Movistar Arena, Santiago, Chile April 13, 2013

Ah my babies, Twisted Sister did what they do best in Santiago, Chile….they blew the lid off the Movistar Arena to a house packed full of S.M.F.s ready to rock. With only two shows scheduled in South America this year, Santiago proved why they were deserving of one of them after the last TS show in Chile 3 years prior. From the opening number to the closing encore, Twisted Sister destroyed Chile in a way that only our New York five could.

And that can only mean one thing: it’s time. Time to unload a barrage of adjectives that would make Funk & Wagner proud. Time to give you all the details you’re dying to know…and plenty ya don’t! Senors and Senoras, it’s time for the only concert review written by a reporter brave enough to bring it to you…the one…the only..the Armadillo Road Report: The Official Twisted Sister concert review.

Your faithful journalista began the journey with an early morning three-hour traffic jam and a sweaty sprint to the gate, just in time to board a plane to Houston, then on to Lima, Peru. The first 3 hour leg completed, another sweaty sprint to the 11 hour connection for Lima then 3 hours to Santiago that began to board just minutes before my incoming flight landed. Tired but excited, after two more hours, I found myself on the transport with our boys in black and pink, en route to the hotel which resembled an urban fortress, surrounded by no less than a dozen musical instrument shops and a throng of faithful and polite fans outside the front gates.

Santiago is a beautiful city full of parks and vibrant street art, music and cuisine. There were Twisted sightings about town as some of the band worked off the jet lag and went for a quick stroll about the local parks. The band and crew shared a dinner to celebrate the kick-off of the 2013 shows, and revel in the return of Twisted Sister to wonderful, passionate South America.

The Movistar Arena is a large, enclosed geometric dome, with a generous open floor for general admission, a jumbo-tron stage right and left, ample bars, two tiers of brightly colored balcony seats which wrap almost 270-degrees around, with a luxurious backstage area so large that there were posted floorplans on the walls to help crews and guests find their way around. Outside the arena, a second stage sits on an open lot next to a lush lawn full of merch tents, vendors and food carts, giving the concert a true festival atmosphere, as fans lounged about on the grounds.

We did a sound check in an empty arena….and without the thousands and thousands of physical carbon based forms to absorb the sound, we got this tremendous reverb/echo. A.J.’s drum check sounded like a cross between an MRI and that sound you get when you put a pair of tennis shoes in the dryer.

A very long and thorough morning sound check complete, the crew returned to the hotel to grab some lunch and a few brief moments of precious sleep, only for an all-too-soon lobby call and transport back to Movistar Arena. I had the privilege of spending the moments before the show lending a helping hand, retrieving items for the dressing rooms and stage, and while arranging the water and towels into an aesthetically pleasing stack, I could hear the other bands on-stage playing to an appreciative screaming audience. I think I need to learn how to make some of those towel origami animals…you know, some swans…a dove…I know it sounds ridiculous but no matter what errand Twisted sends me on, I’m determined to do it to the best of my ability and with a sense of pride and duty.

It’s funny, but when I’m in the audience, it seems to take FOREVER to hear those beautiful opening riffs, but now, as a part of the crew, it seems like the time flies by so quickly, that I’m rushing back to the stage just in time to light the floor so that our beloved five can take their places. Everything seemed to be moving triple time!

I’ve grown accustomed to “What You Don’t Know” as the kick-off after “Long Way to the Top” but Twisted Sister opened this show with “You Can’t Stop Rock N’ Roll” and I swear to you, my babies, I got goosebumps. It was like someone slammed it down and put the proverbial pedal to the metal, and we went zero to 60….or for South America…0 to 120 km in just seconds flat.

“You Can’t Stop Rock N’ Roll” proved to be a remarkable opening number, and within seconds, the crowd below became one giant pulsating mass of long hair, and as the headbanging began, it was a sea of flesh..then hair..then flesh..then hair as the countless thousands upon thousand of heads nodded in unison up and down. The pounding on Animal’s bass was so intense I could feel it inside and out. During the first cadence, Dee re-enters the stage, hurdling over the bass monitor like an Olympian track and field athlete, just in time to sing the refrain. As Dee screamed, “Can’t Stop…Can’t you stop it….Can’t stop..You can’t stop it..” he straddled mid-stage as Jay Jay leaned into him, feverishly pumping the guitar. It was one of those perfect Twisted moments.

An immediate launch into “Shoot ’em Down” ignited the crowd and it wasn’t long before a swirling mosh pit formed in the center of the audience like a huge heavy metal nucleus. The crowd was waves of humanity, moving together as one organism to the left and right in synchronicity to Animal’s bass-lines. It was mesmerizing to watch, and brought back memories of the insane crowds at Graspop.

Without much time for chatter or raps, they launched immediately into “Stay Hungry,” a crowd favorite, and I don’t know if it’s my imagination or not, but Twisted Sister played at a tempo significantly faster than I had ever heard it before. Eddie played a spectacular line on a beautiful black and silver Union Jack guitar and Animal’s bass line was reverberating all the way to the back rows.

The crowd showed their love with chants of “Ole Ole Ole” and don’t ask me why, but suddenly we had condom balloons floating about the mosh pit. Kinda went with my biological/micro-organism theme of the night– if you want the videos, they resemble these odd paramecium that periodically appear in the frame. Dee assured the crowd that Twisted Sister loves them too!..”..Twisted Sister loves sick motha fuckas…and Chile is full of sick mutha fuckas who love heavy metal!” That’s sort of paraphrased, but, well…Amen, brother. Amen.

