The Burning Crows - Murder At The Gin House

Burning Crows – Murder At The Gin Palace

Burning Crows Records (2015)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

It’s a welcome return from The Burning Crows, with a brand new album ‘Murder At The Gin Palace‘. After a second extremely successful PledgeMusic campaign, the band were able to re-enter the studio under the watchful eyes of Nick Brine.

If your familiar with the band’s previous releases then there are no real surprises, but don’t take this as a negative, far from it as the band once again deliver a mighty slice of British Hard Rock with a smidgen of sleaze.

Kicking off with ‘Hell To Pay‘ and after a subtle intro your then hit with a very catchy riff and the unmistakable vocal talents of Whippz. As I’ve said on many an occasion, the vocalist is so much the key to any album and this particular gentleman’s slightly gruff style certainly works for me.

The next two tracks ‘Come On‘ and ‘Shine‘ follow in a very similar vein, both with catchy choruses. Then we come to what’s my favorite track on the album ‘Alright‘. I’m sure some reviewers could wax lyrically as to why a particular track appeals to them. Dunno why I like it so much, but it works for me.

Goodbye (To The Sunshine)‘ slows matters down a bit, a track I could see appealing to Quireboys fans. ‘1137‘ is an extremely catchy little number, a real foot tapper and very enjoyable. Guitarist Lance Daniels certainly displays some entertaining playing on ‘Little Bit More‘ which is maybe my second favorite track off the album.

She’s The Summertime‘ reminds me a little of Georgia Satellites. It has that kind of a feel to it. Revving things up we dive into ‘Feels Like Home‘ which I actually find the vocals a little strained on. Maybe this is intentional, but on repeat plays I’ve tended to skip this song. And so we reach the final track of the album. ‘Holding On‘ is the perfect song to round things up with an almost mellow, melodic feel to it and kind of reminds me of Junkyard, if you remember them.

To summarize, most definitely an album for new & old fans alike.

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Graeme Cook©

Review: AC/DC

Stade De France, Paris (26 Mar 2015)

Reviewer: Peter Scallan

AC/DC and I go back a long way. My first gig was AC/DC at the Glasgow Apollo in 1979 on the Highway to Hell tour (especially mentioned for my photographer mate Graeme). And despite my AOR tendencies, this is the band that I hold closest to my heart. Therefore, with the trials (quite literally) and tribulations the band have went through in the last few years I was pretty apprehensive to say the least approaching this gig.

Not being familiar with the venue I arrived early and I am glad I did. Opening for AC/DC was Vintage Trouble who offer up a heady concoction of rock, blues and soul. They are a classic four piece fronted by Ty Taylor, who in my eyes is quite possibly the coolest guy in rock at the moment, and grabbed the crowd by the scruff of the neck and really got them moving. Much dancing and grooving was had while these guys ran through a repertoire that was very impressive. Decked out like he was fronting a big band in a red dinner jacket and with an old style mic, not only was Taylor a great singer he was a great front man and rally engaged what could have been a really partisan audience. Warmed us all up very nicely – my advice for the UK is get there early and check these guys out! And so to AC/DC!

The set opened with ‘Rock or Bust’ after a superb animated intro projected on the backdrop. And relax – it was business as usual and the guys didn’t miss a beat. Brian was strutting his stuff as well as any of his younger peers and possibly more than he has previously. ‘Shoot To Thrill’ quickly followed and the place was really rocking all over the joint. The band then dipped into the Bon era with ‘Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be’ and in my humble opinion Johnston handles this much better then he ever has. I don’t know if the band has tuned down a little but he sounded better on this than ever before. They then rolled out ‘Back in Black’ and the place erupted as you would expect.

