Hard Rock Hotel, Orlando, FL Velvet Sessions 10/29/09 
Thursday, October 29, 2009, 10:22 PM
Posted by Administrator
October 29, 2009, Orlando Florida, Hard Rock Hotel, Velvet Sessions
You know, I typed the entire road report and lost it when I hit “Submit”… so maybe this second time around it will be a little tamer because draft one was a real humdinger!

You knew this was coming…and yet you clicked on the thread anyway…

It’s time for the Official Armadillo Road Report: The Official UN-Official Twisted Sister Concert Review. Hard Rock Hotel Velvet Sessions, Orlando Florida, October 29, 2009. All the details you’ve been clamoring for, and plenty of trivial crap you wished I’d never shared. First things first: after the traumatizing ordeal of chasing a puddle-jumper to the Ft. Wayne show, catching a plane to Orlando was a breeze. I didn’t stay at the Hard Rock itself—a beautifully, lush landscaped palatial establishment—I went for a more modest place a few blocks away. No scantily-clad girls in the lobby like the Hard Rock. They did give me a warm chocolate-chip cookie upon check-in, which almost made up for it. Hard Rock gets hotties…I got a cookie…Charlie Brown gets a rock. Such is life.

The venue itself: this was by far, the most BIZARRE concert site yet. Weirder than the beer garden tables of Ft. Wayne…the Spinal Tap/Puppet Show amphitheatre of Six Flags…the strip mall in Springfield…the cactus garden in Tucson…. Twisted played a hotel LOBBY. Yes, that’s right. It was the lobby. TS checks the sound….guests check into their rooms. Another surreal TS moment.

Now to their credit, the place was decorated quite festively. We had a rotating Frankenstein in the middle, a tower of artfully stacked Vodka bottles complete with animated skeletal pirates. There were gargoyles, cobwebs, strobe lights and the place was packed full of folks in costumes. It was a bit uncomfortable waiting in line in the mens room next to Uncle Fester, but you know, at a TS show, it didn’t seem so out of place. The room itself was approximately 20’ x 50’, with a stage about 2’ off the ground that I’m certain is mostly rented for weddings and bar mitzvahs. I couldn’t complain: I enjoyed standing on carpet for a change. I saw that our own TS roadie Dwayne was sporting a “Dad To Be 2010” shirt… some little future SMF(s) on the horizon? Do tell. Then again. Maybe I shouldn’t ask.

The Velvet Sessions are promoted as a Rock N’ Roll Cocktail Party (Rocktail party?) and while I never had a chance to get a complimentary beverage or sample the hors d’oeuvres, I appreciated that they were there. Note to Danny Stanton: I’d like to propose appetizers for all future TS shows, please. I’d like those little egg rolls and some mini hot dogs if you don’t mind, thank you. Now those of you who know me, know that I just love local flavor. Love getting out there and meeting the people, tasting the foods, getting the pulse of the town. This crowd, however, did NOT endear itself to me. The theme of the night: Douche Bags. But more on that later….

[oh? Did you want to read about the show? Well, alright then.]

First band up was a NYC act called “Toxin.” Local folks told me that the Velvet Sessions typically don’t have an opening act, and you ALL know how much I dread standing through opening bands…but this was a TREAT. (not a trick.) The opener was very, very good. And young. Very young. Let me put it this way: if you put Shawn Cassidy and Bon Jovi in a washer/dryer on the highest setting for 90 minutes…out would come the Toxin lead singer! No, really…. he was barely 5-feet and 100 lbs…he makes ME look like a Linebacker for the Ravens….I didn’t know that rocker clothes came in pediatric sizes! When TS sang “The Kids Are Back”…truth in advertising! They weren’t old enough to get into the club they played….hell, they weren’t old enough to DRIVE to the show!

Oh please, I’m 5’2”…I never get an opportunity to make fun of short folks… just one more….I have more hair on my…oh, second thought...nevermind. Danny’s daughter was standing next to me and told me most of them are only 15 years old (the lead singer kept making goo-goo eyes at her, but she tells me she knows them and it was all in fun….)

They have a new CD out, and they played a lot of material from it including “I Don’t Care”. One song had the refrain “Nasty Nasty Dirty Dirty”. Somehow, coming from one who wasn’t old enough to buy condoms, let alone sing about what he wanted to DO with them, well, it just seemed wrong. Welcome to Cougartown, I suppose. They were very talented however, musically and vocally, with great stage presence. We were treated to a really fun Kid Rock rendition and even “Play that Funky Music”. Just one tip kid: sell the tambourine on Craigslist and buy a cowbell instead. Toxin needs to define their own identity, but when they do, watch out! Toxin has a lot of talent and poise, and definitely a band to watch. Thanks for bringing them to Orlando!

So following my own superstitious TS ritual, I donned my Twisted bandanna before “Long Way to the Top” and looked over my shoulder: the place was JAM PACKED. Packed full of…. douche bags. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…it’s coming… the Armadillo rant of the night….

The boys took the stage at 8:38 pm, the earliest I think I’ve ever seen them, (Florida: early bird special perhaps?) and they were decked out in professionally-done stage makeup true to their TS colors. Eddie was a red devil/vampire-esque demon, Animal was in green hulk makeup, AJ was a blue gargoyle, Jay Jay was in yellow skull face—very unnerving, by the way…. Jay Jay’s make up made him look like was displeased the entire show. I was right under his mic, so every time he looked down, he looked perturbed. I’ll also point out, that he was the ONLY band member still wearing makeup when the show was over. AJ sweated his off in 5 minutes… Dee and Mark soon followed. I swear, he must not perspire. Now that’s cool, folks. Dee’s makeup was really kinda disturbing. (of course, what else?) sort of a smiling skull/clowns-will-eat-you face. Heebie jeebies.

Here’s the setlist for you purists:

1. Stay Hungry
2. The Kids Are Back
3. Under The Blade
4. Captain Howdy (without Street Justice)
5. The Fire Still Burns
6. We’re Not Gonna Take It
7. Shoot ‘em Down (Jay Jay’s fave)
8. Can’t Stop Rock N’ Roll
9. The Price
10. Burn in Hell (fairly short AJ drum solo)
11. I Wanna Rock
12. S.M.F
(no encores)

It was not the longest set they’ve done, guessing that had everything to do with the Hard Rock Hotel. The sound quality was SUPERB. Kudos to the soundmen! I guffawed at first at the small stack of Marshalls, but let me say that this was ONE LOUD SHOW. Even so, the sound was very well-balanced and very clear. Hardly any feedback or distortion that we often hear in the front row.

