As always, when there is TONS to write about, I never have TIME to write. Since my last post, I’ve been to the US for the Guitar Gods festival in Miami, the Monsters of Rock Cruise to the Bahamas, to Hamburg, Germany for Avantasia and right now I’m in Nashville relaxing for a change (although there will be a gig tonight).
So, I’m behind with the updates, but since I finally have lots of time and no stress (wow, I almost forgot THAT feeling…) I thought I’d try to go back to where I left off and see how much I can remember of this past month’s adventures!
Going back to my trip to Miami…
The Monsters of Rock Cruise was planned a year in advance, so I already had my flight tickets, hotel arrangements and everything taken care of. But then, about two weeks before departure, there was an announcement that there would be a Guitar Gods festival on Miami Beach, featuring Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai and Gus G, among others.
It sounded like an absolute DREAM! Three monster guitarists on stage together, I was super excited! So, like I mentioned in my last post, I had to buy a new flight ticket to make it to that show. The original ticket was non-refundable and couldn’t be changed, and I would never have made it if I had chosen that flight. But – I thought it would be worth it. Wouldn’t miss this for the world!
After a comfortable flight with Austrian Airlines, I landed in Miami at 3.30 PM and breezed my way through customs and immigration. I even got a laugh when the immigration officer asked the standard question: “So, what brings you to the United States?” and I said that I was there for the Monsters of Rock Cruise.
“Monsters of Rock Cruise? I believe that is the cruise where last year they ran out of beer! Why would you want to go on THAT?” He laughed, gave me my passport and wished me a good stay.
I had a reserved cab that was waiting for me to take me to my hotel. On the way there, I saw the venue and people standing in line outside.
Got to my hotel, I checked in and just threw in all my stuff in a pile on the bed, quickly put on some extra lipstick and ran out the door.
There was a long line of people alright, but not nearly as long as I had expected. And what the heck was going on, why were they late? The doors were supposed to open at 5 I think, but it took more than an hour before they started letting people in, no explanation or apology, no nothing. Well okay…
Once I got in, it looked like some weird sort of cabaret/family fair with clowns and unicycle acrobats or whatever… Just not at all what I would expect to see at a rock event.
The cause was great, I liked that it was to benefit the April Malmsteen Foundation, a foundation that works to protect endangered species and their habitats around the globe. I’m all for that, anyone who actively works for animal rights is in my good books. But quite frankly – my impression of this event as a whole was… “WTF?”
It was a pretty small outside venue, the stage looked like someone had just thrown everything they had off the truck, on stage without any thought whatsoever. The visual impression was anything but impressive. It looked like the work of total amateurs, like there was some sort of local talent show for the neighborhood, not something that was going to feature some of the most amazing musicians on the planet!
Seriously, it was embarrassing.
There WAS a talent show. It was the worst thing I’ve ever seen. Not the contestants, they were all pretty good actually, but the organization of it was nonexistent.
People were running around on the stage like headless chickens, nobody seemed to be in charge of anything. It was as if they didn’t even know who was doing the presentation of the players – or when.
The backing tracks that the contestants brought on their iPhones or tablets, was the source of major confusion. It took several minutes between every contestant, to figure out the technical issues (=how to plug in an iPhone to get the sound through the PA… Very advanced stuff apparently).
And the worst part was when the poor guy who WON, was handed over the microphone by the host so he could say a few words – but next thing he knew, the host was gone. Just wandered off the stage and the guy just stood there with the microphone after he was done, wondering wtf to do with it. Nobody there to grab the mic and go: “Thank you, let’s hear it for xxxx and congratulations!”. The winner was left alone on stage with a microphone. Lovely.
You get the picture. A total freaking disaster.
But the disaster wasn’t over.
Now it was time for the actual GUITAR GODS. First one was Gus G, one of my favorite guitarists. He walked out on stage and played flawlessly, like he always does. I heard people behind me and beside me talking, they were hoping he would come back and play more, cause he only did one song.
I was waiting for the JAM! The one I’d been looking forward to since the damn thing was announced. The JAM that made me buy another flight ticket, cause I wouldn’t miss it for the world. Yngwie, Steve and Gus, what a treat! But… I’ll get to that.
