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2013-12-18 12:34 AM (#32967)
Blog down...but here is your Official Road Report
Location: Baltimore, MD
Until the blog is back up...
Here is the official road report from Sandviken, Sweden, December 14, 2013....Rockklassiker, Goransson Arena
With only ten Twisted Sister shows in 2013, there had to be a good reason as to why Sweden earned 30% of the lion’s share—Rockkassiker in at the Goransson Arena Saturday night was proof positive that Sweden was, in fact, the perfect choice. There may have been only a few hours of sun, but those lights to the north of Stockholm weren’t the Aurora Borealis, my friends—it was the glow of glorious heavy metal! Twisted Sister melted the snow and heated up the night inside the Gorannson Arena in Sandviken. Young fans and old schoolers alike rocked long and hard to a blisteringly fast ninety minute set consisting of hits and a few Twisted Christmas carols thrown in for good measure. Twisted Sister destroyed it Saturday night to a an approving crowd—Sweden, you are worthy!
Which can only mean that it is now time. Here now, for your reading enjoyment, the Blog of Glogg…..the Linguist of Lingonberry….the ultimate in esoteric Nordic food references that you definitely won’t find in Rolling Stone and more ellipsis than a morse code distress message:
It is indeed my pleasure, my babies, to bring you this final edition in 2013, of the only concert review long enough to be called: The Armadillo Road Report: The Official Twisted Sister tour blog and concert review, Sandviken, Sweden, December 14, 2013.
Truly another case of planes, trains and automobiles—and we can add buses for good measure—your faithful road reporter’s day began with a brutally chilly wait outside for an early morning bus to start my 3-hour journey from Baltimore to the Newark Train Station, where I hopped the train into the airport. While 4 hour layovers may prove agony for some, to my delight, I spent the time chowing on a Smashburger—quite possibly the tastiest airport burger ever—and discussing the joys of ginger maine coon mixes with a lovely traveler and her furry companion, also known as Rinke The Traveling Cat, who apparently has his own blog.
(If anyone finds it online, please send me the link.
My 8 hour flight to Stockholm was nowhere near as fascinating as the band and crew’s flight on Scandinavian Airlines. Apparently, December 13th is the Day of St. Lucia, when boys and girls don flowing white gowns with crowns of candles on their heads, and they sing traditional songs to St. Lucia:
“The night treads heavily
around yards and dwellings
In places unreached by sun,
the shadows brood
Into our dark house she comes,
bearing lighted candles,
Saint Lucia, Saint Lucia.”
There was a moment of confusion when apparently our band of five awoke to the sight of beautiful, blond candle-clad women chanting, and had to do a reality check—in Dee’s own words—“I thought I was dead!” Once they all confirmed that the plane was in fact, still in the air and they were all among the living, it was the start of another beautiful and magical trip to Sweden.
We converged into Stockholm—and had a sigh of relief when the luggage and guitars all arrived as well. With crew, band and instruments now loaded onto the transport, we made the trek to the quaint town of Gavle. Complete with their own version of public art a la car-henge, a delightfully and tastefully decorated town square full of white lights strewn from building to building, with St. Lucia flames illuminating the town’s fountains and courtyards. Truly, nothing says Christmas more than snow gently falling in a Swedish town. I partook of my favorite local gastronomy—a delicious roadside stand selling a frankfurter topped with two scoops of mashed potatoes.
(referred to thereafter as "the cock and balls lunch"
St. Lucia falls on the darkest day of the year—and it was barely 3:00pm before the darkness fell on us, as band and crew alike retreated to our hotel rooms, sank into some of the comfiest beds ever and proceeded to take the power nap of all power naps before the traditional and wonderful band/crew dinner in the evening.
(Many thanks to those who made that possible for us—it was absolutely wonderful!
After a few short hours of glorious slumber, the crew clamored back down to the lobby and into the transports where we headed off to the Goransson Arena in Sandviken. The Goransson Arena is relatively new—a big, beautiful and very contemporary structure that houses hockey games, rock concerts and other entertainment. It’s a lovely covered dome that holds thousands upon thousands of fans, with wonderful concessions, a café, stadium seating and a giant open general floor. There were also two large jumbo screens stage right and left—and an ample stage with enough LEDs to light up half the country. Backstage was clean and large, with a full gym and sauna
) and the backstage run to the stage transported some of the band members back to the 80’s—it was a sight that could have easily passed for any of the huge arena’s Twisted played back in the day. It also boasted what may have possibly been the world’s largest coat check—this is, after all, Sweden. It was DAMN cold out there.
The local road crews were professionals through and through—a pleasure to interact with—and I cannot say enough about what wonderful hospitality staff. The sound check was incredible—I have never heard A.J.’s drums sound so thunderous. I don’t know if it was the empty arena or the acoustics of the dome, but it became known as “the Thunderdome” for that hour. You can’t have thunder without lightning—the bright, white LED spots strobed so brilliantly that a few times, A.J. remarked that he was going to need sunglasses as he could barely see his drums!
With the dressing rooms well prepped and the sound check completed right on time, we headed back to the hotel as the snow began to fall. A few of our slamboard faithful apparently arriving just minutes after we departed
) and from what I understand, SMF Marty
), SMF Patrick
) and SMF Dave/Funtasia
) braved quite the snowstorm while securing a good spot in line, literally hours before doors opened. [many thanks to the arena security who brought them hot coffee. Very nice.]
Although a nap would have been divine, there were a few errands to run for band and crew, and just when I laid down to rest, a knock on my door revealed, to my delight, Twisted Sister movie producer Andrew Horn, the mastermind behind “We Are Twisted F*cking Sister: The Movie” and there was simply no way I could sleep when before me was the man who is going to bring us all hours of old school delights on the silver screen. More on that later—because truly, Twisted Sister needs the help of all of you, my babies, to get this film out there. Keep reading.
I do regret that I don’t get the opportunity to see many of the other bands play—I saw Hardcore Superstar take the stage and caught just a small piece of their set—I only wish I could have heard more—great stuff! And of course, Swedish band “Europe” played a worthy hour, closing with “Rock The Night” and “The Final Countdown.”
I was once concerned that the transition from front row fan to back stage runner would remove the magic and mysticism. It truly is a completely different experience, and definitely has a lot more stress involved, but I assure you—the magic is still there.
Just as the lights go down and “Long Way to the Top” blares, whereas before I would be standing in the dark, straining to see the silhouettes of our Twisted heroes—now I crouch, flashlights in both hands, illuminating the stairs as our heavy metal gladiators take the arena by storm! I won’t divulge what I see…. to do so, might diminish the magic—but I assure you all, that it is absolutely exquisite. To see those familiar and menacing silhouettes, completely in shadow, backlit by the arena hallway, pumped up and ready to deliver the metal to us all—it just gives me chills. There were high-fives and even a hearty embrace—my heart was simply full. I still pinch myself.
And then…it began!
The familiar opener of “What You Don’t Know” just roared from the start. A fast and furious fave from “Under The Blade” ended with a little extra flourish from Animal, and the crowd clearly showed our boys in black and pink some love.
Similar to the festival summer setlists, they rolled right into “The Kids Are Back” and the place started to really heat up.
(Even Dee shed his full length coat—hey, it’s Sweden. I had about four layers on myself!
) Speaking of coats… what Road Report would be complete without the French Fashion Moment—Jay Jay sporting---black jeans, blazer and a grey cravat. Quite European. Tres chic.
Dee addressed the deafening crowd with a traditional New York greeting of “What the Fuck??!...... Twisted Sister back in Sweden…three times in one year!.... Do you know what this means?” [they like meatballs? Blond flight attendants wearing candles on their heads? Penchant for salmon seventeen different ways?] “You like Twisted Sister…and Twisted Sister loves Sweden!” It’s true. The love is mutual---honestly, I can’t think of anything I DON’T love about Sweden except that it’s so far away from the States!
Dee acknowledged the 30th Anniversary of Stay Hungry and welcomed the original Twisted Sister fans, “Class of 1984.” He also gave a shout out to the mini-Dee in the audience—an adorable little kid in full Twisted regalia—who was just rocking out on her Dad’s shoulders!
In honor of the Stay Hungry anniversary, there were a few treats in store—including a crushing version of “Captain Howdy”—a song not often played in festival settings but truly a delight for those in attendance. The crowd was packed in tight at the front as they sang the refrain. A.J. finished it off with a bit of stick flipping goodness—the drummer’s equivalent of jazzy hands.
The boys delivered one of two songs off Twisted Christmas—the first being “Silver Bells.” As a Christmas Carol, this was never one of my favorites because it was so slow—but Twisted doesn’t “do” slow. This carol truly rocks—and the stage lighting during this song was equally mind-blowing. Jay Jay delivered a fantastic solo with Dee actually mounting himself atop the monitors. The truly most incredible and best part of “Silver Bells” is the bass solo. Mark Mendoza’s bass solo was absolutely phenomenal, demonstrating why Animal is so solid not only as half the rhythm section of Twisted—but truly a talent by himself too! This bass solo knocked my Christmas stockings off! As Jay Jay and Eddie stood in the rear of the stage duing Mark’s solo, Dee ran between them and gave his best rendition of Twisted-does-the-Rockettes. See? Not only does he kick ass…he high kicks too!
[keep reading…there’s more….I’ve got 5 more pages of notes….hey, I endured 9 hours of flying next to a 7-ft Ethiopian with no concept of personal space….I’m making this report count! If you want brevity, get a Reader’s Digest]
“You Can’t Stop Rock N’ Roll” is one of my favorite live songs—and when it’s played live, I swear, it is twice as fast! Not only did it sound fantastic, but the lights were insane—imagine these brightly colored LED spots that strobe so quickly they look like laser beams. It was like watching Star Wars on your VCR in fast-forward mode!
Jay Jay took a moment to chat with the crowd, explaining that Sweden sold more copies of Stay Hungry, per capita, than anywhere else in the world—which explains why Twisted Sister is one of the few if not the only band to headline Sweden Rock three times! Twisted worked really hard to get where they are now, and they thanked all of the fans for their 30 years of support.
Another Stay Hungry treat—we had the chance to hear “Don’t Let Me Down,” not often played, but always a crowd pleaser, and it launched us into a version of “We’re Not Gonna Take It” that I thought would bring down the dome.
(Mini-Dee was just bopping along, singing all the words—good job mini-Dee!
My favorite Dee-ism of the night—he stopped to inquire why a section of the crowd was behind these steel security stanchions: “Why are you in a cage? Did you do something bad?” He then stopped to pose for a photo for someone in the front row—someone’s gonna have a bitchin’ Christmas card this year!
He dedicated “The Price” to Michael, our host with the most who showed us such great hospitality. When the crowd sang the opening verse, it was really quite moving. Jay Jay was smiling like a kid on Christmas morning, proudly playing for his daughter, Samantha, who was watching from the wings.
“Burn In Hell” was absolutely one of the creepiest versions ever. The stage was filled with this eerie, red ground fog that I swear, looked right out of “The Ten Commandments.” As a shirtless Dee emerged, bathed in red light, and the fog swirled around my ankles, I was glad I’m not the first born in the family! And I got what I wanted for Christmas—an A.J. Pero Burn In Hell drum solo that damn near shook the rafters.
“White Christmas” lived up to it’s name—the snow machines kicked in full force—and as Dee picked up one of the snow blowers, he absolutely nailed some poor fan right in the face with an arctic blast of fake snow. Ahhhh…..memories….I remember those days….I coughed up soap snow flakes for hours. My Swedish brother, no worries—if you swallow the fake snow, soon you’ll be clean inside and out! I spied our slamboard S.M.F.s in the front row, coated in flakes. Good times!
“I Wanna Rock” closed out the set—and truly, you just haven’t lived until you’ve seen thousands and thousands of Swedes throwing their fists in the air, jumping high and screaming “rock!” at the top of their lungs.
Two fantastic encores—“Come Out and Play” and the always popular “S.M.F.” whipped the crowd into an absolute frenzy. And then, alas, those 90 minutes just whizzed by!
Sweden…you never disappoint me…and neither does Twisted Sister!
A fantastic set of hard rocking heavy metal delivered by the absolute kings of live performance. It was truly a fitting tribute to the 30 years of Swedish support of “Stay Hungry” and some Twisted Christmas thrown in for good measure. Sweden saw more of Twisted Sister in 2013 than any other location in the world—and if the fans remain as passionate and the band continues to rock this hard, 2014 is gonna be a great year!
A little epilogue here. Hopefully, you know by now that movie producer and director Andrew Horn has filmed a documentary called “We Are Twisted F*cking Sister!,” an incredible first-hand account with some rare, live footage of Twisted Sister back in the club days. The movie will tell the story of Twisted Sister’s phenomenon as a club band that sold out venues even without a record deal, and give us stories never heard before.
But here’s where we need YOU, my babies. Twisted Sister needs your help funding the film so that they can release it.
Please go here:
And pledge your support. In return, there are some INCREDIBLE perks to be had—rare tee shirt reprints, original presses of picture discs, TS ads from the club days—and for those who can afford more—Dinner with Dee, Lunch with Jay Jay, VIP treatment—lots of treats! For those of you outside New York and/or outside the country, your $20 donation can also get you the Video On Demand so that you can watch the movie wherever you are!
If you can’t….consider JUST A BUCK! That’s right, babies. If we can get every S.M.F. on this slamboard to donate just one dollar, we’ll meet the goal. And if we can meet the funding goal in the next 25 days, one lucky fan with that one dollar donation may win a gold record signed by the band!
PLEASE! Support this fantastic independent film—it is a GIFT to all of us in pink and black—and just like back in the club days, they can’t do it without us fans. DONATE NOW!
I give a shout out to the special fan who I saw in the parking lot during our arrival at 8:00 a.m.
(yeah you, the blond kid with the denim vest on who was rocking hard in the front row
) That kid toughed out 8 hours in the cold just to get up front—I salute you, my brother.
Shout out to the entire Twisted road crew and management-the hardest working bunch in rock and roll—my wonderful Twisted family—thanks to the Rockklassiker staff and sponsors, Urban and his fantastic crew, and a very special shout out to Lena, my angel from the hotel who made sure I got to the airport in time for my early flight.
And with that, my babies, after being awake for 36 hours straight, I bid you good night. Wishing all of my Twisted S.M.F. brothers and sisters, all over the world, a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May we all find peace and prosperity in the year ahead, and I look forward to seeing you on the road!
This is Armadillo, your faithful road reporter, trotting off into 2014!
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