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
2015 left the building a few hours ago (here in Sweden) and when I look back, the “slow year” I thought I had, because of the upcoming cruise that made it harder, financially, to travel all over the place – was in fact less boring than I felt it was. ;)
MARCH: The year started out with the GUS G tour he did in early March (with JEFF SCOTT SOTO as special guest) that I was doing PR for, so lots of work there but was nice to make myself useful as a professional this time.
The month before that, FEBRUARY, I also went to see his former bandmate APOLLO in Halmstad, Sweden, doing a cover gig with “TRIBUTE TO DIO” an all-star band. Great evening.
BRYAN ADAMS played at Forum in Copenhagen, an unforgettable experience and a last minute-decision to go.
Went for a short visit to Detroit to see my friends from MADAM X, hear some new music and also catch a gig with MICHAEL ANGELO BATIO at the Diesel.
APRIL: I didn’t stay away from Detroit that long, cause in April I was back there again – this time for the MADAM X gig with AUTOGRAPH and KOUGARAN, also at the Diesel. Great gig, great evening!
That same month – April – took me all the way to Sao Paulo, BRAZIL, for the MONSTERS OF ROCK festival. I went to see OZZY solo but ended up being absolutely floored by YNGWIE MALMSTEEN and UNISONIC!
Other bands that played were Judas Priest, Manowar, Primal Fear, Kiss, Motorhead (Lemmy cancelled, Sepultura filled in), Steel Panther, Rival Sons, Black Veil Brides and Accept.
MAY: After that gig in Brazil, in April – I had to see MORE, so I got on a plane to Bucharest, ROMANIA, to see the Maestro: YNGWIE MALMSTEEEN. Bucharest was a fantastic surprise, I loved that city and will go back as soon as I get a good reason. :)
JUNE was, as usual SWEDEN ROCK FESTIVAL-time and my personal highlight was meeting IAN HILL of JUDAS PRIEST for an interview after the press conference.
Right after Sweden Rock, literally the day after the festival ended, I got on a flight to the US again, this time to Florida to do a studio report with TSO (Trans-Siberian Orchestra): Met up with PAUL O’NEILL, JON OLIVA, AL PITRELLI, KAYLA REEVES and JEFF PLATE. Were there for two days with a non-stop busy schedule, but very very interesting and most of all, was glad to see The Mountain King again! :D
BILLY IDOL played in Varberg – HARDCORE SUPERSTAR opened on a great summer day, very cool outdoor venue.
JULY was a non-metal month, but cool gigs nevertheless. LADY GAGA with TONY BENNETT at Tivoli Gardens (amusement park) and ELTON JOHN same place, two days before.
AUGUST: ROB ZOMBIE, Vega, Copenhagen. I was supposed to see him again at a festival shortly thereafter but cancelled because one of my best friends was getting married. One of few good reasons to cancel plans of going to a show. :)
SEPTEMBER: GUS G came back to Scandinavia, this time with KOBRA AND THE LOTUS and KAMELOT in Copenhagen and Gothenburg. Kobra and the Lotus was a nice surprise, didn’t like them on record, but enjoyed the shows!
W.A.S.P with opening act DYNAZTY played in my home town Malmo later that month, met up with my friend Taz (lights for W.A.S.P), which is always a pleasure! :D
OCTOBER: No gigs. Ended up in the hospital for an emergency appendix surgery and was told to keep still for a few weeks. So I did. Kind of.
NOVEMBER: WHITESNAKE played in Denmark with openers DEAD DAISIES. The place was packed. Mostly remember the hassle with the backstage passes, those things can be a pain in the ass and never worth it.
Anyway – later in November, I took a little trip over to Detroit again to see the MADAM X boys and girls and listen to some new songs from the upcoming album in the studio.
