Meister's "Views of the Cruise" – Volume #16 – Day #4-Let The Voyage Begin!

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Saturday March 16th, 2013
Feeling quite refreshed when I woke up this morning, the benefits of not overindulging in the frosty adult beverages the evening prior, I sauntered out for a little walk down Fort Lauderdale Beach. It was a glorious day once again; I guess for me almost any day here is as there’s no snow and no work. I popped into the local “hotspot” known as CVS and sure enough it didn’t let me down, I’m definitely gonna have to camp out here a bit next year with my camera and hunt for autographs! Dwain Miller, drummer from Keel was just approaching the door as I was leaving. I said good morning and shook his hand; after all we are sort of best buddies now, both of us with the same quest to meet Saxon and Nigel Glockler. I let him know that I had sent Nigel a message and he will be looking out for us aboard ship. Dwain laughed and said “great, now I’ll be all nervous!” You don’t think that a rock star like Dwain would get nervous meeting someone like that, but at the end of the day they are all just people as well as you and I with heroes and things. I think that some folks forget that and it’s quite obvious when they are being hounded for pictures and autographs at all times. I’m all about that stuff myself, but have a few manners folks and don’t bother them while they’re at dinner, there’s a time and a place for that stuff, be respectful and choose wisely.
I was originally supposed to share in a shuttle over to Port Everglades with several friends, but they are in a different hotel and while it was a gorgeous day I didn’t feel like the 20 minute walk to it from mine. Plus I hadn’t heard from them since the Rockerz Gone Wild Pool Party, so I called a cab and arrived at the port a bit early. The check in process was well under way when I arrived and seemed to be a much better system and more organised than last year, where I felt a little like cattle being herded around the coral.
After checking in and grabbing a seat in the lounge, waiting until the boarding commenced, I pulled out my computer and started trying to recount my most awesome day with Keel. I managed to get a good portion of the tale typed out (I hope it made sense when you read it!) before meeting a few more new friends. This time I happened to be sitting next to one of the agents for Frankie Banalli and Quiet Riot……here’s my card! Hopefully we will be able to set up an interview when they play in Toronto, which I think is in June, so watch out for that.
As I trudged up the gangway with all of my earthly possessions strapped to my back, most of the other cruisers bee-lined for the drink package pick up area. I by passed the line and headed for the familiar territory of the interior halls of the MSC Poesia leading me to my home of interior stateroom #11039 once again. I was surprised how much of the ship I remembered and found my way quite easily, what a contrast to last year when I spent most of the time being lost! Must be the sobriety leading the way right now, not sure that I like it too much though, better drop off this bag and join the line for drink package pick-up.

While wandering the halls and decks, I passed by Geno Arce, bassist for Keel and we exchanged friendly greetings. Brian Vollmer, vocalist for Helix was hanging out by the pool as I joined some friends at a table. It was great to see Brian interacting with his fans and he seemed very happy to do so, it was a bit odd however seeing him in sandals and Bermuda style bathing trunks instead of his stage gear. Tons of other performers passed by and the Mojito Bar on the top deck became a hub of activity as cruisers new and old began the drinking process. We broke up our little table at the call to participate in the life jacket drill. It seemed that they had trouble convincing cruisers to attend this year as they repeatedly announced that participation was mandatory and your cruise card would be scanned to be sure you were there.
Next on my agenda was the thought to catch some of Jailhouse who were slated to come on in the Pigalle lounge at 5:45pm, then head out early and go topside for Tesla and the sail away show. My plans were rather foiled as I ran across Kaleb “Duckman” Duck, guitarist for Helix and Fritz Hinz, drummer for Helix. Kaleb and I have been trying to get together for an interview, but the timing doesn’t seem to be right. We loosely planned to sit down for ten minutes after Helix’s meet and greet session on Sunday afternoon. If you’ve not met the guys from Helix, they are all down to earth great guys and Kaleb, Fritz and I enjoyed several beverages, also being joined by Rob McCheacran (sp?), a former member of the band.
