SKOGSRÖJET – festival-of-loud-guitars&screams time! :)
I didn’t go to Sweden Rock Festival this year, my “home” that I haven’t missed one single time since the mid 90’s, but this year I had to for personal reasons. I had to go to Croatia to take care of a few things that couldn’t be postponed any longer.
So I’m really glad that I’ll get to experience THIS festival, SKOGSRÖJET instead, cause it’s brand new to me.
Some of my favorite artists and bands are on the bill, so it’s like Christmas! I originally only got myself a ticket because they announced YNGWIE, my guitar hero since I was a teenage rocker. He hasn’t played in Sweden since god knows when, so that was a major treat! Then they announced APOLLO – Sweden’s Tony Martin, the man with the massive voice.
Then came all this other stuff, it’s gonna be a party-weekend to remember!
Not only that, but some of these acts bring old friends, Loudness with a long-time friend Anett from the Jon Oliva-days, Apollo from the Firewind and post-Firewind days, Pretty Maids with “little brother” Chris Laney on the keyboards and guitar…
And kickass live acts within their respective fields – THUNDER is an AMAZING band! I first saw them at the Donington Monsters of Rock back in the early 90’s with Iron Maiden, The Almighty, Slayer and W.A.S.P among others. They kicked ass.
Then I made a reaquaintance with them when they played with Whitesnake on their UK tour a few years ago – and then played Sweden Rock Festival. Incredibly solid band, great songs, just a wonderful vibe all the way through. And now they’re back in Sweden – then, if I feel that I STILL haven’t had enough of them, they’ll also be rockin’ the boat at the Monsters of Rock Cruise next year!
[this is from the Whitesnake tour a few years ago]
AMARANTHE kick ass at what they do, they’ve done their own thing from the very start and whether people loved it or hated it, they still carried on with their unique style.
Never mind the fact that all guys go goo-goo-gaa-gaa over Elize, she’s an incredibly talented singer – all three of them are. And there’s fireworks, laser and stuff, enough to feast your ears and eyes. :)
And D-A-D…! There is not a festival, gig, stage, ANYTHING that won’t start rockin’ to the CORE when these guys plug in their guitars and turn everything up to eleven! I love, love, love them to death! It’s genuine, it’s rough, it’s tough, it’s rock’n’roll the way it’s supposed to be, it’s a show, tons of humor and there’s just nothing not to like about these guys, Denmark’s greatest pride and joy!
If you haven’t heard them or seen them, it’s never too late and I can’t imagine anyone not having a fantastic time at their shows! :D
Hardcore Superstar, another one of those solid bands that have so much energy on stage it’s exhausting just watching them. :) It just hit me that a lot of these great acts are all from Gothenburg, Sweden – and Liv Sin is another one to add to that list.
When I first saw Sister Sin, they were opening for some major act, don’t remember who it was, but I remember thinking when I saw that petite, little leather-packaged chick in fishnet stockings: “…probably another one of those wimpy girlie singers that focuses on image and can’t sing for shit“…
Boy did I regret thinking that for even one second! SHE was the real deal – no doubt about it! She had a powerful rock’n’roll voice, like she’s been eating barb wire for breakfast, she was ALL over the fuckin’ place, rockin’ like the 100% pure rock chick that she is!
She’s never disappointed me since – she delivers at every show. Some people were just born to do what they do, and Liv was born to rock the asses of everybody.
And Yngwie – well… he doesn’t need an introduction. Just call him Maestro. :) Nobody comes close, he is simply amazing. Yeah, he’s mister Attitude and all that, but strip away all the bullshit and it comes down to the greatest guitarist I’ve ever heard. There might be others that are technically better, but Yngwie’s got the whole, complete deal – the melodies, she showmanship, the “feel”… It’s a zillion notes per second but it’s not ONLY that, unlike most other shredders. Love the guy. For his playing. I mean listen to this and tell me he’s not fantastic!
