Kotka Sea Festival, Finland, July 29, 2011 
Sunday, July 31, 2011, 11:15 AM
Posted by Administrator
And now...for your reading enjoyment...the time has come for the literary train wreck chock full of all the concert details you're aching to read...along with plenty of ridiculous foolishness that you'll wish you hadn't...

yes, it can only be one thing: the Armadillo Road Report, the Official UNOfficial Twisted Sister concert review of Kotka Finland, July 29, 2011.

oh my babies, where to begin, where to begin.... I suppose where we left off would be a good start. With the crew and band all arrived (except for Dee), we wined (well, I whined, no wine) and dined and retreated for some libations where we played a short and slightly morbid game of what will be engraved on Jay Jay's urn when he expires.... Jay's Jay's vote was for the European setlist, which at this point seems to be etched in stone...
we came up with the following:

Burn in Hell
The Fire Still Burns
Come Back
I Wanna Rot
We're Gonna Cremate It
Axes to Ashes (actually, that one's for Eddie's)
Under the Grave
Well, okay. You get the point. Feel free to start a thread on that one...yes, I know, it's macabe but kinda entertaining once you get rolling.

We were barely out of the gate on the way to Kotka when the heavens let loose and dumped sheets of rain on the caravan. (that's what you get for mocking death) The two-hour ride to Kotka took us through some beautiful countryside, rolling farmlands and striking forests, and we arrived at the port. Literally. It was the port of Kotka. You've heard the colloquial expression "take a long walk on a short pier?" Well, I found the short pier referenced--and at the end of said pier, was the venue!

The Kotka sea festival was basically a carnival on the dock, that I nicknamed "Wichita-by-the-sea" (go see the Wichita July 25, 2010 if you need a refresher) Although I must admit--it was carney Finland style--instead of corn dogs and funnel cakes, they had reindeer dogs, sushi and fresh fish. I was also impressed with the "hearing protection" vendor, who had a wide array of brightly colored ear plugs for sale and a very tasteful VIP tent with beer garden. Oh, by the way, Finland loves beer. A lot of beer. Apparently the words "Last call" do not exist here. They started drinking before breakfast--wait, actually, I think the beer WAS breakfast. Regardless, you had merry-go-rounds, bungee jumping off a pier crane.....and heavy metal. I suppose it works. A bit of spinal tap nevertheless.

The venue itself was a large airplane hanger frame with fabric tent walls, a proportionately smaller stage and these bizarre glowing chinese-inspired lanterns that I just KNEW Dee would make a comment regarding. Add to that an impressive sound system and lighting setup, with a small city of trailer dressing rooms...and a very large cargo crane...and there you have it.
After a quick stroll around to check out the tugboats and a navy vessel (thanks to the friendly sailor who saluted for our photo op!), we heard the opening act--a local Finnish band--take the main stage while the smaller stage one plane hangar over hosted various cookie monster metal bands.

I enjoyed the opening number of the opener--but they lost me after the first song. In contrast to the fickle American audiences, as soon as they hit their first chord, fans flooded into the area to give them an appreciative listening audience. It was about 6:30pm, and already a good portion of this crowd was what we American's call "three sheets to the wind." Uh, that is....really shit-faced drunk.

Now what Road Report would be complete without the almost obligatory Armadillo restroom critique? They were port-a-potties, yes, but these were Finnish port-a-potties. The difference? They had astro-turf liners and cup holders. You see? One more reason to love Finland. Get me some wi-fi in there and I'll start paying rent. Come for the astro-turfed toilets....stay for the heavy metal! I don't know why it was so enchanting, but I even enjoyed the soundcheck--"IPPS IPPS COX COX" (1...1....2....2....)

The next band up (I have GOT to go back and pull those names off the Kotka website) featured former members of Hanoi Rocks, playing with some local Finnish musicians. They were definitely getting some love from the small but loud (and did I mention drunk?) crowd. It was an interesting mix of heavy metal meets ska, and the younger set in the audience really grooved to it. At one point, the lead singer wrapped his face in a scarf and sang hooded--that was lost on me, and since I don't speak Finnish, I have no idea what the song was about. They played a ballad that musically, was painful, but it was obviously meaningful to their fans. Either way, I didn't care for it, personally, but the sound was excellently balanced.

Enjoyed a few songs more with a nice gent from the slamboard--Panu--thanks for stopping and saying hello! One more piece of evidence that the slamboard is full of good people++and the best fans in the world!

