Artist: Twisted Sister
Venue: Nokia Theatre Times Square (New York, NY)
Opener: Jim Florentine & Don Jamieson
Label: Razor & Tie Entertainment
A few months ago I had the great idea about covering three distinct appearances in the NYC region in a 24 hour time frame and based on the timing and logistics of each place that I had to visit for that adventure it had been entirely possible to do. Such was the plan for my weekend once again as Winds Of Plague, Ensiferum and the mighty Twisted Sister all were doing shows within a similar space in time. Sadly the WoP show would not be made based on some dramatic schedule changes but the night and wee hours of the morning found me at the Ensiferum show and on its completion while I slept the rest of the dead, the visions of not only candy canes and sugar plumbs were going through my head but also the rousing dreams that were focused on the holiday madness of the Twisted Sister annual Christmas show. Tonight the Bad Boys of Rock & Roll would return for the second year in a row to the Nokia Theatre in Times Square to stuff our stockings in a manner that only they can do properly and when its all been added up this was the fourth year for the now holiday tradition to take place. Interestingly enough the band would opt to NOT have an opening musical act for this show and instead rely on the talents of comedians Jim Florentine and Don Jamieson who both act as co-hosts for the Eddie Trunk VH1 Classic program “That Metal Show”. I was told that each of them would do a short set of material and then we would get a little Sister going on, but my previous nights adventuring kept me from partaking in anything that they offered up. I asked some folks about it and some loved it while others chose to hang around with friends elsewhere until it was closer to the Twisted set time and even though this was the case the biggest gripe I heard was about too much dead time between any entertainment. The doors had actually opened at 6pm and Sister would not hit the stage until 9pm and that is a bit much if you asked me.
If you’d seen the show last year you would remember fondly the massive Santa’s Toy Factory with its impressive morphing machine and toy soldier dispenser along with bright neon “Santa” logo and giant candy canes. I was happy to find the set being used once again and I expected this to be the case based on how much it had to cost to make something like this come to life. This time around we found a head Elf directing the action and leading the audience in cheers as band member after band member arrived onto the stage. Out came AJ, then Mark “The Animal” followed by Jay Jay French and Eddie Ojeda. When Eddie came out, French walked over to him and pointed to him to get more applause. This was done because the guitarist had undergone emergency back surgery less than a week before and was back in action for the fans. Talk about a trooper. Space was cleared and that meant Santa Dee was coming out and last year he arrived on a sled that was pulled by mini KISS but this year he would upgrade to a team of four of the sexiest reindeer I’ve ever seen and it was a very good idea based on the response they got when the girls all became visible. “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” is the traditional starter for the show and Dee in his red Santa coat delivers half of the song while once again tossing out the candy canes and condoms to the audience. He quickly departs to return in his classic garb as the band throttles through the rest of the song. Next up would come an unexpected but very welcome “Don’t Let Me Down” from the bands classic “Stay Hungry” CD. The album recently celebrated its 25th Anniversary and the Sisters had been delivering a majority of or complete performances of the release since that historic day in their career. While it was the band’s 3rd full length album it was the one that sent them soaring and became a multi-platinum seller.
More Christmas tunes came with “White Christmas” and it seemed to be following how last year went by doing one holiday tune and then a classic track as also as expected another gem from “Stay Hungry” would come up with “The Beast”. Clearly the band was saving the releases biggest hits for later on in the performance. “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” was the next holiday hoedown to partake in and fans might be interested in knowing that the band just released a video for that song. It can be found on their website and it appears to feature footage from last year’s live show, even though the tune in the video does not appear to be the live version. The “oldest” Sister tune performed this evening came via “You Cant Stop Rock & Roll” from the second album, so if you were coming to this show and expected a lot of stuff from “Under The Blade” you were going to be a little disappointed. A friend told me how saddened he was that the tune “Under The Blade” had not been played at the shows he had seen around these holiday blasts and I teased him to “well, its just not Christmassy stuff dude”. His annoyed reply was “So “Shoot ‘Em Down” and “Burn In Hell” are Christmassy to you?”. I just replied “yes” to be a pain in the butt. “Deck The Halls” had Dee making sure all of us were singing along and he said “Come on NYC this is the closest you will get to a drinking song tonight” and everyone seemed to do alright with it. “The Price” led us into the holiday staple “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” and after the song Dee chided one of the audience members who didn’t seem to know that this was a reworked and morphed version of “We’re Not Gonna Take It”. I always love the singer’s stage banter because it keeps the night interesting. Two more from “SH” came up before a drum solo by A.J. Pero and while I love the dude’s playing, I would have sacrificed the solo for another tune or two for that matter. “Silver Bells” found the whole audience doing some call and response singing with Dee and then the absence of bassist Mendoza who kept disappearing for whatever reason during the tune. There seemed to had been a problem with his rig and this was happening on and off for the night which had to suck as he was trying to entertain the crowd. Another difference from last year was the use of a portable snow blower and very light sprays from above as opposed to a continual mini snow storm that we got. Maybe someone slipped on it last year or the band got saddled with the bill to clean it all up. Who knows, but the minimal snowing display for the show took a little bit away from the tune. At one point French told the audience about he does this stuff but is actually Jewish and has always considered himself a conflicted Jew since his family would put up a menorah and also a Christmas tree. He then showed us how his painted guitar when turned over showcased a menorah. A very nice touch and of course Dee informed him that he was a member of the lost “JewWopi” tribe which I will assume meant half Jewish and also Italian…..