Second day – Apollo, Ugly Kid Joe, Pretty Maids, Backyard Babies, Black Star Riders…and old school NWOBHM heroes Saxon. :)
APOLLO – you’ll hear his voice on so many records, he’s one of the most sought-after vocalists in the country and there’s no doubt why. Apart from being an impressive singer, he’s also a super nice guy. This clip is from his days with Evil Masquerade. A favorite of mine. :)
PRETTY MAIDS – been around for ages and they’re only getting better!
What’s not to like?! I can’t wait for this weekend, that’ll be my dose of rock’n’roll for this month! :D
DESERT TRIP – GOT A PASS!
When it was announced, I thought it was a hoax. A festival with names like Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, The Who, Neil Young and Roger Waters. To me, that sounded like the kind of gig you would imagine you could go to when you die and go to heaven one day. Simply too good to be true.
I could barely believe it when it turned out to actually BE true. Holy cow!
Of all the hundreds, maybe thousands of gigs I’ve seen in my life, this surpasses them ALL, even as just an IDEA, never mind the actual FACT and the actual FESTIVAL….!
I’ve seen Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan and Roger Daltrey individually, but to have them all in one place is unearthly! :)
I had to try to get a ticket. I realized that the whole world was going to be online at the time the tickets went on sale and there was an imminent risk that I would end up with a crashed webpage or something that said I was number 1,567,901 in line or along those lines.
Yet, if you never gamble you never win!
That particular day, I had to work late, and since I work in Copenhagen and live in Sweden I knew that I wouldn’t make it home on time for the ticket release. The solution was to bring my laptop. I decided to find somewhere to sit at Copenhagen Airport where nobody would bother me, and just be READY….
Copenhagen airport is my second home. I know everything about that airport that a traveler needs to know. :) There is a space right below the Metro-escalators that has a bench with 3 seats that most people never notice. Sure enough, there was only a young guy there, and in the hour that I sat there, nobody else came.
Went to the Desert trip webpage that had this countdown clock, which really got the adrenaline pumping. At the same time I was trying to stay cool and also be prepared for the possibility that I would have to go home empty handed.
The minutes turned to seconds…. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1……..
The page reloaded and it said I was number 1,945 something in line. My spontaneous reaction was: “Okay, I’m screwed, this isn’t happening…” .
Next thing I know, the thing counted down really, really fast, went to number 500 in line and less than two minutes later I was IN.
I now had 10 minutes to complete my purchase or my place in line would go to somebody else.
I knew what I wanted. Where are the STANDING PIT TICKETS???
A hunch told me to click on page 6 – and there it was!
I had already prepared everything so that it wouldn’t take more time than necessary. Google chrome can save your credit card info, but even if that doesn’t work, I had written it down in the Windows word pad, so all I would have to do was cut and paste. Bam – bam and bam!
Before I knew it, I was a proud owner of a ticket to the Desert trip festival!
Honestly… I was staring at the screen thinking: “What? Really? That was it? I’ve got a ticket now?”
I still can’t quite believe it!
But yes, best seats in the “house”. I thought everybody had the same easy experience as me but when I checked online I saw lots of angry and disappointed people who said that they had waited for hours in the virtual line, only to find out that it was sold out. From what I’ve heard, and I’m not sure if the figures are correct, about 100,000 tickets were sold out in 5 hours. For both weekends – cause they announced an extra weekend due to the extreme demand. All gone.
I’m not surprised. And I feel incredibly blessed and thankful for being one of the lucky ones who will get to experience this.
It’s the most expensive thing I’ve ever done, right after the Monsters of Rock cruise, but thatyou could pay in installments, choose a payment plan. Here, you had to pay straight up.
Which means, no traveling and no gigs for me until after October. All the plans I had have been cancelled because I have to reek in some extra cash for this.
However, it will all be worth it and Im beyond excited! I’ve always been a Beatles fan, since as long as I can remember, so seeing sir Paul again will be MY treat. :) I love the Stones as a live act, that will be icing on the cake.
