Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Meister's Monsters of Rock Cruise 2014 #16-Monster Island Day (Monday to those in the real world)

*****Wow, these daily diaries take a ton of work especially trying to hold down a bill paying job!  I once again apologize for the lateness of this post, the events of which actually occurred on March 31, 2014.*****

After stumbling in and somehow miraculously not awaking my two cabin mates at who knows what time of the morning I awoke feeling surprisingly good....until I stood up that is!  Having that terrible feeling that you've overslept and missed something, I quickly checked the time and did indeed
confirm that the Dio Listening Party was already under way.  The soon to be released (now out) Dio tribute album, This Is Your Life, was being played in it's entirety for cruise goers, something I had marked on my target list to partake in, but now I really needed to eat....(and get another beer to ward off the impending doom of the looming hangover).  Breakfast (food, not beer) went down well, the food (which was not all that terrible on previous cruises) has been vastly improved on this new ship the MSC Divina.  A couple of breakfast beverages (light beer before noon) up on the pool deck chatting with friends and fellow cruisers saw me feeling ten years younger as I headed off to the Pantheon Theatre for the noon performance of my fellow country men, The KiLLeR DWaRfS.

Russ "DWaRf" Graham-photo by Brian Ronald
The schedule was printed a time slot of noon-1:30pm, which would be absolutely fantastic, but I assumed it was a misprint as no other show was scheduled for this long.  The DWaRfS drew a decent crowd considering they were up against being in port for Monster Island (Half Moon Cay) and Ted Poley up on the pool stage and it was great to see the support for these entertaining performers.  Starting out with "Comin' Through" the comical Canucks led the steadily growing/thickening crowd through all the DWaRfS classics including "Hard Luck Town", "Last Laugh", "Driftin' Back", "Union of Pride" (a song which always gets stuck in my head for days!), "Doesn't Matter", "All That We Dream", "Nothing Gets Nothing", "Start @ One", "Stand Tall" and "Keep The Spirit Alive".  The boys always put on an amazing display, are a great band to party with day or night and this afternoon was no
The Headstand-photo by Brain Ronald
exception as Russ' sense of humor shined through.  He regaled the crowd with stories and one-liners that probably have never had me laughing so hard at a concert!  Russ didn't stop there, but continued his trademark stage antics that included randomly falling to the stage as if his marionette strings had been suddenly sliced, crawling on all fours around the stage, thrusting the mike into everyone's face he could reach in the crowd for them to sing along, crowd surfing and headstands.  The only thing missing was the tricycle and the crate from the iconic 80's videos, maybe I can catch up with him over a "Cuddly Cola" later and ask why the trike never made it on board.
MSC Divina on the way to Half Moon Cay-photo by The Meister
Now it was time to catch a tender boat and go check out this Half Moon Cay or Monster Island.  Not being a huge fan of the beach and knowing that this would not be an overly long excursion as I wanted to make sure that I was back aboard in good time for Winger, I set off.  Floating over with a friend and fellow "EH" Teamer on one of the tender boats, my full sleeve tattoo became a topic of conversation and subject of a couple of professional photographers camera lenses.  The Island was
Quireboys-photo by The Meister
beautiful and much preferable to last year's Coco Cay Island I thought.  There seemed to be much more to do here and I wandered a few trails eventually leading to a large pirate ship containing a bar....well it would just be ludicrous not to stop in here!  on the other side of said pirate ship overlooking the beach and the beautiful clear blue water was the stage where The Quireboys were about to begin their set.  The raised stage was far superior to last year's grass hut, ground level stage on Coco Cay and I lingered for the whole set, chatting with friends on the beach before heading off in search of more food.

Half Moon Cay-photo by The Meister

Skipping Great White's beach concert set, I found myself back on board the Divina and watching KIX's sound check on the pool stage before heading into the bowels of the ship to the Pantheon for Winger's second performance.  Food or drink is not allowed in the theater so it's a finish up before you enter deal, which kind of sucks in some ways, but in others it's probably good to dry out a little!  I chose to sit in one of the seats rather than enter the milling throng down in front of the stage, especially after my exposure to the harsh rays of the sun on the beach earlier.  Winger began with 
Kip Winger & Reb Beach-photo by Brian Ronald
"Blind Revolution Mad" and rolled through a musical selection spanning their career including "Easy Come Easy Go", "Pull Me Under", "Rat Race", "Rainbow in the Rose", "Down Incognito" and "Deal With the Devil".  Before "Deal With the Devil" front man and namesake Kip Winger went off on a pro-pot tangent for several minutes too long that in my opinion killed the momentum they had created with the music.  I was beginning to fade fast, struggling to stay awake, I'd fall asleep for a second and suddenly jump back awake.  Steadily getting worse I had to stop myself from falling over more than once and decided that it was time that I committed blasphemy.  I have to offer my heartfelt apologies to all my cruise friends, friends in general, to anyone who has ever raised a fist for rock or the horns high in the embarrassing as it is to say, I had to take a nap!  I just couldn't do it any longer.

