Best Buy Theatre, Times Square NYC December 17, 2011 
Sunday, December 18, 2011, 03:40 PM
Posted by Administrator
Well folks- another great show, road report in progress... in the meantime, for archivist purposes, here is the setlist-- same as the Long Island show! (but still fantastic)

1. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
2. The Kids Are Back
3. White Christmas
4. Destroyer
5. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
6. You Can't Stop Rock N' Roll
7. Deck The Halls
8. The Price
9. Oh Come O Ye Faithful
10. I'll Be Home for Christmas
11. Burn In Hell
drum solo
12. Silver Bells
13. I Wanna Rock
Encores
14. Heavy Metal Christmas
15. We're Not Gonna Take It
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Paramount Theatre, Huntington LI NY, December 2, 2011 
Sunday, December 4, 2011, 10:31 PM
Posted by Administrator
Ho, Ho , Ho my babies!

The roadies are donning their tights, the SMFs are full of holiday cheer, the truck is full of gas, and I’m full of Ibuprofen. So you know that it can only mean one thing…. that’s right, my Twisted brothers and sisters…

It’s time…here now….for your reading enjoyment…the elated, the infatuated, often emulated, occasionally constipated and highly overrated….the one…the only…
Official Armadillo Road Report: The Paramount, Huntington, NY, December 2, 2011

I cannot begin to tell you how absolutely ecstatic I was to hear the news that not only do we have one Christmas show this year, but to fend off the holiday blues and the dreaded post-show depression, we have a second one as well. The last time I made the long trek to Long Island, it was for our boys as Bent Brother, playing the now-closed Crazy Donkey. (rest in peace, O’ Metal Mule!). I was quite excited to be back in Strong Island, and this time I planned accordingly—the drive took just under 6 hours in Friday traffic.

Huntington is a wonderful, quaint and scenic little town with a lovely main street area. I enjoyed chatting it up with some friendly locals and their odd assortment of pedigree dogs, and sat on the bench outside the paramount with a cup of hot cocoa and a warm chocolate chip cookie as I listened to the sound check. I only heard bits of two songs for the sound check…”I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and “Heavy Metal Christmas” but the sound was remarkably good on the outside, which meant we were in for some outstanding sound quality on the inside.

The theater itself was quite attractive inside and out—the exterior reminded me of the art deco era, and I guessed the age to be somewhere between 1920 and 1930—a highly loquacious local informed me that it used to be a movie theatre when he went there as a boy many years ago. [inside, one of the staff guestimated the theatre was built in 1929—so glad my art schooling wasn’t a complete waste!] A trolley shuttled guests from the parking areas to the theatre, completing the Norman Rockwell Christmas illusion.

Standing in line, I met up with fellow slamboarders: SMF Kathy, SMF Chris (aka Captain Howdy), SMF Cyndi, SMF Brian (aka MetalNY) and a new and fine local chap, Jerry, who was quite understanding as the five us chatted away at our mini-reunion. The tickets and signage stated that doors would open at 5 p.m., but alas, it was almost a chilly quarter til’ 6 when we were let inside…..only to find that once inside, there was a large, 360-degree cocktail bar, and a mysterious black curtain that was protected by an army of fluorescent yellow clad security officers. I imagine the goal was to keep us warm…and rack up a nice bar tab while we waited. Since our entourage doesn’t really drink, it was simply… a long wait staring at a black velvet curtain. I felt like a horse in the starting gate at The Preakness. I just wanted to bolt out as quickly as possible to secure a prime spot in the front row.

Gracious thanks again to Santa’s little helpers….and one of Santa’s little managers —who noticed this time around, I was on three legs—that is, due to a back sprain, I was hobbling about with a cane—and they gave me a 2 minute head start on the crowd, which was just enough time as I could see the sprinting SMFs right on my heels. But it was Armadillo by a nose, and the happy slamboarders five took our places and settled in for what the giant glowing marquee outside hailed as “Twisted Sister Christmas EXTRAVAGANZA!”