And the trip itself, I love it! I had actually booked hotel and rental car BEFORE tickets went on sale. Figured it would be easy to cancel if I didn’t get a ticket to the festival. Also, prices AFTER the tickets were sold out, would be through the roof, so I’m glad that I planned ahead.
Got in touch with a lady on Facebook that will be travelling from Peru to the festival and her and her company wanted to share the rental car with me – so we cut the costs and it’s a lot more fun to get to know new people as well!
This will be fantastic, I can’t wait!!
GUITAR UNIVERSE – Day 3 [Stockholm, Sweden]
Woke up at SAS Radisson in Helsinki.
I had pre-booked a cab early in the morning, to get to the airport on time. So I got up at 5 AM and went downstairs to get some breakfast before the cab came to pick me up. It was almost empty in the big breakfast room, but a decent buffet to choose from. I took a quick look at my phone and saw that I had about 15 minutes before the cab was supposed to arrive, so I went to get my little carry-on that was behind the front desk.
On my way out in the lobby, I see ONE person (at first). Marty Friedman. He smiles and waves a little and I kind of wave back, wondering if he still remembers me or if he just remembered from seeing me the day before (and the day before that).
The reason why I wondered was because the first time I met Marty was when he was new in Megadeth. I did two or three interviews with him during that time. This was, obviously, before there was internet and he mentioned at some point that he had lost touch with a friend of his, drummer Anders Johansson (Yngwie, Hammerfall).
Anders was a friend of mine, so I remember dialing Anders’ number at the hotel, handing Marty the phone before leaving the room. That was the “old” way of getting back in touch with friends. Nowadays I guess it’s Facebook…
About ten years later, Megadeth were opening for Iron Maiden in Stockholm and I was at the hotel where both bands were staying. I ended up right behind Marty at the front desk, because I needed a map to find the venue.
I figured there was no point even mentioning that we had met before cause of course he would have no idea. He turned around for some reason, stopped and went: “Hey… I’ve seen you somewhere before, haven’t I?” And then he went on to give me all the details. That it was an interview in Copenhagen and what it had looked like there and soforth…
I was incredibly impressed by his memory for faces. I don’t even remember people I met last week – and he remembered after all those years. I never forgot that, I thought it was amazing.
However, I honestly doubt that he still remembers now, another 10 years later, we’re talking almost 25 years ago now. But – I still couldn’t help wondering.
As I got closer to the lobby I saw the whole bunch of tired musicians sitting out there, waiting for what I’m guessing was their ride.
I picked up my carry-on and thought that I would be able to stay and chat for maybe 10 minutes before my cab arrived, but the girl at the front desk told me that my driver was already there.
Suddenly I had to run off like a freaking Cinderella..!! The guys were trying to persuade me to hang out a for a few, but as I didn’t know how else to get to the airport later, and I didn’t have time to get the details about what they were planning to do I just barely even had time to say good morning – I just waved as I ran towards the door and said that I’d see them all in Stockholm.
Afterwards I felt mighty rude but I thought I had all the time in the world – and then the driver shows up too early and there you go. Suddenly you end up getting super stressed…!
I got to the airport, expecting a large place with lots of restaurants and shops, but the security was a tiny little station that I breezed right through and much to my surprise, my gate was just a few steps ahead.
Had nothing to do, so I picked up my new little Sony Vaio ultrabook (love it – if it hadn’t been for that annoying Windows 8…). Maybe 30 minutes later or so, I hear some familiar voices. I looked up, and there’s a whole collection of longhaired musicians and crew again, walking slowly like zombies towards the same gate. We were all on the same flight to Stockholm.
So, there we all were, trying to kill some time before departure, which was maybe 2 hours later. It was a computer-central. Mobile phones, laptops, iPads, mini-iPads everywhere. You’d think you just walked in on a DreamHack convention or something. :D
And some…. took a nap.
