Category: REFLECTIONS

SKOGSRÖJET – festival-of-loud-guitars&screams time! :)

I didn’t go to Sweden Rock Festival this year, my “home” that I haven’t missed one single time since the mid 90’s, but this year I had to for personal reasons. I had to go to Croatia to take care of a few things that couldn’t be postponed any longer.

So I’m really glad that I’ll get to experience THIS festival, SKOGSRÖJET instead, cause it’s brand new to me.

Some of my favorite artists and bands are on the bill, so it’s like Christmas! I originally only got myself a ticket because they announced YNGWIE, my guitar hero since I was a teenage rocker. He hasn’t played in Sweden since god knows when, so that was a major treat! Then they announced APOLLO – Sweden’s Tony Martin, the man with the massive voice.

Then came all this other stuff, it’s gonna be a party-weekend to remember!

Not only that, but some of these acts bring old friends, Loudness with a long-time friend Anett from the Jon Oliva-days, Apollo from the Firewind and post-Firewind days, Pretty Maids with “little brother” Chris Laney on the keyboards and guitar…

And kickass live acts within their respective fields – THUNDER is an AMAZING band! I first saw them at the Donington Monsters of Rock back in the early 90’s with Iron Maiden, The Almighty, Slayer and W.A.S.P among others. They kicked ass.

Then I made a reaquaintance with them when they played with Whitesnake on their UK tour a few years ago – and then played Sweden Rock Festival. Incredibly solid band, great songs, just a wonderful vibe all the way through. And now they’re back in Sweden – then, if I feel that I STILL haven’t had enough of them, they’ll also be rockin’ the boat at the Monsters of Rock Cruise next year!

[this is from the Whitesnake tour a few years ago]

AMARANTHE kick ass at what they do, they’ve done their own thing from the very start and whether people loved it or hated it, they still carried on with their unique style.
Never mind the fact that all guys go goo-goo-gaa-gaa over Elize, she’s an incredibly talented singer – all three of them are. And there’s fireworks, laser and stuff, enough to feast your ears and eyes. :)

And D-A-D…! There is not a festival, gig, stage, ANYTHING that won’t start rockin’ to the CORE when these guys plug in their guitars and turn everything up to eleven! I love, love, love them to death! It’s genuine, it’s rough, it’s tough, it’s rock’n’roll the way it’s supposed to be, it’s a show, tons of humor and there’s just nothing not to like about these guys, Denmark’s greatest pride and joy!
If you haven’t heard them or seen them, it’s never too late and I can’t imagine anyone not having a fantastic time at their shows! :D

Hardcore Superstar, another one of those solid bands that have so much energy on stage it’s exhausting just watching them. :) It just hit me that a lot of these great acts are all from Gothenburg, Sweden – and Liv Sin is another one to add to that list.

When I first saw Sister Sin, they were opening for some major act, don’t remember who it was, but I remember thinking when I saw that petite, little leather-packaged chick in fishnet stockings: “…probably another one of those wimpy girlie singers that focuses on image and can’t sing for shit“…

Boy did I regret thinking that for even one second! SHE was the real deal – no doubt about it! She had a powerful rock’n’roll voice, like she’s been eating barb wire for breakfast, she was ALL over the fuckin’ place, rockin’ like the 100% pure rock chick that she is!

She’s never disappointed me since – she delivers at every show. Some people were just born to do what they do, and Liv was born to rock the asses of everybody.

And Yngwie – well… he doesn’t need an introduction. Just call him Maestro. :) Nobody comes close, he is simply amazing. Yeah, he’s mister Attitude and all that, but strip away all the bullshit and it comes down to the greatest guitarist I’ve ever heard. There might be others that are technically better, but Yngwie’s got the whole, complete deal – the melodies, she showmanship, the “feel”… It’s a zillion notes per second but it’s not ONLY that, unlike most other shredders. Love the guy. For his playing. I mean listen to this and tell me he’s not fantastic!

Second day – Apollo, Ugly Kid Joe, Pretty Maids, Backyard Babies, Black Star Riders…and old school NWOBHM heroes Saxon. :)

APOLLO – you’ll hear his voice on so many records, he’s one of the most sought-after vocalists in the country and there’s no doubt why. Apart from being an impressive singer, he’s also a super nice guy. This clip is from his days with Evil Masquerade. A favorite of mine. :)

PRETTY MAIDS – been around for ages and they’re only getting better!

