Chris Hawkey would welcome the crowd to day two of RockTember. Hawkey is from Minnesota and does a wide of range of music that covers country to hard rock and metal. He mixed in original material with covers of “Wasted Years” (Iron Maiden), “Man In The Box” (Alice In Chains), and “Fat Bottomed Girls” (Queen). His band sounded fantastic and he has a great stage presence. He was able to win over a skeptical crowd that had worried he wasn’t rock enough to play this festival. Chris Hawkey was an entertaining and fun opening act that set the table for things to come.
Kix amped up the energy in hurry as they took the stage. This quintet puts on a great show every time they play and they didn’t disappoint. In celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the album “Blow My Fuse”, the band played it in its entirety. From the opener “Red Lite, Green Lite, TNT” the band held the crowd in their hands. Besides the usual hits of “Blow My Fuse”, “Cold Blood”, and “Don’t Close Your Eyes” it was great to hear those deep cuts like “Piece Of The Pie” and “Dirty Boys”. Singer Steve Whiteman is a man in constant motion and he sucks you right into the show. He’s infectious and it’s hard to take your eyes off him. During the set he offered some insight of the album and shared some stories of what they went through during that period. A fantastic show that closed with “Girl Money” which appeared on the follow up album “Hot Wire” in 1991.
Winger took the opportunity to showcase a track from 2014’s “Better Days Comin’” as they opened up with “Midnight Driver Of A Love Machine”. “Junkyard Dog (Tears On Stone)”, which is a heavy hitter, was next. For me the best Winger record by a landslide is the 1993 release “Pull” and to get “Junkyard Dog” and “Down Incognito” was a real treat. I was probably getting greedy by wanting “Blind Revolution Mad” but the band quickly shifted gears and starting pumping out the all the songs that blanketed MTV. Songs like “Easy Come Easy Go”, “Miles Away”, “Madalaine” and the monster ballad “Headed For A Heartbreak” had everybody tuned in. The musicianship in this band is off the charts with Reb Beach and John Roth blazing on guitar, Kip Winger on Bass, and Rod Morgenstein on drums. Winger shut down the show with the closer “Seventeen” which in one of the choruses got dubbed with “she’s only forty-eight” which got a lot of smiles and laughs.
Hot off the heels of the latest release “God Damn Evil”, Stryper graced the stage with the epic “Yahweh” to open the set. If you’ve been asleep at the wheel and have lost track of the Stryper machine and don’t have the last three records, which also includes “Fallen” and “No More Hell To Pay”, please go purchase post haste. The yellow and black attack still features smoking guitars and soaring vocals and, quite frankly, are better now than in the so-called heyday years. Michael Sweet is still a force vocally and has guitar chops to match. Robert Sweet is the timekeeper although he’s not easy to spot back there. Newcomer and former FireHouse bass player, Perry Richardson, was the perfect fit for a band that also relies on harmonies to execute the material. Guitarist Oz Fox was unable to perform due to medical issues but reports are that he will be returning soon, which is fantastic news. Howie Simon filled in brilliantly with his guitar playing and ability to provide pivotal backing vocals. The band played the expected songs with “Free”, “Calling On You”, and “Honestly”. The classic “Soldiers Under Command” rocked and they squeezed in three songs from the newest album with the title track, “Sorry” and “The Valley”. The band ended a spirited show with “To Hell With The Devil”.
The headliner was Scrap Metal. It featured Matthew and Gunnar Nelson, Mark Slaughter, Lita Ford, Barry Goudreau, Mark Holt, Howie Simon, Gary Corbett, and Mike Vanderhule. It was a potpourri of hits coming at you in ever direction. Slaughter sang “Mad About You”, “Up All Night”, and “Fly To The Angels” and he also showcased some guitar shredding of his own throughout the performance. Lita Ford on vocals for “Bitch Is Back”, “Cherry Bomb”, and “Kiss Me Deadly” as she played her classic red B.C. Rich Warlock guitar that matched her red leather outfit. The Nelson catalog was represented as the twins sang “More Than Ever”, “After The Rain”, and (Can’t Live Without Your) Love And Affection”. With Barry Goudreau on guitar and Mark Holt on vocals, the crowd was treated to a couple iconic Boston tracks with “Piece Of Mind” and “Foreplay/Taking My Time” as Gary Corbett supplied the essential keyboards. I love the concept of Scrap Metal and it’s so fun to see the various musicians playing together and singing and playing each other’s songs.
The surprise of the night was Dokken, featuring George Lynch, doing a full set to close the night. The members of Dokken along with George Lynch were billed with Scrap Metal and I assumed they would play three songs within that Scrap Metal show. The lights came back up with the Dokken logo in the back and Don Dokken, Chris McCarvill, “Wild” Mick Brown and George Lynch taking the stage. Three quarters of the classic line-up with Jeff Pilson the only absentee. Mr. Scary was officially in the house and it didn’t take but few riffs of the opener “Kiss Of Death” to ignite the Dokken die-hards. The band played “The Hunter”, “Don’t Close Your Eyes”, and “Into The Fire” that kept things in high gear. Don Dokken added some guitar throughout the night and they did an interesting interlude before going into “Alone Again”. With Don on rhythm it freed up George to add pieces and solo virtually though the whole song. Mick was as solid as ever on the kit and he assumed the comedic commentary for the night as well. Chris McCarvill was solid on the bass and provided superb vocal harmonies. The night continued with “Dream Warriors”, “Just Got Lucky”, “Breaking The Chains”, and “In My Dreams”. The set and evening came to close with “Tooth and Nail” and that ripping guitar solo was just as awesome as it was when I first heard it decades ago. This was the highlight of the three days for me as I’m a card-carrying member of the Dokken Die-Hards and it was fun to see this show.