The Monsters of Rock Cruise is always filled with thrilling performances by a host of bands old and new. Each year there seems to be one performance that stands out above all of the rest. Sometimes it’s a band unseen by me before (Tyketto in 2014). Sometimes it’s an age-old favorite that simply comes to the table and lays down the best show of their career (Helix on East 2016). Monsters of Rock Cruise West: Monsterwood was no exception. Scheduled for only one show aboard ship for reasons unknown, Babylon AD took command of the pool stage on Sunday, October 2, 2016. Thundering. That’s basically all you need, but then this would be a severely short article. Absolutely thundering.
Previously witnessing Babylon AD at Firefest: The Final Fling and also MORC 2015, I knew they were fantastic live. But this night, they were beyond top of their game, literally blowing me away. With a bucket of beers on ice, fellow Decibel Geek Derik Novak and I watched Babylon AD standing at a two-top table on the right side of the stage. With fist steadily bashing the atmosphere above my head, all remnants of my vocals were quickly shot as I sung along to every song. The band is beyond tight on stage. Bassist Robb Reid right into each and every song as Jamey Pacheco creates the thunder from his kit. Guitarists, Ron Freschi and Danny De La Rosa trade licks and riffs back and forth. Singer Derek Davis has not lost a step over the years, his chords still as fresh as 25 years ago. Did I also mention that Babylon AD realizes 100% original membership? How often do you see that at this stage of the game?
They opened up right away with the bar level set high in “Back in Babylon”. There would be no reprieve for the next 60 minutes. Even when it came to the ballads, “So Savage the Heart” and “Desperate” they packed a huge punch. All the debut album favorites were included, “Hammer Swings Down”, “Shot o’ Love”, “The Kid Goes Wild”, “Maryanne” and of course, “Bang Go the Bells”. The sophomore, Nothing Sacred, supplied “So Savage the Heart” and “Bad Blood”. I’d really love to hear “Take the Dog off of the Chain” live…hints, hint boys! The lone inclusion from 2000’s American Blitzkrieg was the awesome “Sinking in the Sand”.
BABYLON AD Brief History
The band originated in Oakland as the Persuaders. The members had been in childhood rival bands until they eventually evolved into Babylon AD After signing to Arista Records Babylon AD‘s self-titled debut hit stores in 1989. I remember quite clearly, my introduction to Babylon AD. Walking through the high school cafeteria, a buddy seated at a table called me over. He handed me his headphones, saying “check out this new band I found”. My ears filled with “The Kid Goes Wild” as he pushed play on the big yellow Sony Walkman. Comedy maestro Sam Kinison provides the voice to start off “The Kid Goes Wild” and the song was featured in Robocop 2. A week later at the local record store, I forked over my paper route money for my own cassette copy of Babylon AD.
1992 saw the release of the sophomore effort, Nothing Sacred. Another fine record that saw ample play in my walkman. That would be about it for Babylon AD on my radar screen. They did issue American Blitzkrieg in 2000, but by then I’d “lost” my touch with music. Years later I would hear it and it holds up beautifully to the first two. A couple of compilation albums would be released as well as a live album, but 2014 saw Live@XXV come out. OMG! Just listen to that live album, recorded, I believe, at the aforementioned Firefest.
BABYLON AD at Rock n Skull
For me, Babylon AD was hands down the best show of the boat this year. Next up, I’ll catch them at Rock n’ Skull Festival in Joliet, Illinois on October 28, 2016. Can they retain the “Best Show” title there? I’ll let you know, but in either case, one thing’s for certain: They will deliver! Don’t you miss them “When the Hammer Swings Down”!