Ah my babies….
It is my distinct pleasure to bring to you now, the latest edition of the Armadillo Road Report, Plymouth Massachusetts, containing all of the concert review details that you want to know…and plenty you don’t! Coming to you fresh from the airport, I’ll give you a teaser here:
Plymouth is a town rich with American history including Plymouth Rock….this was one for the history rock books. This concert was LEGENDARY.
Now given that just one week ago, your SMF friends were sweating it out in the one-hundred plus degrees in Orlando, Florida, it was nothing short of metabolic shock to get off the plane in Boston to thirty-five degrees and windy. The beautiful drive to Plymouth through the fall foliage and then a lovely stroll down historic Plymouth’s cobblestone sidewalks, was the perfect start to this road trip. Being still in the Halloween spirit, and given the well-known presence of Plymouth ghosts, my theme of the night was “omens.”
First good omen of the night: while checking out the venue situation, I had an opportunity to overhear the sound check. Most notably, the boys played “Shoot ‘em Down”—I could hear every note perfectly and realized that if it sounded this good outside, I could only imagine how great it was going to sound that night! I ran into our favorite manager Danny Stanton and told him “I’m lovin’ Plymouth already!” and a very cold Danny replied “Brrrrr….Orlando it ain’t!” [sidenote: tell that to the panhandler I walked past —300 lb dude was wearing no pants. I swear it’s true. He mercifully was wearing a fanny pack in the front.] I grabbed a quick bite at T-Bones Roadhouse….couldn’t resist a pub with an armadillo on the sign and off to the show I went.
The concert site itself was one of Plymouth’s older, historic colonial buildings—now their Veteran’s Memorial Hall. The hallways were adorned with a mix of rock and roll and war veteran memorabilia. They had a concession stand, a bar, vending, merchandise tables and the gold standard of concert bathrooms—seriously, it was huge. (Sometimes it’s the little things in life.) The entire floor was cleared for general admission, split into two sections. There was a front section and then a rear section, with two tiers of balcony and mezzanine seating almost all the way up to the stage. Beautiful, high ceilings made for some decent acoustics with a small stage about 4 feet off the floor—fans were allowed access right up to the stage’s edge. The staff had a few logistical issues at first, but they seemed to work it out eventually.
The band times were posted at the door—each opening act had 30 minutes of stage time and let me just say that you could set your watch by these folks. The opener went onstage five minutes late, but they were still off by their designated time. Speaking of opening acts, this show had three of them: Chain Drive, Woodland Creatures, and VOBC.
I took my place up front with my fellow slamboarders, and noted what we were concerned would be a bad omen: a white tie draped on the amp: fears of Duran Duran and English Beat influences raced through our minds. Fortunately, it was an unfounded worry—Chain Drive was very good overall—they sounded quite well-practiced for an opener and quite honestly, belonged 2nd on the bill, not 4th. Their guitarist was very talente and the drummer had plenty of crowd favorite: the cowbell. Two tips for Chain Drive:
1. If you are going to do a crowd sing-a-long, be sure you have more than 4 fans in the audience that know the words. Or….
2. Pick a song that we know and love if you don’t fit the criteria for #1.
I was surprised to see Danny watching from the floor but perhaps he was scoping out some new talent. Overall, Chain Drive did well. It ain’t easy being first on a bill of 4, especially with TS headlining.
Bad Omen #2 came along as the second opener began to set up a mixing board and turntable. Yep, you read that right. Immediately followed by Bad Omen #3: one of the band members came onstage wearing a cap turned askew and a white track suit. Eminem wanna be? Oh Why? Both of these omens seemed to fulfill our prophecy that Woodland Creatures would not be a crowd pleaser. Hailing from Wareham, MA, they did bring a small fan base with them. My earplugs cancel out 35 decibels, but unfortunately, I could still hear Woodland Creatures. Not my cuppa tea.
Next up was a Plymouth Rock band (sorry, my last Plymouth pun, I promise….) VOBC. Well. Some folks seemed to really like them, so obviously they have appeal to the younger set. And their drummer, Roger, apparently had something to do with bringing tonight’s together, so “thanks for that.” To me, they were just another “Cookie Monster” speed metal band. You know what I’m talking about….the lead singer essentially sounds like a hypoglycemic pissed off Cookie Monster.
Their bass player performed in his stocking feet….I saw a pair of Rockports behind him, gotta love New England. My slamboard peanut gallery gave them an A for energy…but an F for execution. The bassist resembled someone having a grand mal seizure….he continuously knocked into the drum equipment…the lead singer threw his microphone stand and almost took out the bassist…not to mention that he repeatedly hawked “loogies” up in the air and onto the stage, including one that landed on a lovely young gal standing in the front row. VOBC was just like school on Saturday: NO CLASS. A real shame because their guitarist has a lot of [wasted] talent. Armadillo tip for VOBC: don’t spit on your fans. open for Run DMC’s reunion tour instead. ‘Nuff said.