Once we got to Stockholm, I actually didn’t have a plan, for a change. I thought I was going to just improvise, but luckily, there was room for one more on the bus. :)
So, the whole equipage headed towards the baggage carousels to pick up suitcases and gear. Then continued out to find the tour bus – their rolling home for the coming few weeks across Europe.
The nice British driver welcomed everyone onboard, and while the band went upstairs to find their bunks, I found a place downstairs at the table where I wouldn’t be in anyone’s face. I was joined by two of the guys from the crew and it was really nice to just chat for a bit on our way into town.
When we arrived outside the amusement park Gröna Lund (where the venue was and the festival Stockholm Rocks was taking place) I thanked for the ride and continued on my way to check in at my hotel which was just up the small hill nearby.
The band was getting a bit more well-deserved sleep and the crew had work to do so the best I could do was get out of the way. :)
I had very little time but I’m rarely in Stockholm and I wanted to meet at least one more of my friends there before I left. One of them being my “little brother” Chris Laney (known as a producer at the classic Polar studios (where ABBA recorded their albums), songwriter and band member of a bunch of bands). But frankly, I haven’t seen him in so long that it felt like an hour just wouldn’t be enough.
[Me and “little brother” Chris:]
So I asked another dear friend, drummer Martin who’s now in Stockholm studying to be a producer and learning management, the business part of the music industry and about a million other things. We’ve always had tons of fun, so it would be great to see him. He took the ferry over from Stockholm city to Gröna Lund and joined me while I grabbed a bite at one of the restaurants across the street from the venue Tyrol. Hadn’t eaten all day.
[This is what Martin was doing when I first got to know him and the awesome dudes of the band Chains. The band split up but the guys have been doing great on their own. The guitarist Gabriel for instance, is now in LA, playing guitar and kicking ass]
Time went very fast and I had to run so I wouldn’t miss the festival, and he had to run too as he really didn’t have much time at all but still took the time because we never get to see eachother normally. That’s what happens when you’ve got friends all over the country…!
I was going to review the festival for Sweden Rock Magazine so I picked up my pass at the door.
There was some cool stuff to see and hear. The girls onstage when I walked in, Imber, were really good and I liked the singer’s badass attitude. Very confident but not arrogant and an edgy rock’n’roll voice. She had something unique.
Next band on stage was Finnish glam band Reckless Love – and to be perfectly honest, I expected it to suck. I’ve seen shitload of those bands putting tons of time and effort on their IMAGE, hair, clothes and various props, but when it comes to the music, they usually bore me to tears.
Well, I had another thing coming.
They were quite entertaining and they did their thing very well. Their singer was a total strutter and it just worked with that whole concept. If you didn’t take it dead serious, it was what it was – fun!
What I liked the most was the great vocal harmonies. The guitarist and the bassist could both sing which made all the difference. Few bands can pull that off nowadays (or they don’t even attempt it), so kudos for that.
Honestly, they were a hard act to follow. How do you walk up on stage right after a band that just invited to a rock’n’roll party and got the whole crowd singing and jumping? Phew.
Luckily, the act that followed was no rookie. If anyone knows how to work a stage, it’s Gus G. For a second there, I thought that his fan would have worked great now, just to add a little extra spice and effect on stage. But then again… he doesn’t really need it. :)
I saw another familiar face in the photo-pit (I chose not to go down there, eventhough I had a photo pass, because the angle where I was standing was better than the pit…). It was Tallee Savage, a very cool lady and talented photographer. Was glad to see her, so we went to the bar before Gus got onstage, to get something to drink.
Her husband left after a short while to leave the most expensive cameras at home, as those weren’t needed anymore and it was too risky to walk around with them.
I still hope she will get a chance to get a proper photo shoot with Gus, because I love her photos and I think that her dramatic but very elegant style of photography would suit Gus well, as he already has a bit of “mystery” about him. Someday, maybe, who knows :D
When Gus G hit the stage it was really a pleasure to watch. The crowd was chanting his name inbetween songs: GUS….G! GUS… G!! Some guys in the front were going absolutely wild, headbanging like crazy, reaching for him, trying to get a pick… the whole deal. I just thought it was awesome.
The rockers were totally into it, especially, of course, during the covers, which was probably the only songs they had even heard before as the solo-album is brand new. The Firewind-song World On Fire generated a bunch of banging heads as well.
In short – it was a successful show. The band couldn’t have asked for a better crowd. :)
During the changeover to Marty, we bumped into Anders Tengner, Swedish journalist and author (one of his latest books was “As Above, So Below – The Unauthorized Yngwie Biography”).
He was the presenter of this festival, so he had a few minutes to come and say hello. “Oh – Tallee – AND Daniela!” he smiled before he hugged us both simultaneously.
When I was a teenager, he was my main role-model and I loved his personal writing style. I’d say that he definitely influenced me a lot cause he was almost like a rock star himself when I was 15. All the stuff he experienced, I wanted to experience too – and then write about it, the same way. I’d say I’ve done okay doing just that. ;)
Marty went onstage to do his thing – and once again he mesmerized the Swedish crowd. You don’t even think so much about it being 100% instrumental. It’s so well carried out that you have a good time from beginning to end and he does have a stage presence that draws people to come check him out.
After his show, Anders picked us up to escort us backstage. We hadn’t even gotten through the door when we bumped into the promoter Christer. He immediately went: “Daniela Pilic! I haven’t seen you in twenty years”.
I knew I recognized his name when I got an e-mail about my pass, but I couldn’t for the life of me remember where from. He said the same thing. I do remember him working with a record company back in the 90’s who handled the band Talisman and that might have been one of those times we first spoke. But it’s a small world – it really is. :)
He continued: “I hear you went to Australia with Gus and the band!”
How on earth did he hear that? I wondered. He laughed and said that the management had mentioned it. Once again, it’s a funny and small world. :D
Once we got right in the middle of the backstage area where all the different bands were hanging out, I bumped into another old friend – Suzan from Playground Music. She’s done everything in this business and been around as long as I have, working with everything from band-PR to being a tour manager and whatnot. She’s a cool lady so it was great to catch up a little! We meet here and there, at least at Sweden Rock Festival every year. :D
The bassplayer from Reckless Love had been left behind, wearing only the thin, white tank-top that he had been wearing on stage. He had had a few beers and kept explaining that everything from their dressing room was gone – including his cellphone and his jacket.
So he couldn’t call his manager to ask where the hell everyone went or how to get back to his hotel. I had seen the manager budging out all the stuff from the dressing room maybe 30 minutes before. This dude was stranded.
Luckily, they were staying at the same hotel as I was, which was not far away so he could make it even dressed in…that. Suzan was about to show him the way when someone came for the poor guy. :)
H.E.A.T got back from their set, they are a very energetic live band and I can’t really find anything to complain about, except that they aren’t quite my cup of tea, that’s all.
TNT rushed by, passing us on their way to the stage and everyone left to go check them out from the side of the stage. Tony Harnell still has an impressive voice, that’s what stuck with me the most.
The backstage area was clearing out after TNT had finished their set and someone suggested that we should go to the classic Stockholm hangout for rockers: Pub Anchor.
This particular evening they had an Ozzy cover band which maybe could be fun for Gus to see. :D
So we all got a large cab/van and headed off to Anchor. I don’t know if I would call the cover band a good band, but at least they were kind of funny. :)
This clip is from the show at Anchor – “Ozzy” hanging from the ceiling singing No More Tears….:
We stayed there for a few hours until the place started to “thin out” just before closing time.
The guys ended up at another club I think, whereas I went back to the hotel to get 2 hours of sleep before crawling on the train back home to Malmo (as a sleepy zombie) a few hours later…
My next destination will be Munich, Germany…..!
Buckle up, the ride continues!