The boys definitely kicked some ass—I found that they didn’t play as tightly tonight—I could discern a difference from previous shows. Perhaps evidence of having several months off, but I’m sure they will work out ALL the kinks in time for Christmas. We picked up a few lyric snafus…I often wonder if all us SMFs singing the lyrics in the front row throws off Dee’s timing…it’s possible….

It was also the first time I noticed Eddie's Fender...he had two different pink and black bull-eyes tonight, and he played one that looked like it had been through a war zone. Half the paint is coming off! Kinda nice to be close enough to see that....I should have paid attention to Animal's. My god what that man does to a bass! I was afraid to get too close.

Not a lot of chatter or raps tonight. Even the band intro was short and sweet. A few notable quotables though. Dee reminded us all that while we may be at Universal Studios, “this ain’t Disney” and there were plenty of obligatory f-bombs courtesy of the crowd. We made a solemn oath to shoot him if they ever played the Magical Kingdom. [Note to Jay Jay: some mouse ears with bones logos would have sold like hotcakes. God Bless Merch!] Dee had an intimate dialogue with Danny’s teens…and assured them that he could kick the Jonas Brothers’ asses, anywhere, anytime, anyhow! A note to all the Orlando Douche Bags: when Dee is obviously speaking to specific audience members, bull-rushing the stage at that moment is pointless because he isn’t talking to you and just makes you into a BIGGER Douche Bag…(oh it’s coming…)

We granted Jay Jay’s wish of chanting “Harry Fucking Potter”, apparently in reference to an upcoming Disney attraction…and a rousing Dee chant of “no school like old school.” Jay Jay informed us that Death Metal came from Orlando (true? Or just setting up the punchline?)…he attributed this fact to TOO MUCH DISNEY. My god, that place is all about the Mouse.
It was a great show in an intimate setting, a bit goofy (no pun intended) but hard rocking and a lot of fun.

And then there was the crowd.
Two words….say them with me… DOUCHE BAGS.
I believe am earlier review by SMF Shawn referenced “Yellow Shirt guy”…he was one of them….and there were a few who ungracefully elbowed their way to the front row, pushing aside some front row old schoolers that had been there all night. That’s just poor concert etiquette. Rock out, make your way to the front, but DON’T BE A JERK.

Especially if you are huge. Many of us in the front row really don’t need to smell your armpits all night—it’s why we got there so early to be up front. That’s right. So we wouldn’t be in your pit. Mosh pit=OK Arm pit= NOT OK As a sidenote: I always shower and wear anti-perspirant before each and every show. You should too. Consider it your civic duty to not stink. And there are ways to sneak into the front row, should you desire, without being a douche bag. It was just pointless. DCT “Da Mayor” turned out to have the best seat in the house, she made herself a little bunker right off to the side...halfway through I was about to see if two would fit there.

And still more…. Do not climb on the people in front of you. Especially short ones. My bald head is not a place for you to rest your elbow, place your drink or use as a stepping stool. I don’t mind wearing 100 extra lbs when I’m on the fire truck, but some [say it!] douche bag kept climbing on top of my back, so much so that it actually damaged the paint job on my TS vest. I’m one who likes the ladies…but sweaty boobage pressed into my back the whole show is not enjoyable…and just plain violates my personal space.

And I don’t care who ya are, if you climb onto my back and press down on the back of my neck like it's a turnstile, I’m going to push you off…it’s bad enough I often leave the shows with bruises all over my ribcage and back… not to mention the number of times I usually get hit in the head. That all comes with the territory of being up in the front row, I’m used to it. But I gotta tell ya, Cathy and I worked DOUBLE OVERTIME to keep those teenage girls from getting crushed. Kudos to the other fans who stood behind them to help protect them. Apparently the Queen of the Douche Bags must have been the one climbing on top of me—she made me miss the last two numbers because she got her vodka-stenched breath in my face, claiming that I hit her. Now you folks know me. I would NEVER hit anyone intentionally at a show, especially a woman. Anyhow, kudos to her very level headed boyfriend. You, Sir, have class. Do yourself a favor, get a new, sober girlfriend…you deserve better. As for Queen Douche Bag: I hope you puked all over those nice shoes.

Now that said, I met many wonderful local Floridians who were gracious, kind and fascinating, so I hate to let a few idiots taint my image of the town, but as crowds go, this one goes into the “lose” column. I think we should compile some concert etiquette that maybe Dee will disseminate on his www.takebackthehorns.com

A special shout out to the local photographer that I met. Great fellow by the name of Bryan Lambert, you can check out his Central Florida Rocks Magazine at www.centralfloridarocks.net and see if he’s posted any of the TS photos yet. He also has his own photography website at www.photobryan.com Obviously, don’t download his photos without his permission—but check out his work. I’m always appreciative of the photographers so that we have some archive of these shows.

Nice to see some of the slamboarders there. Hope to catch more of you at Plymouth, MA next week. Until then….this concludes your road report for Orlando, Florida!
Trotting off…
Armadillo

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Ft. Wayne, IN, Mid-West Rock Festival, 7/18/09 
Saturday, July 18, 2009, 11:14 PM
Posted by Administrator
July 18, 2009 Ft. Wayne IN, Mid-West Rock Festival

All my dear Slamboaders, settle down, get yourself a tall, cold beverage and put on your reading glasses because this one is gonna be a DOOZY!

Yes, it's time, once again, for the official Armadillo Road Report and concert review, chock full of everything you wanted to know about the show....and plenty you didn't! I'll start off with a little fun fact: Armadillos, while native to mostly the Southwestern U.S., have been spotted in Indiana….although…. it is unusual. Why you ask? Because it's freakin' impossible to get there! This damn armadillo almost died trying! Holy shit. We weren't in the middle of nowhere but we had to pass through it to get here. Folks, I've taken planes, trains and automobiles to make these shows, and NOTHING could prepare me for Ft. Wayne. No, really. Indulge me here.

My plane out of Baltimore never left the gate--apparently, the battery wasn't charged so they had to plug the plane in. I have a photo of my plane being charged up--email me your cell and I'll send it to ya if you don't believe me. Something is really wrong when you have to plug in a plane to fly somewhere. What’s next? Winding the rubber band behind the propeller?