What’s not to like?! I can’t wait for this weekend, that’ll be my dose of rock’n’roll for this month! :D

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No terrorist will ever stop me from living

Music, life

I wasn’t going to write about the Manchester terrorist act, because I just don’t want those who do it to get more fuel and more attention. It seems like that’s their way of getting their message across, in a sick sort of way.

But I will say this.

I’ve been asked: “Aren’t you at least a little bit scared?”

I go to concerts all the time. It’s my life. It’s what I live for.
A wise person once said that you should live for something you’re also willing to die for. And music is exactly that.

I’m not afraid at all. I’m not saying that to convince myself or anyone else or because I want to pretend to be cocky or whatever, I simply just…am not scared.

There is not one sexually frustrated, mentally disturbed terrorist on this planet that will make me stop going to the next concert – or the next. And if they blow me up, well so be it. Just do the job properly asshole. I’m not going to spend my life at home, being scared of traveling or going to an arena to see my favorite band. If I do, I might as well shoot myself right away, because that is no way to live.

I’ve been a “railrider” (all the way up front at concerts) since I was a teenager. At times, it’s been very tough standing there in the front row. You think you’re going to be crushed to death, suffocate or be beaten by some drunk or by someone who’s high and thinks you’re in the way.

My friend and I went to a W.A.S.P-concert in the late 90’s and it was ruthless. She decided to give up, cause she had bruises all over and couldn’t breathe. I didn’t blame her. But I stayed. My attitude at the time was, that if I die here tonight, at least I will have died happy.

And that’s what it’s all about.

I will probably be scared if someone shoots me and doesn’t do the job properly, but nothing will scare me from going to concerts, that’s my point.

I just read that Kiss cancelled their show in Manchester, and I understand that it’s just not the right time or place – eventhough it’s for other practical reasons as well. I’ve been to that arena, because I prefer Manchester to London for gigs. It could have been me.

To think that some confused individual who believes in fairy tales and is convinced that blowing up people is mega-cool, killed CHILDREN… who know nothing about political or religious beliefs…

What can you even say? 

I’ve already seen enough hatred and speculations in social media, I’m not going to add more to it since it really makes no difference what anyone thinks. This shit will continue, cause there are enough airheads out there who have nothing better to do with their worthless existence than blowing themselves up.
I just wish they could do it somewhere far away from other people.

All we can do is set a statement by what we choose to do and how we choose to live.

And I choose life – and living it to the fullest. That’s what rock’n’roll has taught me. It gave my life meaning and I will stick to it.

Until the very end.

MY YEAR IN ROCK – 2016

2016 is coming to an end and, being true to my habit, it’s time to do a 2016 recap.

Compared to previous concert-years, this year has been less busy. I haven’t flown to 50 cities all over the world to see whoever, but instead, it’s been about TWO main events that were both something out of the ordinary, a lot more expensive than the usual gigs (which is why I couldn’t go all in with everything else) but that brought memories for life:

1. MONSTERS OF ROCK CRUISE (Shredders Of The Deep, February 22-26)
[Miami Florida – Nassau Bahamas – Great Stirrup Cay Bahamas]

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2 . DESERT TRIP – Indio, California (October 7, 8, 9)

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It’s hard to beat those experiences – ESPECIALLY Desert Trip that has left such lasting, fantastic memories that I feel extremely blessed and privileged for having been there. All those legends one after another, the camaraderie that quickly built between perfect strangers was nothing short of amazing.

Paul McCartney has always been a “god” in my life, since I was 8 years old, so that night was such a strong experience that I couldn’t stop bawling my eyes out, I was just to taken by the whole thing.

Stones – and especially Keith Richards, coolest man on the planet – is the ultimate band, there is nobody that can compete with these guys and their 50+ years in the business. There is a reason why they’re still performing the biggest arenas in the world.

Bob Dylan, Neil Young, The Who, Roger Waters… all of them had something important to say and they all still have a passion and a fire inside of them that I admire them for cause you rarely see that in artists nowadays.
I wish I could go back in time and do it all again. :)

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Just checked in, ship about to depart – having a Bacardi & Coke! Cheers!!