Our TS roadie treated us to the opening riff of “Hysteria” as he tuned up Eddie’s Fender—and I have to tell you, I could have listened to that all night. Nice touch! But then 10:00 pm rolled around and the theatre went dark. The familiar opening chords of “Long Way to the Top” kicked some adrenaline into our veins and so began one of the BEST TS shows of the entire Stay Hungry Anniversary Tour. Now I know what some of you are thinking—I’m just kissing up because of the less-than-stellar review I did of Orlando. I swear to you all—this show was fantastic! It was TS at their best.
Here’s the setlist, first and foremost: (oh, those of you who weren’t there… you’re gonna shit when you see what you missed!)
The first ten songs were “Stay Hungry” side-to-side, in order, with a drum solo during “The Beast.”
Here are the encores…ready?
11. Come Out and Play
13. Under The Blade
14. You Can’t Stop Rock N’ Roll
That’s right…they played “30!” But more on that later….
While the Memorial Hall was [embarrassedly] not packed full, it had some true, hardcore SMFs! After the first song, I looked over my shoulder, and all the way up in the balcony, in the last row, they were rocking hard! An observation shared by Dee, who exclaimed: “You guys are fucking loud….and ‘fuck’ is pretty fucking loud!” and then treated a front row lovely to his best Joey-from-Friends “How YOU doin’?”
Dee did a quick rap to address anyone’s concerns about sellout. Between the Midol, Dancing With The Stars and Wendy’s….it is understandable that some fans may have some worry. Leave it to the greatest frontman in heavy metal to explain: while at first Twisted Sister was a bit nervous about selling song rights to a women’s PMS product, he learned that “it is a medication that stops vaginal dryness….and where there is vaginal dryness, Twisted Sister is here to stand against it and prevent it! We’re stopping vaginal dryness! We’re doing G-d’s work here!”
[Never thought I’d ever type the words “vaginal dryness” and Twisted Sister in the same sentence. Another Twisted first.]
Okay…so more on the show.
The dual solos between Eddie and Jay Jay were just spot on. There was raw energy in the crowd, and perfect synchronicity onstage. “Burn In Hell” absolutely tore it loose. Literally, too. Dee always sheds his shoulder pads by the third song, but rarely onstage. As Dee dropped to the floor for the intro to Burn In Hell, I see his shoulder pads rolling off the stage like a tumbleweed! Jay Jay’s solo was absolutely FLAWLESS.
Dee apologized for the postponement of September 12th but thanked all of us for coming up—this was one fired up crowd! He shared that the evening’s performance would be the last Stay Hungry Anniversary Tour stop in the United States, and the last time we would see them in Stay Hungry makeup [we may seem some at the Christmas shows], and it may very well be the last time we hear some of those songs live. I tried my best to savor each and every song, and as sentimentally wussy as it sounds, held back some tears.
Jay Jay mentioned that while this was the last domestic show for the Stay Hungry tour, the band was already impressed with the fans here, and Boston was definitely going to be on the Christmas docket next year! You heard it here first! (er, second…) He reminded us all to set our TIVO for Private Sessions on A&E, December 6th. (They filmed it the day just before last night’s show) And he gave us one of his now famous, American Idol rants.
When they launched into “Captain Howdy”, Animal’s bass sound was so huge, you could actually see the beat move drinks…clothing…anything sitting on or near the stage…. And at one point (“Come here, my sweet, let me help you with that….) Dee almost got right down into the crowd! When we sang the refrain, I’ve never seen the band look more pleased. Dee took another moment to stress our civic responsibility to “Take Back The Horns!” And he gave me yet another Dee Snider notable quotable about the creation of the horns:
“Like Excalibur’s sword, passed on to us to by the great DIO, as a symbol of solidarity and unity….”
And he shared with us the horror, that even Betty White has been guilty of blatant and flagrant misuse of throwing the horns.
They launched into “I Wanna Rock”…. And that’s where we had a few moments of crowd ugliness. Apparently, the facility security decided to allow all the rear general admission folks to gain entry into the front general admission. So suddenly, a respectful and civil group of SMFs were met with several rude, intoxicated and yes, pungent, concert goers who elbowed their way to the front. And during the song, as Dee shouted “I Wanna Rock…You Wanna Rock….” One totally intoxicated idiot climbs onstage and tries to grab Dee’s microphone. Dee, of course, without missing a beat, chimes in “Even big fat ugly guys wanna rock!” Security: ya dropped the ball on this one. He dove right over my head (not hard to do, mind you) and we nicely cleared a hard, flat spot on the floor for him to land face first. Say it with me, everybody: DOUCHE BAG!