KIX-photo by Brian Ronald
Starting awake suddenly fearing that my "lie down for a minute" had turned into a full on sleep, I sat bolt upright in the bed.  I could hear KIX owning the pool stage and the sail away from Half Moon Cay concert from inside my room.  Shaking away the groggy cobwebs that come from one of those deep sleep naps (or full on "rem" sleeps as the case may be), it was time to get back on the horse so to speak.  While my totally embarrassed inside voice kept screaming "Do not tell anyone you napped....ever!", I flew out of the room on "Cold Blood" and made it up to the pool stage
KIX-Photo by Meister
for the following song choice of "Blow My Fuse".  Steve Whiteman was, as I've come to expect, his usual charismatic self and very entertaining.  Disappointed that I had missed most of the show, especially after becoming such a KIX fan when I saw them for the first time on the inaugural cruise in 2012, at least I had seen them at the pre-party before we set sail.  Knowing that I would see them soon at my first M3 eased the pain as they closed the set with "Midnite Dynamite" and "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah".  As I swilled back my frosty "wake-up" beer and rocked out near the back of the audience for the "Dirty Boys of the Underground" I looked up at the upper railing around the pool deck and noticed none other than KiLLeR DWaRf skin basher Darrell Millar decked out in his "EH" Team shirt taking in the show as well!

Minoru Niihara-photo by Meister
Time now for Loudness in the Pantheon and I raced through the ship, my full sleeve tattoo posing for several more pics along the way!  The shredders from the "Land of the Rising Sun" totally ripped up the theater as I had expected.  Akira Takasaki's blazing guitar work blazed the path for the rest of the band although I found it curious that he was not sporting his dreadlocks wig for this event, which I had never seen him perform without.  While delivering the all-out assault of Loudness classics like "Crazy Nights", "Crazy Doctor", "Heavy Chains", "Never Change Your Mind" and "Let It Go" we also heard the more current material like "The Power of Truth" and even debuts from the forthcoming album with "Immortality" and "The Sun Will Rise Again".  The new songs sounded awesome and I look forward to hearing the full album as soon as it's unleashed.  Vocalist Minoru Niihara called it correctly when he announced to the crowd "We may not speak English too good, but we speak great rock and roll"!

Firehouse-Photo by Meister
Arriving back up at the pool stage, late for Firehouse, I was interested to see more of them after rather enjoying what I had caught at the pre-party.  I had never given much time to their music in the past, mostly only knowing the ballady radio hits, but as I learned at the pre-party there is actually a lot more there than I previously gave credit for.  "You're Too Bad", "Rock on the Radio", "When I Look Into Your Eyes", "Overnight Sensation", "Love of a Lifetime", "Reach for the Sky" and "Don't Treat Me Bad" all sounded great with a little "Free Ride" medley thrown into the mix on "Don't Treat Me Bad".  I will be looking into their catalog a little deeper in the future and definitely plan to catch them again at my next opportunity, which appears to be Firefest in Nottingham England in October!

Continuing the up and down yo-yo trail that I was blazing on the staircases (too impatient to wait for the elevators) between the pool deck and the Pantheon it was back down into the depths for the much anticipated Quiet Riot show, stopping momentarily along the way for a brief chat with Johnny Dee of Doro and some EH Team friends.