Inside the theater, it was an extremely high, vaulted ceiling [think: good sound!], exposed brick all around, large exposed industrial steel beams above, two large LED jumbo-screens stage right and left, bars the full length of the theater on both sides [read: no waiting!}, and balcony seating all the way around, with a few cocktail tables in the rear. A great area for merch, coatcheck and restrooms that didn’t require a GPS to find them—I really LOVE this theater! The place was aglow with red and green lights and it was beginning to feel a lot like Twisted Christmas!

Our show began at 7:05pm, with J.Rad taking the stage. The theater was rather empty still, and that always makes it a challenge for a warm-up band. You’ve got to give J.Rad some props—they played hard, fast and with as much energy as they could muster to a crowd still shaking off the cold. I was temporarily distracted by the photographer in the pit who was dressed like Dee in full makeup & sporting the pink and black—but more on him, later.

J.Rad did an excellent job overall….they played a very decent set, and I appreciated that they were a band that was just about the music. No frills, just rock and roll. They had a truly outstanding drummer (even if he was wearing argyle socks. Drummers are a peculiar lot, aren’t they?) Extra bonus points to the bassist who played the intro of one of their songs using a violin bow—very rich, deep sound. The lead singer reminded me (visually) of a young Freddie Mercury (with better teeth).

Musically—take a listen for yourselves at their website: www.jradrocks.com

Good job gents—tough crowd but you played a great opener. My only two beefs? Too much bass—not enough vocals. We think it was likely just a sound board issue—but we often found the lead singer competing (and losing) to his bassist. Other beef: the lighting—they were backlit almost the entire time, and it would have been nice to see them a little better.

In the interlude, Twisted’s own manager extraordinaire , Mr. Danny Stanton, emerged wearing Grinch gloves and introduced a familiar face to many in attendance—Fingers, from WBAB, who in turn, brought out our very own, Mr. Mark Mendoza. Animal introduced some special friends of theirs who were next up—and the curtain opened to our next act, Jac and Jill.

Jac and Jill—named for the two sisters in the band, the guitarist and lead vocalist—came onstage with a dramatic entrance and an electric violinist. (called “Viper Violin—7 strings!) and played an opener a la Silver Bells that could have passed the muster for the transiberian orchestra. This band is a treat—not only musically, but visually as well. Let me first speak to the ear candy.

One of the toughest things for a band to do—is play to a half-empty theater as an opener. Even tougher…play a genre of music that is a bit different from the headliner. Then….add the third challenge: the lead singer, guitarist and violinist are all women. And by challenge, I am referring to the bias that some people still hold against women rockers. In spite of these obstacles, I thought Jac and Jill really rocked the house. I didn’t catch the name of the song, but the refrain was “This is me, without you”. [oh the story of my life, sing it, sister!] A decent rock and roll riff.

The lead singer and her guitarist sister showed off not only their vocal chops (which were impressive ) but also their other talents as they played keyboards and percussion. They did a cover of the Foo Fighter’s “Best of You” that was definitely a crowd favorite, and seriously—that viper violin!

I know what you’re thinking, yes, I do. Violin you say? That ain’t metal! But I will argue to disagree on this one. The Viper Violin added a really rich bass line—it was like having two basses—actually, more like one bass and one baritone. The result was a delightful robust sound…and it looked really neat too—like a little sparkly purple flying-V guitar….perched on the shoulder of a strikingly beautiful woman.

And that leads to the eye candy part of this. I want to be careful and respectful here—too often, women rockers get overlooked or dismissed in spite of their talent, by those who can only focus on their looks. So I want to be clear—this band definitely has talent—and….they are all absolutely gorgeous. All three of them! And fashionable too--the lead singer, Jac lyn Quatela, was decked out in a stunning white fur-line peacoat and later stripped down to something a bit more revealing….and then changed outfits to something a bit more festively inspired.

Her sister played a wicked guitar and percussion (decked out with Christmas lights, no less) as they played an homage to the “Nutcracker Suite”—I mean, seriously—Tchaikovsky! How many metal shows give you that?! I was so inspired—I did a 'plié! (oh, look it up...) All I needed was a pink and black tutu. Uh, on second thought…..let’s deep six that idea.