Next up was Steve Vai. I think that guy can play in a shed somewhere and still be brilliant, make people forget about the circumstances, and he almost did just that. Steve Vai is pure CLASS.
Last up, the “god” himself, Yngwie Malmsteen. Anyone who knows me or is reading this blog, knows that I’m a huge Malmsteen fan. I always have been. Last year I saw him at the Monsters of Rock in Brazil, then I travelled to Bucharest, Romania to see him, and years before that I saw him in New York City at the Gramercy and now this, I just try to see him anywhere I can, since he’s decided not to play in Sweden for whatever reason (I’ve heard a few explanations but it’s all just rumors).
But seeing him run out on that “kid’s dress rehearsal for their school play for their parents“-stage was a bit sad.
He’s supposed to be larger than life, a guitar god. The setting was for anything BUT.
Again – embarrassing. The crowd was…not huge, and that’s an understatement. I had expected this to be the event of the year, kind of. Instead, it was… THIS.
All that aside – I love his playing, I love his old-school rock star antics, his posing, his music…. I enjoyed THAT, and tried not to think too much about everything else. I will always be touched by his music, there’s no getting around that.
I was STILL waiting for that Yngwie/Steve/Gus jam though.
Then FINALLY, after all the mess inbetween songs and artists, it looked like it was time for THE JAM. That was going to be worth the flight ticket, the time, the money, the badly organized event, everything. So I was bracing myself for that, woo-hooo!
Yngwie started introducing his guests. Steve Vai, his “brother”, Rudy Sarzo, the one and only, Nicko McBrain on drums yeyyy and…. no Gus. Okay, well, maybe he’ll make an appearance in another song or something.
The jam session included Ain’t Talkin’ ’bout Love by Van Halen, played by Steve and Yngwie. It was actually so bad that Steve Vai had my YouTube account locked down till August for sharing the video.
Quite frankly, I had a feeling that somebody would get the hickups when they saw that, but I hadn’t expected it to be Steve. He did just great. In fact, he was the only person NOT slaughtering that song. I don’t blame him for panicking and wanting that video off YouTube right away.
The reason why I shared it was because of the unique mix of artists playing a VH song, at this last-minute event. It was newsworthy, I always think in those terms. Even bad PR is good PR sometimes.
Blabbermouth had already shared it – like they do with all my videos – so thousands of people had already seen it and reacted in the usual Blabbermouth troll-manner…
Sorry Steve, and Yngwie for that matter, I love you both, but I suppose that was proof that even “gods” fuck up sometimes. Probably made a whole lot of aspiring guitarists out there feel better about themselves for about five minutes, before the clip was removed. ;)
Gus G however, had nothing to be ashamed of though, so I’ll just share his performance instead:
Speaking of Gus, I was STILL waiting for him to get on stage with the others. He never did. I’m not the only one who was pissed off about that. I heard people in the crowd talking as well, where is Gus? Why isn’t he up there?
One of the main reasons why I even wanted to see this gig was cause I’d get to see a cool jam with these THREE guitar gods. Instead, there were only TWO.
Frankly? I think it’s the most unclassy thing I’ve ever seen or heard of. If you’re organizing a festival event, and you invite guests, then the crowd will EXPECT ALL of those guest musicians to be on stage for a final jam.
Excluding someone is something that only an asshole would do. I don’t know who that asshole was, so I’ll leave that unsaid, but someone was responsible and I hope that that person realizes how unprofessional it was to do something like that.
On the other hand, the jam was so bad that not even Steve himself could stand it, so Gus was probably lucky for not having to be associated with it.
The guy who won the guitar contest was really good though, and I hope he does well in the future. :)
And the “custom made” pizza that I got at the venue after the show was good. So, it was not a complete disaster. I hope next time they’ll hire professionals who know what they’re doing.
My hometown Malmö (Sweden) was graced by no other than the mighty IRON MAIDEN last night. I can’t say anything but just sum it all up in one word: AMAZING!!
These guys are the best at what they do, and if you’re looking for a live show that’s gonna blow your socks off, a show that’s gonna leave you with your jaw on the ground and a show that you’re going to be talking about for years to come – go see Maiden!
