You waited all day, in all kinds of weather, your feet are killing you, your mouth is dry, you need to go to the bathroom and you’re starving. But it’s all worth it – BECAUSE YOU GOT THE FRONT ROW SPOT to see your favorite band!
And then, you just know it’s gonna happen… There is that guy who shows up ten minutes AFTER the show has begun, who kicks and shoves his way through the crowd like the asshole he is – and spots the little blonde chick there at the barricade. He thinks “Bingo!” and figures it’s his lucky day. It will be a piece of cake getting rid of that little blondie over there. Au contraire my dear, unsuspecting friend. You might just have made your biggest mistake today. :)
Me and my blonde, concert loving female friends, have been in situations like that many times, and they never ended well – for the dude. Or sometimes for some annoying chick. We know how to disarm them. So never underestimate that little innocent looking girlie there at the barricade, she’s done this before.
This happened at a Pretty Maids concert at Hard Rock cafe in Copenhagen a few years ago: There was no barricade and my friend was in the very front, when this gorilla type showed up from out of nowhere and decided to HANG on her. He was twice her size and thought that gave him an advantage.
She had nowhere to go and nothing to grab or hold on to, to keep her standing straight. So she got an idea. She took a firm grip of his family jewels and TWISTED them around – 360 degrees. Not only did he stop his nonsense, I think he got a new career – singing Bee Gees songs….
That wasn’t the only time she made her point at a gig.
At Sweden Rock Festival, she had this girl next to her that was waving her arm in front of her face during the gig, so she couldn’t see what was going on on stage. After a few nice attempts to kindly ask the girl to stop doing that (and only getting a stupid grin in return) she quite simply BIT HER.
“What was I supposed to do? I just sunk my teeth in her arm when she started flapping it in my face again! But she stopped after that….”. No kidding.
Blonde rock chick number two – we were at a Jon Oliva’s Pain show in Copenhagen and this drunk guy was jumping around like a pinball. He was all over the place, stepping on her toes, on ours, just being a major pain in the behind. After a few “please stop thats” she finally got sick of him and grabbed the chain he had around his neck, and with a strong, firm grip just pulled him backwards.
He was so surprised that he never had a chance to prepare for it. He flew across the room and we didn’t see him again for the rest of the evening.
Then there was that drunk and high son of a b…. at a W.A.S.P concert in Lund, Sweden a few years ago. He was screaming, jumping, shoving, trying to literally CLIMB over us, cause he was so pissed off that we were in “his” front spot (where were YOU when we came in an hour ago, dude??).
After fifteen minutes of what felt like three rounds of WWF wrestling, my friend decided to make good use of her spikey high heel boots – so she STOMPED on his toes with those killing machines for all she was worth.
The dude stopped for two seconds, but was so high on god knows what, that he didn’t feel pain. He continued.
I was furious by the time he focused on me. So I used my head. Literally. I hit him in the face with the back of my head – full force. It even hurt ME and it scared me a little cause the guy stopped, finally. It was scary quiet though. I didn’t turn around to see if I had knocked all his teeth out, broken his nose or done any other kind of damage. But at least we got rid of him…
When you’re in a crowd, you do things you would never ever do in real life. Suddenly it’s the law of the jungle that applies. If you’re trying to ruin my concert experience, I’m not just gonna stand there and take it. I’ve never seen a veteran lady rocker be helpless in a concert situation. We become amazon women ready to kill.
So before you think that “the two blondes in the front row” are an easy target, think again. Rock’n’roll is about blood and sweat, and we’re all in!
First “gig trip” in a loong while. It’s a strange situation for me, as I’m used to being out there on a regular basis checking out bands all over the planet. This year, however, I’ve had to restrict it for financial reasons, as I’ve chosen to go on the Monsters of Rock Cruise 2016, which is a bit more costly than my usual trips.
So anyhow, Gus G is in Scandinavia. He’s playing Oslo, Norway tonight and then continues on to Stockholm the day after. Oh yeah – the headliners are Kamelot, and the other guest act is Kobra and the Lotus. But you know me – I’ve been following Gus G’s work for several years now, so it’s not like I’m giving up on that anytime soon.
First stop was in Rodovre, Denmark, at the venue “Viften”.
