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  ROCKTEMBER DAY ONE FEATURES THE SOUNDTRACK TO MANY LIVES
Extreme, Jackyl, Slaughter, FireHouse, Last In Line, Paradise Kitty: Grand Rocktember V Day 1 – 8th September 2017: Grand Casino Amphitheatre, Hinckley, MN


jeff kunze
Words and Pictures: Jeff Kunze
14th September 2017



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As the sun begins to set on yet another summer, a yearly pilgrimage to the Amphitheatre at the Grand Casino in Hinckley begins. Rocktember is a two-day event that features music from bands that supplied the soundtrack to so many lives.

Rocktember turns five this year and has become a premiere event for concertgoers. Fifteen bands performed over the two days with the one and only Remy Maxwell, of 104.1 Jack FM, MC'd the event once again and introduced bands and threw out hats and can cozies.

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Day one began with Paradise Kitty, an all girl Guns N' Roses tribute band hailing from West Hollywood, CA. Opening with 'Welcome To The Jungle' the band blew through the classics and sounded fantastic doing it with vocalist Jenna Syde handling the vocals beautifully while entertaining the crowd. It was a great start to the day as people were active and singing along from the opening note.

HIGHLIGHT SONGS: 'Welcome To The Jungle', 'Night Train', 'Out Ta Get Me'.

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Last In Line were up next. Vivian Campbell, Vinny Appice, and Jimmy Bain were the motor behind those great Ronnie James Dio albums and starting as a casual reunion jam in 2011, this unit evolved into Last In Line as powerhouse singer Andrew Freeman was brought into the fold.

Tragically, bass icon Jimmy Bain passed away after the album 'Heavy Crown' was completed but in celebration of his life, the band continued on, recruiting Phil Soussan to play bass and adding keyboardist Erik Norlander.

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Their performance was brilliant. Seeing Campbell play those riffs and hearing those Dio songs live was the highlight of the day. Mixing in some new tracks and dedicating 'Starmaker' to Bain was special for every Dio fan in the crowd, and there were a lot of them.

Andrew Freeman proved he is every bit as good live as he is on the album.

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HIGHLIGHT SONGS: 'Last In Line', 'Rainbow In The Dark', 'Holy Diver'.

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FireHouse are one of Minnesota's favorites. They play here a lot and are well received every time they take the stage. It might be because of the slew of hits they have, or the fact CJ Snare sounds every bit as good as he did decades ago. Bill Leverty strikes the match with his fret blazing ability and the band fan the flames.

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Michael Foster on drums and Allen Mckenzie on bass provide the rhythm section and the set was a blend of well-crafted rockers and sing-along ballads. They even dropped in some Kiss at the end of their signature song, 'Don't Treat Me Bad', by playing 'Rock And Roll All Nite'.

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HIGHLIGHT SONGS: 'Reach For The Sky', 'Overnight Sensation', 'All She Wrote'.

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Just like Firehouse, Slaughter were one of the last big bands squeezing into the glam scene before it collapsed. Along with Mark Slaughter, the band still features original member Dana Strum on bass and the duo date back to the Vinnie Vincent Invasion days before they formed Slaughter. Jeff 'Blando' Bland is on guitar and Zoltan Chaney, the most entertaining drummer in the business, rounds out the roster.

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The band played a heavy dose of songs from the debut albu,m 'Stick It To Ya', with Dana Strum in constant motion while Zoltan dismantled a cymbal and used it as a drumstick. Mark Slaughter jumped into the crowd to sing 'Eye To Eye', sending people ecstatic while taking pictures, hugging him and singing into the microphone. One gentleman thought he could pull Mark aside and have a private conversation with him during this great memorable moment for the fans and they were still talking about late in the day.

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HIGHLIGHT SONGS: 'The Wild Life', 'Burning Bridges', 'Mad About You'.

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The one and only Jackyl took the stage over next and these guys are like a shot of adrenaline after twelve coffees. Jackyl have an unbelievable cult following and where the band play, people will come.

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Singer Jesse James Dupree says what he feels and does not mince words and opening song, appropriately titled 'Blast Off', ignited the band and the fans. Jeff Worley on guitar and Chris Worley on drums, along with Dupree, have been there since the band's formation in 1991. Roman Glick on bass is the perfect fit as they maneuvered through a set of hard rock laced with southern rock roots.

Closer, 'The Lumberjack', features Jesse and his chainsaw which he revs up during the song, further fuelling the audience. He then sets a stool on fire before smashing it on the stage. It's just another day at the office for one of rock's rowdiest live bands.

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HIGHLIGHT SONGS: 'I Stand Alone', 'When Will It Rain', 'Down On Me'.

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Headliners Extreme would close out the first night of Rocktember V. Although best known for 'More Than Words' and 'Hole Hearted', Extreme are a hard rocking band hailing from Boston that feature one of the best guitar players you will ever hear play in Nuno Bettencourt.

Gary Cherone, vocally, is still on top of his game and bassist Pat Badger is an excellent player and backing vocalist while Kevin Figueiredo on drums does a fantastic job.

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Opening with 'It's A Monster' allowed the mega guitar tone to be unleashed into the atmosphere. The band are tight and along with Gary's crisp vocals, the backing vocals from Pat and Nuno are spot on.

Extreme delivered the hits the fans wanted and dipped into the first record for 'Kid Ego' and 'Play With Me' and it was an absolute treat to watch a band of this calibre play. Being two feet away from Nuno ripping through a solo will be a lasting memory for many.

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HIGHLIGHT SONGS: 'Decadence Dance', 'Am I Ever Gonna Change', 'Play With Me'.

The first day showcased some great music. Can the second day match its success? Look out for part two of the breakdown of Grand Rocktember V soon.

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