The Armadillo has landed! 
Friday, June 22, 2012, 10:19 AM
Posted by Administrator
This isn't exactly the moon...and I ain't no eagle...but the band and crew are making their way to Belgium. I believe there may be a few still in transit, but most are resting comfortably, aided perhaps by the gray and rainy skies here in Belgium.

I'm easily the most rested of the bunch having just spent the last week in Europe--3 not very relaxing days in Madrid followed by four absolutely delightful days in Bruges. Looking forward to making our way to Graspop tomorrow--

see you then, my babies...I'll be the one in pink and black, scarfing down more waffles...

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Official Armadillo Road Report for Azkena Rock Festival, Vitoria Spain June 14, 2012 
Tuesday, June 19, 2012, 05:54 PM
Posted by Administrator
Welcome to what I have now deemed: "The Chronicles of Hernia: The Lyin', The Bitchin' & The Buttprobe".

Hauling suitcases, gear and such across Europe is quite honestly, a real pain in the keister--now I understand why the young folks "backpack across Europe", as opposed to "wheeled-luggage-and-schlep-boxes-of-crap-and-hang-your-shoes-off-your-messenger-bag-across-Europe." Madrid (and Brugges, where I currently sit) are all cobblestones--it's murder on the Samsonite! Not to mention that they seem to promote good health by not providing elevators. I'm hauling my bags plus a heavy box of personal items for a friend (dropping off in Belgium) and let me tell you, getting on the metro in Madrid with a couple of suitcases, a messenger bag, a box of crap....well....you get the picture. And the security issues….I’m just waiting for the TSA prostate exam one of these days. (The train was definitely its own nerve-wracking adventure, however. I’ll leave it at that.)

Spain was not kind to yours truly--I won't give you all of the gory details but instead, I'll give you the good stuff, and for that, we'll start in Vitoria. Vitoria is a delightful, moderately quaint city in Spain that hails itself as the "Greenest City in Europe." The crew and I landed early into town and I took advantage of the opportunity to explore.

I hopped a tram to the downtown area and was fascinated by the older part of the city where the tiny cobblestone streets could not have more than 8 to 10 feet wide, barely enough for room for one vehicle to pass. To my great amusement, I watched as a truck, a car, a bicycle and a woman with a dog all tried to pass one another at the same time. In addition to the narrow width, the street wound around, twists and turns at a surprisingly steep angle--buildings on either side were three stories high giving a sense of medieval claustrophia. You've seen perhaps the bumper sticker: "If you don't like my driving, stay off the sidewalks!" ? That applies to Vitoria, where the sidewalks in the shopping district are also the streets. It was a bit weird to have to look both ways as I exited a storefront but it had a certain charm to it.

A few other odds and ends about Spain--many of the men are rather....well....short! As opposed to Scandinavia where I was as tall as their belt buckles, here in Spain I felt perfectly normal and proportioned. I found a lunch place where Spain's version of "Wheel of Fortune" was on the television in the background, complete with their own Vanna "Blanco," and I scarfed down an ensalada with some sort of tuna, filete con potatas (I'll order anything with the word "ta-ta's" in it) and a fabulous ice cream dish for dessert. Very little English spoken anywhere in Vitoria but I found that as long as I can make an attempt to pronounce it, they'll bring it to the table.

Next it was a quick stop to the local supermarket, where, for some odd reason, all of the shampoo and hair care products were locked up behind glass, but yet there were giant mounds of these huge legs of cured pigs out in the open. [Were they scared because there were hair bands in town?!?]

I learned a few things about Spanish culture while there--most notably, at approximately 3:00 PM, everything closes for siesta. Literally. I walked out of a shop, turned to go back inside to ask for directions to a nearby eatery, and before I could get the words of "Donde esta..." out of my mouth, the shutters were pulled down in front of me. It was a symphony of metal gates closing as Spain takes a nice nap from late afternoon to early evening. The once bustling business district of Vitoria ground to a halt.

Well.... when in Rome....or in this case, Spain, I went and napped. Quite lovely, actually. I wouldn't mind incorporating it into my regular routine. I headed back downtown in the evening and was surprised to find a ghost town. After ducking down a few of those eerie steep sidestreets, I followed the sounds of clanking forks. No, really--it echoed off of the buildings and cobblestones--and the streets were moderately dark so I couldn’t just look down the streets for a place—they were so dark and winding—I had to follow my ears and nose. After a few near misses (the clanking forks belonged to residents, dining with their windows open), I found an Italian restaurant. I then learned that the people of Spain take dinner very, very seriously--they dine heavy, late and long. There is no such thing as a quick bite in Spain, and my 9:00 PM dinner lasted well past 11:30 PM, after the last train had departed.

Alas.

For some reason, only half of the streetlights in Vitoria worked.....but I can report to you that all of the sprinklers were working at full capacity. And it seems that the time that the lights go out coincided perfectly with when the sprinklers turn on. So if you can picture this, an extremely bloated Armadillo, full of pasta and Italian pastry, tired and now partly wet, found his way back to the hotel down the dark streets of Vitoria by using an old trick learned in San Francisco (before I could read a map)--I followed the train tracks "home."

I had one of several encounters with local police (this occurred on multiple occasions)--I couldn't help but be struck by the irony that all of the times in my younger days that I engaged in all sorts of mischief and was never caught--now that I'm squeaky clean, getting stopped by the police just baffled me. And yes, they really do say , "Your papers, please." Except here, where it is "Passporte, por favor."

Speaking of squeaky clean, I'm bringing you this report from a laundromat in Bruges. I was so remarkably cranky (and slightly depressed) in Madrid that I found myself too tired and irritated to be in a literary mood. Now that I'm full of waffles and chocolate, I feel much better about my situation and I'm ready to bring you all of the details you're dying to know along with piles and upon piles of useless trivialities that you don't. Which means that it's time for:

The Official Armadillo Road Report: Azkena Rock Festival, Vitoria, Spain, June 14, 2012…also known as ARF! (good thing it wasn’t held in Barcelona…I’d hate to think about the graphics on the BARF festival!)

