MY YEAR IN ROCK – retrospect 2012 (Part 1)
Every year when I look back on what I’ve been doing, it seems like it’s been longer than just a year. 2012 was no exception.
Even just the Firewind-tours were enough to fill a lot of space and bring back great memories – you’ll find those in this separate blog: http://firewindtour.posterous.com/firewind-tours-of-2012-recap
But there have been plenty of other highlights that I thought I’d take a look back on, now when there are only a few more days left of this year…:-)
TONY IOMMI DIAGNOSED WITH CANCER – AND OZZY & FRIENDS….
The year started with bad news that shook the whole heavy metal community – one of the godfathers of metal, Tony Iommi, had been diagnosed with cancer. The Black Sabbath reunion with Ozzy that had been announced and that had been so highly anticipated, was off. However, not to disappoint the fans too much, Ozzy decided to do the scheduled dates as “Ozzy & Friends“, bringing Slash, Zakk Wylde and Geezer Butler on tour. And of course his own band, which made a lot of people happy – myself included, as “the new kid on the block”, Gus G, was with Oz on those dates. Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have bothered.
FIREWIND IN ATHENS
Speaking of Gus, my first concert trip of 2012 took me to Athens, Greece where they kicked off their year at the Fuzz club, and also recorded a video for the single “Wall of Sound” that was released later in the spring.I remember Athens as easy to navigate with the metro going all through town. I was guided through some must-see’s, such as the Akropolis, by Jon, a good friend of Jon Oliva’s Pain (they were the ones who recommended him when I was looking for a contact in Athens – just in case). He’s also a singer in the band Need and we had lots to talk about, so it was a great guide! :) Always nice to get to know new people.
As for the Firewind-show (which was on January 14th, by the way), it was one of the best or worst, depending on how you look at it – their Greek crowd is absolutely freaking NUTS! I must have lost ten pounds at least getting crushed against the barricades before and during the show. My god. But – as always – worth it, ten times over! :)
STEVE STEVENS & SEBASTIAN BACH AT THE IRIDIUM JAZZ-CLUB IN NEW YORK CITY
At the end of January, on the 27th, I left for New York City. This time it wasn’t a major arena-gig, quite the opposite. Steve Stevens, one of the coolest guitarists alive (known from Billy Idol, Michael Jackson, Vince Neil etc…) and Sebastian Bach were performing together at this small jazz-club somewhere on Broadway.
The whole idea seemed so bizarre that I had to see it. I had also scheduled an interview with Steve through his wife Josie. Josie rocks! People look at her and judge her by the way she looks, it’s way too easy to think she’s just some bimbo, but I loved that girl. She was very professional but at the same time also very friendly and open. She had never even met us, but greeted us with a hug and made sure that we felt welcome. I wish all interviews could be planned through people like Josie.
I got a great interview with Steve after the two sets at the Iridium (with a seated audience). My friend (and photographer) Beatrice and I were lucky to get absolute front row seats – right at the stage. I remember when Sebastian walked out on stage, he dropped his jaw and started doing sign language and grimacing kind of to ask “Did you fly over just for this?”
He shouldn’t be surprised, after 23 years he should be used to seeing me anywhere in the world, so why not a jazz club in New York?
Anyway, the backstage story, the review, the interview, photos and all from that can be found here:
WHITNEY HOUSTON PASSED
After the Stevens/Bach show at the Iridium, I took it easy during February. The music world was hit by more bad news, not specifically metal, but one of the great voices in modern music, had passed – Whitney Houston. It shocked a lot of people, including a lot of rockers. Whether or not you were into her music, I think most of us would agree that Whitney’s voice was one of a kind and it was a tragic fate. This was on February 11, 2012. R.I.P Whitney.
STEEL PANTHER INTERVIEW IN COPENHAGEN
Next on the schedule of 2012 was Steel Panther. I heard that they were coming to Copenhagen, and I actually hesitated whether or not I would request an interview with them. They are funny, but that’s exactly the thing – how do you interview a band like that?! It would certainly be…different.
It was actually my friend Kevin, from JOP, who talked me into it. “What’s the worst that could happen? If you don’t like the result of the interview, don’t post it!” True enough. So, I contacted Universal in Copenhagen and set up an interview with these crazy guys.
