For a guy whose resume includes songwriting, screenwriting, acting, hosting various radio and TV programs, and promoting a number of charitable causes, Dee Snider apparently still has some excess energy to burn. When Snider performs, it’s like watching a marathon runner in training. Sweat drenched, the rocker sprints up and down the stage in a mad fury. He not only proves he has an inexhaustible endurance for this game, but also a genuine joy to be playing in it again. It’s refreshing to see someone who exudes such enthusiasm for his craft, especially considering he’s been active for well over forty years.
The evening of August 25, 2018 at The Rose Music Center, in Huber Heights, Ohio, was no exception. It was a perfect night for an outdoor metal concert: the weather was warm but breezy, and the occasional glimpse of the bright, nearly full moon kept things properly spooky. For this touring cycle, Snider is promoting For The Love Of Metal, his newest chart-topping album. According to Snider, it was inspired by a dare from Hatebreed front man Jamey Jasta. It takes on contemporary metal flavors, with deeply tuned guitars, heavy breakdowns, and even the guest vocal work of Howard Jones (Killswitch Engage, Light The Torch).
As modern as the songwriting and production of his new work may sound, Snider does not neglect his roots. Joining him on the road were glam rock icons Warrant and Dokken. The two acts complimented one another magnificently, largely due to the difference in stage approach between lead singers.
Warrant’s set took on a classically ’80s party-vibe, with Robert Mason pulling off some pretty awesome dance moves with his microphone stand. It’s exactly the type of bravado you’d hope to see when hearing live performances of hits like “D.R.F.S.R.” and “Cherry Pie.” Like Snider, Warrant also had some newer material, including “Louder Harder Faster,” from the 2017 album that shares the same name.
In contrast, Dokken had a darker, more somber overtone. Lead singer Don Dokken’s performance was far less animated than Mason’s, but one that was equally respectable in its humble and contemplative dignity. No moment of their set captured this quite as well than their rendition of the ballad “Alone Again.” Looking around the crowd, you could see just how personally impactful this song continues to be for Dokken diehards, more than thirty years after its initial release. That’s not to say the whole set was by any means slow moving. They closed in a blaze of glory, with “Tooth and Nail,” featuring ungodly face melting performances by drummer Mick Brown, and guitarist Jon Levin.
When Snider finally hit the stage, he came out swinging with “You Can’t Stop Rock ‘n’ Roll.” The sound was spectacular and the playing was polished. As the set escalated, the guitar solos became increasingly more complex. The two guitarists even squared off with one another during a cover of Led Zepplin’s “Heart Breaker” to see who would hold crown as the superior soloist.
Snider’s range is still as impressively dynamic as it was in the ’80s, though now there is a refined amount of rasp in his voice. This was best captured with his devilishly baritone performance of “Burn in Hell.” It’s the kind of fiendishness that might just pull Tipper Gore out of her retirement in order to battle Snider once again.
Speaking of political figures, it was during the interlude between Dokken’s and Snider’s performance, that news had just broken about the passing of Senator John McCain. While Snider did not reference this directly during his set, he did make repeat mentions of his appreciation for the members of the U.S. Military. Songs like “American Made,” could not have been more expertly timed, providing some hope and catharsis for those receiving the sad news on their smart phones.
Similarly, Snider’s stripped down, piano-version of the Twisted Sister hit “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” was one of the most goosebump inducing moments of the night. Snider adapted this epic fight song into a down-tempo ballad in order to show his support for anyone impacted by cancer. This included the son of Chris Angel, Snider’s personal friend and world-famous magician, who first inspired Snider to reconfigure the tune. To make sure the mood wasn’t too melancholy, the band immediately followed up with the traditional, album-version of the song. Many a raised fist was soon to be seen.
All in all, it was a spectacular evening of both new and old metal material. It was the type of event that proved that metal is for everyone, no matter how old you are, how much money you make, or what you look like. This communal mindset has kept fans coming out to shows for decades and undoubtedly will for decades to come.
Be sure to pick up Snider’s new album, For The Love Of Metal, out via Napalm Records. Keep an eye out for future tour announcements or possible senate hearings.
By Andrew Humphrey