Producer Kevin said I should go see the band POP EVIL and pulled some strings to get me in on the guest list – on the worst day of the year…! It was snowing like crazy that evening, but in the end it was a good choice, I liked the opening act KALEIDO better than the headliners, to be honest. :)
A friend, Maj-Louise, “kidnapped” me on a spontaneous trip to Gothenburg for a meet-and-greet with TOBIAS SAMMET of EDGUY & AVANTASIA, and listening party of the new Avantasia album. Also playing that night was HAMMERFALL.
And in DECEMBER, I had two busy weekends visiting Dublin and Birmingham for WHITESNAKE/DEF LEPPARD/BLACK STAR RIDERS. :D
So I’m not sure the year was a total disaster, it turned out pretty good after all. :)
I took a short little roadtrip from Malmo up to Halmstad yesterday (approximately 1,5-2 hours) to see an All Star-band featuring ex-Firewind and current Spiritual Beggars-vocalist Apollo Papathanasio. One of my favorite singers, without a doubt – a Swedish version of Tony Martin. Can’t go wrong with that!
When he was with Firewind, I would catch a whole bunch of shows each year, but after he left, the gigs have become a lot more infrequent. Just one-off shows here and there that you really need to keep track of 100% not to miss them..!
But we call eachother here and there and that’s when I get a little update on the “latest news”. The last time we spoke, he mentioned these two shows, a very unpretentious event at a local rock bar. Well, hallelujah! Like I had to think long and hard about that (not!!). I went! When I arrived it was really hot in Halmstad and lots of people on the streets.
It didn’t look like there would be a lot of people in the club at first, but that’s pretty common for summer indoor-gigs. There aren’t many people at those. Most people I know are out of the country in vacation now. But, as it started getting closer to showtime, the place was almost full. Not only full, but full of enthusiastic people. :) At some point when Apollo was looking at the crowd, he just laughed and went: “I think I know every single person in here!” I bet he does!
From what I heard, these guys never had much time to rehearse as they’re busy doing other things, so if you consider that, it was awesome. And for me it was like Christmas! It’s not every day you get to hear one of your favorite singers, sing songs by OTHER bands that I like (and SONGS that I love)! JUDAS PRIEST! WHITESNAKE!
The setlist was as follows:
And it was a cool lineup too – dudes that know their business:
Apollo Papathanasio – vocals (Spiritual Beggars, Firewind)
Chris Amott – guitar (Arch Enemy)
Ludwig Witt – drums (Spiritual Beggars, Grand Magus)
Pär Wallmark – bass (Last Tribe)
I loved the whole concept of it – small show, not widely advertised maybe, the guys in the band and the choice of songs. BINGO!
After the show, I just hung out for a bit, talked a little with Apollos wife. Not easy to have a conversation in all that noise but what can you do. :)
I had to get going, it was getting late and I had a bit of a drive ahead of me, so she went to get him for me. I’ve left gigs before without saying bye to an artist I know, but because the guest list was super duper mega exclusive (so few people on it, it was ridiculous) and I was on it, I at least wanted to wave and say bye-bye before leaving.
Anyhoo, Apollo came out from the backstage area and said he wanted to introduce me to “the guys”. The only person left by the time we got there, was Michael Amott (Arch Enemy, Spiritual Beggars) who wasn’t in the band, but was talking to someone. Instead, we ended up checking out some photos from Thessaloniki, Greece on Apollo’s cellphone that I was in, and didn’t know about. :)
“Have you said hi to the guys yet?” he asked. I said that I hadn’t seen anyone, and it was okay, they don’t know who I am anyway, haha!
“That’s exactly why I want you to meet them”, he laughed. Well, I guess there’s some logic in that! ;)
Chris Amott and Per Wiberg (keyboards, Spiritual Beggars) were outside talking, so I was introduced to them. Didn’t stay long there though, driving in the middle of the night after having been up since 4 am, is usually not a good idea.