It was a pleasant surprise. They were absolutely “normal” before the cameras went on, and especially Michael Starr who we met down in the lobby 30 minutes before the interview. But the minute the cameras were rolling, they became the out of control Steel Panther that we all know and love.
I had it all figured out, or so I thought. However, they wouldn’t let me finish a sentence, so they missed some of the jokes that I was hoping they would pick up on. But, I realized that the best way to deal with these dudes, was to just shut up and let them do the talking! :))
The interview has passed 24 300 views, that’s crazy. :))
PART TWO OF MY YEAR IN ROCK COMING UP………..!
GRASPOP METAL MEETING 2012 – memories and reviews (Part 1)
Finally Saturday and the first day in weeks, it seems, that I’ve had a fair chance to actually get enough SLEEP. That little detail, sleep, is luxury most of the time around here…
Graspop 2012 is now over. Once again it has been a kick-ass festival, I love it! I went there as a friend of Jon Oliva’s Pain band/crew three years ago and I’ve been coming back ever since.
I love the CROWD– it’s an amazing crowd that really LIVES, eats and breathes rock’n’roll and they are giving the artists all the love and energy that is the substantial fuel needed to create a FANTASTIC show. Without that crazy, dedicated crowd, there would be no magic.
Also, I rarely have good things to say about SECURITY, but I think that Graspop’s security crew deserve two big thumbs up for their hard work and their amazing great attitude. Usually you see the gorilla-like shaved-head, gym-sort of guys with their arms crossed looking like they totally loathe heavy metal audiences.At Graspop they are professional and efficient. They gently escort crowd-surfers and others out with a pat on their back – “take it easy, man“…. No judgement, no power-abuse. Judging from the looks of some of the security guys and girls, they seem to be metalheads themselves. :-) I wish all festival/concert security crews were like that.
CRAZY GRASPOP CROWD:
There’s just a very relaxed atmosphere in general at Graspop, you can feel the love for metal in the air everywhere you go.
I like the set-up with ONE main stage and three tents. That way you know where to go for the major acts. No digging after MAPS or need for impeccable planning to get from point A to point B. It’s all made simple.
AND – I like their pioneer spirit. Instead of the usual “cameras are not allowed“-bullshit, they have solved it the most logical way: They offer the BEST videos either through live-broadcast and/or out on YouTube. So there’s no need for bootleg-videos when the best quality footage is already out there on the official site. Regularly – not once a week or once a month. Sweden Rock festival have something similar but still not quite as extended as Graspop.
The backstage area is nice, clean, quiet and everything works. At many other festivals you are running around looking for stuff, there’s nobody to ask, no signs no nothing… At Graspop everything is clearly displayed and the backstage crew is nice and helpful.
Basically – I LOVE Graspop Metal Meeting!
Three days and lots to tell – I don’t even know where to begin. But I guess reviews are the most logical place to start. :-)
I came pretty late to the area, because I had been out for dinner with Vera and Ronald, a photographer friend of hers. So when I passed the entrance gates I saw that Swedish band SABATON were on stage. They were just wrapping up their set so I wouldn’t be able to review it properly, they sounded great from afar. :-)
Then came the part where I had to get in the front row – suffer through a band that I wouldn’t normally choose to see – in order to get a good spot for the evening’s headliner OZZY & FRIENDS.
I had to survive SLAYER first.
It’s no secret that Slayer is not my cup of tea at all. I’ve seen them a million times it seems, since the 80’s, yet their stuff never appealed to me. The coolest thing about their gig was that it was so clear that Tom Araya enjoyed every minute of his time on stage. As “dangerous” as he was trying to look, you could still see little twinkly stars in his eyes when he was looking out at the worshipping crowd.
And there was an incredible comeradery in the audience, crowd-surfing, hi-fiving, big smiles, just a great feeling. However, it was tough down there in the crowd (my muscles were aching really bad the next day). I was saved by a guy in the front who moved to offer me room at the barricades and then kept asking me if I was okay. Things like that made all the difference when you’re trying to survive a wild crowd.
Regardless my personal taste, I’ve got to hand it to them – they know what their fans want and they are still around because they genuinely love playing.
