Grand Junction Colorado, Rock Jam 2011, 08/27/11 
Monday, August 29, 2011, 11:24 PM
Posted by Administrator
My babies, I've brought these road reports from the rooftops pools, hotel lobbies and airport waiting rooms....but this one is a first: I'm typing this in an electricity deprived house, reading my notes by headlamp and typing by lantern-light. The power company does not anticipate that I'll have power before the end of the week, so it's going to be a long, dark cleanup for me.

And speaking of long and know what that means....yes, my babies, it's time for the Official Armadillo Road Report for Grand Jam 2011, Grand Junction Colorado, August 27, 2011. With all the details you want to know....and this time, even MORE details you don't!

Before I even delve into this weekend's festivities, I must again express my best hopes that all of the band, road crew and management find their way home, safe...sound...and domiciles intact. I flew back east (by mere coincidence) with Sebastian Bach and members of his band, and please remember that not only was Twisted affected, but many of the bands away at Rock Jam and other venues on the road.

As distressing as it is for a family to be evacuated from home during a disaster, it is far more emotionally difficult to be thousands of miles away. The feeling of helplessness and frustration are beyond words--I spoke to my parents last night before it made landfall and haven't reached them since they lost power. (I'll have to ask my 10-year old nephew to teach them how to text). It was hard to tear myself away from the news report, weather "porn," and dopplar screens, and allow a moment or two to enjoy Rock Jam 2011.

That said, I am quite certain that any band and crew would have much rather been with their families, homes and pets, so please give an extra loud round of "thank-you's" to Twisted and all of the rock families that made the decision to go west, in spite of the impending hurricane. They could have canceled....and other bands may have done so.... but just another case of how much these gents care about their fans and delivering a top notch performance. If the news back east weighed on their minds, they hid it well. The show last night was high energy, beautifully delivered and demonstrated the professionalism we've come to expect.

There wasn't much to do or see by the cluster of hotels where everyone stayed, but if you followed the trail of loud pipes, you'd eventually find yourself at Harley Davidson of Grand Junction, equally out in the middle of an industrial park. There I met Lynda and all of the lovely ladies--a delightful group of bikers AND, of course, Twisted Sister fans! Really, bikers and Twisted Sister go together like beer and pretzels, and it wasn't shocking in the least to see a few members of the band checking out their wares. Motorcyles have always been a passion of mine--alas, a Harley is not destined for my future--they really are not designed for those of my, ahem, stature. Let's just say you've gotta be this tall to ride that ride....and it ain't gonna happen for me. Thanks Lynda and ladies for being such
gracious ambassadors for Grand Junction!

In fact, overall, the folks in Grand Junction were wonderful--polite, laid-back and very friendly--we received excellent customer service whereever we went, and the beauty of the mesas and rolling hills provided the perfect backdrop for some rock and roll.

After downing some breakfast, the crew loaded up and headed over the venue. We approached a giant open field fenced in with cow gates. Your visual? Mesas to the left. Mountains straight ahead. Rolling high desert hills to the rear. Horse corrals to the right. Not really Spinal Tap, but certainly a far cry from the metropolitan gigs. Like most outdoor festivals, we found a large open air stage with simple scaffolding and a jumbotron stage right, and large inflatable Jack Daniels bottle stage left. In an interesting twist, there were two small 20' platforms containing risers on each side of the stage called "the Sky Boxes," where VIP fans could get an unusual look at the artist of their choice.

There was at least a covered sound and light board on a small concrete platform, but it was a considerable hike to get there! Security was provided by the young men and women of Job Corps, based out of Collburn, Colorado. Most were younger than the patches on my vest but many of them were twisted fans alike, and they did a great job--especially considering that they get a stipend for the summer--which means they essentially were sweltering all day in the heat without an hourly wage. Go kids!

The seating area was a bit bizarre--the first fifty feet, stage end to stage end, was a sea of mismatched plastic lawn chairs that looked like an end-of-summer sale in the garden section of Wal-Mart. It was divided in three areas each surrounded by chain link fence--all seats assigned and reserved for VIP guests of varying degrees, with a third reserved section far over to stage right which looked to remain empty most of the day. Then a large section of seats. Quite frankly, these VIP seats were expensive--over $300 for the best seats at the festival--and while it included food and beverages--it did not include the one thing that we all wanted the most: SHADE. The sun was absolutely scorching, and the heat index well into the 90's, possibly over a hundred.

Regretfully, I wasn't able to get to the previous day's concerts--I wanted to see Skillet live, so I'll have to keep my eyes peeled for a live show near me. The first group to take the stage on Saturday was Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, a young group (seriously--the guitarist is a talented 17-year old from Syracuse!) but chock full of energy and did an exceptional job of rocking their hearts out in spite of an angry sun and an almost silent, non-existent crowd.

Fuel was up next and I was again deeply shocked and dismayed that almost the entire VIP section was completely empty. That would be the equivalent of the first twenty rows across the entire field--and this was in no way reflective of the band--it was simply the heat. As storms approached on three sides of us, we caught an appreciative glimpse of a large dust devil swirling about 300 yards away. It easily rivaled the oppressive heat of Oklahoma!

In between songs, we could hear the MC engaging the crowd in an auction--we weren't sure at first what was being auctioned off...a farm? a cow? a pig? No--it was a Fuel autographed guitar (and a pig. I think.) Some lucky fan made off with a nice piece of rock memorabilia, that's for sure!