Graeme Cook©

After a short breather in proceedings ‘Play Ball’ was cranked out and sounded     magnificent before ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap’ got an airing with Angus and Brian interacting more than I have ever seen previously, and looking like they were having a ball. There was a little gap and strangely no audience interaction in between this and ‘Thunderstruck’ which was a little annoying and happened a couple of times. And the classics just kept coming and sounding superb! These included ‘High Voltage’, ‘Hells Bells’, ‘Shook Me All Night Long’, ‘Sin City’, ‘Shot Down in Flames’ and ‘Have a Drink On Me’ and some more recent material in the shape of Rock’n’Roll Train (but disappointingly with no train) and ‘Baptism By Fire’ from the new album. Getting into the closing straights of the set the band rocked through a stonking version of ‘TNT’ and then introducing us to a large lady by the name of ‘Rosie’, with a small section of the crowd shouting Malcolm, Malcolm instead of Angus (well me and my mates anyway!). The set ended with Let There Be Rock’ and Angus strutting his stuff and doing ‘the solo’ and bring the night to a suitable crescendo. But of course that wasn’t it – we were treated to ‘Highway to Hell’. At this point I looked around the stadium which must have had 60000-70000 people and it was amazing to see how many flashing horns were lighting up the darkness. Whoever came up with that particular idea should be on a huge bonus! The finale of course was ‘For Those About to Rock’ with cannons and all and just blew the place completely.

Graeme Cook©

So there you are reading this review and thinking, ‘huh, it is just the same old AC/DC stuff rolled out again’. And you know what? That is exactly the point! Sure, there were some subtle changes as clearly Brian has replace Malcolm as Angus’s partner in crime and this was obvious on stage as Brian seemed to share the spotlight more than usual with Angus. But there were families there with kids who were ten upto about fourteen and they were absolutely beside themselves at what they were seeing and hearing. All of us old gits forget that there are generations of AC/DC fans who might have never seen them live and that is why it so precious that it is the same old AC/DC. And if those kids left this evening with even half of the high I got back in 1979, then the effort these guys have made to roll out this tour is worth it. And me, well I was bouncing about like I was fourteen all over again with my mates. If I never see you again, it has been a pleasure and a privilege to have you as the soundtrack to my life. AC/DC – I salute you with all I can muster! And stuff the neigh sayers!

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Degreed – Dead But Not Forgotten

Sun Hill Productions (June 2015)

Reviewer: Peter Scallan

Although I am familiar with the band Degreed by name, I haven’t actually heard them, even though this is the band’s third album. The band is a four piece with guitar/keyboards/bass/drums with the bass player Robin Ericsson singing. Ericsson was a Swedish Idol finalist and founded the band in 2005. The album weighs in with a hefty 14 songs as the band felt they all merited inclusion.

‘The Scam’ is the first song and has instrumental section at the front end that makes it an obvious opening track. It is a pretty pacey melodic rocker with changes in pace and some rather neat guitar work also. Barely taking a breath the equally pacey opening of ‘Face the Fact’ kicks in. This breaks down into a half time verse before picking up the pace again for the chorus, which lacks a little in terms of the hook. ‘Madness’ is next up and again starts with a pacey opening before again breaking down into a half-time beat for the verses which build through the bridges to the chorus, which this time has a great hook line. Seems like a bit of a pattern developing here, but Shame On Me breaks this by having a keyboard intro which sounds like it could have been on a ‘Mr Mister’ album from the 80’s before picking up for the chorus. It also has an almost grungy middle eight followed by some Yngie –esque guitar playing.

A little more variation is introduced with ‘Better Safe Than Sorry’ which sounds Def Leppardish in places and is one of the strongest songs on the album with a great hookline. ‘Love Me, Love Me Not’ is about as close as the band get to a ballad before the chorus kicks in. ‘Drama’ is the album approaching the half-way mark and is easily the weakest song on the album for me and kind of feels like a filler.

The second half is launched by the strangely named ‘Kill Your Darlings’ which is more guitar-driven and clearly a little darker lyrically. I can see what the band are trying to do with this but the sound needs to be little harder and edgier to pull this type of song off. In complete contrast, this is followed by the poppy and catchy ‘Touch of Paradise’, which is excellent. However there are possibly too many woahos for my liking.