After they left the stage, I hear this loud "pop pop pop" and realize it's the sound of people stepping on plastic beer cups that now covered the floor....those imbibing were off to the beer tent for a refill. To my surprise, an expedient crew swoops in and the cups are gone to recycling in a flash. Won't see that at a US Festival--shit, I think there are still plastic cups on the ground from last year's Preakness.

Hardcore Superstar was next up, and they truly did not disappoint me. They came onstage to Van Halen's "Dance the Night Away", immediately received adulation from the crowd...tossed beers into the audience...(like we needed them??!?) and played with high energy. Great rock and roll--and a real crowd pleaser--I think I counted more Hardcore Superstar shirts than Twisted. For their final number, "Last Call for Alcohol" (what else?), they brought two fans up onstage to sing it with them--I really appreciate these types of gestures, and they are a fine group of gentlemen as well as talented, hard-rocking musicians. I would have preferred less bass--there was a lot of bass reverb and I found it distracting.

By this point, I saw a few folks running for the exit. There are two things that make one run for the exit like that--really bad heavy metal....and really bad-ass heavy metal....given that the one fellow was wearing a Spice Girls tee-shirt, it's safe to assume it was the bad-ass metal having him run for the door.

Our hard-working road crew treated us to a quick "Cat Scratch Fever" during the sound check, and due to a few technical glitches, the band took the stage 5 minutes late.
So.....we had some really good things last night and a few not-so-good things.

The good first:
The guitar work was excellent--very tightly played solos--excellent duos--perfect balance of bass and guitars. Eddie truly nailed down the "Kids Are Back" and Jay Jay's solo during "Stay Hungry" was absolutely screaming.

The not-so-good?
Dee arrived literally hours before the show from his international flight--I know EXACTLY how exhausted he must have felt, and to see him performing with his usual high energy was absolutely phenomenal.....however....jetlag took it's toll. We had a LOT of lyric boo-boos--don't get me wrong, Dee sang every line of every song....just not in order. Did the fans care? Of course not. Did I care? Not really--I thoroughly enjoyed his usual assortment of one-liner Dee-isms.

He greeted the audience with "'Wank You! ooo...I meant 'Thank You!' sorry...it's the jet lag!" And then a particularly funny moment of TMI--Dee explained he needed to pause to adjust his ballsac (shit, there goes my pulitizer) because it felt a little "fringy." Just see the photos--you'll understand.

He asked the audience: "Are there any SMFs out there? By the end of the show.... it will be ALL SMFs out there..." and I do believe that prophecy was fulfilled. When a group straggled in late, he called them out: "Where the fuck were you? We've been playing for 45 minutes? Probably were on the ferris wheel." I can tell you where they were, Dee, it's called the BEER GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL! And predictably--Dee DID comment on those weird lanterns--"What the fuck is this? A rave? A fuckin' disco?" I shoulda bet money on that.
"You Can't Stop Rock N' Roll" damn near blew the fabric off the tent frame--I found Eddie's solo absolutely blistering--his "Price" solo was particularly good--much better than what I heard in Athens.

And while the lyrics went south on "Under the Blade", there was a very nice "duet" moment between Jay Jay and Dee that I hope someone took a snapshot of. The crowd was rocking all the way to the end of the pier, and the floor was going nuts!
"Shoot 'em Down" was dedicated to all of the assholes in the world (nee: politicians)....and speaking of assholes....I met the monarch of all assholes, the twatwaffle king, yes.... say it with me, you know what's coming: DOUCHE BAG. There's always one....and goddammit if there isn't a douchebag magnet where I stand. This one takes the cake.

Everyone was rocking out, enjoying themselves, when suddenly, there's someone keeping time on the top of my head. That's right, he's drumming on my head. You know, I've had people use the top of my head as a beer coaster....an armrest....and even a good luck charm...but this was too much. When a few not-so-subtle hints failed to get him to stop, I got my point across a bit more directly. Next thing I know, DB's elbow is digging into my shoulder, his hairy forearm is now pressed against my cheek, and repeated attempts to remove it simply resulted in it re-appearing on the other side.

I swear to you, his nuts were almost up my ass-crack--I'm sorry, I know it's too much information, but if I have to get violated in the front row for 90 minutes to bring you the best road report possible, you can stand to read about it for five....no, really. It's cathartic for to get this out. I finally decided for something more his speed--I found his foot, and proceeded to apply my weight to his toenail, and explained to him that I would remove my foot when he removes his fist from the side of my head. Kudos to the excellent security guard, who intervened at least four times, and made him cease and desist. Okay...everyone on the count of three....one............two..............three..........


