Greetings!!! I recently returned, for the second year in a row, from one of the greatest rock n’ roll adventures on the planet: Monsters Of Rock Cruise – Monsterwood ’16! Yes, once again I climbed aboard a luxury ocean vessel filled with 3000 plus like minded folks like myself along with a host of bands that would simply kick ass for four solid days! Once more I was able to see a number of bands that I’ve always enjoyed for the first time as well as discovering bands that I knew by name but were never on my radar. Not to mention reuniting with MORC family from all over the globe while meeting new friends as well. So without further ramblings, let’s get into recapping this Monster of an adventure!
The voyage started with an early morning flight to Los Angeles from Louisville where I met up with fellow Decibel Geek colleague and MORC veteran Rich “The Meister” Dillon along with some other cruise family from Canada. This was Friday, the day before the cruise and we had purchased tickets for the Stephen Pearcy show that night at The Whisky. It would be my first trip to the historic venue and possibly The Meister‘s second visit, as he attended the Jack Russell’s Great White concert the previous evening. So… our plan for the day was lunch at The Rainbow Bar & Grill then a jaunt down to Venice Beach for some sightseeing, then popping into the MORC pre-party at The Avalon featuring performances from Tyketto and a newly reformed Rough Cutt. And finally, ending at The Whisky. Wouldn’t you know lunch at The Rainbow turned into five hours of drinking, photos with the Lemmy statue, and catching up with fellow cruisers that came into town early. Didn’t get to the beach.
After a quick trip back to the hotel for a change of shirts, The Meister and I headed out for a bite, then on to the planned destinations of the night. We arrived at The Avalon to find that we had missed the opening band Mycah. Although, I wouldn’t go as far as to say we missed them. I was looking forward to Tyketto since I had not seen them perform up to that point. And they did not disappoint! They played for about an hour, delivering the entire Don’t Come Easy album literally back to front. Last song first. First song last. Danny and the boys were completely dialed in and the crowd let them know! Rough Cutt hit the stage shortly thereafter to an enthusiastic crowd but it seems neither The Meister nor myself felt that strongly about seeing them, so it was on to The Whisky A Go Go!!
After enduring several lackluster warm-up acts, Stephen Pearcy finally took the stage with his solo band that included former White Lion drummer Greg D’Angelo and two members of Rough Cutt. The club was filled to capacity and hotter that hell inside as Pearcy and company delivered a satisfying set of RATT classics and possibly a new solo cut if I remember correctly. At this point, I was delirious from the three hour time difference and a full day of consumption. Not too delirious though to pick up on the hints that Stephen Pearcy would drop periodically about his whereabouts the following day!! Even though it was a long day and an added expense, I couldn’t be happier about flying out a day early to hang out with cruise family and visit two historic Hollywood establishments!!
Welcome Aboard Monsterwood
Saturday morning came fast and the cruisers from our hotel boarded a shuttle and made our way to the Port of San Pedro where the Norwegian Pearl awaited. After a slightly disorganized process, we were finally able to board the ship and begin Monsterwood ’16!! Music began for the day in the ship’s Atrium with a great set by the all-female Iron Maiden tribute band The Iron Maidens. This would be my first time seeing the band and I enjoyed them! Nothing like beautiful women playing Heavy Metal right??
The Meister and I had separated for a bit at some point after this but I had caught up with my cabinmates just in time for muster drill practice, then it was on to the Pool Stage for The Stowaways!!! That’s right!!! The RATT “reunion” that had ever so slowly became the buzz amongst the MORC circles! Eddie Trunk seemed more than thrilled to welcome to the stage the remaining principal members of RATT: Stephen Pearcy, Juan Croucier, and the one the crowd seemed most excited to see; Warren DeMartini. They would be joined by recent add-on Carlos Cavazo and on drums would be former Y&T and Megadeth drummer Jimmy DeGrasso. I must say even though the band played a near mirror image of the set that Pearcy did the night before, it was an incredible experience to have been present for an event like that. The band was in top form and good spirits while we in the audience received a preview of good things to come! Fingers crossed!
Next, I would retreat back down to the Atrium to see Black N’ Blue, another band that I had yet to see. This band brings with them a dedicated fan base and they came strong. Their set was energetic and full of crowd favorites.
After this I would be back to the Pool Stage for what would be quite possibly my biggest letdown of the cruise; Mr. Big. Again, another band I’ve never seen and was looking so forward to finally getting that chance and they totally underwhelmed me. Maybe it’s just me. I don’t know. But it was Rich “The Meister” Dillon to the rescue! He found me disgruntled on deck and we decided to head to the Spinnaker Lounge for what would be a real treat; the band Vain. Just what the doctor ordered!! I was vaguely familiar with this band but their sound, energy, and delivery had me hooked. The setlist seemed to lean heavily on the band’s No Respect album and I’ve been listening to cuts from it whenever I can. Great band!
After that it was topside again but this time for a band that I had never heard, Pretty Maids. Hailing all the way from Denmark, this melodic metal band put on an excellent show that left me as a new fan. Rich and I bumped into singer Ronnie Atkins the following night and expressed how much we enjoyed their set, but he seemed to think that he wasn’t at his best due to jetlag. We did our best to sway him nonetheless. I believe we ended that first evening with a set by cruise favorites Rhino Bucket but it gets fuzzy. Still, what an amazing day one of Monsterwood ’16!!
Now I am going to try and condense the next three days a bit due to time restrictions. Day two began with a quick jaunt through our first port of call; Catalina Island which is just off the southern coast of California. The city of Avalon to be exact. I walked up and back down the “main drag” which has a small harbor and beach on one side of the street and little boutiques and restaurants on the other. Upon returning to the ship, the day and night would continue with outstanding sets by The Atomic Punks, Quiet Riot, Babylon A.D., and Vixen. The highlight of this day though has to be the band Shark Island in the lounge. It was great to see legendary vocalist Richard Black in fine form. Now, if you are not familiar with the whole Axl Rose thing, just research the internet. There you can find a number of interviews where Richard Black brings many things to light. But I can say, after standing six feet away from this man as he performed on the ship, that Axl Rose may just be one of the most successful hacks in the business.
Day three began with a trip onto our second port of call, Ensenada, Mexico. Personally, I would never return here. The highlight of this excursion was my cabinmate Tony and I hanging out with Luc Carl at a local bar. He gave me an impromptu lesson in investment properties during which I listened with complete attention. Just maybe….. But it was back to the ship and the music! Today I saw performances by Femme Fatale, Loudness, The Winery Dogs, Warrant, Great White, Autograph, Steelheart, and Britny Fox. This also was the day that I outlasted Rich “The Meister” Dillon!! Yes, that’s right!! He turned in and I carried on for a few more hours!
The fourth and final day of Monsterwood ’16 would be a windy day at sea but would have me attending shows by The London Quireboys, Loudness (again), Pretty Maids (again), Firehouse, L.A. Guns, Warrant, and Femme Fatale (again).
I don’t know what else to say other than the Monsters Of Rock Cruise is an amazing experience! I have met people from all over the globe and shaken hands and chatted with some great and legendary artists. For me, to say it’s fun doesn’t do it justice. You must experience it for yourself. I have to say thanks to fellow Decibel Geek Podcast writer Rich “The Meister” Dillon for putting the bug in my ear a few years ago! It was great hanging with you this year! And to the rest of the MORC family: keep rockin’ until next time!