Then the next plane had a taillight out. Really? A taillight? Fly the damn plane…..and just don’t make any left turns! Use hand signals, shit, I dunno. The flight was canceled. There were very few flights into cities serving Ft. Wayne and I became one agitated mammal—I was almost pleading with the gate agent: “PLEASE...I MUST BE IN FT. WAYNE BY 8 PM!!! I'M GOING TO SEE TWISTED SISTER!!!”

The woman behind me, reading my vest says: “Is that what SMF stands for?” I turn around: "Ma'am, it's sounds for SICK MUTHA FUC...um...never mind..." Well, somehow, that got lost in translation, and in that famous game of telephone, by the time my story reached the back of the line, it was : "See that guy? He's trying desperately to get to Ft. Wayne. He's going to see his sister...their mother is sick." And guess what? Next thing I know....I'm flying first class to Detroit. But of course, it can't end there. I get to Detroit with 30 minutes to make the only remaining connection to Ft. Wayne and the gate breaks. Yes. Breaks. I’m almost in tears.

So we're captive on the plane, and I'm already on the phone calling rental companies because at this point, I'm going to have to drive the remaining distance (no cars available). The flight attendants tell me: "We're so sorry....but there's no way you'll get to your gate in time...it's all the way on the other side of the airport in the other concourse and they're about to close the door"

Well let me tell you, my babies, that I sprinted--not ran--sprinted through Detroit airport. People are now thinking I must be WITH the band cuz I'm almost pushing the crowd....OUTTA MY WAY I GOTTASHOWTOMAKE!!! I arrive at the gate (I swear, I think I did a half-mile in 4 minutes) and the door is literally closing... I throw my boarding pass at the airline worker, crash through the gate and do a swan dive onto the plane, collapsing into the first seat on the plane. Once they confirmed I was supposed to be there....they gave me some water, and a barf bag....and off we went to Ft. Wayne. "I hope those Twisted Sisters are worth it!" she tells me. YES, my SMF Friends, they were.

This show was AMAZING.

As I leave the hotel, I spot our very own Mr. Mendoza --He was busy chatting on his cell and yet still walked up to me, stuck his hand and said hello... True class act. Those little things really do mean a lot to the fans, so thank you Animal! Since I missed the actual festival, I don't have any tidbits from that but the venue site was like a cross between a beer garden and a crab feast. (alright, that's probably lost on you not from Maryland--but it was weird--rows of long tables perpendicular to the stage/GA area) Complete with a cul-de-sac of portapotties. Despite the unusual ambiance, the beverages were cheap, the people friendly, the police and security very attentive and the sound was very, very good overall.

The first band up was a local, Ft. Wayne group called "Brother". Yes, that's right, it was brothers and sisters night. Brother has a website: www.brother-rock.com and was a crowd favorite. Now you all know how much I just *LOVE* sitting through opening acts, but Brother was actually very good....musically, anyway. They are a 100% cover band--no original music--but they play the covers quite well. we were treated to everything from two Journey songs, Ozzy, Tesla, Van-Hagar....a nice cover of Maiden's Run To The Hills...it was like a dropping a dime in the old 80's jukebox.

The name of the band: the lead singer and the drummer are twin brothers. Shit, you coulda fooled me--the lead singer looked like your typical aging rocker while the drummer had an uncanny resemblance to my HVAC technician. not that there's anything wrong with that, mind you.... my only beefs: 1. they only played covers. not one original piece. so they have skill...but I want to see their talent! write some songs gents....or you'll never be more than an opening act to the opening act of the band. 2. the SET was too long. Kind of like guests who don't leave after 3 days.

Next up was Enuff Z'nuff. well. The bad news: the lead singer vocals were so low that we could barely hear him over the instruments. The good news: the lead singer vocals were so low that we could barely hear him over the music. Here's your Armadillo riddle of the night: what do lemon drops, a vaccum cleaner and Enuff Z'nuff have in common? yeah, you know the punchline. wow. they just plain sucked...and I don't use that term lightly. They apparently just flew back from Japan and were tired. But shit…they looked and sounded like they were playing for a nursing home. They were upstaged by a Ft. Wayne police officer air-guitaring with an inflatable guitar. Alas. Maybe we can convince Danny to have American Beauty open again--now THAT was a great show of covers that I could have watched all night!

Okay, okay....look, if I had to suffer through it, the least you can do is suffer through the review.
On to the review itself:
The setlist was essentially Stay Hungry, all in order so I'm not going to post the whole list:
Stay Hungry cover to cover with:
the drum solo after Don't Let Me Down
encores:
Come Out and Play
Under The Blade
(band intro)
Can't Stop Rock and Roll

They played a good 90 minutes--went onstage at 10:00 and off at about 11:30pm. Dee was in RARE FORM last night. There were some feedback problems but once they were resolved, the sound was very, very good, especially for an open site. Unfortunately, the lighting crew were either drinking too much beer or it was their first show....because they missed every damn lighting cue. leaving Dee to yell...."hey lightcrew...turn the lights ON now....."

"We're Not Gonna Take It" included a really nice image of the band just all lined up during the solos--which were very tight--although apparently A.J. not to be upstaged, decided to throw in an extra refrain. Apparently it was wag the dog night--was all in good fun, I assure you. "Don't Let Me Down" sounded wonderful--it makes me realize what we've been missing at all of those shows when they wouldn't play this one. "I Wanna Rock" turned into a game of "Dee says..." a la mother-may-I. Dee: "I wanna..." Crowd: "Rock!" of course, Dee managed to psyche out the crowd with "I...." and went the crowd screamed rock "I didn't say I WANNA.... everybody take two steps back!" Must be an Indiana thing. Simon says? That ain’t metal. Well, I guess it is when Dee does it.

Saw a new guitar last night (for me anyway...) during “I Wanna Rock”--Eddie played a beautiful cream colored Fender (I believe)--Jay Jay played his Les Paul. The duet was especially delightful. Some other poignant moments: Jay Jay closed his eyes during “The Price” solo (the benefits of coming early to get up front) and it was just exquisite.

And then…. Dee. It was the night of one-liners and a hysterical impersonation by Dee, of Kip Winger confronting him about some of his comments during House of Hair. Just imagine Dee making himself a foot shorter, poofing his hair and poking his finger on Animal's chest (who was playing 'Dee') saying, "oh...hey...you're tight....uh, never mind what I was saying...."

Dee's commented after “I Wanna Rock”--we're on Side 2 now. (B-side) and made a comment about the pink vinyl album..then realized that some of those younguns have no frickin' idea what he's talking about. "It's like flipping a pancake, see?" Dee explained that they will NOT be playing "30" live because "That's when you guys go to the bathroom! I know you...I know what you do....it's like...'we're gonna play a new track for ya' and that's when you go 'hey I gotta take a piss...anybody want a beer while I'm up..." No, no, Dee. that's not true. It's usually the drum solo that the posers go pee. It's the Brother fans who go to the toilet during new stuff because they've never heard any before. (MEOW! must have been that Hoosier Hisser cat show I read about) Dee then went on a tangent about "Just do what we do...wear Depends! I don't wear them because I need 'em, I wear 'em because I'm lazy!"
Speaking of drum solos: almost forgot: AJ used a pair of blue lazer tipped sticks that looked AMAZING--makes you realize just how hard that man works!

Jay Jay jumped off the stage and went over the crowd rail quite a few times--wasn't sure if he saw a friend or was just giving some SMF's a treat but either way, it was a show full of energy and fun. It was....frivolity! During “The Beast”, Dee sang the refrain while wagging a finger inches from the security guard's head...who looked straight ahead and was completely oblivious...and it just set off a wave of silliness. During “S.M.F.”, since this was a family festival, there could be no swearing. So Dee had a field day playing audience fill in the blanks. "HEY LOOK...THERE GOES MY MOTHER..[audience fills in the blank]" "HEY WHAT'S MY MOTHER [audience fills in the blanks] DOING HERE?" and it went on and on. So if Ft. Wayne files any obscenity law suits, they'll have to charge us: it was Twisted's fault.

Jay Jay shared his thoughts on American Idol ...Dee once again shared his thoughts on the devils horns. There's a new website now: www.takebackthehorns.com check it out!!!

I have more..... OH SHIT MY PLANE IS BOARDING! gotta run folks but I'll share the rest when I get home!
later my babies..
Armadillo running for the gate again....

Ft. Wayne PART II
well I'm back...that actually was a close one! Thank goodness the free internet computers were right next to the gate or I'd be stuck in Ft. Wayne!

It was as I predicted--there is just something about experiencing a show in a little town that just gives it such a different flavor from NYC. Jay Jay mentioned that he saw an advertisement for some type of dating internet site....don't quote me here because if he got it wrong, you'll go to some barnyard porn...but it along the lines of farmhandsonly.com or maybe farmhandslonely.com for those single cowboys I suppose.... and I think the other part of it comes down to local pride. Seeing a local band opening up for a big name band--makes everybody feel good.

Ft. Wayne is a heavy-metal happy town--they've got three rock stations--92.3 The Fort just picked up House of Hair so they've got a lot to be proud of. They hosted a great concert and wonderful event. There was one quite inebriated woman--it was her first TS show...and she was telling me how good a band Brother is (yes, they played very well) and how they were gonna blow TS off the stage. After the first encore, she came up to me and said "Well? Wasn't I right? Did Brother blow TS away or what??!!" Most of you who have met me know that I am actually a nice fella, and try to be very kind, respectful and chivalrous. I said to her: "Honey, I'll hold my tongue because that MUST be the alcohol talking." When she responded "Huh? hell no!" I then, as politely as possibly said, "Then you, my dear, are a complete fucking idiot. You don't belong here by the front row." And with that she flitted off back to the beer garden in port-a-potty land. Adieu!

A few more fun little tidbits from the night: The band intro. They actually didn't even get to introduce the band in Maryland, so this made up for it. Dee spoke briefly about reunions--how this one came to pass--and how a band reunion should be more than just one band member (Hello? Tony Iommi...are you listening? 1986 I paid good money to see Black Sabbath and only Tony Iommi was there...I’m still not over it..) Anyhow, Dee pretty much summed it up: if you're going to call it a reunion, then everybody HAS to show. Unless they're dead, in which case they're excused.

A great intro for the Sound of Thunder--AJ Pero. Then we were treated to a Dee anecdote which he swears is true: for the first rehearsal ever after the breakup, Mark 'the Animal' Mendoza shows up to the rehearsal with a gun! Pulls out the gun, puts it on top of the amp, plugs in his bass and says (in that way that only MAM can) "alright. let's see what we can put out". Then we were introduced to Eddie--the bravest man in rock n' roll as he was the first to wear a target on his guitar. Eddie corrected Dee that it is a bulls-eye, not a target. I’m not sure of the difference--you hit your target...but a bullseye you're aiming right for the center. Which in the case of Eddie's fender, shit, that's right in the balls. Dee, you're right. Eddie is one brave mutha.

Then our intro to Jay Jay--the epitome of manhood-- a model of heterosexuality--a man who self-proclaimed "It takes a secure man to play a pink guitar." How true, how true. I would LOVE to design a tour shirt for TS that has on the back in big, bold, capital letters: REAL MEN WEAR PINK.

Then of course Dee--the man the British press described as "Sarah Jessica Parker dropped in a vat of acid" (punctuated by MAM making truck horn noises with his bass….how the hell does he do that??!!??) which spawned a Dee rant about how Lady Ga-Ga is stilling his look. It was classic Dee, at his best. I hope someone recorded that show.

Props to Captain Howdy (SMF Chris) who I enjoyed the show with-- and many fans there for their first show ever. I was supposed to meet Joe from Ohio in the Hilton bar after the show--he never showed, which is too bad....because the rest of the band did, and I was fortunate enough to meet some of Jay Jay's lovely friends and chat for a bit about the new album. -side note to Jay Jay--when I got back to my room and turned on the clock radio, it was playing "Locomotive Breath". wait. or was it "Prime Motivator"...I get the two confused.... Jay and I “sang” a duet of Locomotive Breath in the bar that goes into my “Is this really happening or will I wake up soon?” Anyhow, the Michael Jackson jokes alone were worth being a fly on the wall. No, I’m not going to repeat them hear.