The band members began arriving, and I was able to cross off bucket list item #65: roadie for Dee Snider, and I happily carried his bag into the dressing room. It's sometimes the simplest things that can bring a man joy. A.J. and Mark conducted a quick pre-show check of their equipment--AJ sporting a very dapper hat-- and it was going to one of those times when the road crew would shine. With so many bands and so little time, instead of a sound-check, it would be a quick check of the mics and a sprint to the finish, with the techie equivalent of improvisation based upon whatever equipment and challenges they might face.

I enjoyed watching Sebastian Bach perform from the shaded rear of the stage with a fine gent named Dio (no relation to the late Ronnie James) and his young nephew, James. Sebastian Bach has not only aged well and kept his body in peak condition, but his chops as well. Sebastian and group were fantastic--they truly rocked the house in spite of terribly hot conditions! How many times have we seen 80's rockers attempt a nostaglic reunion only to crash and burn--wait, don't answer that. Too many. It was such a delight to hear Sebastian belt out the crowd favorites such as "Eighteen and Life," "Youth Gone Wild" and "I Remember You" with the same fervor and vocal precision worthy of a rock icon. Plain and simple--they "brought it" last night. An excellent performance--I'd definitely recommend seeing Sebastian Bach, you won't be disappointed.

The crowd in the VIP section did fill in nicely--especially after they played a radio hit--but I was again disappointed that most were sitting down through the entire set. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt--they may have been physically melted into their seats. The biggest standing ovation came for Sebastian's guitarist, Nick. Not only is he an extremely gifted guitarist, but at only 21 years of age, he is certainly destined for great things. And he gave us the best surprise ever--his 96 year old great-grandmother joined him onstage and she actually thanked the fans for supporting her great grandson. Don't you roll your eyes at me--is your great grandma rocking on stage with you? No, I thought not. It really was THAT cute!

I was waning a bit nostalgic, after all, this was the last show of the 2011 World Tour, and I pondered where to go to get the best spot. I decided not to go down front--those folks paid a huge sum of money to be there, and even though I spent more than double on my flight and hotel, it just didn't feel right to saunter up front and block their view. So I opted for the sky box seating. I figured it would give me a perspective that I haven't had to date, and since the boxes had not been filled all day, I wouldn't be crowding anyone. I'm not sure if "sky box" was the appropriate nomenclature as there was no air conditioning, h'ors d'oevres or posh chairs, but it certainly beat baking in the Colorado rays.

Right before Twisted took the stage, Dee gave an interview in a tent backstage, which was broadcast on the Jumbotron screen. One of the questions he was asked, was how the band managed to look so good....and stay in such good shape all these years. Dee replies, as you can guess, that even at the age of 56, what he credits is his very "non-rock and roll lifestyle" of not drinking or doing drugs.

I'm going to work backwards here and give you the punchline first--the Colorado show absolutely rocked! Great performance by the pink and black--the boys sounded fantastic, tightly played and one of the funniest Dee raps I've ever heard. And in the end, the crowd was won over, but unfortunately, it look about 10 songs to get there. Seriously--it was just damn scorching out there!

As I've shared before, one of my favorite moments of any Twisted show is when "Long Way to the Top" blasts out of the speakers, beckoning our Twisted five to take the stage. Maybe it was more obvious, more accenctuated by the fact that it was still daylight, but to see fans sitting in their plastic lawn chair, legs crossed, arms folded---I thought I was going to stroke out! I started jumping up and down in the skybox, arms pumping furiously, screaming "Get up! Get up!" I looked like a Jack Russell terrier going after a piece of bacon held over it's head..."Get up! Get up!" To no avail.

"What You Don't Know" was the opener and it was thunderous. Even though my seat was quite likely one of the worst in the house for sound (high and stage left) It had excellent balance and they came out guitars pounding. I swear, the crowd was in a coma. I don't know how you can't go absolutely crazy hearing that song played at that volume, and there a few hundred hardcore SMFs there who were rocking out from the start.

The guitars were well synchronized with tightly played solos and bass that probably caused more aftershocks than the earthquake Colorado had last week. "Shoot 'em Down" was furiously delivered--Jay Jay's solo was blistering-- I don't know how those folks could stay in their chairs, because I thought it was going to knock me clean off the scaffolding. I did notice....that the small group of young fans in their Godsmack tee-shirts were still sitting....but they moved about ten seats closer to the front of the stage. (we'll come back to them again later) Mark's bass line was over the top--I swear, If I HAD hair, it would have been blown back. If I wore a toupee, it would have blown clean off and landed in some dude ranch south of Durango.

"Stay Hungry" was met with applause and it occurred to me that this was one of those typical festival crowds that knew one or two Twisted songs, but anything other than that was grounds for hitting the beer stand-- clearly, this young crowd was mostly a "video generation" group, and I was hoping that when "You Can't Stop Rock n' Roll" began, the place would go nuts. Alas... not so. Subdued appreciation--but those kids in the front now were rocking along. Their asses were still implanted in the seats, but they were at least into the show and not texting. Dee explained that he "was in a real bad mood." The hurricane was bearing down on New York and here he was away from his family... but he was here rocking with the band, "just for you!" That's right'd better start to bring it on!

