Old Bridge is a town in New Jersey that was the heartland for the metal scene on the east coast of the USA in the 1980s. The Metal Militia helped out up and coming metal bands back in those days. They would give them a place to stay and get them to play gigs in basements and stores around town. Johnny Z had the famed record store Rock’n Roll Heaven and he was the founder of record label Megaforce Records which gave many of the classic metal bands a great start in their early careers. These bands included the monsters of metal today such as Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax but included so many more.
Superstorm Sandy was the deadliest hurricane to hit the eastern seaboard of the USA in 2012. It devastated parts of New Jersey and many people are still struggling financially as a result. The Old Bridge Metal Militia decided to do something to help out. The idea of a reunion concert based around a gig that Johnny Z organized in 1983 in Staten Island to raise some money for charity to help the victims of Sandy came to fruition on May 11th, 2013 in the township of Freehold, New Jersey. In addition to help raise more money they were raffling off signed instruments by bands like Slayer and Metallica. I am happy to say I was lucky enough to be in the crowd to see this special show which was sold out in advance with around 1,800 people attending.
This was a 30 year reunion concert with some of the best metal bands to either come from or play in New Jersey back in the 80′s. Just check out this lineup who all donated their time to the cause and played a 45 minute set:
Lords of Mercy a local Jersey metal band opened the show in style. They were then followed by The Rods (New York) – Lead by David “Rock” Feinstein (a cousin of Ronnie James Dio) on vocals and guitars, Gary Bordanaro on bass and Carl Canedy on drums played a great set with a lot of humour about the old days. The Rods first formed in 1978 and played at one of the original concerts organized by Johnny Z in 1983 in Staten Island. After a long hiatus since 1986, they reformed in 2011. I am glad they did as it was a brilliant performance on the night and included “The Night Lives To Rock“, “Let Them Eat Metal” and “Power Lover“.
Raven (UK) were up next and also played at that 1983 concert. One of the many New Wave of British Heavy Metal bands that metal fans love so much (myself included). Raven (brothers John and Mark Gallagher - vocals/bass and lead guitar respectively and Joe Hasselvander on drums)formed in 1974 and have been rocking on ever since. They played a blistering set that included “Rock Until You Drop“, “Breaking You Down” and “Don’t Need Your Money“. John still hits those high notes perfectly. They were about to rip into one last song when they got cut off. A shame as the crowd were loving it but Twisted Sister were up next!
Twisted Sister the legends of heavy metal who started in New York but played many a gig in New Jersey before they became MTV stars and were the main draw card for most people to this show (I had wanted to see them play live for 30 years). The hair, makeup and costumes are no longer there, but the awesome vocals of Dee Snider and the music of the band (the same members of when they were at the peak of their success in the 1980s: Jay Jay French - lead guitar, Eddie “Fingers” Ojeda – lead guitar, Mark “The Animal“ Mendoza – Bass and A.J. Pero on drums) are still as hot as ever!
You would expect that they would have been the headlining act of the night, but the promoters wanted to save that for a Jersey band, so Twister Sister came on in the middle of the show (which Dee Snider fairly couldn’t help but comment on!). They were happy to be there to support the charity and Dee mentioned the girls of Jersey had always shown them a “very, very good” time over the years (nudge nudge, wink wink), so they were more than willing to give something back!
Twisted Sisters blistering set included ”What You Don’t Know (Sure
Can Hurt You)“, ”Destroyer“, “Burn In Hell“, “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock” (huge sing along moments!). Dave “The Snake” Sabo of Skid Row (a New Jersey band formed in 1986) also joined Twisted Sister to play guitar on “Under the Blade“. Unfortunately after Twisted Sister left the stage a big part of the crowd did likewise (apparently the beer started to run out too!), it would have been great if they could have played longer, but the show must go on!
Anvil (formed in 1978 in Canada) – the thrash metal band who never gave up came on next (Dee Snider said he was warming the crowd up for them). They also played at that 1983 gig in Staten Island. Steve “Lips” Kudrow, Robb Reiner and Sal Italiano played a great set including ”666“, “Winged Assassins” and a couple of new tracks from their upcoming album “Hope In Hell” including the title track and “Eat Your Words” which were both played live for the first time.
“Lips” played the guitar on one song using his famed dildo which is always an amusing highlight! They finished their set with the metal anthem “Metal on Metal“. Like all performances in the night, it was never going to be long enough but a lot of fun anyway. \m/
TT Quick (NJ formed in 1980) – local legends that tore the stage up to end the show (despite some microphone problems at the start of the set) and included their song “Child of Sin” and “Metal of Honour“. Lead singer Mark Tornillo performs these days with German metal act Accept, so this was a really special reunion for the night.
There was meant to be an all-star jam at the end of the night, but things seemed to be running a bit late and we had to take off (not sure if it happened?). Although John Gallagher from Raven briefly joined TT Quick to sing on cover of Black Sabbath’s “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” at the end of their set.
In addition the guys from That Metal Show - Eddie Trunk (MC for the night), Jim Florentine and Don Jamieson who all grew up in New Jersey and went to all the metal gigs back in the day were a big part of the show. These guys have kept metal in the public view through their TV talk show and radio shows and they reminisced about the old days and the clubs that no longer exist. It must have been a crazy and fun time back then?
It was a memorable night, certainly one to remember and something special for all involved. Especially for this one Aussie who grew up on the “wrong side” of the World when it came to the metal scene of the 1980′s. I found this link on youtube that has highlights from the show, please take a look and enjoy. The event ended up raising over $40,000 for charity which is fantastic! \m/(>.<)\m/