Listen folks, seriously. Every show I make on this reunion tour (which is a lot of them), I meet SMFs who have been devoted SMFs for 25 plus years but yet, it's their first show. Don't be the guy who missed the reunion tour and as you're laying on your deathbed years from now, saying, "oh my only regret....I never got to see Twisted Sister live...." Do NOT wait for them to come to your town.. The mountain must come to Mohammed. Save your money and ask for time off from work as soon as the dates get announced. Many of the upcoming shows are on weekends. Please: I'm begging...I IMPLORE you.... find a way. I know money is tight--for me as well.

On average, a show can cost me anywhere from $300 to $600 depending on location. I skipped Starbucks for a week and that paid for the show tix. I brought PBJ for one month instead of eating lunch out ($5 a day), and that paid for my hotel room. If you trim your luxuries for one month...whether it's dry cleaning, cigarettes, dining out, coffee...whatever... it is worth it. When the tour is over, it's OVER. Have no regrets!!!

Okay, I've exhausted my notes and I'm about to plotz. I averaged about two hours of sleep this weekend but it was just worth every moment. Please buy your tickets to Algona (I'll be in Honduras during that show otherwise you bet I'd be there...) and I hope to see you all at Plymouth, MA. Plymouth is a short trip from NYC--there are cheap fares to Boston--go with friends and split the costs of car rental and hotels. Ten years from now you won't remember what you blew that money on if you stay home....but I guarantee if you go, ten years from now you'll remember every detail from that show like it happened yesterday. Carpe Diem.

And with that, I am about to unpack my bags and let my head hit the pillow. Another glorious trip on the road...

Armadillo....your faithful road reporter...trotting off!




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Columbia. MD Merriweather Post Pavillion, M3 Festival 5/30/09 
Saturday, May 30, 2009, 11:17 PM
Posted by Administrator
May 30, 2009 Columbia, MD Merriweather Post Pavillion, M3 Festival
Good evening my Babies…
Again I return, your trusted servant, to bring you only the fullest concert review otherwise known as The Official Armadillo Road Report, complete with all the details you want to know…and plenty you don’t. This review will be an abridged version, however. The M3 Festival lasted for twelve hours, gates open to close, and although I certainly found enough material to write about, I’ll save only the really juicy and/or bizarre tidbits for you here. But I’ll warn you right now, I was one cranky mammal today! I was VERY Pleased with tonight's setlist.
Here it is again:
SET LIST TO BE INSERTED HERE:::::::::::::::::::::::::::

I’ve traveled hundreds—even thousands of miles—to go see TS play, and so the irony wasn’t lost on me that my truck broke down the day before this show--the one that was within 40 miles. Perhaps in an odd retrospective tribute to the 80’s—I had to borrow my parent’s car to get to the show. Blame it on the car breaking down…or the muddy mess where they directed me to park…maybe it was the anal retentive security staff….or the poorly behaved fans….but this festival turned out to be eleven disappointing hours and forty good minutes.

First things first: I must describe Merriweather Post Pavilion. If you’ve never been to Merriweather Post before, it does have a unique charm and a history to it. (including a sign marking the occasion when an unknown newcomer named Led Zeppelin opened up at Merriweather for The Who back in the 70’s) It’s a giant picnic party on the lawn complete with Baltimore cuisine (where else can you get crabcakes, snowballs, and pit beef?) A large covered seating area with a large open “lawn” and then wooden areas in the back.

Unfortunately, Merriweather is showing signs of age, and the facilities were truly dreadful. And don’t even GET me started on the security there…it was everything I predicted….and then some. They refused me entry because I sported a small chain wallet, which has been allowed entry in hundreds of shows, but there they deemed it a weapon. [I assure you, the boot I was about to shove up said teeny-bopper employee’s ass was far greater a weapon than the key chain on my belt loop.] My wallet wasn’t a weapon…their vending costs were the bigger threat to my feeble wallet weapon!

The concert started promptly at noon—in fact, one of the few positives I can say about M3 is that they were quite punctual if nothing else. I perused the various vendors set up on the sidewalk “loop” around the park, and discovered the second stage, which was a very small setup, sitting on a side parking lot that was fenced in for this purpose. In addition to the second stage, there was a “freak-show/side show” that had a small band playing. It was like having 3 metalhead roommates who were all pissed off at one another—tremendous discord of music playing from all angles. What’s worse is that you could never see a full set of any one band without cutting into another band’s set, so to hear one band’s full set meant that you would miss the opener of another.

But it was a nostalgic day, indeed. There were bands I hadn’t seen or heard in ages! A hairband who’s who, except there seemed to be a real lack of, well, hair. Hey, I’m not being critical here—my own gorgeous locks fell into the sink years ago. Let’s just say that some bands aged better than others! And by the way, chances are that if you are over 30, spandex is a really, really bad idea. And what’s with the heavy metal comb-over?….when did that become fashionable? Okay, okay. Sorry for the digression, but with ten hours to kill until Twisted I did a lot of people watching. There need to be some serious concert etiquette rule revision. Bald mullets are just bad practice.

It was hard to characterize some of the bands as openers because they were just so strong musically, both yesterday and today. Speaking of “yesterday and today,” Y&T, they played a wonderful set to a near empty venue, which was a pity because they sounded quite good. Every single song they played was just spot on….they are a band that never really got enough respect for the musical talent they bring to the table. Slaughter was on the main stage next. It was a bit tough to determine if they were having sound troubles, or if the lead singer’s pipes just weren’t what they once were—a problem for MANY bands throughout the festival.

Jani Lane. You know, I wasn’t a huge Warrant fan, and now I don’t feel badly about that at all. Kids, this guy is just like school in Baltimore when there’s an inch of snow: NO CLASS. After he bums a cigarette off an audience member (kudos to the guy working the jumbotron screen, who superimposed the Howard County No Smoking Ordinance while he lit up), he shoves the cigarette up his nose and smokes it that way. Then he tries to impress the audience with his ability to make lewd sexual gestures that when he was 20, I’m sure it was cute, but now it was just gross and creepy. He came across as a slovenly, aging, washed up slob of lead singer who couldn’t hit most of the notes to his own songs. Jani Lane was lami lame. How sad

Dokken came on next—and they sounded pretty good, all things considered. They played most of their big hits—Breaking The Chains, Alone Again, Into The Fire, In My Dreams. Unfortunately, they just lacked energy….there was just no connection with the fans or even with the other band members. I’m a huge Dokken fan, and remember what a great set they played opening for TS back in 1986—no such magic this time around, I’m afraid. Musically it was fine—just the stage lacked energy. I know it was hot and sticky…..and the middle of the afternoon, but it felt more like a family reunion picnic and less like a tour kickoff, which so many of these bands were about to do.

