I have no idea what the hell that means. It seemed deep. Grand Rocktember Day 2!
Mr. Big singer Eric Martin started us off with his brand of drunk girl rock. Those who managed to shake off the previous night early enough to catch Eric’s set were treated to the members of Trixter joining him on stage for a rendition “To Be With You”. Next up was Saliva who were surprisingly solid. The interesting thing for them was they were playing another show about three hours away later that same evening. I hadn’t seen the band with singer Bobby Amaru who took over for Josey Scott when he left the band for Jesus. A bit of a lookalike but I thought he delivered.
LA Guns was next, and outside of Ace, they are the band on todays bill I’ve seen the most. They typically put on a solid show and delivered on that tradition. At one point Phil mentioned he hadn’t been aware Ace was playing that day as well. “That explains the all the KISS stuff.” He pronounced in his cockney accent. It was around this time I was ushered backstage to interview Eric Martin and Trixter in what I can only describe as a state of “happy”. It was both the best and most worthless interview I’ve ever done. Someone taking themselves more serious may have been put off by the shenanigans but I just sat back and took in the show. I honestly got nothing of any substance for this article. They were all quite nice and I would like to thank them now for the 20 minutes we shared.
When I finished Scrap Metal was halfway through their pointless set. This was the first band of the weekend that actually sounded poor. I can only assume it’s because they aren’t really a band. An odd collection of musicians playing their hits. A talented group the featured the brothers Nelson, Pat Travers, Derek St. Holmes and even Brad Whitford who came out as Stephen Pearcy mumbled through a couple of Aerosmith songs after a trio of Ratt tunes.. The sum was not as great as its parts however. If there was one band to head to the casino to gamble during it was Scrap Metal.
Tom Kiefer of Cinderella was next and was for me the biggest surprise of the weekend. It’s not that I didn’t think he’d be good. I just don’t think I was prepared for great. He and his band delivered one of the more killer sets at Grand Rocktember III. Playing mostly songs from Cinderella with a full backing band including a keyboard player and backup singers. He opened with my favorite Cinderella track “Falling Apart At The Seams” and delivered every song you’d want to hear from him in spectacular form. At times taking me back to that zit faced kid carrying around his Night Songs cassette in his jean jacket. Tom looked and sounded great. And I’m pretty sure he played more guitars than songs. I would encourage anyone who can to check this band out. That brings us to former KISS guitarist Ace Frehley.
The ONLY band to start late all weekend was, of course, our favorite Spaceman. I had the pleasure of chatting with his manager John Ostronomy earlier in the day so I can confirm he wasn’t running late on a commute from Jendell. Going on maybe 20 minutes late I’m not sure if it was the night chill but it seemed it took Ace and his band a few songs to warm up. But by the time they played “Strange Ways” we were off. As a self-described KISS expert, I can always find songs I wanted to hear that I didn’t. But does Ace really need to play “Love Gun” and “Detroit Rock City”? Two Paul songs that don’t even feature classic Ace solos? That aside Ace and his band delivered a solid hard rock Space Ace performance. Those fans with their KISS or Frehley’s Comet t-shirts stuffed tightly into their jeans had to be pleased.
Day 2, Grand Rocktember III and for all intensive purposes, summer came to a close with a torrid set from Twisted Sister. Doing their last show of 2015 and one of their last shows ever as they retire the band after the passing of longtime drummer AJ Pero earlier this year. Two days of drinking and a northern Minnesota evening chill didn’t seem to take effect on the audience. Dee Snider and his Twisted band mates stormed the stage and kicked our ass. Dee Snider never one to take his role as front man lightly, was in immaculate shape. And he delivered the songs the way you remember them. At one point, someone in the audience tossed a t-shirt on stage that said “FUCK PAUL STANLEY” a reference to the recent internet feud between two New Yorkers in their 60’s. A roadie hung it on Mike Portnoy’s drum set. To Dee’s credit he never took the bait. He never said a word of it to the audience. He also didn’t take it down.
By the end of it I was tired, rocked and hungry. Ready for Denny’s and ready for next year. I can only hope the lineup is as solid. So book your babysitters now because they are going to be in high demand come this time next year. Thanks to all the people I met and spent time with and thanks to Grand Casino for putting together a pretty rocking good time for us old folks.