With the first day now in the books, and everything went off perfectly. From the weather, to the performances, you couldn’t have asked for a better day. The question now is will day two match up to the brilliance of the first. With scattered showers in the early morning, this wasn’t the start anyone would want. Thankfully though, the sun broke through and mother nature decided she was a rock fan today. With the weather now matching the first day, it’s time to see if the performances could live up to the first day.
The first band to hit the stage was Kickin’ Valentina. While not a band from the 80’s, these guys sure have the look and swagger of the era. After a glitch with their equipment, these things can happen as there isn’t much time to soundcheck at festivals, they continued on and didn’t let the equipment problems bother them at all and performed like true pro’s. With a setlist from their two albums Super Atomic and Imaginary Creatures, they lived up to their self-description of having a loud and unapologetic rock and roll sound. Surprisingly, this was lead singer Brian Bezotte’s second performance with the band. If no one had ever mentioned this, you would have never known.
Connecticut’s very own Steelheart hit the stage next. For fans of the movie Rockstar and its fictional band Steel Dragon, Steelheart opened up their setlist with “Blood Pollution”. Everyone in the place was thrilled at their choice of the opening number. From the first note on lead singer Miljenko Matijevic was on fire and sounded just like the soundtrack that he was part of. At one point during the performance he left stage and went into the crowd much to the delight of everyone. They closed out their performance by dipping back into the Rockstar soundtrack and playing “We All Die Young”. If there was one complaint about their performance was it was too short!
The next band to perform was Firehouse. From the moment they took to the stage they had complete attention from the adoring audience. They sounded impeccable. Singer C.J. Snares voice hasn’t changed a bit and he can still hit all the notes. Their setlist could have easily been a greatest hits collection. Playing some of their greatest hits like “When I Look Into Your Eyes”, “Love Of A Lifetime”, and “All She Wrote”, this was definitely a fun set and epitomized what this festival was all about; great music being played to perfection by the bands that created it.
The action didn’t let up for a second. If anyone was looking for a breather from all the great bands, they would have to keep waiting as Winger took to the stage next. From the moment they started playing this was another case of a band’s infectious energy transferring to the crowd. Reb Beach’s playing was awesome. The fans were thrilled with the setlist they had. Playing huge hits like “Headed For A Heartbreak” and “Madeline”, everyone in the place was singing note for note with the band. When they played “Seventeen” the Kip Winger had fun with the lyrics changing them to “she’s only 48”, which made everyone laugh including the band!
Now it was time for a true rock icon to strut his stuff. The original Kiss guitar player, the spaceman himself Ace Frehley. You could tell this was one act everyone had to see as the packed house had pushed forward so they wouldn’t miss a second of his performance. When he hit the stage and opened his setlist with his hit song “Rip It Out” from his first solo album Frehley’s Comet. After this he opened up the Kiss catalog and played classics like “Love Gun”, “Shock Me”, and “Cold Gin”. It wouldn’t be an Ace Frehley show if he didn’t pull out his special guitars. It was awesome seeing Ace in action with his guitar that lit up, and of course his extended solo with his Les Paul that billows smoke!
Who could possibly follow this? If there was one person who could do it, it would be Sebastian Bach the legendary voice of Skid Row. Hitting the stage like he was shot out of a cannon and diving right into the Skid Row hit “Slave To The Grind”, Sebastian immediately grabbed a hold of the audience. Diving back into the Skid Row catalog his setlist included such classics as “Here I Am”, “Piece Of Me”, and “Monkey Business”. A really nice gesture he did was to dedicate the Skid Row megahit “I Remember You” to all the musicians we have lost this year. The perfect song to close his time was “Youth Gone Wild” as when he played this song everyone went wild!
Now it was time for the final act of the night. Who is the band that gets to close out this amazing festival? Night Ranger gets this honor. Celebrating the thirty fifth anniversary of the band and all the hits they have achieved, they definitely deserved this spot on the festival. With a setlist that was not only a greatest hits of all their songs, they even threw in a few Damn Yankee’s songs as well. Watching them play and own the stage, it seemed as though time had stopped for them as they sounded just like they did when they first hit it big in their career. Brad Gillis’s guitar work was fiery as ever and it was a blast to watch him work the stage. Closing out the entire weekend they played “(You can Still) Rock In America”. This was the perfect way to end not only their performance but the entire festival.
For fans of not only the 80’s music, but of great timeless rock and roll this was an amazing weekend. Every band that graced the stage did an outstanding job. Of course, Florida at this time of year has spectacular weather to enjoy a music festival and indeed the weather was perfect. The Rockfest 80’s promoters did an outstanding job with the third year of this remarkable festival. So next year if your tired of the cold weather wherever you are and are dying to hear some great music, hop on a plane and head to warm sunny Florida and catch Rockfest 80’s.