The dedication for “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” was as nice as it always is but when the duet part that is sung by Lita Ford on the recording, and actually found the rocker coming onto the stage last year, was this time around performed by Constantine Maroulis who was once a contestant on “American Idol” and currently stars in the Broadway musical “Rock Of Ages”. I had to say that this was not as much of a treat as was Lita and it was very weird seeing the female lead part sung by Maroulis against the part that is done by Dee. Some of the audience enjoyed it but a larger part of them sighed a big “who cares” as the singer seemingly tried to out belt Dee during the tune. I think that it would have been cooler to have Adam Lambert up there or even Chris Daughtry. Dee spoke to the crowd about his constantly being asked for new material and he teased us about how the new songs for any band are usually bathroom or beer breaks. Based on this he spoke of the song “30” which they wrote and placed on the bonus CD for the re-release of “Stay Hungry” and said for us to go to the bathroom if we had to. It was pretty funny but the singer should realize that the thing that sends the audience to the bathroom the most is the drum solo. A sad truth for the percussionists of the world – believe me. Santa would come out with either no pants or very short ones under his coat and he asked the guys what they wanted for Christmas. Among the requests came French’s wish for the Mets to “not suck” next year and when he said that all of the crowd’s Met fans applauded. Dee pulled Santa close to him and said he was going to whisper in his ear what he wanted and then disciplined someone who ruined the joke for him before he yelled “I Wanna Rock”. The crowd was very, very loud for this one and even more than they would be for “Heavy Metal Christmas”. The Ozzy statue returned for the number and this time was rolled back and forth on the stage by the elves. The band introductions bear mentioning because some interesting stuff was brought to light. By now everyone knows the names of the Twisted Sister guys but many did not know how guitarist Eddie Ojeda had been rushed to the hospital for emergency back surgery on the Wednesday before this show. He was again up and running and sent a shout out to his doctors. Jay Jay was introduced as the only person Dee knows who still pays $150 for the massive rent controlled apartment that he grew up in. When Dee’s intros came up it was French’s turn to tease him and say how Dee’s look was first adopted by Bette Midler, then Christina Aguilera, onto Sarah Jessica Parker and now Lady GaGa. Very amusing.
Closing up would be the bands signature number “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and before the song began Dee called out a couple of dozen of NYC’s Fire Department to join them on the stage for the song. There were so many that at times you could not see the band and I think that this made it difficult to enjoy the final number for more of the audience than it did less. Yes, this was a nice thing to do for the firefighters, but perhaps at a specialty gig for them as opposed to the annual Christmas show were fans want Twisted Sister and perhaps some super cool special guest surprises. The firemen were very “festive” for lack of a better word and were singing along in the microphones as well and I overheard one fan next to me saying how this had ruined the song for her. It was fun for some parts of the audience but not others. Maybe they should have gotten a couple of the world championship Yankees to partake in the song, but I guess that would not have worked with the band apparently being Mets fans. In the end the show was a lot of fun and would deliver a total of seven tunes from the “Stay Hungry” release and eight from “Twisted Christmas” with those other couple of random selections tossed in to the mix. Knowing that they filmed this evening’s show and apparently did the same the last time around as well, lets me hope that a full live DVD of this presentation comes out sometime soon. Yes, they did already release a DVD from the Starland Ballroom show a couple of years ago but there is enough difference in how they do the show now to make a new one interesting to fans. Only time will tell. The similarities between the shows since this began makes the need for a new album of material along this theme to be necessary for the show to work and continue to keep their fans coming back for more. There are plenty of Christmas songs to rework and a lot of Twisted Sister songs so let’s see what happens with that. I know that I will be there to help support it if they bring it all back again.