I noticed Maz Mazza, guitarist for Ted Poley over by the railing of the pool deck and I went over to shake his hand and apologise for the inconvenience of missing our planned interview Thursday, during the lost passport incident. He was cool and understood and we made a loose agreement to chat for a few minutes after one of his shows.
Leaving Maz I wormed up closer to the front to get ready for Tesla, spotting my fellow Keel rehearsal attendee. After Eddie Trunk’s introduction and announcements the band got under way opening with I Wanna Live, followed by Hang Tough from my favorite Tesla album The Great Radio Controversy. Unfortunately guitarist Dave Rude was not on stage with his band mates and had remained home as he is expecting to be a dad any day now, congrats Mr. Rude. Tommy Armstrong played instead and did a great job. Heaven’s Trail, Mama’s Fool, The Way It Is, Signs, What You Give and Love Song were all played and Tesla is just a joy to watch live, as Jason McMaster had said in our interview from a while back they sound
just like they do on the record. I abandoned my post down in front in favour of a trip to the washroom, after which I left Tesla still playing and made my way to Carlo Felice Theatre in time for John Corabi’s set. I debated skipping Mr. Corabi in favour of food as the rumbling in my stomach was not being quenched with beer alone and I knew that I wouldn’t have time with a busy evening of KIX, Russ Dwarf, Y&T and Lita Ford all back to back, but held out and got down front for Corabi.
John came out around 8:45pm and took up residence on the lonely stool placed at centre stage, just him and his acoustic guitar. During his half hour set which included songs like Love, I Don’t Need It Anymore, Never Say Goodbye, the first song that he ever wrote (which has only one verse), Drift Away (by crowd request) with a little Home Sweet Home in the middle, Man In The Moon (with a little Led Zeppelin Over The Hills And Far Away intro) and Loveshine. John is a very charismatic performer and had the crowd singing along with him. During his set, I overheard a fellow audience member talking to his friend and saying the L.A. Guns have had some sort of issue and someone or more than one have not been allowed on board, will have to check that out.
One thing that I was very happy with by this point in the voyage was that unlike last year I have learned how to properly use my camera and flash and have gotten some great shots. Last year between the adult beverage intake and not realising that the flash was not on, most of my pictures turned out pretty crappy. KIX rushed out in their usual all fired up fashion after a few minutes of stage re arranging post Corabi. Ring Around Rosie was their lead off song and vocalist Steve Whiteman was really into it moving all over the stage. The high energy from all band members continued into Lie Like A Rugfollowed by Red, Red Hot. The Itch, Girl Money and Don’t Close Your Eyeswere all played as I noticed Marc Ferrari, guitarist for Keel, watching from side stage. Unfortunately with being a bit run down from the last couple of days and probably the beer and sun, my eyes were quite dry and tired and as I was rubbing them I ripped one of my already past expiration date contact lenses and had to leave KIX and stumble back to interior stateroom #11039 for a spare.
Not letting the contact issue stop me, I was back out on the circuit in no time riding the elevators to the buffet and the proverbial feedbag that I should have tied on before Corabi. On my way past the pool stage to the buffet I couldn’t stop myself from taking a few brief moments to catch L.A. Guns. Wait a minute….something is not quite right here and just as I’d overheard at the Corabi show, someone was missing from the stage. Michael Grant, the new guitarist was not there, apparently there was some sort of passport issue and the band joked that “he had hookers in his suitcase”, or perhaps that was not a joke but a euphemism……either way they still put on the show and sounded good, but maybe a little flat. I sure am glad that I got to see them at the pool party now!
After chowing down on a ton of carbohydrate laden food (back to the clean eating and regular gym workouts soon) I felt I was back on track and headed off for the next activity on my list, Russ Dwarf formerly of the KiLLeR DWaRfS.
