Welcome, welcome and bienvenue! Oui, oui monsieurs et madamoiselles, it is time for the very first international edition of the 2010 World Tour, Armadillo Road Report: the official UN-official Twisted Sister concert review, with all of the show details you’re itching to hear about….and plenty ya don’t. This first leg of the TS world tour finds us in the Great White North, beautiful Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada. (eh?)
Flying first into gorgeous Salt Lake City from Baltimore, the snow-capped mountains on three sides of the airport were a delightful precursor to the majestic ranges in Vancouver. A spectacular, clean and polite city—we took in some local cuisine and spent “show day” sitting on the shoreline, watching dogs fetch sticks in the waves of the surf. Just what the doctor ordered! We did eat at a café called “The Troll Grill”…. And while sitting eating breakfast, they played “Leader of the Pack,” which I took as a good omen for things to come. All I can say is: not only should you NOT FEED THE TROLL, I don’t suggest eating there either. Beware of the troll. Damn.
The casino itself was a bit peculiar as gigs go—but I’ve come to learn, after so many reunion shows, that the venues are a part of the charm—just one more thing to make each one a little bit unique. A fairly new casino in the middle of an industrial park, the Red Robinson theatre boasted a rather charming and mid-size location of about 1000 seats. The box office gave me the vegas-line of “there’s not a bad seat in the house”…well, it’s Canada, so actually, it was more like: “there’s nut a bed seat in the hoose, eh?” but either way, they were right. Security was very attentive and flexible, and permitted standing near the front, affording many of us a fantastic front row standing area. Myself & friend, SMF Canadian Cindee, DCT, and Squeal held our ground with little problem—I have to say, that the Canadian SMFs were truly wonderful. So polite, respectful of space and full of energy and enthusiasm. I would most definitely recommend Canada as a great place to see the boys play! One of my most enjoyable front row experiences ever.
No opening act, a trend I REALLY like, and we wagered on what the boys would open with—SMF Canadian Cindee said “What You Don’t Know” and I thought “The Kids Are Back”. And I’ll be damned—Win and Place, for you horse betters: check out this whopper of a setlist:
1. What You Don’t Know
2. The Kids Are Back
3. Stay Hungry
4. Captain Howdy
5. Shoot ‘Em Down
6. You Can’t Stop Rock N’ Roll
7. The Fire Still Burns
8. We’re Not Gonna Take It
9. The Price
10. Burn In Hell
11. I Wanna Rock
12. Come Out and Play
Yes, that’s right. Lucky thirteen and get this: No drum solo! I was shocked…and a bit dismayed about that. The band took the stage 15 minutes late [hmmmm….and no Danny Stanton….coincidence? I don’t THINK so!]
But we were thrilled to finally hear tracks from the earlier albums because well, after two years of Stay Hungry… let’s just say that we are fully sated. No longer hungry and ready for dessert. I personally would have loved a few more from Under The Blade but I also recognized that many in Canada missed the Stay Hungry shows, so the setlist was obviously a crowd pleaser.
What I really enjoyed about this show—it was Twisted Sister with a Bent Brother feel to it. No frills. The stage consisted of simple stacks with a new backdrop—what I have deemed the “cheesecake logo”. Don’t get me wrong, I like pretty ladies as much as the next red-blooded guy—but I just don’t like the cheesy T&A logo. While it says “80’s”, it just doesn’t say “Twisted Sister” to me. But alas, that’s what we’ve got, and dammit, I WILL like it. Merch everywhere…some UTB throwback shirts and the cheesecake world tour shirt. Get ‘em while you can! The boys wore the ol’ denim and leather—and the theme of the night: hair!
Dee was quick to point out that with band getting older, they knew it was time to change their look: he says: “smaller lower heels? A lower cut for a more age appropriate look?” and one of the best Dee-isms of the night: “I kept getting lipstick on my teeth….it was that one Aunt, you know?…” But the good news? “THE HAIR STAYS!”