I'd like to first take the opportunity to thank Luis (Luigi) from the Slamboard--he was most kind in providing me with information on accomodations, sights to see and other bits of advice about Spain. It is the honest truth: Twisted Sister performance aside, one of my favorite things about traveling with Twisted is the opportunity to meet fellow S.M.F.s from all over the world. It never gets old--not even once--I get an absolute thrill to meet Slamboarders wherever I go. It has been my universal truth: Twisted Sister has the best fans in the world, all over the world.

The crew and I headed to the venue in the early afternoon, and we were treated to an absolutely wonderful meal of gazpacho, rice and chicken, flan and a heap of other goodies. The Graspop folks treated us wonderfully, and I settled in to watch our faithful road crew work their magic. A.J. and Anthony Jr. got to work right away on ensuring the drum kits were up to speed as the guitar technicians began the process of tuning, adjusting and preparing the stage. No two venues are exactly the same, so it really makes you appreciate the consistency that we get from Twisted--it's no accident that they kick ass every time they take the stage--there is a long established process performed by the skilled crew who ensure that the lights, sound and instruments measure up to the Twisted standard. (which is above the gold standard, I assure you.)

The soundcheck was short but very sweet--our own road crew extraordinaire along with the talented Mr. Stanton performed "Shoot 'em Down." I was given a rare treat--the chance to sit in front of the kick drum for about 30 seconds and so thanks to A.J., that kidney stone forming is now taken care of. Much better than surgery!

I took an opportunity to peruse the grounds--like most festivals, there was a primary and secondary stage, an ample assortment of food and beer tents and a variety of merch available, including heavy metal onesies . If that ain’t a frickin’ sign of the times?! We used to buy heavy metal concerts tees for ourselves….now we’re buying them for our babies. I noticed a book tent as well. A BOOK tent. You remember books….those things that give the tactile experience that Nooks and iPads can’t….you could actually BUY a book. Not a download of a book…an actual BOOK. Two more points for ARF!

Since this was Europe, there was also a cappuccino/espresso booth (are you kidding me?!! it was sunny and hot as hell!), a cargo box selling cigarettes out of it and of course, a siesta area! Yep--that's right--a huge area of the parking lot with blue shag carpet, big yellow bean bag chairs under giant umbrellas---each one filled with someone napping! Love it!

This particular festival was described by many as an "eclectic" mix of music--and I would have to agree with that. We heard a wide variety of music ranging from metal to blues to swing, but very enjoyable overall, and I had a relaxing dinner while watching and listening to Blue Oyster Cult. A very nice bunch of chaps and they play a consistency clean sounding set. There’s something very satisfying about hearing “Godzilla” played live. Goes well with flan.

The stage had an odd design to it as well--with so many bands on the docket (and with Twisted not playing dead last) the backstage area was crammed full of crew, artists, guests and equipment--I didn't see a good vantage point to take in the show and so I dipped into the audience. Unlike most shows, the center portion of the stage was stanchioned off so that the lights and sound crew could easily access the board platforms in the back of the parking lot. So if you can, imagine a large "T" against the stage running all the way back to the sound and light boards--all off limits to fans, which meant that no fan could stand in front of Dee, and had to pick between stage left and stage right.

I planted myself next to a lovely young lady wearing a homemade pink sequined TS logo shirt, her name was Cristina, and while we had a really poor visual of the band, the tradeoff was the sound. Normally being up front, stage left is a bad choice, but it proved to be a real treat--the monitors on that side were such that I could hear the vocals--especially Mark and Eddie--crystal clear—and there was a good balance of guitars so that I didn’t spend the show getting my insides rattled by Mark’s bass all night.

I also had a chance to meet up with Luis (a.k.a. Luigi) from the Slamboard--a delightful fellow who plays in a Ramones tribute band called "Mamones"—We had an interesting conversation about Spanish and that’s where I first learned of the song lyrics of “huevos con aceite”… but we’ll get to that in a bit. They told me that Armadillo in Spanish translates loosely to mean: “Little armored one”. Hmmmm. That kinda works. I was having such a good time chatting up with the local S.M.F.s that I didn't even notice the time until all of a sudden, Long Way To The Top began! I was completely unprepared for it—partly because it was still light outside, and that always throws me off my game.

Given the unusual mix of music performed thus far at Vitoria it was apparent that many of the fans there were experiencing their first Twisted Sister show. I overheard someone ask (in Spanish) “Why are they playing AC/DC?” Joe Gerber did the band intro—something I’m guessing he has done literally thousands of times—but since I was too young for the tri-state club days, this was novel and actually a special treat for me. The boys took the stage in daylight, but their backs remained to us until the appropriate cue in “The Kids Are Back” and from there they simply exploded!

Maybe it was due to the sun, which none of us had seen in a few weeks. Maybe it was the warm weather…(muy caliente!) All I can tell you is that TS opened that show with the ferocity of a thousand bands. And I swear to you, as I live and breathe, from my vantage point, far stage left (I get confused—I always say “Mark side”, “Eddie Side” or “Middle Dee”) when Twisted took the stage, a gust of wind came blowing at us. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that TS breaks wind….I’m just saying that somehow, as hot and sticky as it was all day, the climate changed when our Boys in Black and Pink hit the chords. Fix global warming? How about more Twisted Sister shows? (Just sayin’….)

Eddie’s solo was a mind-blowing assault that had even Animal pumped up—Jay Jay played it tight and fast. Dee took the stage by absolute storm in his usual take-no-prisoners style, but showed us a kindler, gentler Dee when he growled and pushed away a photographer who stepped over the boundaries instead of ripping the fellow’s head clean off. I’m sure it’s somewhere out there on YouTube land…. Without missing a note, Dee inserted the “lyrics” of “Don’t get in my face!” Ahhh….the softer side of Dee.

