Saturday, April 2, 2011

Twisted Sister/38 Special/Sebastian Bach - August 21, 2005

I’ve only seen Twisted Sister once and sometimes I wonder why I haven’t gone out of my way to see them more than that. In 2005, local New Jersey radio station WDHA held their annual Rock The Park Festival at Yogi Berra Stadium in Montclair, New Jersey. The headliners for that year’s festival were Twisted Sister. I was excited, because I had never seen Twisted Sister in concert before and this was a great opportunity to witness them live. Metal Eddie was up for attending the show with me, so on a sunny, Sunday afternoon in August, we hit the road and met up at Yogi Berra Stadium for a day of hard rock and good times.

I grew up listening to Stay Hungry. It was one of the first albums that I ever owned, and I played it over and over and over again throughout my junior high and high school years. Anthems like “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” and “Stay Hungry” were impressionable to my young, developing, music soul. These songs communicated the rock message with ferocity --- stand up for what you believe in and don’t take any guff from anyone. So while the opening acts of Sebastian Bach and .38 Special were a nice addition to the concert, it was Twisted Sister that I paid to see.

Sebastian Bach was the first “known” act to hit the stage. The opening band was a contest winner that has never been heard from since. While I loved Skid Row back in the day, I was never a fan of Bach live. During the 00s I thought that his voice sounded like pure crap. He was always huffing, puffing, and having trouble singing. His solo songs were known by almost no one and the classic Skid Row material sounded like it was being performed by a cover band. It was sad to see how far Bach had fallen. I was disappointed by his performance and it really turned me off from Bach altogether. I don’t believe that I’ve listened to any of his music since.

Following Sebastian Bach to the stage was .38 Special, a band that I was also seeing for the first time. I’ll admit I did not know their body of work that well. Sure, I knew the big hits like “Hold On Loosely,” “Caught Up In You,” “Second Chance,” and “Back Where You Belong,” but other than that, I knew nothing from .38 Special. I did, however, listen to them with an open mind and no expectations. From what I recall, and I admit that it’s not much, the band sounded great and of course their big hits were loved by all. As a lead in to Twisted Sister, .38 Special did a solid job.

Twisted Sister came to this show having announced it would be their last public appearance as Twisted Sister (which has since been proven false). At the time, it meant that it would be my first and last opportunity to see Twisted Sister in all their makeup and costumed glory. After a long day of listening to contest winners, a horrid Sebastian Bach, and a decent .38 Special, I was more than ready to see Twisted Sister rock the park.

The August sun descended over the horizon and twilight fell upon Yogi Berra Stadium as Twisted Sister took the stage. I have no idea what they opened with, or what songs were performed, but I know the band did an excellent job of entertaining the crowd. Big hits like “I Wanna Rock,” “Stay Hungry,” “You Can’t Stop Rock And Roll,” “Captain Howdy,” and “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” were definitely performed and the crowd roared their appreciation.

At one point, early in the night, Dee Snider took a moment to complain about the concert promoter. Apparently there was some issue between the promoter and the band and Dee Snider was not happy about it at all. While it was hard to be clear what the exact issue was, it came down to the band getting ripped off and almost not performing. However, Twisted Sister was not going to do that to their fans. Dee exclaimed that there was no way the band was letting their fans down, but that the promoter was gonna get what was coming to him. The band then plowed into “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” which drew a huge reaction from the audience.

Rousing the crowd up with both their amazing music, and the ongoing tirades from frontman Dee Snider, Twisted Sister gave a great performance packed with energy and ambition. Running across the “postage stamp” sized stage, which Snider complained about on more than one occasion, Dee gave his all for the Jersey crowd. The rest of the band followed his lead and delivered the hits in heavy metal fashion.

The end of the night found Metal Eddie and I happy about the concert, but somewhat disappointed that Twisted Sister was no longer going to perform in their makeup and costumes. It’s a big part of what helped brand the band, and while I understand their decision to move in a new direction, it was hard to let go of the end of an era. However, it actually wasn’t the last time that Twisted Sister performed in full gear, but on that night, we did not know any better. I bid goodbye to my childhood heroes who went out in style. The SMFs came, conquered, and left the fans wanting more.

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