"Burn In Hell" is almost always a crowd pleaser, and it was starting to get the fans into it--vocally Dee sounded fantastic, as did Eddie's guitar work. There were a few moments of guitar dueling that were pure bliss--very tight and beautifully balanced. The lighting was tough--the sun was still setting--not enough for the stage to be fully dark, so the effect of the spooky red lighting was a bit lost here, but as the Colorado hell was cooling off, Burn In Hell was warming things back up. Due to the 75 minute time limit, the drum solo was cut. This was very disappointing to me, as I love hearing AJ's solo, but that's the breaks when you aren't the headline act. We still had 75 minutes of absolute heavy metal bliss.

"Captain Howdy" absolutely kicked ass, and even though there were easily several thousand in attendance, there were only hundreds who were singing the refrain, even though Dee had essentially fed them the lines. I don't know if it was frustration or not, but Dee mule-kicked his micstand to the ground, as if to say hey we're rocking our balls need to be rocking yours off too! By this point in time, Dee had fully taken in the crowd.....and was surveying the situation.

He thanked and re-introduced Sebastian Bach to the crowd--Sebastian is a good friend to Twisted, and as Dee put it "he's on the side of the stage, rockin' out with his cock out!" (figuratively speaking, of course) and Sebastian came onstage to get some accoloades from the finally warming up crowd.

Well, we all knew Dee just HAD to say something, and he did. First, he asked about all the empty white plastic seats....who were they? We told him "V.I.P."
"OOOhhh, got it. VIP. Very Important Penises"

He then gave us his best Dee'ism of the night....paraphrased, Dee noted how these are typically the rock fans who know only one or two songs that they play, and despite the fact that Twisted Sister was onstage kicking ass, these folks will likely only show up when they hear "We're Not Gonna Take It". And rather than getting angry about it, Dee said:
"When they do show up, I'll say to them 'how ya doin'?' but what I'm REALLY thinking is 'they're sucking my dick' so you know when I SAY: 'How ya doin?' what I'm really saying is 'suck my dick,' okay? But don't tell's just between us!"

That seemed to get the crowd more interested, and when they launched into "You Can't Stop Rock n' Roll," the bored kids in the front were now rocking' kids, on their feet. They were like, my rock n' roll litmus test--the kids were on their feet, and the crowd was now on their feet. And by the end of an absolutely monster delivery that damn near shook the snow off the rockies, people started flooding into the empty seats, prompting a "How ya' doin?" from Dee....and absolute appreciation from the crowd.

Jay Jay delivered his almost obligatory "American Idol" rant, and this time, when he spoke of the melodraatic weepy idol singers that make us want to puncture our ear drums with knitting needles, thanking their fans for a whopping 15 weeks of support, his gave us a idol imitation in a falsetto that sounded....well, kinda painful actually. (a little bit like Marge Simpson on helium) The crowd definitely got into the rap, and I could see even them "youts" in the front, voicing their approval.

The band then launched into "The Fire Still Burns," and this is one of my favorite tracks off of "Come Out and Play," and it did not disappoint me at all. Eddie's solo was smoking hot--there is just something about that song played live--it reminds me a lot of "Knife In the Back"--it just pounds away at you until you think you're going to break apart. Can we talk bass for a minute? Mark destroys that bass....he just smashes it. There must be a titanium rod implanted in the neck of that thing, because we what he does to that bass is probably illegal in all 50 states...or it should be.

I admit, that I was secretly hoping to hear "Knife in the Back" again....that song just couldn't have pleased me more, I was just so ecstatic to hear it played in Quebec, that the band could have played on fucking kazoos and I would have lost my mind. But alas, this was just not the right night for it.

Fortunately, the next song was exactly what they wanted to hear. When AJ launded the opener of "We're Not Gonna Take It," the crowd was on their feet, from the front row of plastic lawn chairs to the fans all the way on the dirt warning track by the fried-dough stand. The place just erupted--it was exactly the kind of energy that the crowd needs to give back! The Eddie and Jay Jay duet was just fantastic--I had to hold onto the scaffold railing because those there were some powerful guitars, my babies.

There was one pure little artistic moment--Dee tore the mic off the stand, knocking it over, and without missing a note--Mark caught the stand mid-air, with the reflexes of a ninja! Hey, these are the little details that I just love. After WNGTI, Dee surveyed the crowd once more... gave an appreciative "fuck!" to the crowd, followed by a:
"Hey....look at all the people who came around..... (waving) How ya' doin?" the rest of us "You know what I'm talking about.... and it feels SOOOO good...."

Dee addressed the crowd once more, stating that the last time Twisted played Colorado, it was either 1984 or 85, and the place went absolutely crazy...because unlike tonight, "Last time, you motherfuckers were a LOT louder!"
"Look... I's been a long hot've been imbibing alcoholic beverages... you're feeling rundown....I DON'T GIVE A SHIT!" and challenged everyone to get on their feet, because "all Twisted Sister wants is some real loud fucking singing!" It was truly here that I sense that the crowd was now won--and I saw everyone getting off their asses, unstuck from the hot chairs, and their fists raised. Even our youthful angst-filled teenagers in the front, were on their feet and ready to rock some more.
and so.... the gauntlet was thrown down.

Dee then did a very quick and funny rant, apologizing to the parents in the audience for all of the "f-bombs" and references to fellatio, and so he made sure to yell "earmuffs" before he dropped another one.

