Nokia Theatre, NYC, 12/6/2009

It’s a long way to the top….and it was a longer bus ride to the bottom, courtesy of an overturned tractor trailer that shut down the Lincoln Tunnel…. but neither rain, nor snow, nor dark of night could prevent me from bringing you the overindulgent, excessively worded and occasionally intellectually masturbatory effort that is what we call: The Armadillo Road Report: the Official Unofficial Twisted Sister concert Review, Nokia Theatre NYC, December 6, 2009: chock full of all of the details you want to know….. and plenty you don’t.

I’m feeling a bit of pressure on this one, now that I know that there are many eyes reading. And, of course, New York City is the homecoming location of Twisted. I do feel obligated, however, to at least provide some small description for those overseas (or much worse, in Ft. Wayne) who may have never seen the Big Apple. I confess that it weren’t for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, corned beef and Twisted Sister, I myself would have probably never ventured into the City That Never Sleeps. (not in order of importance–never underestimate a good corned beef sandwich on rye) For those of you who have never been to Times Square, it’s like an architect with Adult Attention Deficit Disorder married an electrician with Obsessive-Compulsive. Lights, light, lights and more lights–complete sensory overload 24-hours a day. At two a.m., the sidewalks were still filled with people. (the delis however, all closed at 1:00am. Alas. no Junior’s cheesecake this trip.)
The Nokia theatre is just off Broadway in Times Square–it boasts an enormous lit marquee out in front–you could see Twisted Sister in lights from halfway down the block. Once again, I was very impressed with the Nokia Staff– they not only opened the doors on time (6 pm) but they repeatedly walked the line, letting us know not only the showtimes, but keeping us updated on how many minutes left until they opened the doors. Inside we had more good service– from the bartenders to the security crew, all polite and professional through and through.

I know we had much discussion about seating this year so I took good notice: they had a large seated area in the rear (front and rear mezzanine), two balconies up top and two raised areas by the bars on the sides. The floor was general admission, of course, and a group of happy slamboarders made their way to the front row. I’m so glad I checked my report from last year–I opted not to check my coat this year–and so glad I didn’t. Here’s my latest Armadillo concert tip: for .99 cents, you can buy a 2-pack of Toasty Toes and Hot-Hands pocket warmers. I dropped one of those little babies in each boot….shoved a handwarmer in each pocket, and I was indeed toasty warm the entire hour I waited outside…and in. It was cold as hell in the Nokia theatre! In more ways than one…but I’ll get to that in a minute.
There were two absolutely delightful ladies in the front row waving Norwegian flags–I chatted with them for a bit. (Velcome! Eetz COLD in zees Nokia theatre, yah?) The one woman missed the show in Oslo last time around, so she FLEW here to the States to see Twisted play. They obviously had no complaints about the temperature inside. Norway, folks, Norway. Now THAT is a lousy concert commute. The next time I hear ANYONE whine that they couldn’t make a Twisted Sister show because it was ALL the way in Vegas…. one word for you: NORWAY.

Our own webbie was there….along with a throng of photographers! It looked like a paparazzi feeding frenzy at times–I’ve never seen such action in the pit. The photographer (Diane) from the Crazy Donkey show was snapping away…(I”ll repost the link if you folks need it–otherwise, search for the Crazy Donkey Report) and an interesting gent from an online heavy metal magazine featuring photos and concert reviews. (yeah–but will you get tips about Toasty Toes? I think not.) Someone took a shot of the slamboard crew–I do hope you’ll post it here shortly.

Unlike the living morgue, also known as the Keswick theatre, the Nokia had background music playing. Unfortunately, it appears that the DJ must have dropped some bad acid–because sandwiched in between Van Halen and Black Sabbath, was Tears For Fears “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” I don’t honestly know what troubled me more–the fact that they were playing Tears For Fears, or the group of audience members singing along. Both equally disturbing, really. Before we knew it, Q104.3 sponsors came onto the stage and introduced the openers for the evening: no surprises as we had already posted on the Slamboard, tonight we had comedians Jim Florentine and Don Jamieson from “That Metal Show.”

Well. Hmmmmm.
Let me say this: after all the whining, bitching and complaining that I do about warm-up bands, I am probably the last person to have any right to complain about the lack thereof. So here are the positives: I didn’t need earplugs (although at times I wish I *had* put them in), it went fairly quickly and they weren’t too bad. Not to mention that laughter has been shown to lower blood pressure, raise serotonin and release dopamine. At 7:30 pm, I believe it was Jim Florentine who took the stage first. I enjoyed his routine– the audience was COLD. I mean it was a chilly, chilly reception. You thought the crowd was chilly in Philly? I’ve been in warmer meat lockers.

