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Styx, Queensrÿche, Skid Row, Warrant, Great White, Scrap Metal, Faster Pussycat, Bang Tango, The Iron Maidens: Grand Rocktember V Day 1 – 9th September 2017: Grand Casino Amphitheatre, Hinckley, MN

jeff kunze
Words and Pictures: Jeff Kunze
20th September 2017


Opening day two were The Iron Maidens, the all female Iron Maiden tribute band out of Los Angeles. 'Aces High' started the set in a blazing fashion and people started headbanging to the classic.


They are a talented group who play the material very tight to the vest. Utilizing some props like the British flag and trotting out the iconic mascot, Eddie, added to the fun and despite being the first band, they got a lot of support from the fans.

HIGHLIGHT SONGS: 'Wasted Years', 'Fear Of The Dark', 'Iron Maiden'.

Joe Leste led Bang Tango to the stage next. The only remaining original member of the band that formed in 1987, vocally he sounded strong as the band played songs that focused on the albums 'Psycho Café' and 'Dancin' On Coals'. Bang Tango featured legendary guitarist Rowan Robertson who is best known for his work with Dio.


An energetic set closed with their biggest hit, 'Someone Like You'.

HIGHLIGHT SONGS: 'Dancin' On Coals', 'Someone Like You', 'Soul To Soul'.


Faster Pussycat is another band that only features one original member, vocalist Taime Downe. This current line-up, however, has been together for almost a decade.

Xristian Simon and Ace Von Johnson handle guitars while the rhythm section features Chad Stewart on drums and bassist Danny Nordahl. They played a mixture of songs from the classic albums like 'Cathouse' and 'Bathroom Wall', but they also threw in newer songs like 'Number 1 With A Bullet' and 'The Power & The Glory Hole'.


No Faster Pussycat show is complete without 'House Of Pain'. Taime sat at the edge of the stage and invited everybody to sing with him.

HIGHLIGHT SONGS: 'You're So Vain', 'Don't Change That Song', 'Babylon'.


The band known as Scrap Metal, a rock'n'roll rat pack of revolving musicians that join together to play, were next up and this year featured some big names.

George Lynch (Dokken, Lynch Mob), Oni Logon (Lynch Mob), Michael Sweet (Stryper), Elliot Easton (The Cars), Pat Travers, Barry Goudreau (Boston) and powerhouse singer Gabbie Rae put on an unforgettable performance of songs ranging from each of the artists' catalogues.


Having Sweet take vocals on the Dokken hit 'In My Dreams' with Lynch on guitar was really fun. Scrap Metal are always one of the most anticipated acts of the weekend.

HIGHLIGHT SONGS: 'Wicked Sensation', 'Long Time', 'Just What I Needed'.

Great White hit next with the opening track from the new album 'Full Circle', 'I'm Alright'. This version of Great White features vocalist Terry Llous, of XYZ fame, along with founding member and guitarist Mark Kendall.

These guys are one of the best blues based hard rock bands out there and songs like 'Rock Me', 'Save Your Love' and crowd favorite 'Once Bitten, Twice Shy' kept people grooving throughout the set.

HIGHLIGHT SONGS: 'Desert Moon', 'Lady Red Light', 'Big Time'.


One of the biggest bands in the glam movement, Warrant, pulled out the big hit 'Down Boys' to get things rolling. The band features Erik Turner on guitar, Joey Allen, also on guitar, bassist Jerry Dixon and drummer Steven Sweet who were all part of Warrant's success in the 1980s. Robert Manson (ex-Lynch Mob) has been the vocalist since 2008.

The ballads get everybody singing and the rockers ignited everyone's best air guitar. Mason is a showman! He is all over the stage and very engaging with the audience and one of the few guys who could have taken over from original singer Jani Lane and pull off the material.


Members of Faster Pussycat, The Iron Maidens and Bang Tango came out and helped close out the show with the chart buster 'Cherry Pie'.


HIGHLIGHT SONGS: 'Dusty's Revenge', 'Uncle Toms Cabin', 'DRFSR'.


Things tend to get heavy when Skid Row take to the stage and opening with 'Slave To The Grind', it was clear they were taking no prisoners.

The band feature original members Rachel Bolan on bass, Snake Sabo on guitar and Scotti Hill, also on guitar. The new kid on the block is vocalist ZP Theart, ex-Dragonforce and Tank, and this would be my first time seeing him front Skid Row and overall he fits in well with the band.


Filling Sebastian Bach's shoes is nearly impossible and the die-hard fans just won't seem to accept anybody else but having said that, he went down well, was very entertaining and vocally was able to carry the weight of the songs.

The crowd pleasers were '18 & Life', 'I Remember You' and the anthem 'Youth Gone Wild'.