Jay Jay played hard and furious and from the look on his face, he was having an absolute blast! There’s something really special when you can see artists not only reveling in the music along, but enjoying themselves onstage. Jay Jay has looked completely relaxed and happy. I think it must be the sun. Or the eggs. (we’re gettin' to it...)

With a shorter time on the set and an audience that did not speak English as a first language, Dee launched right into “Stay Hungry.” I could perfectly hear Mark and Eddie sing the refrain—it’s the first time I’ve heard them so clearly that it made me realize what I had been missing all this time. Jay Jay gave a mammoth solo with what we in Baltimore call, a little extra “sumpin’ sumpin’” that almost caused Dee to miss his cue. (Note that I said “almost”—close to 50 shows now, I think, and I’ve never see that man miss a cue!) “Stay Hungry” ended with a heavy punctuation, by Animal who hammered his point home on his bass, via his microphone stand. It closed with A.J. throwing one of his sticks out into the audience—I think it may have impaled someone back by the soundboard—I forget that A.J. was once close to becoming a Major League ball player . Forget catching that sucker—my advice to you….DUCK!

Dee greeted the audience with:
“HOLA! Comme esta usted?”
[visualize audience cheering here]
“Muy bien….. We are Twisted Fucking Sister….You are Vit- Fucking- Oria!”
The crowd absolutely loved it!
Dee: “Que?”
Crowd: “Vit-fucking-oria!”
Dee: “QUE???!!!!”
Crowd: “VIT-FUCKING-ORIA!”
Dee: “Muy bien.”

From there, Twisted belted out “Wake Up the Sleeping Giant” with an intensity equal to what I just heard in Norway and Sweden Rock. I was really pleased they kept this in the set list—“Wake Up…” is my favorite track off the “Love Is For Suckers” album and while I’m usually the one screaming for the oldies and oddities, this song really melted the asphalt off the parking lot. I’m not sure if it was intentional or not, but when the refrain screamed for a, “HEY!” we could hear a reverb that accident or purposeful, really added a nice depth to the song. Before it was over, A.J. managed to clock two of the road crew with that throwing arm of his. Dangerous as it can sometimes be in the front row, I think it’s far more dangerous onstage! [You read that right…there are many dangers in the front row: dripping armpits from RAD (Rockers Against Deodorant), drunken douche bags who use the top of my head as a beer coaster, girls who press their boobage into the back of my head…. Well…that one’s not too bad, actually....well….sometimes it is….]

I digress.

“You Can’t Stop Rock N’ Roll” was frenzied—I saw some hardcore S.M.F.s rocking hard to this one—the crowd wasn’t as passionate or as fierce as their counterparts in South America, but Twisted plays with the utmost intensity at every show and they expect the crowd to give back what they put out. Guitars were screaming, hair was flying and arms were feverishly pumping out a stream of glorious metal that had many of us lifting our hands in praise!

Dee launched into another rap—recognizing that there may be a few things lost in translation—he acknowledged the chant that the audience had started:

“I don’t know you’re saying….but I like it!” [I couldn’t tell either…but it had plenty of Ole’s and Twis-Ted Sis-Ter!” in it.]

Jay Jay stripped off his leather shirt and showed off his new duds that he bought in town (see? Didn’t I tell you in the last report? Jay Jay always has a new fashion statement) It was a bright red tee shirt—I couldn’t see the printing but I suspect it had something to do with the Futbol (football) championship taking place later that night…) He told the crowd why he loved Spain….the Country is sunny and warm…the women are beautiful…the fans are great….he didn’t mention the food, though. Seriously….you just can’t have enough croquettes!

Eddie performed another incredible solo on “Sin After Sin”—and based on the singing of the fans around me “Cinco cin, Cinco cin” it made me realize that some things are the same wherever you go: when fans don’t know the words to the song, we just insert our own! Maybe that’s the REAL reason why Twisted always put lyric sheets inside the vinyl jackets. On the last note, Dee dropped to his knees, and the familiar cowbell and drum line that makes our hearts all a’ flutter rolled us into “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” prompting the audience to start a “pogo,” during the refrain, something that I’ve noticed is much more popular at international shows.

Another fantastic Eddie solo—complete with audience sing-a-long—and I could hear that crowd singing with gusto all the way back to the cappuccino maker! If you’ve never had the opportunity to “pogo”—jumping straight up and down in unison with an entire crowd—it’s like…..oh, I dunno..heavy metal Masai, if you will—it can be a very transcendental experience. When you mix the adrenalin of the show, the endorphins from the physical exertion and the feeling of oneness with the crowd—it’s downright cosmic!

Prompting a “Muy Fuckin’ bien!” from Dee, along with a special request to Eddie (this evening pronounced: Oh-HEY-da) to translate. Unfortunately, Eddie translating Dee into Spanish….sounded an awful lot like Eddie translating Dee into English….
But the question came out from Dee: “How many of you are singing ‘Huevos con aceites?”
Apparently, the Spanish audiences, having some language challenges, thought that Twisted Sister was singing “huevos con aceites”….which actually does sound a lot like “we’re not gonna take it”. [try it: sing… “h’way-vohs conna say tis” It translates to mean: “Eggs in oil.”

My friends in the front told me that there is a second line involving “Jamon” ….or ham….and it seems that “huevos” (eggs) is also a local expression for “balls,” as in, you’ve got some serious cohones, there, pal…..so the song made sense, sort of. Anyhow, obviously someone had let Dee know about the local variation, so for the benefit of the fans, Twisted led the crowd in singing a few extra verses of “huevos con aceites.” Just one of those little unique extra things –every Twisted Sister show is a snowflake.

In between songs, Anthony Jr. (A.J.’s son, decked out in a Barcelona futbol jersey) was making some adjustments to the kit, prompting Dee to ask: “Who’s this guy? Get off my stage…this ain’t a football game!” Then he asked the crowd, “Does he at least have the right jersey on?” Welcome to Twisted Sister, Junior! It’s all in good fun!