So – I took off. The whole show is on video by the way. Will be up here later, but here’s just a little preview! There will be one more show on the 19th – so guess where I’ll be THAT day? :D
We’re a few days into 2014 already and I never really had time to do the usual look in the rearview mirror to summarize what 2013 was like for me.
Compared to the past 5 years, it was less eventful than usual, and a lot of it has to do with my father’s passing. I cancelled some gigs I had planned to go to and well, just wasn’t in the mood for anything really, but there were still a few highlights in 2013.
January started with Gothenburg Sound Festival where I met up with FIREWIND-drummer JO NUNEZ who was playing with NIGHTRAGE.
Shortly thereafter, I went to the US to see a few FIREWIND-shows and meet up with the new singer KELLY SUNDOWN CARPENTER for an interview at the Gramercy in NYC. Went to Atlanta and the Masquerade as well, pretty cool venue.
Got stuck in a blizzard the day I was supposed to fly home from JFK via Toronto, and made it home in the very last minute. Drama!
Swedish bands CRAZY LIXX & H.E.A.T played at KB, show got interrupted by the fire alarm and the club was evacuated.
Went to beautiful ICELAND with my friend Henny, that was a trip I won’t forget anytime soon – Iceland is a fairy tale country and I hope they never let the ways of the “outside world” change what they’ve accomplished. It’s amazing.
[This isn’t even Photoshopped – it actually looks like that!]
Gigs, there were a few. IRON MAIDEN played at Malmo Stadion, I spent all day in line to get a front row spot. Well worth it!
MEGADETH played at Vega in Copenhagen, they had just released Super Collider and played the title track from that album live for the first time. Dave Mustaine also brought a kid up on stage, not a usual sight at Megadeth shows. :)
STEVE HARRIS and his British Lion played at KB in Malmo, and although the attendance was low, to say the least, it was insanely cool to see a musician of his caliber that up close! I got dust from his sneakers in my face when he stomped on his monitor, he was THAT close. It wasn’t as bad as people say, the band had a good time and that’s what I remember the most.
Another memorable gig was PAUL GILBERT in Gothenburg, at Sticky Fingers. Been a fan since forever, Paul is amazing. There are some fantastic shredders in the world, but Paul is unique. I love his goofy style, his dry sense of humor, his playing, his way of interacting with the crowd… It was a great show.
After Apollo Papathanasio’s departure from Firewind, I decided to keep track of his other projects, so I went to Hamburg, Germany to visit my friend Su and see Apollo with SPIRITUAL BEGGARS. A few months later made a last minute decision to see the band in Thessaloniki, Greece as well.
Apollo also visited me in my home in Malmo for a video interview and a nice lunch. Awesome dude.
Of course, there were a bunch of FIREWIND shows this year as well. Rock in den Ruinen in Germany, SWEDEN ROCK FESTIVAL, and of course, the tour of AUSTRALIA. I opted out of all other shows because I needed the $$ for Australia.
SWEDEN ROCK FESTIVAL was a weird festival this year, it was only days after my father’s passing, but I had to go to fulfill my duties to Sweden Rock Magazine and also to my friend Su who was visiting from Germany, SRF was her bachelorette party.
Memorable interviews: DAVID COVERDALE (WHITESNAKE), love the man, he rocks!
[A short clip from that interview]
And finally meeting LITA FORD for the first time ever. She was great, I’m glad she didn’t turn out to be a bitch.
Also saw her shows in Gothenburg ad Sticky Fingers and Malmo, KB.
Went to the UK twice in May to see WHITESNAKE, Thunder and Journey. I could see Whitesnake a million times and it still never gets old. :)
GUS G came to Malmo for the SWEDISH METAL CONVENTION, had a great time with him and Andy R, thanks to Pontus for bringing him to the convention. Also met Tallee Savage and her sister Amanda, Jorn, Anders Johansson (YNGWIE, HAMMERFALL) and a bunch of other people.