HIGHTLIGHT SONGS: 'Slave To The Grind', 'Monkey Business', 'Piece Of Me'.


Queensrÿche were second billed and didn't disappoint, Todd LaTorre doing an unbelievable job of delivering the type of range needed to handle the catalog.

The set was a good mix of hits and cult classics from earlier releases. Guitarist Michael Wilton and bassist Eddie Jackson have been there from the beginning and still continue to anchor the sound.


The 1992 Grammy nominated 'Silent Lucidity' is a mainstay in every set and remains as popular as ever during an another highly enjoyable performance and an impressibe outing from Todd LaTorre.


HIGHLIGHT SONGS: 'Take Hold Of The Flame', 'Empire', 'Eyes Of A Stranger'.


Styx would have the honor of closing out the event and the stage was set up beautifully as the band came out to 'Gone Gone Gone'. The talent of the players is ridiculous and fully on display throughout the night.

Tommy Shaw, James Young, Ricky Phillips, Lawrence Gowan and Todd Sucherman are a well-oiled machine and they cruised through 'Grand Illusion', 'Lady' and 'Blue Collar Man'.


Styx offered a different flavor than most of the bands that played Saturday but they sounded fantastic and certainly have a tremendous following.

HIGHLIGHT SONGS: 'Come Sail Away', 'Radio Silence', 'Blue Collar Man'.

The Grand Casino Amphitheatre in Hinckley is an outstanding venue for concerts. There isn't a bad seat in the house and the sound quality is brilliant. If you haven't visited this place, you need to.

Grand Rocktember V was a great time with stellar performances throughout the two days. Let's do this again next year!
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Wacken Winter Nights 2018 takes place between February 23rd and 25th 2018 and the great news is that you can now experience a full-on, top class German Metal Festival easily and affordably.

It only takes an hour to fly to Hamburg from London and we've had longer journeys than that within the capital and they were certainly more expensive than the £33 air ticket that just appeared in our 'flights to Wacken Winter Nights' search.


Wacken Winter Nights is organised by the same team who are responsible for the world's greatest Metal festival, Wacken-Open-Air and the 2018 bill includes Skyclad, Orphaned Land, Elvenking, Finntroll, Grave Digger, Aeverium, Comes Vagantes, Coppelius, Corvus Corax, Die Pressgëng, Elvellon, Heimataerde, Hell-O-Matic, Ignis Fatuu, Ingrimm, Irdorath, Johnny Deathshadow, Krayenzeit, Letzte Instanz, Mr Hurley und die Pulveraffen, Pampatut, Pat Razket, Schandmaul, Sündenrausch, The Aberlour's, The Moon And The Nightspirit, Torfrock, Visions Of Atlantis, Vroudenspil, Wind Rose and more.

Besides this rich billing of superb Metal bands, there is so much more to see in the festival area including the medieval market and also the walking acts and jugglers you will meet at the theme worlds, including Robert Blake, three-time World Cup winner of street magic.

Wacken Winter Nights is something not to be missed and you can check out the amazing ticket and accommodation prices right here.

We just priced up the whole four day trip with hotels, flights, shuttles and festival tickets for less than £300 and we don't think you will get a better value festival than that, anywhere.


MetalTalk recently sat down with Wacken founder and owner Thomas Jensen and that interview will be online next week and it's a fascinating insight into how Wacken originated from nothing to become the world's premiere Heavy Metal event.


Wacken 2018 takes place from 2nd to 4th August 20218 and as with Wacken Winter Nights, if you have never experienced all it has to offer, then you owe it to yourself to remedy that.

Already announced for Wacken 2018 are Judas Priest, Nightwish, Running Wild (exclusive), Arch Enemy, Dirkschneider, Doro (Special Anniversary Show), In Extremo, Sepultura, Amorphis, Amaranthe, Firewind, W.A.R., Belphegor, Mantar, Knorkator, Deserted Fear, Watain, Night Demon, Epica, Knorkator, Belphegor, Firewind, Deserted Fear and many more and we'll have more Wacken 2018 announcements during December.

As well as being the greatest Heavy Metal festival in the world, it is without a doubt the Mecca of Metal and the one thing that every single person who loves our music should have on their bucket list.

For 2018, MetalTalk have joined forces with Wacken-Open-Air to help you get to Wacken easily and inexpensively and you can peruse the ticket and travel options right here.

If you are interested in going to Wacken 2018 and have questions, please fill out the form below and we will contact you with answers to all your enquiries. You are under no obligation whatsoever by filling this form out. We won't add you to any mailing lists or send you loads of spam - all we will do is help you get to Wacken as easily and inexpensively as possible.



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