The fifth voyage of the historic floating rock and roll party that is The Monsters of Rock Cruise has returned safely to port and drawn to a close. Decibel Geek has provided some extensive coverage in the past of Monsters of Rock Cruises, mostly through The Meister‘s blog series and links to all related articles appear at the conclusion of this 2016 wrap-up. This year found us aboard a different ship and cruise line as we moved from the previous MSC Cruise ships and the Norwegian Cruise Line‘s NCL Pearl became our vessel (home). As the Decibel Geek family has grown throughout the years, so has our membership in this adult rock and roll playground, some of us having been aboard for all voyages and some just now experiencing their first time. This year we decided to include a short paragraph from each of the 6 staff members aboard (Brian Ronald, Shawn “Animalize” Irwin, Andy Lafon, Kate Campbell, Laura Suchan and The Meister) showcasing a few of their highlights from the Monsters of Rock Cruise East 2016 – Shredders From the Deep.
Brian Ronald (staff photographer – 5th MORC)
Being seasoned veterans, my wife Diana and I embarked on our 5th edition of the Monsters of Rock Cruise (or “Sleaze on the High Seas” as some would say), with high anticipation. Having a lineup of heavier guitar-driven acts I knew we were in for some great shows and a lot of new music to my ears. Here are some of my highlights:
Class Act: Y&T – they are the reason I am even on this boat every year in the first place. Y&T have been one of my favourite rock bands since day one. The guys are a blast; their accessibility and friendliness rises above all others and their shows are always a top draw for me and most cruisers alike. For that reason alone I have to exclude them from all contention as they would win every category every year – hands down!
Bucket List Band That Didn’t Let Down: Gotthard – a long waited bucket list moment for me direct from Switzerland that DID NOT disappoint at all. I got to enjoy both full shows on the boat. What a treat to finally see and hear.
Surprise Act: D.A.D. – I was not overly familiar with these guys but wow, what a great show they put on. Amazing songs, amazing stage presence and a real treat to photograph. Their only downside is that they have 15 plus albums I now have to track down and listen too.
Proud EH Team Moments: What can you say about our boys Killer Dwarfs and Helix? Fabulous shows from both and it’s always great to see others from around the world getting their first crack at seeing them!
Top 5 Shows:
- Gotthard – Both shows were amazing but if I had to pick one it would be their first in the Spinnaker Lounge simply because they played “Mountain Mama” at that show.
- D.A.D. – Pre-party – what a first impression they left on me. Unfortunately due to photo commitments on the boat I did not get a chance to see their 2nd show which I heard was just as good.
- Helix – Pool Deck show – maybe one of the finest shows I’ve seen them play and it was about time they got the big time stage!
- Helloween – Pool Deck show – awesome German power metal. I caught both shows in entirety but this one gets the nod simply for its inclusion of “If I Could Fly”.
- Jeff Scott Soto – Stardust Theater – Another bucket list name crossed off. Incredible singer and yes the 12 song Talisman medley was the highlight.
Honourable Mentions: Madam X, XYZ, Tyketto and Uli Jon Roth. But let me set the record straight, I could go on and on as there really wasn’t any bad shows as everyone brought their “A” game on this cruise. Kudo’s all around!
Top 3 Songs Moments:
- “Forever” – Y&T (Pool Stage)
- “Forever Young” – Tyketto (Stardust Theater)
- “All We Are” – Doro (Spinnaker Lounge)
Highlight of Cruise Moment: Doro – singing “All We Are”, the last show of the cruise in Spinnaker Lounge. The place was packed the boat was rocking. What a way to wrap things up!!
Proud Claim to Fame Moment: Getting thrown out of the photo pit after the second song by Sebastian Bach for “shooting his nose hairs”. He should be happy anyone is even interested in shooting anything of his these days.
Summary: The 5th installment goes down as another amazing music-filled adventure. More bucket list cross-offs and more bands that I have to go check out their catalogs. I also took close to another 4000 photos as well as helping out at the meet and greets. But most importantly we did it all surrounded by our great rock and roll family of friends. I couldn’t thank them all enough!!