I heard that there was a sound check in progress, and it was a pretty nice day so I just decided to hang outside for a while until I saw a familiar face. People were walking in and out of the stage door so it probably wouldn’t be long until someone would show. I could have texted, but there’s no point doing that when it’s obvious that everybody’s busy.
A guy on a motorbike drove up to me and said hello in such a friendly way that I asked him if we knew eachother. “No, but I recognize you. You’ve been to all the Gus-shows I’ve been to, at Rockmässan and [some other place I don’t remember]”.
Apparently I’m becoming a familiar face to Gus-fans, I can’t imagine how that happened. ;)
He was an Ozzy-collector and had bought a guitar lesson with Gus.
– I don’t actually play guitar. But I thought maybe he can inspire me to start!
That was the best motivation ever.
The guy drove off, said he had to take a shower so that he was nice and fresh for the lesson, haha! I went to the parking lot behind the venue, was trying to pick up a better WiFi signal, when I saw a familiar character all dressed in black, with sunglasses and everything. There was Gus, on his way to do a few errands. Talk about perfect timing.
After the quick errand-round, back to the venue and the sound check. It was really nice to see everbody again, although I think I suffer from tunnel-vision sometimes. Almost tripped over bassist “Strutter” and didn’t see it was him until he said “Hello Daniela!”
On the stage there was Jo (Nunez, drums), Markus (tech, merch) and Henning (Basse, vocals). Jo came down to have a quick chat, and also introduced me to his old Nightrage-buddy Bill Hudson, who is on this tour playing guitar with Kobra and the Lotus. You might also have seen him with Circle II Circle, TSO, JOP…)
I do know who he is very well though. Being in that whole Savatage-family, you tend to recognize people, even if you haven’t actually talked to them before. But what I remember the most about Bill, has nothing to do with his playing.
It’s something from the MySpace days, where he wrote this very intense diary/journal thing (this was before the word “blog” was used) about a transformation in his life, where he decided to make a big change, from something very negative and destructive, to something positive and more fulfilling.
It was so well written and so straight from the heart that I still remember it all these years later.
I was just sitting there watching the preparations and the sound check of Gus and Kobra and the Lotus, when I felt the smell of food. Catering-time for the bands. That’s usually my personal signal to get the hell out. If I’m not on the payroll, I have no business there when the bands are getting their dinner of the day. I rarely stick around for that – I did on the last tour, but then I was actually a part of the crew in a sense.
So I went outside. And I didn’t get back in until the doors opened for the public.
Kobra and the Lotus were first out. A very competent band, they know their craft, all the guys individually and collectively – and Kobra herself is a powerful front-woman. In all honesty, their music isn’t my cup of tea and it’s not what I personally would be listening to at home, but I did enjoy their performance and I think she is a genuine and charismatic band leader. Respect.
After a quick changeover, it was time for Gus G. It was cool to see that there had been some pretty big changes made in the setlist, which is awesome cause after seeing a zillion Gus-shows I know most of the little details and when they occur in the show. I couldn’t forsee anything this time and I loved it.
And the Belgian powerhouse Jo Nunez behind the drums has always impressed me, but the interesting thing is that he gets better every time. I remember when he first joined, he was a great drummer from the very beginning, but he was a talented boy who was pretty invisible behind his drumset. NOW – he’s this wild dude with the mohawk, SLAYING those drums with extreme, Swiss clockwork-precision! He’s absolutely amazing. :)
Gus himself has always impressed me. Watching his fingers during a solo can be almost hypnotic sometimes. I admire and have the highest respect for people who have practiced and sacrificed so much to become absolute wizards at what they do. Some of the stuff was new to me, haven’t heard it live before, so it was a treat to get to hear it “in action”.
After his show, I went outside again, and just sat in the cafe, they had pretty comfy fake-leather chairs. I was tired as f**k, had been up since 4 that morning and there was some personal crap going on that just made me feel a bit “off”. I met a few familiar faces, Maj-Louise and photographer John, but all in all I felt like I was in my own little “bubble” and not quite in a “party rock’n’roll” type of mood.
However, figured I’d stick around till Gus had finished his signing-session at the merch, take a few pics of that and then head back home to get some sleep before driving to Gothenburg the next day.