This Thursday, December 10th 2009, members of Twisted Sister, Stryper and some of the cast from “Rock Of Ages” including Maroulis who performed with the band tonight would be making an appearance down at the NY Stock Exchange to light their Christmas Tree and as I understand perform a couple of songs. It was announced that Dee Snider would not be present for this little bit of fun which is a shame but the singer has other commitments during that time frame.
1. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
2. Don’t Let Me Down
3. White Christmas
4. The Beast
5. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
6. You Can’t Stop Rock & Roll
7. Deck The Halls
8. The Price
9. Oh Come All Ye Faithful
10. Stay Hungry
11. Burn In Hell
12. A.J. Pero Drum Solo
13. Silver Bells
14. I’ll Be Home For Xmas
16. I Wanna Rock
17. Heavy Metal Xmas
18. We’re Not Gonna Take It
I liked the bright look that the marquee was presenting to the tourist ridden streets of Times Square this evening so snapped a couple of shots of them for good measure. Once inside I saw this rather prominent thing.
Confusing right? I admit that this caught me a little puzzled as well but upon investigation I learned that this was supposed to be a Christmas Tree assembled from a wide (and weird) assortment of guitars. Based on the gathering crowd it was a little tricky to get a proper shot of it but we did what we could. Here’s another from a little more distance.
This next shot is the complete set list that was being performed tonight and based on my vantage point this comes from Eddie Ojeda’s side. As you can see this was a careful blend of the “Twisted Christmas” CD and “Stay Hungry” for the most part with a little extra seasoning.
The elves prepared the stage for the bands arrival and the lead elf was guiding the function of the giant doll maker chamber and while he would open up the door, another elf above would pour in the concoction that would deliver us one of the members of the band or something different. First out of the chamber came a Toy Solder.
While he did this another couple of elves brought out some guitars.
First band member out of the Toy Chamber was drummer A.J. Pero
Next out was the ever intimidating Mark “The Animal” Mendoza on bass mayhem. We recently did an e-interview with him about the show we were set to attend and you can read that article HERE.
Coming up next was Eddie “Fingers” Ojeda and everyone was happy to see him walking onto the stage as he had recently undergone emergency back surgery. He actually missed one performance and had a stand in, so it was awesome to find him up and around and able to perform. He was followed by Jay Jay who made sure to point to the guitarist to extra applause.
From there the stage was cleared of some space and out came the sleigh that was directed by Santa Dee and pulled by four very sexy reindeer-ettes. Last year we found the sled being pulled by mini-KISS, but I think that I preferred this upgrade just a little bit more.
These reindeer ladies sure enjoyed the attention that the folks in the photo pit and front row barrier were giving them and were snapping shots like celebrity had just arrived and that moment would come in a second as Santa Dee made his first appearance for the night.
Ladies and gents, the most sinister elf of them all, Santa Dee Snider!!!
Here’s a couple of shots of Santa Dee’s souped up sled. If you look closely you can see the engine underneath it which I assume helps the Main Metal Elf deliver his goodies to the boys and girls of the world.
When Dee arrives to the melodies of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” he does so with a sack loaded with candy canes and condoms (I think I finally get the joke), and he tosses these “presents” out to the fans who eagerly snap them up. No, the condoms do not have the Twisted Sister Christmas label on them but wow what a good idea that would be.
You better not pout when Santa Dee is coming to town boys and girls. He means business that’s for sure.
After the first portion of the song has completed and the sleigh is pulled off the stage the tempo increases and Dee disappears only to return in his classic Twisted Sister uniform which you see below. The party has only just begun my friends.
During the show Dee mentioned how the band was selling lumps of coal this evening and you could use it for the a-hole on your Christmas list. During a quick break that I took to see the other merchandise, I found out that he was only kidding and the merchandise guy looked at me like I was crazy but agreed that such an item would have probably sold pretty well. Food for thought Mr. Sister, good idea would be a tour book just like the old days. They were selling a cool black Santa’s hat with a Twisted Sister logo.
Now that our little introduction to the fun has completed you can be rest assured that there is much more to this story as well as plenty of other photos to enjoy, so if you have not done so already be sure to click the bands “Twisted Christmas” logo banner at the top of this post or to make it easier on you just click HERE
Before we go, we did want to share the surprise running into with the fine folks over at Wood Violins. You know the name I am sure, as this is the company run by violinist emeritus Mark Wood who we used to enjoy in the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
Mark stepped down from TSO earlier this year to focus on his company and his own Mark Wood Experience shows where he works hard at getting music awareness in students. Admirable cause and we look forward to catching one of their shows when they come to the city with it.
Official Website: http://www.twistedsister.com