Before "The Price," Dee dedicated it to a woman in the front row who had just lost her father. In spite of her grief, she was there, just letting go and rocking it all out to Twisted. Condolences to this anonymous SMF--their delivery of "The Price" was absolutely spot-on.
It was the only time I didn't hear the crowd sing the opening line before Dee could, but let me tell you, when that crowd filled up with a sea of lighters and cell phones and swayed to the beat, it was a thing of absolute beauty, and one of those moments that I want to store in the memory banks for a long, long time. Colorado, you redeemed yourself! Spectacular.

Dee then interrupted the music, because he said "I just gotta have a conversation with this guy up front," and he literally plunked down on the end of the stage in front of this guy. HOOO just KNEW this was gonna be good. This guy was wearing a racoon hat (think: Davy Crockett) and was just sitting there like a bump on a log. Dee explained to him:
"Dude, if you're gonna wear a hat like gotta be a real man to wear that....and you ain't got it.... I mean dude, you've got to OWN that shit! My advice to to start drinking heavily! Either loosen the fuck up, or take the fucking hat off. Somebody get him a drink!

"Now the next song requires a lot of high energy...something you're obviously lacking.... now I believe in you....[to the crowd] Do you believe in him? See? They believe in you, too. Let's see you go crazy....and first thing I'm going to do at the airport is buy one of those hats!"

With that, they launched into "I Wanna Rock!" and Colorado delivered the goods. The crowd was rocking, the security guards were rocking, the lawn seats were rocking....the vendors...well, you get the picture. I can officially say that the crowd was won over. They may not have arrived Twisted Sister fans....but I can assure they LEFT as Twisted Sister fans. As hot and tired as those fans were, they dug deep and found a little something left in the tank.

Dee did conclude his "Twisted Sister World Tour Poll" and it was unanimous and conclusive: fans do want to fuck more than they want to rock, and the set unded on an upbeat, thunderous note!

For the encores, "Come Out and Play" had some nice lighting--stage bathed in blue, with giant searchlights scanning over the crowd from behind--very dramatic--and a nice touch. I really do love "Come Out and Play" as an encore--makes an nice opener too, but completely appropriate as an effective first encore, and those opening chords just resonate deep inside.

As Dee introduced the band and said a final end-of-world-tour thanks to the road crew and management-- he noticed a guy eating a hot dog..... I mean, really? I love hot dogs. I do. And all the jumping around I do at a Twisted Sister show, I get terribly hungry afterwards....but downing a dog during the encore? Dee just HAD to call him out on it!
S.M.F. was the closer, and I tried not to get too misty-eyed about it. In fact, Animal told me that if I say the words "Last show" one more time, he's going to tear my arms off like ripping the wings off a fly..... so, ulp! uh, I just didn't think about how long I may have to wait to hear those riffs again.

When the show ended, I thanked Dee and all of the members of the band and crew simply for showing up. I know that their hearts were really with their families and friends over a thousand miles away, and this again demonstrates the level of commitment and professionalism that the band and crew bring to each and every show. Colorado was a fantastic performance for some of the nicest, most down to earth fans I've ever met. The crowd was entirely too hot and tired to misbehave, and so my "Douchebag of the Day" award goes to the bitch named "Irene," who filled our basements with water, killed our electricity and rained literally and figuratively on our parade.

We returned to the hotel--and even though it was considerably early compared to so many other shows on the tour--we were all spent, physically and mentally. The heat, the concerns for family and homes, and the knowledge that the airports were all closed.

I came down early to the lobby to say goodbye to our Twisted entourage--the plan was to fly to Cincinnati (their airline didn't fly them direct into Baltimore as mine did) and drive the rest of the way home. Here's hoping everyone arrived safely with their loved ones and properties dry and safe.

As so, my babies, in the interest of keeping my limbs attached....I will not wax poetic about this potentially being the end of the road. As I sit here in the darkness, I hope that Christmas will afford me the chance to be with you all once more.

This is Armadillo, your faithful road reporter....typing by the light of my battery lantern, wishing everyone a return to normal operations.
58 comments ( 44940 views )   |  permalink   |  print article
A moment to reflect 
Sunday, August 28, 2011, 01:14 AM
Posted by Administrator
I realize that most of the SMFs can't read this post because they're literally sitting in the dark. Please join me in wishing all of the band and crew safe travels home. May they get home soon and find their families and properties safe and sound. My thoughts as well are with all the SMFs affected by the hurricane--I don't know what the next day or so will bring for me as well--but either way, it was worth the trip to come here.

a.k.a. The Armadillo
47 comments ( 15160 views )   |  permalink   |  print article
Grand Junction, CO Setlist 
Saturday, August 27, 2011, 11:06 PM
Posted by Administrator
The Setlist of champions:

1. What You Don't Know
2. The Kids Are Back
3. Stay Hungry
4. Captain Howdy
5. You Can't Stop Rock N' Roll
6. The Fire Still Burns
7. We're Not Gonna Take It
8. The Price
9. Shoot 'em Down
10. Burn In Hell
11. I Wanna Rock
12. Come Out and Play
13. S.M.F.
add comment ( 4447 views )   |  permalink   |  print article
On the ground in Colorado 
Friday, August 26, 2011, 03:46 PM
Posted by Administrator
This is gonna be a tough one...for many reasons.

After surviving the Great East Coast Quake of 2011 (my coffee spilled. I'm VERY distraught about that.) I then have to deal with the hurricane. Now mind you, that's part of my job and I enjoy it, I've got shelters opening up tomorrow...staff at the County Emergency Operations Center...and resources ready to respond....but I'm not THERE. And that's tough.

