Keswick Theatre, Glenside, PA (Philly) 12/2/09

Wednesday, December 2, 2009, 11:08 PM
Posted by Administrator
December 2, 2009
Keswick Theatre, Philadelphia PA

Ah my babies….
Grab that mug of egg nog and join me for the first of five domestic holiday reviews! Yes, it is time for the Official Unofficial Twisted Sister Concert Review: The Armadillo Road Report for the first Twisted Christmas show of the season, Keswick Theatre, Glenside PA. (we’ll call it Philly!) Chock full of all of the details you’ve been dying to hear about….and plenty ya don’t.

Many times you’ve read on this board how every Twisted Sister show is a bit unique in its own way–an odd venue, special guest, unique setlist–the Philly show had so many things that made it unique, I’m not even sure where to begin.

Oh, how about the start? After a two-hour drive that lasted almost 4 hours courtesy of heavy rain and cover of darkness, I found my way to the glowing neon marquee of the Keswick in Glenside, a sleepy little college main street. It read: Twisted Sister: Dec. 2 Bob Saget: Dec. 3 Insert your own joke there.

The Keswick is a historic theatre–it reminds me architecturally of many of those beautiful showhouses complete with gilded accents, plaster ornamentation and rich colors. I’ll have to re-visit their website to see exactly when it was built, but I suspect that some of those ushers went to the ribbon cutting! Oh, that’s right….ushers. Upon entering the theatre, there were large warning signs, alerting patrons that the evening’s show would feature strobes and fog. After entering the alcove, we were met by numerous spiffy bow-tie sporting, starched shirted theatre ushers, who took our ticket and assisted us with finding our seats.

Then another hundred-year old usher, not only escorted MetalMadLady, myself and her hubby to the row, but she physically lead me to MY seat. good heavens. I was waiting to hear “Are you with the groom or the bride?” We took our seats and I surveyed the crowd because something just felt odd: not only was everyone seated, but you could hear a pin drop. It was like….a night at the opera…or perhaps a family movie screening of “Ordinary People”…. no music, little talking.

At 8:00 PM sharp, we hear an announcement–the gentle, mellow voice saying:
“Good evening ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the Keswick Theatre. We encourage you to visit our refreshment stand, where tonight’s featured drink is Twisted Tea. We also wish to caution you that tonight’s feature performance will involve strobe lights and a fog machine for those with sensitivities. Thank you and enjoy the show. We are pleased to present the opening performer, Jesse Blaze….” ZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzz

And then dead silence.

Jesse and his band walk onstage, looking completely dazed. Jesse says: “Wow. That was so mellow an intro that we didn’t even realize we were being introduced and we weren’t ready!” So they left the stage…and Danny Stanton gave them an appropriate introduction and on came Jesse and his new band. (This wasn’t a Baptised By Fire performance)

My oh my. Everyone here knows how much I hate suffering through the openers. Not tonight. I could have listened to Jesse ALL night long! Couldn’t get enough!
How many adjectives do I have…amazing….incredible….electric….engaging….polished!
Jesse Blaze-Snider, once again, knocked my socks off!

He opened with Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire”–I’ll have to find out if he has recorded this cuz I would TOTALLY buy it. Cash himself would have approved–it rocked out. Then he played an original called “The Dream”…in which he treated us to one of two of his standing aerial backflips. WOW! All I could think of was, hey Dad…can YOU do this??!!! Impressive! He then played a cover of “Rebel Yell’ that I actually PREFERRED over Billy Idol’s and then next thing ya know, he jumps off the stage, runs down the center aisle, back to the sound board.

They were definitely having feedback and monitor issues. While there, he continues singing….and realizing suddenly that there isn’t a spotlight, he grabs a flashlight from an usher, gives it to a nearby fan, and says: “You’re a part of the show now pal, here..hold this!” Brilliant!

Jesse did a little rapping with the audience–I kid you not…close your eyes and it sounds like Dee from the early days. He told us it was his 10-year “dating” anniversary and his daughter’s birthday. He dedicated the beautiful original ballad “Go With Me” to his wife, and then had the audience record “HI PATTY!” into his iPhone as a little present to her since she was taking care of the baby. [I remember when Jesse was 4….it still blows me away that he’s a father now…] The next song I’m not sure of the title, but it had the refrain “More where you came from” and it just kicked ass! It’s my new divorce anthem.

Jesse reminded us that he was a “WARMUP” band, not an opening band….and he warmed us up with a little audience competition of Jingle Bell Rock sing-a-long and closed with a mind-blowing song “Prisoner of Society” that had some absolutely beautiful and complex chord changes.

Jesse Blaze-Snider: LOVE YOU, MAN. It is astounding that many of those musicians on-stage with him had not played live with him before–lots of new band additions and they played so tightly you would have thought that they had been playing for the last ten or fifteen years together. THANK YOU JESSE—proof that there are amazing warmup bands out there. (Hell, I’d come back to see you headline any day!)

Just a quick note: Jesse also shared that one of the reasons his original bass player wasn’t there–the bass player’s mom was diagnosed with cancer–please join me in saying the prayer of your choice or at least sending good thoughts their way.