This is really the “creme de la creme” of live metal shows. Kiss may have more props and pyro, but when you look at the actual ENERGY of the band and the show as a whole, nobody beats Iron Maiden. And I say that without even being their greatest fan, I’ve always been more of a Priest-follower. But I’ve gotta hand it to them – they totally RULE.
Bruce Dickinson flies all over the stage like he doesn’t know what gravity is, he’s got more energy than a guy half his age and he continues singing flawlessly like it’s nothing.
Jannick Gers is a one-man show, enough to keep you entertained for two hours, he’s flipping his guitar all over the place like a martial arts stick crossed with Yngwie Malmsteen poses and antics.
Steve Harris is incredible, but even if he didn’t do anything, it’s enough for him to just be THE Steve Harris, people worship him.
Dave, Adrian and Nicko are all great musicians, but they also have strong personalities, especially mr McBrain who always has a smile or ten to share – all in all, there is something for everybody and the energy that goes back and forth between Iron Maiden and their crowd is unique.
I drove down to the stadium eary in the morning because I know that when it’s Iron Maiden – people WILL be lining up early. If I wanted a front row spot, I had to get in line as early as possible.
When I got there, people told me to go speak to the guy who was first in line. He got there 9 am the day before and had already spoken to security to set up a system.
Whoever showed up before noon, the day of the show, would be on a list that security would let in 5 minutes before everyone else. I was no 64 out of the 79 people who were given that privilege.
It was tough standing there for so many hours, but worth it in the end – it’s the price you have to pay for that precious front row spot.
I’ve had laminate passes and access to the stage or in front of the stage where photographers and security normally stand, but it doesn’t give you the same kick. You wanna get into it, with a few other crazy fans and just feel it – the proper way.
[My laminate from the 99-tour]
I didn’t drink anything all day (no water, no soda, no nothing…) because there were no toilets anywhere, I barely even ate, but I’m used to that, I handle thirst by chewing chewing gum on occasions like this. ONE day is fine. But after the show, I was beat.
The whole city was “Maidenized” with thousands of fans everywhere. Didn’t go out, I was way too tired after the all-day-waiting.
[The press today was just as impressed as the rest of us – fantastic reviews everywhere!]
And just a short mention – there were also two opening acts yesterday. A band from the UK called Voodoo Six and the very popular Swedish band Sabaton.
When Voodoo Six walked out, I noticed something that has since made me change the name of the band to Wood-o Six….:
(noticed anything in particular about the guitarist…??) No?
Well, I’m sorry but that sort of had me lose concentration a little bit because I couldn’t believe he kept that throughout the whole show! THAT dude must REALLY love what he does! :)
As for Sabaton, they are awesome live. They definitely have some Maiden-elements in their live performance, such as a frontman who runs across the stage with such ease and just loves what he does. It’s contageous, the crowd loves these guys!
I had a great time, and my friend Bianca who came from Skovde to see the show was glad that she finally got to see Maiden for the first time ever. :)
They were amazing, absolutely amazing. Always worth the time, effort and money – and there are not that many bands nowadays that give you that kind of value for your trouble and hard earned buck!
Two thumbs up for Iron Maiden – they shone Brighter Than a Thousand Suns! :)
For PHOTOS from the show – go to my Facebook-page and check them out!
My filming wasn’t the best yesterday because of the energy in the crowd, but I picked up a little at least.
And some older Maiden memories from years ago! :)) My first Maiden show (Donington), some backstage memories and whatever else…
Found this story from September 22, 1999 that was originally on my old website. Thought it would be cool to dust it off a little as it’s time for Maiden again next year. This was also during a time when I was collecting autographs – I don’t do that anymore. But it’s a nice memory. Here it is:
“This file created 99-09-22 00.36 by Claris Home Page version 2.0”
Janet and I went to Stockholm just for the fun of it really. She was on vacation and I thought it would be fun to meet Iron Maiden’s tourmanager (who I thought would be the same guy who handled the W.A.S.P-tour – he said he’d come back in the fall with Maiden. Looks like he had a change of plans).