It was a bit strange to next hear “The Price” played in the daylight—normally, Dee has them kill all the lights, but in this case, the lighting crew bathed Dee and the Boys in a soft pink light—it was very subtle—quite classy and an excellent touch! (Kudos Johnny!) Eddie’s solo was just plain spot on! Don’t know exactly what gave him such an even stronger run tonight—maybe it was the warm sun. Or the glowing cerise spotlight. Or the huevos. Whatever it was, it was working!”

“Burn In Hell” proved another lighting challenge, but I could see Dee’s fierce, sinister features awash in red on the two jumbo screens, and the reaction of the crowd extended far beyond from where I could see. Each time the band sang the refrain, they were hit with red spots—very nice!

Dee belted this song out with such emotion that at one point, he not only dropped the pink mic stand, but the entire microphone with it! Guitar technician Mehtis (or as I like to call him, “The Great Wall of Finland”…seriously, have you see this guy? I could stand on my own shoulders and still not see over his head!) picks up the microphone and stand, and then did something that I have never seen a single road crew member do: he turned his back on Animal and walked off the stage….and LIVED! Maybe there’s some law of nature in the animal kingdom to never attack prey you can’t devour in more than a few bites. I don’t know about you, but there is no way I’ve got the huevos to do that! Animal just LOOKED at me backstage and I tumbled myself over a barricade to get out of harm’s way!

No drum solo this evening—I was a little disappointed—I always get a lot out of A.J.’s drum solos, and it just didn’t seem like a complete Twisted Sister show without it! With no solo, Dee began the intro to IWR and I have to admit, I enjoy this new introduction that Dee has done recently for “I Wanna Rock.” When he holds those notes, you can really hear the classical training in his voice—metal, broadway, who cares? That man can sing!

The crowd finally shook off the day’s heat effects and went “all in” on this one. If you can’t rock out to “I Wanna Rock,” there’s no helping you. Mark’s bass was so thunderous that the water in my bottle was sloshing so much it was bubbling spring water by the end of the song. Hmmm. First it was wind, then it was bubbles. Maybe Twisted DOES give me gas. More wonders of nature and physics—never ceases to amaze me.

Dee looked out over the audience—and being daylight, he commented: “This is beautiful, I can see everybody!” But unfortunately….Dee could see….EVERYBODY. You know it’s coming.

Dee: “It’s beautiful….except all the way in the back…” Maybe we need to perform some sort of educational outreach before the concert starts: “WARNING: Sitting down and failing to rock at Twisted Sister shows will cause public humiliation and embarrassment and may prove hazardous to your reputation, self-esteem and ability to get laid following the show.”
The crowd responded quite appropriately to Dee’s observations, giving those attendees still on siesta the loudest BOOOOOOO! I have ever heard in my life—louder than when the Orioles hit a home run in Yankee Stadium (it’s happened. Once or twice.) Note: Fans stand. Attendees sit. Be a fan.

Then Dee spotted another one, “YOU! YOU! On the side….What the fuck is this??!!” and with that, Dee actually sat down on the stage to illustrate the point. He then asked the crowd, “What’s ‘Stand up’ in Spanish?” and the crowd began chanting it. The fellow still sat on his duff, with Dee leading the crowd in a directed chant of “Fuck You! Fuck You! Fuck You!” and when that didn’t get a rise, “Eat Shit! Eat shit! Eat Shit!” And who says they don’t speak a lot of English in Vitoria?! Perfect pronunciation! I’m not sure if the guy gave Dee the bird or finally stood up, but something prompted Dee to laugh and announce: “Hey..you DO speak English!”

The crowd loved it, and broke into a chant of “Ole Ole Ole Ole Ole Twis-ted Sis-ter!”
It was time for the encores, and green lights and fog filled the stage as the familiar clinking of beer bottles, taunting Twisted Sister to do what they do best….Come out and play! Those introductory chords during the opening lines were absolutely pounding, and when Dee launches into the song, the set lights spun crazily, the sound of the guitars and bass could almost knock a man over, and the bass pounding was beyond relentless and the crowd reacted accordingly!

Dee asked us—“Una Mas?” But of course!
There was a brief pause for band intros, and Dee asked Eddie to translate for the benefit of the crowd.
Dee: “Tonight…”
Eddie:"Esta noche”
Dee: “On the stage…”
Eddie: “uhhh....ummm… on the stage….”
Dee whirls around to look at Eddie, who admits he couldn’t remember the Spanish word for stage….then Dee continues… “all 5 ori-gin-al (same word in Spanish) members…” and as each one was introduced, there was a bit of impromptu theme music from the other members of the band.

The Sound of Thunder, A.J. Pero (was given a bit of Italian music)—the crowd gave him some love. Then Dee introduced “On Basso…” Mark “Animal” Mendoza! [sidenote: Mendoza is a well-known name in Spain, and a few fans kept asking me if Mark was from Spain] Eddie’s intro was accompanied by Animal playing La Cucaracha on his bass, followed by Dee’s intro of Jay Jay: “muy, muy original”

Jay Jay stepped up to the mic and to the delight of the fans, addressed them in Spanish. He then invited those in attendance to learn to talk like New Yorkers, and it was like the language lab in school: Listen, then repeat after me: “Fuhgeddaboutit!” He introduced “the hardest workin’ man in show business….Dee Fuckin’ Snider!” and Dee launched into the final song of the evening…

S.M.F. Or how he put it, “Essay, Emmay, Effay!” Brilliant. You’ve hopefully by now all seen, either live or YouTube, what Animal does to his bass during this song. It’s a fierce pounding—neck, bridge, neck, bridge—he doesn’t strum or pluck—he takes his fist and simply pounds it like he’s tenderizing raw meat.

As they took their bows, the crowd chanted their names, and another glorious show came to a close.

In the morning, band and crew parted our separate ways—some by train, some by plane—even though I knew I had a week of holiday ahead of me and one more European show to go, I felt that familiar “concert drop” because I wasn’t joining them in Iowa. Only Twisted Sister could make me long to be in Iowa as I sat in Europe!