Forgive You’ re-establishes the pattern of fast opening and coming down into the verses before picking up the pace for the chorus – clearly the band like this structure and admittedly they do it well. However, it does make the album start sound a little ‘samey’. Next up is one of the best songs on the album, ‘Start Again’. This has light and shade without using the bands blueprint structure relying instead on good use of guitars and keyboards to provide it. It is also has a great chorus. ‘Firefly’ more or less follows the blueprint but is a great melodic rocker despite this. Penultimate track ‘Final Ride’ is a slight variation on the blueprint but is a little harder edged. Closing track ‘Turn Around Don’t Back Down’ is possibly the best song on the album for me and brings it to a suitable end.

Having given this album numerous listens I should really waxing lyrical about it. There are some great vocals, although I prefer Ericsson’s voice when he goes for it as opposed to the lighter stuff. There is also some great guitar playing. But there is just something missing for me. The songs all started to sound a little the same and do appear to follow a blueprint. That could be down to the fact that there are 14 songs on the album and it might have been better off being ten song album which may have reduced the feeling of ‘saminess’, as there is some variety in the songs. Don’t get me wrong, it is a pretty good album, but I just feel it could have been better in terms of the talent these clearly have. On that basis I will keep an eye out for the next album

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Dennis Churchill Dries – ‘I’

AOR Heaven (2015)

Reviewer: Paul Nicholls

Once you have a successful interview in the can with an artist , it’s very easy to become gushing and lose your objectivity when asked to review the album that artist has on release. On this occasion I can happily say that not withstanding our interview , I wholeheartedly love this album .

From the opener ‘Heard It On The Radio‘ , a track with its feet firmly embedded in everything that made the 80’s radio rock essential listening when cruising around with the car windows open , your girl/boy friend at your side , Dennis leaves you in no doubt that this is no ‘Contractual Obligation‘ album . No , It is in fact a return to magnificent from for a man for whom tragedy has struck not once but twice , almost ending his career .

Track two , ‘I‘ lays Dennis’ heart bare , sung from the soul , it is a call to anyone that has ever doubted themselves in a world of peer pressure and approval.The song should be a rallying call to the uncertain , Believe in YOU .

Dennis’ voice is throughout in fine fettle , having lost none of its power and tone over the years , in fact the years have added a distinct amount of “Gravel” that puts me in mind of Jimmy Barnes . Yes , I really DID say that!

Ably assisted by Paul Sabu on Guitar and production , who after a few quite hard albums ( for which he has received a degree of flak) returns to this stereo sounding wonderful and the Paul Sabu who delighted us before , both tuneful and unpredictable in his soloing . A true partnership made in heaven? Quite possibly , as Paul’s guitar and Dennis’ voice complement each other so well , it’s an experience that both surprises and also reassures that Rock Music is NOT dead ( sorry Mr Simmons) .

Before I lead you to believe that this is an out and out rock album let me inform you that there are more different shades on offer here than a Dulux sample sheet .

From the thumping chest pounding ‘Unbroken’ to the heartfelt and touching ‘Pieces‘ ( played on piano , which I’m reliably informed is merely a touched up demo , yes it was THAT good), this album truly does have something for every rocker out there ( as long as you can appreciate finely crafted songs , played and sung to perfection) .

From the ashes of White Sister and Tattoo Rodeo comes a great album ‘I’ which Dennis himself sees as therapy for the past tragedies . If this is Therapy I’m going to patent it and retire on the proceeds .

Available now at all good outlets , you collection needs this album

The Four Elements

Marc Vandenberg – The Four Elements (EP)

2015

Reviewer: Peter Scallan

Marc Vanderberg is completely unknown to me and after having done some research, he is still unknown to me! The only thing I can tell you about who plays on this, apart from Vanderberg himself, is that Swedish vocalist Göran Edman (ex-Malmsteen/Norum) is featured on one song. Having said that, this guys has done a good job promoting himself and this four track EP and the fact that Malmsteen/Norum are his main influences in his guitar playing and songwriting.

