Meister's Metal Mayhem

By Rich “The Meister” Dillon

Here is part #2 of my experiences aboard the Monsters of Rock Cruise 2014: Escape to Monster Island with my brief reviews of the many bands that I was fortunate enough to witness performing, including my “Top Five Shows of the Ship”.Steve Whiteman-KIX - MORC

KIX: KIX are awesome live and Steve Whiteman is an extremely charismatic front man regaling the audience with funny stories. KIX also showcased some new material and their album is due out this summer I believe. KIX played at the pre-party prior to sailing and then again as we left the island of Half Moon Cay. I, unfortunately, missed the first half of the sail away set when the sun and booze took its toll on me and I was forced into a two hour nap! “Love Me With Your Top Down” by Randy Gill MORC Pre-party 2014

Y&T: Although I missed them aboard this year I have no doubt that they delighted the audience by melting their faces on stage based on previous experience. I knew that they would be stopping in Toronto for two back to back shows on my birthday a week after the cruise so I chose to see someone else over Y&T. I did, however, separately run into both John Nyman (guitar) and Brad Lang (bass) aboard, very fan friendly gentleman and they promised me a top notch show for my birthday….which they always deliver anyway.

London Quireboys: I listened and watched a little of their acoustic beach set while mingling and chatting with cruise friends and artists. Not being a huge Quireboys fan I did not catch the full thing, but they did sound quite good from what I heard. “Sex Party” by Randy Gill MORC 2014

L.A. Guns: Last year guitarist Michael Grant had forgotten his passport and not been allowed to board so their set was a little flat sounding. This year he was fully prepared and on board as L.A. Guns pounded through two great sets. “Never Enough” by Randy Gill MORC 2014

Darren James Smith & Jake E. Lee-Red Dragon Cartel-MORCJake E. Lee’s Red Dragon Cartel: It’s great to have Jake E. Lee return to the musical landscape and the self titled album is an awesome effort. The vocalist he chose to front this project is fellow Canadian Darren James Smith (Harem Scarem) who along with Canuck Jonas Fairley on drums and Ron Mancuso on bass rocked two shows. I caught a little of both of their sets, but was not too worried as they were slated in Toronto for my birthday, the day before Y&T rolled into town. RDC sounded awesome and I look forward to the full set in Toronto. “Ultimate Sin” by Randy Gill MORC 2014

Quiet Riot: With Jizzy Pearl stepping in on vocals for Scott Vokoun, Quiet Riot packed the Pantheon Theatre for their first set and disappointed no-one! Pearl handled the material extremely well and the crowd was incredibly respectful when Frankie Banali requested a moment of silence for Randy Rhoads and Kevin DuBrow. With bass maestro Chuck Wright and guitarist Alex Grossi rounding out the band they rocked the house and had us all “banging our heads”!
Winger: I saw Winger back in 1990 and even broke out my 1990 tour shirt for the occasion, still fit even! The first show they played was a 25th Anniversary of the debut recording for which Paul Taylor joined them for this performance. The second showcased music from the entire discography. “Seventeen” by Randy Gill MORC 2014Ted Poley-MORC

Faster Pussycat: A cruise staple and fan favorite, I was only able to partake in one Faster Pussycat show and that was from the very back of the crowd near the bar, which I was making very frequent use of. That night was a great party in the Black & White Lounge and I raise a glass in cheers to all my party goer friends from that evening’s show.

Ted Poley: Handled the opening duties for Autograph at the first pre-party and always does it with style. I consider this charismatic performer to be “Mr. Cruise” and hope that he is always a part of the roster. “I Still Think About You” by Randy Gill MORC Pre-party 2014

Tuff: A pleasant surprise, I only attended after being dragged by a friend. I’m glad she did that as the three songs that I took in, as well as Stevie Rachelle’s witty and humorous story of the rhythm section misplacing their drink tickets, have incited me to investigate more of their music.