We went to the hotel and saw a bunch of young guys with Iron Maiden t-shirts outside. We went to the hotel bar and ordered tea, so we could sit there and relax, while we studied the activity in the lobby.
Yes, tea, because you get a whole pot which is cheap and gives you all the time in the world to just sit there. (Comment: This was during a time when hotel staff used to throw out people who were not guests..)
The first one I saw was Dave Ellefson (Megadeth), one of my teenage-crushes. Now he has short hair and looks like any guy off the street, but he still looks good.
Dave Mustaine walked out right behind him. If I had been ten years younger, I would have rushed out with the Megadeth CD-cover and asked him to sign it. But now it just didn’t seem like the right time or place for something like that. He looked like he was going someplace and I didn’t want to stall him.
Janet said that Marty Friedman was talking to the people in the reception, and Marty is one of the people I was looking forward to meeting, cause I remember him very well from an interview that I did with him and Nick Menza back in 1990.
We had a good time, and after the interview I went with him to his room and helped him call Anders Johansson (Yngwie’s former drummer) cause they lost touch and he didn’t have his number anymore. Anders was one of my friends so I just put them back in touch with eachother. Yeah, no weird business when this blonde goes to someone’s hotel room, lol! :) Felt nice to reunite two friends. (Comment: The time before Facebook….)
But anyway, I figured he wouldn’t remember me after ten years, so I didn’t even want to embarrass myself by asking.
But Janet and I needed a map anyway, so we could find Globen (where Megadeth and Maiden were playing, a huge arena) so I went to the reception and of course, ended up right behind Marty. I didn’t say anything, I just waited for my turn. Then suddenly, somebody from the “musician-party” (the way he looked and talked, I’d say he was the tour manager…) turned around and asked me, in a pretty loud voice:
– What does it say on your t-shirt?! (I had a black t-shirt that said in big, white capital letters: NEW YORK FUCKIN’ CITY)
I opened my blazer-jacket a little so he could see, and in that moment, Marty turned around. And the next thing I heard was:
– Hey! I know you!!
– Yes you do. I never thought you’d remember, I said, and still couldn’t believe that he remembered me. I looked different back then, and we’re talking about TEN long years!
– Yeah, I do..! You did an interview or something, right?
– Yes..! Wow, you REMEMBER that??
– Sure! And you know what? I remember more than that! It was a small hotel in Copenhagen or something, like the Tivoli or something and… (and then he started to describe the place).
I couldn’t believe my ears. After ten years he could even describe details – I don’t even remember people I met last week!
– So, what are you doing here? he asked.
I didn’t know what to say, because I wasn’t sure myself what I was doing there. It was just one of those things… a good band comes to town, and you can’t just sit at home and ignore it, that’s all.
So I just said that I was looking forward to seeing a good show. How the hell I was going to get in was a completely different story. It had been sold out for months, and I didn’t even have a ticket…
– Well, good to see you, I’ll see you at the show tonight then?!
– Sure, I said and wondered why I said that. I had no idea if we would get in. Globen, a huge arena, Iron Maiden, the biggest metal-attraction since Metallica, except that this was BIGGER, and I didn’t have a ticket or anyone I knew who could help me pull some strings. The way things looked, Janet and I would spend the rest of out evening in the hotel-bar waiting for something to happen.
Then the Maiden-guys started walking in and out of the elevators, and I was still wondering if I would be a pain in the butt if I just jumped out from out of nowhere and asked for an autograph, but I really WANTED their signatures! So I walked over to Steve Harris with my leather jacket and silver marker and asked him to sign it. He was waiting for his cab, so I knew it was not a good time to start a conversation.
He signed it, smiled and was very polite, I just said thanks and went back to the bar. Jannick Gers ran past us so quickly that he dropped his cap – I guess it was because the lobby was full of fans with their records and as he was in a hurry, he probably didn’t want to start signing anything and then not be able to finish – and maybe disappoint a few fans.
But now Janet and I realized that this was our last chance to try to ask somebody to help us out. When Dave Murray came out of the elevator, I asked him to sign my jacket which he did with a smile. I remember Dave as the smiling man from Donington too (except for with the incident with the Cameraman from Hell, which I’ll tell someday…). He’s easy to like, a down to earth man who seems to love his life!
