Rocktember VII – Grand Casino – Hinckley MN – September 20th & 21st 2019

Photo by; Tommy Sommers (www.tommysommersphotography.com)

Rocktember September 20-21, 2019  Grand Casino Hinckley
As in previous years, it was a weekend filled with a lot of great music. I have always liked this venue because it has great sight lines where ever you sit. Common World Productions does such a great job with their Video Production. The two Hi-Def screens add to the show. Food and beer prices are reasonable. Due to the rain on the second day they were handing out rain gear to the concert goers. The rain didn’t seem to take away from the excitement of the day. If you are thinking about attending next year, book your hotel early! Places sell out fast.  There is no extra charge for parking and there were many fans tail-gating like the old days.
On to the bands-

Day 1

The first band up, XYZ. Many of you may not be familiar with them. Their debut was self titled in 1989.  They have been on again off again over the years. They were really good and refreshing to see. I did not know any of their songs but they were tight and sounded good.

Thundherstruck is an all female AC/DC tribute band. They did a great job of covering AC/DC, not my favorite band but the people received them well.

Adler’s Appetite blew my mind. Amazing band who played the Gun’s N’ Roses songs to a tee.  They were fun to watch and the singer was unbelievable! If you are a GNR fan, go out of your way to see them. Trust me you will be glad you did. They were the surprise of the day for me.

Slaughter is always a crowd favorite. Mark has been here several times over the last few years with Scrap Metal. But this year it was all Slaughter. One of the highlights was to see the former drummer Blais Elias back with them.  They played all the songs you expected and finished with their anthem “Up All Night”. They are always fun to see.

Night Ranger is a powerhouse and on the lighter side of the 1980’s metal crowd. I have seen them so many times and have never once been disappointed. With this band it is hit after hit. But they did dig out a few rare songs like “Night Ranger”. I am always excited to see them on the bill.

Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo closed out night one.  This is typically not their crowd but were amazing as always. One of my favorites since the first hit the scene in 1979. They are celebrating their 40th year.  How you can not be a fan of Neil Giraldo’s guitar playing and Pat Benatar’s voice is beyond me. The one downside for me is they are one of the artists that have songs that were so huge they are stuck playing all of them.  Which doesn’t leave a lot of room for deep tracks. However the did do “Everybody Lay Down” and finished with their biggest hit “Heartbreaker” with a twist. They played “Ring Of Fire” in the middle of the song.  To me this is a bucket list artist, that you need to see live!

DAY 2

First up on day 2 was Black “N Blue. Formed in the 1980’s they are now starting to tour again with some new members. Tommy Thayer the original lead guitarist is now in Kiss. But Jamie St. James the lead singer is still fronting the band.  It was a great trip down memory lane hearing songs like “Hold On To 18” again.

Chris Hawkey of KFAN fame has a band that is known for its original country songs as well as a huge catalog of covers.  Chris Hawkey and his band are always wonderful. They are entertaining, excellent musicians and write great songs. They opened with a country song which seemed to confuse people but it went over well. Chris apologized and said “We are here to entertain you and get you warmed up. Music is music” and he is right.  Very much Like Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo, they are a little different and to me that adds flavor to the event.  Chris Hawkey is another artist I always look forward to seeing play live.

Autograph is another band I really enjoy. They too have had member changes through the years. The one remaining original member is bassist Randy Rand. I was not much of a fan when they first hit the scene in the 1980’s but now they are a completely different band. They are so much better and write some really great songs.  They are fun to watch and you can tell they love being there playing live for people. All around a great band.

Vixen too had had a lot of changes over the years.  I think I have seen at least 3 different versions. When Janet Gardner left last year I wondered if they could keep it together.  The answer is yes.  They were filled with passion and energy. Great background vocals and excellent musicianship.  This is another band I recommend you go see live.

Quiet Riot is has had a few line up changes, Jizzy pearl is back with the band and only remaining member Frankie Banali has been absent for the last few shows. The new album is coming out with recently departed singer James Durbin. Should be interesting to see where the new direction takes them. Found them not to be the greatest of the weekend.

Queensryche is a band I was never really a fan of.  I think that Geoff Tate is over rated. All of that changed once I saw them with Todd LaTore. The guy has pipes and add a lot to their songs.  They could not have picked a better singer to lead this band. I wish they had a little more energy on stage.  Not much crowd interaction, I would have liked to seen more. But the music is incredible. Extremely well polished and a crowd favorite.

Vince Neil of Motley Crue closed out the night. I have seen Motley Crue more times then I can count going all the way back to the second record and countless Vince Neil solo shows. What drives this engine is Dana StrumJeff Blando and ever entertaining Zoltan Chaney on drums.  The play the songs with a lot of heart and energy. Does Vince Neil struggle from time to time? Perhaps but I love the songs so much I will keep coming back.  He was a perfect choice to close out the night.

Review and photos by Tommy Sommers.