Too much love will kill you, but we survived and what an amazing cruise this was!!
Festivities officially began on land in LA at Lucky Strike where Paradise Kitty performed a stunning version of November Rain and the Quireboys rocked the house with their new bass player Gus who looks a little like original member Nigel Mogg. During ‘Hey you’ the crowd shout ‘we love you’ showing that they have taken this British band deservedly into their hearts and minds..
~CHRIS HAGER & AMIR DERAKH OF ROUGH CUTT~
The final night pre cruise party at Avalon had a star studded line up including faultless performances from class act Tyketto including Janet Gardner’s new husband Justin James on bass and a crowd pleasing performance from Rough Cutt with Simon Daniels and Janet Gardner joining them on stage. The piece de resistance for VIPs only was a series of very special private electric/acoustic performances from Danny Vaughn, John Corabi and Autograph, the latter not compromising at all on blistering solos in an intimate setting and finishing way too soon for the enthusiastic crowd. All this before we even got on the ship!
Having been promised Stephen Pearcy twice before with no joy, the crowd was amazed to see Ratt bounce onto the stage as sail away special guests, looking and sounding sharp on what can be a difficult slot first up on the pool stage. A little late – but they were worth waiting for and then the crowd had to high tail it to catch KIX in the theatre who never disappoint. Jumpin like a jack in the box and twirling like a tornado Steve Whiteman led his cool dudes through an energetic and charismatic performance keeping it world class. Jumping to Vain, Davy Vain, sounding as distinctive as ever and just like on the first album he delighted the crowd with interactive and energetic banter teasing them that his trousers are held together with tape and might fall down.
Next up taking us back to the Vinnie Vincent days of falsetto, squealing guitar and good time old Skool metal Slaughter look like they are really enjoying themselves, looking healthy, yet swigging neat Jack, Mark still has a very special voice that hits all the original high notes while partner in crime Dana rocks like it was still 1989 with ease and perfect style.
~MICHAEL GRANT OF LA GUNS~
And finally LA Guns on the pool stage finished off the first day with suitable panache, never complacent Michael Grant and Kenny Kweens are the perfect energetic yet cool foil to Phil Lewis’ insouciant charm, but behind the perfect image is great musicianship and with particularly beautiful Prince like guitar playing from Michael Grant they are sounding better than ever. Joined by Ace of Faster Pussycat the last song is spiked with energy till the end.
Since you can never get too much KIX we took in their second amazing show with a different set on the pool stage before Babylon Ad who with their metal with a bluesy edge sounded tight and rolled out classic after classic while the crowd sang all the words. Mike Tramp did his solo acoustic show in the Atrium and entertained the crowd with stories of how Vito made White Lion songs very difficult to play making his show more all round entertaining than just the music.
~CHRIS SANDERS, BILLY CHILDS, JOHNNY DEE OF BRITNY FOX~
Britny Fox took the pool stage and sounding like they still had the original vocalist they did a great version of ‘Long Way to Love’ and invited John Corabi on stage while half the crowd dressed as school girls and paraded across the stage for ‘Girlschool’. Switching to the Atrium for Richie Kotzen’s packed solo show as his fingers glided over his fretboard like silk on glass he added a touch of soul and feelin with an incredible version of ‘You Can’t Save Me’, constantly pushing the boundaries with his excellent drummer and bass player. To close off the second day Faster Pussycat took the pool stage with Eddie Trumk on Jack Daniels joined by Michael Grant, Jacob Bunton and Frankie Banali they sound really great and do excellent versions of ‘House of Pain’, ‘Ship Rolls in’ and ‘You’re So Vain’, before turning up the rock n roll again to the max for ‘Bathroom Wall’, ‘Babylon’ and ‘Ace of Spades’.
Starting off the third day with something different Cooking with Rockstars including Ted Poley, Simon Daniels, Roxy Petrucci, Brian Damage amongst many others on teams and Taime Downe and Nikki Blakk as judges kicks off bright and early. It’s all a little fixed when the Faster Pussycat team wins but no one minds. Ted Poley’s team got the biggest cheer from the crowd for their salad made in Ted’s own likeness. Call them unadventurous but apparently the judges found eating Ted’s head ‘weird’…Slaughter’s Q&A in the atrium had us learning that they are mixing a new album, that Warrant played on the demo of ‘Up all night’ which was apparently so much fun the band still speak fondly of it (although Warrant did not appear on the album version), that Mark Slaughter was originally a guitarist, that Vinnie made him dye his hair blonde and that while they inherited Vinnie Vincent’s record deal it was swiftly renegotiated in the face of the success of their first album. John Corabi did a popular electric acoustic show in the atrium with his son on drums while announcing a new DVD of live songs from the Motley album ‘One Night in Nashville’. He finishes with a truly awesome version of ‘Oh Darling’ demonstrating what a truly underrated vocalist he is.
~SIMON DANIELS, STEVE LYNCH OF AUTOGRAPH~
Next up was Autograph on the pool stage, revamped with energetic charismatic front man Simon Daniels they sound check early and their professionalism and attention to detail shine through in a perfect set despite their new drummer Marc Wieland feeling seasick. Still as packed full of blistering and technically innovative solos courtesy of Steve Lynch, the slightly more bluesy sound of Daniel’s voice coupled with his inventive vocal treatment of the old classics give them a new and relevant spin. The easy going charm of this band exemplified by smiling Randy Rand belie their fierce professionalism. Another set of men never to be underestimated they always give their all.