Gus came out, posed with some fans, signed some stuff and all that. I told him that I was leaving, said bye to Jo, and drove back home. Didn’t even say hello or anything to Markus in the merch, felt like a total ass, don’t know where my head was at.
And no, I didn’t see Kamelot – I heard them from outside. Never been my thing at all. They are a visually impressive live band to watch and everything is very professional and well executed, but it’s not my “thang”.
Got a few hours of sleep – then drove off with destination GOTHENBURG (Göteborg) the next morning.
I love driving, it’s the most relaxing thing there is (well… if you don’t count my roadrage outbursts…)
You get to listen to either good music REALLY loud without bothering anyone, you can sing your heart out, you can just let your mind wander – and you just see a road, heading to your destination. Always loved driving.
When I got to Gothenburg, it was around 1.30 PM, a beautiful, sunny day. There are only about 5 parking spaces right in front of the venue, so getting there early is the key. I got the BEST spot. :)
Took a little walk around the beautiful garden in the back.
Went back to see if there was anyone outside the buses that were parked on the side, but didn’t see anyone. A guy asked me if I could take a photo of him and Linnéa, the female voice in Kamelot. So I talked a bit with him. He was on sick leave and was in what they call “work training” here in Sweden. His income per month was a little over 1000 Swedish krona. I thought he was just bullshitting me, this is Sweden, you can’t live off of that. That’s not even enough for a month’s worth of food?
He said he has been living on pasta – without anything on it, gruel and crispbread. His friends and parents have helped him with money. Crazy, I didn’t think that was possible. He so wanted to see the show, he was a big Kamelot-fan and collector, but since it cost more than he could afford to even get to Gothenburg from where he lived, he couldn’t buy a ticket. I was so pleased to see that he got in anyway. Somebody must have put him on the guest list.
I offered him a Gus G poster cause I still had a few left from the last tour in the car. He asked if I had a few to spare for his friends, so I gave him a bunch and he was a happy camper when he got it all signed by the whole band. :)
Once again Gus showed up – on the parking lot (here we go again…!) and recognized my car. He’s been driven around Malmo in that very car when he was at Rockmässan a while ago. :D
So we went inside, another sound check thing going on.
I said I was perfectly fine hanging out somewhere where I could make myself invisible, while watching the preparations. And that’s the thing, I think that’s relaxing in a weird sort of way – watching the building of a stage, everbody running back and forth with amps, cables, a snare here, a cymbal there – lights, rolls of gaffer tape, backdrops… Just all the bits and pieces that need to be put together before a show can even take place.
I love that shit. Call me crazy but I’m perfectly content just watching that, like some people enjoy watching an ant-heap. I’m sure some were wondering who the hell “that chick over there” was or what my business was there in the first place. I just figure, if someone wants to know, they will ask. If not, it’s not my problem what anyone thinks. :)
While I was sitting there, one of the guys, in a red baseball cap and glasses, who was working with Kamelot, walks up to me and goes: “What, are we not friends anymore??”
I hadn’t even seen his face under that cap, so I said “I should know you, shouldn’t I?” because he kinda reminded me of a guy who used to work with Jon Oliva. I wasn’t sure though, cause it’s been a while, so I was waiting for him to say something, give me a hint.
He said something I didn’t hear and took off, then never came back. So, I’m still wondering if I either offended the guy or if he thought I was somebody else. :) When you see people outside of their original context, it sometimes takes a few moments to remember, and I’ve always sucked at it.
Also, being in your own corner works best for me. I’m not in anyone’s way. After all, it’s a workplace. If anyone has a few minutes to spare, they will come over and talk, but I’m not chasing anyone around in that environment.
Stage was done, sound check was done when doors opened. The first one I saw running towards the stage to get his front row spot, was the Kamelot fan that I had met outside earlier. I smiled to myself, I thought he deserved to get in, he was such a passionate fan. People like that should be treated well. :)
Shows commenced, like the evening before – same comments from me there. The crowds were great in Denmark and Sweden, ten points for that!
After Kamelot’s gig, everybody gathered at the merch stand again so I just hung out for a little while, feeling bummed that it was over ALREADY. I’m not used to just going home after one or two shows, I’m usually the one who has a whole TOUR planned ahead! So, getting in the car, driving back home after just 2 shows sucks. Was invited to come hang on the bus for a while before they left, but I had a long drive home in the middle of the night, so I left early. There will be other, better opportunities.