And with that, my babies, I bid you, Adios! Muchos gracias to the wonderful staff, crews, artists and fans in Spain--a fantastic show for fantastic fans!

This is Armadillo….trotting off to find more museums and waffles…see you in Belgium, babies...

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Setlist for Vitoria Spain, ARF, June 14, 2012 
Thursday, June 14, 2012, 06:14 PM
Posted by Administrator
Aqui esta Setlist para Vitoria Espana!

Your setlist from the Azkena Rock Festival, Vitoria Spain, June 14, 2012

1. What You Don't Know
2. The Kids Are Back
3. Stay Hungry
4. Wake Up the Sleeping Giant
5. You Can't Stop Rock N' Roll
6. Sin After Sin
7. Huevos Con Aceite
(I'll explain it in the full report!)
8. The Price
9. Burn In Hell
10. I Wanna Rock
Encores:
11. Come Out and Play
12. S.M.F.
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Sweden epilogue...onto to Spain! 
Monday, June 11, 2012, 06:20 PM
Posted by Administrator
The day after Twisted played Sweden was pure afterglow. I walked about the streets in Kristianstad, sampled the tasty treats of street vendors and just enjoyed the rare sunny day. To my delight, I spied a big, white box truck bearing the Motorhead logo, parked alongside a matching VW bug. Figuring it was band gear, I snapped a few photos of the logo-emblazened bug and spent the rest of day perusing the shops and sampling baked goods.

Back at our hotel, I had a few moments to chat with Hal Patino of King Diamond--what a great guy! He had his son with him (also a very nice chap!) and he handed me his new prToject, fresh off the press. The name of the band is: Maryann Cotton, the CD is entitled: "Free Falling Angels." Our hotel had been playing Iron Maiden over their sound system for three continuous days. (With one exception--they played Dee's Broadway album--not only does it totally rock, but it goes great with bread and cheese--I enjoyed brunch that much more because Dee was playing!)

I asked the staff of the hotel if they were getting royalties from Iron Maiden--not that I minded hearing Flight of Icarus in the elevator, but by the third day....even a total Iron Maiden fan like myself needed a breather. So they popped in Maryann Cotton and we had an impromptu listening party! way cool.

The day got even better from there--I met Mikkey Dee (formerly of King Diamond, now of Motorhead, out on the street--he was showing some fans what was stored in the back of that box truck: two BEAUTIFUL custom Victory motorcycles, each with a portrait of Lemmy on the tank. Fantastic! I first met Mikkey Dee about 20 years ago when King Diamond played "The Living Room" with Armored Saint--he is such a nice guy--I still have the drumstick he handed me from all those years back. What a thrill!

I had a chance to go back to the festival--and I'm so glad I did! I was able to hear Lynryd Skynyrd play a terrific set--and believe it or not, hearing "Freebird" live was on my bucket list! Cross off number #99. So many artists were crowded around backstage to hear them play--it was almost overwhelming to be surrounded by all of the talent concentrated in such a small area.

While I wasn't able to make it to the second stage in time, I could hear King Diamond's set. The fans I spoke to told me that his stage was visually amazing (dammit! sorry I missed it!) but I can tell you that it sounded awesome--King played a lot of his old stuff (including Mercyful Fate) and I was so thrilled that he sounded as phenomenal as the show I saw in 1988.

The night ended with Motley Crue closing out the festival bill--it was my first time, believe it or not, seeing them live--and I'm glad that I was able to see them play with their original lineup. (sometimes a rarity these days) I had to catch a ride back to the hotel before it got too late--so I wasn't able to stay til the end--but I can tell they opened with "Wild Side" and I heard "Shout at the Devil" and "Live wire" before I almost collapsed into the car to go back to the hotel.

The ride the next morning to the airport was a picturesque drive through the countryside--it could have easily been mistaken for the American midwest, except for the windmill farms dotting the landscape. What a beautiful country full of friendly people and great rock and roll.

And now...on to Spain, my babies!
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Official Road Report for Sweden Rocks 2012, Solvesborg June 8, 2012 
Monday, June 11, 2012, 12:03 PM
Posted by Administrator
The coffee cup is empty...cookie crumbs decorate my hotel desk....the notepads are full of Armadillo shorthand and I feel as though the proverbial truck that hit me in Norway, threw it in reverse and backed up over me a few times for good measure.

You know, of course, that can mean only one thing: it's time.

Yes, time.
Time to waste precious minutes of your own personal sands through the hourglass as you read paragraph after paragraph of things that you probably didn't want to know just to grab those few precious glimpses of Twisted on the road.

Here now....for your reading enjoyment....the only concert review longer than the show it's based upon....the mundane and the marvelous...the one and only Official Armadillo Road Report: Sweden Rock Festival, Solvesborg, Norway, June 8, 2012. Sweden is known for three things in America—Fantastic furniture you assemble with an allen wrench, meatballs and the best damn heavy metal rock festival in Europe.

I have but one question: are you ready, my babies? Are you really ready? I certainly wasn't--and I'm not sure that anything could have adequately prepared me for Sweden Rocks 2012. I believe it was in Poughkeepsie, NY at The Paramount when Twisted sound guru George Marshall greeted me with a warm handshake and embrace as he always does, and as I excitedly told him I was going to Belgium, he shook his head and said, "Graspop is great, but Sweden will be epic!" ( And from that moment, I decided that I needed to add Sweden to the schedule, and next thing you know, I'm spending a month in Europe!) His words still ring true--Sweden Rock is EPIC.

With the band in one undisclosed location and crew in Kristianstad, it felt a little bit odd to be so far away from the boys in pink and black, but arriving a day prior to the show was a much needed reprise. I spent the day mulling about the small town of Kristianstad--investigating the small shops lining the narrow, cobblestone lined streets. I had to physically resist the temptation to dine on the sausages from the street vendor [street vendor + sausage + Armadillo + small van + concert = bad scene for everyone involved] and opted for a healthier choice. The day's gastronomy included a taco-themed quiche, served with a local styled cole slaw made with some sort of goat yogurt.