They leave the stage, and the same soothing, calming voice announces: “Ladies and Gentlemen. There will now be a fifteen minute intermission.” Lovely. Splendid. How delightful.

This was perhaps, one of the most polite and well-behaved crowds I’ve ever seen in my life. I don’t know if it was because of all of the families there….or maybe it was just the city of brotherly (Sisterly?) love….. but when “Long Way to the Top” started playing… I jumped to my feet, started the “Long-Way clap” and looked over my shoulder to see everyone still seated. Now Jesse warned them: Don’t sit down when Twisted Sister comes out! I suspect that they just didn’t know how a TS show works.

Twisted came onstage at 9:10 pm. We had a new elf addition this year wearing the pink and black elf attire. It was the same, over-the-top set from last year–Santa’s Twisted workshop only this time, instead of mini-KISS pulling our Santa-Dee out on the sleigh, it was four young scantily clad lovelies. Santa-Dee showered us with candy canes and condoms. And then…our first shock of the night:

AJ….the MAM…..JJ……and NO EDDIE. Eddie Ojeda contacted the band early that morning, he was rushed into emergency back surgery. Many bands would have simply canceled the show….but not TS. They contacted my new personal hero: Danny McCafferty Danny gets a call a 9:00 am yesterday and was asked to fill in for Eddie that night. While he knows all the TS songs, he didn’t know ANY of the Christmas music. Jay Jay spent the entire day with him, teaching him the songs. HE DID A PHENOMENAL JOB. INCREDIBLE. For some of you, getting that type of call may be your biggest fantasy….or worst nightmare… but this fellow not only stepped up to the plate, he hit the ball out of the park.

Before I go too much further: here is your SETLIST:
1. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
2. The Kids Are Back
3. White Christmas
4. The Beast
5. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus (PG-13 version)
6. You Can’t Stop Rock N’ Roll
7. Deck the Halls
8. Shoot ‘Em Down
9. Oh Come Oh Ye Faithful (sung to the tune of you know what…)
10. Stay Hungry
11. Burn in Hell
AJ Drum Solo
12. Silver Bells
13. I’ll Be Home for Christmas
14. I Wanna Rock
15. Heavy Metal Christmas
16. We’re Not Gonna Take It

That’s right folks….100 solid minutes of kick your ass rock and roll. Fantastic setlist

The sound: well, it’s funny. I could hear clear as a bell….although there was a lot of feedback. This was the first show in 27 years that I didn’t need ear plugs. Not sure what that says. The monitors were a mess–Dee had to stop a few times to have them make some adjustments, and it was obvious that Dee could NOT hear himself because he was very pitchy (off-key) on “White Christmas” and “I Saw Mommy….” Dee is one of the top rock voices out there–so I don’t fault him. Once they resolved the monitor problems, he was back to great form.

Speaking of “White Christmas”….no fake snow at the Keswick show. I would argue that perhaps they didn’t need any….if you count the asbestos that rained on us from the ceiling plaster….instead there was fog. well, why not? It was a foggy night outside, so shit, why not fog inside? Dee gave us a rousing, raunchy ‘I Saw Mommy…” only she was fellating Santa Claus. Afterwards, Dee had to comment about the horrified looks he saw on some of the parent’s faces.
“Hey….seriously dude, you need to do ‘earmuffs’ for fellatio? Really? The kid knows what fellatio means? Shit, if he knows the word cunnilingus you’re really in trouble!”

Jay Jay proved that Twisted Sister fans are smarter and more cultured than the average bear: he yells out:
“Who lives in a pineapple down under the sea?” [I’m assuming y’all know the answer to that–the crowd sure did!] hysterical. Ok Jay Jay, we’ll take funky animation for $200, please. Jay Jay reminded us that this was the fourth annual Twisted gathering of Jews….right there with ya…..that’s right. The Armadillo was a Bar Mitzvah in his youth. Being a multi-denominational guitarist, Jay Jay had a new Les Paul–Twisted Sister Christmas wreath on the front side….and Menorah on the back! (well, actually, it was a Channukiah if you want to get accurate…it’s a Jew thing. Make that “chhhh” sound like you have to clear phlegm from your throat. honest. the best part about being Jewish is any excuse to make the CCCHHHHH sound.)

Animal knocked me out with his fantastic bass solo: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen….. Finally, I am filled with the Twisted Christmas spirit!

As you’ve seen from the setlist, they played some good oldies last night–Jay Jay’s solo on “Shoot ’em Down” was righteous! It had almost this bluesy feel to it–almost… je ne sais quoi…. almost New Orleans bluesy. Just beautiful.

And of course, the now obligatory “Hava Negilah” played at the end of “Oh Come O Ye Faithful” (for those of you non-Jewish, it’s that celebratory Jew theme you hear at all the weddings and bar mitzvahs)

Dee gave us a fun wrap about his creative process for the Christmas Album–I won’t spoil it here since he may recount if at the Nokia show. And once again, for at least the third time in the show, everyone gave proper applause and appreciation to Danny McCafferty for his stupendous job stepping in, and for Jay Jay’s help in tutoring him all day to prep him for tonight.