(Anders Johansson (Hammerfall, Yngwie), Pekka and Gus in the VIP-room)
Gus G and Paul DiAnno:
Straight after that…business class with Emirates to Sydney via Dubai, went on a safari, met koalas, saw the first Firewind show of the Australian tour, continued to Brisbane, met up with Clint, flew to Adelaide and then finally Melbourne. Stayed there for a week after the band had left. Met a few more koalas and then some really nice people at his BBQ party.
The free BAR in business class at my Emirates-flight to Sydney. :) It didn’t suck. ;)
Came home, got another tattoo and saw BLACK SABBATH in Copenhagen.
An old friend, singer of the Swedish sleaze-band NASTY IDOLS, Andy Pierce, passed away at the age of 45, something that I still can’t quite grasp…
Finished my year in the US visiting friends and checking out two gigs that I wrote about in my previous blog, both Savatage-related.
That was it – in a nutshell. Less travel than usual 2013 but I’m already looking forward to the Steel Panther European tour in the spring and Gus G’s solo-debut! Welcome 2014!
This kind of got me thinking of exactly how much I love rock’n’roll.
Was talking to a guy the other day and he said he was into “all kinds of music“, and was trying to convince me that Ultravox (new wave band from the 80’s, playing electronic music) were far better than any metal band – and he was going to make it his mission to make me realize that.
I thought he was kidding, but the dude was dead serious. :) Oh boy. Talk about wasting time and breath for nothing. :)
I can see and appreciate the qualities in other kinds of music, for whatever it may be. It could be good musicianship or a taste for well produced albums or just memorable sing-along songs or whatever. But my HEART is wherever rock’n’roll is. That’s something that people who aren’t IN it, will never understand. Especially not those who say that they listen to “all kinds of music”. I think most of us do, but rockers will always state rock as their favorite music when asked, as opposed to people who don’t passionately love anything, they just listen to “everything”….
Rock’n’roll touches my heart simply because it’s genuine. And I’m not just talking about heavy metal, I’m going back to the 60’s in my trail of thoughts right now. There was all that rebellion going on back then, that paved the way for pretty much all artists today. You had John Lennon – the rebel, you had Stones, Hendrix, Janis, Morrison, The Who… You name it. Mentioning Ultravox in the same breath as those people is just ridiculous. :)
When I listen to Janis Joplin for instance, it’s almost as if she’s transferring her thoughts and emotions directly to the listener, it’s that intense. She was just so amazing and definitely a rebel and a pioneer as no women were doing what she was doing back then. It’s impossible to listen to her sing and feel indifferent.
As far as metal…. It’s got everything that I love about music. It represents strength, power, truth, sex, love, passion, freedom, living life to its fullest (yes I know there are bands in the genre that represent the exact opposite, but generally speaking).
When I first heard Judas Priest, it just knocked me off my feet. There were loud, screaming guitars, loud screaming vocals, pounding bass and drums that just punched you in the face in the most amazing sort of way, the whole combo grabbed my heart and it’s kept that firm grip of it ever since.
The reason why people love bands like Motley Crue for instance, is because they didn’t care about anything, they just did whatever they felt like doing, regardless what was considered tasteful or acceptable.
I’m not saying I agree with all their choices in life but a part of me admires their absolute disregard of what an “acceptable lifestyle” is. Most people are stuck in their everyday lives, being told what to do by their boss, their spouse, their government…whatever other authority you can think of.
Everybody dreams of being able to tell all those authorities to piss off, but most people are not in the position to do that. So, Motley Crue were kind of doing it FOR them.
Societies all over the world also usually tell you to surpress your sexuality, Motley Crue (and most hard rock/metal bands I can think of) are telling you the exact opposite. Embrace it, live it, love it.
It’s YOUR life, nobody else’s. Do whatever you want, as long as you’re not hurting anyone else. That’s why they’re still around. The bad boys dared to just not give a rats ass.
Having said that, I still don’t agree with a lot of shit that they’ve done, but that’s a different story.