Gerber The Disturber (god, that's catchy!) joined me as we checked out the local wares. Sweden (as does all of Scandanavia) has an impeccable sense of contemporary design, and colors that would never fly in the U.S. do quite well here. The color motif of turquoise/aquamarine blue and pink is particularly popular here—colors that would never go over big with men in the U.S. but they work here. I saw lots and lots of black and pink athletic shoes--sadly none in my size—they would have been a fitting addition to my Twisted regalia. Twisted Sister's official color, I've been informed is not "hot pink"--it's "Glowing Cerise." (Don't give me that look--google it yourself! It's a real color)

In one local rock and roll shop, I tried on a pair of tight black spandex stretchy jeans: they certainly felt completely comfy, however I decided that there are just some articles of clothing that should never be worn by a man in his forties--and this was one of them. The salesperson told me: “You should buy them—very rock and roll--they will get you laid.” I responded, in turn, “Not when they can see how small my [package] is…” Well, it may not have earned him a sale, but it did earn me a round of applause from the other shoppers.

Oh. I digress. Yes, Sweden Rock. There is a concert review in here somewhere.

With our transport arriving a bit later than planned (Festival traffic), we hurriedly piled all of the gear and equipment into the vans and clamored off to the show. As our van sped through the twists and turns of the cobblestone streets, I felt as though I had been transported through a worm hole in time, back to the filming of the You Can't Stop Rock N' Roll video. It began to pour and I started to wonder if Mother Nature had something personal against Twisted Sister.
Seems like every festival they play cannot escape the wrath of the elements.

Sweden Rock is a highly organized, very large and well-attended festival. A rock and roll campus spread across several acres, you’ll find campsites, RV lots, general stores, food kiosks, beer gardens, more merch and rock n’ roll shopping than you can imagine all supporting four—count ‘em—four rock stages. The only downside is making your way across the various compounds and fields to get from one band to the other. Typically while one band plays one stage, the other stage sets up so that there is almost no lull in the action. I cannot say enough good things about all of the amazing staff working at Sweden Rock. From the arsenal of police, paramedics and doctors, Red Cross volunteers, to the tons and tons of workers for crew hospitality, security, transport and everything else imaginable. I’m familiar with the logistics involved in running a complicated event like this, and they did a flawless job.

There was only one minor snafu of the day—we had some special guests who I was trying to locate to bring them backstage. My only description of them? Tall and blonde. Great. Have you been to Sweden? The entire damn country is tall and blonde! It would have much easier to just tell them to look for the short, ugly American. Not to mention a fiasco trying to find Gate 23, which seem to re-locate to the opposite side of the campus when I tried to find it. Shout out to Annie and her sisters.

Due to my unfortunately long quest to find Gate 23, I missed half of the press conference, but was able to slink in for the end of it. Jay Jay (paraphrased here) had commented that they go into every show playing as if it will be the greatest gig of their lives—and he therefore announced that “tonite will be the greatest gig of our lives!”

One journalist present asked the question we “slamboarders” ask so often—Can we expect any new music? Dee explained that new songs=bathroom breaks for concert goers, and nothing makes a festival goer head to the beer tent or the bathroom faster than the words: “Here’s a brand new song off our latest album!” Per Dee, that…and the drum solo. Which prompted Mark to chime in with “that’s why there are no bass solos!” [Not entirely true—Mark’s bass solos during the Christmas shows are some of my favorite moments] Jay Jay then assured all of the journalists present that we can expect to hear an assortment of Twisted music from every album, and we’ll hear “all the songs [we] want to hear!”

In a stump the band moment, someone asked them to name some Swedish artists. They came up with ABBA, Hardcore Superstar… and uh…. Ummm… well, I forget--I'm sure they named some other--Scandinavia is a heartland of heavy metal, even if memory escapes me now. The important thing here is that Twisted Sister is headlining one of the biggest heavy metal festivals in the world—something that they didn’t accomplish in the 80’s when they were usually 3 or 4th on the bill.

A rather strange question but one that hardcore fans will appreciate—someone asked: “What happened to the van from the You Can’t Stop Rock N’ Roll video?” No one’s really sure—A.J. believed the van was taken to Staten Island where it was stolen. Eddie commented that the band almost died in that van—a story told in Dee’s book, in case you’ve read it.
When asked what was in the future for the band….Eddie dryly quipped: “Facial hair.”

Dee expressed his amazement that the band is not only still playing, but playing festivals all over the world. He mentioned that in the 80’s, they never played the festival in France—Twisted Sister went away for 15 years and upon their return to the stage, were asked to headline. Dee suggested that perhaps Twisted should “stay away another 15 years then come back and play stadiums!” All of the band members expressed their appreciation to the producers and staff at Sweden Rock Fest 2012 and to all of the fans who continue to support them.

There were so many incredible bands playing at Sweden Rock this year that it would be impossible to describe them all. I can tell you that the backstage “campus” was like a who’s who of heavy metal—every time I turned around, there was another famous band either going on stage or coming off of one. With no time to make my way to the stage cross field, I climbed up the two story production tower ladder and watched Motorhead absolutely destroy that crowd! I love, love and LOVE Motorhead—to hear Lemmy playing as good (if not better) than he played back in the day—it was phenomenal. Hearing “Ace of Spades” live was one of my favorite festival moments. But alas, I felt entirely too disconnected from the band & the music from the tower, and so I climbed down and opted to take in the show from the backstage wing. (Doesn’t always give you the best sound, but you get to see and hear exactly what the band does, which always makes for an interesting vantage point.)