Next up – Monsterwood in October.
“Forever young, time on our side, we’ve got tomorrow, we’ve got tonight
Two hungry hearts out on the run, we’ll always be forever young” – “Forever Young” – Tyketto
Laura Suchan (staff writer – 3rd MORC)
There are three things you need on the Monsters of Rock cruise that you won’t need on any other cruise; a schedule to make sure you won’t miss any of the shows, events and meet and greets, a watch to ensure you are on time for said schedule and a phone to capture photos of all the musician encounters you will have. My third MORC is in the history books and after several days of reflection, I can finally state some of my cruise highlights.
The smaller size of this year’s ship meant musician sightings happened around every corner. From discussing the benefits of a nap with the ladies of Vixen, pointing out the way to Bliss Lounge to Michael Monroe who was on his way to his meet and greet, having my numbers analyzed by JB Frank of Kingdom Come (thanks for thinking I was born in the 80’s – you rock) and everything in between, it’s these encounters I find priceless and one of the most exciting parts of a MOR cruise. My favourite encounter occurred sharing a cab in Miami with a wonderful couple who offered to pay for my ride. It was only later at the D.A.D. meet and greet I discovered my cab buddy was Jacob Binzer, guitarist for the group.
- Once again MORC presented a stellar lineup of groups. I had seen both Hardcore Superstar and Michael Monroe at the 2015 Sweden Rock Festival so I knew what to expect from these high energy performers. I am happy to say neither disappointed. Both acts were high intensity and definite cruise highlights for me. Two surprises for me were the shows by Gotthard and D.A.D. Since coming home from the cruise I’ve dug into both bands catalogues and can’t believe I wasn’t more familiar with their music. That was my mistake and I am making up for it.
- Just being able to hang with your “tribe” for 4 days on a cruise ship is a great feeling. It is an incredible feeling knowing you can say Helloween is your favourite band and no one says “Who?” Everyone on the ship is there for the same reason and these are your people. I belong.
There is so much more I could say; the ship, the food, the pre-parties, all were, in my opinion, exceptional. Of course, it is the people – friends old and new, musicians and staff – which make MORC the ultimate rock festival. See you next year!
Five favourite shows
- Hardcore Superstar
- Michael Monroe
- Armored Saint
* Honourable mentions – Helix and Killer Dwarfs -great shows by our Canadian boys.
- Sebastian Bach
- Saigon Kick
Andy Lafon (staff writer – first MORC)
As a first time cruiser, there was quite a bit to take in. The cruise was described to me as being like Groundhog Day which is exactly correct. You wake up, eat, go watch live music, drink adult beverages, eat, watch live music, drink adult beverages, sleep, repeat for four glorious days. There are few better ways I would like to spend my time. For me, three things stand out:
- Getting to meet for the first time more of the Decibel Geek family
- Kate Campbell‘s engagement.
- Being a part of the Monsters of Rock community/family. There is nothing greater than the sense of community you get meeting and being around people from all over the world that are there for the same reason as you are. I never once saw anyone get angry or ever saw any pushing or shoving all there was was a respect for rock and roll.
My favorite musical highlights are as follows;
For me, Hardcore Superstar stole the show. Their first atrium show was their singer Joakim Berg putting on a clinic on how to front a band. Non-stop energy, completely in the music, totally taking the songs to a new level. The band was tight and completely in step with each other. Absolutely great, A++!!
- Metal Church, by far the biggest surprise for me because I knew their music but was not a huge follower. They absolutely drew me in with their performance and Mike Howe was mesmerizing in his performance, after seeing them live I totally get why they brought him back!
- Armored Saint– tight, heavy, spot-on performance that saw John Bush sing through the whole atrium as well as his young son absolutely nailing the guitar riff to “Can U Deliver”-simply awesome.
