November 27, 2005

Concert Review: Twisted Sister w/ Yngwie Malmsteen, Sebastian Bach, Lynch Mob

The date, 11/26/05, the time, approximately 7:00pm, the place, the Mid-Hudson Civic Center. The start of a night of old school, rock and role debauchery. Or so everyone there hoped. The end result of the night was a bit of a mixed bag.

Twisted Sister was actually supposed to play here way back in July, as a part of WASP's "American Metal Blast" tour. They had to cancel, which, apparently, ticked off a lot of fans. I still went to that WASP show, and had a great time. Dee and the boys quickly rescheduled their visit, and I waited with eager anticipation. It seems the fans may have won out, getting the opportunity to see these other three acts on the same bill. On to the show!

It was about 7:25 when out opening act took to the stage. The opening chords of "Unchain the Night" introduced us to Lynch Mob, led by the former Dokken guitar maestro, George Lynch. That was followed by "Into the Fire." In addition to Lynch's masterful guitar, he brought along a special guest with him, drummer Vinny Appice (Derringer, Black Sabbath, Dio). I really wanted to like the performance, but the mix was doing all that it could to prevent that from happening. George's guitar was too low, Marten Andersson's bass was nearly non-existent, and the singer's (whose name I did not catch) mic was overdone to the point of distortion. As the set wore on, the mix gradually improved, the only constant was the sound of Appice's drums, they always sounded great! Lynch was on point, working his magic on the fretboard. I have seen Lynch Mob a few times, and while this was good, it was not the best performance I have seen from them. They played for about 40 minutes, closing with Lynch's signature instrumental, "Mr. Scary" followed with "Tooth and Nail".

In between sets, we returned to the lobby to grab a bite to eat and check out the merchandise. They were selling the usual array of CD's and t=shits, at prices that can only be considered extreme. There were also items like Vinny Appice's drumsticks, Yngwie Malmsteen guitar picks, a George Lynch poster of him with his many guitars, and a Twisted Sister thong. Surprisingly, there didn't seem to be an Sebastian Bach items.

We returned inside, just as they were finishing setting the stage for Sebastian Bach. Tonight's Bach performance also featured a special guest, Wolf Hoffman from the German metal act Accept. I was never a big Accept fan, but they had some classic tracks in the 80's. The lights came up and they tore right into "Slaves to the Grind" followed with an earlier Skid Row track, "Big Guns". Sebastian Bach has got to be one of the best frontmen working today. Besides having a great voice, he is an absolute cluster of energy. He roams the stage like a caged beast, never letting his voice falter, and when he isn't singing, his mic is being swung around his head. Bach and crew even had a surprise for us, while playing "Monkey Business" they stopped and broke into a cover the biggest song from Hoffman's Accept, "Balls to the Wall", before finishing back into "Monkey Business". Sebastian kept his crowd interaction to a minimum, saying he wanted to play as much as he could due to a mere 40 minute stage time, which actually went over, playing about 45. Their set concluded with "Youth Gone Wild". He left the crowd wanting more. Sadly, their performance was plagued by some of the same sound issues that hurt Lynch Mob, volume and distortion first among them.
Here is a near complete set list:
1. Slave to the Grind
2. Big Guns
3. Here I Am
4. The Threat
5. 18 and Life
6. Monkey Business...
7. ...Balls to the Wall...
6. ...Monkey Business (cont.)
8. I Remember You
9. Youth Gone Wild

Bach's banner was taken down, drum kits were switched, and keyboards were set up, and the wall of Marshal's were turned on. That could only mean one thing, Yngwie Malmsteen's appearance was imminent. Once again, the lights went down, and when they were brought up Malmsteen was front and center beginning his shredding in front of a trio of smoke pillars. Yngwie is a player who I have always recognized as being a first rate player, but I never followed him all that closely. Because of my deficiency in Malmsteen history, I am unable to name any of his songs, nor have been able to locate a set list for this show. However, what I did witness, for the second time, was Malmsteen's impressive skill with the ax. I would have to say that my biggest problem with Yngwie is that his music becomes a bit repetitive and boring to me. That isn't to say that I was any less enthralled with his live performance. Yngwie just tore it up, his blazing speed and technical accuracy, combined with his flamboyant stage presence is something to behold. Yngwie is constantly swinging his guitar around, or playing it over his head, plus kicking his pointy boots in the air. He is a first rate showman straight out of the 80's, not letting the times affect his style. The near hour long set was mostly solo pieces played by the maestro. He played like there was no tomorrow. The mix was the best so far, everything was loud and clear. The final solo segment culminated with Yngwie ripping the strings off his guitar, while playing it with near every body part, then kneeling down in prayer to the guitar gods and threw his guitar back over his head to a waiting roadie. The set came to a close with the one song I do recognize, "Far Beyond the Sun". Great set.

Finally, the moment that everyone had been waiting 4 months for. The time was drawing close for Twisted Sister to take the stage. The PA system was playing AC/DC, lyrics familiar to all, "It's a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll!" We are all ready, ready to have our heads rocked. The lights went up and Dee and the boys were playing "What You Don't Know" whole the crowd went crazy. You never would have been able to tell it was not sold out by the noise being generated by the crowd. Song 2 was "The Kids Are Back", and while they were playing well, trouble was afoot. There was a popping sound emanating from the speakers, and it was getting worse. It turns out that it was being caused by Dee's microphone, they switched to the corded backup mic while they tried to correct the problem, this repeated for about 3 or 4 mic switches before the problem was corrected. That was an inexcusable problem, but after it was corrected, the rest of the set was pretty damn good. Watching Dee, you can see where guys like Bach got their inspiration. Dee owns a crowd, he can hold them in the palm of his hand and play them like marionettes. In between songs we learn that this is most played venue in Twisted Sister's career, a home away from home. The local radio station was one of the first in the US to put their music into rotation. The band was in full costume, and loving every minute. The set was peppered with a mix of the classics and lesser played cuts. Among the surprises was the Strangeland inspiring "Captain Howdy", "Don't Let Me Down", and "The Price". During "Burn in Hell" we were treated to a great drum solo from AJ Perro, can this guy play, or what? While the mix was pretty good, there were times when Mark Mendoza's bass was not that noticeable, and Jay Jay French and Eddie Ojeda's guitars were a little overblown. Overall, it was pretty good.

Set List:
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 and Roll
7. The Fire Still Burns
8. Knife in the Back
9. We're Not Gonna Take It
10. Don't Let Me Down
11. Burn in Hell (w/ drum solo)
12. The Price
13. I Wanna Rock
14. Under the Blade
15. SMF

While the bands all performed well, the night was marred by poor audio mixing. Granted, the Civic Center is not known for being a good place for sound. I guess I have been spoiled by the past few shows I have attended there which have sounded incredible. Among those acts are Billy Idol, Ill Nino, Disturbed, Anthrax, and Judas Priest. I find the quality here to be poor and the problems inexcusable. It really brought the evening down a few pegs.

Still, I cannot deny that I had a great time. Seeing all of these guys together on the same stage was a blast. I have found the shows featuring older acts to be a lot more fun than those with just the current acts, but that is a column for another time.

The bottom line is that if you have an opportunity to see these guys live, any of them, do it! Just hope that your venue doesn't suffer from the audio problems I suffered through.


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