Russ was on the schedule to be performing from 10pm until midnight and it was my plan to catch the last half of his set after KIX was over. It did seem a bit odd to me at the time that Russ was slated for a two hour time slot when every other band had between 45 minutes and an hour and 15 minute sets, but I didn’t dwell on it. I walked into the Bar dei Poeti to the pleasing sound of Keep The Spirit Alive. Unfortunately that would be all that I would get to hear of Russ as it was the end of his set, the schedule had been misprinted! Russ disappeared quickly, so I’ll try to catch up with him at his next show. Ron Keel was scheduled in here next and as much as I’d love to see and support him, he conflicts with Y&T and as you know if you’ve been following these rambles of mine is a bit of a sore spot with me.
Wandering back through to the trippy after a few drinks looking zebra print lounge aptly titled The Zebra Bar I caught a bit of John Corabi’s electric set, hearing Loveshineand Love, I Don’t Need It Anymore. The songs sounded great electrically and I would actually like to catch a full set of that if I could, but not tonight as Y&T awaits.
I arrived early in order to secure a spot close to the front for this long awaited Y&T performance. Can this be it? Am I finally going to get to see Y&T? Yes I was, dammit. I have long loved Y&T’s music and I was proudly wearing my “30 Years of The Tiger” shirt (that I bought on board last year’s voyage even though I didn’t get to see them), leaning on the front of the stage. They roared on after Eddie Trunk’s introduction, blistering through Black Tiger. Guitar player extraordinaire and lead vocalist Dave Meniketti addressed the crowd assembled on the pool deck for this midnight show. “We are celebrating the 30 year anniversary of our Mean Streak album, so you may hear a few more from that one than usual” right before Lipstick & Leather. Their latest album, called Facemelter is so appropriately titled as I felt that was exactly what was happening to me after only a couple of songs! Shine On from that release was next and I was so happy that I had finally made it to see them and that they sounded great (Dave even stated at one
point that they “use no recordings or anything and what you hear from the stage is exactly what they’re doing and they are very proud of that fact”). Sometimes when you look forward to something so much with all the hype and a
nticipation you get let down when it happens, but not this time. Y&T are so absolutely friggin’ incredible live, they exceeded my high expectations and I can’t wait to see them again in Toronto the week after the cruise! Mean Streak, Midnight In Tokyo, I’m Coming Home, Summertime Girls, Squeeze, Dirty Girl and Forever were all played and a couple more as well during their longer than ship average set. Dave also took a moment to make a dedication to Phil Kennemore who passed away about a year ago. Y&T was a definite highlight of the cruise for me this year.
After Y&T I rushed to the theatre to catch Lita Ford which was already in progress. I walked into the auditorium after employing the “use it or lose it” policy and pounding back an almost full beer, forgetting that there’s no drinks allowed in there for some unknown reason and was surprised to be able to get quite close on the floor. Lita and the band were at the tail end of Relentless when I joined and they went through tracks from the newest Living Like A Runaway record as well as the classic hits including Living Like A Runaway, Gotta Let Go, Devil In My Head (her newest single from the album), Back To The Cave, Can’t Catch Me, Out For Blood, Under The Gun and Hate. At one point the still beautiful vocalist and guitarist yelled out that she wanted to drink with us and had someone bring her some white wine from the dressing room. The wine arrived in a classy looking coffee cup and she raised it up in cheers and salute to the crowd. Lita’s drummer on board is none other than Bobby Rock (who I have a ton of questions for about his days with Vinnie Vincent if I get a chance to see him). Bobby keeps himself busy, just flying in from Japan with Alcatrazz whom he’s playing with on board as well, but he’s also drumming for Nelson during the cruise! A special guest of Michael Lardie from Great White joined the band on keyboards for the last two songs of Close My Eyes Forever and Kiss Me Deadly. While I really enjoyed my first time seeing Lita live and, my God she looks incredible, what was missing from the show were maybe some background vocals as the sound was a little flat and I’d have to say that so far out of the ladies JSRG blew me away more.
After the show I adjourned to the poolside bar on the top deck, pouring many more totally unnecessary adult beverages down my throat and mingling with other cruisers and bands until 4:30am, finally wandering the inner bowels of the ship once again searching for my home of interior stateroom #11039.


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