Dee gave props to Hardcore Superstar, Lordi and Michael Monroe--and let us into a rousing "I Wanna Fuck!" The band gave the crowd a round of applause, in appreciation for their volume! It was time to rock, and so Dee gave the crowd a chance to rock. First "rock"...it was...okay...as Dee said, "you weren't ready...here's we'll try again..." Second "rock" was better....then, Finland voted, and surprise, surprise! They want to fuck more than they want to rock as well. Best Deeism of the night, "Do you want to fuck?!!? No, no....not you, sir..."

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Whoops--sorry folks---that consonant interlude was brought to you by Mark "the Animal" Mendoza, who just demonstrated his bass playing techinques on my netbook...

Twisted had to cut the setlist short, and so while we had "Whole Lotta Rosie" we didn't have "Come Out and Play." If they had been the headliner, it may have been different, but they had to give proper respect--rock icon Michael Monroe took the stage next.

Just a few quick words on Michael Monroe--that man can still kick some serious ass! His set was absolutely fantastic, and I was amazed at his high energy and vibrancy--the man did a split! Seriously--a split! "Sex, Drugs & Rock n' roll" brought the place to a frenzy. (okay, so he had a little issue getting back up, but a rock split at his mileage? Impressive. He is a really nice chap as well, and a man of class. Very approachable and soft spoken, completely different from his onstage personna, like so many other rockers. (He makes this one face when he's onstage--these scary eyes--my maine coon makes that same face when he sees a moth!)

Amazing to see such rock royalty sharing the bill with Twisted.
On the ride back to Helsinki, it looked like a zombie movie as the hoards of drunken Finns made their way back through town. In a bizarre moment, "Long Way to the Top" came over the radio as we drove through the still light rural countryside. We rolled back to the hotel around 4:30 AM, caught a few moments of conversation with Eddie outside the hotel around 5:00 AM, and now I'm off for 2 hours of sleep, as Oulu awaits!

Sleep tight, my babies, for tomorrow....we rock again!
This is Armadillo....trotting off to change socks and grab a catnap...
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Setlist for Kotka, Finland July 29, 2011 
Saturday, July 30, 2011, 04:28 AM
Posted by Administrator
yes, ladies and gentlemen, you read that correctly.
It is 4:30 am, and before I retire for the 2 hours until I leave for Oulu, I bring you the setlist....

because....that's just what I do...

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. Under The Blade
10. Shoot 'em Down
11. Burn In Hell
drum solo
12. Whole Lotta Rosie
13. I Wanna Rock (Fuck)
band intros
encore #1
14. S.M.F.

The road report is forthcoming....after a shower, shave, the other "s" and maybe an hour or two of sleep.
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Helsinki pre-show 
Thursday, July 28, 2011, 06:04 PM
Posted by Administrator
Greetings once more from Helsinki...

I'm pleased to announce that the roadcrew and most of the band have safely arrived in Finland. They chowed down on some lunch and I imagine are catching a few precious winks at the moment.
I barely finished typing that sentence before our very own Mr. French sauntered into the hotel lobby, guitar slung casually over one shoulder, and informed me that I missed two incredible shows--Czech republic was "off the hook" and Madrid, in his words, was "fucking insane--55,000 fans losing their minds." Damn!

Of the 15 shows this year, I will make 7...my Russian visa didn't happen..of course now, I'm a bit bummed. My original plan was to catch every show Greece thru Colorado. I opted for extra days in Greece to go sightseeing instead of one day in Czech Republic and one day in Madrid. Well, c'est la vie, it's that 60-hour a week pesky nuisance that I must tend to in order to finance my twisted passion. If I win the lottery (and yes, I do play the Powerball) I will follow the next world tour to every show, but alas! The cats need feeding and my job demands that I limit my time away.

Regardless, I'm pleased as punch with Helsinki. It is an absolutely spectacular city--highly walkable, safe....surprisingly quiet for a city...and a public transit system that is easy to use and efficient. I absolutely adore the juxtaposition of old architecture with contemporary. Despite getting caught in a downpour this morning, the day turned out quite nice.

Johnny (TS Lightman) and his friend Kent strolled downtown with me to a rock club called "Tavastia"--Helsinki's answer to "The Marquee." It is the oldest rock club in Helsinki, founded by students, and is the kind of club that many of you old schoolers would appreciate. We got a opportunity to look at the dressing room--a tight space in which the walls, ceiling and virtually every surface was covered with autographs and graffiti of past bands. (S.M.F. played there!)

