Continued from part 1: https://intherearviewmirror77777.wordpress.com/2015/01/01/my-year-in-rock-2014-retrospect/
This is a screenshot from my Outlook e-mail. That’s where I organize all my trips. Every single event has its own file. That way I can keep track of things more easily, and also remember where I’ve been. I couldn’t fit everything in this shot but you get the idea…
So – moving on. MAY was a busy-busy month. That’s when the Gus G/Marty Friedman Guitar Universe tour kicked off. It started in Tampere, Finland on May 1st. I remember it well, because I took the train from Malmo to Stockholm the day before and was flying from Stockholm to Tampere on the day of the show.
When I woke up at my airport hotel that morning, it was snow all over the place! In MAY…!?
I remember walking around in the freezing cold city of Tampere, where I wouldn’t get access to my hotel room until late in the afternoon, and it was some sort of stupid automatic hotel without a front desk or PEOPLE to talk to, so…
I decided to just screw it, lose the money for the room I wasn’t going to use, and got myself a room at the Scandic hotel right next to the train station in Tampere instead. That was the best choice I could have made. WHAT a room! I loved it! Still remember it as one of my best stays this year.
It was good to see everyone when I was picked up by Andy, the tour manager, just as the sound check was about to finish. Gus and his crew, and band – it’s always great to see familiar faces no matter where you go in the world. :)
One thing that became pretty apparent already at that first gig, and that was that the “guitar geek” crowd wasn’t exactly the type of crowd that would blow the roof off a place. Some fans more than others perhaps, but it wasn’t a party animal type of crowd, for sure. Nevertheless, they WORSHIP their guitar heroes, they just show it in a different way. :)
The first round of this tour for me looked like this: Malmo – Stockholm – Tampere – Helsinki – Stockholm – Malmo (as supposed to be Gothenburg as well but that show was postponed and will take place in March this year instead).
Took a few days off the Gus/Marty tour but went to Copenhagen to see Reckless Love because I had seen them at the same festival as Gus/Marty (Stockholm Rocks) and though they were a great live band. They didn’t disappoint me in Copenhagen either, cool party band!
A few days after that I headed off to Germany for a new round of Gus and Marty shows. I started in Munich, travelled by plane and train, some great places, some less great places, but what I love about those trips are people I meet and places I see. Not the tourist thing but just everday things, everyday people. I don’t necessarily need to do tourist things, I can soak up the vibe of a place just by walking down the street – any street. Even just walking into the nearest grocery store. Doesn’t require more than that to experience a city the way I see it.
Met up with my friend Suuded again in Hannover for the show at Musikzentrum (which appears in the “Blame It On Me“-video, by the way :) ):
I came back home only to do a bit of laundry, work and maybe sleep a little. Then I was off on the next flight to London. This time it was at somebody else’s expense, namely Sony Music’s.
Judas Priest had invited a select few to listen to the new album, Redeemer of souls, at the Sony Music offices in London. I also got to meet Rob Halford again, always a pleasure. The album was great, the meeting with Rob was great. It was just a very memorable experience, the whole thing. :)
The Halford-blog can be found here: https://intherearviewmirror77777.wordpress.com/2014/05/21/hello-again-metal-god/
The next day I just moved from one part of London to another, to see Gus G and Marty Friedman at the O2 again. If I remember it correctly it was the last show of the tour. At least it was for me.
Marty recorded his video there and it was a great day and evening. Herman Li from Dragonforce joined the guys on stage that night.
As always, I hate it when a tour ends. While you’re in the middle of it, it’s always fun, exciting and always a new destination to look forward to (for a travel junkie like me). When it’s over, you go home and then you have to start all over again trying to find another interesting tour, festival or gig to attend…. I’m not much for sitting at home watching reality-TV. I’d rather live my own “reality TV”. :)
Anyway, the last Gus/Marty show on my schedule was May 21st. I had about two weeks to catch my breath before the next event was to take place: SWEDEN ROCK FESTIVAL. My second home, the yearly tradition that I can’t imagine a summer without. THIS year was memorable in many ways – not only for the gigs but also for the people I met and got to know, that have made some pretty significant marks in my life ever since!
All about that in part 3…….. Stick around.
The much anticipated Guitar Universe tour 2014 with Gus G and Marty Friedman finally hit the roads of Europe, and so did I!
My journey started at Malmö central station where I took the train to Stockholm on the 30th of April. It’s one of the most relaxing ways to travel, especially in the spring where you can truly enjoy the scenery. When the train crossed a few little lakes, it felt like we were “walking on water”. Beautiful.