Animal came back onstage and joined them on vocals for a special Christmas song—he certainly looked quite happy—and for a Christmas song, it really kicked ass! Kudos to Jill Winter (guitarist) and Brigid Bibbens (Viper)—fantastic job.
What amazed me the most? I *swear* they did not sweat one ounce. No, they didn’t perspire either. When they left the stage, they looked as stunning as the first moment they set on stage. A pleasure to listen to….and a pleasure to watch. I’m looking forward to hearing and seeing them again in Times Square in two weeks.

And for the ladies, their bassist is called “Pretty boy”—their keyboardist and drummer are a handsome lot as well. (even if their drummer did play for “The Wiggles”)
So folks…. Come out and come early! Don’t be too cool for school, and meander in right before our boys in black and pink take the stage. Come a bit earlier, have an extra cocktail, and be sure to catch Jac and Jill live onstage. Here’s their website: www.jacandjill.com

And I don’t know if Jac…and Jill…and Brigid..have any other sisters….but, uh…. Call me! I’m single!

We did have a brief moment of auditions for the “Douchebag of the Night” awards as SMFCyndi and some other young ladies were baptized by beer. Kudos to a very attentive security staff at the Paramount who escorted the inebriated attendee and her very apologetic boyfriend to the exit, stage right.

It was roughly 9:30 pm when “Long Way to the Top” finally gave us the old familiar cue that it was time to get wild. The curtains opened once more to reveal that over-the-top Christmas set (that you can also see in the latest Twisted Christmas in Vegas CD, available now!) and there were Twisted elves a plenty! I don’t ever remember seeing so many elves frolicking onstage. Including a pink and black adorned elf that looked remarkably like Twisted roadie and guitar technician Keith, who flashed us his jingle balls….I mean, bells….well, his balls were bells…. Well….whatever they were, they were jingly and green. {I have a urologist who can help you with that, my fine elfin friend.}

Atop the giant Christmas mechanical assembly line, an elf dropped a Diet Coke and a pair of sticks into the grinder, and the machine produced….A.J. Pero! Voila! A large animal print pelt…a turn of the wheel…and out struts the one and only, Mark “Animal” Mendoza.

A small purple guitar dropped into the mix…and out strolls….get ready for it… Mr. Jay Jay French in a tuxedo, with slicked back coifed hair, you might have heard my jaw drop except it was drowned out by the squeals of delight coming from the ladies around me! He was quite the sharp dressed man—very dapper and I was just waiting to hear him say, in his best Sean Connery:
“French. James French. Twisted, not stirred.”
He explained that the band was conflicted over the evening dress code—and then he explained his own internal conflicts, being a Jew in a Christmas show. We were again treated to his festive Christmas wreath on one side—menorah on the other—custom guitar. Sounds as good as it looks, I might add.

Eddie arrived onstage with his “gift wrap guitar”—fully adorned with working LED Christmas lights.

And of course, the one…the only….Dee Snider in his Santa suit….pulled onstage in his totally tricked out muscle car sleigh, powered by three very attractive, scantily-clad lovelies…and best of all? Santa Dee was wearing his war paint! He reached into his sack…..(uh, his SANTA sack) and tossed us candy and condoms. (For some reason, every year, everyone gives me their condoms. …do I look that lucky? Or just desperate? Don’t answer that, please.)

You’ve seen the setlist—we were treated to something off of their earlier albums as well as the Twisted Christmas. Even if you don’t like holiday music, there is no doubt that Twisted Christmas will absolutely knock your Christmas stockings off! Dee did comment that the last time they played Long Island, they claimed that it would be their last show there….and the last Christmas show he announced it was his last show in makeup…. so now they join the ranks of KISS and Ozzy…of doing the routine of “it’s our last show….NOT!” And believe me, Dee. We are GRATEFUL!

After a thunderous opener of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, they launched into a perfect rendition of “The Kids Are Back” and the sound was top notch from the first note. Fantastic-- a few adjustments made early on and even in the front row, which can be hit or miss, we heard every part, every note. The vocals were flawlessly balanced and loud-- I don’t know if it was the high ceilings, a good system or just the sheer expertise of George, the Twisted soundman, but the acoustics were perfect.

