So very much has happened in the two weeks that it’s so hard to even begin to recount it to you but I’ll hit some of the highlights here in my next series of articles wrapping up the Monsters of Rock Cruise 2014. I’d like to take a moment to personally thank Larry Morand and On The Blue for creating, presenting and blowing my mind each and every year to date. As you all are undoubtedly aware, I am a massive proponent of The Monsters of Rock Cruise, absolutely some of the best experiences of my life……each year just gets better and better and more over the top. Just when I think that it won’t compare to the previous it jolts into overdrive and surpasses any expectations. There are different elements to each voyage but the whole experience is absolutely unmatchable.
|Meister & Nigel Glockler 2013|
Each year I have had some truly awesome times and memorable moments such as my conversations with Saxon drummer Nigel Glockler about the fan insisting that he was Graham Bonnett,
|Meister & Graham Bonnett 2013|
saw some truly unbelievable live rock performances and made many, many new friends, 2014 being no exception. I’ll include some links at the bottom of my previous experiences. I decided this time around that I would not do the daily diary as I had done for 2013. As much as I loved creating them and recounting the events it was a ton of work and took up way too much of my on ship time (even though the final days didn’t reach the Decibel Geek website until weeks after my return). This year I’ll condense things and hit many of the highlights with my articles and the forthcoming live podcast episode with Chris and Aaron, hopefully painting a picture of the absolute greatest rock and roll vacation! Once again, thank you for everything Larry Morand, one day I will shake your hand and get a photo with you like I have done with many many a rockstar as you’re easily in that category sir!
I arrived in Miami three days prior to setting sail and even had three friends from Toronto on my flight. What a change from a couple of years ago when I went alone knowing no-one. It’s thanks to MORC that I’ve made so many new friends here in the Toronto area, imagine that we go to the same shows but never met in most cases until being aboard a massive vessel in the Atlantic ocean! In an eventful shuttle bus ride from the airport to the hotel we laid witness to a driver blatantly rear-ending a trailer-less big rig and also drove past the “Colon Supermarket” (perhaps a stop there on the way out of town?)! Wednesday’s plans consisted of relaxing at the hotel (Howard Johnson Hialeah Gardens) and waiting for more friends arriving from Canada and around the world. It wasn’t long before the beer started pouring and I was conducting my own party in the lobby of the hotel, greeting all my friends as they checked in. The trips across the road to the gas station for more
|I wish I could say I was drunk!|
supplies (beer) became a regular occurrence as the “relax” part of the plan flew out the window. Taking one look around at the staff and other customers of the hotel I realized that they had no idea what was about to hit them and began hedging bets on just how many people would be lined up at the front desk demanding refunds tomorrow morning, a number that would surely increase after the pool party takes place on Thursday night. I actually felt sorry for the folks that were here for a bible convention….although I’m sure that they’d get a ton of work out of all us sinners! Here’s a shot of my stupidity before I even sipped the first beer.
|Ethan Brosh-photo by Meister|
Thursday held the Rockerz Gone Wild Pool Party II featuring a way too long list of live acts ringing in at 16 bands!! The event kicked off the drinking early as the first band hit the stage at noon and while all the performances were quite good one of the highlights for me was Ethan Brosh and his band Burning Heat. I was first introduced to Brosh’s music after fellow Decibel Geek Kate had seen him set the stage for Yngwie Malmsteen in Toronto. It was certainly unfortunate that they appeared on the bill quite early in the day and there was only a smattering of party goers in attendance for their half hour set. Other bands throughout the day that stood out to me were Black Jacket, 3PD and Saints of Rebellion who I look forward to seeing perform again at the M3 pre-party.
The first of two official MORC pre-parties was also taking place this evening and I took my leave from the pool party line-up to switch venues to Magic City Casino for pre-party #1 with Ted Poley and Autograph. Autograph’s Sign In Please was an early addition to my music library and I have always wanted to see Autograph “turn up the
|Ted Poley-photo by Meister|
amps” live. The evening began with Ted Poley, who is such an awesome performer and blasted through hits such as “Bang, Bang”, “Monkey Business”, “I Still Think About You” and of course “Naughty Naughty” with his band consisting of guitarist Maz Mazza and bassist Greg Smith (Ted Nugent) and drummer (unfortunately I am unaware of who Ted’s drummer was). During “Don’t Walk Away” Ted left the
|Ted Poley-photo by Brian Ronald|
stage and mingled throughout the whole audience, circling every section of the crowd as many of us sang along with him. Ted also slid some covers into the roster with “Rock n Roll Hoochie Koo”, “I Want You To Want Me”, “Rock n Roll All Night” and “Love Boat”, the theme from the TV show, which closed out a fantastic performance. The only thing missing was this……Ted Poley treating the Toronto audience of The 80’s Invasion tour to his drumming skills, with a broken wrist no less!