The EP kicks off with ‘Corrosion of Society’ which starts with crashing guitars and then into a mid-paced rocker. Sounding a little like a Judas Priest out-take/demo, it does very little for me. The song does not really go anywhere and there is no real power in the vocals and overall fails miserably. Although I can hear the Malmsteen influence in some of the guitar playing! Next up is ‘Devil May Care’ (featuring the afore mentioned Edman) which opens with some twin lead guitars and then breaks down into a big guitar chop and then off it goes. It sounds like an eclectic collection of parts strung together and again doesn’t work. However, there is a reasonable hook line in the chorus. ‘Key To your Heart’ opens with some accapella vocals and provides me with some hope, for it to be dashed as the song gets into the verses. It is probably the best of the four songs on this EP and does have a reasonably catchy chorus. The final song on the EP is ‘Storm, Thunder and Lightning’. Unfortunately, it just plies the same fare as the previous three songs and just comes and goes. Pretty unremarkable really!

As I stated at the outset, I am not quite sure who Marc Vanderberg is so I have no context or background against which to review this piece of work. To my ears this sounds like a four track demo with the songs sounding unfinished. Coupled with the fact that there is no accompanying information, it all comes across as a little amateurish and home spun. Focus more of the energy into the songwriting instead of creating a profile would be my advice!

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Review: Magnum – Escape from the Shadow Garden Live

SPV (2015)

Reviewer: Peter Scallan

Magnum should be a band that needs no introduction in the UK and Europe. My first encounter with this band was buying the live EP which consisted of two seven inch vinyl discs which preceded their first live album Marauder in 1980. I followed them avidly until the early 90s when my interests in music waned a little and like many bands I liked they dropped off my radar – until about three years ago. Since then I have started back filling my collection and it is amazing just how consistent they have been over the years. And this collection just reinforces that.

Opening with the excellent ‘Live Til You Die’ from the Shadow Garden album, the band set the standard high from the off, closely followed by the powerful ‘Dark Skies’. Drawn from The Visitation album, it is driven by a huge guitar riff and is as dark brooding as it name suggests. Continuing with another song from The Visitation, the mood is changed for the next song with ‘Freedom Day’ with its atmospheric piano and keyboard parts with a drum-driven breakdown for the chorus. ‘Dance of the Black Tattoo’ returns to a heavier and darker side and sounds huge with this live version. It really drives along on the throbbing bass line. ‘Blood Red Laughter’ reminds me of 80s Magnum even though it is from On The 13th Day album, like its predecessor. A melodic mid-paced rocker it could easily be from an earlier album. The band return to the Shadow Garden album for ‘Unwritten Sacrifice’. Opening with Stanway’s atmospheric keyboards and Sir Bob of Catley’s inimitable voice, it bursts into life with the chugging guitars. It also breaks down nicely into the chorus and the intro repeating.

The second half of the set draws heavily on earlier material especially On a Storyteller’s Night. ‘How Far Jerusalem’ is the first from this album and for me this live version is absolutely stonking. Capturing the intent of the song but giving it a refresh that reinforces that this song (and indeed the band) are as relevant now as they were in 1986. It also includes a breakdown for Tony Clarkin to provide an extended solo and demonstrates what a tasteful guitarist he is. This is followed by album-mate ‘Les Morts Dansant’, quite possibly one of my favourite Magnum songs and still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. When the guitar and drums kick in, they really do kick. The band makes a brief return to the Shadow Garden album for ‘Falling for the Big Plan’. For me this another song that is classic Magnum in terms of the piano intro and then melodic guitar riffing and the excellent chorus. The overall structure of the song reminds me of very early Magnum which is no bad thing. We jump back to the Storyteller album for ‘All England’s Eyes’ which really rocks, the difference being for me the driving drums of Harry James and the bass of Al Barrow. Another great version of a classic close to my heart. ‘Vigilante’ from the album of the same name is next up and I can actually rushing out to buy this on vinyl and being blown away by it. This version sounds great especially on the sections where the guitar and key play the post chorus riff – awesome stuff! The album closes with an all-time Magnum classic in ‘Kingdom of Madness’. Again, another Magnum song close to my heart as my first Magnum purchase was the Marauder live records. This version has all the feel of that version but gets a refresh like some of the other earlier songs. It is a superb set closer if ever there was one!