That was that. Well – things will look different next year. :)
QUOTES HEARD AFTER THE SHOW IN GOTHENBURG:
Fan to Gus G: “Man, you played GREAT!”
Gus: “Thanks. I’ve been practicing”
Fan to Henning Basse: “OMG! It’s you! Metalium! [does the Wayne’s World “we’re not worthy“-bow]
Henning [after a few seconds of being speechless]: “That’s embarrassing!”
Was “on the road” with the Gus G dates in Sweden last week. Still out traveling at the moment, but will be home for at least another few weeks before heading back to the States to check out Madam X and their gig in Detroit on April 17th!
There will be a proper blog about the Gus G Sweden-dates, but for now, head on over to my travel-blog and check out the latest entry. We all went by train this time, and it wasn’t too shabby! :)
It’s been less than 6 months since I wrote the blog below – and things have been happening at a rapid pace with this band ever since. I promised to reveal who it was in due time – and some have probably already guessed it. The band I was talking about was MADAM X.
Sometimes you just KNOW.
I’ve had that feeling a number of times in my life and it has never, ever failed me. The only times I’ve been “wrong” is when the bands have decided to break up/quit, but evenso, they’ve always done something to leave a mark.
When I went to see Madam X early that day at Sweden Rock (June 7, 2014) I basically went because I never miss an opportunity to see a metal band with female musicians. That’s always been a source of inspiration for me. Also, Madam X – they were in the Swedish music magazine OKEJ all the time back in the 80’s, who ever thought we’d get a chance to see them live – 30 years later?!
I was watching their sound check and preparations when a few fans asked for picks, and Chris “Godzilla” jumped off the stage, went over to the guys and handed out whatever he had – finishing the “pick-distribution” with a smile and the words: “If I dig any deeper in my pockets I’ll end up handing out my hotel key! That’s all I’ve got guys.”
I remember it clearly because it showed that this was a band with a good attitude. I made a mental note of that.
And the show? Loved it. Much like Skid Row back in the day, there was a passion and an energy that came across so clearly and I ended up staying the whole show. Usually at Sweden Rock I go from stage to stage and listen to a few songs, then move to the next stage/band. Unless it’s one of my favorite bands of course.
Madam X kept my interest and attention from beginning to end and it was love at first sight, to say the least!
They looked great, they sounded good, they were being themselves, not making any excuses, I loved that too. It was just genuine, you can’t fake that.
I took a few rounds in the VIP area after the show thinking I might bump into them and have a chat, but instead, I kept hearing from my friends that they had met Godzilla back there, showing me pics of those meetings on their mobile phones.
So I went to the signing session instead. The line went on forever, there were tons of people waiting to meet the band, it was insane!
Some of them never even got to meet the band because the SRF-crew had to cut the line to make room for the next signing session, leaving lots of disappointed fans with unsigned records and photos…
I didn’t get to talk to the band that day, but they left a lasting impression, so after the festival – June 9th, I just left a short note to Chris on Facebook, saying that I had a few decent pics and videos in case they wanted to use any of it – and said that I had enjoyed the show – a lot.
Started talking about the band and their plans and shortly thereafter he sent 3 songs that they wanted to use when looking for a record deal and wanted someone else’s honest opinion. Was the material good enough?
Like I wrote in that blog back in June – I didn’t expect it to be more than okay, maybe decent, but I didn’t think it would be so good that it would totally blow me away. All three songs were absolutely brilliant!
I’ve had those demos in my cellphone ever since, listening to them on my way to work, in the car, playing them on repeat. How often do I hear anything nowadays that makes me want to hear MORE, like back in the day when I was a kid? Not often. This is so rare, and I’m so thankful that I discovered I could still get kicks like that, even after 25 years in the business.
The rest is history. Today it’s December 5 – and I’ve been in Detroit twice, visiting in the studio in Rochester, following the recordings of the coming Madam X comeback album.
I’ve gotten to know the people involved – the band, whoever was in the studio that weekend, producer, friends, husbands, what have you – and they were all freaking cool people.
I’ve clicked with a few bands and their crews before, but this was different, this was truly like we had known eachother a lifetime. I liked them instantly, felt right at home from the word go. That’s a great feeling.