- Tyketto– they made the deep album tracks from Don’t Come Easy sound like arena rock anthems-everything good you have heard about them is true.
- Gotthard– great, energetic performances, Nic was spot on vocally and Leo Leoni was fantastic on guitar.
It’s true, once you go you get bitten and want to go back for more! For what it’s worth I am already saving for next year!!
Kate Campbell (staff writer – 3rd MORC)
Another Monsters of Rock Cruise is in the MetalKate archives, and this might be the most memorable yet. It’s hard to pick just five highlights, but here goes:
- & 2. Queensryche/Killer Dwarfs My first, of course, goes without saying. With Queensryche on board, how could I possibly be disappointed. There was, however, a major conflict, and I had some serious decision-making to do. The worst possible conflict happened, and Queensryche were billed at the same time as my hometown boys the Killer Dwarfs (who only played once on the cruise). Luckily for me, Queensryche were playing twice so I was able to see both my first and second favorite bands (in no particular order LOL).
The Dwarfs were amazing as always. We saw them in the Spinnaker lounge and went early enough to make sure that we got up front. Russ was in excellent form and if it’s possible, even more full of energy than usual. Queensryche played on the last night, on the pool stage, and if there had been a roof on the top deck they would’ve blown it off! But I’m sure nobody expects to hear anything different for me.
- Michael Monroe. Another definite highlight for me was Michael Monroe. My boyfriend (now fiancé), Chris, had told me that Michael Monroe is the best front man of all time. I was really into Hanoi Rocks back in the 80’s but really hadn’t followed much of Michael Monroe‘s music past that. Chris was right, and we saw both Michael Monroe shows and were blown away both times. He was absolutely amazing and worth seeing if you ever get the chance.
There were a few bands on the bill this year, that were heavier than in previous years on MORC. Helloween were awesome!! Helix rocked it out like they were in their twenties, and I particularly enjoyed Armored Saint. I will say, however, that I much preferred them on the pool stage than in the atrium. It was a very interesting choice of venue for them, and certainly created a special kind of ambiance while eating dinner in one of the à la carte restaurants.
- And how lucky we were to stumble upon the wedding of Chip Z Nuff and his young bride, Kate, on the pool stage. It wasn’t on our to-do list but boy were we glad we caught the highlights! What a dream come true, it must have been, to have Sebastian Bach steal the show at their wedding. Luc Carl had barely finished saying “You may kiss the bride”, and Sebastian Bach had ripped the mic from his hand to do a bloodcurdling karaoke version of “Sweet Child O Mine”. Chip Z Nuff must’ve been so honored as he was kissing his bride, Kate (who’s name Sebastian actually forgot), to hear Bach screeching “0h, oh, oh sweet Chip of mine.” Yes…It was absolutely as awkward as it sounds, and definitely gets an honorable mention on my highlight reel!!!
So there’s my five ( give or take )…but I couldn’t possibly sign off without sharing my biggest highlight of all. Yes, Chris and I got engaged on the cruise. I can’t say it was completely unexpected, and by the time the first day of the cruise was done, I’m sure half the boat knew that we would be engaged at some point. He did still manage to surprise me, though, in a quiet moment, watching the sunrise. And my ring (expertly crafted by Bam of Bamtastic Silver)…is metal as anything!
So if you haven’t been on the Monsters of Rock Cruise yet, make sure you make it a priority. It’s something everyone should do at least once in their life if you love the music that we all love.
Rock on Metalhead’s…
Until next time. m/
Shawn “Animalize” Irwin (staff writer/photographer – 3rd MORC)
Our 3rd Monsters Of Rock Cruise is done and we wait in anticipation for the next one. So far it might not happen for me, but only time will tell. Even though I missed the 2 pre-parties staying in bed with a cold in Miami, the cruise turned out to be amazing! My cold started going away and I was there to rock and take loads of photos.
To pick my top 5 shows/bands I have to go with:
- Gotthard. This was a dream come true seeing this band twice on this cruise. As a fan since the 90’s, I was NOT disappointed.