Janet just walked up to him and said that the show was sold out, we didn’t have tickets and that we would have asked that other guy (W.A.S.P‘s tour manager who said he was going out with Maiden and then didn’t) but as he wasn’t there….
– I think it’s in the last minute, but I’ll try. Give me your name and I’ll see what I can do, Dave said.
She gave him our names and he left – the others in the band were already waiting for him.
And that was it… The show was about to begin, and we both thought that Dave had said “I’ll see what I can do” just to get rid of us. Most people would have done that. So we almost didn’t go. Why waste time and gas for nothing? Our plan B was to stick around till Megadeth came back to the hotel and see if we could persuade them to go out to a rock-club or something.
– But we can do both…! We can go to Globen, know for SURE that we AREN’T on the guestlist and then come back here and wait for Megadeth, I said. Janet agreed and we left.
When we came to the security-gate at Globen arena, Janet said that we were supposed to be on the guest list, and the security-guy just smiled, gave her an envelope.
– Yes! Here it is!
She looked as surprised as I did- we went to the side and opened it. There were two tickets!! DAVE, WE LOVE YOU!!! :-)
I managed to see Megadeth’s two last songs, and I love them. Had been looking forward to seeing them, but two songs were better than nothing.
When Iron Maiden walked up on stage, it was like a huge triumph-comeback! They have the best fans in the world! I looked around, and saw thousands and thousands of happy, crazy, screaming, headbanging Maiden-fans! They were in total ecstasy, and it was almost more entertaing watching the crowd than what was going on on stage! Almost… The last time I saw Iron Maiden was Donington 1992, but they were back to rock harder than ever! They were so good that I dropped my jaw. Holy shit.
Three guitars, the typical Maiden bass-sound and an absolutely fantastic Bruce! He has one hell of a set of lungs!! I even wondered if this was live or pre-recorded, but I saw it wasn’t fake. He really is one of the best vocalists around. He’s in great shape too, runs around the stage, jumps over amps like a rubberball, and owns the stage!
I got to hear some of my favorites: Phantom of the opera, Fear of the dark, Run to the hills and of course Number of the beast. It was a good mix actually, a little bit of everything from Maiden’s long musical history.
After the show, we drove back to the hotel just to leave a THANK YOU-note for Dave in the reception and also a note for Marty. Then we went to Copy, a small pub/club that played clasic heavy metal all night. I had a great time listening to old hits like Electric eye and Panama, but had to leave when the air was unbreathable in there. I can’t stand smoke, and it made me feel really sick. Besides, I was dead tired – I had only slept a few hours and driven all day. I needed rest. (Comment: This was before smoking was forbidden in public places in Sweden).
To make a long story short, I didn’t get much sleep that night for various reasons (we stayed with a friend of Janet’s who has three cats and a parakeet. The cats walked all over me during the morning and the bird screamed for all he was worth, so it was impossible to sleep). I wouldn’t have slept long even IF things had been perfect, because I felt that I had to go back to the hotel and get those missing Maiden-autographs before they left! Janet went back to bed and I drove off to new “adventures” on my own.
I went to the hotel-bar/restaurant and ordered tea. I was so tired that I was dizzy, felt sick and saw red and yellow spots before my eyes. I realized that I hadn’t eaten anything either… But then I recognized the Maiden-crew (I had seen one of them running with a fax-machine under his arm the day before) talking to the reception-ladies, so I quickly found my silver-marker and Iron Maiden promo photo that I got from EMI. Jannick came down first, but he was busy straightening out something at the reception desk, so I waited. The hotel-staff smiled at me, they recognized me from the day before.
When Jannick seemed to have solved whatever it was he had to solve and had a spare second, I asked him if he’d sign my jacket and photo.
– Suure! I’ll sign anything you put in front of me, he said and signed.
Then Dave Murray came out of the elevator with a little suitcase on wheels. He was still smiling! When he had finished talking to “his” people, I approached him, and he went:
Then Will (the guy who had helped me out all day with tickets and passes) grabbed me and went: