The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world


FEBRUARY 25-28, 2012



By Aaron DelBono


No matter if it was good or bad, the first time for anything is memorable. Back in 2007, I was fortunate enough to attend the first Rocklahoma festival. It was far from perfect, but the 4 days I spent in that Oklahoma cow pasture sent me down a path I continue to travel….and I don’t see any detours on the horizon. It introduced me to a world I never knew existed and changed my life forever. I met incredible people and saw my boyhood musical idols on the big stage once again, long after the sold out tours and multi-platinum albums.



Almost 5 years later, I found myself experiencing another first - the Monsters of Rock Cruise, essentially a 3 day 80s rock festival on a cruise ship, the MSC Poesia. The party started innocently enough Friday morning, as we arrived at our hotel (affectionately dubbed “The Dazed Inn”) at 10am local time….and promptly started drinking. Mind you we just flew a red-eye from California (with little sleep), so we were still on west coast time (7am Pacific). After every couple rounds I would wander into the lobby to inquire about the availability of our room, and every time I was told it wasn’t, it was back to the bar. Finally at 3pm, after several more rounds, our room was ready....and we were ready for a nap before the pre-party at Exit 66 Nightclub, starring the Bad Boys from the Underground – KIX – and The Atomic Punks. The club was packed & rockin’ all evening…hot ladies (and guys too – some would say I was one LOL), killer tunes and copious amounts of liquor. We found our way back to the hotel…and ended up in the same bar where we started our day. Nice way to start the vacation….


We didn’t get on the ship until well into the next afternoon, and standing in line…after line…after line made that first tropical drink taste that much better. Several hours later, as Ft. Lauderdale disappeared over the horizon, the festivities kicked off on the Castle Donnington (pool deck) stage with a sail-away party hosted by Eddie Trunk, featuring the musical stylings of our hometown boys, Tesla. While a good portion of the 2500+ cruisers that packed the sold out ship were rocking out to “Modern Day Cowboy” and “Heaven’s Trail”, the rest of the attendees were spread throughout the ship’s 3 lounges enjoying some of the other 24 acts – Black N Blue, Faster Pussycat, Firehouse, Bang Tango, and XYZ, among many others. The schedule was quite tight, with some sets overlapping and other bands performing simultaneously. There were sound issues at the deck stage, so we ran to the aft of the ship to catch a portion of the FP set. By the time we arrived, the floor in front of the stage was packed, and with the stage being so low, we couldn’t see. After a few songs, vocalist Taime Downe cut the set short so “we can go see Cinderella”, who was scheduled to play the main theater at the other end of the ship. We made haste all the way to the front of the ship – only to wait over an hour (with nothing to eat or drink since it wasn’t allowed in the theater) for Cinderella to take the stage, and I came very close to walking out. At long last the show started (there were unconfirmed reports that frontman Tom Keifer refused to take the stage until more seats were filled), and I think I lasted 4 songs. As good as they were at Rock N America in 2010, on this night they were going through the motions. Yawn.



In hindsight, we should have just thrown the schedules we were given when we boarded in the trash. In addition to Cinderella’s tardiness (which affected every band after them both times they played), Stryper & Lynch Mob weren’t on the ship at all due to inclement weather and would catch up with us at the first port of call, Key West, FL. Stryper wasn’t scheduled to play until Sunday (isn’t that a bit of blasphemy?), but the loss of Lynch Mob left a gaping hole in Saturday’s schedule that required immediate attention. Luckily, the consummate professionals that are Y&T stepped up and gave a scintillating performance! Dave Meniketti & company never cease to bring the goods, and on this night they were in fine form, melting our faces for the better part of two hours.



The remainder of the cruise was a bit of a blur – but in a good way. More bands than could be seen at one time, copious amounts of booze, no time to spend seeing the sights (we spent maybe 2 hours in Key West and didn’t get off the ship in Nassau), and from what I can recall, virtually no drama. I don’t recall seeing one fight, one pissed off drunken idiot…everyone was having, as Poison would say….nothin’ but a good time! Memorable moments for me were Kix (the ultimate festival band that never fails to deliver), Night Ranger (they are a SMOKIN’ live act….don’t let their stigma as a ballad band fool you) and the breathtaking set by British rockers UFO.


MOR Cruise emcee & TV/radio personality Eddie Trunk constantly sings the praises of UFO, but until this event, I had never had the pleasure of seeing them live. It was a bit strange not knowing a good portion of the songs (I knew the “hits” and nothing else), yet constantly finding myself with my fist in the air singing lyrics I didn’t know. I was utterly mesmerized by as powerful a performance that I can recall, and when they broke into “Love to Love”, I entered a space of pure musical bliss – an ethereal feeling that must be experienced to be understood, where all the sonic and visual elements came together to create a perfect moment in time.


Another unforgettable moment for me was “Captain Jack’s Shotgun Wedding & Vow Renewal”, presided over by the extremely talented (and, apparently, ordained minister of Guyana) John Corabi. My lovely wife of 10 years, Evil (well, Evangeline – but wouldn’t YOU want to go by Evil if you could get away with it?), pitched the idea to the organizers and they obliged. We dressed to the hilt, invited all our friends, and finally got the “rock & roll” wedding we had always dreamed about. An already amazing day was made even better when none other than world famous music photographer Mark “Weissguy” Weiss took us out on deck and shot our wedding photos – talk about feeling like rockstars!



From beginning to end, Monsters of Rock Cruise was a truly unforgettable experience, shared with dozens of close friends and a few thousand like-minded rockers. It was a huge success, so much so that they announced dates (March 16-20, 2013), expanded it to 4 days, and gave us seven bands as an incentive to pre-book (Kix, Tesla, Y&T, XYZ, Helix, Enuff Z’nuff & Great White). Want to join the party? Go to & put a deposit down on what is sure to be the time of your life! Hope to see you there….




Review posted 3 May, 2012