2015 is going to be Madam X’ year! And yeah, this is where you heard it first. Could I be wrong? Absolutely not. :)
It feels great, I believe in this 110%, and judging by the reactions from fans worldwide, the band has never really been forgotten. The anticipation and the excitement is through the roof!
I feel like an enthusiastic teenager – it’s going to be a blast. Not only do I think that they will continue where they left off back in 1984, I think they’ll do it better and beyond people’s expectations. Want a preview? Here’s the first single. :) Enjoy!
It’s taken a week to get rid of the jetlag, but the trip to Seoul, Korea was without a doubt one of the most memorable ones I’ve done. I had no idea what I could expect, as I don’t know anyone from Korea and I don’t even know anyone who’s ever BEEN there. Ozzy doing that one-off gig there was the perfect reason to go and I’m so glad that I did.
It took me 16 hours to get from Copenhagen to Seoul (with a landing in Dubai) but my favorite airline ever, Emirates, made those hours pass very quickly. Comfortable seats, good food and lots of movies and entertainment.
I landed in Seoul on Friday afternoon, around 5PM local time, and speeded through immigration like a flash. Very efficient and speedy process. When I got out, I was greeted by THIS! My cab driver, James (which he called himself, but his e-mail addy said his name was Kang :D) had placed the sign with my name on it RIGHT in front of the exit-doors, you just couldn’t miss it!
He was a happy, laughing man who was glad to show me the city and answer any questions I might have. The first thing he said was:
– This is the country where everybody’s got black hair and nobody speaks English, haha!
– Well, the country where I’m from everybody’s blond and everybody speaks English! :D
When we got to the guesthouse where I was staying, Sutome, I was greeted by a woman who said that she lived there. She showed me my room and explained how everything worked. I had no past experience at all of guest houses. Either it’s a hotel or a bed and breakfast. This was something inbetween.
I saw that everybody’s shoes were outside, so I took mine off as well. There was a hot/cold water dispenser outside my room which was perfect, cause there was this humid heat that was almost unbearable. The whole house had this wonderful scent of essential aromatic oils – there was Ylang-Ylang in the bathroom and lemongrass in the entrance room, all very fresh. Sutome was actually an art gallery but they also rented out rooms, and some people lived there permanently.
I asked the woman who had welcomed me, if it was difficult to get to the World Stadium or if she could maybe draw me a simple map or something. She smiled, asked me to put my shoes on, and she would show me.
So, we went for a walk! :) It was so easy to find, once we got to the nearest junction I could see the signs to World Cup stadium, and she pointed at something and I could even SEE it. No way to miss it. Then on our way back, she showed me a small alley that she said led to a little marketplace where I would be able to find good Korean food and do a bit of shopping. Unfortunately I never had time to go check it out during my very short stay….
When we came back, she showed me her tiny little garden, and she had watermelons growing there! I LOVE watermelons, thought it was so cool to be able to grow your own!
It was hotter than hell and I was tired after my trip, so I fell asleep almost immediately.
The next morning, I was wondering when it was breakfast. Usually you are told that breakfast is served between 7 and 10 am and if you miss it, you’ve missed it, tough shit… I was to learn that that wasn’t how it worked at a guest house.
When I got up, there was a lady there who greeted me with a smile and asked if I had slept well. Her English was limited but perfectly sufficient for a simple conversation. She asked me when I would like to have my breakfast. I asked her when they usually HAD breakfast (figured that I didn’t need any special treatment, I would eat when everyone else ate). She said around 9.30. Perfect. 9.30 worked for me.
I wanted to take a few pics of the street outside, when I noticed a cat and a few kittens right outside the door. From what I could understand, they were stray kittens, but the lady fed them and had prepared a nice little “cat home” for them where they had their sanctuary.
A guest house not only for people, but also for homeless cats, it was beautiful, I loved it. :D Check out the little grey fellow – and his VERY relaxed style! :D Lol!
My room was very simple, but clean and perfect for a young person. A CD-player was hanging on the wall and two shelves right next to it, with CD:s lined up to choose from. Two single beds, AC that didn’t work (or I was just too stupid to figure out HOW it worked) and a little table that I used as my makeup table.