“White Christmas” treated us to a galloping guitar line…and two very naughty elves that were having entirely too much fun with the artificial snow maker. Those of you who live in snow climates are familiar with the expression: “Little flakes, big snow….big flakes, little snow.” Those were some damn big flakes. I inhaled enough soap snowflakes to clean my system out for a week. I must have coughed up Palmolive for an hour afterwards…. I think I was farting soap bubbles ! The photographer in front of me seemed to get the brunt of the flakes—she didn’t look very happy, but it amused the elf (and me) to no end!

The boys launched into “Destroyer” and if you have not heard that bass line played live, it shakes every bone in your body. I always expect all the glasses to start shattering back by the bar—the place damn near vibrates from the foundation up From there, we were treated to the now obligatory R-rated version of “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” In light of the all ages audience, Dee assured the parents in the audience, that “if your kid knows what fellatio means, you’ve got bigger problems…”

Eddie sported a new guitar—bright red with a huge mouth (teeth and tongue included) painted on it—so you can really say that his solos had some bite! Ugh. Sorry about that.

“You Can’t Stop Rock N’ Roll” sounded absolutely flawless—it’s one of my favorite songs to hear live—I just love the guitar riffs—and as we lifted our hands in praise—SMF Cyndi pointed out that in the front row, stage left, was an ASL signer. I didn’t recognize the fan as the rabbi who came to the show last Spring, but let me just say—you KNOW you’re good when even the deaf rock out to your music!

As the band played the opener to “The Price”, the fans began singing it a bar early as we traditionally do, prompting Dee to exclaim: ‘What am I? Vince Neil? I can sing it!” A perfect rendition, and the crowd actually had a few LIGHTERS…yes, Lighters! That’s old school, baby. Afterward, Dee gave some props to all the SMFs who brought kids, commenting, “They allow you people to procreate?!!”

He further explained that he was caught up in the Christmas spirit, “The spirit of giving was upon [him]” and that prompted the return of the Heavy Metal Maybelline because he “don’t wear this [shit] for anyone any more…” He did a few shameless plugs for some reality shows coming up. He couldn’t say the name but since I’m not under contract and the cats already out of the bag on YouTube…. Watch for Dee on Celebrity Apprentice. {I don’t know how Donald Trump will handle someone on his show who has better hair than him…] and we can expect to see Dee in the Celebrity Wife Swap as Dee and Flavor Flav swap families. Mr. Flav better behave, or I suspect Mrs. Snider will give him a whole new meaning to “Fight The Power”.

Jay Jay finally slipped into something more comfortable—I was getting a little worried seeing him in that tuxedo—I thought maybe he had to play at the Bar Mitzvah that I was attending the following day—and Eddie donned the familiar pink bullseye guitar—and their rendition of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” was absolutely fantastic. Eddie and A.J. sang the solos this year, and I can honestly say that I definitely preferred this version over any of their previous guests—with the exception of Lita Ford, of course. (You can never have too much Lita!) Both Eddie and A.J. have terrific voices, and it is always a special treat to hear them sing solo.

As they played the last verse, Dee jumped on Jay Jay’s shoulders…and launched himself right onto the floor as they erupted into the intro for “Burn In Hell.”
The lighting for the show was absolutely fantastic—and “Burn In Hell” gave us our spooky red glow with a demonic Dee growling out the opening line. There’s something about Dee in those red lights….in his makeup…. It just screams: “Scary clowns are coming to eat me in my sleep!” A.J. did his drum solo with drum medley—and I again put the challenge out to see if any SMF can name all the songs he did a few bars of.

“Silver Bells” has become my favorite Twisted tune to hear live—you have GOT to hear (and see) Animal’s bass solo. It is BEYOND phenomenal—it’s heavy metal jazz—beautiful and precise, yet at the same time, improvisational and brilliant. One hand skillfully plays while the other….how do I poetically put this? Pounds the living shit out of the instrument! He was playing a bass I’d never seen before—a deep red starburst—absolutely gorgeous bass and a sound that was powerful and deep.

Dee then announced that it was time for a special moment…… and then had to look around because the rest of the band was in absentia….but the doors opened and ….
Out came Santa Claus! Unlike the previous years, this Santa Claus was not only SOBER, he was wearing PANTS! We were very, very grateful. He had a real beard….traditional long regal red coat…and you know, I think that may have been the REAL Santa from the North Pole! Or as Dee explained…kidnapped from the Salvation Army!