Like so many European countries, Heavy Metal has deep roots here. Incidentally the Air Guitar World Championships are held here annually....as well as the International Wife-Carrying Races and the World Cell Phone Throwing championships. Finland has a delightful quirkiness that is absolutely endearing. I did partake of the sauna.....one of those "things you must do in Finland".

I'm back after downing some kebob and taking in a few fascinating stories...the one most particularly enchanting was the story of Jay Jay's new ring. He was dining in Portugal, in a scenic seaside chateau called Furnace De Ginsho, when the waiter, Marco, noticed his seahorse pendant and asked if he was a musician. And like most waiters, surprise, surprise! he was in a band, too! (sorry--not a dig on waiters or guitarists...just stating a basic truth. you know it's true, c'mon now)
After some brief discourse about guitars, the waiter gives Jay Jay his ring, telling him that the rings were made and worn only by his group, and it would be his honor to give it to him. Jay Jay showed me the ring...very nice work. A skull made of copper, which incidentally, is supposed to holistically good for arthritic joints, so if Jay Jay's solo is particularly good tomorrow night, I'm going to wonder if that ring had something to do with it.

Off to bed now....tomorrow is a few hours on the road to Kotka. Sleep tight my babies...tomorrow we rock!
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On the ground in Helsinki 
Wednesday, July 27, 2011, 10:47 PM
Posted by Administrator
Ah my babies, I've landed in Helsinki, and the striking beauty and tranquility of this city has made my travel woes a distant memory. From the moment one arrives in the Helsinki Airport, he or she realizes that this is a unique city like no other. The airport is open, airy, full of natural sunlight--and remarkably quiet and devoid of noise....and people. I felt more like I was in a library than an airport.

I hopped a local bus into the center of the city (and unknowingly got off at the train station at the advice of locals--little did I know that the bus stops behind my hotel. Alas, the 3K walk to the hotel gave me a chance to get familiar with the city. Finding lots of Twisted Sister fans and plenty of metal heads about town. My sources have told me that ticket sales have been up, so I anticipate a nice, packed house Friday night.

Helsinki is VERY clean, environmentally conscious and relaxed. The people here are quite friendly and helpful--the only way I can describe it is a complete lack of xenophobia. I strolled around the lake across from the hotel, and saw lots of folks having picnics, bike riding, jogging--it's hard to explain it but the people I've met here seem very happy and content. Their conversations very direct and to the point--but they have a genuineness that is refreshing. (Baltimore is such an angry, paranoid city!)

I dined this evening on reindeer steak--my apologies if your Christmas presents are late this year as a result, but it was simply delicious. I walked into a local grocer to try out my Finnish--to my delight, I was able to say good evening, purchase a water, say thanks and bye...and she never spoke English to me once. A good sign.

I don't believe the band and crew have landed here yet--I could be wrong but I have no "band sightings" to report, and I don't feel that stirring in "The Force" that tells me that they are in the building.

Tomorrow will be a day of sighting in Helsinki, and then bus or train to Kotka on the 29th. I'm particularly excited to hear "Hardcore Superstar"--another band who employs our own Johnny, the Twisted Sister lighting technician. Hard to believe that the Village People and Katy Perry are playing the night after Twisted Sister--another Spinal Tap moment, perhaps.

Can't wait to see y'all in Kotka

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Armadillo is on the Road! 
Tuesday, July 26, 2011, 03:10 PM
Posted by Administrator
Greetings my babies and welcome to my first live entry to the official blog from JFK Airport. The day began with my 7:00 AM drive to Baltimore-Washington International Airport--a trek I've made so many times now I no longer feel the tremendous anxiety when I hit the road.

The morning did have a slight hiccup--the ticket agent at Delta was absolutely determined to cheez my doodles and insisted that my carry-on bag was too big to fly. I demonstrated the compression strap features, and how my bag neatly fit into that ridiculous box that everyone ignored as they wheeled their monstrosities past me....including a guy with an acoustic guitar... He insisted that my netbook pouch (out of the bag for security) was constituting a 3rd bag, and it took three attempts at convincing him I was legit. In desperation, I grabbed another ticket agent to act as a neutral 3rd party, who said "What? he's fine! it fits...." and the trip has just begun, and already, ladies and gentlemen, we have our DOTD (Douchebag of the day--need you ask?)

In 2 hours I'll be Finland bound--I've already starting googling key Finnish phrases and I can now announce "I have a hovercraft full of eels." Just waiting for that conversational opportunity.

I'll be posting again from Helsinki....get ready my babies, because Kotka is just around the corner!

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