Iron Maidens: Featuring two guitarists from Femme Fatale (and also the drummer sat in with Femme due to an injury to regular player Athena Lee), this all female Iron Maiden tribute must be seen. These girls can really play and have all adopted Iron Maiden names that remind me of the KiLLeR DwaRfS taking the “DWaRf” surname. Bruce Chickinson, Nikki McBURRain, Adrianna Smith, Mega Murray and Steph Harris delivered some obscure Maiden classics during both of their late night shows, for which I was already very drunk and sleepy but was able to push through even though “Two Minutes To Midnight” had long passed.

Vixen: These ladies severely impressed me during the 2013 voyage and won me over as a true fan. Having had a chance to meet them about the ship, they’re very fan friendly and a joy to talk to as well. They rocked the boat again this year and I look forward toRon Keel-MORC attending both nights of their back to back shows in Toronto in May. Their set was actually moved on the first night from the pool deck due to a huge thunder and lightning rainstorm and re-scheduled for the following morning at noon. The ladies didn’t hold back and still rocked the stage just like it was a night time performance. Their next appearance was an acoustic show that I was able to only catch about half of. “Edge of a Broken Heart” by Randy Gill MORC 2014

Ron Keel: As a full blown “Keelaholic” myself I made sure not to miss Ron’s show even though I dearly wished that the full electric Keel band had been aboard. Wish granted as Ron announced that they would be there for 2015. During his first acoustic show he called up two friends of mine Zack and Kyle to help him out with “3 Chord Drinkin’ Song”. One random evening Ron also did some impromptu sets as he wandered the ship and I walked into one of the elevator lobbies to find Ron with his acoustic guitar taking requests. Only on MORC will you be a witness to something like that! I was able to get a photo with Ron as he points to my Keel tattoo right after he finished “Because the Night”. “3 Chord Drinkin’ Song” (with Zack & Kyle) by Randy Gill MORC 2014

….and now….drum roll, please! Here are my personal “Top Five Shows of the Ship” for 2014’s Monsters of Rock Cruise…….

#5-Doro: Why so low on the roster is beyond me, but the German Metal Queen delivered two absolutely incredible sets on the ship. Her backing band of Johnny Dee (drums), Nick Douglas (bass) and Luca Princiotta and Bas Maas (guitar) were a tight, cohesive unit and also some of the nicest rockers that I met aboard ship. Doro was the one above all others that I had hoped to meet on board and it took lining up like cattle for a meet & greet to do it, but the 30 seconds to say “thanks for the music that helped shape my life” and show her that the names Doro and Warlock both appear in my tattoo was well worth it. After whipping the crowd into shape on the pool stage in her first set, the theatre served as the venue for the second which saw Craig Goldy (Dio/Dio Disciples) guest on guitar for a cover of “Egypt (The Chains are On)” and Ann Boelyn (Hellion) join on vocals for “East Meets West”. I can’t wait until the next time I can see the Doro band play! “East Meets West” (with Ann Boelyn) by Randy Gill MORC 2014Doro with Ann Boelyn-MORC#4-Killer Dwarfs: My fellow countrymen actually had three shows, two electric and one acoustic. Out of all the acoustic sets I saw portions of, theirs was hands down the most packed and I felt pride at this show of support for my fellow Torontonians. For the two electric sets they supplied a show filled with great rock and the antics of frontman Russ “DWaRf” Graham including but not limited to crawling on all fours, dropping to the stage suddenly as if someone had sliced his marionette strings, spinning in circles, crowd surfing, thrusting the mike into the faces of as many of the crowd as he could reach inciting them to sing along and headstands! There’s nothing quite like a KiLLeR DWaRf show, the only thing absent was the tricycle!Killer Dwarfs-MORC#3-Femme Fatale: I seem to be overly impressed with the ladies, being blown away by Doro and Vixen already and Femme Fatale was right in line. These ladies rocked, delivering a great party set covering the first and only Femme Fatale release with Lorraine Lewis leading the charge, still looking and sounding incredible. They are also extremely fan friendly and spend a lot of time mingling with cruisers, I saw bassist Janis Tanaka at no less than five other sets. During their final concert of the cruise while playing a cover version of KISS’ “Lick It Up”, keyboardist Katt Scarlett beckoned me up on stage to sing with the band. Little did she know that I was tone deaf, but none the less I found myself up there belting out one of my favorite 80’s KISS tunes. What an absolutely awesome experience for a fan such as myself, hats off to Femme Fatale for making my cruise that much more special! “Waiting For the Big One” by Randy Gill MORC 2014Katt Scarlett-Femme Fatale (with Meister)-MORC#2-Autograph: One of the very first bands that received the honor of joining my musical library as a kid, I was stoked to finally be hearing Autograph tunes in a live setting. Steve Lynch (guitar) and Randy Rand (bass) are the sole original members and are joined by Marc Weiland (drums) and Simon Daniels (vocals). Daniels did a great job filling Steve Plunkett’s shoes and also plays guitar so that addition really thickens up the sound. After taking in the pre-party show, I was bound and determined not to miss their second set or their May stop in Toronto as well. Having the opportunity more than once to meet and chat with Lynch, Daniels and Rand, who were all very fan friendly and obviously happy to be playing, as they often mingled with the cruisers was an added bonus. Here’s hoping that we will be able to “Turn up the I-pod” on some new Autograph tunes in the future. “Turn Up the Radio” by Randy Gill MORC Pre-party 2014Randy Rand-Autograph-MORC