Managed to get ONE fairly OK video clip from Slayer’s show – with crowdsurfing fans included… When the camera dives down, it’s because I’m about to get somebody’s shoe in my head…! Enjoy:
There is also a SLAYER-photo album on my FB-page: www.facebook.com/intherearviewmirror
I was lucky I got there during the Slayer gig, because nobody moved after that. The front row was packed and it remained that way.
When Ozzy finally hit the stage I was all smiles. I can’t help it, but that man just makes me SMILE. Every time. I don’t even care if he sounds good or bad, he always knows how to entertain people.
I’ve read some pretty nasty comments from people about his Graspop peformance. “He sounded like shit“-kind of comments. It seems like the whiners aren’t reading the news, or else they should have been happy and grateful that Oz showed up at ALL this year.
Only two days prior to the Graspop-show, he had to cancel a show in Germany due to vocal issues. LAST year he cancelled Graspop due to laryingitis and Judas Priest had to step in as headliners and extend their show to cover up for Ozzy. He couldn’t cancel Graspop again.
So he got up on stage and gave his crowd all he had, good and bad. :)
The man is 64 years old! How great will most people sound in general at that age?! Fuck the whiners, Ozzy ROCKS. Yeah, at times he couldn’t command his voice – but the man is a trooper! He showed up and he KICKED ASS! I was there to see a good show, and I got what I came for – a great show!
There’s an amazing love and warmth in Ozzy that he projects to the crowd, he sincerely seems to enjoy what he’s doing and the smile on his face is contageous. If you could sell that smile and its effects in a bottle, I would buy it! :-)))
Personally, I prefer Ozzy with his own band. All the bling-bling with Zakk and Slash may work as a PR-sort of thing but basically I’d rather see Ozzy do his thing with his own guys – and Slash and Zakk do their own thing with their own bands. I did, however really enjoy seeing Geezer Butler on stage with Ozzy, would have wanted to see more of that. At least it made more sense than Slash.
It was fun to see the bunch on stage together as an All-Star event but if I had to choose, I would want to see Tommy, Adam, Blasko and Gus with Ozzy on stage any day. There’s a chemistry between those guys that works really well and as much as I understand why people want to see Zakk with Ozzy again, it’s a thing of the past now.
Regardless, Ozzy put up a fantastic show – even with his sore throat. I didn’t upload the whole thing on YouTube because I know how cruel people can be. Others probably did, but this time I chose not to. I made ONE video public – you can watch it below (also adding a bonus unlisted video for the readers of this blog):
WAR PIGS (unlisted video – with Geezer Butler & Slash):
GRASPOP DAY 2 – coming up. [Adrenaline Mob, Primal Fear, Thin Lizzy, Megadeth, Twisted Sister]
Black Sabbath news and drama
I guess everybody’s heard the news by now – the Black Sabbath reunion tour is off. Covering for the gigs, is “Ozzy & Friends“. I can’t imagine that anyone could possibly be surprised to hear that. I was talking to some friends just the other day, and I said just that – I can’t see it happening. Touring is tough, it’s certainly not for a man in his 60’s who’s battling a serious disease. He might recover but to think he would be able to go on the road so soon, would have been naive.
The “friends” are, apparently, Geezer Butler, Slash and Zakk Wylde. I would have hoped that after all this bullshit that’s been going on with Bill Ward’s “to be or not to be”, he would be on that “friends-list” as well. Especially since Sharon Osbourne said just the other day that she is not managing Black Sabbath, she is managing her husband. Well – in that case she should have something to say about who tours with her husband and his friends…. Let’s hope and pray for miracles.
Most of us think it’s ridiculous that the original heavy metal band can’t get along at this point in time, with Ronnie being gone and this probably being the last chance for them to do one last thing together. But it’s all about money and politics. It always was, even in the early days of Black Sabbath. Nobody’s going to do anything for free – screw all that romantic nostalgia, your idols don’t care about that stuff. And I can understand that after a lifetime-achievment, they feel that they deserve to be paid what they are worth. Either everybody gets paid or nobody does. Or, there’ll be all that drama that we are witnessing now.
