Over the years, Bloodstock Open Air has been the stage for some seriously special and one-off performances, but this surely takes the win. For the last time ever on UK soil, playing their farewell tour ‘Forty and Fuck It’, glam metal heroes Twisted Sister are here to melt our faces off, fifteen minutes fashionably late of course. A photo montage of old tour memories plays over AC/DC’s ‘It’s a long way to the top (if you wanna rock and roll)’ and the tightly packed arena is already clapping along in anticipation.
Taking to the stage with his signature permed silver mane, ferociously pink mic stand and a flowing denim tailcoat, Dee Snider hasn’t lost a single bit of that performance quality that we’ve come to expect from those original great frontmen, and the band power up with ‘Stay Hungry’ and ‘The Kids Are Back’.
Lying on his back at the edge of the stage, Dee lets his hair dangle towards the crowd before racing around amidst giant flame cannons for ‘Burn in Hell’. Yelling out to the crowd “Bloodstock! The only true metal festival in the whole fucking UK… not those fucking assholes at Download…” to a mighty roar of appreciation from the crowd, Dee strikes gold. There’s always been a bit of banter (and backlash) between the two festivals so team BOA is suitably rowdy in response.
Looking out at the stage-lit sea of faces (and questioning the gustatory offerings at BOA – “Mexican doughnuts sounds delicious, is that not one thing?”) Dee’s easy going patter has everyone on side, it’s hard not to like a band who don’t take themselves too seriously. ‘Destroyer’ and ‘Like a Knife in the Back’ go down a treat but it’s ‘You Can’t Stop Rock and Roll’ that really gets the arena jumping, in the words of Dee – “hashtag fuck yeah”.
Speaking of their late drummer AJ Pero who sadly died last year, the band introduce Dream Theatre legend Mike Portnoy, who came on board because AJ reportedly said “If anything ever happens to me… I want Mike to do it”. Sailing into classic hit ‘I am (I’m me)’ Twisted Sister are as loud, proud and rowdy as they ought to be, especially as they were subjected to being on Top of the Pops the first time round for this song in the UK. However, ‘I Wanna Rock’ – the anthem of rock fans on road trips the world-over is what we’ve been waiting for. There’s nothing quite like a whole arena full of people throwing horns up and yelling their little black hearts out.
Promising this is a real ‘final tour’ Dee jokes “…this is no Scorpions, Judas Priest, Ozzy Osbourne last tour… who’s got a final tour tshirt? I know I do… Twisted Sister is saying goodbye FOR REAL” and as the crowd, trained in the very British tradition of pantomime reply booo’s in response, the band laugh and say “Yes! That’s the appropriate reaction! Sometimes people clap!”.
Likening their farewell to an Irish funeral instead of a sad affair and lamenting on the greats we’ve lost in the last couple of years, Twisted Sister pay tribute to Dio, AJ and Lemmy “It doesn’t feel like festival season without Lemmy and Motorhead doing shows” and dedicate ‘The Price’ to all of them, asking the crowd to light up the arena with phone screens and lighters.
‘I Believe in Rock and Roll’ and ‘Under the Blade’ sees the band engage in a bit of synchronized headbanging, we approve, we’re traditionalists, and after a quick statement on the recent events in Orlando and Paris “There are people out there trying to stop us having a good time… Twisted Sister says fuck them!” it’s onto the next huge hit ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’. Finishing up with Rolling Stones cover ‘It’s Only Rock n’Roll (But I like It)’. The crowd participation element of screaming ‘but I like it’ “kinda death metally” has Dee and the band in stitches (clearly Bloodstock is the only place this would work) and they return triumphantly for an encore of ‘Come Out and Play’, ‘Shoot Em Down' and their swan song ‘SMF’.
Going out in a wave of on stage sparks and toasty pyro, it’s the perfect farewell show, Forty and Fuck It is right – this is a band who sound so good they could probably have gone on forever. After Forty years of metal mayhem, maybe it’s time they went and did whatever the hell they want, knowing that their last tour was probably one of their best. Thanks for the music and the memories Twisted Sister, you sick motherfuckers.
All photos © A. Hyams 2016. Do not use without permission.