The setlist was the same as Trondheim, albeit a reversal of two of the songs—but there were ample new twists to the evening. “What You Don’t Know” began as it usually does—the band standing in darkness, enveloped in fog, with their backs to the audience. As they whirled around on their cue to “hit it!”, we heard a sonic boom as the Sweden Rock pyro crew set off some flames and explosions. I think the entire front row must have crapped their pants! They played with an intensity reminiscent of the South America tour—Just imagine those three arms pumping in unison on the guitars during the instrumental portion, the crowd so large you couldn’t see the end of it—and all of those fans going insane—it was furious. The stage was shaped like a “T”—a large, long rock runway extended out in the middle--at one point, Mark, Eddie and Jay Jay trio ran to the end of the runway and played together—they sounded fantastic from the first note.

The band was all in black—Jay Jay is the one who seems to always keep me guessing which fashion choice he’ll select—he wore black leather pants and matching shirt (unlike so many festival shows where it’s scorching hot—it was actually a bit chilly onstage). I was a bit nervous seeing Dee and Jay Jay continuously running up and down the “runway”—the lighting was intense, and truth be told, I’m not how they were able to discern where it ended. (and that last step would be a doozy—the stage must have been fifteen feet above the crowd.)

From there, they roared right into “Stay Hungry,” definitely a crowd favorite. Dee called Sweden their “home away from home” and shared the love with his Scandinavian fans. The rain had eased up but Dee, never allowing anyone to get the best of Sister, told Mother Nature, quite unceremoniously, to “Fuck off!” and then invited the sold out crowd to join him in giving Mother Nature “the finger.” I swear, I was waiting for the lightning bolts to start flying down.

From there, we again were treated to “Wake Up the Sleeping Giant.” I really enjoy this song—and now that I’ve heard it live a few times, I love it even more. Each time the refrain called for a shout, the audience was illuminated, and it looked like an endless sea of headbangers. The bass line in Wake Up must be one of those frequencies Animal told me about—it damn shook everything. At one point, I thought my phone was vibrating in my pocket—it was, but not from the ringer. Just incredible—what a heavy, heavy riff.

Without much time for raps, they then went right into the next song—“I Believe in Rock N’ Roll”. I had a momentary chuckle from the irony of the line “Even God loves rock n’ roll”… sure. Of course, we just gave Mother Nature the middle finger salute, so hopefully God has a sense of humor, too. Immediately after, Dee proclaimed: “Welcome to the Church of Twisted Fuckin’ Sister!” Their mission? Rock the world! (well, there were actually a few more f-bombs thrown in the that sentence, but you get the picture.)

Dee stopped for a moment and commented—he noticed there were a few fans not rocking out. He acknowledged—it’s a long festival….everyone’s tired. But Twisted Sister is giving Sweden everything they have—the audience is expected to give it right back to them! You know, I’ve often felt that Twisted Sister needed to warn new concert attendees (future S.M.F.s) of the golden rules of Twisted Sister shows:
1. Thou shalt rock.
2. Thou shalt not sit down nor fold thy arms like a douche bag.
3. Thou shalt not leave early to go to the bathroom or the bar during the set.

During Dee’s second rap of the night, he pointed at someone who was almost headfirst into his big bowl of pasta from the food stand. How could Dee resist?
“Really, Dude? Pasta now? You couldn’t wait an hour, you fat fuck??!!!”

Okay so that’s commandment number four:
4. Thou shalt not consume pasta during Twisted Sister.

“You Can’t Stop Rock N’ Roll” galloped full speed ahead—and I could see that the band was clearly enjoying themselves and having a great time playing. Especially Jay Jay, who smiled like a kid throughout almost the entire show—I can’t explain it but there is something so incredibly satisfying when I see how happy they are on stage.

“Sin After Sin” has become another one of my favorite songs to hear played live—it was played tight and fast and A.J. drumming was just incredible. I don’t know if the drum had that 26” kick,, but it kicked ass just the same. At one point, I looked over to see father and son Pero exchange a glance at one another during the set—it was special.
And we had…more fire! “The Fire Still Burns” gave the Sweden pyro crew a chance to do what they love to do….blow things up! More fire, more explosions, more flames—I loved it! For those of you who know Twisted, special effects and pyro usually isn’t their style, but then again….this was Sweden Rocks! You gotta have more pyro!

When A.J. launched into the opener for “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” I thought the crowd was going to lose their minds. It was a giant sea of frenzied blond hair and hands clapping a la Radio Gaga (once again—that’s a Queen reference, not Gaga as in ‘Lady’) The crowd was a bobbing, pulsing mass of heavy metal humanity. Mark punctuated his point with a move I haven’t seen since the original days of 80’s WWF—he basically gave his bass a Chief Jay Strongbow backbreaker on the last chord!

Dee then gave props to all of the bands at Sweden—including members of Adrenalin Mob who were watching from the wings—followed by a belch, although the two were unrelated. Dee had to do a quick conference with Jay Jay to confirm that the last time Twisted played Sweden Rock was 9 years ago, and the fans are as wonderful and receptive now as they were then. For that, he dedicated “The Price” to the fans in Sweden. Unlike the previous show in Norway, the sun had set and it was quite dark outside, creating a striking image of Dee looking out into the darkness, the audience seen now only as a black sky full of lighter flames, phone apps and lights, extending out to where the horizon line is. As Eddie played a flawless solo, the sea of lights swayed before him. It gave me chills!

“Burn in Hell’ was next—and I can’t wait for folks to post all of their photos. We had flames and flames and more flames. I swear, it LOOKED like the band was burning in hell. You could smell the fuel and feel the heat coming off the stage—giant plumes of flames shot out from the sides of the stage like demonic fans of feathered fire. After each explosion, I did a quick headcount to make sure we hadn’t lost anyone! A.J. drum solo during BIH was one of the best I’ve ever heard—I’m telling you right now, those YouTube videos do NOT do it justice. You have to be there to really feel the pounding and appreciate the speed—I’m going to add another Twisted Sister Commandment: “Thou Shalt Not Miss the Drum Solo.” During the drum solo, I saw the biggest camera operator I’ve ever seen….only to realize it was our very own Animal, who wrested the camera away from the operator and was getting the job done by himself.