The cruise was something to remember as well. Apart from being on a ship where there was a great band playing somewhere almost 24/7 was like having died and gone to heaven. Not only the music, but the whole setting.

I had picked one of the nicer cabins with a balcony, and I remember waking up really early a few mornings looking straight out over a vast ocean that seemed limitless, watching the sun rise.

It was so quiet, so beautiful, cause at that time, the whole “party boat” was fast asleep. I also remember being on deck late at night when it was pitch black, taking photos of the crystal clear moon, while listening to the calming waves splashing alongside the sides of the ship.

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I’m ready for the weeklong rock’n’roll extravaganza to the Bahamas!

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One night I went a little out of control, which I haven’t done in a very, VERY long time, and ended up in the pool with my clothes on while Steve Vai was getting ready to hit the stage. I ruined my favorite pair of jeans, but I got the whole Gus G-band laughing cause nobody’s ever seen me in that condition. :D

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Madam X

Anyway – apart from those two experiences, there were a few more that added to my yearly concert junkie experiences!

Sylvain Sylvain (New York Dolls) that made a guest appearance at the Rock’n’Roll Residency in Nashville when I was over there visiting my friend Blackie.

I was introduced to a number of really cool people that night, including Lizzy Hale who was really sweet, and Stacie Collins who has since visited Sweden a number of times and is one badass rockin’ lady! Go check her out if you get a chance.

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Lobo Lee, Stacie Collins and me.

Avantasia in Hamburg, Germany. That was QUITE an experience! I was staying with my friend Su and she got sick that day so she couldn’t join me, but I went to Große Freiheit alone and when I got there there was a loooooong – I mean LOOOOONG line that filled the whole street and continued on and on forever! The place was PACKED!! I haven’t seen that many people in a club in ages, I thought they were gonna tear the place down, literally! The concert was amazing and I guess the crowd contributed to it with their enthusiasm.

Whitesnake – there is no other band I love to see live over and over and over again without getting tired, and this year was no exception. First stop was when I was in Detroit visiting the my lovely friends from Madam X. As a last minute decision, we went to see Whitesnake at the Fox.

Pic: Me, Roxy Petrucci and Gary Gura
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Then, as if ONCE was enough (duh?!) went to see them again at Vega in Copenhagen:
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Went to a few Spiritual Beggars shows, a band that normally doesn’t play in their home country of Sweden, but that “broke the rules” this year and did it anyway. It was nothing short of total SUCCESS, especially in their home town of Halmstad where I remember showing up about an hour before the show at Kajskjulet, only to find the longest line of people I’ve seen for a Swedish gig in ages! You would have thought it was the ticket line for some rare gig with Guns ‘n Roses or something!

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They also did a mini-tour stopping in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmo, with openers SAFFIRE. Those guys also totally blew me away. Talk about high quality musicianship, that was quite a pleasant surprise!

Apollo (singer of Spiritual Beggars) did a solo appearance with Saffire later in the summer, on a very VERY rainy day, and of course I went there to check that out as well.

Another favorite, ROB ZOMBIE played in Berlin a few months ago, so I went there with my friend Henny. We froze our butts off waiting in line for hours, but there was no other place than front row in our minds, so you just do whatever you gotta do. It was worth it ten times over! I’ve never seen Rob Zombie do a bad gig, ever. It’s ALWAYS top-notch.

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Henny and I also made a last-minute decision to go to Belgium to check out Gus G‘s solo project a few weeks ago. Well, the show itself was kind of a last minute gig that was decided only a few weeks before it was to take place, and I found out about it during a phone interview I did with Gus so I had a little more time planning for that, thank god. :)

He brought US-singer James Paul Luna from Holy Grail – one badass singer that impressed the hell out of me, wow! Had a good time hanging out a little with the guys before and after the show, before heading back to Sweden.

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That wasn’t the only Gus G show I’ve seen this year – of course. He played at the Guitar Gods festival in Miami in February with Steve Vai and Yngwie Malmsteen, then at the Monsters of Rock Cruise and later on with the project Allegiance of Rock (with Europe-bassist John Leven, Hammerfall/Yngwie-drummer Anders Johansson and Candlemass/TSO-singer Mats Levén) at Hojrock in Västervik.