Took a shower before breakfast and got online – was there was free Wi-Fi in the whole house. Maybe not the fastest one in the world, but at least it worked (kind of…. on and off at least…).
The lady was in the kitchen, preparing something and she brought me a tray with a pitcher of milk, some cornflakes, toast, little dishes with two different types of jam, the coffeemaker was brewing… And then she brought out a plate with scrambled eggs that she had just made. Perfect way to start the day.
She smiled once again, told me to enjoy breakfast and then disappeared. I understood that there was no “breakfast time”, you just got your breakfast when you could/wanted it, and she would make it from scratch. :)
After breakfast I packed my “concert bag” (all the usual – camera, batteries, memory cards, earplugs, mealbars, bottle of water, wallet, headache pills, nosespray, sunglasses…) and went to find the stadium. I wasn’t sure about the times or how it was all going to be organized, so it just felt safer to be there early.
One thing I noticed during my stroll, was how CLEAN everything was. There was no litter on the streets. Not as much as a chewing gum anywhere! I was impressed by how well the Seoul-residents kept their city tidy.
The stadium was huge. It took me almost fifteen minutes to try figure out where the entrance was! There was a big mall integrated with the stadium, and also a spa and what I think was a fitness facility.
I saw people with music t-shirts and decided to just walk in their direction. Sure enough, it led me straight to where I needed to go.
I had to pick up my ticket and luckily, there were signs in English that directed me to where to get my ticket. The funny thing though, was that once you collected your “paper ticket”, you had to walk over to the OTHER side, right across from this booth, and exchange your ticket to a wristband instead. Oh boy. Why not do both at the same time?
So I got in THAT line. And suddenly I became aware of the fact that I stood out in the crowd, quite a bit. I was the ONLY European-looking person there and most DEFINITELY the only BLONDE there. Not even as much as a fake blonde anywhere.
It was pretty cool, because you got your wristband and a kind of “pass-holder” that you could wear around your neck with the schedule and all kinds of good-to-know info.
I decided to take a look around the premises. The security check and everything else, went so smooth. In Western countries we are so unorganized because we are selfish and eager to accomodate ourselves, which usually leads to the exact opposite – longer lines and crammed entrances and exits. Here, people are used to co-existing in a different way somehow. It simply works. I was very impressed.
There were a number of different stages where you could check out various types of bands/music, food and sales of souvenirs and stuff. I forgot to get myself a t-shirt at least, would have been cool to have one.
Once I had checked out the area and I knew where to get in and out, and the different stages and stuff, I decided to go back to Sutome. It was way too hot for me, I just wanted to get indoors, in the shade for an hour or so (and drink lots of cold water).
I was still jetlagged to I ended up taking a nap for a half hour.
Went back to the stadium a little later to pick up a pass that was hopefully there, somewhere, I just didn’t know where or when. So I tried to find someone who spoke English. They directed me to this girl who said she spoke English. I tried to explain, as slowly and as uncomplicated as possible, that I just needed to know where I could pick up my pass. She nodded and asked me for my ticket…. I couldn’t see what the ticket had to do with anything, but I gave it to her and she pointed in the direction of the entrance.
Okay, this wasn’t gonna be a walk in the park, apparently. *phew*
I said that I knew where the festival entrance was, but I wanted to know where to pick up my pass. The word “pass” seemed new to her. She looked at me like I was from outer space. So I tried once again to explain that a pass was used to get in backstage… as in “behind the stage”… as in where the artists usually are.
She looked at me with a totally horrified, shocked expression and went: “You can’t go meet the band!”
Yes, I can, but I need my pass, so where do I collect it?!
It was as if she figured I was some random fan from the crowd who was trying to talk her way into the “holy area” or something. My god, that was quite a challenge. In the end, I just gave up, said that it’s okay, I would find somebody else to help me out.
I eventually found the lady who was in charge of promoter tickets and VIP passes, and she spoke English. Thank god. I had to wait, she said. So I just sat on a bench nearby and played Tetris for a while. ;) She finally came out, said that my name just came in, and put it around my wrist. I asked if she knew where the backstage area WAS, and she couldn’t quite explain it, so she told me to ask once I got inside the stadium.