Not so for the next band: Baltimore favorite KIX. There were two things that really struck me about KIX: 1. they sound as good now as they did in the 80’s 2. They were the only band that didn’t seem to have their waistband’s affected by father time. (I hope it’s not the heroin diet that so many tragically have followed.) Either way, someone needs to take the whole damn band out to Cracker Barrel or buy these guys a sandwich. They were high energy, rocked the house and it finally started to feel like more like a rock festival and less like a senior expo for aging metalheads. I almost nodded off a few times today. Of course, KIX's lead singer must have attended the same charm school as Jani Lane--he announced, for some peculiar reason, in the beginning of a song, "I have to poop!" I felt what I'm sure you're feeling right now....allow me: thanks for sharing. Maybe this is what aging rock is truly all about….. no filter and bowel movements.

KIX is a Baltimore band back from the Hammerjack days, and definitely the crowd favorite. If you had come to the show not knowing who was playing, you'd swear you were at a strictly KIX concert. The overwhelming majority of folks were wearing KIX shirts, and many actually LEFT after they played, which just baffles me...you spend 10 hours in the sun but don't stay that extra hour for the headliner??!? No grit.

KIX also has that crudeness that I'm not particularly fond of--honestly, if I want to see crotch grabbing, I’ll go to a Michael Jackson concert....oooh, I just now almost lost those cookies Metal Mad Lady made me….

KIX did manage to get the one undergarment toss of the day.... some woman tossed her bra onstage. Which he promptly rubbed all over his crotch....Ulp..damn cookies.... ! Ya know, we're all getting older here, I understand that....back in the day when a girl threw her bra onstage, it was usually something skimpy and lacy, usually red... this damn bra was like an industrial strength foundation garment. I mean it was one of those white granny bras that I swear, it had to be size EEE and had so many hooks in the back it takes the jaws of life to unsnap it...(hey, your Armadillo was quite the young Casanova in the day, I know my way around a bra) If that woman danced around someone might have gotten hurt with those things on the loose. Remember what I said about middle aged men wearing tight spandex? Well, the same goes for middle aged women throwing bras onstage. Our time has passed for those pasttimes.

We popped over to see Keel--which was a huge disappointment--I didn't bother to stay for the full set-- as was Ratt. Pearcy’s vocals just plain lacked. He played some of their biggest hits—Lack of Communication, Back for More, Lay it Down, Round and Round, Wanted Man…,but they were hit or miss. This was a painful day for me—and a hard review to consider writing. I loved some of these bands, and I’ll try to remember them the way they were, and not the performances that I saw today. Not every band can pull off a reunion tour.

But here’s the silver lining: it made me appreciate the tremendous talent and effort that Twisted Sister puts into their shows. Unlike many of the bands that played today, we never had trouble hearing Dee—the vocals are strong! They did have some sound problems early on but they were fixed after about 10 minutes. Twisted Sister sounds as good now as they did in the early days! We were treated to a new anniversary banner, as well as a simulated fabric pink chain-link fence. [which would make a lovely shower curtain, by the way, God bless merch! Eh, Jay Jay?]

I’m also happy to report that the one drunken kid that ran across the stage and evaded capture was NOT our own Jaysin. The crowd was incredibly…er…drunk. It’s what I hate about these festivals—the volume of intoxication was almost tragic and really quite unnecessary. The lawn looked like a Civil War reenactment from all of the passed out revelers. What made this show even more challenging—this was the furthest I’ve ever physically been from the stage at a show. Fortunately, TS gave it their all, as they always do, and I still felt sufficiently “rocked”. Once the sound was worked out, there were a few little snafu’s with the lights. Mark changed up the bass a bit on “Don’t Let Me Down”—it was just brilliant.
We did hear a nice quick rap from Dee on “reclaiming” our horns—the universal heavy metal hand sign, that is, which has apparently re-entered pop culture through the likes of Miley Cyrus and Puff Daddy. Say it with Dee folks: “That shit’s not right!”

He also wished a quick “happy birthday” to AJ’s Michelle and then launched into “I Wanna Rock”. We got a new Dee-ism from the night—he felt that the first round of audience participation was only enough to move one testicle and he asked for “full scrotal vibration.” When I looked back over the crowd and saw thousands of fists in the air screaming “ROCK!”…hell…I felt it! They ended with a very hurried encore of “SMF”—Merriweather has a curfew due to local noise ordinances, so the show definitely was cut short. It didn’t seem the same without AJ’s drum solo, band introductions, and other Twisted surprises we’ve come to expect.

Overall, though, this show just seemed a little bit out of sorts. Can’t quite put my finger on it, because they sounded good (once it was corrected) and I liked the setlist, but something just was amiss. They were by far, the most deserving headliner, and none of those bands could have EVER gone on stage after them. I have yet to see a single band that compares to Twisted Sister live.

So alas, this is one of my crankier road reports and it seems odd that the show I’m most critical of is the one closest to my own home but there you have it. Mad Metal Lady did make it all better with a batch of cookies (they were long gone before Dokken took the stage) and it was nice to see a showing of Slamboarders outside of the tri-state circuit. I’ll see you all in Plymouth where hopefully we’ll have a show that doesn’t get rushed to the finish.

Armadillo…trotting off to do what I so RARELY get to do after a TS show….sleep in my own bed!

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Farmingdale (Long Island) NY, Crazy Donkey, 2/28/09 
Saturday, February 28, 2009, 10:10 AM
Posted by Administrator
February 28, 2009
Crazy Donkey, Farmingdale NY (Long Island)
Good morning babies! This show had so much to write about that I'm actually posting this one from the road! (and here I was, so worried that I wouldn't have anything to write differently from the last Bent Brother/Stay Hungry show!) so of course, I must oblige by giving all the facts you want to know…. and plenty you don't!

First things first: Crazy Donkey. Now the real reason is revealed as to why Bent Brother played and not Twisted Sister: If the boys wore their costumes including those boots with heels, they would have had to cut a hole in the ceiling to fit the band! Dee must have hit the duct work at least three times. I believe Dee very succinctly, put it best: "Shithole." The tasty food and scantily clad erotic dancers was barely enough to make up for the equipment malfunctions, leaky roof (in the center of the stage, no less) and a very cranky security guard in the front pit. This club was quite small too--I was a little worried when the place was empty for the first few acts, but by 9:30pm, the line outside had wrapped around the building!

