"Live at Wacken: The Reunion"

(Eagle Rock)

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RATING: 8.5/10

TWISTED SISTER is one of those bands that must be experienced live to fully appreciate. Everyone knows about the outrageous tough-guys-in-drag image and those legendary videos for "I Wanna Rock" and "We're Not Gonna Take It", but the quintet's domain has always been the stage. TWISTED SISTER is about the complete rowdy rock 'n' roll package and they absolutely killed it live over the course of 9,000-plus shows beginning in 1972 when guitarist Jay Jay French formed the band until the unceremonious split at the beginning of 1988. So it is not that it is any surprise that the reunited originals — including a previously reunion-opposed Mark "The Animal" Mendoza — tore it up at 2003's 110-minute set at the Wacken Open Air Festival with the five original members, but that they did it with a boundless energy and crowd-command that belied their ages to a ridiculous extent, as though they were destroying a U.K. club in 1982. There are other parts of "Live at Wacken: The Reunion" DVD/CD worth discussing, but none come close to the awe-inspiring performance of TWISTED SISTER in front of 40,000 heavy metal maniacs.

First things first. "Live at Wacken: The Reunion" was originally released in 2004 and has now been reissued. The Wacken concert is a career-spanning set interspersed with insightful interviews from the original Sisters who go into some detail about the acrimonious breakup and the events leading up to the full reunion, including the NYPD and FDNY Widows and Orphans Fund Benefit show, as well as the story of the re-recording of "Stay Hungry" as told in one of the DVD extras. A value-adding CD of live cuts from 1980 (Detroit and Portchester), 1982 (London), and 2003 (Wacken) is also included and is a must-have for long-time fans.

While the interviews and extras are well worth your time, it is the Wacken concert that makes this such a terrific DVD. Whether you're a diehard fan or a newcomer, you will be blown away at the masterfulness of the TWISTED SISTER live spectacle. As noted, the fact that this raging, animalistic performance is delivered by a group of aging musicians and family men whose '80s heydays are well past them is the real stunner. The studio albums just do not do TWISTED SISTER justice, as proven by the manner in which each of these songs are brought to life. They aren't just playing, they're slaying. Dee Snider is the undisputed leader of the pack and has the crowd eating out of his hand. Snider flies around the stage like a 20-year-old, belting out classics like "You Can't Stop Rock and Roll", "Under the Blade", "Shoot 'em Down", and "Burn in Hell". His connection with the crowd is unparalleled and the extended-version sing-alongs on numbers like "I Wanna Rock" are anything but cliché: they are the stuff of ritualistic frenzy. Snider and his band mates, including a monstrous Mendoza who literally assaults his instrument and a rhythmic beast in A.J. Pero, play every note like it's their last and leave it all on the stage. This is high voltage heavy metal and first rate showmanship from a gang of crazed New Yorkers that care about one thing and one thing only; giving the fans their money's worth…many times over. Upstage and outperform TWISTED SISTER? Forget about it!


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