Frankie Banali-photo by Brian Ronald
Having seen Quiet Riot back in June 2013 in Toronto with vocalist Scott Vokoun and being very impressed I was interested to see what Vokoun's successor, Jizzy Pearl would sound like with the material.   They covered everything that you would really want from Metal Health, Condition Critical and even one from QRIII as well.  Jizzy sounded awesome and the band (Chuck Wright, Alex Grossi and of course Frankie Banali) was tight, delighting the packed theater.  Driving force, Frankie Banali, took center stage prior to "Thunderbird" to announce that the movie would finally be premiered on April 29th and to ask for a moment of silence for both Randy Rhoads and Kevin DuBrow.  The minute he did the incredibly respectful crowd went deathly silent and it
Jizzy Pearl-photo by Brian Ronald
would have been easy to hear a pin drop.  I noticed Janis Tanaka, bassist for Femme Fatale in the crowd and wondered if she was stalking me as I seem to have seen her at several shows like Iron Maidens, Charm City Devils, Loudness, Faster Pussycat and now Quiet Riot!  The Quiet Riot set list looked like this: "Run For Cover", "Slick Black Cadillac", "Mama Weer All Crazee Now", "Sign of the Times", "Love's a Bitch", "Condition Critical", "Thunderbird", "The Wild and the Young", "Let's Get Crazy", "Cum On Feel the Noize" and of course "Metal Health (Bang Your Head)".

Randy Rand-photo by Brian Ronald
 Abandoning a little early on Quiet Riot I quickly made my way to the Black & White Lounge, knowing that if I didn't get a spot up front that I would be screwed for Autograph!   I had been waiting a long, long time to see Autograph, Sign in Please being a very early addition to my musical collection and holding a revered position to this day.  Doubtful that I would ever get the chance until they were announced as being in the ship's registry, I was thrilled with their performance at the pre-party making my dreams come true.  Randy Rand and Steve Lynch are the remaining original members and have recruited Marc Weiland behind the kit and Simon Daniels (Danny Simon of Jailhouse) to front the outfit.  This Autograph re-invention is fantastic and I was hoping that it was not a one-off experience, my judgement clouded by my happiness to finally hear
Simon Daniels-photo by Brian Ronald
Autograph material in a live setting the other day.  With a set list spanning all three original albums that saw "Deep End", "All I'm Gonna Take", "Send Her To Me", "Cloud 10", "My Girlfriend's Boyfriend Isn't Me" and of course "Turn Up The Radio" from the debut, Sign In Please.  From the sophomore effort, That's The Stuff, we got "That's The Stuff", "Crazy World" and "Blondes in Black Cars" with "Dance All Night", "Loud & Clear", "Bad Boy", "When the Sun Goes Down" and "She Never Looked That Good For Me" from the final release, Loud & Clear.  Go see the 2014 Autograph as soon as you can and "turn up the I-pod"!

Luca Princiotta-photo by Brian Ronald
Doro's second shipboard gig was up next and I rushed to the Pantheon, downing the remainder of my beverage on the way (no drinks or food allowed in the theater).  I secured a spot up front on the left side for this show, my fourth time seeing Doro overall.  There were no disappointments once again as the incredibly tight band of Johnny Dee (drums), Nick Douglas (bass), Luca Princiotta (guitar) and Bas Maas (guitar) backed up the pint sized "German Metal Queen".  The set again encompassed some awesome songs, heavy on the Warlock days with "I Rule the Ruins", "Burning the Witches", "Fight For Rock", "Metal Racer", "True as Steel", "Fur Immer", "Earthshaker Rock" and of course the anthem "All We Are""Raise Your Fist" served as the lone representative from her post Warlock
Doro Pesch & Ann Boelyn-photo by Brian Ronald
days until the closing song.  Two cover songs were also slipped into the roster with Judas Priest's "Breakin' the Law" and Dio's "Egypt (The Chains Are On)" which featured a guest appearance by Dio/Dio Diciples' guitarist Craig Goldy.  To throw things over the top, Doro was joined on stage by Ann Boelyn of Hellion for "East Meets West" and then by crowd choice closed out with "Hellbound" and "Hero".  It doesn't matter how many times I see Doro, she always impresses and is the one person I'm dying to meet on the cruise.

The worst time to eat is right before sleeping, but it was now nearing 2am and with not having eaten much all day, desperately needing something to soak up the sweet booze, I found myself in the buffet.  While stuffing my face with the required sustenance I ran into John Nyman (guitarist for Y&T) and we had a brief discussion in which I stated how happy I was that Y&T would be in Toronto on my birthday.  Not five minutes later, on my exit from the feeding frenzy, I ran into my friend from Toronto who also shares the very same birthday having basically the same conversation with John Nyman!  He looked shocked to learn that we were friends and promised us Y&T would give us a top notch show for our special day (as they always do!).

The Meister (The Meister on Facebook) (Meister on Twitter)

*****Once again extreme thanks to my friend Brian Ronald for the use of his awesome photography.  From now on Brian you MUST attend only the shows that I do so I don't have to use my own photos which quite obviously pale in comparison to your work, Cheers!***** 

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