The feeling I get from a really great live-show or a crazy good song/album, is almost indescribable. I can’t think of ANY chemical drug that could do a better job. Not in a million years. It’s the same type of euphoria that you experience when you have a crush on someone. That short period of time when you’re up in the pink clouds, can’t eat, can’t sleep and you just walk around with a silly smile on your face. THAT’s what good music does to you.
I’ll never forget that Whitesnake-show at Sweden Rock Festival a few years ago when David surprised everybody by bringing out Bernie Marsden on stage – and then also Adrian Vandenberg…! THAT, combined with the music, oh my god, I was crying like a baby! It was just so incredibly powerful, so touching, I couldn’t stop the tears for HOURS after that…!
One of my colleagues from Sweden Rock still remembers that, he met me right after the show and I looked like Alice Cooper cause my makeup was smeared all over my face from the tears.
I had the same reaction when Rob Halford was playing in Malmo many years ago, at the local rock club KB with his band HALFORD. When he sang “Victim of Changes” something just burst inside and I was just bawling my eyes out. I could not believe that my hero was that close, on a club stage, singing THAT song!
A friend of mine met me outside after the show and I was still crying. She thought I was sad, I had to explain that I was just so goddamn happy that crying was the only way to get it all out of my system.
[Not Victim of Changes, but another one of my fav Priest-covers, Diamonds and Rust!]
I’ve been walking around with Tony Martin’s various recordings in my Motörheadphönes for days now. After all these years….I could listen to that voice over and over again, every day, for 30 years, and I would STILL not get sick of it. In my book. Martin is the embodiment of vocal perfection!
I just feel that “high” every time I hear him. Jesus, he was unreal. He’s always been compared to Dio, but as much as I love and respect Ronnie, and think that he was outstanding, he just didn’t have the same range as Tony. If he did, he wasn’t using it the same way. Tony Martin has this HUGE masculine voice that suddenly just takes detours out into the stratosphere. That voice had a spell on me since 1989 when I first heard him with Black Sabbath.
[Tony belting it out with Mischa Calvin, fantastic album!!]
And lately I’ve been picking up Apollo Papathanasio’s extensive back catalog as well. Vocally, he’s like a Swedish/Greek equivalent to Tony Martin, he’s got the same kind of wide-range voice, deep and sensual, while also being able to hit you with those powerful, strong vocal lines that so few singers have the ability to do. When this song comes on, with one of his many projects, Sandalinas, I just want to kick back, close my eyes, listen and let that voice take me to foreign lands..! :)
Metal is of course also about aggression, which I guess is the one part of it that most non-metalheads have picked up on (and focused on).
But it’s the best way to get all those aggressions OUT. You don’t need expensive therapy or Prozac when you’ve got MEGADETH for example. This is what I wrote right after their show in Aarhus, Denmark back in 2011:
“It feels so frikkin’ great when that heavy, aggressive music, the pumping bass and angry, distorted guitars hits your eardrums – it’s like a spring-cleaning for the soul. Whatever might be stored in there, whether you’re aware of it or not, it just goes away. Amazing.”
Dave Mustaine is an angry man and I love him for it. I love his sarcasm and his grumpy face, I love his fuck you-songs, especially when he has a very intelligent way of approaching whatever issues he’s got with politicians or society. He’s got something to say and he’s certainly not afraid of voicing his opinion, loud and clear.
Megadeth calls to the absolutely most primal sides of us all and hearing those pissed off, aggressive songs is like fucking ANGEL CHOIRS in MY ears! There’s another “high” that metal brings, no doubt.
Rock’n’roll is the love of my life. I’ve pretty much dedicated my whole life to it. I’ll let Lita Ford express it with this song – Rock’n’Roll Made Me What I Am Today.
To have some random dude thinking that he will get me to think that ULTRAVOX is better than rock… lol!
I wouldn’t count on it. ;)