Dee sent special birthday wishes to some of those watching from the wings (Happy birthday, Kirk from Down! Great guy…he had a great time rocking out) and even brought Twisted guitar technician, Keith, onstage to receive some birthday accolades. Dee dedicated “The Fire Still Burns” to them, and Jay Jay made a little trip cross-stage to serenade them with some blistering riffs as Dee gave Kirk a big birthday hug. “Fire Still Burns” was played perfectly, with a heavy riff that made me realize just how hard A.J. pounds on those drums. Our own A.J. Pero is easily well known as the hardest hitting drummer in rock n’ roll–and the crowd soaked in every single beat.

At this point in the show, I was able to cross off bucket list item #78: Pick up Dee’s mic stand, which I’m gonna tell you folks, it’s not as easy as you’d think. The stage is blindingly bright, disorienting, hot and full of hazards. I was impressed with how easy Dee maneuvered the large stage, along with Jay Jay, who frequently cut through the side wings to play for the fans stage left. I can’t say I was that graceful, but I did manage to get the mic upright without falling off the edge or impaling myself on a guitar neck.

“We’re Not Gonna Take It” elicited the reaction you’d imagine: the place went LOCO! That’s batshit crazy to you and me…. I mean, the place absolutely erupted. Eddie’s solo was fantastic–tightly played and flawless, and the crowd was a blur of fists as Mark, Eddie and Jay Jay lined up in a row to deliver the goods. Dee lept up onto the speakers as A.J. ended the song with a flourish, sticks tossed high into the air and caught to perfectly coincide with the last note.

Similar to Spain, Chile was well-acquainted with the alternate lyrics to “We’re Not Gonna Take It”, also known as, “Huevos con aceites” which translates to “Eggs with oil.” All I can say, is….WOW. Those fans love their eggs…because Twisted played an encore version of “Huevos…” that brought down the house. Jay Jay announced that Chile had the best “We’re Not Gonna Take It” fans in the world, and a rousing rendition of WNGTI a Capella proved him right. We’re talking a bazillion crazy SMFs, singing at the top of their lungs! It was LOUD!

“The Price” was played beautifully to what looked like a sky full of white cell phones and yellow butane flames, glittering out in the vast dark crowd. Eddie’s solo gave me chills..and it may have been my proximity to the monitor, but I could hear the guitar lines so clearly–it had an almost transcendental quality I had not previously noticed. Really. It’s quite lovely–next time you hear “The Price,” close your eyes and focus on the guitar work–good stuff there!

As Eddie’s last perfect note hung in the air, Dee collapsed to the stage, writhing towards the glowing red lights of “Burn In Hell.” The crowd broke into a full-on mosh. No matter how many times I see Dee bathed in an aura of red, his snarling, evil smile never fails to terrify and intimidate me. The crowd absolutely loved “Burn In Hell” and every single word to every single line was screamed by the thousand upon thousand of fans.

“I Wanna Rock” always sends the crowd into a frenzy, and Chile was no exception. The pit went absolutely crazy, doing a heavy-metal pogo in perfect unison. When Dee illuminated the audience, I could see just how jam-packed the place was–it was as though every heavy metal fan in Chile had piled into the arena and the audience noise was deafening.

A surprise encore ensured–“It’s Only Rock n’ Roll”–one of the great covers from the club dayes. Dee utilized Eddie’s command of the Spanish language (you’ve heard of the Rosetta Stone? This was Rose-Eddie Stone!” go ahead. I made that up. you can use it.) to ask the crowd to jump on cue, and change the words from “I like it” to “I LOVE IT” because let’s face it…. we like empanadas and comfy shoes….but rock and roll? We LOVE IT! Yes, we do. It was a thunderous rendition with lights on, fists punctuating each of those words ” but..I…LOVE…IT!” Even Dee was overwhelmed–he dropped the mic to give the crowd a big round of well-deserved applause.

And then, my babies, it seemed as though as soon as it began…it came to an end. I wish the moment could have lasted forever. But alas! The road crew swooped in to break down the show after the amps stopped ringing. The crowd was visibly drenched in sweat and wanting more. As we prepared to leave out the back door, I heard Down taking the stage (as in, “System of a…) and I was so bummed that I couldn’t stay for their whole set–they sounded fantastic! Great group of guys to boot, and it sounded like they were doing a great set!

Nothing can really capture the passion and energy of a Twisted Sister show, especially in South America. This was the first TS show of the year, and it absolutely blew me away along with the patient, excited and appreciative fans who waited the three long years for Twisted to return. An incredible show filled with brilliant guitar work, heavy drumming, bass lines that those fans felt the next day and the best heavy metal frontman in the business. Twisted Sister DESTROYED Chile!

Many thanks to the hardest working crew in the business, the local stage crews and the producers of the Chile Metalfest who brought Twisted Sister in to destroy the place.
The afterglow was short and sweet however….we packed up the gear, loaded up the transport, and got back to the hotel around 1:00 a.m. with just enough time to pack, shower and head back downstairs to wait for my 4:15 a.m. transport back to the airport.

More to come, my babies…more to come…..the real adventures were yet to come…

but for now, this concludes the Chile edition of the Armadillo Road Report. Adios, amigos and mucho, mucho gracias!

This is Armadillo… trotting off to down some more Advil and try to decipher another note pad full of my shorthand….


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