After finally stumbling into interior stateroom #11039 and folding myself into bed around 4:30am the night before, I was surprisingly up at a decent hour and ready to take on the day. Breakfast seemed to be the first order of business and so I headed off in that direction, meeting my friend from the Toronto Queensryche concert along the way. The buffet was decent enough, but not by any means astounding. We chatted about the shows that we'd taken in the previous night and what was on today's plan. After breakfast he headed off to meet up with his wife while I worked my way to the internet cafe to post my daily diary of Friday's adventures.......OK, so I'm a couple of days behind! As I made my way there, I passed Georg Dolivo, vocalist from Rhino Bucket and we chatted for a few minutes which included my begging for them to play a show in Toronto, but he responded with the cryptic answer of "There's a secret reason that we don't". I'll definitely be catching their set later on today and I moved on allowing Georg to get on with his day. I reached the 7th floor and cut through the casino, running into my Quiet Riot agent friend and as we paused to chat about the cruise and events, Jason McMaster breezed past saying hello. He remembered me from our email interview that we had done a few months back (Volume #2 of my cruise series) and shook my hand, saying how nice it was to meet in person.
Wow, shooting the breeze with two great vocalists already and the day's only just getting started! Reaching the on board internet cafe, I examined the operation and decided that I could handle it. Everything was a different menu and I felt the pressure of time ticking by and the "by the minute pricing" scale as I navigated around and began to curse under my breath at these different systems. The thing was uber slow, kept freezing up on me and was generally very confusing to operate. In any case I was finally granted success and got it posted, no time to spell check or post too many photos, this venture was quite expensive and was keeping me away from more drinking time!
I put my stuff back in the room and headed out to catch the first show of the day with my ears still ringing from last night's. I arrived at the theatre a bit after noon for Alcatrazz's first show on the boat. The first thing I noticed was that Graham Bonnet was quite energetic on stage during the already started song, Too Young To Die, Too Drunk To Live. The rhythm section of the bass and drums was thundering around the Carlo Felice Theatre and the surprisingly sparse crowd, must be a ton of folks still sleeping or at Femme Fatale on the pool deck, who appear later in my concert plan. Graham even thanked the crowd at one point for coming to see Alcatrazz instead of the boobs on the pool deck although they were nice boobs. Jet To Jet featured drummer Bobby Rock showing off his ample skills in his second performance aboard ship during an incredible, but waaaaaay too long for a shortened one hour song set drum solo. Their set also included
playing God Blessed Video, Will You Be Home Tonight, Kree Nakoorie, Hiroshima Mon Amour, Dancer (written with Schenker before they fired me claimed Graham), Since You've Been Gone and Lost In Hollywood (The Rainbow classics). I noticed that there appeared to be lyric sheets attached to the stage, I guess Bonnet is getting old and can't remember a few of the songs as well, but it was still an excellent show and I will definitely be looking out to catch them again. The only disappointing thing for me was that I wanted to hear Wire And Wood.
From there it was off to the Acoustic Lounge Bar Dei Poeti to catch Ted Poley. It was great to see that Ted had a full room as last year when I saw him in this venue it was a sparse crowd, probably due to the fact that we were in port and he was playing at 10am. I noticed Ron Keel and his wife in the room as well as Johnny Dee (drummer for Doro/Britny Fox) as Ted welcomed us to his acoustic show and promising to kick us in the teeth at his electric set (which I'd already had witness to at the Rockerz Gone Wild Pool Party). They opened up with a "special song", The Love Boat which drew a big laugh from the audience and rolled right into Monkey Business, while tossing several bananas into the crowd. Ted is quite a charismatic performer and gets the crowd into his fun set, evidenced by the "Ted Poley" balloons that went out to the crowd next as he played what I think was called Can I Hold You Tonight followed by
Bang, Bang. Shot Of Love (or Shot With Lunch as Ted claimed he preferred to call it) brought him out into the crowd, trailing his microphone cord as he sang from several points in the room standing on the armchair couches. One Step From Paradise brought him out again singing to many of the ladies in the audience and generally getting everyone involved. At this point, already having seen Ted's show at the pool party and having him on my radar for his electric show (I'm not huge on the acoustic sets anyway) I moved on intending to get a great spot for Rhino Bucket in the trippy Zebra Lounge.
