NYC, Nokia Theatre, 12/6/2009 
Sunday, December 6, 2009, 11:01 PM
Posted by Administrator
It's a long way to the top....and it was a longer bus ride to the bottom, courtesy of an overturned tractor trailer that shut down the Lincoln Tunnel.... but neither rain, nor snow, nor dark of night could prevent me from bringing you the overindulgent, excessively worded and occasionally intellectually masturbatory effort that is what we call: The Armadillo Road Report: the Official Unofficial Twisted Sister concert Review, Nokia Theatre NYC, December 6, 2009: chock full of all of the details you want to know..... and plenty you don't.

I'm feeling a bit of pressure on this one, now that I know that there are many eyes reading. And, of course, New York City is the homecoming location of Twisted. I do feel obligated, however, to at least provide some small description for those overseas (or much worse, in Ft. Wayne) who may have never seen the Big Apple. I confess that it weren't for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, corned beef and Twisted Sister, I myself would have probably never ventured into the City That Never Sleeps. (not in order of importance--never underestimate a good corned beef sandwich on rye) For those of you who have never been to Times Square, it's like an architect with Adult Attention Deficit Disorder married an electrician with Obsessive-Compulsive. Lights, light, lights and more lights--complete sensory overload 24-hours a day. At two a.m., the sidewalks were still filled with people. (the delis however, all closed at 1:00am. Alas. no Junior's cheesecake this trip.)
The Nokia theatre is just off Broadway in Times Square--it boasts an enormous lit marquee out in front--you could see Twisted Sister in lights from halfway down the block. Once again, I was very impressed with the Nokia Staff-- they not only opened the doors on time (6 pm) but they repeatedly walked the line, letting us know not only the showtimes, but keeping us updated on how many minutes left until they opened the doors. Inside we had more good service-- from the bartenders to the security crew, all polite and professional through and through.

I know we had much discussion about seating this year so I took good notice: they had a large seated area in the rear (front and rear mezzanine), two balconies up top and two raised areas by the bars on the sides. The floor was general admission, of course, and a group of happy slamboarders made their way to the front row. I'm so glad I checked my report from last year--I opted not to check my coat this year--and so glad I didn't. Here's my latest Armadillo concert tip: for .99 cents, you can buy a 2-pack of Toasty Toes and Hot-Hands pocket warmers. I dropped one of those little babies in each boot....shoved a handwarmer in each pocket, and I was indeed toasty warm the entire hour I waited outside...and in. It was cold as hell in the Nokia theatre! In more ways than one...but I'll get to that in a minute.
There were two absolutely delightful ladies in the front row waving Norwegian flags--I chatted with them for a bit. (Velcome! Eetz COLD in zees Nokia theatre, yah?) The one woman missed the show in Oslo last time around, so she FLEW here to the States to see Twisted play. They obviously had no complaints about the temperature inside. Norway, folks, Norway. Now THAT is a lousy concert commute. The next time I hear ANYONE whine that they couldn't make a Twisted Sister show because it was ALL the way in Vegas.... one word for you: NORWAY.

Our own webbie was there....along with a throng of photographers! It looked like a paparazzi feeding frenzy at times--I've never seen such action in the pit. The photographer (Diane) from the Crazy Donkey show was snapping away...(I"ll repost the link if you folks need it--otherwise, search for the Crazy Donkey Report) and an interesting gent from www.piercingmetal.com an online heavy metal magazine featuring photos and concert reviews. (yeah--but will you get tips about Toasty Toes? I think not.) Someone took a shot of the slamboard crew--I do hope you'll post it here shortly.

Unlike the living morgue, also known as the Keswick theatre, the Nokia had background music playing. Unfortunately, it appears that the DJ must have dropped some bad acid--because sandwiched in between Van Halen and Black Sabbath, was Tears For Fears "Everybody Wants to Rule the World." I don't honestly know what troubled me more--the fact that they were playing Tears For Fears, or the group of audience members singing along. Both equally disturbing, really. Before we knew it, Q104.3 sponsors came onto the stage and introduced the openers for the evening: no surprises as we had already posted on the Slamboard, tonight we had comedians Jim Florentine and Don Jamieson from "That Metal Show."

Well. Hmmmmm.
Let me say this: after all the whining, bitching and complaining that I do about warm-up bands, I am probably the last person to have any right to complain about the lack thereof. So here are the positives: I didn't need earplugs (although at times I wish I *had* put them in), it went fairly quickly and they weren't too bad. Not to mention that laughter has been shown to lower blood pressure, raise serotonin and release dopamine. At 7:30 pm, I believe it was Jim Florentine who took the stage first. I enjoyed his routine-- the audience was COLD. I mean it was a chilly, chilly reception. You thought the crowd was chilly in Philly? I've been in warmer meat lockers.

The poor bastard barely made it to the mike when people were starting to scream "get off the stage!" As hard as it is for a local band to open for Twisted Sister, it is significantly more difficult when you aren't even playing something deafening. My personal favorite line of the night: "First time I saw Twisted Sister, I thought 'wow...those are either the ugliest women from NYC....or the prettiest girls from New Jersey' "
The second comedian I found particularly distasteful. His humor was mostly about how he enjoys drunk driving, dating underage girls....and rape. It was moments like those that I found myself asking: "wouldn't you rather be critiquing some awful warm-up band right now? I would have even preferred Dirty Pearls. That says a lot. So I take it all back: I can't promise I won't complain incessantly about terrible local warm-up acts, because well.... I am a Jew. I have a genetic disposition to complaining, and take great pleasure in it, but I promise that if you DON'T have comedians who think date rape is funny, I will write at least ONE positive thing about each opening act.

Twisted came on stage at 9:05 pm! I could NOT believe it!
Since there are many youtube videos now AND the behind the scenes photos on this website, I won't go into TOO great a detail but it was our favorite over-the-top, beautifully crafted Christmas set. Plenty more elves last night--Twisted young-uns I suspect--and they littered the stage with special toy guitars, including one made of bones, another crafted to look like an assault weapon, and one designed to resemble an all-day sucker. There was a very sculptural Christmas tree made out of guitars. There was a road crew member wearing....well, I'm not sure what it was: it looked like one of the Who's from Whoville--you know, Dr. Seuss?
One elf raised his tunic and showed his jingle bells...er....jingle balls.....ugh...bad elf! As the Santa conveyor belt churned out Twisted Santas, decked out in leather, spikes, animal prints and I believe one had a g-string, a giant lathe churned an oversize candy cane while elves painted a guitar with what looked like either chocolate....or black paint. Another elf climbed atop the huge chamber whose interior seemed inspired by an Easybake Oven. As spandex, spikes and pink fur dropped into the meat grinder above the chamber....a spin of the vault wheel...and out struts our boys!

A.J......M.A.M.....JJ ....and you probably already know....EDDIE is back!
What a total surprise---we had heard through the grapevine that Eddie was coming to the show, but no one knew for certain if he would be able to play. What a thrill! Eddie Ojeda received a warm reception--to return this soon from such serious surgery is a credit to Eddie's will and determination, as well as the power of Percocet. Dee arrived as Santa in his super-charged muscle car inspired sled, pulled by a team of lovely young hotties wearing antlers and very little of anything else at all....in fact, I think they were wearing even LESS than what they wore in Philly. A nice trend--that bodes well for Vegas perhaps. Another shower of candy canes and condoms. Hey....why does everyone hand their condoms to me? Do you think I'm getting that much action or are you telling me to go fuck myself? I never know if I should be flattered or insulted....

So before I go into all of the show details, your setlist:
1. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
2. Don't Let Me Down (I know! I couldn't believe it either!)
3. White Christmas
4. The Beast
5. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus (PG-13 version)
6. You Can't Stop Rock n' Roll
7. Deck the Halls (sing-a-long)
8. The Price
9. Oh Come O' Ye Faithful
10. Stay Hungry
11. Burn in Hell
Drum solo
12. Silver Bells
13. I'll Be Home for Christmas
14. 30
15. I Wanna Rock
Encores:
16. Heavy Metal Christmas
Band Intros
17. We're Not Gonna Take It

First let me say that what I love about the Christmas shows is how happy everyone is! They're just silly, goofy and fun...and they rock out. So because of this, I really didn't mind ALL of the things that went terribly wrong last night! There were miscues....malfunctions....and some pretty significant sound problems. It started with Dee's microphone and just went south from there. I just loosened up my ear plugs a little and put up with the feedback ringing most of the night.

Eddie was BACK! While you could tell that he was tired and not feeling 100%, his still managed to play a great solo and had scorching duets during "Don't Let Me Down" and "White Christmas.' What a Trooper! His solo during 'The Price" was spot-on! M.A.M and JayJay checked on him a few times throughout the night--he had to step off-stage a few times, but holy crap, the man just had back surgery! I could read Animal's lips "How ya doin'? OK?" Amazing. Thank you Eddie! Be careful, okay?

A few random items:
Speaking of Animal.... he pounded the living hell out of his bass during "The Beast," and I think the poor instrument finally surrendered. There were all sorts of sound issues with Mark's bass.

"Can't Stop of Rock N' Roll" was mammoth--I just love that album and they did it justice!