The gentle, soft-spoken Santa asked the band what they wanted this year. Animal got his Christmas wish as Santa had his elves bring onstage, a truly Mendoza –sized handgun—this Luger was about 6 feet by 10-feet—someone’s got a photo of it I hope! Animal even exclaimed—finally he had a gun that would fit in his holster!

A.J. explained that his motorcycle hit a deer recently (good grief AJ! Be careful out there brother!), and so he asked Santa for a new bike. The elves then ushered onstage, a rather large bicycle made out of a taxidermied deer! AJ wondered aloud if that was the deer he crashed into—I certainly hope not—because judging from the nose, I’d say that Santa won’t have Rudolph guiding his sleigh this year!

Eddie couldn’t decide what he wanted for Christmas, so he asked Santa to surprise him. Santa gave Eddie a special holiday gift—a condom—not just any condom, but an Eddie-sized condom. In fact, you have probably fit Eddie inside the damn thing! It was huge—I wish I could tell you Eddie’s response, but we were laughing so loud we missed what he said!

Jay Jay told Santa that he wanted tickets to the Broadway show, War Horse. Leave it to Jay Jay to ask for something that even Santa couldn’t get…..but this Santa was no slouch, he had his elfs drag out a ten foot toy Trojan horse (PUH-LEASE tell me someone has a photo of this!) with elf roadie Keith riding atop it!
And finally….Dee.

Dee shared with the crowd that he already received a Christmas gift—a beautiful second grandchild--a new bundle of joy, his grandson, Cassidy! (Congratulations again to the entire Snider family) But when he motioned Santa close….and got ready to whisper in his ear…”you see, Santa…what I want…” then screamed:

“I WANNA ROCK!”
I thought poor Santa was gonna have the big one! I saw the two elves carrying poor St. Nick off the stage.
When it came time for the audience participation portion of “I Wanna Rock,.” I’ve got to give my disclaimer first. There were SO many funny Dee-isms, so many good one-liners, as fast as I could jot down in my shorthand, he was zinging them out left and right. It was so damn hilarious and fast, that SMF Cyndi and I were like taking your parents to the movies… “what did he say?” “Did you hear that last line? Eh?”

He commented that the audience participation part of this song is easy… “So easy a trained DOG could do it… I know….I’ve seen it on YouTube…”
At one point, Dee looked down at the Dee look-alike photographer in the pit and exclaimed:
“You’re a good looking guy….. I thought I was looking at a reflective surface…until I realized, OH! There’s two of us!”
He launched into a killer version of “I Wanna Rock” and noticed that the crowd in the upper balcony was still sitting down. He commented: “I know you’re OLDER….I know…you’re SAVING it for later… THERE’S NO SAVING IN HEAVY METAL!!!”
And then….
“And THIS guy’s taking notes…are you taking notes?”
And it took a full minute to realize….oh shit….he’s talking to me. Due to my back (which I might add, was in absolute agony at this point) I was putting all my weight on the front barricade, and because the light made it hard to see, I had to lean forward to scribble my notes instead of doing it discreetly as I try to do….
“You didn’t get enough in Finland?”
I swear, I had a moment where I though he might snatch my notepad out of my hands and shove it where the sun don’t shine….and I ain’t talkin’ about Finland in the Wintertime, either….
Then he turned the house lights up, got the audience to get up on their feet….rock out to “I Wanna Rock”, except they started to sit back down again, prompting an absolutely classic Dee rant of:
“No, No….Don’t sit DOWN again…. Christ, go get a frickin’ gurney for that guy…” and as he got the crowd to scream rock and clap, he said “See….You can do two things at once….spit out the gum…”
And then…
“Are you STILL taking notes? What are you, a freakin’ reporter?”
Uh. Well. Yes. Sort of.
“Here….. I …..WANNA….ROCK…… write that down!”
And….I did.

And I almost wet my pants.

I hope you all appreciate the danger and risks I face as your road reporter.

The band closed with two encores—the hilarious Heavy Metal Christmas…introduced as “Premature singulation” The elves onstage were frolicking so much with the band that they almost missed the entrance to the song. At least now they don’t need those cue cards to get through all twelve days of Christmas.

Dee introduced the boys in the band—the sounds of Christmas Thunder, A.J Pero……Eddie”Fingers” Ojeda from Da Bronx….Mark “Animal” Mendoza, who is also from Strong Island…and…
“the man who was born and raised in that rent-controlled apartment…his kid’s kids will die in that rent controlled apartment….they’ll need a roach bomb to get his ass out of that rent controlled apartment..” yes, the one, the only…the man who cleans up quite well…Jay Jay French.

And of course, our lovable (and sometimes terrifying) but always entertaining and hardworking Dee Snider, the man whose look has been stolen by Bette Midler, Christina Aguilera, Lady Gaga….and the British press described as “Sarah Jessica Parker dropped in a vat of acid”….which Dee added, “was a real insult to Sarah Jessica Parker…..”

They brought out Kevin-- the brilliant set designer, his band of merry stagehands and all of the road crew, including manager Danny Stanton, to get the accolades they all so rightly deserve—the hardest working crew in the business.

The closer of the night was “We’re Not Gonna Take it”….which I confess, always feels a bit déjà vu at these Christmas shows after hearing “Oh Come O’ Ye Faithful”, but even so, it just brings the house down. Kudos to a very well behaved crowd, an excellent and attentive staff at the Paramount, and a shout out to all of the slamboard folks in attendance.

There is one Christmas show left this season….the Best Buy in Times Square is a fantastic theatre…you will HATE yourself if you miss Twisted Christmas on Broadway. There was great merch to be had—CDs and DVDs autographed by the entire band, autographed posters, limited edition Twisted Christmas concert tees, TS santa hats—all sorts of goodies for you to buy for the SMFs on your Christmas list. Please folks—catch the bus, catch a train, catch anything but a cold…..and come on out to join us on December 17th!

And with that, this is your faithful road reporter, trotting off to have some more pain relievers and rest up for the 17th! See you on the road, my babies!

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SETLIST The Paramount, Huntington NY December 2, 2011 
Saturday, December 3, 2011, 02:01 AM
Posted by Administrator
Here you go! Your seasonal setlist:

1. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
2. The Kids Are Back
3. White Christmas
4. Destroyer
5. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
6. You Can't Stop Rock N' Roll
7. Deck The Halls
8. The Price
9. Oh Come O Ye Faithful
10. I'll Be Home for Christmas
11. Burn In Hell
drum solo
12. Silver Bells
13. I Wanna Rock
Encores
14. Heavy Metal Christmas
15. We're Not Gonna Take It
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Christmas is coming! 
Saturday, October 22, 2011, 03:55 PM
Posted by Administrator
Yes, yes it's true, it's true! Not one, but TWO Twisted Christmas shows in 2011.

Some of you have labeled me the "boy who cried wolf" but we can never assume that the tour will go on.... and every show you miss, is one less opportunity to see the boys throw it down live.

Now, I know what you're thinking...
...you don't live near New York....you don't LIKE Christmas music....you don't want to see the openers...

whatever the reasons you may have, I assure you that they pale in comparison to the experience that is a Twisted Christmas Show. I've seen many Twisted Christmas Shosw- and I personally HATE Christmas Carols. In fact, I think I've only missed one or two Twisted Christmas shows total back in 2006 since I had just moved back East and had started a new job then, but it was so much fun, that I decided to make it a personal goal to get to every single Twisted Christmas since, and I've done just that. No regrets--they get better and better.

Twisted Christmas has made me LOVE them now. The shows are a true spectacle. The band and the fans are festive, happy and relaxed. These shows are filled with fun, frivolity and there's just an atmosphere of "relax..it's a Christmas show!" SMFs and band members bring their families and kids, and it's just a great time for everyone.

And best of all.... the show kicks some serious heavy metal ass. I assure you these shows rock just as hard as the Twisted Sister shows you know and love. There won't be many more of these, so please take advantage while you can.

I promise you won't regret it! See you in December, my babies...
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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 dark.....you 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 lawn....er...dirt 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 Colorado....you'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 off...you 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 them...it'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?"
then...to 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 understand...it's been a long hot day....you'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 boy...you 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 that....you 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 you....is 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.
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