It was a drag getting to that little godforsaken town, but it was one of the most beautiful places I’ve visited this year and I hope I’ll have a good reason to go back there next year. :)
And Allegiance of Rock at the Stockholm Rocks festival at Debaser Medis, also featuring Inglorious, Grand Magus and Avatarium. Blabbermouth shared my videos from there, as usual. :)

The street fest Malmöfestivalen presented some great acts this year, most of them on the RockStage and one major act on the main stage at Stortorget, the biggest square in Malmö.

RockStage gave us great bands such as Dynazty (these guys are simply brilliant, with a kickass singer that blows me away every time he opens his mouth!), A.C.T (fantastic progressive rock band that call their style “art rock”, they’ve been awesome for the past 20 years or so) female fronted Frontback with the rockin’ chick Anlo Front who’s so full of energy, it’s always a pleasure to watch her go!

And last but not least, Monoheads, consisting of female rockers from bands Modesty Blaise (my first experience of managing a band, had a blast with them years and years ago) and Cat Calls. They all kick ass, the finest of the finest at their instruments, these ladies know that they’re doing!

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Tough guy DANKO JONES and his dudes, took the main stage and rocked it – big time! That guys is intense and a true rocker. He makes it impossible to leave, the energy from the stage just sucks you in somehow, just a great concert, as always!

Sweden Rock Festival is my second home. I just love it there, I haven’t missed a single year since 1995, except for 1996 when I moved to the States, and it’s just like being “home”, for real.

This year I was happy to meet up with old friend Anett, who used to be the tour manager for Jon Oliva’s Pain – this time she was out on the road with Loudness. Was good to see her and catch up a little. :)
I also got my Lita Ford biography signed by Lita – on the page where she had used one of my photos from this very blog. :D And yeah, she remembered so it was a little different than the usual stand in line-get shit signed-leave situation. :)

Queen played. Megadeth, Avantasia, Twisted Sister, King Diamond, Glenn Hughes and the list just goes on and on. I was mostly looking forward to Scottish band GUN and the band that got me super emotional, surprisingly enough, was the Hooters! What a show, I was totally taken by it – they just kicked everbody else’s ass. Just fantastic!

Apart from the gigs and travels, I also took a trip to Italy/Switzerland to visit Gotthard-guitarist Leo Leoni. I had a great time there, was welcomed with open arms by Leo himself, their friend and assistant Claudia and everyone I met that day.

Had lunch at his and his sister’s restaurant GrottHard Cafe and spent the rest of the afternoon at his house talking about deep subjects. Very interesting and very inspiring. The day ended with a visit in his studio in the basement where the new Gotthard album “Silver” had been recorded , where we listened through the whole thing. It sounded great! I loved the trip too, very beautiful countries. :)

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And last but not least, the book about rock club Kulturbolaget, KB in Malmö, where ALL legends have played, was published a few months ago. I ended up being in 3 or 4 different segments of that book which is a great honor.

So that wraps it up, pretty much. 2017 is going to be just as busy as always, with the exception that I won’t be going alone on all my trips and gigs, something that I’ve been doing for years. I’ve just gotten used to doing things my way since most people I know aren’t as crazy and usually not willing to do what it takes to get that front row spot and all.

But now I have that so it will be a lot of fun and I’m very much looking forward to 2017 which will include Bob Dylan, Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper, ZZ Top, Rob Zombie and much, much more! Thanks for a great time 2016 – now let’s top this in 2017!!

Sleep tight, Stanley

I came home today after a trip to Germany, only to find my Facebook-mailbox full of private messages from friends who wondered if I had heard the sad news. “Stanley is not with us anymore”. One of my friends called me the minute I got through the door because he didn’t want me to get the news “through Facebook”. Sometimes things should be done “old-school”, person to person, not through social media. And I’m grateful for that.

I had a flashback that took me few years back in time, when Stanley’s bandmate from Nasty Idols, singer Andy Pierce, suddenly passed away in the shower at the age of 45.

Now Stanley. I’ve been friends with these guys since what feels like forever. There’s no secret that they didn’t choose to live particularly healthy lifestyles.
But it just doesn’t matter, the reaction and the sadness is still the same when you are faced with the fact that they are simply not here anymore and they won’t be coming back.