“1,000,000 Black Sabbath fans say yes to Bill Ward” on Facebook is now up to 40,889 members, and 39,185 of them are talking about this. I hope that it can make SOME sort of change.
I spent all morning digging through old cassette tapes, trying to find a Black Sabbath press-conference from 1989. I was absolutely sure I had already posted it here, but I just can’t find it. Searched my computer for the mp3-file and nothing… I guess I must have THOUGHT about it but just never converted it. It was from the KB-hall in Copenhagen, Denmark, 1989.
The lineup was Tony Martin, Tony Iommi, Cozy Powell, Neil Murray and I think Geoff NIcholls, but I’m not 100% sure if he joined later… It was an interesting press conference, I’ll see if I can find it and post it.
As I was friends with Tony Martin at the time, I met Tony Iommi and the others several times when they toured in Europe. Just very pleasent and nice people, it feels personal on some small level to be reading about all the stuff that’s going on.
I hope Tony Iommi recovers and maybe someday there will be a real Sabbath reunion. As for Ozzy and friends – I’m not sure I’m that into the “All star band”-idea. I would have prefered to see him do his own thing – with the band he had on tour last year. They killed it on stage. But maybe people out there prefer the “special guests”-thing, I don’t know… Either way, I’m glad he’s doing this, because either way, it would have sucked if the scheduled dates would have been cancelled.
Let’s just try to see the positive in all this and with Tony a speedy recovery!
My YouTube-channel made it to Top 40!
When I checked my YouTube-channel this morning, there was a message saying that my channel was on the Top 40 list of most visited/most watched today. :-)That was nice. It’s actually been quite crazy with the traffic to my YouTube-channel the past two weeks.
It started when I uploaded a clip after the Whitesnake-show at Sweden Rock with special guests Bernie Marsden and Adrian Vandenberg. Not the best video in the world qualitywise, the stage is hopeless – cause with the catwalk-part, you can’t see what’s going on on all sides of the stage. That, and the camera-mic being too sensitive, picking up every sound from the crowd as well. But nevertheless, I must have been the first to upload something from this historic event. Cause over 11,000 people have watched it! In two weeks…. Crazy! It was so amazing, I still get tears in my eyes when I see that, that was extremely touching, seeing these guys together on stage after all these years, and the love they had for eachother and the music – I mean, all of it was just overwhelming. Then I uploaded the Judas Priest press conference and after that Zakk Wylde’s and Joan Jett’s press conferences – all of those also drawing a lot of people to the page. I guess it gives everybody who didn’t have the opportunity to be there, a chance to feel like they are participating in the festival-vibe in a way. And then of course, the interview with Gus G. I have to say, I was really very happy about that. I think the guy kicks ass in every possible way – musically, on a stage, as a person. It also turned out to be one of the most relaxed and fun interviews I’ve done in a while. Very enjoyable – and judging from the amount of visitors in just three days, it is appreciated by his fans too. No wonder.
Hopefully even more will discover it, cause I for one feel so relieved to see that there are people like Gus in the business still, who focus on their music, love what they do, and don’t have any rockstar- issues or the bad attitude that sometimes goes along with it.There is still tons of material from Sweden Rock that I think people would enjoy, but I haven’t had time to organize it or upload any of it yet. And now, it’s time for Graspop in Belgium. Leaving on Friday. Can’t wait to see Whitesnake again!! Priest, my favorite band of all time, didn’t impress me at Sweden Rock so I can only hope that they give a better show at Graspop. I love that festival by the way. Last year was great, but that’s when I had the best VIP-treatment you could imagine, as a part of Jon Oliva’s Pain’s crew – but a guest.
More about last year’s Graspop with live pix of Slash, backstage footage and more:
This year, I “only” have press-credentials, but it’s okay since a friend of mine decided to join me on the trip.
She just wrote this morning, and I can only agree with her words:
“I’m really yearning to go to a concert again, the feeling of being one with the music, feel it with your whole body and get intoxicated by it. It’s pure, true happiness when you feel that you are truly alive, here and now.”
Couldn’t have said it better myself. Never mind all that other stuff, the hierarchy of rock’n’roll where the bands are heroes and the fans are worshippers – it all comes down to one thing, and that’s the love of music. Nothing else matters.