Jay Jay showed off his new multi-denominational guitar once again--he credited Jim O'Connor, the artist who created his and Mark's custom guitars--and announced that as a member of the Jewopi tribe, this year's theme is officially "Metal Jews For Christmas."

Dee gave a little background on "Oh Come Oh Ye Faithful"...and gave thanks this year that there was no lawsuit for "We're Not Gonna Take It" as "Oh Come..." is public domain. While the plagiarism was completely unintentional, he left us with: "Nineteen years of singing in the church choir finally paid off!" Personally, I think it was the subliminal effects of mall MUZAK, but that's just my unscientific opinion.

Dee also gave special props to the visitors from Norway and then lead us into "Burn In Hell." You know, I just never get tired of that spooky lighting! I'm just picturing Dee as a kid, practicing it with a flashlight in his bathroom...saying...."One day I'm going to do this onstage every night and get paid for it...." Love "Burn In Hell"--JayJay, Eddie and M.A.M did a guitar threesome.....wait. that didn't come out right. TRIO....they did a TRIO...
…and then A.J.'s sounds of thunder. Tonight's drum solo was very "soldier-like".....kind of a "little drummer boy" thing going on....and LOTS AND LOTS OF COWBELL. You know what would have made it even better? MORE COWBELL. (He agreed with me, by the way.....it needs more cowbell. we all need more cowbell.)

They played my truly LEAST favorite Christmas Carol and yet one of my FAVORITE tracks off the album (that's saying something right there....) Silver Bells! The elves cued the snow machine, and we had near whiteout conditions on-stage. I noticed that they seemed to particularly enjoy pointing the snowmaker at the Norwegian guests--perhaps to make them feel at home--personally, I felt like I went through the wash cycle. You've haven't truly experienced a Twisted Sister Christmas show unless you've coughed up soap bubbles.

Then Dee stops....... Animal is missing in action. His solo is coming up...and he's nowhere to be found. Dee gave his best Elmer Fudd: "Be vewy vewy qwiet....we're hunting bass pwayahs..." Mark's bass just wasn't cooperating. Now I don't know about you...but if Animal wants me to do something....ANYTHING....I'm gonna cooperate. So he must have given that bass a good talkin' to....because his bass solo was well worth the wait!

He disappeared a few more times--at one point, with Eddie stepping to the side, Dee running off for a his water during Jay Jay's solo...and Mark's disappearance...it was like....the first Black Sabbath reunion tour WITH TONY IOMMI. Anybody onstage? AJ? Want to do another drum solo?

Dee sang "I'll be Home for Christmas" with American Idol and now Broadway's Musical "Rock of Ages" star Constantine. Which means that Jay Jay did NOT give one of his American Idol rants. Oh the irony!

And once again, those stupid frickin' oversized Christmas ornaments managed to smack me in the back of the head. I'm starting to think someone was aiming...... warm-up acts of Christmas past? No really....I hate them. It's not like a beach ball, see? They're heavy! It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye. Or a beer. Or a camera. (Hope SMF Cyndi's camera has recovered....fortunately it landed on something soft: my head)

We were treated to what is now formally called, yes, "The Bathroom Song" Dee yelled out: "here it comes....we're gonna do it....get your money out!" I'm not sure if that was a reference to going to buy a beer or if something else is happening in those bathrooms that requires money....I'd rather not think about it. Either way: I wasn't going to budge for a minute! They played "30" and I LOVE IT! That opening guitar riff just fills me up right--can I have a witness!!??! YES! Mark STILL had bass issues....but "30" is one of those songs that just plays so well live! When they were done, Dee announced: "Okay! You can come out of the bathroom now!" And for the BIG TEASER OF THE NIGHT:

Dee says:
"with that kind of response, I can see a lot of new music in the future!" Oh please let it be so!

And then.... a moment for those not faint of heart. Cooch, roadmaster extraordinare, struts onstage with Santa hat, beard, coat and boots. No pants. Why universe why? I've worked so hard in therapy these past thirty years--made such progress-- it was one of the moments where being in the furthest back row in the top of the balcony was the best seat in the house. And it was cold in that theatre. There were goosebumps on Santa's naked legs. There was shrinkage. Between Dee yelling "stranger danger! stranger danger!" and our low vantage point from the front row, never have I more convinced that SANTA IS SATAN. He asked our boys what they want for Christmas once again.

AJ: wants a tank. From Santa: "to give TANKS each year." yuk-yuk
Animal: wants to never see Santa pantless again. Right there with ya!
Eddie: "just seeing Santa's Ho, Ho, Ho's is enough!" Says Dee: "The Drugs are working" I'll have what he's having, please....
JayJay: He asked for the Mets NOT to suck this year.
Hmmmmm. How about a pony? Cure for hunger? World peace? He's Santa ferchrissake.... he does Christmas miracles, not the FUCKING impossible!

sheesh.

So before they launched into "I Wanna Rock".... Dee made sure everyone was on their feet--and not in wheelchairs, as he retold his now famous "Best Story Ever" about yelling "stand up!" at the ADA section. He checked: Nope. Not the ADA section. Good. "THEN STAND THE HELL UP!!!" He asked us to give us all we had....really belt it out:
"Pretend you're shouting for a cab....or at some asshole that ran you off the road.....come on NYC!" He had a heap of NY's bravest join him onstage..along with Constantine....and the hotties....and the set designer....and pantless Claus.... and for all I know, I think I saw those two White House party crashers onstage too....

And we rocked.
And it was loud.
And he saw that it was good.
Praise Be.

We had band intros----more Eddie lovefests--as we should! Eddie sent a shout-out to his fantastic doctors and surgeons. We love them too--they gave us our Eddie back! Dee gave Jay Jay yet another now infamous title: King of Rent Control. How much did you say that rent is? $126 a month?

Kudos paid once again to Kevin O'Callahan, the set designer. special shout out from me to you Kevin on the handlebar mustache. [I tried making a handlebar 'stache once--I bought the mustache wax-- it looked like I was eating a candle] and perhaps in preparation for Vegas' Manilow turf, Dee was introduced as "the Man That Writes The Songs That SMF's Sing..."

Then, our only real ugliness of the night.
During the first encore, I noticed AJ looking dismayed...shaking his head in disapproval....and then I saw why. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it was "the DOUCHEBAG KING." All 300 lbs of him, drunkenly crowd surfing--he felt atop of three young girls who couldn't hold him--I checked on them, they were shaken up but not hurt badly. I managed to take a boot to the head....my fellow slamboarder Ron unfortunately wasn't as lucky--his glasses took the brunt of it. Even our very own SMF Cyndi, had to duck and cover.
Folks: don't do this. stage diving and crowd surfing is the pasttime of Douche Bags. Don't be a Douche. It really took something away from the encores when we had to constantly look over our shoulders to avoid a boot in the back of the head. A little bumping, some pushing and shoving--that's just a part of being in the front row--I go home bruised from almost every show. A measured risk I choose to take. But honestly.... this kinda crap just isn't necessary. [Boy, you should see the knot I've got on my head! Douche bags.]

Lastly, was the Backstage/Meet and Greet. First the positives: Despite having a train to catch, they stayed late to make sure that no fan left without an autograph or a photo. I love these opportunities, and I'm just thrilled every chance I get--it never gets old. That said: the way the meet n' greet was run was NOT typical of ANY of the other MNG's that TS has hosted. They are usually very calm, organized and well-done. Last night's was a goat rope. (the fire dept term: a cluster fuck.) Please bring back the method you used at the Fillmore: the band lined up at the rail and stayed put in their spots--the fans got in line and went down the receiving line in an orderly fashion. No pushing, no shoving, no fighting to get an autograph. Just some food for thought. Last night's MNG was a big hot mess, and I heard a LOT of complaints from fans who paid $100 and were angry that they had to fight to squeeze in to get an autograph.

Okay...hate to end on two sour notes so let's recap:

NOKIA theatre staff: LOVED IT.
No terrible warmup bands to sit through: LOVED IT.
Sound problems: HATED IT.
Fantastic set: LOVED IT.
Giant ornaments: HATED IT.
Eddie back on stage: LOVED IT
Excellent solos: LOVED IT
Douche bag crowd surfers: HATED IT.
Kick ass rock n' roll: LOVED IT.
Santa with no pants: HATED IT.
Heard "30" live again: LOVED IT.
Absolutely positively wonderful Christmastime fun in NYC: LOVED IT.

So actually....the things that were in the band's control... I loved. There were unfortunate sound problems all night (it happens!) and a few things that I feel that the fans need to take responsibility for....NYC NOKIA theatre show for 2009 was still fantastic good fun, and a great time was had by all! So behave yourselves, be kind to one another...give thanks for the blessings we do have, and PLEASE get out and buy a ticket to the Twisted Sister Christmas shows. You owe it to yourself!

With that, I'll see you in Vegas, babies..
Trotting Off...your humble road reporter....
Armadillo

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Glenside, PA (Philly) Keswick Theatre, 12/2/09 
Wednesday, December 2, 2009, 11:08 PM
Posted by Administrator
December 2, 2009
Keswick Theatre, Philadelphia PA

Ah my babies....
Grab that mug of egg nog and join me for the first of five domestic holiday reviews! Yes, it is time for the Official Unofficial Twisted Sister Concert Review: The Armadillo Road Report for the first Twisted Christmas show of the season, Keswick Theatre, Glenside PA. (we'll call it Philly!) Chock full of all of the details you've been dying to hear about....and plenty ya don't.