Dee DID wear TS makeup, by the way–as he promised at Plymouth MA–but that after the Christmas shows, no more Maybelline. There was loud booing at this announcement–until Dee reminded us all that makeup or not, Twisted Sister is, and always has been, all about great rock and roll. Hear, hear.

We certainly missed Eddie–especially on “Burn in Hell”–there was no baritone/tenor to sing the refrain with MAM’s deep growling bass vocals and while we heard some excellent duets between Jay Jay and Danny, and Jay Jay and MAM, we certainly anxiously await Eddie’s return. AJ drum solo during “Burn In Hell” was also different tonight– it was truly sounds of thunder. Out west, the buffalo herds were sometimes called “rolling thunder”–AJ did a solo that I swear, sounded like a galloping herd of buffalo–it was HUGE.

[Which by the way…. I digress here for a moment…. some fool standing in front of me was talking on his cell phone during the drum solo. Really? Like ANYONE can hear ANYTHING during that drum solo! The only thing I could hear was the pounding of that bass drum…..hello? Twisted Sister show? Do you REALLY need to answer that???! ]

Mark Animal Mendoza sounded superb–I think he rolled out a new bass last night–I’ve mostly been standing near Jay Jay’s mike, so maybe I’ve missed it before, but it’s the TS logo with a skull in the middle, and then pieces of the “Come Out and Play” logo superimposed around the side and bottom. Way cool. Rich sound!

Jesse Blaze joined his proud Dad onstage to sing a touching rendition of “I”ll Be Home for Christmas” dedicated to all of our troops abroad. Then the road crew released the giant Christmas ornaments, which knocked many a child over and spilled many a beer. They are fun for about 2 minutes—-my personal opinion–deep six these frivolities.

Santa himself joined the stage. Well….okay…. I may be a former Jew….but I know that ain’t the real Santa Claus….it looked suspiciously like a member of the road crew…dressed up like an elf….dressed up like Santa. Ever had Turducken? Turkey stuffed with Duck stuffed with Chicken [I have. it’s over the top.] Well it was kinda like that. Except Santa forgot to put on his pants. So we had Santa from the waist up. Elf from the waist down. Those poor kids in the audience were traumatized. Actually, for that matter, I found it a bit disturbing too.

Anyhow, Santa’s little helper asked the boys what they wanted for Christmas this year:
A.J.: wants a train set. very traditional!
MAM: He wants a GMC pickup, fully loaded. A full set of Mac tools. Some new automatic weapons–also fully loaded.
Jay Jay; very poignant. He wanted the “damn recession to be over so that folks can get their job backs”. So true. Let’s hope and pray.
Then he added, that his second Christmas wish:
“For Gene Simmons and Donald Trump to exchange hair pieces”

I think world peace may come sooner.

Dee, of course…….”I WANNA ROCK!”
He did a very, very funny rap that went so quickly I couldn’t capture it…but it basically talked about how back in the day, there were no photo ID’s and the drinking age was 18…. and he got the audience very pumped up to finish off the refrain with:
“You know that we know that you know we know you know we know you know how to rock…..”

He also pointed out a very festively dressed female Dee lookalike…which led to a incredibly funny rap that ended with “GaGa on this, baby!”

Before the second encore, Eddie Ojeda sent a text that Danny Stanton read onstage:
paraphrasing here, I couldn’t get every word….
“I went Under The Blade and I’m coming back. Getting ready to rock. Ya beeeyutch. See Ya soon. Eddie Ojeda”
we were waiting for Eddie to come running out in his hospital gown, IV full of jack in tow…. maybe Nokia we hope.

Again, I know I speak for all of us that we wish Eddie a full and speedy recovery.

We gave many, many well deserved ovations and accolades to Danny McCafferty, our hero of the night and Jay Jay, who Dee described as “the Olympian Ideal of Heavy Metal Rock n’ Roll”. We also gave props (whoops. no pun intended) to the prop-master and stage designer Kevin, a hail to the road crew and thanks to Danny Stanton, the coolest cucumber in rock and roll.

Despite one or two very intoxicated fools, it was very enjoyable. A very drunk fan seemed to take a liking to yours truly…how do I know she was drunk? She took my picture (oh god it’s on facebook out there now, I just know it) and said, “Oh, you look cute!” WOW. NOW THAT’S DRUNK! I just know tomorrow she’ll wake up, look at her blurry photos and say, “WTF? who’s the old ugly bald guy?” Don’t worry sweetie. That’s why there’s a delete button.

And there you have it. A great show, a fabulous kickoff to the holiday season, and excellent warm-up for the shows to come! While it had its problems last night, I certainly didn’t care for a moment. We missed Eddie–we throw the horns to Danny– and we wish everyone a safe, happy and healthy holiday.

With that. your bleary-eyed road mammal … hey, it was pouring down buckets when I got home at 2 am…. is trotting off to get some sleep so that I may bring another installment to the Slamboard from the Nokia theatre in glorious New York City December 6th!
See ya there, babies…
Trotting off….


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