Having only fairly recently picked up the Magnum trail after many years and seen them live a few times too recently (bearing in mind the first time I saw the band was 1983 on the Eleventh Hour tour), I can’t believe how much good music I have missed. It is a mystery to me how these guys are not huge. This live album just highlights how good they are live and the huge back catalogue of immense material they have. And long they may continue!

 

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Michael Bormann – Closer

RMB Records (2015)

Reviewer – Aaron Chatfield

What is it about the water in Germany that makes them produce such quality hard rock and metal? Would be nice to bottle it and distribute it across the rock globe. Michael Bormann is a great example of that quality, through his time with Jaded Heart, Charade and more recently the superb Redrum. His solo albums are solo in every sense of the word, as Michael pretty much does everything from banging the drums and producing, through to his usual excellent vocals. ‘Closer’, is his 2015 solo release.

Album opener, ‘I’m Not Your Entertainment’, sets the tone for the release, crunchy guitars, keyboards providing texture and electronic percussion and those smooth vocals that Michael is known by. This is A+ melodic hard rock, with a modern edge and where songs are key. Big choruses, that worm their way into you head instantly.

‘Let’s Make History’, follows a similar path, before we arrive at ‘Never Say Die’. Our third track drops the tempo, but delivers a driving beat and an anthemic chorus. Reminds me of the classic 80s martial arts film soundtracks!

‘Can’t Get A Touch Too Much’ is a let down for me. A bit bluesy, a bit of soul and a bit of rap… but it just doesn’t work for me. It picks up as the track moves on and it shows that Michael is willing to push the envelope, but it feels a little out of place.

‘Because We Are The World’ starts off like a Disney Lion King soundtrack, complete with a kids choir in the background. Not my favourite track, but it works quite well in slowing the pace down on the album, before we are back rocking with ‘Living It Up’ and ‘I Wanna Be A Rockstar’.

‘For This One Time In Life’, is the albums power ballad of the opus. It’s got all the right moves at all the right time, melancholic verse, leading into a big chorus. The albums title track, ‘Closer’, continues Michael’s heartbroken lament. A wonderful simple ballad, stripped back to a piano, acoustic guitar and Bormann’s vocals. I can see Michael performing this live, just him an a guitar.

‘Rich Men’s World’ and ‘Down To The Bottle’, return us to full on rock, although the latter has a rap style verse, which again, I’m not 100% convinced by, but the chorus makes up for it.

Last year Michael tried out on Germany’s version of The Voice, auditioning with a cover version of Demi Lavato’s track ‘Warrior’, which is the closing track of the album. Typically I like my album closers to be a big rocker, but in this instance, Michael’s cover is so good, it closes the album off in style. Piano and voice, nothing more, but the power that Michael delivers is exceptional.

Overall If you are a Michael Bormann fan, then you will be buying this anyway and you won’t be disappointed, but if you are new to Michael’s music, then take a shot, I don’t think you will regret it! Whilst you are at it, pick up his other solo material, Jaded Heart and the Redrum albums!

Make Your Stand

Klogr – Make Your Stand

Zeta Factory(2015)

Reviewer – Chris Gyngell

Sadly, I am old enough to remember the time when it was common for albums by artists that you had never heard of before to be amazingly good.

Every week there seemed to be some brand new band arriving with amazing songs and abilities. The real truth behind that was that before the decline of the record industry, big rich record labels would assign top producers to each band that they signed, to ensure that the songs released were written, arranged, played and sung perfectly.. and sometimes the sound we all heard was more the producer than the band!

In more recent times unfortunately a lot of releases by relatively unknown bands do not get that type of professional assistance, and so often the whole effort isn`t so well thought out and focused, and most notably the songs are often not quite what they need to be to compare to the `big name` classic bands. Personally I haven`t heard much in recent years that impressed me that way for sure.

So.. I was passed the new EP ‘Make Your Stand‘ from Italian-American Alternative Metal act Klogr.. well, to be more precise this is a 3-track studio EP of new numbers, plus 10 live songs from their previous repertoire. Once again, not a band that I had previously heard of.. but in this case, probably the best and most consummately handled piece of work I have heard outside of `the big names` for quite some time. Klogr have obviously been working hard, and have their business end sorted out quite well, as they have previously released 2 full-length albums and another EP, and consequently toured as support to Prong and appeared at Sweden Rock in 2013.