|Steve Lynch-photo by Meister|
After Poley’s set I ventured to the beverage station, not having had much time before Ted took the stage and discovered that the fee for a frosty beer was extremely reasonable, some might even say cheap! Autograph did not let me down as they blasted onto stage with “Deep End” followed by “Dance All Night” and “Loud & Clear”. Stepping in for original vocalist Steve Plunkett was Simon Daniels (Jailhouse), who while a little different than Plunkett covered the material beautifully being a pleasure to listen to. Daniels also plays guitar, so with him in the mix it thickens up the sound and I look forward to the 2014 Autograph
|Autograph-photo by Meister|
“turning up the I-pod”! The complete set list includes those three tracks plus “Bad Boy”, “Blondes in Black Cars”, “When the Sun Goes Down”, “All I’m Gonna Take”, “Send Her To Me”, “Cloud 10”, the classic title “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend Isn’t Me” (a song about a loser Simon Daniels says), “She Never Looked That Good For Me” (same loser Daniels adds), “Crazy World”, “That’s The Stuff” and of course “Turn Up The Radio”. At one point in the show as Steve Lynch wailed on his guitar directly in front of me I had to consider him one of the most under rated guitarists. Both Steve Lynch and bassist Randy Rand, the only two original members at this time were obviously happy to be back in the saddle and turning up the radio once again as the smiles were broad and chemistry between them abound. Looking forward to seeing you boys in Toronto in May!
|London-photo Brian Ronald|
From there it was back to the pool party in time for the last two songs from Nadir D’Priest and London. I would have absolutely loved to grab a bit more of London, especially after hearing what little I did, but something that I learned to do during my very first MORC experience is to sacrifice….you’ll never see everything so don’t stress about what you
|Aldrich-photo Brian Ronald|
miss. Burning Rain was next on deck featuring Doug Aldrich and although I have troubles getting into the Epic Obsession release I was very impressed by the live set as one should expect watching Doug Aldrich. Trixter was the headliner and I’ve never overly taken to their musical offerings either but they were sounding great as I held court with some more of my cruise friends old and new to close out the night…..apparently that guy from last year still really wants my Four Horsemen shirt, but after a few minutes of disappointment in finding out that it did not make my packing cut, he was happy to purchase me a beverage and a shot….Cheers bro! Time for sleep for this old man.
|Photo by Amy Mech|
Friday brought some light day time beverage consumptions, hanging out by the pool at the hotel with several friends new and old. The camaraderie of my fellow MORC cruisers is a phenomenal thing and soon we were off for a late lunch/dinner with a fair sized group at a nearby restaurant. I also learned that the gas station across the road that I had so frequently visited in the past couple of days for beer and late night food (after the messy pizza fiasco which included a price of $35 for a 6 slice pizza plus tip!!!) had had an armed robbery last night…..thank God I missed that!
After that it was off to official MORC pre-party #2 in the evening, again at Magic City Casino this
|Firehouse-photo by Meister|
time featuring Firehouse and KIX. I was greeted by a long line upon arrival and unfortunately was a bit late getting into the show. Firehouse sounded great and I had not given their music a lot of attention back in the day, but have since discovered that they have much more to offer than the overplayed ballads. They ripped through songs such as “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”. I will definitely be looking up their set aboard ship!
|KIX-by The Meister|
KIX was next on deck as I mingled with Canadian friends including fellow Decibel Geek Kate, some of us meeting for the first time after our Facebook “EH” Team chats and many of whom had just arrived in Miami today. It wasn’t long before Kate had hooked up with a few of her Patron Club members and the shots began to flow, awesome to see her loving her first MORC before we’re even on the vessel! Many worldly friends met on previous cruises were also in attendance and the excitement was high for boarding the ship tomorrow morning. Many rockers were also mingling around the pre-party including Autograph’s Steve Lynch, Randy Rand and Simon Daniels were in attendance and it occurs to me that I had also seen them at the Pool Party late last night…..a flickering of memory seems that I held a conversation with Randy, let’s hope I was vaguely coherent and didn’t embarrass myself too much! Always a pleasure to watch live, KIX treated the party goers to hits like “No Ring Around
|KIX-photo by The Meister|
The Rosie”, “The Itch”, “Lie Like A Rug”, “Girl Money”, “Don’t Close Your Eyes”, “Red Hot (Black & Blue)”, “Cold Blood” and “Midnite Dynamite” and “Blow My Fuse”. The Marylanders, sometimes billed as “The Dirty Boys of The Underground” also announced a new album forthcoming and played two tracks from it including “Love Me”. Two of my newly made Canadian friends became engaged at the show with the assistance of Autograph bassist Randy Rand, what a monumental start to MORC 2014! Congratulations to my now good friends and first time MORC’ers Candi Hallstrom and Thomas Capstick from Nova Scotia Canada!
So it seems that after writing this I realized that it’s not all that condensed after all….it’s just so hard not to tell every little detail……..next up is Saturday March 29, 2014-The First Day Aboard the MSC Divina
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