Stanley was always a wild child, a person who everybody knew – and much like with Andy, you either loved him or you hated his guts. Or it would go both ways like a roller-coaster, depending on what state of mind they happened to be in at the time, cause they could both “suck people in” in a strange sort of way.

Stanley and Andy had another thing in common, and that was to provoke people. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes it just happened, but I think that most of us knew that they had good hearts – somewhat troubled, messed up souls – but good hearts and that’s why they still had people around them offering their help and support even when they messed up, which was an ongoing thing pretty much.

My very first thought when I heard about Stanley was something he did for me that I’ll never forget – and which defined him as a person in my book.

I was celebrating my birthday and wanted to do something that would be a great memory for me and my friends, so I wanted to take everybody to Tivoli – an amusement park in Copenhagen – and pay for everybody’s entrance tickets and the transport there so we could all have a good time, regardless of anyone’s financial situation. I would pay for all of us, cause I knew it would be a great memory, and that’s what it’s all about, not the money.

Two or three people bailed in the very last minute with bad excuses and I was really angry that they hadn’t told me earlier, because I had already bought their tickets as well, and they knew it.

Stanley was the ONLY person who had a VALID good reason not to go, he was just out of surgery and was in great pain, he should have been at home resting.

But when he heard that people had let me down, he immediately got on the phone and called me and said that he was back on, cause he sure as hell was NOT gonna be one of those who ruined my birthday.

I told him not to do it, it wasn’t his problem what other people did, he was sick and should be in bed! But there was no way I could change his mind. He had already made up his mind that he was going – for my sake. It was the right thing to do and he was determined to do it.

We had such a great time that day, he was so funny and he enjoyed it, dispite having taken god knows how many strong painkillers to make it through the day.
I’ll be forever grateful for that gesture. THAT showed me what he was made of, he was there when he needed to be. He cared. And we weren’t even that close, just long-time aquaintances I guess, would meet at gigs or private parties or whatever.

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Stanley at the Tivoli (left)

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A few years prior to that, he also showed up to one of my birthday parties with one of the best gifts that I got that day – a box of organic cheeses, crackers, jams, just little goodies that felt a little bit exclusive in all its simplicity. But it was well thought through, he knew what I liked and what I would appreciate and put some effort into it.
You wouldn’t think he was that kind of guy when you saw him, cause he could be such a mess. I’m not saying that to be mean, he knew it, everybody knew it, it was just a fact.

A few years back, I was recording a demo and he was brought in in the last minute because the original drummer effed up. After a few days I was ready to kill Stanley. He was complicating everything, sucking up all my energy and making us all wait for hours (studio time that I was paying for, stressed me out big time).

I cursed him for weeks after that, going “never ever again!” – but the good thing about Stanley was that he could be very charming when he wanted to, so he could win people over – or win them back. :)

We could have arguments but still always with that “twist” where we both knew that we disagreed but we would cut eachother some slack. He would go “oh come on you bitch, you know I’m right” and get the reply “call me bitch one more time and I’ll kick your ass“. And then we would laugh about it.
It was all cool, no hard feelings. It’s a balance act that doesn’t work with everybody but you could do that with him.

Today, Facebook is flooded by goodbye messages from people who knew him – which is pretty much the whole city and then some.
I needed a few hours to even take it in. On one hand I wasn’t shocked that something bad could have happened to him, cause he was often walking on the edge, and willing to take risks. But you are never ever prepared or indifferent once it actually happens and it’s no longer a joke.

You can say a lot of things about Stanley, but he was genuine and didn’t make any excuses for who or what he was. Take it or leave it – he was who he was and proud of it. Sometimes he might not have been, but at least he knew that there was nothing he could do about it anyway.

He was a good person, I can say that much, and my heart and my thoughts goes out to his family and closest friends who are suffering today. He was too young, but I guess that when it’s time to go, you must go, your time is up. None of us knows when that day will come.

Stanley’s time was up and it’s just hard to handle when someone who’s always been around, suddenly won’t be coming around no more.

We will miss you Stanley, I hope you’ve finally found peace, wherever you are….

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STANLEY AND ME – HE BROUGHT AN AWESOME BIRTHDAY GIFT.

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Andy Pierce (vocals, Nasty Idols) and Stanley (drums, Nasty Idols) – now both partying on the other side somewhere…

DESERT TRIP – home of the coolest of the cool

The festival of the century. Bucket list fest. Call it whatever you want, but I feel incredibly privileged for having been one of the 75,000 people that attended the Desert Trip festival in Indio, CA on “weekend one” (Oct 7-8-9).

