I took a short little roadtrip from Malmo up to Halmstad yesterday (approximately 1,5-2 hours) to see an All Star-band featuring ex-Firewind and current Spiritual Beggars-vocalist Apollo Papathanasio. One of my favorite singers, without a doubt – a Swedish version of Tony Martin. Can’t go wrong with that!
When he was with Firewind, I would catch a whole bunch of shows each year, but after he left, the gigs have become a lot more infrequent. Just one-off shows here and there that you really need to keep track of 100% not to miss them..!
But we call eachother here and there and that’s when I get a little update on the “latest news”. The last time we spoke, he mentioned these two shows, a very unpretentious event at a local rock bar. Well, hallelujah! Like I had to think long and hard about that (not!!). I went! When I arrived it was really hot in Halmstad and lots of people on the streets.
It didn’t look like there would be a lot of people in the club at first, but that’s pretty common for summer indoor-gigs. There aren’t many people at those. Most people I know are out of the country in vacation now. But, as it started getting closer to showtime, the place was almost full. Not only full, but full of enthusiastic people. :) At some point when Apollo was looking at the crowd, he just laughed and went: “I think I know every single person in here!” I bet he does!
From what I heard, these guys never had much time to rehearse as they’re busy doing other things, so if you consider that, it was awesome. And for me it was like Christmas! It’s not every day you get to hear one of your favorite singers, sing songs by OTHER bands that I like (and SONGS that I love)! JUDAS PRIEST! WHITESNAKE!
The setlist was as follows:
And it was a cool lineup too – dudes that know their business:
Apollo Papathanasio – vocals (Spiritual Beggars, Firewind)
Chris Amott – guitar (Arch Enemy)
Ludwig Witt – drums (Spiritual Beggars, Grand Magus)
Pär Wallmark – bass (Last Tribe)
I loved the whole concept of it – small show, not widely advertised maybe, the guys in the band and the choice of songs. BINGO!
After the show, I just hung out for a bit, talked a little with Apollos wife. Not easy to have a conversation in all that noise but what can you do. :)
I had to get going, it was getting late and I had a bit of a drive ahead of me, so she went to get him for me. I’ve left gigs before without saying bye to an artist I know, but because the guest list was super duper mega exclusive (so few people on it, it was ridiculous) and I was on it, I at least wanted to wave and say bye-bye before leaving.
Anyhoo, Apollo came out from the backstage area and said he wanted to introduce me to “the guys”. The only person left by the time we got there, was Michael Amott (Arch Enemy, Spiritual Beggars) who wasn’t in the band, but was talking to someone. Instead, we ended up checking out some photos from Thessaloniki, Greece on Apollo’s cellphone that I was in, and didn’t know about. :)
“Have you said hi to the guys yet?” he asked. I said that I hadn’t seen anyone, and it was okay, they don’t know who I am anyway, haha!
“That’s exactly why I want you to meet them”, he laughed. Well, I guess there’s some logic in that! ;)
Chris Amott and Per Wiberg (keyboards, Spiritual Beggars) were outside talking, so I was introduced to them. Didn’t stay long there though, driving in the middle of the night after having been up since 4 am, is usually not a good idea.
So – I took off. The whole show is on video by the way. Will be up here later, but here’s just a little preview! There will be one more show on the 19th – so guess where I’ll be THAT day? :D
So,,, I ended up in Thessaloniki, Greece last weekend – a last minute spontaneous decision, just because I was lucky enough to come across a cheap ticket and couldn’t think of any reason why I shouldn’t go. :) As I keep telling people – it beats sitting in front of the TV anytime!
Spiritual Beggars is quite honestly a band that I would never have listened to if it hadn’t been for Apollo, whose voice I absolutely love.
[From Saturday’s show…. How could anyone not love that voice? :)]
Thessaloniki almost feels like home now, I love the city and the people. I know my way around the city center now too, so it’s great. A taxi driver, sent by the hotel, picked me up at the airport, holding a sign with my name on it, taking me through the busy streets of “Thessaloniki by night” – which was very busy even at that late hour. I landed at eleven in the evening and there were people, cars and music everywhere!
The happy driver explained that the people of Greece love to go out and meet friends in cafes and bars. No doubt. :)
Hotel Astoria was great the last time I stayed there for the Firewind 10th Anniversary shows in December, but THIS time….not as much.
THIS time it was only slightly better than a park bench.
It probably would have been more quiet in a PARK. My room was facing a dirty back yard where a night-club’s loud “oomphhh-oompphh“-music was keeping me awake till 6 in the morning. Then when they closed and it finally got quiet, the cleaning ladies started making a lot of noise outside, banging with the doors, brooms, vacuum-cleaners and yelling to eachother across the hall! So much for a good nights sleep.