I'm also a bit worried about the big tree over my boys (Maine Coons) and my elderly parents....and the fact that my disaster team is likely being deployed on Monday. Without me....if I get stuck in the Denver airport.

And then of course....the saddest thing of all.... the LAST show. This is it for the 2011 World Tour, and the jury is still out on whether or not we'll see a Christmas Show--they've got to get a venue nailed down.

So this could be it. That's right. This very well could be the last show--and the band and crew have tormented me endlessly about it. I'm going to savor every single song tomorrow and bring you all the juicy bits suitable for publishing.

Not exactly someplace I imagined the tour would end--it's much more cowboy than cosmopolitan. Grand Junction is a beautiful, small high-desert town. I always loved living out in the west--the desert is one my favorite places--and no matter where you are in Grand Junction, you have sweeping views of the beautiful mesas, big sky and towering cumulus clouds.

Layers and layers of colored rock face--slate, white, red, orange, yellow, light green--eroded away into valleys and mesas by thousands of years of nature's processes. As the sun sets, the rocks will change color into spectacular reds, purples, grays...mother nature at her best. It's hot and dry but there's a nice breeze--scattered thunderstorms are in the forecast daily, so here's hoping for decent weather while TS is on stage.

No Twisted sightings about town yet but I'm sure there will be some out and about before long.

Please keep the band, their families and all of the fans in the areas affected by Hurricane Irene in your thoughts. Hoping everyone stays safe, vigilant and out of harm's way.

Until then....tomorrow.. we rock in Grand Junction!

Grand Junction has pretty much been taken over by metalheads--and many of them are arriving on beautiful Harleys. There's a Harley dealership outside of town, and the rumble of rolling thunder is pretty much a constant. It's a good thing. (Consider me your "heavy metal Martha Stewart".)

add comment ( 2803 views )   |  permalink   |  print article
Quebec, Canada August 20, 2011 
Sunday, August 21, 2011, 07:03 PM
Posted by Administrator
What seems to be par for the course, I'm stuck here at Gate 31, Jean Lesage International Airport in Quebec, Canada (eh?) and every 5 minutes they announce another delay...I think it's going to be a long road back to Baltimore. I've got two loonies in my pocket (wait, that doesn't sound too good....) and two chocolate bars in my bag, a half a battery left on the laptop and a nice big cuppa of java. Dismal gray and rainy conditions outside mean delays (or as they call it here: "retards" ) but in any case, that will not stop me from my civic duty as your dutiful Twisted journalist.

That's it comes, my babies....
Bonjour mesdames et messieurs!
c'est maintenant le temps pour l'Armadillo rapport routier officiel avec tous les détails que vous voulez savoir et l'abondance que vous ne faites pas. (how was that? not too bad, eh?)

Ladies and gentlemen, it is now time for the Official Armadillo Road Report, with all the details you want to know and plenty ya' don't!

The concert day was a disruptive one for me. Primarily because as someone who lives with anxiety disorder on a daily basis, my normal routines were completely disrupted. I've learned to deal with this, which means that I have to internally acknowledge that I feel discomfort, but I do not allow it to interfere with my ability to function. That said, every Twisted road trip begins with a "packing ritual"--and the obligatory "re-packing" ritual. Somewhere between Oulu and the States, my Twisted Sister bandanna--the pink and black hankerchief I've worn to every show since 1986--is missing.

And so instead of packing and getting a good night's sleep, I was up the whole night searching for the bandanna, which is still missing in action. This was particularly distressful--and I had to finally force myself to accept that I will be able enjoy a show without it, and that nothing terrible will happen as a result.

My arrival in Quebec was a bit more adventurous than I had planned--due to a hotel glitch, I didn't have my room available and smoke-free as arranged, and so a stroll over to the sold out Twisted host hotel led me to slap down the credit card and pony up for the only available room--an executive level suite. Government workers don't exactly earn a king's ransom, so I tried to savor every minute because unless my book....and screenplay....and movie rights...(I can dream, leave me alone...) do well, I doubt I will ever see a room like that again.

Alright, that said, I did spend a hour or so walking through Old Quebec, which as I posted earlier, was simply delightful. Jay Jay and I grabbed a spot of lunch, and we chatted about the tour....and not very anticipated end well as a sundry of other things not appropriate for publishing. I met some truly lovely fans outside, who patiently awaited the arrival of the band in Canada, and were treated to a few quick autographs and a photo with Dee. A special "allo!" to Cindy, Andy, Gilles and Denys. Proof that Twisted has the nicest fans in the world. Merci mes amis!

Due to my late arrival in Quebec, I missed the morning ride to the venue with the crew, and opted to spend a casual afternoon chatting it up with fellow fans. As a result, I missed a spectacular sound check of "Highway to hell"--hopefully DCT can fill us in on the details on that one--a short taxi ride took me to the Quebec Expo, where the huge 100-year festival was underway. Like so many dates on this reunion tour, the festival was a carnival atmosphere, complete with games, rides and carney-fare, which normally, I won't touch with a ten-foot pole, but when I see a booth with the word "Patisserie" (Bakery/Pastries), there is simply no way I can resist. I opted to bypass the "Poutine" --the local Quebec treat-- a large plate of french fries, covered with crumbles of cheese of some sort I've never seen before, covered with heavy gravy. I almost went for it....but I had visions of my cardiologist saying "You ate what?????!!!"