To sum up the band`s sound, they are definitely a post-nu metal act, with some strong similarities to bands from that era, incorporating some frenetic guitar and rhythm section work, plus vocals that range sometimes quite sharply between growl, soaring high register and harmonised `indie singalong` style. But before you imagine just a grunge-laden sound aka the 1999-era, there`s more.. regular and beautifully-executed guitar solos and some pretty melodic softer passages that expand the band`s overall sound to encompass things that are reminiscent of more traditional rock & metal. There`s also some influence from prog metal, with some Tool-esque dexterity in both playing & song arrangements. Whatever, the orchestration is varied, so there is little here that says boring or contrived.

The studio EP tracks are extremely well-produced too, with crisp sound and mix which has obviously been very carefully and intelligently handled via their label Zeta Factory. The opener ‘Breaking Down‘ is a good track to check out if you want to gauge what the band can do overall, with quick staccato and very well played guitar, and busy drums and bass. Singer Rusty`s vocal go through the full range on this track. The second track ‘Make Your Stand‘ definitely has a nu metal feel to me, but with all of the same qualities I have previously mentioned. ‘Breathing Heart‘ has a sumptuous clean guitar intro, and demonstrates the band`s ability to be melodic. Overall, if you want a good insight and introduction to Klogr, it seems to me that this EP will demonstrate perfectly to you what they are about.

Following the EP, the 10 live tracks, which are also to be available on DVD I believe, are all strong and feature the same talents. The production is also excellent considering this is a live effort.

All this said, and I am not specifically a fan of alternative metal. But Klogr get a round of applause from me, not only for their ability and efforts, but for not being a band with a contrived sound in order to `fit in` with the perceived industry requirements for success. They do however have all the right `ticks in boxes` to get attention and fit in on the European metal festival scene for instance. If I had to make any criticism at all, it would be that their complex approach may keep them strongly rooted to a `specialist` audience, as sometimes keeping music just a little more simple seems to be the key to reaching the bigger mainstream audience. But whatever Klogr choose to pursue in that respect in the future, it sounds to me like they have the weaponry to achieve it.

Beauvoir Free - American Trash

Beauvoir Free – American Trash

Frontiers Music (2015)

Reviewer – Phil Schofield

June 5th heralds the European release of American Trash (June 9th North America) another feather in the ever growing Frontiers Label’s cap.

For those familiar with Jean Beauvoir & Micki Free it sees a welcome return of the song writing partnership that gave us the seminal Crown of Thorns debut album.

Indeed back in 1994, this scribe was lucky to witness the Hike it Up tour on home turf and for those who caught the UK dates we can only wonder if this album is a return to that infectious groove.

Well let me tell you, this is a contender for album of the year, un-contrived with a well balanced reverence that other projects have fallen short of.

Jean Beavoirs unmistakable multilayered tones soar on ‘Angels Cry’, the catchy hook line & chant along of ‘American Trash’ & the track of the album ‘Shotgun To The Heart’.

The man with the melodic Midas touch, breaks out of the box like a Mad Max extra on speed with Micki Frees’ soaring riffs riding shotgun.

On ‘Morning After’ I couldn’t help but rack my brains where I’d heard that melody before ..but as with all true songwriters the whole album feels like a well worn tour T shirt from the very first play.

I drew comparison to the majestic ballad “Standin On the Corner for ya” with the ballad ‘Just Breathe’ a haunting reflective melody   & just to prove he can pen power pop delivers the earworm ‘She’s a KO’.

This album has swagger soul & a homely organic style that has been lacking on other recent musical collaborations.

If this a first dip into the Beauvoir Free territory check out two must have releases Hike It up & forgotten gem Voodoo X album.

As an interesting footnote check out   http://beauvoirfree.com for more information & let’s hope the icon marked “tour” has dates real soon.


MORC

Monsters Of Rock Cruise

(April 2015)

Reviewer – Dan Mann

I guess it’s time I wrote a quick review of this year’s Monsters Of Rock Cruise.

Having heard from chums and band members alike as to what to expect, it’s still somewhat a shock as to how big the MSC Divina is! If you intend on going on either/both of next year’s cruises, expect a lot of walking. No complaints about the food, with a decent variety on offer depending on how much weight you wanted to gain! The cabin was  fine, apart from horrible pillows, with a very friendly steward who kept things clean & tidy.

And so to the important part, the bands & artists.

It’s fairly easy for me to pick what were my ‘stand out’ moments band wise.

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Danny Vaughn (Tyketto)

Kicking off with a band who were the main reason my better half booked us onto the cruise. And they are the mighty Tyketto!

Back on the cruise after their first appearance on MORC last year, they were given the pool stage to play on. Yes I’m biased somewhat but they gave one hell of a performance, and made some new fans in the process.

Chris Green (Tyketto)
Chris Green (Tyketto)

 

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Nuno Bettencourt (Extreme)

Next band will without question have to be Extreme.

I managed to see them in the theater and also on the pool stage. After what was an exemplary performance in the theater they went and topped that with an electrifying performance on the pool stage.

This was a band back on top form and enjoying every minute. Okay there was one segment I didn’t enjoy and regular listeners to my radio show will know instantly that I’m referring to ‘the song that shall not be named’. For those of you not clued up I will only say that it’s a ballad and leave it at that.

The next band I’ll pick will be Europe.

I was really looking forward to hearing material off ‘War Of King’s’ performed live and boy I wasn’t disappointed. If anything the new tracks were even better!

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Joey Tempest (Europe)

 

This is a band who are firing on all cylinders and showing why they’ve remained a constant in the music biz for all these years. Once again this was a performance that was superb in the theater, but was even better on the pool stage. Again this was a band that a lot of the other acts came to watch.

Speaking of bands other acts watched, The Winery Dogs showed a level of musicianship that really shouldn’t be of surprise considering the combined talents of Messrs Kotzen, Portnoy & Sheehan.

Billy Sheehan (The Winery Dogs)
Billy Sheehan (The Winery Dogs)

As we baked in the hot sun, the band were red hot on stage. Very enjoyable indeed.

One band I did not want to miss on this cruise was Babylon A.D.

I’ve wanted to see them since the release of their first album all those years ago, and unfortunately was unable to see them at Firefest.

Robb Reid (Babylon A.D.)
Robb Reid (Babylon A.D.)

My only disappointment was the venue. They played in the Black And White Lounge which was for many a difficult place to actually see the band play due to the low stage. It was obvious that the band were thoroughly enjoying themselves and it was a real pleasure to watch their set.

One band whose live set is known to be rewarding is Y & T.

Dave Meniketti (Y & T)
Dave Meniketti (Y & T)

A band I’ve been a fan of again for many years and a band who should of been so much bigger then they are. My only disappointment was that both performances started past midnight and so I only saw them once due to the early disembark the morning after their second set. If you have never seen Y & T then your missing a class act.

Another band I wanted to see again after seeing them last year at the Frontiers Festival in Milan was Night Ranger.

What a monster of a live act they are with energy levels of teenagers.

Jack Blades (Night Ranger)
Jack Blades (Night Ranger)

A bugger to photograph as they won’t keep still! They performed a mixture of songs from not only their own catalogue but also Alice Cooper & Damn Yankees tracks to the delight of the packed audience.

 

 

One band I had managed to catch at Firefest a couple of years ago was Heaven’s Edge.

Singer Mark Evans sounded fantastic, as did the rest of the band.

Reggie Wu (Heaven's Edge)
Reggie Wu (Heaven’s Edge)

I’ve been told the guys are working on some new material, so fingers crossed we’ll see a new album some time in the future.

So there we have it, although don’t think for one minute that the other bands I watched weren’t any good. Far far from it.

If there was but one suggestion when it comes to the cruise, it would be to extend it by a couple of days to give people a better chance of seeing all the bands & artists. But you’ll have one hell of a good time and leave with many more friends then at the start.

 

More photos can be viewed here