Following the “Burn in Hell Drum Solo Reprise”…. Dee simply sang one note and held it for the word “I”….. the crowd sang the note with him…. He repeated it again…. And after the third time, launched into the song the crowd came to hear: “I Wanna Rock!” At this point, the audience exploded. It seemed like the entire festival, merch vendors…meatball chefs….security guards….the whole place was jumping up and down, screaming “rock.” Dee and the boys were completely amped up—we were treated to a little road crew ballet as they lept and almost tumbled across the stage retrieving his mic stand. Fans were jumping and swirling below as a beautiful orange ¾ moon rose just above Dee’s shoulder.

He screamed “I Wanna Rock!” and then shot out his right arm, to which the audience obligingly screamed “Rock!” each time they were cued. His Right arm again…”Rock!” Then his left arm “Rock!”…. then he turned his back and flung his arms upwards into the arm “Rock!” He looks over his shoulder. “Rock!” A dramatic pause.

Dee straddles his stance, bends over and screams out the cue from between his legs …the crowd…”Rock!”

Dee, obviously amused and impressed, had the lights turned on so he could appreciate and shower accolades on the crowd before him, yells: “I’m a Sick Mutha Fucka!” Have you ever heard 50,000 people trying to scream in unison? Dee says back, what was that? “Mummmbaa mummmbaa mummmma bummbummmba?” [It’s like the teacher in Charlie Brown cartoons—youtube it, my Swedish friends—it will make sense, trust me….]

In another truly hilarious moment, Mark “Animal” Mendoza was skyping onstage with someone who couldn’t make the show…taking the laptop onstage so that now, the crowd was basically skyping with him…Dee playfully gave a special middle finger greeting to whomever was on the other end of the screen, asking Mark: “Can we play now?” Only to have Dee take the laptop from him to say hello and resume the skyping duties for him during the next song.

They launched into “It’s Only Rock and Roll”—again, one of the best versions I’ve heard them play. I’d love to hear from any of the original old school S.M.F.s who heard them play in the club days, and tell me how it compares. Personally, I believe that Twisted is one of those rare bands that is getting better with age! Animal slammed his bass so hard I could hear the impact—and I was all the way Stage Right. Eddie and Jay Jay’s guitars were heavy and blistering—it was impossible to stand still! During the solo, Jay Jay gave me my absolute favorite moment of the night: he ran to the end of the runway, got down on one knee—played part of the solo behind his head, and then he played with the guitar perpendicular to his stance—bathed in gold light—from my spot backstage, all I could see was a shimmering silvery outline of Jay Jay and his guitar, the smoky orange moon still hovering in the sky above. It was a magical moment for me.

The crowd so enthusiastically shouted the refrain, it prompted Dee to comment “You don’t need me…” [oh yes, we do!] and “You’re too good to me!” The feeling is mutual, I assure you! He then invited the band to join him at the end of the runway to finish the song….Mark…Eddie…Jay Jay….then “A.J.! Come on out here….oh, wait…stay there….never mind…” Tens of thousands of fists in the air, screaming “I Like It!” at the top of their lungs, Dee now on his knees, his hair whipping to and fro with all three guitars surrounding him at the end of the runway—it was a spectacle unlike anything this fan has ever seen before….and wonders if he will ever see again! He jumped up…ran to the drum riser and leapt off just in time for the last note!

Unlike in Norway, the fans knew the encore was coming and no one headed for the exits. Lighting Designer Johnny filled the stage with a beautiful green glow and as Dee crooned “Don’t be afraid…” he did the trademark Twisted “quarterback swivel” where he looks to the left (yep, there’s Mark) then looks to the left (yep, there’s Jay Jay) then a slight lean back (yep, there’s Eddie) and an over the shoulder glance (A.J.s ready!) and then…..
NOW!

The audience hit with lights revealed that they were crammed in tighter than ever, and still enjoying every single note. Mark beating his bass so hard the stage was shaking, grabbing his mic stand and using it to pound on the neck (Kids, don’t try this at home or you’ll be asking Santa for a new bass next year. The man’s a professional.) A.J. and Mark shared a high-five mid-song,

But it wasn’t over yet.

Dee asked the crowd: “Do you want some more?” Everyone screamed “YES!” Well, almost everyone. Dee stops, walks to the edge of the stage and says, “Who said ‘no?’”
And I swear, I don’t know how Dee does it but he spotted the guy—and said, “What? You can’t wait to get back to your tent to jerk off?” Then he looked back over at the guy and said “You didn’t see that comin’, did ya?” We heard from another source—the guy sheepishly shrugged back and admitted, no. Don't make it worse, buddy. Take Mr. Gerber's advice: When Dee asks you something onstage...always say "YES." Are you ready, Sweden? YES. Do you wanna rock? YES. Want some more? YES. Easy!

S.M.F. was thunderous--it ended with a flames everywhere, sparks showering down from the front of the stage as a giant metal TS logo rose above A.J. --the metal glowing in flames, raining sparks down upon him as he hit the final beats.

Even in the chilly Swedish air, I now had sweat pouring off of me and I felt as though I had just been through some sort of crazy roller coaster right that only had downhill accelerations all night. My heart was racing, I had chills and I felt absolutely entertained and exhilarated. A feeling that I suspect was shared by the sold out crowd of approx. 50,000 according to the latest news fresh off of the Swedish press.

Dee gave special props to Johnny Fredricksson, Lighting Designer for Twisted Sister, local Swede and the man who is responsible for bringing Twisted Sister to Sweden Rocks this year. Tukk Johnny! Thank you from all of us! Johnny also has a fantastic merch business….and below is his website address:
www.T-SHIRTbyMAIL.com

I will attach a photo of his new Dee Snider shirt later today. HOLY CRAP. You MUST buy one. Right now. DO it now.

There was more…so much more…….I will write a Sweden epilogue later. I’m in Spain at the very moment, and need to stop and book my hotels and flight for Belgium…

Til later, my babies…Thank you Sweden Rocks!
Armadillo, your faithful road reporter….trotting off for Tapas…

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