I arrived at a busy Stockholm central, and used my smartphone’s GPS to find Hard Rock Cafe where I was meeting up with a friend later that day. I enjoy walking, and it’s especially enjoyable to take a walk in the sun. :)
Hours went by, I spent some time in the Hard Rock Cafe bar playing drink inspector. I love colorful, sweet drinks…! My friend Tina finally showed up and we could catch up a little. Haven’t seen her in years.
It started getting darker and that was my cue to get going so I could find my airport hotel before it got dark. Airport transportation is usually pretty expensive, but by reading tips from other travellers online, I found a way to get there pretty cheap by rail and bus.
I fell asleep pretty early (for my standards) cause sleeping is luxury when you’re out on these gig-trips. You try to get as much sleep as you possible can.
When I woke up early next morning, around 5 AM, I could barely believe my eyes. May 1st in Sweden – and there was SNOW outside?! It was freezing cold, and I didn’t’ have winter clothes, cause when I left Malmo it was spring! Oh brother….this was going to be interesting.
[The first thing I saw when I looked out the window in Stockholm, May 1st, 2014!]
The airport transfer bus was jam-packed. Got to Arlanda airport, my next destination was Tampere, Finland.
There were maybe 10 people on that tiny little SAS-flight and I could only laugh and shake my head at the fact that the plane was 55 minutes late because it needed de-icing…in MAY!
The captain went: “Well, we’apologize for the delay, but the de-icing station is slightly understaffed. We usually don’t need their services this time of year...”. :)
[Flying into Tampere, Finland…]
Tampere airport was like a ghost airport. Very small and absolutely nothing to see or do. I took a cab to Omena hotel which I thought was going to be my temporary home in Tampere. But when I got there, it dawned on me what kind of “hotel” it was. No reception, no staff, no nothing.
You got a key-code to access the premises and your room. And that didn’t work. The code/key would be “activated” at 4 PM. So there I was, at 10 AM, freezing my ass off, still tired, hungry and just needing a place to put my bags, change and relax before heading off to find the venue.
A McDonald’s was right around the corner and as much shit as you can shove on McDonald’s for various reasons, it has been my saviour many times when I’ve been out on these trips. It provides cheap food, free WiFi and bathroom. It’s the small things that count when you’re out travelling on your own.
I tried to get in touch with the Omena staff by e-mail, explaining the situation, asking if there was any possibility to get the access code to work a bit EARLIER than 4 in the afternoon, that’s extremely LATE. Nothing. To this day they still haven’t replied in any way, shape or form.
So, I thought… fuck it. I looked up another hotel nearby on my booking.com app and just walked in, asking if they had anything available for 1 person, 1 night. That was Scandic Hotel Tampere Station. The best thing I could have done! Sometimes, shit happens so that it can turn into something good.
The guy at the reception was super nice, I got a good discount, he asked what kind if room I would like, tub or shower, explained the details and was just helpful without being “in your face”-nice. When I opened the door to my room, I almost heard angel choirs and harps…! Wow.
It was modern, cool, had everything you needed and then some! It’s, hands down, the second best hotel I’ve ever stayed at. The best is still hotel Avalon in Gothenburg. But this is a worthy competitor. Normally I would have praised this place in booking.com’s review section but since I just walked in off the street, I’ll just mention a few things here in case other travellers to Tampere are looking for a great place to stay. It wasn’t that expensive either.
Sound proof – I couldn’t hear a thing from the rails, the street or other guests. Wonderful silence…!
Warm floors. Even in bathroom.
Usually hotels are focused on male travellers but this one had thought about the female ones as well. There was plenty of space to put my makeup in the bathroom, a huge mirror and good lighting.
The soap was organic and smelled great.
Another thought-through detail was the “night light” in the bathroom – a small, tiny light that lit up the commode so you don’t have to turn the big, bright lights on when you get up in the morning and need to go to the bathroom. THAT was probably my favorite feature. Again, it’s the small things that count. :)
And the BED…! I could have slept there all day, so comfortable. I felt like a queen.
But the best thing of all: It was right across the street from the venue, Klubi!
I walked down there to check out the premises, looked like a typical rock club. No activity going on though, so I went to get some dinner.
When I came back, I heard drums – actually, you could hear those thundering, wild drums all the way up to the railway tracks…!
A guy who was obviously from the club, approached me and started talking Finnish, so I told him I didn’t understand a word he just said.
– Oooh, sorry. I’m looking for a woman, but I don’t know what she looks like, he said.