Many times you've read on this board how every Twisted Sister show is a bit unique in its own way--an odd venue, special guest, unique setlist--the Philly show had so many things that made it unique, I'm not even sure where to begin.

Oh, how about the start? After a two-hour drive that lasted almost 4 hours courtesy of heavy rain and cover of darkness, I found my way to the glowing neon marquee of the Keswick in Glenside, a sleepy little college main street. It read: Twisted Sister: Dec. 2 Bob Saget: Dec. 3 Insert your own joke there.

The Keswick is a historic theatre--it reminds me architecturally of many of those beautiful showhouses complete with gilded accents, plaster ornamentation and rich colors. I'll have to re-visit their website to see exactly when it was built, but I suspect that some of those ushers went to the ribbon cutting! Oh, that's right....ushers. Upon entering the theatre, there were large warning signs, alerting patrons that the evening's show would feature strobes and fog. After entering the alcove, we were met by numerous spiffy bow-tie sporting, starched shirted theatre ushers, who took our ticket and assisted us with finding our seats.

Then another hundred-year old usher, not only escorted MetalMadLady, myself and her hubby to the row, but she physically lead me to MY seat. good heavens. I was waiting to hear "Are you with the groom or the bride?" We took our seats and I surveyed the crowd because something just felt odd: not only was everyone seated, but you could hear a pin drop. It was like....a night at the opera...or perhaps a family movie screening of "Ordinary People".... no music, little talking.

At 8:00 PM sharp, we hear an announcement--the gentle, mellow voice saying:
"Good evening ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the Keswick Theatre. We encourage you to visit our refreshment stand, where tonight's featured drink is Twisted Tea. We also wish to caution you that tonight's feature performance will involve strobe lights and a fog machine for those with sensitivities. Thank you and enjoy the show. We are pleased to present the opening performer, Jesse Blaze...." ZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzz

And then dead silence.

Jesse and his band walk onstage, looking completely dazed. Jesse says: "Wow. That was so mellow an intro that we didn't even realize we were being introduced and we weren't ready!" So they left the stage…and Danny Stanton gave them an appropriate introduction and on came Jesse and his new band. (This wasn't a Baptised By Fire performance)

My oh my. Everyone here knows how much I hate suffering through the openers. Not tonight. I could have listened to Jesse ALL night long! Couldn't get enough!
How many adjectives do I have...amazing....incredible....electric....engaging....polished!
Jesse Blaze-Snider, once again, knocked my socks off!

He opened with Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire"--I'll have to find out if he has recorded this cuz I would TOTALLY buy it. Cash himself would have approved--it rocked out. Then he played an original called "The Dream"...in which he treated us to one of two of his standing aerial backflips. WOW! All I could think of was, hey Dad...can YOU do this??!!! Impressive! He then played a cover of "Rebel Yell' that I actually PREFERRED over Billy Idol's and then next thing ya know, he jumps off the stage, runs down the center aisle, back to the sound board.

They were definitely having feedback and monitor issues. While there, he continues singing....and realizing suddenly that there isn't a spotlight, he grabs a flashlight from an usher, gives it to a nearby fan, and says: "You're a part of the show now pal, here..hold this!" Brilliant!

Jesse did a little rapping with the audience--I kid you not...close your eyes and it sounds like Dee from the early days. He told us it was his 10-year "dating" anniversary and his daughter's birthday. He dedicated the beautiful original ballad "Go With Me" to his wife, and then had the audience record "HI PATTY!" into his iPhone as a little present to her since she was taking care of the baby. [I remember when Jesse was 4....it still blows me away that he's a father now...] The next song I'm not sure of the title, but it had the refrain "More where you came from" and it just kicked ass! It's my new divorce anthem.

Jesse reminded us that he was a "WARMUP" band, not an opening band....and he warmed us up with a little audience competition of Jingle Bell Rock sing-a-long and closed with a mind-blowing song "Prisoner of Society" that had some absolutely beautiful and complex chord changes.

Jesse Blaze-Snider: LOVE YOU, MAN. It is astounding that many of those musicians on-stage with him had not played live with him before--lots of new band additions and they played so tightly you would have thought that they had been playing for the last ten or fifteen years together. THANK YOU JESSE---proof that there are amazing warmup bands out there. (Hell, I'd come back to see you headline any day!)

Just a quick note: Jesse also shared that one of the reasons his original bass player wasn't there--the bass player's mom was diagnosed with cancer--please join me in saying the prayer of your choice or at least sending good thoughts their way.

They leave the stage, and the same soothing, calming voice announces: "Ladies and Gentlemen. There will now be a fifteen minute intermission." Lovely. Splendid. How delightful.

This was perhaps, one of the most polite and well-behaved crowds I've ever seen in my life. I don't know if it was because of all of the families there....or maybe it was just the city of brotherly (Sisterly?) love..... but when "Long Way to the Top" started playing... I jumped to my feet, started the "Long-Way clap" and looked over my shoulder to see everyone still seated. Now Jesse warned them: Don't sit down when Twisted Sister comes out! I suspect that they just didn't know how a TS show works.

Twisted came onstage at 9:10 pm. We had a new elf addition this year wearing the pink and black elf attire. It was the same, over-the-top set from last year--Santa's Twisted workshop only this time, instead of mini-KISS pulling our Santa-Dee out on the sleigh, it was four young scantily clad lovelies. Santa-Dee showered us with candy canes and condoms. And then...our first shock of the night:

AJ....the MAM.....JJ......and NO EDDIE. Eddie Ojeda contacted the band early that morning, he was rushed into emergency back surgery. Many bands would have simply canceled the show....but not TS. They contacted my new personal hero: Danny McCafferty Danny gets a call a 9:00 am yesterday and was asked to fill in for Eddie that night. While he knows all the TS songs, he didn't know ANY of the Christmas music. Jay Jay spent the entire day with him, teaching him the songs. HE DID A PHENOMENAL JOB. INCREDIBLE. For some of you, getting that type of call may be your biggest fantasy....or worst nightmare... but this fellow not only stepped up to the plate, he hit the ball out of the park.

Before I go too much further: here is your SETLIST:
1. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
2. The Kids Are Back
3. White Christmas
4. The Beast
5. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus (PG-13 version)
6. You Can't Stop Rock N' Roll
7. Deck the Halls
8. Shoot 'Em Down
9. Oh Come Oh Ye Faithful (sung to the tune of you know what...)
10. Stay Hungry
11. Burn in Hell
AJ Drum Solo
12. Silver Bells
13. I'll Be Home for Christmas
14. I Wanna Rock
Encores:
15. Heavy Metal Christmas
16. We're Not Gonna Take It

That's right folks....100 solid minutes of kick your ass rock and roll. Fantastic setlist

The sound: well, it's funny. I could hear clear as a bell....although there was a lot of feedback. This was the first show in 27 years that I didn't need ear plugs. Not sure what that says. The monitors were a mess--Dee had to stop a few times to have them make some adjustments, and it was obvious that Dee could NOT hear himself because he was very pitchy (off-key) on "White Christmas" and "I Saw Mommy...." Dee is one of the top rock voices out there--so I don't fault him. Once they resolved the monitor problems, he was back to great form.

Speaking of "White Christmas"....no fake snow at the Keswick show. I would argue that perhaps they didn't need any....if you count the asbestos that rained on us from the ceiling plaster....instead there was fog. well, why not? It was a foggy night outside, so shit, why not fog inside? Dee gave us a rousing, raunchy 'I Saw Mommy..." only she was fellating Santa Claus. Afterwards, Dee had to comment about the horrified looks he saw on some of the parent's faces.
"Hey....seriously dude, you need to do 'earmuffs' for fellatio? Really? The kid knows what fellatio means? Shit, if he knows the word cunnilingus you're really in trouble!"

Jay Jay proved that Twisted Sister fans are smarter and more cultured than the average bear: he yells out:
"Who lives in a pineapple down under the sea?" [I'm assuming y'all know the answer to that--the crowd sure did!] hysterical. Ok Jay Jay, we'll take funky animation for $200, please. Jay Jay reminded us that this was the fourth annual Twisted gathering of Jews....right there with ya.....that's right. The Armadillo was a Bar Mitzvah in his youth. Being a multi-denominational guitarist, Jay Jay had a new Les Paul--Twisted Sister Christmas wreath on the front side....and Menorah on the back! (well, actually, it was a Channukiah if you want to get accurate...it's a Jew thing. Make that "chhhh" sound like you have to clear phlegm from your throat. honest. the best part about being Jewish is any excuse to make the CCCHHHHH sound.)

Animal knocked me out with his fantastic bass solo: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen..... Finally, I am filled with the Twisted Christmas spirit!

As you've seen from the setlist, they played some good oldies last night--Jay Jay's solo on "Shoot 'em Down" was righteous! It had almost this bluesy feel to it--almost... je ne sais quoi.... almost New Orleans bluesy. Just beautiful.

And of course, the now obligatory "Hava Negilah" played at the end of "Oh Come O Ye Faithful" (for those of you non-Jewish, it's that celebratory Jew theme you hear at all the weddings and bar mitzvahs)

Dee gave us a fun wrap about his creative process for the Christmas Album--I won't spoil it here since he may recount if at the Nokia show. And once again, for at least the third time in the show, everyone gave proper applause and appreciation to Danny McCafferty for his stupendous job stepping in, and for Jay Jay's help in tutoring him all day to prep him for tonight.

Dee DID wear TS makeup, by the way--as he promised at Plymouth MA--but that after the Christmas shows, no more Maybelline. There was loud booing at this announcement--until Dee reminded us all that makeup or not, Twisted Sister is, and always has been, all about great rock and roll. Hear, hear.

We certainly missed Eddie--especially on “Burn in Hell”--there was no baritone/tenor to sing the refrain with MAM's deep growling bass vocals and while we heard some excellent duets between Jay Jay and Danny, and Jay Jay and MAM, we certainly anxiously await Eddie's return. AJ drum solo during “Burn In Hell” was also different tonight-- it was truly sounds of thunder. Out west, the buffalo herds were sometimes called "rolling thunder"--AJ did a solo that I swear, sounded like a galloping herd of buffalo--it was HUGE.

[Which by the way.... I digress here for a moment.... some fool standing in front of me was talking on his cell phone during the drum solo. Really? Like ANYONE can hear ANYTHING during that drum solo! The only thing I could hear was the pounding of that bass drum.....hello? Twisted Sister show? Do you REALLY need to answer that???! ]

Mark Animal Mendoza sounded superb--I think he rolled out a new bass last night--I've mostly been standing near Jay Jay's mike, so maybe I've missed it before, but it's the TS logo with a skull in the middle, and then pieces of the “Come Out and Play” logo superimposed around the side and bottom. Way cool. Rich sound!

Jesse Blaze joined his proud Dad onstage to sing a touching rendition of "I"ll Be Home for Christmas" dedicated to all of our troops abroad. Then the road crew released the giant Christmas ornaments, which knocked many a child over and spilled many a beer. They are fun for about 2 minutes----my personal opinion--deep six these frivolities.

Santa himself joined the stage. Well....okay.... I may be a former Jew....but I know that ain't the real Santa Claus....it looked suspiciously like a member of the road crew...dressed up like an elf....dressed up like Santa. Ever had Turducken? Turkey stuffed with Duck stuffed with Chicken [I have. it's over the top.] Well it was kinda like that. Except Santa forgot to put on his pants. So we had Santa from the waist up. Elf from the waist down. Those poor kids in the audience were traumatized. Actually, for that matter, I found it a bit disturbing too.

Anyhow, Santa's little helper asked the boys what they wanted for Christmas this year:
A.J.: wants a train set. very traditional!
MAM: He wants a GMC pickup, fully loaded. A full set of Mac tools. Some new automatic weapons--also fully loaded.
Jay Jay; very poignant. He wanted the "damn recession to be over so that folks can get their job backs". So true. Let's hope and pray.
Then he added, that his second Christmas wish:
"For Gene Simmons and Donald Trump to exchange hair pieces"

I think world peace may come sooner.

Dee, of course......."I WANNA ROCK!"
He did a very, very funny rap that went so quickly I couldn't capture it...but it basically talked about how back in the day, there were no photo ID's and the drinking age was 18.... and he got the audience very pumped up to finish off the refrain with:
"You know that we know that you know we know you know we know you know how to rock....."

He also pointed out a very festively dressed female Dee lookalike...which led to a incredibly funny rap that ended with "GaGa on this, baby!"

Before the second encore, Eddie Ojeda sent a text that Danny Stanton read onstage:
paraphrasing here, I couldn't get every word....
"I went Under The Blade and I'm coming back. Getting ready to rock. Ya beeeyutch. See Ya soon. Eddie Ojeda"
we were waiting for Eddie to come running out in his hospital gown, IV full of jack in tow.... maybe Nokia we hope.

Again, I know I speak for all of us that we wish Eddie a full and speedy recovery.

We gave many, many well deserved ovations and accolades to Danny McCafferty, our hero of the night and Jay Jay, who Dee described as "the Olympian Ideal of Heavy Metal Rock n' Roll". We also gave props (whoops. no pun intended) to the prop-master and stage designer Kevin, a hail to the road crew and thanks to Danny Stanton, the coolest cucumber in rock and roll.

Despite one or two very intoxicated fools, it was very enjoyable. A very drunk fan seemed to take a liking to yours truly...how do I know she was drunk? She took my picture (oh god it's on facebook out there now, I just know it) and said, "Oh, you look cute!" WOW. NOW THAT'S DRUNK! I just know tomorrow she'll wake up, look at her blurry photos and say, "WTF? who's the old ugly bald guy?" Don't worry sweetie. That's why there's a delete button.

And there you have it. A great show, a fabulous kickoff to the holiday season, and excellent warm-up for the shows to come! While it had its problems last night, I certainly didn't care for a moment. We missed Eddie--we throw the horns to Danny-- and we wish everyone a safe, happy and healthy holiday.

With that. your bleary-eyed road mammal ... hey, it was pouring down buckets when I got home at 2 am.... is trotting off to get some sleep so that I may bring another installment to the Slamboard from the Nokia theatre in glorious New York City December 6th!
See ya there, babies...
Trotting off....
Armadillo

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Plymouth, MA Veteran's Hall, 11/6/09 
Friday, November 6, 2009, 11:20 PM
Posted by Administrator
November 6, 2009 Plymouth, MA
Ah my babies….
It is my distinct pleasure to bring to you now, the latest edition of the Armadillo Road Report, Plymouth Massachusetts, containing all of the concert review details that you want to know…and plenty you don’t! Coming to you fresh from the airport, I’ll give you a teaser here:
Plymouth is a town rich with American history including Plymouth Rock….this was one for the history rock books. This concert was LEGENDARY.

Now given that just one week ago, your SMF friends were sweating it out in the one-hundred plus degrees in Orlando, Florida, it was nothing short of metabolic shock to get off the plane in Boston to thirty-five degrees and windy. The beautiful drive to Plymouth through the fall foliage and then a lovely stroll down historic Plymouth’s cobblestone sidewalks, was the perfect start to this road trip. Being still in the Halloween spirit, and given the well-known presence of Plymouth ghosts, my theme of the night was “omens.”

First good omen of the night: while checking out the venue situation, I had an opportunity to overhear the sound check. Most notably, the boys played “Shoot ‘em Down”—I could hear every note perfectly and realized that if it sounded this good outside, I could only imagine how great it was going to sound that night! I ran into our favorite manager Danny Stanton and told him “I’m lovin’ Plymouth already!” and a very cold Danny replied “Brrrrr….Orlando it ain’t!” [sidenote: tell that to the panhandler I walked past ---300 lb dude was wearing no pants. I swear it’s true. He mercifully was wearing a fanny pack in the front.] I grabbed a quick bite at T-Bones Roadhouse….couldn’t resist a pub with an armadillo on the sign and off to the show I went.

The concert site itself was one of Plymouth’s older, historic colonial buildings—now their Veteran’s Memorial Hall. The hallways were adorned with a mix of rock and roll and war veteran memorabilia. They had a concession stand, a bar, vending, merchandise tables and the gold standard of concert bathrooms—seriously, it was huge. (Sometimes it’s the little things in life.) The entire floor was cleared for general admission, split into two sections. There was a front section and then a rear section, with two tiers of balcony and mezzanine seating almost all the way up to the stage. Beautiful, high ceilings made for some decent acoustics with a small stage about 4 feet off the floor—fans were allowed access right up to the stage’s edge. The staff had a few logistical issues at first, but they seemed to work it out eventually.

The band times were posted at the door—each opening act had 30 minutes of stage time and let me just say that you could set your watch by these folks. The opener went onstage five minutes late, but they were still off by their designated time. Speaking of opening acts, this show had three of them: Chain Drive, Woodland Creatures, and VOBC.

I took my place up front with my fellow slamboarders, and noted what we were concerned would be a bad omen: a white tie draped on the amp: fears of Duran Duran and English Beat influences raced through our minds. Fortunately, it was an unfounded worry—Chain Drive was very good overall—they sounded quite well-practiced for an opener and quite honestly, belonged 2nd on the bill, not 4th. Their guitarist was very talente and the drummer had plenty of crowd favorite: the cowbell. Two tips for Chain Drive:

1. If you are going to do a crowd sing-a-long, be sure you have more than 4 fans in the audience that know the words. Or….
2. Pick a song that we know and love if you don’t fit the criteria for #1.
I was surprised to see Danny watching from the floor but perhaps he was scoping out some new talent. Overall, Chain Drive did well. It ain’t easy being first on a bill of 4, especially with TS headlining.

Bad Omen #2 came along as the second opener began to set up a mixing board and turntable. Yep, you read that right. Immediately followed by Bad Omen #3: one of the band members came onstage wearing a cap turned askew and a white track suit. Eminem wanna be? Oh Why? Both of these omens seemed to fulfill our prophecy that Woodland Creatures would not be a crowd pleaser. Hailing from Wareham, MA, they did bring a small fan base with them. My earplugs cancel out 35 decibels, but unfortunately, I could still hear Woodland Creatures. Not my cuppa tea.