Christmas is almost over and before you know it, we’ve rocketed ourselves into a brand new year, 2013. For many people it’s an absolute anti-climax to hit January. All the pre-Christmas activities and festivities, the decorations and the anticipation (or even just the stress) keeps people busy. Then in January – there’s not much to look forward to for many people, Everything kind of dies out for a few months.
I for one can’t wait for 2013 though, because there are already gigs planned, concert tickets bought, hotels booked, trips being planned…! And new tours being announced.
Yesterday Love/Hate announced a UK-tour in March/April. I certainly know what I’ll be doing in March/April then. It won’t be the same as in the 90’s, but the music is still great. I remember the first time I heard of Love/Hate, they were opening for Skid Row.
I liked their music, but honestly thought they were just another poser-band. There were tons of them back in those days. Nice to look at, sometimes they even had a decent song or two, but most of them were better at looking good than sounding good.
Then I did an interview with singer Jizzy Pearl in Copenhagen, and he totally blew me away. He was anything but some stupid rocker-idiot. His answers were well thought through, he was a very intelligent guy in many ways. I wish I knew where I had that interview, would have loved to listen to it again now.
That’s a whole other story, every interview I’ve ever done the past 20-something years, is on some old cassette here somewhere… But after I had used them for either an article or the radio, I just put them in a box somewhere, without as much as labelling the tape. Never thought I would need it again. You live and you learn. ;)
Then in May there’s the Whitesnake/Journey/Thunder tour that I’ll be attending (of COURSE!) and let’s not forget the summer festivals. Sweden Rock Festival – this year being visited by one of my absolute favorite live-acts Firewind among others. Or Graspop in Belgium, which unfortunately is a bit TOO good this year, as Iron Maiden and King Diamond will be playing right after eachother, on two different stages, so you have to choose which show you want to hang in the front row for… But then again, I’ll get to enjoy Iron Maiden – one of the best live bands in the world for sure – at the stadium in my home town Malmo.
And inbetween all those BIG BANDS, there will be all the smaller bands that I still love to see, that I admire for their passion. You really need to be passionate about what you’re doing when you’re in the music business nowadays, cause as we all know, people don’t get rich playing music anymore. Those who do, who sacrifice so much to play their music, definitely have that fire in them and I can relate to it as much as I respect and admire it.
The concert year of 2013 begins with a festival, mostly because a friend is part of the package and it’s nice to meet up with people you know. Might also go check out one of the dates of Visions of Atlantis in the spring. Their singer Maxi Nil guested Firewind at their anniversary shows in Greece recently, and she was also a cool chick to talk to, so I’m curious to hear more of their stuff.
Basically, I’m excited to meet the new year. There’s already so much to look forward to and that’s the most important thing. So many people get depressed in Sweden in January and February because of the gloomy weather, the dark, and summer being so far away. But I think it’s all about a change of attitude. Why wait until summer to do something?! Start off your year right away – then keep the ball rolling!
Sonisphere report – soon :)
The plan was to give you guys a report from Sonisphere, but that will have to wait until tomorrow.
I spent all night on a cold, hard floor at Heathrow, keeping myself awake with caffeine chewing gums (those saved me many times this summer on these rock’n’roll journeys) and friends on MSN who kept me company all night. :-)
WHY did I end up sitting on a floor at Heathrow all night, you ask…? Well, that’ll be in the next blog too…
Needless to say, my brain feels like mashed potatoes right now so the actual Sonisphere blog will hopefully be up some time tomorrow.
In the meantime, a few videos from Thessaloniki – better late than never (I’ll probably upload tons of stuff in November or something when things cool down a little bit and I have time to actually sit and organize all this material).
Rob Halford being attacked by a cuddly fan on stage. I couldn’t believe it when the guy just ran up there! Surprised that security were that quick to get him out of there though…
From one of their best performances in a while… Heading Out To The Highway in Greece…
There will be more. Soon. :)
And of course, Thessaloniki’s pride & joy FIREWIND: