Firewind – Rock In Den Ruinen (Dortmund, Germany)

Rock in den Ruinen, was the next stop on my (neverending…) journey across Europe (and the US) to check out Firewind doing their thing. Still enjoying it as much as ever.

Flew into Düsseldorf international airport very early in the morning and rented a car to drive to Dortmund, which is less than an hour away.

The “adventure” started already after 30 minutes when the GPS gave up on me. Suddenly, the battery-symbol started blinking, informing me it was dead– ceased to be. Bye-bye. Oh, wonderful.  I found my destination eventually – with the help of my backup, a printed Google-maps description.

It was 8.30 in the morning when I got there, and the show wasn’t until seven in the evening so I had plenty of time to kill. My iPad picked up a T-mobile network, so I paid for a 1-day pass….only to realize that it wasn’t working. The signal was gone. Sigh– five euro down the drain.

So, moving on to Plan B. McDonald’s is a good place for a traveller. You can sit there for hours and nobody cares, they’ve got their own free Wi-Fi and there are toilets, food and everything else you need. So I went to find the nearest McDonald’s.
Only – in Germany they don’t accept anything but CASH at McDonald’s apparently. I’m just not a cash-person, usually travel with just “toilet and tip”-money, the rest is for the credit cards. So I just got the essentials – their loss.

Was hanging there until I got bored and went back to the festival area to find the parking lot. The plan was to take a nap. I needed all the sleep I could get.

[Hanging at McDonald’s in Dortmund…]

There were signs showing where the festival parking was, and loooots of cars in line to get there.

Or so I THOUGHT!

When I finally drove up to the guy with the handheld credit card machine, who didn’t speak a word of English by the way, I asked how much it was. I was expecting him to charge me whatever it cost and then show me where to park the car.

Instead, he tells me to open my trunk. WTF???

So he goes and opens the trunk, and I figured it must be some sort of security thing. He comes back, says something in German, and looks puzzled (not to mention how puzzled I must have looked right back!).

One of his colleagues comes over and tells him in German that I’m probably looking for the festival. Turns out I was in line for the city DUMP where people drive through to get rid of their junk – and apparently pay depending on what they’re getting rid of! Lol! The festival parking was right next to it. :)

Tried to get a few hours of sleep but I had ended up at the Heavy Metal parking-lot. I don’t know WHAT kind of audio-system people are building into their cars, but it sounded louded than a fucking airport! I had earplugs shoved into my ears so hard they almost switched places half way through my head, but heard the Metallica-anthems anyway!

After a while I gave up the sleeping-idea. Decided to go find the box office, get my pass and go watch a few bands instead.

But – I encountered one of those classics. The “Uhmm… no, I don’t see your name on the guest list….”-classic.

The lady was very kind, it wasn’t her fault, and I could tell she felt bad telling me that my name wasn’t on the list she had in front of her – she even showed it to me.

“I*ve got these names for Firewind – could you be listed under a different name or as somebody’s “plus one”?

No. I’m not a “plus one”. :-)

So I had to sort this out. Drummer-Jo saved the day, he got the “chain” of solutions started – and the problem got solved eventually. If I had known, I could at least have brought enough cash to buy my own ticket, but since I knew I was on the list I didn’t think more of it.

In the meantime, a girl with red hair approached me with a smile, said that she heard there was a problem with my pass. I said that I was on the guest list – but apparently not on the one they had.

She said that in worst case they’d just simply let me in, but if I was supposed to have a backstage pass, they needed approval from the band. I didn’t know if it was “just” a ticket or an actual guest pass, I never ask these things. I’m grateful for whatever. :)

So a guy shows up with a handwritten note, saying that the only had “these” names on the Firewind-list – and was about to make a few calls to get me in – as they all understood that I wasn’t a local, I had travelled from Sweden for this event. Would suck big time to be stuck outside the box office!

Five seconds later HE got a call, and next thing I know, he comes back and hands me my AAA-pass. Everything was cool. What a relief. :)

Unusually friendly and helpful staff, I’m used to the “nope, you’re not on the list, not my problem – NEXT!!” -sort of people. The Rock in den Ruinen people went out of their way to help out – I truly appreciate that!

Hadn’t heard of any of the bands on the bill except Firewind. The only artist I remember was some psycho dude who was much like an escaped mental patient playing some sort of circus/varietee punk/Rammstein mix of some sort with belly-dancers and flutists on stage. Just weird but in an interesting sort of way. :)

Bob (Katsionis) was outside with some people talking, so I ended up talking to a super nice photographer who had taken the live-photo that Firewind will be using for the live-CD that’s coming out this summer. :)

He wasn’t a full time photographer, but loved going to gigs whenever he could. I can relate to that – it’s the rock’n’roll that keeps us sane (or insane, whichever way you choose to look at it, lol!).

The show was great – REALLY great. I keep saying that every time, don’t I? But the fact of the matter IS that this is a brilliant live-band, it’s as simple as that. But then there are evenings when they spice it up even more and deliver “with a twist”. That’s what they did in Dortmund.

Maybe because it’s the home town of their record label Century Media, but I just think they were in one of those “let’s kick some ass“-sort of moods last night! :)

Kelly did an excellent job, he was really belting it out, and he’s clearly a lot more comfortable as a live-frontman now than he was the first time I saw him a few months ago in Atlanta and NYC. He’s definitely developing into a good frontman.

Cause it’s tough to get thrown into a band like Firewind which is 100% a live band. If you don’t have the same background, you’re in for quite a challenge. But he’s really catching up fast. Great job, I was impressed.

[One of my favorite songs from the latest album…]

“Gus is such a poser”, was a comment I heard from a photographer backstage – in a positive sense. We love posers, they make great photos and videos, give us more posers! :)) It’s almost impossible to take a bad live photo of Gus, and that goes for my video-filming as well. If you’re gonna be a guitar-hero, you gotta be one – all the way. And Gus certainly is.

He’s the born entertainer. We all know that he kicks everyone’s ass on guitar. But he owns his stage, every single time. However, he gets tough competition from Bob Katsionis who keeps up with him like it’s a walk in the park – not only in the guitar duels but also by showing off his multitasking-skills on keyboards/guitar. It’s the perfect showstopper and jawdropper-combo! :)

Music is not a contest, but it’s a good thing when you’ve got someone in your band who challenges you to deliver not just your best but even better than your best- and never get too comfortable.
Petros (bass) was in a great mood spending more time than he usually does at the front part of the stage – and all of this backed up by the Belgian monster-drummer Jo Nunez whose sticks are seconds from being set on fire by the speed…! Man.

Together they are like a speeding train, you just can’t stop them – and I LOVE the energy!

[Take THIS!!]

After the show I was pretty much just hanging with the photographer dude again. He kept saying that since I had the triple-A pass, I could go anywhere, so he did’t undestand why didn’t I just go in there and say hi to the band.

I’ve never been comfortable doing that. I probably never will be. They were in the catering-tent having dinner. I had no business being back there. It’s simply what I would consider “band-time”. It would feel totally wrong to just barge in uninvited. Sure, I’ve got the “right kind of pass” but I’m not going to abuse that privilege.

So eventually, Kelly and Jo came to hang out a little. It was freezing though – like it can be in the spring when it’s humid and the cold really gets really annoying.

[The sun was setting behind the backstage area this chilly spring evening in Dortmund, Germany…]

We decided to go to Firewind’s “dressing room” (=tent) but the security guy took Kelly for somebody else and wouldn’t let him through! What a dork.

Apparently he looked a lot like someone they didn’t want backstage so he had to prove he was in the band! Lol!

Jo was trying to get the photographer in with us, cause normally you can escort a guest with your AAA-pass. But the security dude was being an asshole, so we had to part ways with the photographer. He was cool about it though.

It wasn’t a lot warmer in that tent, that’s for sure. The crew guys were working on getting the gear ready for transport, while the rest of us were just enjoying watching other people work, lol! :)

Nah, they are all great guys. Very relaxed atmosphere, always.

We got kindly thrown out though because the festival was “closing” so the backstage area had to be cleared. The guys were waiting for their shuttle and I had to go get my rental car. The whole afterparty-idea fell throuh – for me at least. I headed back to Düsseldorf airport to spend my second night being sleepless.

I was tired, but I was on that “after-show high” that makes it impossible to unwind to get some sleep. By the time I got off the kick, I was afraid to fall asleep cause I was so dead tired that I would probably pass out completely and miss my flight.

Came home to Malmo looking like I’ve been hit by a truck and run over by a bulldozer – five times. But I still think it was worth it, like it is every single time. This is just a solid band, and I can’t wait for people to discover them at Sweden Rock Festival in June. :) They’re in for a treat, and this is one of few bands that I never have to worry will suck – cause they just never have.

So – over and out from Malmo – I’m off to Dreamland…!

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