Oh yeah, and there were mosquitos everywhere too, buzzing in my ear, making sure I would get no sleep whatsoever that night. No extra pillows, no extra towels, no soap in the dispenser, the fan in the bathroom sounded like an airplane at takeoff, no air conditioning (only heating, which was definitely NOT needed) and barely any power outlets for my laptop and cellphones. It’s safe to say that it was the worst room I’ve had in Greece, ever (except that place in Athens that had PLASTIC sheets, lol!).
They are usually very high standard, even at budget hotels. But at least the staff was super nice and very kind and friendly, so no complaints there. I guess I could have asked for a different room, but I had already made myself at home, hung my clothes in the closet and all that, I just didn’t feel like packing again and moving to another room so…. Whatever. It was close to the venue, that’s the most important thing.
Went for a stroll downtown on Saturday morning, sunny beautiful day – it’s such a beautiful city, I love the vibe. This is my 4th time there in two years, I’m beginning to feel right at home. ;) Ended up at Starbucks for the sole reason that there’s Wi-Fi there…
When I got back to the hotel, I met Elias, who’s a Greek promotor that I met when I did the video interview with Gus G last summer. Nice to see a familiar face, just greeted him and continued on my way.
About two hours before the Beggars were due on stage that evening, I met Apollo outside the 8Ball Club. The band was going to get some dinner. I was invited to join but declined. Food – that’s “band time“. :)
Doors opened shortly after that and I told the guy at the door that I was supposed to be on the guest list, He just gave me a look and without a word kind of waved as a sign that I guess meant “yeah whatever, get in“. Then as I had passed him, he went: “Daniela – yes?!”
Well… yes. :)
The opening band wasn’t bad at all, no idea who they were, but they sounded good. A female singer with a very powerful and strong voice.
Minutes before Spiritual Beggars went onstage, Panagiotis walked in – the guy who runs Metalpaths and who was my “stand-in camera guy” for the Gus G interview at Mylos. He’s a huge fan of SB so he looked very excited and full of anticipation. Nice to see another familiar face!
And one of Firewind’s techs was there as well, he came over with a happy face to say hello. I asked if he was a Spiritual Beggars fan, but much like me, he was just there because of Apollo.
See, this is one of the reasons I love to travel – anywhere I go in the world, I will probably meet somebody I know, it’s a great feeling.
Very high energy, ballsy, in your face rock’n’roll, it’s labeled “stoner rock” – call it whatever you want, it’s just good old back to the roots rock!
Seeing Apollo with this new outfit is very cool. Now he’s the guy in denim and the “Jesus Christ Superstar“-screams that resembles Ian Gillan more than Tony Martin on stage. This just fits him to a T, I thoroughly enjoy watching him do his thing with Spiritual Beggars.
Michael Amott is the cool guitar hero, you instantly see people gravitating towards his side of the stage with their mobile cameras and fists up in the air.
This whole “all star band” is simply impressive. It’s on a high musical level, yet it’s not about showing off by bombarding the crowd with a shitload of solos every two minutes, it’s enough that people already know what these guys are capable of. They’ve seen and heard them do it with all their other bands and projects.
After the show, I went outside to get some fresh air (they still SMOKE indoors in Greece, it’s a bit of a shock to a Swede where it’s not allowed to smoke in public places) and was talking with Panagiotis. A guy walked over and said:
– Excuse me, I have to ask – are you from Sweden?
– Yes, I am.
– And you’re a journalist, right…? Is your name Daniela?
– I know who you are. You have a great voice, I’ve heard your song on YouTube. Very good!
He smiled, shook my hand, said it was nice to meet me and left. It was explained to me later, that he was from a band called Redrum. I got a link to their video and hey – this wasn’t bad either! :) Check it out:
Panagiotis had to leave. I stayed out in the fresh air, Apollo would be out soon. He came out eventually and we all went to the hotel to hang in the lobby for a little while, with his very sweet cousin and her husband/boyfriend/friend (shame on me who didn’t pick up on the relationship, but very nice people! :D).
While the other guys in the band went back to the club to have a few free “band-drinks”, Apollo decided to just chill and hang out instead, they had an early wakeup call the next morning.
I think we were all pretty beat, I was for sure after not having slept at all the night before, so I couldn’t wait to get some sleep. Called it a night maybe around 1 am or something, was nice to see Apollo, meet some friendly people and just chat for a bit.
The next day I went to the airport WAY too early and ended up absolutely hating Istanbul airport where I had a stopover for a few hours. What a drag.
But – in the end, I’d do it all over again! :)
NEXT adventure……FIREWIND IN AUSTRALIA!