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2014-06-29 1:22 AM (#33892)
Dee Snider Solo Show Road Report from Elgin, IL
Nearly A Band Member
Sorry for the delay in getting this posted. I wanted to have it up last Monday night
(the day after the show
) but it's been one of those weeks at work where there was no shortage of things for me to do. I've been writing a little bit at a time and finally had time to sit down and finish it tonight. I hope you enjoy it!
I unfortunately don’t have any great tales of the road trip or majestic scenery or culinary delights or descriptions of exotic locations. Unlike most of my trips to see Twisted Sister, I simply got in my car and drove about an hour down the road for this one. No planes or trains for this show and only one automobile. The only thing out of the ordinary was that we got stuck in a brief traffic jam due to an accident. Wait. That’s not really all that out of the ordinary around here unfortunately. And it definitely doesn’t qualify as majestic or even nice scenery. I did have a ham & cheese sandwich before heading out but that can hardly be called a culinary delight. And the closest I got to an exotic location was driving along state route 31 as it paralleled the Fox River on the way to Festival Park in Elgin, IL. This was to be the sight of a concert billed as Hairband Heavy Weights staring Tom Keifer of Cinderella fame, Brett Michaels from Poison, and Twisted Sister’s own Dee Snider. Since our beloved Armadillo was unable to make the trip, I volunteered to sit in and share the highlights with our friends near and far on the Slamboard. I’m not sure I can live up to the legendary status of an Armadillo Road Report but I’m sure I can fill up some space on your computer screens at the very least. So with that out of the way, let’s kick off the Unofficially Authorized Official Substitute Road Report.
Eddie Trunk, host of VH1 Classic’s That Metal Show served as MC introducing each of the bands for the evening. First up was Tom Keifer followed by Dee and then Brett Michaels closed out the evening. For the purposes of this road report, I’ll be focusing on Dee’s set. If any of you are that curious about Tom or Brett’s sets, let me know but for now I’ll just give you the low down on Dee’s band and set.
While I have learned to listen for the familiar riff of “It’s A Long Way to the Top” to come from the PA system to signal the start of the show, on this night it was Dee’s version of “Mack the Knife” from Dee Does Broadway that kicked things off. Over the years, there have always been tweaks to the Twisted Sister set list. But there are always a handful of songs that you know are going to be played. While I figured some of those same songs would be played during Dee’s set, I went into this one completely in the dark as far as what to expect. Would he play all Twisted Sister songs? Would he play any Widowmaker songs? Desperado? Covers? Solo material? It was time to find out!
The set was kicked off with an unexpected opener. The drums kicked in hard and fast to set the groove for Dee to charge out onto the stage and launch into the Desperado/Widowmaker rocker “Emaheevul”. The majority of the crowd were clearly your casual type of fan so they were likely not familiar with any of Dee’s solo material or side projects but it was clear that at least I was in for a treat! They launched right into “You Can’t Stop Rock ‘n Roll” without stopping and that one definitely got the attention of the crowd and the blood started pumping.
Now it was time to survey the audience and assess the situation. This was an outdoor venue that was basically a large park. The stage was set up at one end with folding chairs for seating towards the front.
(That has never struck me as a very good idea at a rock show but that’s just me I guess.
) The folks that were willing to pay a little more for a seat got to be closer to the stage. Then there was a barricade behind the seating with an open lawn area behind it for the rest of the crowd to occupy as they desired. On one side of the park was the Fox River and on the other side were the surrounding buildings. Most of these buildings appeared to be apartment buildings to which Dee exclaimed “If there’s anybody sleeping in those buildings over there, WAKE THE HELL UP!!!! He then directed his attention to the few people that were still sitting. They were “instructed” to get to their feet. He did provide exception for anybody that may be handicapped at which point he noticed at guy in a wheel chair that had worked his way towards the front as close as he could get. Dee singled him out and expressed his appreciation for the effort and desire to join the party.
After establishing the rules of the evening, Dee explained that they were going to play a few songs that many of the people in the audience probably won’t be familiar with. That’s when Dee introduced “Widowmaker” from the first Widowmaker CD. In Twisted Sister fashion, they didn’t stop to rest as they then transitioned right into “The Kids Are Back”. There was a bit of a twist for this one as they started it out with a drum and bass only intro that was pretty cool. Dee started singing the first verse and then they added a bit of a punch when the guitars then kicked in. I liked it! The energy of the crowd then went to the next level as our favorite cow bell highlighted drum intro kicked off “We’re Not Gonna Take It”. This one became the evening’s first group sing-a-long. With the crowd all riled up now, we of course had to launch back into another round of “WNGTI”.
It was now time for Dee to re-assess the energy level of the crowd and share a few of the best Dee-ism’s that I’ve heard in a long time and possibly the greatest one ever. He began by acknowledging “Now we’re warming up! The sleeping tablets are wearing off!” A young lady in the audience then got Dee’s attention and tried to start a dialog to which Dee pointed out “You know we’re not the only one’s here, right?” As the crowd reaction continued to escalate, Dee started to acknowledge a few “Sick Mutha Ffffis” stopping himself short as he pointed out that he had been asked to tone down he cursing due to the number of families in attendance. He began explaining what SMF stood for without stating it outright again stopping himself short as he noticed some younger children off to the right of the stage. “Hey kids! How are you doing?” That’s when he let these younger generation SMF’s know that our favorite moniker actually stood for “Super Magical Fan”. I’m glad I wasn’t taking a drink at that moment because it would come back up thru my nose. My daughter started laughing hysterically next to me. I now have a new favorite Dee-ism! LOL! Dee did say that he would slip in an F bomb at some unsuspecting point before the evening was over when it was least expected. He didn’t know when but he was sure one would slip out. He explained that he didn’t want to over use his vocabulary and that he would be “using profanity like seasoning tonight”. I have to admit that this is up there among my favorite Dee-ism’s as well. LOL!
Dee began to introduce the next song by mentioning that he has been asked many times over the years what his favorite song ever was that he wrote. Pointing out that his favorite song that he wrote wasn’t actually a Twisted Sister song and that probably nobody here in attendance would know it, he prepared them by letting them know that many would take this as the cue to take a bathroom break. The porta potties along the river’s edge then caught his attention to which he exclaimed “It must really stink over there.” Dee mentioned that this was the first time he had ever had the opportunity to play this song live. Then he introduced “Heart is a Lonely Hunter” from the Desperado CD. Admittedly, the audience did seem to lose a little momentum with this one since they were not familiar with it but I definitely loved it. I was even treated to that warm fuzzy feeling you get when Dee pointed to me in appreciation when he saw me singing along. They followed up this one with another surprise stating that Twisted Sister never plays this one anymore but they were going to play it that night as they launched into “Leader of the Pack”. While this definitely is not one of my favorite Twisted songs, it was cool to hear an unexpected treat! The band smoothly transitioned right into “Burn in Hell” as Dee stepped into the now familiar red light showing off those ripped abs. I still feel completely inadequate when I see how good of shape the man is in. As usual, the drum solo closed out the song. However, this time it was Joe Franco delivering the solo instead of AJ Pero.
With the crowd juiced up again after “Burn in Hell”, Dee once again took note of his followers. By this point, there was a contingent of fans at the very back of the park climbing the back fence and peering thru it to get a good look. Dee of course noticed this and showed his appreciation for the old school attempt to be part of the show but asked why they were too cheap to pay to get in. He then paused to tell the story of meeting a 15 year old girl that used always be right down front clapping every night and sometimes she was the only one there clapping. She was still there that night and she was still clapping along as Dee pointed out Suzette standing at the sound board. Theirs is a great story made even better after all of the years that they've been together. Then we were treated to a little vocal exercise with Dee practicing a “me, me, me, me, meee…..” It was time for “I Wanna Rock”! This one brought the crowd together for another hearty sing-a-long. This one is typically extended at a Twisted Sister show but on this night they just plowed thru it in it’s original progression from the album.
Now it was time to introduce us to Dee’s solo band. Dee acknowledged that he rarely does any shows without Twisted Sister so he was enjoying the chance to bring some of his good friends together to play. First there was Joe Franco on drums. Joe played with Dee in Widowmaker as well as with Twisted Sister on “Love Is For Suckers”. If my memory is correct, Joe was also involved with Van Helsing’s Curse. Next up was Dan McCafferty on guitar. Dan played on Dee’s solo album “Never Let the Bastards Wear You Down” as well as the SMF’s. Dee mentioned that Dan had also performed with him in the Broadway musical “Rock Of Ages”. At this point, Dee pointed out that “the movie sucked but the play was awesome! Tom Cruise fucked it up!” Oops! There was that special seasoning that Dee told us to expect earlier in the evening. Then we were introduced to Joel Hoekstra also on guitar. Joel is currently playing with Night Ranger and has played with Trans Siberian Orchestra. He also was the guitar player in Dee’s music video for “Mack the Knife”. Excellent player by the way. I may actually have to check out some of the new Night Ranger material. Last but not least was Derek Taylor on bass. Derek was also with Dee in the SMF’s and is currently playing with Overkill.
After the introductions were out of the way, the band launched into a medley formed around the old Jerry Lee Lewis song “Wild One” also known as “Real Wild Child”. Also included in the medley was AC/DC’s “Rocker” and Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll”. The crowd seemed to enjoy this one and at this point the crowd on the outside of the back fence had grown bigger leading to Dee’s plea to “Let those people in!” That song appeared to be the end of the show as Dee and band said their good-byes and left the stage only to run right back out. Dee was informed that they had time for one more. So that led to and encore of AC-DC’s “Highway to Hell” to the now highly energized audience leading to our third and final sing-a-long of the night.
All in all it was a great show. We got a good mix of the expected along with some unexpected songs played by a great band supporting the original SMF himself. Dee did make one more appearance to the stage at the end of the night as Brett Michaels invited Dee and Tom Keifer back out to join him for his encore sing-a-long of the Kiss classic “Rock and Roll All Night”. Dee sounded and looked great. His band was tight and energetic. And in the interest of giving credit where credit is due, I’ll pass on a bit of thanks to Brett Michaels as this show was almost canceled when the original headliner, Vince Neil, had to cancel due to conflicts with the current Motley Crue tour but Brett Michaels stepped in less than 2 weeks before the show to provide a headliner for the evening and keep the show on the schedule.
There you have it. Those are the highlights from Dee’s set. Hopefully I did it justice in the absence of a true Armadillo Road Report. Until next time, stay Twisted!
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