I walked past the husbandry (Didn't see any...but the livestock fragrance is unmistakeable) and came upon the "Colisee Pepsi"--yes, the Pepsi colliseum. Envison here, next to the Pepsi Pavillion building, a large open parking lot with an impressive covered stage, an elevated platform for the light board, and sound board underneath (both covered to protect from the elements), and an interesting crowd arrangement.

Stage right and left, on the far wings of the lot, were two sets of stadium seating. From Eddie to Jay Jay's microphone, was general admission. From Dee's mic to halfway to Mark's Mic, was VIP standing, and an entire front section of wheelchairs and those with mobility challenges. One of the best handicapped sections I've ever seen--kudos Quebec! Then, about twenty feet back, the rest of general admission. Our "Spinal Tap" moment of the night--to the left, was a go-cart race track--so as Twisted played, little go-carts buzzed around the tires. It added ambiance...that little something....or as they say, it was that "je ne sais quoi" element....

The lighting was vequally well-thought out--two huge swivel spot lights on each side, and a very nice array of colored lights, strobes and spots. Even the soundboard was beautifully and aesthetically lit. Overall, my impression was that this was an extremely organized, professional and well-run festival. Every last detail seemed polished and smooth--extremely attentive and polite security, helpful event staff--if I had ONE complaint.... I could not find the merch tent! When I asked, no one seemed to know--apparently it was quite well-visited, and the line was so long that most mistook it for the beer tent next door. The only thing missing was the TS banner--a very large beer banner was hanging in its place, obviously a sponsor of the festival.

I made my way to the front, pastry in hand, and chatted with some very nice fans, including a delightful couple who were, shall we call it.....seasoned. It was actually very refreshing to see that there are still folks who can rock out with the best of them, even in their 50's and 60's. Of course, it's equally as wonderful to see youngsters excited about seeing Twisted, and one young fan in attendance named Guillaume--"mini-Dee"...or as I've coined "Gee Snider", who looked exactly like "big Dee" after you've run Dee through the hot cycle on the dryer. Oh please, I'm 5'2". I'm allowed.

I did feel a bit.....naked. Without my trademark bandanna, and I left my colors vest at the hotel since it was threatening rain, it just felt odd to be without my "armor." Of course in mother nature's world, it is the armor that an armadillo sports that ultimately causes its demise. (too slow to cross the road, and then they get spooked and vertically jump into the chassis of the car overhead. sad but true.)
ah. I digress.

The band took the stage just minutes past 9:00pm--and it was just how I like it--no opening band, no comedians, no cookie-monster local acts--just Twisted Sister. And who stood onstage to bring the boys out? Why it was Gee Snider--mini-Dee--soaking up the crowd accolades. What a cool kid!

Interestingly, the Quebec fans were reminiscent of the Vancouver fans--not only extremely well-behaved, but dare I say it? Reserved? What I PROFOUNDLY enjoyed, however, was the one-foot invisible forcefield that surrounded me--not only did I not have to worry about someone dripping sweat on me or using my head as a beer coaster, I was untouched the whole show.

When "Long Way to the Top" blared through the speakers, the crowd was still noticeable quiet, and our own Danny Stanton tried to get the crowd fired up. Twisted opened, as they have been, with "What You Don't Know," which really is the proverbial opener song, and it absolutely rocked. One of the joys of being up close is that you can really feel the energy being emitted from the band. "WYDK" was just furious, arm-pumping, bass-thumping, drum crashing goodness.

At this point, there were so many photographers in the pit, it resemble more of a Kardashian popparazzi spotting than a Twisted show, but fortunately, they were history after three songs and we had an unobstructed view.

"The Kids Are Back" is another fave of mine, and it did not disappoint last night. The sound was absolutely fantastic--and from talking to fans who were all the way in the back, there were no complaints anywhere. They did have some interference issues due to a nearby military base. I'm not sure how to explain it since I'm neither a sound man or a rock musician, but on a few songs, it sounded like there was a delay--such that one guitar was playing on a different line. The bass also would cut in and out, but it wasn't so distracting that it lessened the performance.

There were a lot of mic stand drops--and at one point, the roadies were engaged in doing guitar work, and almost missed the now prone mic stand. Dee was just about to pick it up himself when one the roadies swooped in. You know, I've always said that I would have made a great ball boy at Wimbledon...and it's not radically different from being the've got to pay attention, be fast on your feet and be able to dash across without Animal catching you. One of these days, I swear, Animal is gonna catch one!

Dee shared that five years ago, TS played Quebec to the biggest crowd they've ever seen--"more than 80,000 headbanging muthafuckas"-- and it was obvious that now they were "back to get their asses kicked again!"

Now mind you, this was a State Fair--read: family event--and so Dee solemnly promised to do his best to avoid the "f-bombs"--he tried to get the crowd to fill in the blanks, but I'm not sure they quite got it. Seriously, these fans were very polite!