Next up was a Plymouth Rock band (sorry, my last Plymouth pun, I promise….) VOBC. Well. Some folks seemed to really like them, so obviously they have appeal to the younger set. And their drummer, Roger, apparently had something to do with bringing tonight’s together, so “thanks for that.” To me, they were just another “Cookie Monster” speed metal band. You know what I’m talking about….the lead singer essentially sounds like a hypoglycemic pissed off Cookie Monster.

Their bass player performed in his stocking feet….I saw a pair of Rockports behind him, gotta love New England. My slamboard peanut gallery gave them an A for energy…but an F for execution. The bassist resembled someone having a grand mal seizure….he continuously knocked into the drum equipment…the lead singer threw his microphone stand and almost took out the bassist…not to mention that he repeatedly hawked “loogies” up in the air and onto the stage, including one that landed on a lovely young gal standing in the front row. VOBC was just like school on Saturday: NO CLASS. A real shame because their guitarist has a lot of [wasted] talent. Armadillo tip for VOBC: don’t spit on your fans. open for Run DMC's reunion tour instead. ‘Nuff said.

Our TS roadie treated us to the opening riff of “Hysteria” as he tuned up Eddie’s Fender—and I have to tell you, I could have listened to that all night. Nice touch! But then 10:00 pm rolled around and the theatre went dark. The familiar opening chords of “Long Way to the Top” kicked some adrenaline into our veins and so began one of the BEST TS shows of the entire Stay Hungry Anniversary Tour. Now I know what some of you are thinking—I’m just kissing up because of the less-than-stellar review I did of Orlando. I swear to you all—this show was fantastic! It was TS at their best.

Here’s the setlist, first and foremost: (oh, those of you who weren’t there... you’re gonna shit when you see what you missed!)
The first ten songs were “Stay Hungry” side-to-side, in order, with a drum solo during “The Beast.”
Here are the encores…ready?
11. Come Out and Play
12. “30”
13. Under The Blade
[band introductions]
14. You Can’t Stop Rock N’ Roll
That’s right…they played “30!” But more on that later….

While the Memorial Hall was [embarrassedly] not packed full, it had some true, hardcore SMFs! After the first song, I looked over my shoulder, and all the way up in the balcony, in the last row, they were rocking hard! An observation shared by Dee, who exclaimed: “You guys are fucking loud….and ‘fuck’ is pretty fucking loud!” and then treated a front row lovely to his best Joey-from-Friends “How YOU doin’?”

Dee did a quick rap to address anyone’s concerns about sellout. Between the Midol, Dancing With The Stars and Wendy’s….it is understandable that some fans may have some worry. Leave it to the greatest frontman in heavy metal to explain: while at first Twisted Sister was a bit nervous about selling song rights to a women’s PMS product, he learned that “it is a medication that stops vaginal dryness….and where there is vaginal dryness, Twisted Sister is here to stand against it and prevent it! We’re stopping vaginal dryness! We're doing G-d’s work here!”
[Never thought I’d ever type the words “vaginal dryness” and Twisted Sister in the same sentence. Another Twisted first.]

Okay…so more on the show.
The dual solos between Eddie and Jay Jay were just spot on. There was raw energy in the crowd, and perfect synchronicity onstage. "Burn In Hell" absolutely tore it loose. Literally, too. Dee always sheds his shoulder pads by the third song, but rarely onstage. As Dee dropped to the floor for the intro to Burn In Hell, I see his shoulder pads rolling off the stage like a tumbleweed! Jay Jay’s solo was absolutely FLAWLESS.

Dee apologized for the postponement of September 12th but thanked all of us for coming up—this was one fired up crowd! He shared that the evening’s performance would be the last Stay Hungry Anniversary Tour stop in the United States, and the last time we would see them in Stay Hungry makeup [we may seem some at the Christmas shows], and it may very well be the last time we hear some of those songs live. I tried my best to savor each and every song, and as sentimentally wussy as it sounds, held back some tears.

Jay Jay mentioned that while this was the last domestic show for the Stay Hungry tour, the band was already impressed with the fans here, and Boston was definitely going to be on the Christmas docket next year! You heard it here first! (er, second…) He reminded us all to set our TIVO for Private Sessions on A&E, December 6th. (They filmed it the day just before last night’s show) And he gave us one of his now famous, American Idol rants.

When they launched into “Captain Howdy”, Animal’s bass sound was so huge, you could actually see the beat move drinks…clothing…anything sitting on or near the stage…. And at one point (“Come here, my sweet, let me help you with that….) Dee almost got right down into the crowd! When we sang the refrain, I’ve never seen the band look more pleased. Dee took another moment to stress our civic responsibility to “Take Back The Horns!” And he gave me yet another Dee Snider notable quotable about the creation of the horns:
“Like Excalibur’s sword, passed on to us to by the great DIO, as a symbol of solidarity and unity….”
And he shared with us the horror, that even Betty White has been guilty of blatant and flagrant misuse of throwing the horns.

They launched into “I Wanna Rock”…. And that’s where we had a few moments of crowd ugliness. Apparently, the facility security decided to allow all the rear general admission folks to gain entry into the front general admission. So suddenly, a respectful and civil group of SMFs were met with several rude, intoxicated and yes, pungent, concert goers who elbowed their way to the front. And during the song, as Dee shouted “I Wanna Rock…You Wanna Rock….” One totally intoxicated idiot climbs onstage and tries to grab Dee’s microphone. Dee, of course, without missing a beat, chimes in “Even big fat ugly guys wanna rock!” Security: ya dropped the ball on this one. He dove right over my head (not hard to do, mind you) and we nicely cleared a hard, flat spot on the floor for him to land face first. Say it with me, everybody: DOUCHE BAG!

“Don’t Let Me Down” is one of those special songs, and I particularly liked how Eddie played it last night. It was just special—and I fear that we may not hear this song live again. “The Price” was spot-on, freakin’ amazing. Chills all round. The lighters were on all the way --doing the Price sway from the front row to the back row of the balcony.

Even AJ’s drum solo was a little more than his usual (incredible) sounds of thunder…it had a bit more funk to it! Add his blue-LED tipped laser sticks and it was just perfection. “S.M.F.” brought down the house, I thought Animal was going to pound that bass into tiny pieces.

“Come Out and Play”: they have often teased us with the COAP opener for an encore but then launch into something else…this time they played it full glory. Jay Jay finished it off with a behind –the-head move. [please tell me SOMEONE got a photo of that!]
And then we were treated to what Dee has deemed, “The Bathroom Song.” Those fans who don’t want to hear anything new, use opportunities such as this to go to the bathroom. And if you were one of those people, you missed out! “30” was just a thrill to hear live, and that opening funkadelic “waaaaah waaaaaaaaah waaaaaaaaaah” just rocked me to the core.

“Under The Blade” was dedicated to us, the “Old Fucks” as Dee called us. Eddie motioned that they had hit it out of the park....so true! Dee reminded us, again, to get a good look because this was essentially the end of the makeup, with the final notable quotable of the night: “Lady GaGa…that bitch owes me royalties!”

Jay Jay, always the epitome of class, walked over the edge of the stage—and while met with dozens of fans’ open hands, reaching like chirping hungry birds….he handed picks to three delightful ladies in the audience, including a young little SMF standing off in the mezzanine, who looked simply elated! (who wouldn’t be?)
Speaking of Jay Jay….

We opted to take the spot in front of his microphone, and because there was no security barrier, we were incredibly close. How close were we?
So close I could count the scratches on Jay Jay’s TS belt buckle…
So close I had to be careful that when I rocked out, I didn’t accidentally throw a fist into Jay Jay’s nuts….
So close that I had to watch my hands to make sure they weren’t in the path of his feet…
So close that I made the GROSS FAUX PAS of letting him see me take notes during the show.
Now some of you who have seen me at shows, have often asked me “how do I remember all of this crap?” Well it’s simple: I don’t. If I don’t write it down, I’ll forget it five minutes later. And as an avid writer, I am constantly jotting down quick shorthand so that I can capture all the sights, sounds and flavors of the show, especially the setlist. But

I’m usually pretty discreet.

Except not last night. And Jay Jay busted me.

My special telepathic powers allowed me to read Mr. French’s mind: ‘I’m here busting my ass onstage and that fucking Armadillo is standing there scribbling notes. WHAT A DOUCHE BAG’
And so for those of you in the back, who were going “What the fuck? Why does Jay Jay keep pantomiming like he’s taking notes?” well…. That was for me. Honestly--I was scribbling down what a brilliant performance of “30” you had just done, and when I looked up and saw you looking down at me….oh shit....you know how hard I rock out at these shows! I promise to be more discreet about it at the Christmas shows…. But I DID tell you that this review was gonna be a good one!

They ended with “You Can’t Stop Rock n’ Roll’ with a special dedication to the survivors of the Station Fire, several of whom were in attendance. Always a place in our hearts for you and all of the families who lost loved ones.

When the lights came on, “Day of the Rocker” started playing on the PA (the official signal that the show is over), the front rows dissipated as a few did what I call the “Day of the Rocker” shuffle…. Walking slowly like zombies along the floor, looking for guitar picks…
This show was one for the books—great crowd (for the most part), great location, fantastic performance and a chance to hear a song live that we have NEVER seen or heard live before.
I didn’t want it to be over, it was just that good!

Thank you thank you thank you Gentlemen! I don’t know how you will top that one but I’m sure you will. A legendary, historic show in beautiful, downtown Plymouth. FAN-FUCKING-TASTIC.

There were professional photographers there: here's one: Lisa Gourley you can check out her photos at www.lisagourley.com

And just for fun: a quirky epilogue to the town of Plymouth:
This morning before driving an hour to the airport, I headed out for a New England breakfast with Boston baked beans and grilled corn bread (Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it!) and saw a woman pushing a baby stroller, while she walked a cat wearing a dress on a leash. You read that one right. I asked the waitress for a reality check:
“Excuse me, ma’am, but does that seem odd to you?”
“It does…” she replied, “She usually pushes the cat in the stroller” Ba-dum-bump.

Your faithful road reporter, trotting off…until we meet again in Philadelphia… if this doesn't convince you to buy a ticket to an upcoming show, I don't know what will!

Armadillo



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Hard Rock Hotel, Orlando, FL Velvet Sessions 10/29/09 
Thursday, October 29, 2009, 10:22 PM
Posted by Administrator
October 29, 2009, Orlando Florida, Hard Rock Hotel, Velvet Sessions
You know, I typed the entire road report and lost it when I hit “Submit”… so maybe this second time around it will be a little tamer because draft one was a real humdinger!

You knew this was coming…and yet you clicked on the thread anyway…

It’s time for the Official Armadillo Road Report: The Official UN-Official Twisted Sister Concert Review. Hard Rock Hotel Velvet Sessions, Orlando Florida, October 29, 2009. All the details you’ve been clamoring for, and plenty of trivial crap you wished I’d never shared. First things first: after the traumatizing ordeal of chasing a puddle-jumper to the Ft. Wayne show, catching a plane to Orlando was a breeze. I didn’t stay at the Hard Rock itself—a beautifully, lush landscaped palatial establishment—I went for a more modest place a few blocks away. No scantily-clad girls in the lobby like the Hard Rock. They did give me a warm chocolate-chip cookie upon check-in, which almost made up for it. Hard Rock gets hotties…I got a cookie…Charlie Brown gets a rock. Such is life.

The venue itself: this was by far, the most BIZARRE concert site yet. Weirder than the beer garden tables of Ft. Wayne…the Spinal Tap/Puppet Show amphitheatre of Six Flags…the strip mall in Springfield…the cactus garden in Tucson…. Twisted played a hotel LOBBY. Yes, that’s right. It was the lobby. TS checks the sound….guests check into their rooms. Another surreal TS moment.

Now to their credit, the place was decorated quite festively. We had a rotating Frankenstein in the middle, a tower of artfully stacked Vodka bottles complete with animated skeletal pirates. There were gargoyles, cobwebs, strobe lights and the place was packed full of folks in costumes. It was a bit uncomfortable waiting in line in the mens room next to Uncle Fester, but you know, at a TS show, it didn’t seem so out of place. The room itself was approximately 20’ x 50’, with a stage about 2’ off the ground that I’m certain is mostly rented for weddings and bar mitzvahs. I couldn’t complain: I enjoyed standing on carpet for a change. I saw that our own TS roadie Dwayne was sporting a “Dad To Be 2010” shirt… some little future SMF(s) on the horizon? Do tell. Then again. Maybe I shouldn’t ask.

The Velvet Sessions are promoted as a Rock N’ Roll Cocktail Party (Rocktail party?) and while I never had a chance to get a complimentary beverage or sample the hors d’oeuvres, I appreciated that they were there. Note to Danny Stanton: I’d like to propose appetizers for all future TS shows, please. I’d like those little egg rolls and some mini hot dogs if you don’t mind, thank you. Now those of you who know me, know that I just love local flavor. Love getting out there and meeting the people, tasting the foods, getting the pulse of the town. This crowd, however, did NOT endear itself to me. The theme of the night: Douche Bags. But more on that later….

[oh? Did you want to read about the show? Well, alright then.]

First band up was a NYC act called “Toxin.” Local folks told me that the Velvet Sessions typically don’t have an opening act, and you ALL know how much I dread standing through opening bands…but this was a TREAT. (not a trick.) The opener was very, very good. And young. Very young. Let me put it this way: if you put Shawn Cassidy and Bon Jovi in a washer/dryer on the highest setting for 90 minutes…out would come the Toxin lead singer! No, really…. he was barely 5-feet and 100 lbs…he makes ME look like a Linebacker for the Ravens….I didn’t know that rocker clothes came in pediatric sizes! When TS sang “The Kids Are Back”…truth in advertising! They weren’t old enough to get into the club they played….hell, they weren’t old enough to DRIVE to the show!

Oh please, I’m 5’2”…I never get an opportunity to make fun of short folks… just one more….I have more hair on my…oh, second thought...nevermind. Danny’s daughter was standing next to me and told me most of them are only 15 years old (the lead singer kept making goo-goo eyes at her, but she tells me she knows them and it was all in fun….)

They have a new CD out, and they played a lot of material from it including “I Don’t Care”. One song had the refrain “Nasty Nasty Dirty Dirty”. Somehow, coming from one who wasn’t old enough to buy condoms, let alone sing about what he wanted to DO with them, well, it just seemed wrong. Welcome to Cougartown, I suppose. They were very talented however, musically and vocally, with great stage presence. We were treated to a really fun Kid Rock rendition and even “Play that Funky Music”. Just one tip kid: sell the tambourine on Craigslist and buy a cowbell instead. Toxin needs to define their own identity, but when they do, watch out! Toxin has a lot of talent and poise, and definitely a band to watch. Thanks for bringing them to Orlando!

So following my own superstitious TS ritual, I donned my Twisted bandanna before “Long Way to the Top” and looked over my shoulder: the place was JAM PACKED. Packed full of…. douche bags. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…it’s coming… the Armadillo rant of the night….

The boys took the stage at 8:38 pm, the earliest I think I’ve ever seen them, (Florida: early bird special perhaps?) and they were decked out in professionally-done stage makeup true to their TS colors. Eddie was a red devil/vampire-esque demon, Animal was in green hulk makeup, AJ was a blue gargoyle, Jay Jay was in yellow skull face—very unnerving, by the way…. Jay Jay’s make up made him look like was displeased the entire show. I was right under his mic, so every time he looked down, he looked perturbed. I’ll also point out, that he was the ONLY band member still wearing makeup when the show was over. AJ sweated his off in 5 minutes… Dee and Mark soon followed. I swear, he must not perspire. Now that’s cool, folks. Dee’s makeup was really kinda disturbing. (of course, what else?) sort of a smiling skull/clowns-will-eat-you face. Heebie jeebies.

Here’s the setlist for you purists:

1. Stay Hungry
2. The Kids Are Back
3. Under The Blade
4. Captain Howdy (without Street Justice)
5. The Fire Still Burns
6. We’re Not Gonna Take It
7. Shoot ‘em Down (Jay Jay’s fave)
8. Can’t Stop Rock N’ Roll
9. The Price
10. Burn in Hell (fairly short AJ drum solo)
11. I Wanna Rock
12. S.M.F
(no encores)

It was not the longest set they’ve done, guessing that had everything to do with the Hard Rock Hotel. The sound quality was SUPERB. Kudos to the soundmen! I guffawed at first at the small stack of Marshalls, but let me say that this was ONE LOUD SHOW. Even so, the sound was very well-balanced and very clear. Hardly any feedback or distortion that we often hear in the front row.

The boys definitely kicked some ass—I found that they didn’t play as tightly tonight—I could discern a difference from previous shows. Perhaps evidence of having several months off, but I’m sure they will work out ALL the kinks in time for Christmas. We picked up a few lyric snafus…I often wonder if all us SMFs singing the lyrics in the front row throws off Dee’s timing…it’s possible….

It was also the first time I noticed Eddie's Fender...he had two different pink and black bull-eyes tonight, and he played one that looked like it had been through a war zone. Half the paint is coming off! Kinda nice to be close enough to see that....I should have paid attention to Animal's. My god what that man does to a bass! I was afraid to get too close.

Not a lot of chatter or raps tonight. Even the band intro was short and sweet. A few notable quotables though. Dee reminded us all that while we may be at Universal Studios, “this ain’t Disney” and there were plenty of obligatory f-bombs courtesy of the crowd. We made a solemn oath to shoot him if they ever played the Magical Kingdom. [Note to Jay Jay: some mouse ears with bones logos would have sold like hotcakes. God Bless Merch!] Dee had an intimate dialogue with Danny’s teens…and assured them that he could kick the Jonas Brothers’ asses, anywhere, anytime, anyhow! A note to all the Orlando Douche Bags: when Dee is obviously speaking to specific audience members, bull-rushing the stage at that moment is pointless because he isn’t talking to you and just makes you into a BIGGER Douche Bag…(oh it’s coming…)

We granted Jay Jay’s wish of chanting “Harry Fucking Potter”, apparently in reference to an upcoming Disney attraction…and a rousing Dee chant of “no school like old school.” Jay Jay informed us that Death Metal came from Orlando (true? Or just setting up the punchline?)…he attributed this fact to TOO MUCH DISNEY. My god, that place is all about the Mouse.
It was a great show in an intimate setting, a bit goofy (no pun intended) but hard rocking and a lot of fun.

And then there was the crowd.
Two words….say them with me… DOUCHE BAGS.
I believe am earlier review by SMF Shawn referenced “Yellow Shirt guy”…he was one of them….and there were a few who ungracefully elbowed their way to the front row, pushing aside some front row old schoolers that had been there all night. That’s just poor concert etiquette. Rock out, make your way to the front, but DON’T BE A JERK.

Especially if you are huge. Many of us in the front row really don’t need to smell your armpits all night—it’s why we got there so early to be up front. That’s right. So we wouldn’t be in your pit. Mosh pit=OK Arm pit= NOT OK As a sidenote: I always shower and wear anti-perspirant before each and every show. You should too. Consider it your civic duty to not stink. And there are ways to sneak into the front row, should you desire, without being a douche bag. It was just pointless. DCT “Da Mayor” turned out to have the best seat in the house, she made herself a little bunker right off to the side...halfway through I was about to see if two would fit there.

And still more…. Do not climb on the people in front of you. Especially short ones. My bald head is not a place for you to rest your elbow, place your drink or use as a stepping stool. I don’t mind wearing 100 extra lbs when I’m on the fire truck, but some [say it!] douche bag kept climbing on top of my back, so much so that it actually damaged the paint job on my TS vest. I’m one who likes the ladies…but sweaty boobage pressed into my back the whole show is not enjoyable…and just plain violates my personal space.

And I don’t care who ya are, if you climb onto my back and press down on the back of my neck like it's a turnstile, I’m going to push you off…it’s bad enough I often leave the shows with bruises all over my ribcage and back… not to mention the number of times I usually get hit in the head. That all comes with the territory of being up in the front row, I’m used to it. But I gotta tell ya, Cathy and I worked DOUBLE OVERTIME to keep those teenage girls from getting crushed. Kudos to the other fans who stood behind them to help protect them. Apparently the Queen of the Douche Bags must have been the one climbing on top of me—she made me miss the last two numbers because she got her vodka-stenched breath in my face, claiming that I hit her. Now you folks know me. I would NEVER hit anyone intentionally at a show, especially a woman. Anyhow, kudos to her very level headed boyfriend. You, Sir, have class. Do yourself a favor, get a new, sober girlfriend…you deserve better. As for Queen Douche Bag: I hope you puked all over those nice shoes.

Now that said, I met many wonderful local Floridians who were gracious, kind and fascinating, so I hate to let a few idiots taint my image of the town, but as crowds go, this one goes into the “lose” column. I think we should compile some concert etiquette that maybe Dee will disseminate on his www.takebackthehorns.com

A special shout out to the local photographer that I met. Great fellow by the name of Bryan Lambert, you can check out his Central Florida Rocks Magazine at www.centralfloridarocks.net and see if he’s posted any of the TS photos yet. He also has his own photography website at www.photobryan.com Obviously, don’t download his photos without his permission—but check out his work. I’m always appreciative of the photographers so that we have some archive of these shows.

Nice to see some of the slamboarders there. Hope to catch more of you at Plymouth, MA next week. Until then….this concludes your road report for Orlando, Florida!
Trotting off…
Armadillo

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Ft. Wayne, IN, Mid-West Rock Festival, 7/18/09 
Saturday, July 18, 2009, 11:14 PM
Posted by Administrator
July 18, 2009 Ft. Wayne IN, Mid-West Rock Festival

All my dear Slamboaders, settle down, get yourself a tall, cold beverage and put on your reading glasses because this one is gonna be a DOOZY!

Yes, it's time, once again, for the official Armadillo Road Report and concert review, chock full of everything you wanted to know about the show....and plenty you didn't! I'll start off with a little fun fact: Armadillos, while native to mostly the Southwestern U.S., have been spotted in Indiana….although…. it is unusual. Why you ask? Because it's freakin' impossible to get there! This damn armadillo almost died trying! Holy shit. We weren't in the middle of nowhere but we had to pass through it to get here. Folks, I've taken planes, trains and automobiles to make these shows, and NOTHING could prepare me for Ft. Wayne. No, really. Indulge me here.

My plane out of Baltimore never left the gate--apparently, the battery wasn't charged so they had to plug the plane in. I have a photo of my plane being charged up--email me your cell and I'll send it to ya if you don't believe me. Something is really wrong when you have to plug in a plane to fly somewhere. What’s next? Winding the rubber band behind the propeller?

Then the next plane had a taillight out. Really? A taillight? Fly the damn plane…..and just don’t make any left turns! Use hand signals, shit, I dunno. The flight was canceled. There were very few flights into cities serving Ft. Wayne and I became one agitated mammal—I was almost pleading with the gate agent: “PLEASE...I MUST BE IN FT. WAYNE BY 8 PM!!! I'M GOING TO SEE TWISTED SISTER!!!”

The woman behind me, reading my vest says: “Is that what SMF stands for?” I turn around: "Ma'am, it's sounds for SICK MUTHA FUC...um...never mind..." Well, somehow, that got lost in translation, and in that famous game of telephone, by the time my story reached the back of the line, it was : "See that guy? He's trying desperately to get to Ft. Wayne. He's going to see his sister...their mother is sick." And guess what? Next thing I know....I'm flying first class to Detroit. But of course, it can't end there. I get to Detroit with 30 minutes to make the only remaining connection to Ft. Wayne and the gate breaks. Yes. Breaks. I’m almost in tears.

So we're captive on the plane, and I'm already on the phone calling rental companies because at this point, I'm going to have to drive the remaining distance (no cars available). The flight attendants tell me: "We're so sorry....but there's no way you'll get to your gate in time...it's all the way on the other side of the airport in the other concourse and they're about to close the door"

Well let me tell you, my babies, that I sprinted--not ran--sprinted through Detroit airport. People are now thinking I must be WITH the band cuz I'm almost pushing the crowd....OUTTA MY WAY I GOTTASHOWTOMAKE!!! I arrive at the gate (I swear, I think I did a half-mile in 4 minutes) and the door is literally closing... I throw my boarding pass at the airline worker, crash through the gate and do a swan dive onto the plane, collapsing into the first seat on the plane. Once they confirmed I was supposed to be there....they gave me some water, and a barf bag....and off we went to Ft. Wayne. "I hope those Twisted Sisters are worth it!" she tells me. YES, my SMF Friends, they were.

This show was AMAZING.

As I leave the hotel, I spot our very own Mr. Mendoza --He was busy chatting on his cell and yet still walked up to me, stuck his hand and said hello... True class act. Those little things really do mean a lot to the fans, so thank you Animal! Since I missed the actual festival, I don't have any tidbits from that but the venue site was like a cross between a beer garden and a crab feast. (alright, that's probably lost on you not from Maryland--but it was weird--rows of long tables perpendicular to the stage/GA area) Complete with a cul-de-sac of portapotties. Despite the unusual ambiance, the beverages were cheap, the people friendly, the police and security very attentive and the sound was very, very good overall.

The first band up was a local, Ft. Wayne group called "Brother". Yes, that's right, it was brothers and sisters night. Brother has a website: www.brother-rock.com and was a crowd favorite. Now you all know how much I just *LOVE* sitting through opening acts, but Brother was actually very good....musically, anyway. They are a 100% cover band--no original music--but they play the covers quite well. we were treated to everything from two Journey songs, Ozzy, Tesla, Van-Hagar....a nice cover of Maiden's Run To The Hills...it was like a dropping a dime in the old 80's jukebox.

The name of the band: the lead singer and the drummer are twin brothers. Shit, you coulda fooled me--the lead singer looked like your typical aging rocker while the drummer had an uncanny resemblance to my HVAC technician. not that there's anything wrong with that, mind you.... my only beefs: 1. they only played covers. not one original piece. so they have skill...but I want to see their talent! write some songs gents....or you'll never be more than an opening act to the opening act of the band. 2. the SET was too long. Kind of like guests who don't leave after 3 days.

Next up was Enuff Z'nuff. well. The bad news: the lead singer vocals were so low that we could barely hear him over the instruments. The good news: the lead singer vocals were so low that we could barely hear him over the music. Here's your Armadillo riddle of the night: what do lemon drops, a vaccum cleaner and Enuff Z'nuff have in common? yeah, you know the punchline. wow. they just plain sucked...and I don't use that term lightly. They apparently just flew back from Japan and were tired. But shit…they looked and sounded like they were playing for a nursing home. They were upstaged by a Ft. Wayne police officer air-guitaring with an inflatable guitar. Alas. Maybe we can convince Danny to have American Beauty open again--now THAT was a great show of covers that I could have watched all night!

Okay, okay....look, if I had to suffer through it, the least you can do is suffer through the review.
On to the review itself:
The setlist was essentially Stay Hungry, all in order so I'm not going to post the whole list:
Stay Hungry cover to cover with:
the drum solo after Don't Let Me Down
encores:
Come Out and Play
Under The Blade
(band intro)
Can't Stop Rock and Roll

They played a good 90 minutes--went onstage at 10:00 and off at about 11:30pm. Dee was in RARE FORM last night. There were some feedback problems but once they were resolved, the sound was very, very good, especially for an open site. Unfortunately, the lighting crew were either drinking too much beer or it was their first show....because they missed every damn lighting cue. leaving Dee to yell...."hey lightcrew...turn the lights ON now....."