….and the absolute best show of the 2014 voyage award goes to……

#1-Tyketto: Not being rabid about seeing Tyketto and only grabbing the full set on the first day as I couldn’t get a good vantage point at Tesla, I will now make sure to never miss a Tyketto show from now on! They have something about them live that is absolutely magical. One of the tightest, most cohesive playing units I’ve ever seen, Danny Vaughan’s vocals leading the way. They quickly became the talk of the ship and a huge buzz was created that flew through the cruisers, drawing an even bigger crowd for their second show. Amongst that crowd drawn to the second event, largely due to the buzz created after the first mind blowing set, were several other cruise artists also wanting to catch this phenomenon. How these guys were not a bigger name I’ll never know or understand, but it’s been a month now since the cruise and I’m having withdrawals! I have watched the DVD (webcast section) that I purchased on board immediately after the first set several times in the past few weeks and am already saving aside money for the next Tyketto show for it doesn’t matter where in the world it is, I’ll be in the audience. Absolute hands down the best show on the boat and I called that on the first day when it was only the third show I’d seen!Danny Vaughn-Tyketto-MORC

Many thanks to Brian Ronald for the use of his photography and the friendship we have developed as a result of The Monsters of Rock Cruises. If you’re interested in seeing some of these performances, a quick “You-Tube” search should net more results than you know what to do with. I know that my good friend Randy Gill (posting as “80’smetalrules”) has many videos up as do others. I was also a guest on The Decibel Geek Podcast as the hosts interviewed me about my adventures on the ship, which you can listen to here: (“Decibel Geek Podcast Episode #132-MORC Memories 2014”). Just click the “play” arrow in the graphic at the top to listen and don’t laugh at my voice being all scratchy from screaming on the cruise!

All in all, this ship reminds me of the Bill Murray film Groundhog Day where his character continuously wakes up living the same day over and over again. Every day aboard the cruise is the same for me, I wake up, get breakfast, get a beer and go to the first place that I can see live music and from there it’s drinkin’, rockin’ and making new friends for the rest of the day. Don’t get me wrong here, it never gets old and if I was able I would surely live out the rest of my natural born days in this manner. I will never stop going on the Monsters of Rock Cruise for as long as I’m able, thank you Larry Morand and team for giving me this truly wonderful experience.


The Meister (MORC’er for life!)

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