Great. Whoever was on stage at that point had made the crowd go absolutely hysterical, mega-crazy, I mean, I have NEVER in my LIFE heard that kind of noise from a crowd EVER! I’m not kidding, it was what I imagine that Beatlemania must have sounded like – aliens must have heard it!
Turns out that it was PSY, the Gangnam style guy. I didn’t know that when I was trying to get from point A to point B in that crowd, though. Dispite the noise, I tried to find somebody who was in charge of security, and finally found one. He told me that the backstage was “out there and around to the left“. That road led to nowhere…. So I asked at least five or six people who all shrug their shoulders and had absolutely no clue where that backstage thing was or how to get there.
I ended up outside the arena somehow and went looking for the guys in dark blue t-shirts and walkie-talkies as I figured they should know more than the regular security people. Maybe they did, but the language barrier made it all take a long time. Suddenly, a girl walked up to me and said in loud and clear American: “Do you need help?”
Her parents were Korean, but she was from California, but had moved to Korea when she married a musician that was in a band (that was playing on the Music stage when all of this was going down).
Once she realized that I had come “all the way from Sweden” to Seoul for the Ozzy show, she was determined to fix this. So, she stopped a bunch of people with Security t-shirts, said something in Korean, pointed left and right and was bossy in the most polite sort of way, then walked over to me and said: “They’re gonna figure it out, just hang in there…”.
A few phonecalls, a few people in charge that were called in to see what the problem was, they all showed up on those segway thingies….
[Pic from Wikipedia]
After another ten minutes or so, I was told to “follow them”, one segway guy in front and one behind me as my “escort”. The California-girl waved to me, smiled and yelled “Good luck!!”
I was led into this big elevator with metal doors, escorted by these two security guys, then powerwalked (I had to try keep up with those rolling damn things that they were transporting themselves on!) for what seemed like forever and like a hundred miles, until we got to a door where we were met by two other security people and I was shown to a section where I was supposed to wait until I got picked up by someone. Then they all left.
I was listening to the “oomph-oomph“-music coming from the stage, when suddenly I saw Gus, a familiar friendly face in this “far away land”, that I was very happy to see. Him and Blasko were going to see Psy do his thing so we all went downstairs to the side of the stage to check it out. Never in a million years did I think that I would be in Korea of all places, checking out their “National hero” performing his biggest hit, with two dudes from Ozzy’s band, haha! It was just slightly… bizarre! :)
Before Ozzy’s show, I found a good spot in front of the stage, and felt very grateful that I didn’t have to be squashed in the crowd this time. I was excited and full of anticipation but at the same time, I was still struggling a bit with the jetlag.
Nobody bothered me, nobody had a problem with my presence there at all. In Europe and even in the States, there’s always some security guy with an attitude problem who wants to be a pain in the ass just for the sake of it. But here, it was just so easy and so uncomplicated, it was pure heaven.
The show…….. How do I even describe it? Ozzy was in FANTASTIC shape. He sang like I haven’t heard him sing in a long time, solo or with Sabbath. He was just at the top of his game in every possible way and I’m so glad that I decided to come “all that way” to see it. It was worth every single travelled mile, every single annoying kids’ scream on the plane back, every minute of jetlag and whatever else. It was just simply WORTH IT – ten times over!
There was an amazing atmoshpere over that whole show. The crowd was fantastic, I haven’t experienced anything quite like it before. Enthusiastic but still civilized. At shows this size in Europe, you’ll get dozens of people being pulled over the barricades during the show. HERE, there wasn’t as single soul causing trouble and the security had pretty much nothing to do. That must be the easiest job in the world – being a security guy at a gig in Korea!
I LOVE this Ozzy lineup. These guys work together so well, with all their different personalities, they are the perfect stage combo, and the very best at what they do. Gus G is the guitar hero who’s never ceased to amaze me with his impeccable playing. Whatever it is he does, it’s magic enough for me to want to see and hear more of it, anywhere on the planet.
Once again, he did all those classic Ozzy and Sabbath-songs justice, the perfect guy to interpret all his predecessors. He does it respectfully, classy and with great passion. Just the way it should be.
Tommy Clufetos burns with a fire behind his drums, and he’s kicking the living daylights out of them. He’s a great entertainer as well. As is Blasko, who adds that raw badass attitude to the stew. :) He just is that tough, bad motherf***er that every dude in the crowd wants to be. Adam Wakeman is the multi-talented keyboardist/guitarist and probably one of the funniest guys in rock. ;) Unfortunately he’s “the Invisible Man” on stage. Does his job but doesn’t take up a lot of space or spotlight from the others.