"We're Not Gonna Take It" included a really nice image of the band just all lined up during the solos--which were very tight--although apparently A.J. not to be upstaged, decided to throw in an extra refrain. Apparently it was wag the dog night--was all in good fun, I assure you. "Don't Let Me Down" sounded wonderful--it makes me realize what we've been missing at all of those shows when they wouldn't play this one. "I Wanna Rock" turned into a game of "Dee says..." a la mother-may-I. Dee: "I wanna..." Crowd: "Rock!" of course, Dee managed to psyche out the crowd with "I...." and went the crowd screamed rock "I didn't say I WANNA.... everybody take two steps back!" Must be an Indiana thing. Simon says? That ain’t metal. Well, I guess it is when Dee does it.

Saw a new guitar last night (for me anyway...) during “I Wanna Rock”--Eddie played a beautiful cream colored Fender (I believe)--Jay Jay played his Les Paul. The duet was especially delightful. Some other poignant moments: Jay Jay closed his eyes during “The Price” solo (the benefits of coming early to get up front) and it was just exquisite.

And then…. Dee. It was the night of one-liners and a hysterical impersonation by Dee, of Kip Winger confronting him about some of his comments during House of Hair. Just imagine Dee making himself a foot shorter, poofing his hair and poking his finger on Animal's chest (who was playing 'Dee') saying, "oh...hey...you're tight....uh, never mind what I was saying...."

Dee's commented after “I Wanna Rock”--we're on Side 2 now. (B-side) and made a comment about the pink vinyl album..then realized that some of those younguns have no frickin' idea what he's talking about. "It's like flipping a pancake, see?" Dee explained that they will NOT be playing "30" live because "That's when you guys go to the bathroom! I know you...I know what you do....it's like...'we're gonna play a new track for ya' and that's when you go 'hey I gotta take a piss...anybody want a beer while I'm up..." No, no, Dee. that's not true. It's usually the drum solo that the posers go pee. It's the Brother fans who go to the toilet during new stuff because they've never heard any before. (MEOW! must have been that Hoosier Hisser cat show I read about) Dee then went on a tangent about "Just do what we do...wear Depends! I don't wear them because I need 'em, I wear 'em because I'm lazy!"
Speaking of drum solos: almost forgot: AJ used a pair of blue lazer tipped sticks that looked AMAZING--makes you realize just how hard that man works!

Jay Jay jumped off the stage and went over the crowd rail quite a few times--wasn't sure if he saw a friend or was just giving some SMF's a treat but either way, it was a show full of energy and fun. It was....frivolity! During “The Beast”, Dee sang the refrain while wagging a finger inches from the security guard's head...who looked straight ahead and was completely oblivious...and it just set off a wave of silliness. During “S.M.F.”, since this was a family festival, there could be no swearing. So Dee had a field day playing audience fill in the blanks. "HEY LOOK...THERE GOES MY MOTHER..[audience fills in the blank]" "HEY WHAT'S MY MOTHER [audience fills in the blanks] DOING HERE?" and it went on and on. So if Ft. Wayne files any obscenity law suits, they'll have to charge us: it was Twisted's fault.

Jay Jay shared his thoughts on American Idol ...Dee once again shared his thoughts on the devils horns. There's a new website now: www.takebackthehorns.com check it out!!!

I have more..... OH SHIT MY PLANE IS BOARDING! gotta run folks but I'll share the rest when I get home!
later my babies..
Armadillo running for the gate again....

Ft. Wayne PART II
well I'm back...that actually was a close one! Thank goodness the free internet computers were right next to the gate or I'd be stuck in Ft. Wayne!

It was as I predicted--there is just something about experiencing a show in a little town that just gives it such a different flavor from NYC. Jay Jay mentioned that he saw an advertisement for some type of dating internet site....don't quote me here because if he got it wrong, you'll go to some barnyard porn...but it along the lines of farmhandsonly.com or maybe farmhandslonely.com for those single cowboys I suppose.... and I think the other part of it comes down to local pride. Seeing a local band opening up for a big name band--makes everybody feel good.

Ft. Wayne is a heavy-metal happy town--they've got three rock stations--92.3 The Fort just picked up House of Hair so they've got a lot to be proud of. They hosted a great concert and wonderful event. There was one quite inebriated woman--it was her first TS show...and she was telling me how good a band Brother is (yes, they played very well) and how they were gonna blow TS off the stage. After the first encore, she came up to me and said "Well? Wasn't I right? Did Brother blow TS away or what??!!" Most of you who have met me know that I am actually a nice fella, and try to be very kind, respectful and chivalrous. I said to her: "Honey, I'll hold my tongue because that MUST be the alcohol talking." When she responded "Huh? hell no!" I then, as politely as possibly said, "Then you, my dear, are a complete fucking idiot. You don't belong here by the front row." And with that she flitted off back to the beer garden in port-a-potty land. Adieu!

A few more fun little tidbits from the night: The band intro. They actually didn't even get to introduce the band in Maryland, so this made up for it. Dee spoke briefly about reunions--how this one came to pass--and how a band reunion should be more than just one band member (Hello? Tony Iommi...are you listening? 1986 I paid good money to see Black Sabbath and only Tony Iommi was there...I’m still not over it..) Anyhow, Dee pretty much summed it up: if you're going to call it a reunion, then everybody HAS to show. Unless they're dead, in which case they're excused.

A great intro for the Sound of Thunder--AJ Pero. Then we were treated to a Dee anecdote which he swears is true: for the first rehearsal ever after the breakup, Mark 'the Animal' Mendoza shows up to the rehearsal with a gun! Pulls out the gun, puts it on top of the amp, plugs in his bass and says (in that way that only MAM can) "alright. let's see what we can put out". Then we were introduced to Eddie--the bravest man in rock n' roll as he was the first to wear a target on his guitar. Eddie corrected Dee that it is a bulls-eye, not a target. I’m not sure of the difference--you hit your target...but a bullseye you're aiming right for the center. Which in the case of Eddie's fender, shit, that's right in the balls. Dee, you're right. Eddie is one brave mutha.

Then our intro to Jay Jay--the epitome of manhood-- a model of heterosexuality--a man who self-proclaimed "It takes a secure man to play a pink guitar." How true, how true. I would LOVE to design a tour shirt for TS that has on the back in big, bold, capital letters: REAL MEN WEAR PINK.

Then of course Dee--the man the British press described as "Sarah Jessica Parker dropped in a vat of acid" (punctuated by MAM making truck horn noises with his bass….how the hell does he do that??!!??) which spawned a Dee rant about how Lady Ga-Ga is stilling his look. It was classic Dee, at his best. I hope someone recorded that show.

Props to Captain Howdy (SMF Chris) who I enjoyed the show with-- and many fans there for their first show ever. I was supposed to meet Joe from Ohio in the Hilton bar after the show--he never showed, which is too bad....because the rest of the band did, and I was fortunate enough to meet some of Jay Jay's lovely friends and chat for a bit about the new album. -side note to Jay Jay--when I got back to my room and turned on the clock radio, it was playing "Locomotive Breath". wait. or was it "Prime Motivator"...I get the two confused.... Jay and I “sang” a duet of Locomotive Breath in the bar that goes into my “Is this really happening or will I wake up soon?” Anyhow, the Michael Jackson jokes alone were worth being a fly on the wall. No, I’m not going to repeat them hear.

Listen folks, seriously. Every show I make on this reunion tour (which is a lot of them), I meet SMFs who have been devoted SMFs for 25 plus years but yet, it's their first show. Don't be the guy who missed the reunion tour and as you're laying on your deathbed years from now, saying, "oh my only regret....I never got to see Twisted Sister live...." Do NOT wait for them to come to your town.. The mountain must come to Mohammed. Save your money and ask for time off from work as soon as the dates get announced. Many of the upcoming shows are on weekends. Please: I'm begging...I IMPLORE you.... find a way. I know money is tight--for me as well.

On average, a show can cost me anywhere from $300 to $600 depending on location. I skipped Starbucks for a week and that paid for the show tix. I brought PBJ for one month instead of eating lunch out ($5 a day), and that paid for my hotel room. If you trim your luxuries for one month...whether it's dry cleaning, cigarettes, dining out, coffee...whatever... it is worth it. When the tour is over, it's OVER. Have no regrets!!!

Okay, I've exhausted my notes and I'm about to plotz. I averaged about two hours of sleep this weekend but it was just worth every moment. Please buy your tickets to Algona (I'll be in Honduras during that show otherwise you bet I'd be there...) and I hope to see you all at Plymouth, MA. Plymouth is a short trip from NYC--there are cheap fares to Boston--go with friends and split the costs of car rental and hotels. Ten years from now you won't remember what you blew that money on if you stay home....but I guarantee if you go, ten years from now you'll remember every detail from that show like it happened yesterday. Carpe Diem.

And with that, I am about to unpack my bags and let my head hit the pillow. Another glorious trip on the road...

Armadillo....your faithful road reporter...trotting off!




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