~JANET GARDNER OF VIXEN~
Switching to the theatre for Vixen not only do these ladies look happy to be on stage having ‘more fun on the cruise than anyone should be allowed to have’ they are sounding truly excellent. A beautiful version of ‘Love is a Killer’ is dedicated to Jan. Finishing with ‘Edge of a Broken Heart’ they give a top notch performance.
Our final day kicked off with a highly entertaining Q&A with Bang Tango hosted by Luc Carl. Accused by Luc of wanting to be a stand up comic Joe Leste had the bleary eyed audience rolling in the aisles with tales of what it is like to sing ‘Love Injection’ to five male rednecks in a hostile bar and how he felt his friend Amir Derakh’s leg during a threesome by mistake only to hear the immortal Tom Waite style line ‘Knock it off kid’. Proving it’s all about delivery he has people in hysterics with the way he delivered the line ‘Loverboy said Nirvana ruined our career.’ Kix carried on the comedy in their Q&A with Brian Damage deadpanning that he kept fit on the road by ‘Walking up the Stairs to the Buffet’. We hear in hilarious terms how Donnie fired most of the band ..twice. Steve tells the crowd not to come to the KIX photo meet and greet so they can see the Quireboys. On a more serious note we learn that they are bringing out a new DVD/ documentary ‘the Return of Kix’ featuring Eddie Trunk, Lzzy Hale and Nuno Bettencourt and we gasped at how Dave Lee Roth cut the power on KIX in their home town when they proved a tad too popular as support.
Back to Autograph again in the Spinnaker lounge, this smaller venue gave the band a chance to get up close and personal with their loyal following giving this second gig a more intimate and special feel while there was no compromise on the big sound and show. It was great to hear lesser played songs in this different set like “I lost my mind in America’ an underrated arena classic and ‘Cloud ten’. The old classics are still there and Simon Daniels sounds like he’s been singing them his whole life. Don’t make the mistake of not listening to this band because it does not have the original singer, the new line up rocks! We take in some Winery Dogs where the rockstars who turned out to see this show are thick and fast on deck and we catch some Beatles influenced Connie Bloom on the way to our second LA Guns show on the pool deck. Laughing and Joking, wearing Kenny Kweens hat saying it is too big but maybe he’d grow into it and thanking the crowd for being too tired on this last day to hassle him at breakfast Phil Lewis is in great form and the band sound great! Michael and Kenny do a truly excellent version of ‘Purple Rain’ in tribute to Prince and Spike joins them on stage for the ‘Ballad of Jane’. Joined by Ace and Dan of Faster Pussycat for Rip and Tear they finish in triumph.
~FEMME FATALE, COURTNEY COX OF FEMME FATALE~
But the final slot on this final evening belongs to Lorraine Lewis. She still has a super powerful voice and sounds even better live than on record. Old Classics sit side by side with new songs in the set. Looking beautiful she floored the crowd and entertained them with lined like ‘I’m trying to be a really good girl even though I look really bad’ while hitting the high notes perfectly. Not to be outdone by Lorraine’s earlier Janet Jackson ‘nip slip’ ironically just after ‘Falling in and out of love” on the pool stage Janis Tanaka in final night of MORC Shenanigans lifted up her top in true Motley Titty Cam style just before ‘Rebel’. Original bassist Lorraine’s brother joined them for ‘Touch and Go’ and a cover of ‘Lick it Up’ before the stage was invaded by T Rex. High quality and never boring Femme Fatale were top value tonight and a great end to the cruise!
The next morning it was all hangovers and luggage while Spike wondered how he managed to spend 900 dollars on his bar bill. But for some cruisers it was not quite over as the Cathouse continued with it’s 30th birthday celebrations. At the Roxy following new band King Of Spades (think the Exploited crossed with Aretha Franklin), those still standing were treated to Little Caesar, Jetboy, Gilby Clarke, Junkyard, Faster Pussycat and the very last show ever of Twisted Sister. If that weren’t enough following a performance by Gilby Clarke’s daughter ‘Frankie and the Studs’ (think Joan Jet crossed with Lena Lovich) we were overwhelmed by Rhino Bucket, Bang Tango, LA Guns (with Traci Guns AND Michael Grant), Faster Pussycat, Buckcherry and an all Star Tribute to Lemmy including Ricky Warwick on Ace of Spades. By this time we could barely stand we staggered home for a sugar injection quietly contemplating how we were really there.
No commentary can ever do justice to what it’s really like to be in the lift with Taime Downe, take selfies with Jizzy Pearl, Kenny Kweens, Ronnie Younkins, Lorraine Lewis, John Corabi, Joe Leste, Slaughter and Davy Vain all in one day, be in the cafeteria with Autograph or at the bar with Spike. The Monsters of Rock cruise has it’s own special magic drawing rock fans from all over the world. Once tasted never forgotten!
For more photos courtesy of Joe Schaeffer Photography, go here
~Joe and Dawn with Lorraine Lewis of Femme Fatale~
~Danny Vaughn of Tyketto~
~JOE LESTE OF BANG TANGO~
~Paul Gilbert of Mr Big~
~Femme Fatale's Courtney Cox joins Firehouse on stage~
~BILLY SHEEAN, RICHIE KOTZEN of THE WINERY DOGS~
~Femme Fatale's Nikki Stringfield & Katt Scarlett~
~BLACK N BLUE~
~Bass players unite: Rev Jones (Steelheart), Patrick Young (Black N Blue), Danny Nordahl (Faster Pussycat), Juan Croucier (Ratt), Lance Eric (Bang Tango)~