Speaking of hair….We have some new “doos” to report. Jay Jay has been growing out his hair, and he has either purchased a much sportier wig, or those long locks are his. Either way, the new look is good! AJ has finally come to the realization that so many of us aging rockers have: balding is bad but bald is beautiful. He shaved his head entirely, which I imagine must make the drumming a little easier, if not more comfortable and also a leaner, meaner look. We approved!
There was a great vibe tonight—Jay Jay came onstage looking very happy….MAM gave our own DCT a big smile, and even Dee gave her a special little wave. I got the nod from the boys, and oh, by the way…there was music at this show. Did I mention the music yet? It KICKED some serious Canadian ass! There were some sound issues it seemed at first, but the sound was perfectly balanced by the third song, and the earplugs were out by the end of the show.
The first two songs were played so expertly and tightly, you’d think they had been playing the oldies all last tour. Just fantastic. Jay Jay started off on his Pinkburst Les Paul—a guitar whose sound I’ve really come to appreciate so much, and he even gave the photographers that classic Jay Jay French pinkburst “art shot”—oh Mr. Deville….I’m ready for my closeup now…. (only a few of you will get that reference, sadly) The solo during YCSRNR was mind-blowing…and he knew it too—final chord was still hanging in the air when Jay Jay told American Idol to “take that and shove it up your ass!”
Eddie sported a new B.C. Rich bright red guitar—how red was it? Ketchup red. Complete with Heinz 57 Ketchup label! A perfect complement to A.J.’s red Canadian Gold Medal shirt….we gave it a “10”. (except the Russian judge, who gave it a 6.7) Good strong sound to the new strings—Eddie smoked his solos on WNGTI.
The crowd was still sitting down by “The Fire Still Burns”….and incidentally, so did the guy toking behind us….my god, there was so much pot smoke in the “non-smoking” theatre that I was afraid that if I didn’t air out my vest last night, I’d get cavity searched at the border crossing! Really folks—can’t you do that later? At home? In the parking lot? He was eventually 86’d. Christ, for a split second, I thought I was at Deep Purple again!
MAM’s bass was thunderous—I never get tired of seeing that man pound on the frets—I honestly don’t know how those bass guitars don’t get split in half. Or the poor roadies he chases around. Good thing those boys are small, faster little fuckers.
Dee finally had to say something about the crowd sitting down:
“Please turn to page 57 in your hymnbooks….and RISE…..”
and we were treated to “I Wanna Rock” to a standing, hard rocking audience. After which: “OK. Please be seated”
I commented, prior to the show starting, that there was an extremely large disco ball above the theatre—and of course, Dee noticed it too—and if almost on cue, during “The Price”, we had a 70’s disco flashback. It was a “WTF” moment.
Speaking of “The Price”—a serious moment here—Dee announced that earlier that day, they learned that a good friend of the band, Bob Gamm (I hope that’s correct—someone please let me know if it isn’t) was killed in a motorcycle accident. SMFs and biker bros and sisters everywhere—we keep you in our prayers. Our thoughts and deepest sympathy go out to Bob’s friends and family everywhere. Again, how amazing that the band could go onstage and put on such a great show in spite of such a shocking tragedy. Dee dedicated “The Price” to Bob, and there were a few hankies coming out in the audience, mine included. Very touching.
“Burn In Hell” was accompanied by the traditional, now trademark “red spooky lighting” and Eddie’s solo was spot on! In a very sweet moment, Dee paused before the next song, and took an album from a front row fan and signed it, right on the spot, saying “Hey…I don’t normally do this….but since I probably won’t see you later…” Now I ask you, what other band on the planet does that for their fans? AMAZING. True class act, these SMFs…or as Dee pronounced it… “SMIFFS?”
Then again, Dee also said that TS has sold more records per capita in Canada than anywhere else in the world. Canada apparently updates their record sales awards, and “I Wanna Rock” has now gone 2X platinum…and “We’re Not Gonna Take It” has now gone 8X platinum in Canada! Dee had a theory—that everyone in Canada must have been issued a copy of Stay Hungry when they hit puberty!
Dee gave us a particularly funny rap—for those of you not in the know, one of the necessities that Dee has, every show, is a small rug that gets duct taped down to the stage to keep the mic from thumping the floor. We’ve seen every variety of rug—from Oriental to factory remnant—but tonight? In Dee’s words: “Does EVERYTHING in Canada have to have a fucking maple leaf on it? Didn’t Bed Bath & Beyond have anything in their Spring series?”
Then…. In our other theme of the night: WHERE’S EDDIE NOW? Eddie seemed to keep disappearing. We don’t really know where he went…maybe to get some mustard for his guitar…but just as they were about to launch into “I Wanna Rock”…. We see Dee do his move that I call the “quarterback swivel”…. He looks to the right…to the left….calls the play…. Except he looks to the right (MAM in place) looks to the left…there’s Jay Jay….where’s Eddie? So the crowd chants ED-DIE ED-DIE and out strolls Eddie, laid back as ever! We loves ya’, man.
During “I Wanna Rock”, the guys lined up for a photo shot….a great one by the way—I hope someone from here snuck in a camera and took one to post—with Dee admonishing the camera bug with “Hurry up and shoot!”
The show seemed to end all too soon, especially with no drum solo. (I hope this was an exception and not the new trend—I just gotta have my cow bell!) For the encores, we were treated to “Come Out and Play”…and again….with Eddie taking a leave of absence. It was like “where’s Waldo” without the touque!
Dee gave the band intros, and we learned another fascinating Twisted factoid: for the past 30 years, Dee has mispronounced (as we all have) AJ’s last name. It is not “Pear-row”, which apparently translates to mean “dog” in Spanish. It’s pronounced “Pier-row”, with the emphasis on Row. Who knew? Did you?
They closed with a rousing version of S.M.F. there was a slight bobble of the lyrics, but being the sick muthas we are, no one cared. They left the stage at 9:30 PM, over 75 minutes of play time, and we were exhausted and exhilarated as usual. We did have our one “maple leaf douche bag of the night” and he was SUCH a douche, I’m not even going to say more about it. Except this: if you grope women in the audience, you’re a DOUCHE BAG, eh?
There was a special Meet N’ Greet (thank you to those of you who made this happen for us—you know who you are) it was the most unusual meet and greet ever. And for unbeknownst reasons, Arnold the Governator’s pants were in a frame backstage. Weird….
They had the crowd line up, single file, and they took photos with a casino photographer with THE ENTIRE BAND. Way cool. Can’t wait to see what it looks like! Of course, what happened though was that there was not time to meet OR greet, so the poor fans were constantly being told “DUDE! TURN AROUND!” otherwise, they’d get a memento photo of Twisted Sister…and the back of their head…. One fan dropped to the floor in gratitude and kissed Dee’s feet…. And before you say “that’s sad”…c’mon, don’t tell me you DIDN’T consider it at least once! Those of us from the slamboard applauded approvingly…we all felt the same way. We love you guys! Thank you for a fantastic show..and great kickoff to what will most definitely be a World Tour to remember.
To read an upcoming interview with Jay Jay French, check out www.AbsoluteUnderground.Ca I met a reporter there named Ira, who told me that his interview and review would appear in his rock magazine. The casino took photos but I don’t know where we’ll see those appear… Special cheers to SMF Canadian Cindee….Squeal…DCT and the Sikh wearing the pink turban, who agreed with me that REAL MEN WEAR PINK! Rock on.
And I believe this shall conclude the road report—a tip of the hat to our courteous, polite, well-behaved but hard rocking neighbors to the North (for us Yankees, anyway). A shout out to the kind and professional staff at the Red Robinson and a throw of the horns to the fantastic Twisted road crew. Well worth the two month delay!
Until next time my babies…
This is your faithful road reporter, trotting off… to cross the border for the long trip home.. with ten minutes to spare til hotel check out..