahamas. After a short walk to see around, we soon got back to the ship to see the guys from STRYPER in the beginning of the afternoon.
Due to the route and their boarding only on the second day this was another band that we could only see playing once on the Festival.
Soon after, the lounges were filled by other bands we wanted to check out closely: Odin, XYZ and Bango Tango.
In the end of the afternoon fans of classic Rock´n´Roll could enjoy the concert of the most experienced band on board: the British UFO.
They’ve rocked the audience by the pool, in spite of the singer Phil Mogg being visibly affected by too many drinks.
Phil even scared everybody passing by the pool area the following day as he received medical care. But it was nothing a cold shower and a strong cup of coffee wouldn’t solve.
TESLA went to the theater on the third day for a perfect acoustic set, this time we watched pretty close.
KEEL was another band we highly anticipated. Presenting almost the original members they came on stage (as we can call it) in one of the lounges on the first day of the event, but they saved their best for the pool stage on the third abd last night of Monsters.
On an unparalleled presentation, Ron Keel was another character who seemed to be back to the old days with a surprising excitement in a performance that should be (and in my opinion was) the perfect closing of the entire Festival.
But chronologically the final show took place on the theater hosted by LYNCH MOB. The group led by George Lynch played for almost two hours showcasing all their great classics. The technic and the Hard style of the band, which I would classify as a Prog Hard, took the audience to a trip through the melodies and technical precision of George Lynch, but it was really different from seeing the fans bang their heads to their limits on Keel’s performance.
And a party through the night greeted the most resistant who celebrated to the last minute where artists and fans got together enjoying the final moments of this first experience.
One of the coolest things I could record, as I had previously mentioned on KIX show, was the presence of many of our idols among the crowd to watch the performances of other bands and really rocking!
The success was such that the production already announced the dates for the Monsters of Rock 2013: March 16. The cast includes: TESLA, KIX, Y&T, HELIX, XYZ and for the first time GREAT WHITE e ENUFF Z’NUFF.
Now we only have to wait!
For more info on the next Monsters of Rock Cruise log on to: (http://monstersofrockcruise.com/)