There have been a lot of age-jokes about the festival, which I guess is to be expected when you put all these legends on the same stage three days in a row:

Bob Dylan
The Rolling Stones
Neil Young
Paul McCartney
The Who
Roger Waters 

Even Mick Jagger himself made a few age-jokes when he entered the stage the first evening.
It’s funny though, cause I never saw “old men” on that stage.

I saw young guys stuck in the wrong bodies.
Every time I see Keith Richards smile that rascal smile of his, I see a rebel kid that lives inside a wrinkly body, and you see it in his eyes too.
It’s not an old dude. He is just badass, maybe even more now than ever before. He’s earned it.

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Keith Richards, Desert Trip, Indio CA (Weekend 1)

Being young is not always an advantage. Respect and reverence is something you can enjoy when you’ve invested YEARS into whatever it is you do in life.

There is not a 20-year old on the planet who comes even CLOSE to being as cool as Keith Richards. When you’ve done something your whole life, proving time and time again that you’re not only a survivor, but also a winner and you’ve paid your dues a long time ago, it just puts you in a position that younger musicians can only dream of.

Check out Mick Jagger. Most young guys couldn’t do what he does – he doesn’t stand still for five seconds, he works the biggest stages in the world and he doesn’t even stop to catch his breath. What “old dude” does that? It’s all about the energy that you’re projecting, not the packaging you’re stuck with.

Paul McCartney always had his boyish charm, and he’s always looked like a young man, dispite the inevitable signs of aging. His spirit shines through everything he does and all he is.

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Paul McCartney – Desert Trip, Indio, CA (Weekend 1)

He’s a young boy with a talent that he’s blessed the world with.

When he entered the stage at Desert fest, I wasn’t prepared for my own reaction. I thought I was going to be all smiles and partyyyy during his set. Instead, his very presence made me cry like a baby for almost 2 hours straight! I simply couldn’t stop it. That’s how powerful that experience was.

It was tears of joy and like a “movie” rolling inside my head that took me to different places and emotions throughout my life, that were somehow connected to whatever song he was playing. First love. First heartache. Days in school. Growing up. Life. Friendships. Career. Every single song is strongly connected to something that has touched my heart. I could barely hold on to my camera when he sang “Here Today” (tribute to John Lennon). Just totally lost it there.

That wasn’t a concert. That was a religious experience. And going back to that age thing, I can’t recall ever having one of those super-emotional experiences at any 20-year old’s gig. Not even when I was 20.

Wrote this in a private Facebook update that night:
I’ve used superlatives about concerts and artists in my life, but that was compared to what I had seen, heard and experienced up until then. THIS was not just on another PLANET, it was a totally different GALAXY. I’ve never seen anything that powerful in my entire life and I’ve seen a lot.

The whole thing just moved me to tears, I was bawling my eyes out while smiling up to my ears all at the same time, because I really didn’t know what else to do with everything that I felt during that show.
I’ll have to process it a little first, but, man… that was just… they would have to come up with another word that’s stronger than “amazing”, “fantastic” or “out of this world”. Paul McCartney in concert – on a stage this size makes EVERYONE ELSE look like freakin AMATEURS!

The Who… Oh yeah, when you hear Pete Townshend talk to the crowd, it’s easy to tell that he’s still a loud rebel at heart with a whole lotta attitude! And he did slide on the stage on his knees too!!

When Roger Daltrey swings his microphone like a maniac, I suddenly realize who Sebastian Bach got that move from. :)

In short: These guys wrote the book! The book of rock’n’roll. They had something to say, they had visions, they just went ahead and changed the world.
So to me it wasn’t just an “old dude festival”. Far from it.

My closing words in a private post on Facebook that night were:
I leave the US this time with my mind full of impressions which will take a long time to process, but it was something extraordinary that I’ll remember for the rest of my life“.

There is a LOT more to say and post from the festival, but I just wanted to share some of my first reflections on that age-thing – cause in this case, age is a measure of your coolness.
Cause when you’ve worked yourself up to this level, there is NOBODY that will EVER get close enough to even try kicking your ass! :) And that calls for some respect.