"Stay Hungry" was a crowd favorite as usual, and as I looked to the wings of the stage, I saw our DCT rocking out on one side....and over to the other, was Suzette, Dee's wonderful significant other, and the most adoreable little blonde two-year old girl, who I kid you not, was dancing, swaying, and fist-throwing. Yes, I'm sorry, but "Little Dee" is not the youngest Twisted Sister fan--that distinction goes to Dee and Suzette's granddaughter. (SCARY--I remember when Jesse was 2! I'm in denial that he has a 2-year old of his own!)
"Captain Howdy" gave us an excellent solo from Eddie, who was having a really good hair day, by the way. (Those of us without hair notice these things. ) In fact, the guitar work last night was really supreme--very few errors, tight solos, and just a really nice cohesiveness--even in spite of all the weird hiccups from the military base.

The crowd was relaxed, and the band seemed very at ease as well. Some shows are intense....some filled with challenges that can make it feel tense at times....other shows are silly and festive. This was one of those light-hearted silly shows where it looked like the boys in black and pink were just having a really good time.

During "You Can't Stop Rock N' Roll," Eddie motioned for the fans to pump it up--the place was absolutely packed, fans all the way to back gate. Not sure of the numbers--a security guard speculated maybe 10,000 but it sure seemed like more. Jay Jay's solo during YCSRNR was just fantastic--felt very fluid and flowing. Afterwards, Animal joined Eddie in telling the crowd to make some noise and raise the roof--and to the crowd's credit, whatever was asked of them, they happily obliged.

That's the odd thing about this crowd--they weren't over the top--they cheered when Dee asked them to cheer, rock when asked to rock, etc. But when you compare it to the pure religious zeal of the South American and Greek shows, well, it was just different. Don't get me wrong--I love Canada and the Canadian fans--it's just like comparing apples and oranges.

Jay Jay took the mic to say a few words, and thanked the Canadians for making "Stay Hungry" one of the top 5 best-selling heavy metal albums in Canada. He took his usual crowd snap-shot--so here's hoping we'll see it on the website soon. From what he tells me, that crowd was rockin' it all the way to the warning track. He showed off his tattoo touch-up job (very nice!) and as he delivered his soliloquy on American Idol, Dee laid across the drum riser in the background, a cross between a pin-up girl and Mae West.

They then launced into "The Fire Still Burns"--I don't have a lot of favorite songs off of "Come Out and Play"--I like the title track and "King of the Fools," but I very seldom listen to that album. "The Fire Still Burns" however, is one of the heavier tracks, and they really knocked this one out of the (amusement) park. Eddie, lit in a very tasteful orange glow--thank you, Mr. Lighting Techie--delivered a blistering performance and his duo with Jay Jay was a real treat.

Then came MY treat of the night. Jay Jay explained to me that as they prepared the setlist for the evening, he looked at the top songs downloaded in Canada. And unlike in the States, where every download is some variation of "I Wanna Rock" and "We're Not Gonna Take It" with a "Burn in Hell" tossed in, one of the top Canadian downloads? "Like a Knife in the Back" A Quebec fan recently wrote Jay Jay and asked if they would play it....Jay pitched the idea to Dee...and Voila! It was thunderous! I have wanted to hear this live for so long, that I could hardly beleive my ears.

Finally, the crowd really came to life during "We're Not Gonna Take It." I mean, really, whether you're old school or not, this song just gets you moving. There were still a few more problems with the bass cutting in and out, at the end of it, Animal add a little extra, and motioned that it was for a fan in the front. Think of as putting english on a cue ball--it's what we call in Baltimore, "a little sumptin' sumptin' for ya"

The crowd was now involved--and demonstrated their willingness, as so many cities before them, that they would not be outshined during the a cappella sing-a-long. Prompting a "bueno" from Dee.... uhhh....Dee? That was six or seven shows ago....last night, it was "tres bon!" Dee stopped for a moment and pointed to "Little Dee", exclaiming "Don't YOU look AWESOME! I oughta bring back that look!"

Dee then re-told the "Wheelchair" story, which incidentally, aired for a Canadian tv-show "Best Story Ever". Most of you should already know his "best story ever..." but I'll post the link here in case you don't. In any case, he acknowledged the very packed wheel chair section, that was rocking so frickin' hard, I kid you not, I thought some of those chairs were gonna start flying. It was incredible! Go Quebec!

Dee announced that a long-time friend of the band and former crewman, Marty, passed away just hours before they took the stage. They dedicated "The Price" to him--our thoughts, of course, are with all of his family, friends and the band. Eddie's solo during "The Price" was spot-on. Dee sang "The Price" with soul and raw emotion, and while I don't know what it looked like from the stage, it seemed to me like the crowd was feeling it too.
"Shoot 'em Down" was thunderous--

I need to say a few words here, about our own Mr. Mendoza. Truly, I don't know how he does it. The pounding that he gives that bass--something's gotta give! I mean, either the strings will break (he assures me that bass strings are very hard to break....and he likes playing a set with old strings) or the bass is gonna crack in half...or Animal's fingers are gonna slice clean off! It's remarkable, and the sound of his bass on "Shoot 'em Down' was nothing short of a religious experience. And he did a little extra fancy "fingerwork" that I'm sure I can even adequately do it was jazz, man, pure jazz.

I looked over during "Shoot 'em Down" and Dee's granddaughter was just bopping along. Seriously--Dee is just plain the coolest fucking grandfather ever. Can you just imagine this kid at show-and-tell?
"So what did you this summer, boys and girls?"
"My granddaddy took me to the zoo and bought me a balloon."
"My granddaddy took me to Disneyland and we rode the teacups"
" MY Granddaddy took me to Quebec where I got to rock out on the side of the stage as he andTwisted Sister kicked the booties of 10,000 fans"

Okay...back to the music.
"Burn In Hell," which is arguably the third most popular Twisted Sister song, was another house favorite. We had some spooky lighting...we had some growly voices....we had some fog.... oh wait, that was the pot smoke from the fans behind me. Let me tell you, NOW I understand that whole french fries with cheese and gravy thing! I had second hand munchies like nobody's business.

