Report & Setlist for Starland Ballroom, Sayreville, NJ 13-June, 2015


This is gonna be short n’ sweet, babies! I leave for the long trek to JFK airport for the flight to Norway in just one hour. Consider this your Reader’s Digest version of the Armadillo Road Report! (those of you under 40, ask your parents to get that reference!)

I described the show in Vegas as raw—the word of the day for the Starland Ballroom gig was POWER. Twisted Sister played in their natural setting—a Jersey club—I don’t know if it was the sound system, the amazing Jersey crowd or the boys just feeling comfortable to do what they do best—but Twisted Sister blew the roof of the place Saturday night!  Proof that while pyro and big screen effects enhance a show, it’s the power and adrenalin that makes a great performance!

After perhaps working through some nerves in Vegas, Jersey provided not only a familiar venue, but the audience was absolutely filled with friends, family and hardcore SMFs. There were so many friends in the audience that it felt intimate and comfortable. Many of A.J.’s family members were there—including Anthony Pero, Jr. who thanked the audience for all of their support these past few weeks. A.J. would have been truly overwhelmed at the outpouring of support.

I’m gonna start with the setlist this time:

  1. What You Don’t Know
  2. The Kids Are Back
  3. Stay Hungry
  4. The Beast
  5. Shoot ‘Em Down
  6. You Can’t Stop Rock n’ Roll
  7. I Believe in Rock n’ Roll
  8. Under the Blade
  9. I Am, I’m Me
  10. We’re Not Gonna Take It
  11. The Fire Still Burns
  12. The Price
  13. Burn in Hell
  14. I Wanna Rock

Encores

  1. Tear It Loose
  2. S. M.F.

We had two fantastic opening acts—Billy Mira and the Hitmen (whose bass player is also a Twisted Sister road crew/tech), gave the crowd some great rockabilly, including a fantastic Stray Cats cover of “Rock This Town.” We were a little nervous how the crowd, mostly a denim & leather bunch, would react to velvet suits but good rock n’ roll is good rock n’ roll. (and it was quite fashionable too!). Everyone I spoke to, really enjoyed them! Four By Fate was the second opener—I’ve seen them open for Twisted Sister twice before—a fantastic act! New lineup features Tod Howarth John Regan, Rob Affuso and Patrick James. (I met Patrick’s mother, by the way, a lovely lady!) Four By Fate played some of the new album—keep an eye for the next release from this band—you won’t regret adding it to your playlist!

I’m gonna bypass all the good pre-show goodies—except for one—we had Double-Dee’s in the audience! (little shout-out to Pinny for that!) Not the boobs…the Dees! I spotted a father & son duo in line, both fully decked out in Stay Hungry regalia and war paint. Love to see good parenting—raising ‘em right, I say! Another quick Road Report shout out to S.M.F. Shane and his lady, who made the trek across the pond from Europe to attend! Well done, mate!

Alright….on to the show! (clock is ticking here)

We had a few new things this evening—most notably, the new backdrop, featuring the Tour’s featured design—a special logo/tribute to The Sound of Thunder, A.J. Pero! A beautifully designed black TS logo surrounded by blue storm clouds and lightning, A.J. would have loved it. It was rather big, however—way to big for a small club—even Dee commented about how the audience could see a tiny fraction of the backdrop but Europe fans will get to see it in all it’s glory. We also had new drum skins—Mike Portnoy, all on his own, as a special tribute, broke out the clear set with the memorial ribbon TS logo—a nice compliment to the clear drum kit he used Saturday night. (Enormous kit too—and what a sound!) It did give us some good Dee-isms—who commented that the clear drum kit allowed us to see the little dog tattoo on Portnoy’s leg, which Dee commented, “isn’t metal!” I disagree, however. If it’s on Mike Portnoy…it’s metal. Period.

You can always tell when a place is gonna rock when the crowd is screaming the words to “Long Way to the Top.” Jersey was so full of emotion, so ready for this—it was a huge celebration of A.J.’s life.   It was Twisted Sister at their best—full volume, high energy, tight playing—it’s hard to believe that Portnoy has only rehearsed with them a handful of times!

The crowd sang along the entire night, which tells me we had a lot of Twisted faithfuls out there. “The Beast” and “Shoot ‘em Down” had Animal pounding the hell of his bass! And my personal favorite, “I Am, I’m Me” was just thrilling to hear live. I hope they keep this in the setlist all the way through til the end.

A quick Dee-ism—while the fans are dreading the end of Twisted Sister (2016 Being the Forty & F**k It Tour) Dee commented that he was looking forward to it. While the rest of us wanna rock, Dee just wants to eat! Seriously. Look at the man’s body. All he really wants is a muffin with his morning coffee. Ah, the simple things in life. Rock first, muffin later.

During “Burn In Hell,” similar to Vegas, when it was time for A.J.’s solo, a screen lowered down from center stage, and there were quite a few tears in the audience, watching and hearing footage of A.J.’s drum solo from the Faroe Islands. One of many emotional moments Saturday night—and one that for those who were in attendance, will never forget!

“Tear It Loose” was a late setlist change, and a really good one at that! Although I love hearing “Come Out and Play,” I’ll always take something off the “Under The Blade” album!

My own family were in the house—including my brother, who has never been to a heavy metal/rock concert before—in his words—“Wow. That….was…AWESOME!”

I hope that Dee’s latest tweet isn’t true–that we may have just witnessed the last tri-state show in Twisted Sister’s history. If Twisted Sister delivers to goods thru 2016 with the intensity we saw Saturday night, they will be going out with a bang!

With that, my babies, I’m off to catch a cab…then a train…then another train…and the airtrain…and then the long flight to Norway!

See you in Europe babies!

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