There were a few folks already crowding the stage as I arrived and joined them. Eddie Trunk's "Stump The Trunk" and book signing session went on a little longer than scheduled and when his table was cleared away, the rest of the Bucket fans closed in. I was basically centre stage and while guitarist Brian Forsythe was gearing up I had the opportunity to speak to him briefly about our email interview that is currently in progress. I traded him my business card for a guitar pick and was anxiously awaiting to see again what Georg describes as the "last real rock and roll band". Rhino Bucket was a huge highlight for me last year, their Hardest Town CD being one of my all-time favourite albums cover to cover and I never get tired of listening to it. I looked down the set list and was happy to see the title track, but that was the only selection from it on the roster. During my study of the set list, a roadie appeared and placed three Coronas next to the mike stand for Georg during the set. several minutes later it was "Coronas Down" as they were tipped over by the activity getting the stage set for the already few minutes late show. With Coronas fixed, we were ready to go and the boys played a great no frills/gimmicks set including One Night Stand, Beg For Your Love, Train Ride, Welcome To Hell, Who's Got Mine?, She's A Screamer, Beat To Death Like A Dog, Hey There, Ride The Rhino and also a new song Raise Your
Glass from the forth coming record, planned for release around August (although Georg admitted that he was a bit lazy and it might be later than that). I was able to procure a drumstick as they flew into the crowd at the end of the performance and secured an autograph on it to make it complete as another blistering performance by Rhino Bucket. If you get an opportunity to see these guys, do whatever you have to do to make it happen! I had a few folks thanking me after the show as I had been telling them to check it out for the past few days, now they understand why I'm rabid about these guys!
Now I rushed over to the Meet & Greet session featuring Saxon among others. I had to meet the boys, as they are a huge favourite of mine and even appear in my sleeve tattoo. I had been searching all over the boat for members of Saxon to shake their hands, but seemed to miss them every time, while tons of other people kept running into them......just my luck, like a watched kettle never boiling! Also at this meet & greet was Helix and Kaleb (the guitarist) and I had made a loose plan to try and meet up after it was over so that we could bang out our little interview. The line-up was quite long and I felt a little like cattle again as we were herded around. I will not rush to participate in another meet and greet session as they are a sham and waste of time in my eyes. Bands have been sitting there for photos for a couple of hours, are not allowed to sign anything and were generally looking tired and not into it. I will say that my boys from Helix and the girls from Femme Fatale made a great effort and I can't wait for the photos. It was my heroes of Saxon that looked lifeless, but never the less I dashed in quickly and sat on the couch for my photo, holding up my "Heavy Metal Thunder" flag and had a chance to pass my cards onto Nigel before I was ushered out of the way for the next group. I was anxious to get back out and see more concerts as Black N' Blue were currently on the pool stage and I made the decision to by-pass John Corabi and Lita Ford who were also in this session and they had huge lines. Unfortunately in that I also made the grievous error of passing by JSRG. I should have stopped by them for a moment as their performance from the Pre-Party was truly mind blowing and in giving it after thought I realised that they were happy posing with their fans as well. I will look out for them aboard ship for sure.
I went out onto the pool deck to await Kaleb after his meet and greet, realised that I'd forgotten my voice recorder in the room and that I should probably put this drumstick somewhere safe before I accidentally poke out someone's eye or something! So after pausing quickly for a few bars of Black N' Blue, I tore myself away. Returning in time for Nasty Nasty which was followed by the black sheep of the Nasty Nasty album Jamie St. James proclaimed, I'll Be There For You. We Got The Fire, Miss Mystery, I Want It All, School Of Hard Knocks, Live It Up, Hold On To 18 and Target off of the newest CD Hell Yeah from 2011 all filled out the set list. Black N' Blue were one of my live discoveries from last year and they were every bit as good again this trip.
Now having about two hours to kill before Saxon, well maybe just an hour as I planned to get there early, I want to be leaning on the stage for this one, I ambled in the direction of the buffet and more
sustenance to ward off the already taking their toll effects of the sun and beers. I stopped to chat briefly with Dwain Miller (drummer for Keel) and let him know that I hadn't seen Saxon yet as I'd promised to introduce him to Nigel Glockler. As we were chatting Johnny Dee passed by and we shook hands as he remembered me from our brief conversation at the Doro show in Toronto in February. I should have introduced him to Dwain who was still standing next to me.......doh!....idiot.....lol. After a quick chow down, noticing Brain Jay and Marc Ferrari (of Keel), John Claus (guitarist for Helix) and Jeff Keith of Tesla all at various tables in the buffet and how some fans were bothering them during their dinner, I exited and ran into a friend chatting with Graham Bonnet of Alcatrazz. Mr Bonnet was very friendly and told us a bit about the death of his cousin whom he was very close to and posed for a picture before I moved on to secure my Saxon position.