The poor bastard barely made it to the mike when people were starting to scream “get off the stage!” As hard as it is for a local band to open for Twisted Sister, it is significantly more difficult when you aren’t even playing something deafening. My personal favorite line of the night: “First time I saw Twisted Sister, I thought ‘wow…those are either the ugliest women from NYC….or the prettiest girls from New Jersey’ ”
The second comedian I found particularly distasteful. His humor was mostly about how he enjoys drunk driving, dating underage girls….and rape. It was moments like those that I found myself asking: “wouldn’t you rather be critiquing some awful warm-up band right now? I would have even preferred Dirty Pearls. That says a lot. So I take it all back: I can’t promise I won’t complain incessantly about terrible local warm-up acts, because well…. I am a Jew. I have a genetic disposition to complaining, and take great pleasure in it, but I promise that if you DON’T have comedians who think date rape is funny, I will write at least ONE positive thing about each opening act.

Twisted came on stage at 9:05 pm! I could NOT believe it!
Since there are many youtube videos now AND the behind the scenes photos on this website, I won’t go into TOO great a detail but it was our favorite over-the-top, beautifully crafted Christmas set. Plenty more elves last night–Twisted young-uns I suspect–and they littered the stage with special toy guitars, including one made of bones, another crafted to look like an assault weapon, and one designed to resemble an all-day sucker. There was a very sculptural Christmas tree made out of guitars. There was a road crew member wearing….well, I’m not sure what it was: it looked like one of the Who’s from Whoville–you know, Dr. Seuss?
One elf raised his tunic and showed his jingle bells…er….jingle balls…..ugh…bad elf! As the Santa conveyor belt churned out Twisted Santas, decked out in leather, spikes, animal prints and I believe one had a g-string, a giant lathe churned an oversize candy cane while elves painted a guitar with what looked like either chocolate….or black paint. Another elf climbed atop the huge chamber whose interior seemed inspired by an Easybake Oven. As spandex, spikes and pink fur dropped into the meat grinder above the chamber….a spin of the vault wheel…and out struts our boys!

A.J……M.A.M…..JJ ….and you probably already know….EDDIE is back!
What a total surprise—we had heard through the grapevine that Eddie was coming to the show, but no one knew for certain if he would be able to play. What a thrill! Eddie Ojeda received a warm reception–to return this soon from such serious surgery is a credit to Eddie’s will and determination, as well as the power of Percocet. Dee arrived as Santa in his super-charged muscle car inspired sled, pulled by a team of lovely young hotties wearing antlers and very little of anything else at all….in fact, I think they were wearing even LESS than what they wore in Philly. A nice trend–that bodes well for Vegas perhaps. Another shower of candy canes and condoms. Hey….why does everyone hand their condoms to me? Do you think I’m getting that much action or are you telling me to go fuck myself? I never know if I should be flattered or insulted….

So before I go into all of the show details, your setlist:
1. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
2. Don’t Let Me Down (I know! I couldn’t believe it either!)
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 (sing-a-long)
8. The Price
9. Oh Come O’ Ye Faithful
10. Stay Hungry
11. Burn in Hell
Drum solo
12. Silver Bells
13. I’ll Be Home for Christmas
14. 30
15. I Wanna Rock
16. Heavy Metal Christmas
Band Intros
17. We’re Not Gonna Take It

First let me say that what I love about the Christmas shows is how happy everyone is! They’re just silly, goofy and fun…and they rock out. So because of this, I really didn’t mind ALL of the things that went terribly wrong last night! There were miscues….malfunctions….and some pretty significant sound problems. It started with Dee’s microphone and just went south from there. I just loosened up my ear plugs a little and put up with the feedback ringing most of the night.

Eddie was BACK! While you could tell that he was tired and not feeling 100%, his still managed to play a great solo and had scorching duets during “Don’t Let Me Down” and “White Christmas.’ What a Trooper! His solo during ‘The Price” was spot-on! M.A.M and JayJay checked on him a few times throughout the night–he had to step off-stage a few times, but holy crap, the man just had back surgery! I could read Animal’s lips “How ya doin’? OK?” Amazing. Thank you Eddie! Be careful, okay?

A few random items:
Speaking of Animal…. he pounded the living hell out of his bass during “The Beast,” and I think the poor instrument finally surrendered. There were all sorts of sound issues with Mark’s bass.

“Can’t Stop of Rock N’ Roll” was mammoth–I just love that album and they did it justice!

Jay Jay showed off his new multi-denominational guitar once again–he credited Jim O’Connor, the artist who created his and Mark’s custom guitars–and announced that as a member of the Jewopi tribe, this year’s theme is officially “Metal Jews For Christmas.”

Dee gave a little background on “Oh Come Oh Ye Faithful”…and gave thanks this year that there was no lawsuit for “We’re Not Gonna Take It” as “Oh Come…” is public domain. While the plagiarism was completely unintentional, he left us with: “Nineteen years of singing in the church choir finally paid off!” Personally, I think it was the subliminal effects of mall MUZAK, but that’s just my unscientific opinion.

Dee also gave special props to the visitors from Norway and then lead us into “Burn In Hell.” You know, I just never get tired of that spooky lighting! I’m just picturing Dee as a kid, practicing it with a flashlight in his bathroom…saying….”One day I’m going to do this onstage every night and get paid for it….” Love “Burn In Hell”–JayJay, Eddie and M.A.M did a guitar threesome…..wait. that didn’t come out right. TRIO….they did a TRIO…
…and then A.J.’s sounds of thunder. Tonight’s drum solo was very “soldier-like”…..kind of a “little drummer boy” thing going on….and LOTS AND LOTS OF COWBELL. You know what would have made it even better? MORE COWBELL. (He agreed with me, by the way… needs more cowbell. we all need more cowbell.)

They played my truly LEAST favorite Christmas Carol and yet one of my FAVORITE tracks off the album (that’s saying something right there….) Silver Bells! The elves cued the snow machine, and we had near whiteout conditions on-stage. I noticed that they seemed to particularly enjoy pointing the snowmaker at the Norwegian guests–perhaps to make them feel at home–personally, I felt like I went through the wash cycle. You’ve haven’t truly experienced a Twisted Sister Christmas show unless you’ve coughed up soap bubbles.

Then Dee stops……. Animal is missing in action. His solo is coming up…and he’s nowhere to be found. Dee gave his best Elmer Fudd: “Be vewy vewy qwiet….we’re hunting bass pwayahs…” Mark’s bass just wasn’t cooperating. Now I don’t know about you…but if Animal wants me to do something….ANYTHING….I’m gonna cooperate. So he must have given that bass a good talkin’ to….because his bass solo was well worth the wait!

He disappeared a few more times–at one point, with Eddie stepping to the side, Dee running off for a his water during Jay Jay’s solo…and Mark’s disappearance…it was like….the first Black Sabbath reunion tour WITH TONY IOMMI. Anybody onstage? AJ? Want to do another drum solo?

Dee sang “I’ll be Home for Christmas” with American Idol and now Broadway’s Musical “Rock of Ages” star Constantine. Which means that Jay Jay did NOT give one of his American Idol rants. Oh the irony!

And once again, those stupid frickin’ oversized Christmas ornaments managed to smack me in the back of the head. I’m starting to think someone was aiming…… warm-up acts of Christmas past? No really….I hate them. It’s not like a beach ball, see? They’re heavy! It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye. Or a beer. Or a camera. (Hope SMF Cyndi’s camera has recovered….fortunately it landed on something soft: my head)

We were treated to what is now formally called, yes, “The Bathroom Song” Dee yelled out: “here it comes….we’re gonna do it….get your money out!” I’m not sure if that was a reference to going to buy a beer or if something else is happening in those bathrooms that requires money….I’d rather not think about it. Either way: I wasn’t going to budge for a minute! They played “30” and I LOVE IT! That opening guitar riff just fills me up right–can I have a witness!!??! YES! Mark STILL had bass issues….but “30” is one of those songs that just plays so well live! When they were done, Dee announced: “Okay! You can come out of the bathroom now!” And for the BIG TEASER OF THE NIGHT:

Dee says:
“with that kind of response, I can see a lot of new music in the future!” Oh please let it be so!

And then…. a moment for those not faint of heart. Cooch, roadmaster extraordinare, struts onstage with Santa hat, beard, coat and boots. No pants. Why universe why? I’ve worked so hard in therapy these past thirty years–made such progress– it was one of the moments where being in the furthest back row in the top of the balcony was the best seat in the house. And it was cold in that theatre. There were goosebumps on Santa’s naked legs. There was shrinkage. Between Dee yelling “stranger danger! stranger danger!” and our low vantage point from the front row, never have I more convinced that SANTA IS SATAN. He asked our boys what they want for Christmas once again.

AJ: wants a tank. From Santa: “to give TANKS each year.” yuk-yuk
Animal: wants to never see Santa pantless again. Right there with ya!
Eddie: “just seeing Santa’s Ho, Ho, Ho’s is enough!” Says Dee: “The Drugs are working” I’ll have what he’s having, please….
JayJay: He asked for the Mets NOT to suck this year.
Hmmmmm. How about a pony? Cure for hunger? World peace? He’s Santa ferchrissake…. he does Christmas miracles, not the FUCKING impossible!


So before they launched into “I Wanna Rock”…. Dee made sure everyone was on their feet–and not in wheelchairs, as he retold his now famous “Best Story Ever” about yelling “stand up!” at the ADA section. He checked: Nope. Not the ADA section. Good. “THEN STAND THE HELL UP!!!” He asked us to give us all we had….really belt it out:
“Pretend you’re shouting for a cab….or at some asshole that ran you off the road…..come on NYC!” He had a heap of NY’s bravest join him onstage..along with Constantine….and the hotties….and the set designer….and pantless Claus…. and for all I know, I think I saw those two White House party crashers onstage too….

And we rocked.
And it was loud.
And he saw that it was good.
Praise Be.

We had band intros—-more Eddie lovefests–as we should! Eddie sent a shout-out to his fantastic doctors and surgeons. We love them too–they gave us our Eddie back! Dee gave Jay Jay yet another now infamous title: King of Rent Control. How much did you say that rent is? $126 a month?

Kudos paid once again to Kevin O’Callahan, the set designer. special shout out from me to you Kevin on the handlebar mustache. [I tried making a handlebar ‘stache once–I bought the mustache wax– it looked like I was eating a candle] and perhaps in preparation for Vegas’ Manilow turf, Dee was introduced as “the Man That Writes The Songs That SMF’s Sing…”

Then, our only real ugliness of the night.
During the first encore, I noticed AJ looking dismayed…shaking his head in disapproval….and then I saw why. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it was “the DOUCHEBAG KING.” All 300 lbs of him, drunkenly crowd surfing–he felt atop of three young girls who couldn’t hold him–I checked on them, they were shaken up but not hurt badly. I managed to take a boot to the head….my fellow slamboarder Ron unfortunately wasn’t as lucky–his glasses took the brunt of it. Even our very own SMF Cyndi, had to duck and cover.
Folks: don’t do this. stage diving and crowd surfing is the pasttime of Douche Bags. Don’t be a Douche. It really took something away from the encores when we had to constantly look over our shoulders to avoid a boot in the back of the head. A little bumping, some pushing and shoving–that’s just a part of being in the front row–I go home bruised from almost every show. A measured risk I choose to take. But honestly…. this kinda crap just isn’t necessary. [Boy, you should see the knot I’ve got on my head! Douche bags.]

Lastly, was the Backstage/Meet and Greet. First the positives: Despite having a train to catch, they stayed late to make sure that no fan left without an autograph or a photo. I love these opportunities, and I’m just thrilled every chance I get–it never gets old. That said: the way the meet n’ greet was run was NOT typical of ANY of the other MNG’s that TS has hosted. They are usually very calm, organized and well-done. Last night’s was a goat rope. (the fire dept term: a cluster fuck.) Please bring back the method you used at the Fillmore: the band lined up at the rail and stayed put in their spots–the fans got in line and went down the receiving line in an orderly fashion. No pushing, no shoving, no fighting to get an autograph. Just some food for thought. Last night’s MNG was a big hot mess, and I heard a LOT of complaints from fans who paid $100 and were angry that they had to fight to squeeze in to get an autograph.

Okay…hate to end on two sour notes so let’s recap:

NOKIA theatre staff: LOVED IT.
No terrible warmup bands to sit through: LOVED IT.
Sound problems: HATED IT.
Fantastic set: LOVED IT.
Giant ornaments: HATED IT.
Eddie back on stage: LOVED IT
Excellent solos: LOVED IT
Douche bag crowd surfers: HATED IT.
Kick ass rock n’ roll: LOVED IT.
Santa with no pants: HATED IT.
Heard “30” live again: LOVED IT.
Absolutely positively wonderful Christmastime fun in NYC: LOVED IT.

So actually….the things that were in the band’s control… I loved. There were unfortunate sound problems all night (it happens!) and a few things that I feel that the fans need to take responsibility for….NYC NOKIA theatre show for 2009 was still fantastic good fun, and a great time was had by all! So behave yourselves, be kind to one another…give thanks for the blessings we do have, and PLEASE get out and buy a ticket to the Twisted Sister Christmas shows. You owe it to yourself!

With that, I’ll see you in Vegas, babies..
Trotting Off…your humble road reporter….


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