OK, well. Hard to help you there my friend. :) A bit later on, I was picked up by a kind and familiar face and brought into the nice and warm club. At that point I felt like an ice-lolly or something, man it was cold!
But when you’re out on these things, there’s really nothing better to do than hang around the venue – as crazy as it sounds. There’s only so much you can do at the hotel or a restaurant, and even that gets old. Anyway, I caught a few minutes of the sound check, which was great.
It was nice to see all the familiar people and hear a little bit of Marty’s stuff as well. Mats came down to say hi when they were done, and Jo kept me company for a little while, as always, before heading off to grab a bite somewhere before the show. It’s always great to see him, I was really glad he was announced as the drummer on this tour.
That’s what I enjoy the most I think, the super sweet guys in the band and crew. In a way I share a lot of their memories cause we’ve been to the same places, all over the planet, pretty much. :) Europe. the US, Australia…
Doors opened and people started coming in. I noticed a slightly different type of crowd than you would find at a Firewind gig. Many “geeky” guys who were clearly guitarists and were there mainly to check out the fretboard techniques of Gus and Marty…
And then it was finally time to kick off this tour with some brand new music from the young guitar virtuoso Gus G and his rock-tight band. It’s always a ballsy thing to do, to go on the road with a brand new album, presenting a brand new concept. I’d say that most of the crowd didn’t know the material yet, as “I Am The Fire” came out only about two months ago.
The crowd wasn’t the drunk Beavis & Butthead type of crowd, but I watched some of them, trying to “scan” the reactions of people, and noticed the approving nods and the very concentrated looks on their faces. If you were a mind-reader you would probably hear them go “damn, this guy is SICK…!“.
There are different ways to show appreciation and this crowd was most approving indeed, but in their own, silent kind of way (to start with at least, they got into it soon enough!)
As for me, seeing THIS constellation for the first time too, I’d say it was as tight as a frog’s ass. I was there when drummer Jo Nunez was brand new in Firewind and I’ve seen him grow with the band since then. He was brilliant back then as well, but now he’s a confident showman too and really fun to watch.
I received a message from a fan who had seen the videos from Tampere who said that he wouldn’t mind just watching a “Jo-cam” cause he’s entertaining. Thumbs up for that, it’s awesome.
Both Jo and bassist Or Lubianiker are working double shifts on this tour. Or, as Or put it on his Facebook-page: “Me and Jo (one hell of a drummer) held it down nice and tight for Marty, Gus and Takayoshi to pour some guitar awesomeness on top.”
Couldn’t have said it better myself. :)
Mats is the born frontman, he is just a natural talent in every aspect. He looks and sounds the part – and he’s working his butt off. So is Gus, and he always delivers. I wouldn’t be out here for the third year in a row, if he didn’t.
It’s a shame though, that Gus tends to gets stuck in different “boxes” that limits the type of crowd he could and should be drawing.
His solo album is not a “guitar album” – you do get great guitar work if that’s what you’re looking for, but most of all, it contains a bunch of great, classic style hard rock songs.
So now, it’s a “guitar-crowd” when it should be a regular hard rock crowd as well. It’s definitely not an easy business to be in. :)
[For the guitar-enthusiasts:]
I’d say it was a good evening with a crowd that started out as slightly reserved but ended up rockin’ like a real metal crowd once they got a little loosened up! :)
I haven’t seen Marty Friedman since his days with Megadeth, so I had no idea what to expect. I was pleasently surprised. Eventhough I didn’t know the material and it was 100% instrumental, I found myself getting closer and closer to the stage cause he has an interesting way of mesmerising a crowd.
It’s not just his playing. there’s no point “reviewing” guys like Gus or Marty – anyone with ANY knowledge or music, knows what they can do and what level of musicianship they’re on.
But Marty exudes such joy, enthusiasm and pure passion on stage. You can see every single emotion that he goes through in any given moment, by just watching his face. He’s like an open book and I think that really appeals to people. You don’t have to be a guitar geek to be fascinated by this guy. Anything that is genuine will ALWAYS get the attention of people.
I heard a girl saying after his show in Stockholm, “I don’t really like this kind of music, but I stayed throughout the whole show, I didn’t want to leave”. I rest my case. :)
And then…. as icing on the cake – the evening was concluded with this. See the video footage below. I was right in the middle of the warmed up crowd and it was awesome. :)
I left straight after the show to get some sleep. Had an early wakeup call the next morning.
Next destination: Helsinki
[Watch for the next tour blog in a few hours…]