We were all worried when we saw that there were four--oh lord--count 'em--four warmup acts. First on the docket was a band called Savior: I must admit that for the opening act, they were actually good. In fact, when you see folks from the back of the bar coming running up to the front, where it was empty, that says something. Good job!
Constricted came on 2nd—a speed metal band that looked like 3 of them came from the same mother. The lead singer, I swear, was the spitting image of a young Jackie Gleason. (Go ask your parents if you don't know who that is..."To the moon, Alice!") Musically, I was bored silly.
Third up was Wild Streets. Their lead singer was a cross between Anna Nicole Smith and what happens when Pat Benatar goes to Poison's hair stylist: Bent Brother didn't need to wear any makeup tonight because this boy had enough pancake on to count for all five of 'em! Hey, at least there were NO FRO'S on any of the bands tonight. Anyone who went to the Twisted Sister show with Z02 remembers…. Wild Streets was very entertaining--they played tightly, the lead singer sounded a bit like early Joe Elliott if you closed your eyes. Overall, a very good band, excellent stage presence and very talented. And they even had plenty of cowbell. And I could have sworn that was a member of Twisted's road crew as their guitarist--I think his name is Keith--missed the last name. (help me out someone!)

Then we had an interlude with some lovelies wearing next to nothing shaking their money makers. It was, ummm. nice. thank you ladies. Boy, I felt old. And a little dirty.

And then a special treat. It wasn't hype folks: American Beauty! It's what happens when members of Skid Row, Ratt and Alice Cooper merge with Danny Stanton fronting. Folks, this was complete entertainment! They played all covers, but they were amazing--it was like a heavy metal juke box---anything you could throw at 'em, they can play! I am so used to seeing Danny in his subdued, dapper black jacket, cool, calm and collected--this was a whole new Danny. A wild n' crazy Danny, a dare I say it? A sexual Danny! And damn he can sing.... I wish I had written down the whole set list but we heard everything from Cat Scratch Fever to a club shaking rendition of Balls To the Wall. (Eat your heart out Udo, he kicked this one's ass good) I would go see American Beauty again and again. What a total treat.

Next: the Boys. Which, by the way, 10 pm sharp at the Donkey is closer to 10:25pm but who's counting? (we were.) They had some pretty serious sound and equipment issues--and it was LOUD. I think Mark's bass destroyed something--halfway through the show we heard sounds coming out the speakers that resembled a jet landing. My theme for the night: ask and ye shall receive. we asked for a mixed up, better setlist and they delivered. Here ya go: (and I counted this time)

1. Stay Hungry
2. Don't Let Me Down
3. We're Not Gonna Take It
4. Captain Howdy
5. Street Justice
6.The Price
7. Burn In Hell (then drum solo)
8. SMF
9. The Beast
10. I Wanna Rock
11. I am, I'm Me
12. Shoot 'em Down
13. It's Only Rock and Roll
14. Under The Blade
15. You Can't Stop Rock n' roll

Bent Brother introduced the band tonight as let's see, ZZ French, O.K. Pero, Free Snider...you get the picture. During the equipment repairs, Jay Jay did a little impromptu question and answer with the audience, with a history lesson about TS with props to the Old Schoolers. Leading to these quotes of the night:
Jay Jay: "It's not the club, it's the people"
Dee's response: "It's not the club, it's the fucking equipment!"
They again reminded us that the new 25th anniversary release of Stay Hungry will have 17 bonus tracks, including one completely new song.

I think they would have actually played longer last night but the Donkey turns to a Disco after midnight. Say no more. Fortunately, they did keep spinning heavy metal to keep the crowd from running for the exits. Other highlights: we learned why ONLY the drummer should throw the sticks out into the audience. Eddie actually apologized--he beaned some poor guy in the noodle when he tried to throw a stick!

You know, there was so much good stuff last night—“I am I'm Me” just ROCKED the house! Loved hearing Shoot 'em Down, AJ's drum solo was particularly off the charts. During “It's Only Rock N' Roll”, Dee and JJ had a sidebar, trying to remember the first time they played that song...followed by a moment of enlightenment: 25 yrs of singing that cover, and Dee realizes he doesn't LIKE rock and roll, he LOVES it. And that's how we sang it for the rest of the song.
I'd go on and on, but I've got to duck out and buy my Merriweather Post ticket for May, and a 5 hour drive home awaits me.

Armadillo, trotting off to find a Cracker Barrel....

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Sayreville, NJ Starland Ballroom, 2/6/09 
Friday, February 6, 2009, 11:13 PM
Posted by Administrator
February 6, 2009
Starland Ballroom, Sayreville NJ

Ladies, gentlemen and those that fit into other categories....
it's time, once again, for your long-awaited and long-winded Armadillo Report from the Road chock full of what you want to know and many more details you didn't. This is it--the review of the February 6th Bent Brother show at the Starland Ballroom in beautiful, downtown Sayreville, New Jersey. I'll begin with just this: I hope there's a special circle in Dante's Inferno for the New Jersey road planners. After leaving my hotel and then picking up "Da Mayor", DCT, from her New Brunswick stay, we took a one-hour detour through some parts of New Jersey I'd rather not revisit. You know when someone tells you "you can't get there from here?" they were right. we couldn't. We soon discovered that New Jerseyians were only capable of giving directions when they use "Dunkin Donuts" as a landmark. So after following the trail of donuts, we made it with 20 minutes til doors opened--twenty VERY COLD minutes I might add. They had those little heaters in the line area which didn't get turned on until 5 minutes before doors opened--and we did our best imitation of McFries under a heat lamp.

The Starland doesn't look like much from the outside, but inside I was very impressed. Well laid out....three restroom areas, two bars, and a Twisted Sister first..a hot pizza stand! Will wonders ever cease? Now I know where those $6 in parking fees go to! Acoustically, I was not very happy--I've heard much better sound in clubs of comparable sizes but the easy access to the amenities and a very hospitable, safety conscious staff to boot. Everyone told me that this was unusual for the Starland, so it may have been a fluke. Front row sound is always fickle.


FIRST, the openers....
We had FOUR, count 'em, FOUR opening acts. And I'll apologize in advance--I did not catch the name of the last band. But I'll give 'em props--it's hard being an opening act and the first two were very local. The first opener, "Lyken 21"--well, they were local kids and they played to a crowd of about 20. We couldn't hear the lead vocalist at all (not bad acoustics--just young pipes) but that may have been to our benefit. The second band, "Martyred"--they were a little tighter but again, no vocal strength with their lead singer, which was a shame. And just a word: Heavy Metal is a marathon, not a sprint---playing as a fast as you can does not mean you'll come out a winner in the end. But they were fast. I was fascinated with their bass player, who I swear, looked like he was 12. (He kinda reminded me of a "Dozer" from Fraggle Rock.)

Third up--J-RAD...they had their website on the drum...www.jradrocks.com...of course, they also had an animatronic plushie dog humping the drum stand....both equally as entertaining. All said, I really enjoyed J-RAD--their lead singer was strong (and had great skin art, by the way), riffs were tightly played and the music rocked. (Their drummer was particularly good) and they did a cover of, believe it or not, "Earth Angel", that was well worth sitting through the first two bands. Metal and du-wop. who knew? Lastly--my apologies--but I didn't catch their name--band #4. I had JUST finished saying, "hey...we made it through the opening bands WITHOUT any fros..." and on comes band #4. [those of you who were at NOKIA theatre know what I'm talking about] The lead singer had a big ol' fro. I normally am not a fan of the 'do, but I made an exception here: their lead singer was a hard rocking woman, and her fro was mesmerizing. As the stage lights changed colors, so did the fro. It was like watching a lava lamp. far out. They played very well--quite entertaining--and it was nice to see some women rockin' out. (they had a very talented, very young girl on drums--DCT met her mom--good job, you go girls!)


ON THE SHOW:
Okay, now that you've scrolled down to avoid reading the superfluous crap, the show itself. IF you've never had the Bent Brother experience, it's the raw energy of Twisted Sister, but in a casual, more relaxed setting, sans makeup/costumes with small club ambiance. No wild sets--just hardcore rock n' roll. This show was different from the past ones--in celebration of Stay Hungry's 25th anniversary, they played Stay Hungry front-to-back. Dee admitted that this was a bit ass-backwards--typically, an album puts the "good shit" (his words) in the front of the album, whereas when playing live, you save the crowd favorites for the end. Favorite Dee-ism of the night "It's like you cum, then...foreplay.'

And I must agree (Not about the foreplay part...) that I would have actually preferred it if they had mixed up the tracks. One of the joys of live concerts is that moment of anticipation of "what will they play next?" followed by that little rush when you hear the opening riff. No such excitement when you know EXACTLY what's coming next. So that's just my two cents--play the whole album, but mix up the songs.

Nevertheless, it was a treat! I had never heard two of those tracks live, so I fully enjoyed myself. We had a few of those special twisted treats--Jay Jay played one of his original guitars (the one with the beautiful dragon in-lay--forgive me, Father, for my transgressions, but I do not know the model)...those around me recalled last seeing this black beauty played in 1983. We got a thunderous drum solo in between "Don't Let Me Down" and "The Beast". Speaking of The Beast....Dee apparently enjoys the second verse so much, that he decided to forgo the first verse and just sing the second one twice. That, right after introducing AJ as the "Sounds of Thunder". Apparently Dee couldn't hear the Thunder before the Storm...heehee. all is forgiven, Dee. No worries. Brush up on those lyrics before Feb. 27th and it's all good.

Jay Jay reminded folks that there will be MANY upcoming Twisted Sister projects including never before released tracks that never made it onto the original Stay Hungry, so save your nickels and dimes folks, and he thanked all the fans for coming out during these difficult economic times. The Tour is a'comin'!

The encores were the best part for me--a truly club shaking version of "It's Only Rock n' Roll" plus the cover tracks to COAP, UTB and CSRNR. And another special moment for yours truly--a few of you may recall the discussion I had online about painting the TS logo on my jacket. I was concerned about doing an exact replica of the band jacket, recalling they were for band members and the selected few only. So I didn't paint my jacket until the night before the show--only in lieu of "Twisted Sister", I substituted "OLD SCHOOL" for the top line, and "S.M.F." on the bottom piece. A little personal flair, if you will. I held it up during SMF--Mark gave me the nod of approval, and Dee liked it so much, he motioned for me to give it to him, and he held it up on stage as a tribute to those in the audience who have been Twisted Sister supporters for more than 20+ years. Just like Sally Fields: I guess they liked it. they really, really liked it. (whew.) By the way, if anyone has a photo of Dee with my jacket, PM me! I'd love a copy, and there might be a small little jacket patch in it for you! (wink, wink, nudge, nudge)

Tip of the hat once again to Danny Stanton and his entire crew for a beautifully run show (and getting me out of the cold!), all of the band members for their, once again, graciousness and hospitality. They didn't take the stage until 11 pm--we were exhausted, so I KNOW they were wiped out! Another treat--the Lady Mendoza joined Donna DCT and I for the last few numbers--always a pleasure! It was really sweet...she kept elbowing me and excitedly pointing to Mark: "that's my husband! that's my husband up there!" Yes, Mrs. Mendoza, we know! we know! your husband-- the extremely huge animal that just turned his microphone stand into a pretzel....would you like some more room? a bottle of water? say the word and your wish is our command! We will do anything necessary to keep the Lady Mendoza and Animal in good spirits. A few slamboarders there: Mitch, MadMetalLady, DCT, Jaysin and all of Donna's front row "boys" and “girls” from back in the day--hope to see y'all again sometime soon.

A good time was had by all....I did get slightly lost on the way home, but no worries...I found my way to a Dunkin Donuts and I was back at the hotel in no time at all.

Hope to make the Long Island show--set list is below for you sticklers! Said it before and I'll say it again: YOU MUST GO SEE TS/BB live! Take advantage of any and every opportunity because once they're gone, they're gone! The DVD's are great, but nothing captures the experience like being there!

And that about does it! Trotting off to catch a nap after 4 hours on the road...

Armadillo

SET LIST:
Stay Hungry
We're Not Gonna Take It
Burn In Hell
Horrorrteria
Captain Howdy followed by Street Justice
I Wanna Rock
The Price
Don't Let Me Down
Drum solo
The Beast
SMF
Encores:
It's Only Rock N' Roll
Come Out and Play
Under The Blade
Can't Stop Rock and Roll

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