- Helloween. A very close battle between Queensryche and Helloween for second place, I would have to pick the never before seen –Helloween. They were heavy and sounded perfect.
Queensryche. Even though Queensryche had an amazing pool stage show, they came in at a very close 3rd place.
- Lillian Axe. 4th place came Lillian Axe – and I will see them anytime! Last cruise was the first time seeing them and then at Rock & Skull. I have always liked them from the CD’s but until you see this band live, there is no comparison. They blow me away every time!
- Helix. A 5th favourite is really hard to choose as I love so many bands on this cruise, but I have to go with my fellow Canadians – Helix, who rocked better than ever on the pool deck.
To pick a highlight for me on this cruise I would have to choose being able to do the photography for the photo experiences: Killer Dwarfs, Kingdom Come and my highlight, Gotthard. Having the chance to hang out with these amazing guys from Switzerland was an honour.
Rich “The Meister” Dillon (website editor/staff writer – 5th MORC)
I’ve been shouting from the rooftops since I partook in the inaugural MORC voyage in 2012 and I’ll never stop being a part of this. It almost doesn’t matter who the bands are any more (almost I said!), it’s the people and the friendships that I’ve made. Each cruise I get the chance (however briefly) to see in person friends I’ve made through MORC from around the world (Australia, Sweden, Finland, U.K., Brazil, U.S.A. and even right here in Toronto) that I don’t see the rest of the year. It all comes together for a place and a group in which I feel accepted and that I belong to.
Each cruise offers something different and some way some how each year seems to top the last in different ways. There were only three bands aboard that I had not seen previously on this fifth cruise dubbed Monsters of Rock East-Shredders From the Deep every band I witnessed seemed to “bring it” just a little harder and stronger, not a bad performance by anyone! As agonizing as it was I have narrowed the bands down to my top 5 of the excursion:
Helix. I’ve seen Helix many, many times over the years, but I’ve never seen the boys deliver a show like what they laid down on the pool stage on this ship! Singer Brian Vollmer at 60-something years of age was doing barrel rolls around the stage for chrissakes and they sounded fantastic (the benefits of bringing your own soundman perhaps). Helix has been on the cruise a couple of times, always relegated to the small lounges, but this time they had been awarded the pool stage and they proved that they deserved it!
- Madam X. Releasing one album about 30 years ago, this band featuring Vixen‘s Roxy Petrucci might not be a household name, but they made their presence known aboard the ship! I’d seen them previously at Sweden Rock Festival and was hyped for their shows in which they did not disappoint and made several new fans!
- D-A-D. Their set at the pre-party (actually both sets) had folks talking. They were a super fun band to watch and listen to with the type of songs that will stick with you for weeks to come and bassist Stig Pedersen is a treat to watch with his antics and two-string bass.
- Gotthard. My first time seeing this band who I was not very familiar with. I shall now become much more familiar with their work after these two engaging performances.
- Doro/Metal Church. Doro has and always will be a top favorite of mine. Her band is extremely tight and also some of the nicest people that I’ve ever met. Metal Church, another first-time-live-experience for me were a true heavy metal assault with Mike Howe returning to front the group.
I excluded two bands from the running for unfair advantages. The KiLLeR DWaRfS, who never disappoint, but being friends with the members I’m a little biased. And Tyketto, seeing them for the first time on 2014’s cruise was nothing short of a religious experience that literally moved me to tears (and they still do during every performance!). I feel that that first time overshadows and distorts my objectiveness where they are concerned.
It all boils down to the MORC family that I have become a part of (and everyone who has experienced the cruise “gets this”) together with great musical performances that make MORC one of the best things in life!
Wishing I was back there again right now!
Bring on Monsterwood!
There you have it, folks, a few of the top highlights from each of the six Decibel Geeks who set sail on Monsters of Rock Cruise East 2016. See you aboard Monsters of Rock Cruise West – Monsterwood in October……will you be there?