“Don’t Let Me Down” is one of those special songs, and I particularly liked how Eddie played it last night. It was just special—and I fear that we may not hear this song live again. “The Price” was spot-on, freakin’ amazing. Chills all round. The lighters were on all the way –doing the Price sway from the front row to the back row of the balcony.
Even AJ’s drum solo was a little more than his usual (incredible) sounds of thunder…it had a bit more funk to it! Add his blue-LED tipped laser sticks and it was just perfection. “S.M.F.” brought down the house, I thought Animal was going to pound that bass into tiny pieces.
“Come Out and Play”: they have often teased us with the COAP opener for an encore but then launch into something else…this time they played it full glory. Jay Jay finished it off with a behind –the-head move. [please tell me SOMEONE got a photo of that!]
And then we were treated to what Dee has deemed, “The Bathroom Song.” Those fans who don’t want to hear anything new, use opportunities such as this to go to the bathroom. And if you were one of those people, you missed out! “30” was just a thrill to hear live, and that opening funkadelic “waaaaah waaaaaaaaah waaaaaaaaaah” just rocked me to the core.
“Under The Blade” was dedicated to us, the “Old Fucks” as Dee called us. Eddie motioned that they had hit it out of the park….so true! Dee reminded us, again, to get a good look because this was essentially the end of the makeup, with the final notable quotable of the night: “Lady GaGa…that bitch owes me royalties!”
Jay Jay, always the epitome of class, walked over the edge of the stage—and while met with dozens of fans’ open hands, reaching like chirping hungry birds….he handed picks to three delightful ladies in the audience, including a young little SMF standing off in the mezzanine, who looked simply elated! (who wouldn’t be?)
Speaking of Jay Jay….
We opted to take the spot in front of his microphone, and because there was no security barrier, we were incredibly close. How close were we?
So close I could count the scratches on Jay Jay’s TS belt buckle…
So close I had to be careful that when I rocked out, I didn’t accidentally throw a fist into Jay Jay’s nuts….
So close that I had to watch my hands to make sure they weren’t in the path of his feet…
So close that I made the GROSS FAUX PAS of letting him see me take notes during the show.
Now some of you who have seen me at shows, have often asked me “how do I remember all of this crap?” Well it’s simple: I don’t. If I don’t write it down, I’ll forget it five minutes later. And as an avid writer, I am constantly jotting down quick shorthand so that I can capture all the sights, sounds and flavors of the show, especially the setlist. But
I’m usually pretty discreet.
Except not last night. And Jay Jay busted me.
My special telepathic powers allowed me to read Mr. French’s mind: ‘I’m here busting my ass onstage and that fucking Armadillo is standing there scribbling notes. WHAT A DOUCHE BAG’
And so for those of you in the back, who were going “What the fuck? Why does Jay Jay keep pantomiming like he’s taking notes?” well…. That was for me. Honestly–I was scribbling down what a brilliant performance of “30” you had just done, and when I looked up and saw you looking down at me….oh shit….you know how hard I rock out at these shows! I promise to be more discreet about it at the Christmas shows…. But I DID tell you that this review was gonna be a good one!
They ended with “You Can’t Stop Rock n’ Roll’ with a special dedication to the survivors of the Station Fire, several of whom were in attendance. Always a place in our hearts for you and all of the families who lost loved ones.
When the lights came on, “Day of the Rocker” started playing on the PA (the official signal that the show is over), the front rows dissipated as a few did what I call the “Day of the Rocker” shuffle…. Walking slowly like zombies along the floor, looking for guitar picks…
This show was one for the books—great crowd (for the most part), great location, fantastic performance and a chance to hear a song live that we have NEVER seen or heard live before.
I didn’t want it to be over, it was just that good!
Thank you thank you thank you Gentlemen! I don’t know how you will top that one but I’m sure you will. A legendary, historic show in beautiful, downtown Plymouth. FAN-FUCKING-TASTIC.
There were professional photographers there: here’s one: Lisa Gourley you can check out her photos at www.lisagourley.com
And just for fun: a quirky epilogue to the town of Plymouth:
This morning before driving an hour to the airport, I headed out for a New England breakfast with Boston baked beans and grilled corn bread (Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it!) and saw a woman pushing a baby stroller, while she walked a cat wearing a dress on a leash. You read that one right. I asked the waitress for a reality check:
“Excuse me, ma’am, but does that seem odd to you?”
“It does…” she replied, “She usually pushes the cat in the stroller” Ba-dum-bump.
Your faithful road reporter, trotting off…until we meet again in Philadelphia… if this doesn’t convince you to buy a ticket to an upcoming show, I don’t know what will!