We had a full drum solo too--extra crash cymbol with a side helping of cowbell. Those red lazer sticks were working overtime! What I especially loved was seeing Dee get himself fired up on the sidelines during the drum solo--which lead into what the crew and band call: "Burn In Hell-reprise". Afterward, Dee pointed out his grand-daughter, now in Mark's arms onstage. She looked terrified--not sure if that was due to the huge cheering crowd...or Animal.....but Dee announced that "Am I the coolest fucking grandfather or what??!!?" See ? I told you--I already scribbled those exact words six notepages ago. Dee then dedicated "I Wanna Rock" to her, and the place went crazy.

Dee expressed his relief that unlike last time, he didn't have a restaurant full of confused and slightly annoyed diners next to the stage. (no, Dee, instead there were kids on little lawn mowers racing around a tire track....but nevermind...) Dee asked the crowd to rock....and they delivered the goods. As Dee said, "It's so easy...a trained dog could do it...." I say "I WANNA ROCK!...and you say.....ROCK!"

From my low altitude, I couldn't tell the crowd volume, but the band told me it was loud, even prompting an appreciative "Shit...." from Dee, and the band gave the fans a round of applause of their own."
Another little kudos to the lightman, Marty. He gave us a blue pulsating light on "I Wanna Rock" that was very nice, and worked really well to accentuate the drum and bass line. Dee then asked if he could dim the lights "for dramatic effect.." Followed by a very silly little Dee tangent of "Well, it seemed obvious...." Then commenting on the lack of ambiance, he commented (towards the lighting tech) along the lines of, man, I'd hate to make love to you dude...wouldn't want to be in your bedroom....and then literally, he cracked himself up. It was one of those special friviolities. Then he forced himself to "focus Dee!" and regain his composure to finish the song.

They performed two encores--"Come Out and Play"--played very tightly and then something I was not suspecting at all......change of encore! Instead of S.M.F., they knocked out an absolutely blistering rendition of "Under The Blade." I scrambled to pull out my notepad to scratch in the change--and I caught Jay Jay motioning to me to be sure to write it down. He later informed me that to the best of his recollection, the band has NEVER closed with "Under The Blade." There you go, Quebec. Twisted Sister's ultimate "merci beaucoup!"
Even the band intros were a bit unique--"All 5 freakin' original members!" Freakin? Well, it was still PG rated, I suppose. Dee reminded the crowd that this was no ordinary task "Ringo ain't the Beatles!" and did a quick re-telling of how Mark brought a gun to the first day of the band reunion rehearsal.

Lastly...Jay Jay introduced "Dee freakin' Snider" ....there was a lotta freakin' freakin' going the man who has inspired Bette Midler....Christine Aguillera...and Lady Gaga... the man the British press described as "Sarah Jessica Parker dropped in a vat of acid"... ladies and gentleman, Dee Snider: "the hardest working man in show business."

No road report would be complete without the "Douchebag of the Night" award. I have no idea what this guy did, but during the last encore, he had three security guards dragging him off, and they had to choke-hold before he stopped fighting. Well, 10,000 or so fans....there's bound to be one...and at least he wasn't using my dome as a beer coaster.
Alas, all good things must come to an end, and Quebec was a just perfect show. Great sound and lighting, a thrillingly new setlist, wonderful fans and a top notch production. Afterwards, we had some post-show pizza and libations, leading me to once again, be the harbinger of doom.

All good things must come to an end...including the reunion tour. I pleaded with Jay Jay....please....Don't let it end in Colorado! Don't let it end at some random festival in Grand Junction, thousand miles away from the clubs where it all started.
Jay Jay enjoys watching me squirm, taunting me with it "this might be it" comments. We shared our thoughts about how it should end, and came up with the concept of "Twisted Shiva" Sorry--Jay and I had a Jew-bonding moment.

That's right--Twisted shiva--where they play the last show, then for the week after, we all sit in mourning on wooden crates-- tearing our black clothing, eating tons of deli trays and cookies and we lament the end of Twisted Sister.

It could happen. Shit, I'll host.

And as Jay Jay pointed out, like the end of "The Sopranos", you never know when it's gonna end....all of a sudden...BOOM! that's it. it's over. could happen any show. even Colorado.

So my babies, if they announce a New York show, you'd best get your butt there, because when it's over, it's over, and all you'll have left is a ringing in your ears and a deli platter.

With that, I am NOW sitting in the Philadelphia airport. My flight was cancelled...and every flight to Baltimore is now delayed or canceled. So instead of getting home at 4:30pm today, they are telling me that I may not get home until tomorrow. Oh joy. How baffling--the 15 hours of flight from Finland got me home sooner than my 3 hours of flight travel from Quebec. Alas, such is the life of a Twisted Sister road reporter.
And so until next week, this is Armadillo, your faithful blogger, trotting off to see if I can rent a car and DRIVE the rest of the way home....

add comment ( 3225 views )   |  permalink   |  print article

<<First <Back | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | Next> Last>>