unfortunately) and this was the title track as they powered through Sacrifice. Sometimes newer unknown songs do not come off well in concert, but Sacrifice sounded amazing and Saxon do sound awesome live. It's a bit heavier than the last release and Nigel really drives it with his drum beats, a definite purchase for me! One of the first Saxon songs that I heard (I know, a bit late to the party) was Rock & Roll Gypsy, which sounds way better in a live setting, was next and after that Biff announced that the next song had been banned in many countries as they rolled into the epic Crusader. Strong Arm Of The Law led us into This Town Knows How To Rock or more aptly This Boat Knows How To Rock and I marvelled at how strong Biff's pipes were still. A pleasant surprise for me next was Solid Ball Of Rock, another Saxon favourite of mine that is not too often played live according to the statistics I've seen and it was great live, inciting me to scream even louder that I already had been, I could feel the ole throat getting a little rough after yelling at Rhino Bucket and now Saxon. Denim & Leather, Motorcycle Man, Wheels Of Steel all followed in what Biff
proclaimed was odd for them with this short set as they were used to playing for two or three hours and I along with those around me and I suspect many more would not have complained if they did so! Princess Of The Night served as their closer and I remarked to the folks around me at the end if it was wrong that I felt strangely aroused after that show and they all agreed that they felt similarly. On a total high after Saxon, I spent a few moments chatting with the Four Horsemen shirt fan and I passed him my card. He responded with "No way! Are you The Meister? I read your articles and they were great!" That alone almost won him the Four Horsemen shirt, but I settled for a handshake and thanked him very much.
I continued the day of blistering rock at sea by rushing down to the Zebra Lounge for Keel's first set aboard ship. I arrived a few minutes late and the boys were already loudly under way, but I
managed to find a decent vantage point at the side of the stage. I noticed Lita Ford, Mitch Perry and Steve Riley watching from the other side of the stage as all of the band members noticed and acknowledged my presence with a nod....very cool right there alone! The boys invited their side stage watchers (unfortunately not me this time....lol) up on stage to help them out with The Right To Rock and I was glad to see that I was not the only one a bit shy to get up there as Steve Riley had to be convinced a bit by Ron, Lita and Mitch. My voice was really hurting now as I screamed out my appreciation for Keel during their whole set which included United Nations, Looking For A Good Time, Somebody's Waiting, Speed Demon, Push & Pull, Streets Of Rock & Roll, I Said The Wrong Thing To The Right Girl, Because The Night, Tears Of Fire and You're The Victim I'm The Crime.
And now, reeling from the emotional roller coaster of all the awesome shows I'd seen during this rockin' day at sea, I reloaded on beverages and headed back up into the open air of the pool deck to
check out Japanese rockers Loudness. Secretly to myself I was kinda hoping that they sucked as I wasn't sure that I could handle another ass-kicking today and certainly my voice and throat would thank them as well. This was not the case and they blasted out with Crazy Nights followed by Crazy Doctor. The Stronger was up next, but the beers and lack of food began to overtake me and I decided to make my way over to the buffet as I will certainly be seeing Loudness in Toronto in May and I needed to rest if I was going to make it through the night, it was only around 11pm! Loudness sounded tight and Akira Takasaki's solos were blistering and many people are putting them on their lists for best show on the boat, probably I should have toughed it out for the full set.
After tying on the feedbag to soak up the beer in my system, I promptly got another drink and chatted with a few folks as I circulated around the pool deck and the Mojito Bar, killing time untill JSRG took the pool stage. After the ladies impressed me so much and basically kicked my ass at the MOR Pre-Party, I was looking forward to this set. I found a friend from the Keel rehearsal experience and we secured a spot at the front of the stage. The girls opened up with Rev It Up with How Much Love close on it's heels and I was again amazed at how much these chicks rock. Someone had mentioned to me a few days prior that they "just don't think that chicks rocked as hard as guys except for Lita Ford" and after seeing JSRG at the pre party and Lita Ford not holding a candle to that show, I will make it my mission to get theses people to a JSRG show! Hopefully the ladies will make the excursion north into Toronto, but until then these girls were great aboard ship. Bad Reputation came next, following the same set as the pre party until Love Made Me found it's way onto the roster. Cryin' , I Want You To Rock Me (which contained a little crowd incitement in the
middle and portions of We Will Rock You and Pour Some Sugar On Me) and Streets In Paradise led us to Share taking vocals over again for the cover of Neil Young's Keep On Rockin' In The Free World. Love Is A Killer, Never Say Never and Wrecking Ball showed off Gina's absolutely ballistic guitar skills, although the ladies did look a little tired tonight, it was near 2am after all, they were rocking hard again. The girls finished up with Mas Tequilla and Edge Of A Broken Heart and I got a hand slap from Janet and a handshake from Gina as they appreciated their audience. I fully admit that these ladies finished me off tonight and I couldn't help but think Lita who?