This was my fourth time on the Monsters of Rock Cruise and I have to say this was the absolutely best so far. THE one to be on in my opinion. The boat itself was spectacular, the production was stellar, and of course, the bands were tremendous. While there is no way humanly possible to see everything, I had no problem getting to see every band on my list and here’s how I break down the 16 of the most EPIC moments on the Monsters of Rock Cruise 2016.
1. Faster Pussycat Takeover the Pool Deck – It’s dirty, it’s sleazy, and it’s the reason why we all go on this cruise every year to begin with. Faster Pussycat has evolved the sleaze rock genre into something for the modern era. And on top of all their antics, it’s just plain fun to see live.
2. The Return of Saigon Kick – Back in 1992 I witnessed one of the greatest metal performances of my life; Saigon Kick at Mississippi Nights touring in support of their groundbreaking album “The Lizard”. This record and this band were so far ahead of their peers it was almost embarrassing. I have been waiting 24 years to see these guys pull this off again and they absolutely slayed it.
3. Steve Vai Melts Faces with his Exotic Guitar Mastery – What can I say about Steve Vai that hasn’t been said before? This guy does things to a guitar that shouldn’t be physically possible.
4. Extreme Bring the Funk – I’ve always loved this band. They bring a much-needed funk groove to the world of hard rock, and they do it so elegantly. Frontman Gary Cherone hasn’t missed a step and his voice is in fine form and Nuno Bettencourt, well, you know, he’s an absolutely guitar god that makes it look easy.
5. Sebastian Bach Brings the Rage – Even though Baz yelled at the photographers and pretty much humiliated them (me included) in front of the entire crowd he did put on one hell of a show. A perfect balance of old and new. Classic Skid Row mixed in between some insanely heavy new material. Not sure why Baz is so angry these days, but it sure sets the stage nicely for a full on metal show. (For the record, Baz shared this photo on his FB page so a big thank you for that)
6. Tesla Strips Down – The guys who started the unplugged movement keep it real and show us all how it’s done proper.
7. Doro Blows the Roof off of the Theater – Holy sh*t is the only way to describe Doro and her band live. I missed her on the 2013 and have been regretting it ever since. The best true metal performance on the boat this year.
8. Michael Angelo Redefines Blistering Guitar Solo – One of the reasons I booked this time around was to see this guy. He’s in the Guiness book of world records as the fastest player in the world, he taught Tom Morello, and he was in Nitro with Jim Gillette. Enough said.
9. Queensryche Are So F’n Great it Begs the Question, Geoff who? These guys were absolutely stellar and pulled out a perfect mix of old and new which even included a track from the terribly under celebrated Promise Land. Oh, and the new album is brilliant as well. Was there a tighter, more accomplished band on the boat? I don’t think so.
10. Winger = No Frills Rock n Roll – I’m going to take a bit of crap on this one but holy hell did Winger deliver. I forgot how great their songs really are. Couple that with two of the best guitar players on the boat and you have one hell of a fun show. And by the way, Kip Winger is one hell of a nice guy.
11. Y&T Hold Down the Rock n Roll Fort – I tend to take these guys from granted since I live in San Francisco and they play here quite a bit. But I made it a point to see them this time and it was well worth it. High energy, incredible guitar solos, and a few all time classic anthems. Spectacular.
12. Armored Saint Are Firing on all Cylinders – The Big Four should have been the Big Five rounded out by Armored Saint. I’ve always been a big fan of John Bush and in terms of energetic performances, Bush was absolutely on fire. His voice is just incredible and I would argue it actually sounds better than ever before.
13. D.A.D. Prove that Less is More – These guys were incredible live. Still chart topping rock gods in their home country of Denmark, D.A.D. proved that their early material truly stands the test of time. “Girl Nation” sounded like it could have been released yesterday.
14. Kingdome Come – Best known for their Zeppelin- esch smash “Get it On” Kingdom Come is one of the band’s on the boat where I really only new that one record but ended up recognizing much more. Killer show.
15. Madam X Returns on a High Note – I totally missed this band back in the 80’s as I was 10 when their breakthrough hit “High in High School” took off. I happened to stumble across their show and was pretty blown away. Drummer Roxy Petrucci (best known for her work in Vixen) is a force to be reckoned with on the drums, just spectacular and the entire band looked and sounded fantastic. Bonus fun fact: Sebastian Bach was in this band for a short time.
16. Helloween Light up the Pool Stage – The first song I ever learned how to play on bass guitar was “I Want Out” from Keeper of the Seven Keys Part 2. Having never seen them live before, I was not disappointed. This was pretty much the soundtrack to my life while playing Dungeons and Dragons. Great mix of old and new material and the band sounded fantastic.
Bonus Epic Moment: Uli Jon Roth mesmerizing in the atrium. – The original Scorpions axe-man delivered a spiritually infused guitar god performance.
A Couple of Personal Favorite Moments:
Candid Shots – You’re on a boat, there’s nowhere to hide which leads to opportunities for candid moments such as these:
Eddie Trunk with Faster Pussycat
I’m convinced that George Lynch has found the fountain of youth.
Apparently Baz and Eddie are pretty close friends. Eddie was a bit tipsy and Baz was simply high on life.
Only on the Monsters of Rock do you have the opportunity to sit next to Chip Z’nuff for an afternoon cocktail, or two….
Brandon Gibbs, Metal DJ Will, and Joel Hoekstra hanging out between sets on Monster Beach.
Remember MTV’s Jesse Camp? He made and appearance. Quite possibly the nicest guy on the boat, outside of Kip Winger of course.
Pint size Monster or Rock: Great White’s Mark Kendall jams with his grandson.
The Photo Experiences: Everyone on the cruise had the opportunity to get a photo with their favorite artists, I took it upon myself to take a few quick portraits of my favorites:
So there you have it folks. Out of the four previous Monsters of Rock cruises I have been on, this was the best ever. Here’s to 2017.
Were you on the Monsters or Rock Cruise? What were your EPIC moments? Please share in the comment section below.