Ozzy himself was absolutely adorable. He looked like he was exactly where he wanted to be. He was enjoying himself and his frequent big, sincere smiles, magnified on the huge screens, were the unmistakeable evidence of that. Also, like I mentioned before, he sang better than ever. I saw him with Sabbath a couple of times the past year and although I’ve always loved his stage persona, he didn’t sing as well as he did at the Citybreak festival in Seoul.
So, I am praying to all the gods of metal, that the whole moneymaking Sabbath-business takes a break for a while and he does THIS for at least a little while. I had the best time ever – Oz and his boys were really at the very top of their game!
That evening at the World Cup Stadium in Seoul, Korea – was MAGIC. Just pure, amazing magic.
Another thing that was magic was how wast the stadium cleared out! In Europe, it takes HOURS to get thousands of people out of a stadium. In KOREA, the place was empty in a matter of MINUTES!
A man with a whistle was walking around blowing the whistle, showing those who were still lingering, the nearest exit which they should use. I’ve never seen such efficiency in my LIFE!
I left the stadium feeling great. Can’t explain it, it wasn’t a “gig high” or anything like that, just a very different kind of feeling that I actually had for days after the show.
If there were only more shows like this around the corner.
The next day, at breakfast at Sutome, I met three girls who were also staying there and were going to the festival. One of the girls was very curious, because she loved music as well and wanted to write about music. She hadn’t been to that many concerts yet but mentioned one where she initially went to see Muse but ended up seeing Metallica as well who played that same night, and was totally blown away.
I told her to start blogging, it’s a great way to start out, and if she wants to contact a music magazine down the line, she will have enough material to show. It’s just great to meet people all around the world with the same dreams and the same passion for music. It’s our most universal language!
The only thing I got to see in Seoul before going home, was the IFC Mall, right next to the luxurious Conrad Hilton Hotel. And one thing that I could establish, is that the world looks pretty much the same everywhere you go. There are a few small differences of course, but the mall could have been anywhere in the States. All the same type of stores, right down to the Starbucks and McDonald’s!
I suppose they were trying to appeal to the tourists, but to me it’s just like being at home, pretty much. I didn’t buy anything at all in Korea. Just a mini-fan that you could hang around your neck and it would cool your face. Pretty neat little thing that cost like a buck or two. Other than that – nothing. Only because we import all this stuff from Korea, Japan, China, all those countries, so I can easily find most of those things at home as well.
I did visit the World cup mall too, which was mostly an outlet mall. And the electronics department there just made it clear that when it comes to electronics, we are still a bit behind in the West. Some of those things that I saw, I even wondered what the heck it WAS!
When my cab was supposed to pick me up, it started raining…. and I mean RAINING, as in a total crazy monsoon! It was pissing down like it was the end of the world, and I thought I that maybe my flight would be cancelled or something. But just as we were approaching the airport area, the rain stopped, and I saw the most amazing thing…. I tried to take a photo but it didn’t work… The sky was almost black and was like this giant fluffy carpet above us… except for a little hole in the sky, from which bright sunrays came out and besides that – formed a “one legged” rainbow!
It was just such an amazing sight, I’ll never forget that.
The flight back home was a nightmare. Screaming kids all over the cabin, I sat there for over 16 hours listening to whining, crying, screaming, yelling… I would give ANYTHING to be able to travel long distances without hearing a single SOUND from those little devils. I even contacted a custom hearing protection manufacturer, but I guess they didn’t take me seriously when I said that I was looking for something that could filter out whatever frequency kid screams were usually on….
So I’m back in Sweden again, it took a week to get back on track. It was fantastic, the people, the country, the show – I couldn’t have asked for a better trip. :)
FOR PHOTOS FROM THE SHOW – GO TO www.facebook.com/intherearviewmirror
And a “PS”…. :
Strangely enough, this showed up on Facebook this morning. The weather phenomenon that I mentioned I had seen on my way to the airport, even had a name. It’s called “sky punch”, and I found a pic of it as well, since I didn’t manage to get a decent pic of it myself: