Concert Experience: HARDLINE’s First Concert in Bulgaria (13/10/2018)

(by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)

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I remember years ago when I heard Hardline’s “Double Eclipse” for the very first time and how I kept thinking that this is certainly a band I would love to see live but most probably missed my chance. Then, I became a fan and started following up on their career and current activities and realized that these amazing musicians are still touring and releasing beautiful rock music. The only thing left for me to do was sit and wait for an opportunity to present itself one way or another.

Little did I know that in 2018, my wishes would be granted! This past March, I saw Johnny Gioeli’s solo concert, alongside the Bulgarian rock band Eridan. It was a mind-blowing experience for sure and I couldn’t believe one of my favorite male rock vocalists was performing right in front of me in my home country! You can check out my concert experience publication over here – Concert Experience: Johnny Gioeli (HARDLINE, AXEL RUDI PELL) @ Joy Station, Sofia, Bulgaria (24/03/2018)

Now, 7 months later, I once again witnessed magic in front of me, on that same stage I saw Johnny perform earlier this year. This time, though, he brought the rest of Hardline with him and they had their first ever concert in Bulgaria! It’s been a long time coming but I can finally add one of my favorite hard rock bands on the list of my concert experiences.

It all started with an invitation from my dear friend and one of the most prolific and notable producers of the genre, Alessandro Del Vecchio. As we all know, he is Hardline’s master of the keyboards and one of the reasons why Hardline’s sound is so widely-beloved and appreciated by fans from all over the world. I had the chance to take a quick selfie with him and wish him good luck before the concert! He’s such a great person and a professional. I did an interview with him last year which you can check out here: Memories, Becoming Friends and Learning more About the Music Industry in an Interview With Producer and Songwriter Alessandro Del Vecchio

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The concert started at around 10PM and everyone went crazy as soon as they heard the opening riffs and the guys coming out one by one. Alessandro, Mario, Anna and Marco…and then of course, the one-of-a-kind frontman of Hardline, Johnny who seemed as if he had brought all the energy of the sun itself with him. The reaction of the audience spoke enough. People love him and came to see why the whole rock community of the world speaks so highly of his talent and entertainment skills. There’s a reason trust me and you can only understand what I’m saying if you ever saw one of his concert. The guy is a showman of his own kind. I’ve never seen someone so energetic, so passionate, so playful and so artistic when it comes to entertaining the audience and making sure the public is left with nothing but great memories. It’s because of that attitude I will keep on going to his concerts – it’s nothing but smiles as soon as you enter the club!

That night, another wish of mine came true. As I’ve mentioned before, one of my favorite songs from “Double Eclipse” is “Rhythm from a Red Car”. Last time when he came to Bulgaria he didn’t perform it but this time my prayers were heard. They did play it and it was a fantastic experience I will forever cherish. Here’s a rather shaky video of the performance:

Hardline – Rhythm from a Red Car @ Joy Station, Sofia, Bulgaria (13/10/2018)

Here are some more photos for you to check out:

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A few more highlights I wanted to share with you!

First of all, I was highly impressed by the drum solo of Marco Di Salvia, who seemingly was into heavier stuff and that was not just because he was wearing a Gorgoroth t-shirt. It was great to see him live because he’s also part of Kee of Hearts – another melodic rock band which I love with all my heart and soul.

Mario Percudani, the lead guitarist and another dear friend of mine was also fantastic! I knew he was a great guitar player but after I saw his delivery, I can firmly say that he’s way more than that! I was so impressed by his stage presence and he’s certainly a guitarist worthy of admiration. Immense talent and great charisma! It was such a delight to watch.

Mid-concert, Johnny called a guy from the audience to come to the stage with his girlfriend. I’m guessing you already know why…There was a proposal on the stage and she said yes! It was a little bit cheesy for my taste but everyone seemed happy so congratulations to the engaged couple. Johnny seemed delighted too because he helped with the proposal arrangements.

In terms of the setlist, it was yet again another successful shot. From classics, like “Hot Cherie”, “Life’s a Bitch, “Dr. Love”, “In The Hands of Time”, ”Takin’ Me Down” and “Everything” to “Fever Dreams” – one of the band’s most beloved songs of all time, released in 2012, it was all one goal after another. The setlist mostly included songs from “Double Eclipse” but that was totally fine with me! After all, they did celebrate the 25th anniversary of the album last year. Johnny, singing “Love is Gonna Take You Home” from their “Human Nature” album, together with Alessandro was another beautiful moment that took my breath away.

Overall, the concert was an absolute delight! The venue was lovely, one of my favorite ones in Sofia, actually and with a band as classy as Hardline, the whole experience was complete! We all know that those guys are immensely talented but it’s not just that – they gave their all and delivered a world-class act. I am proud I was part of Hardline’s first-ever concert in Bulgaria and promise to be there next time as well!

& the goodbye…it all ended too soon! They mentioned that a new album is on the way for 2019 and that they will come again! Till next time, Hardline!

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P.S. This publication expresses my personal thoughts and opinions, based on actual experiences. All the photos are taken by me. Please be kind and considerate and make sure you don’t just save and use the written and visual content without my permission! Rock on!

Concert Experience: Sons of Apollo @ Roman Theater Plovdiv, Bulgaria (22/09/2018)

(by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)

I remember playing “Psychotic Symphony” for the first time last year when it was released and how I was left speechless and couldn’t even comprehend what was going on. It was like entering a portal to a new dimension where all your senses are pumped up by this mesmerizing progressive sound you never knew you need in your life. Not surprised by the reaction I had, since I’ve been a fan of Jeff Scott Soto and Mark Portnoy for years and knew that their collaboration with Derek Sherinian and Billy Sheehan and Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal will be an extraordinary journey. 

sons of apollo“God of the Sun”, “Opus Maximus” and “Alive” quickly turned into one of the most played songs of 2017 on my playlist and the CD, which was given to me by someone very special, became one of my most prized possessions. A few weeks after the album was out I found out that a concert was scheduled in my hometown of Plovdiv, Bulgaria and that Sons of Apollo will be performing their debut album, alongside The Orchestra of Plovdiv State Opera. I vividly remember how I made plans with that special someone to go to that concert and a year later we actually went and I want to tell you all about it now! I was counting the days till the concert because I knew that it wasn’t going to be your ordinary local Saturday gig. They were going to perform at the Roman Theater in Plovdiv – this beautiful ancient venue full of atmosphere and character. Not just that, but a DVD from that concert will be released and they will be accompanied by the local orchestra, which makes me a very proud Bulgarian. After a long long waiting and almost a year of anticipation, the concert day finally came and I am so honored that I was part of this majestic piece of history.

Here are some photos and my story. I do hope you enjoy them. Let me know if you already saw them or you are about to see them soon.


The official poster of the concert

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My invitation for the concert. Another important collection piece to go with the rest of the concert memorabilia that I have…

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The venue…Roman Theater Plovdiv

 

 

 

They opened with “God of the Sun”. Check out my video. I am sorry if I was shaking a little bit but you can understand my excitement, I hope…

 


Concert Shots

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Overall, the concert was phenomenal and I think you can sense that from the photos. The atmosphere was perfect for this type of music and concert and I fully understand why they picked this venue to film their DVD. You probably know that I am a big big big fan of Jeff Scott Soto so it was a dream of mine to see him perform live. Witnessing his out-of-this-world vocals on this magical place was a moment I will forever cherish and come back to. At one point he even dropped down the microphone and sang just like that – you won’t believe me how well he sounded and how he owned the whole theater without the need for additional equipment to boost it!! He was that good, yes!

The concert had two parts. The first one was entirely composed of Sons of Apollo original songs from the debut release. That part was the reason why I went to the concert actually since this was one of the best albums of 2017 at least in my opinion. I had the opportunity to listen to some of my favorite songs from “Psychotic Symphony” and I was smiling throughout the entire setlist!

The second part of the concert included covers of famous rock songs of Queen, Led Zeppelin and other classic acts. They had the Plovdiv Philharmonic Orchestra behind them and you can only imagine how magnificent it was to watch and experience rock classics like “Kashmir” or “The Show Must Go On”, performed by those talented musicians and the local orchestra. The audience was mindblown and obviously enjoying every single moment. Of course, to be honest I would’ve enjoyed it a little bit more if they stuck to their original music and just performed the album from first to last song. I had no idea there will be a cover part. Still, it was enjoyable and I was indeed singing along with Soto but their own music is more intriguing to me at this point.

A few things that stood out to me (in addition to Soto being..well the amazing Soto that he is) were first, the skills of keyboardist Derek Sherinian who did an outstanding job and second, Mike Portnoy, who is one of the most praised drummers on the scene. All musicians were superb but those two put everything into place. Now I truly know why are both so respected and participated in countless projects over the years. You know I am a drums person and now I can finally be proud that I saw the great Portnoy and can share my thoughts of him freely. 

The concert ended too soon. I wish I could be in presence of those outstanding musicians a little bit longer. Obviously, I will be the first person to buy the DVD and will proudly exhibit it in my collection of music.

Here’s to more concerts like this and to Sons of Apollo!

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The second part of the concert, when the orchestra came in…

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and the final bow…


P.S. This publication expresses my personal thoughts and opinions, based on actual experiences. All the photos are taken by me. Please be kind and considerate and make sure you don’t just save and use the written and visual content without my permission! Rock on!

#HillsOfRock2018 in Pictures

(by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)

I’m still trying to process every little thing that happened to me during the 2018 Hills of Rock festival because the whole thing was literally one great thing after another. This was the first time I took part in a 3-day festival and as tiring and exhausting (and sometimes quite painful for my body) as it was, I will forever cherish the memory of seeing the great Sabaton, the mighty Judas Priest and the legends Iron Maiden, all in just three days. That’s not all, though – plenty of other Bulgarian, European and American bands took the stages of Hills of Rock (yes, there were three of them) and I’m thankful I got the chance to be introduced to them.

I don’t think I can manage to convey all the emotions and deliver every little feeling I got from the concert. That’s why I will just show you some pictures I managed to take and hopefully, you will understand why it meant so much to me to be there. The festival was three days but honestly, I was mostly excited about the second day because Judas Priest were headlining and they’ve been one of my top favorite bands for such a long time. To see them for the very first time was a dream coming true. Not just that but I was quite near the stage which gave me the opportunity to more closely observe how they create that magic every fan has been talking about for 40 years almost. Before their concert, Dope made one hell of a show as well, reminding me of my high-school years and all the times me and my metal fans used to headbang to “Die MF Die”. Sabaton were extremely memorable as well – everyone was shaken to their grounds by the huge amount of talent and energy they showcased. Maiden did a phenomenal job as well – Bruce is in a great shape and he just knew how to entertain everyone. I also saw them for the very first time in my life and couldn’t have asked for a better show. The decor, the stage – it was all magnificent and it just blew me away. Let’s take a look at some of the photos I took (I am sorry for the quality but as you can imagine being in front of the stage, surrounded by sooo many people doesn’t really give you the best angle possible.)


 

Me, during each one of the days. Each day I was having a different look (the beer was always there of course). The third day I wore an Iron Maiden headband which is now added to my huge collection of headbands I bought from concerts. Got one of Priest too. Funny story – on day one, because I was wearing a Leppard tee, the lady from the food place gave me free fries – she was also a big fan hehe.

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This was the main stage –  where the big things were happening and the other two stages, scattered around the festival area…

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Crematory was one of the first bands (though not the first according to the line-up) that I had the chance to thoroughly catch and enjoy from start to finish. They rocked pretty hard!

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Fish was there too. What a dream coming true was this performance. I love this man. He brought that much needed gentle touch to the festival and balanced the situation for a little while. His live performance reminded me why I became a fan of Marillion in the first place years ago. What an honor was to be sitting right there in front of him…

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Sabaton were out of this world – so much energy!!! That was the moment people knew that this was going to be a phenomenal festival! This was my first time seeing them too and I was stunned by how talented those guys were. No wonder they have such a strong fan base in Bulgaria. I gotta say I am certainly not the most dedicated fan of Sabaton but after this show things are surely about to change.

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Day 2 – kicking things off with the local band Odd Crew – those guys are something, I’m telling you. I highly recommend them to my foreign buddies! I even got one of their albums from the merchandise stores.

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Battle Beast were STUNNING! This lady knows how to make a statement! They have a new fan! Before them a few other female-fronted bands took the stage, including Jinjer and Madame Mayhem but Battle Beast just won me over!

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DOPE were the real deal! Loved what they brought to the table with their performance. On top of it all, it was their first time in Bulgaria and I could sense how much they loved being here. My 8th grade self would’ve been so happy right now for seeing them…Thanks to their great delivery, I got the chance to rediscover them and catch up on all the things I missed throughout those years. I’m becoming a fan all over again…

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…and now finally the mighty Judas Priest…The reason why I was there in the first place…

I can’t express my happiness…I truly can’t. Seeing a legend like Rob Halford right there – in front of you, singing the songs you’ve been loving since you were a child – this my friends is what I’m living for, what truly keeps me going! He was in a great vocal shape and delivered one of the best performances I’ve seen in my entire life. He changed jackets after almost each song; he even came on the stage with his signature motorcycle and biker looks! You gotta love the man!!! I was jumping, screaming, singing along and embracing every second I had with them in front of me. Naturally, I was the happiest when they performed my favorite song “Turbo Lover” and the new songs from that phenomenal 2018 album! The stage setting was something you just can’t see on other concerts; the magnitude of the band was clearly portrayed and for a moment there I felt like I was in another planet, another place, another time…

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Day 3 started with Planet of Zeus, The Raven Age and Tremonti (before the big Iron Maiden show). Out of the three bands, The Raven Age stood out to me the most. I checked their entire discography after the show and yes – I am officially a fan of theirs.

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Finally, after all that anticipation, Iron Maiden came out on the stage. The public went nuts. They have a solid fanbase in Bulgaria so no wonder everyone was there. Around probably 30K people were attending that concert and the amount of energy, smiles and excitement coming from them was just so beautiful to witness. I’ve been to many concerts but what they did was one of a kind. Starting from the settings and the level of effort the team put into building this colossal environment where they performed for 2 hours, was superb! Bruce was brilliant and unbelievably good! The guy jumped and danced and just poured his soul out on that stage. He even waved the Bulgarian flag at one point which made everyone go crazy!! The performance of “The Clansman” was my favorite – way more epic to see it live than just hearing it on your player…

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Huge thanks to everyone who participated in Hills of Rock and made this event possible. It was a phenomenal festival and something I will forever remember. Cheers to this year and for more to come! I really hope Hill of Rock will establish itself as one of the greatest European rock/metal festivals and even more people from all over Europe and the world will come to see legendary bands perform in one of the most beautiful cities in my country and in the continent as a whole too.

Rock on!


Cover photo, retrieved from: https://www.facebook.com/HillsOfRock/
P.S. This publication expresses my personal thoughts and opinions, based on actual experiences. All the photos are taken by me. Please be kind and considerate and make sure you don’t just save and use the written and visual content without my permission! Rock on!

DAVID REECE Talks About Performing in Bulgaria, Sainted Sinners and His Upcoming Solo Album

20180329_203030Meeting David Reece for the second time in Bulgaria was an absolute delight and I sure as hell wasn’t going to skip the opportunity to talk to one of the most memorable and strong voices of rock music. David Reece, who is well known by his works in bands such as Accept, Bonfire and more recently, Sainted Sinners is a huge fan of Bulgaria and the rock community over here adores him so his visit was no surprise. He is coming back pretty soon again and I, along with his fans will be waiting with anticipation.

I met David last year when he came to Bulgaria with Sainted Sinners and Ian Paice for one of the best rock shows of 2017. Seeing him perform the songs on which rock laid its foundations on (from Deep Purple, Rainbow, Whitesnake, etc.), as well as fresh new additions to the world of rock&roll was a mind-blowing experience and now I can proudly state that I was part of it all yet again and not just as a fan or a concert attendee. I had the golden chance of speaking to him about many things, including his upcoming activities as a solo artist and with Sainted Sinners, the music industry, how things have changed in the past years and so much more. He gave me such valuable insights on many things rock-music related and I am glad I can now share it with all of you – my precious readers and lovers of rock music. I do hope you enjoy the following interview and photos from his recent visit in Bulgaria.

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I would like to express my gratitude to Bulgarian rock singer Sheky and his band for backing up David Reece during this memorable night! Those guys did a wonderful job and I’m certainly proud of them! International collaborations are so beautiful!


 

How do you feel tonight and how does it feel to be back in Bulgaria? It’s not your first time being here so I’m curious to know what do you think of the Bulgarian rock community?

I realized when I came here the first time, the passion from the people was intense. I’ve been told so many times here – “You know, I really wanna see this band, they never come to our country.” I’m coming! And every time I come here, more people come to see me. I’ve built a fanbase here and I feel like people respect what I do and I respect that. I’m welcomed here and it’s a good market because many bands pass by – they only look at keeping the same, say Germany’s fees and Sweden’s fees, they wanna keep that balance. I don’t believe that. I think that you have to work with the dynamic of the market.

Is there a song you’re mostly looking forward to singing tonight?

Yeah, I’m actually a huge fan of the album from Whitesnake “Forevermore”. That song. I wanted to do it last time I was here, but the guys didn’t learn it. I think I really sing it good. I do it my way but I keep some of the Coverdale sound in it. I’m excited. Last time I was here, we ran out of time and the owner wanted more songs. So I sang an acapella. Everybody stood up and started cheering. That’s what I mean about Bulgaria! They know the songs, everybody loves music.

Are you performing any of your solo material or any Sainted Sinners music tonight?

No, I’m gonna do one Accept song – “Generation Clash”. I do that, everybody knows this song so I usually play that live.

You have recently released a new album with Sainted Sinners and it’s getting some really nice reviews. I also thought that it was a big step forward in comparison with the debut album in terms of production, songwriting, passion and energy. I’m curious if there’s a particular theme or topic you followed while making the album? How did you pick and write the songs?

The vision was – we all come from the old Deep Purple thing and that was kind of our ‘70s sound with the Hammond keyboards. Ferdy is a great keyboard player. Frank said, “How do you feel about a more guitar-oriented album?” I said okay but you can’t go from heavy guitar and keyboards and jump right into guitar – the fans who liked the first album are gonna go “What happened?” So we put little colors and keyboards on the new album. There’s a lot more guitar. Frank really gets to show his talent there.

As far as the songwriting goes, Frank and I have this weird telepathy. We don’t really speak. We play really well together, we have this really good writing relationship. When he sends me an idea, I hear the words immediately. I’m not a lyricist who wants to write “woah woah, baby baby, I love you” lyrics. I hate it. I would rather write about what I’m watching on television or what people are talking about in a club or person-to-person conversations. I hear words in my head and then I write the lyrics.

So now that the album is out, is there a next step for Sainted Sinners? Do you plan on touring together?

It’s really hard for the fans. Frank is in Bonfire. Sainted Sinners is our kind of a side project. So, I have to live in the shadow of that in a sense and I don’t like it. I would rather have more focus on Sainted Sinners but it’s not possible. One of the reasons it that Bonfire tour more. We did five shows this year on the release and it’s not enough for me.

But what I’ve done is, I’m playing my solo stuff. In July, there’s a giant festival that I’m part of. I’m headlining on the Friday night. I said, “What do you think about Sainted Sinners on Saturday before the major headliner?” So I think we’re gonna do that but Frank’s schedule is… it’s really hard.

I wanna play more but I’m not gonna sit around and wait for an opportunity. I’m gonna grab it while it’s still there for me.

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Perhaps you can maybe focus on recording new albums rather than touring?

I’m open to that with Frank. No reason why not to, we have a great writing relationship, there’s no animosity, but I really believe that if you’re a band and you’re making records, you should be touring behind those albums. I can make 50 albums a year with all the great guitar players who are home for the weekend. I don’t like that. I wanna tour what I do. You really don’t get the song until you tour it.

Tell me about your solo album. I know that it’s coming out this year.

I signed with “Mighty Music”. The story really quickly is I know a guy – Alessandro Lifonti who is very good friends with Mike Tramp.  Mike Tramp and I did shows together in the USA. I wrote Ali one day and said “I wanna make a solo album. What does Mike Tramp say about his label – Target and Mighty Music?” He said he really likes it. I said I’ll write Mike Tramp so I wrote Mike and he said “Yeah, they’d be interested.” Within minutes I had a record deal. I signed a multi-album deal. The music is very modern, heavy, melodic. If you like Accept’s “Eat the Heat”, that’s what it is vocally but it’s more modern rather than the cliché AOR.

Where did you draw your influences from?

I don’t know. I like bands like Nickelback. I enjoy them and some of those sounds they have, I think they’re great. People criticize them but they still go see their concerts.

It’s not Nickelback music (his new album) but it’s more modern than what I’m used to doing. I’m really excited cause it’s heavy. My voice is in great shape on it. Mario Percudani at Tanzan Music is recording my vocals. The band is from Denmark – the two guitar players.

So we are expecting something modern?

Modern and heavy and very melodic. Very heavy but not dark. Really good, I think it’s my best album in many years and I mean that from my heart. I’m really shocked.

So maybe by doing a more modern record, you’re getting the attention of many younger fans? Is that something you’ve thought about?

No. I kind of got bored, writing the same style. I wanted to reach out and expand my horizons. I’ve had these ideas in my head for a few years. In 2017, April – around that time, I wrote the first song, called “Karma”. That was the template of the album.

When does the album come out?

November 2018.

Maybe when you release it you can come back and have a show here to present it?

Yeah, I hope.

Is there anything you wanna say to the younger generations of rock fans, like myself?

If you believe in what you’re doing and you’re talented, then nobody can tell you that it’s not gonna work. One thing you have to learn in this business is how to say “no”. If you don’t like something and you feel it in your heart that it’s not right for you, don’t do it. I did that for years with the big record companies. They always had this great plan and in my heart that didn’t sound right and it usually failed. Follow your dream, believe in it. You’re gonna get kicked down. Rise like a phoenix – like the song in the Sainted Sinners album. Stand up! My mother used to say – “You get kicked in the teeth all the time, but you always rise like a phoenix and come back!” It’s disappointing, but there is joy and if you believe in it and it’s really you, then it’s real.

Thank you, Dave for the awesome talk! I wish you all the success and hope to see you in my country again, soon!

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What a valuable collection piece – ACCEPT’s “Eat the Heat”, signed by David Reece!

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Photos, retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/pg/rocknrollasofia/photos/?tab=album&album_id=10155827891389843

Some of the photos, including the featured image were taken from the official Facebook page of the venue. Huge thanks to the photographer. For more, check out the following link: https://www.facebook.com/pg/rocknrollasofia/photos/?tab=album&album_id=10155827891389843
P.S. This publication expresses my personal thoughts and opinions, based on actual experiences. All the photos are taken by me. Please be kind and considerate and make sure you don’t just save and use the written and visual content without my permission! Rock on!

Concert Experience: Johnny Gioeli (HARDLINE, AXEL RUDI PELL) @ Joy Station, Sofia, Bulgaria (24/03/2018)

(by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)

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This past Sunday (24.03) I had the opportunity to witness for the very first time a beloved musician in live action! You all know how much I love Hardline so you can only imagine how excited I was to see Johnny Gioeli perform in the same city I live in – Sofia, Bulgaria.

The anticipation was big and nothing or no one could’ve prevented me from attending this concert. I had some idea of how things would go – I’ve watched plenty of videos and concerts of Hardline and Johnny, so I knew that this wasn’t going to be your ordinary concert where a performer just goes out, does their thing real quick and calls it a night by the time you had the chance to even warm up. Johnny is certainly way more than that and it’s thrilling that Bulgarian fans could see him doing his own thing right in front of their eyes.

This wasn’t and I certainly hope won’t be the last time those artists get together on the Bulgarian stage. Based on what I saw, they share deep respect for each other and most importantly the same love for rock music. That’s exactly the reason why it felt so right to see them as one whole, rather than a singer and a few musicians that accompany him.

The place was Joy Station, the city was Sofia…The club was just stunning! I’ve never been there so kudos for all the great work and resources put to make it recreate that old-schook rocknroll vibe! At around 10pm the show began. Bulgarian rock band Eridan joined him on the stage and were responsible for the heavy riffs and awesome playing that accompanied Johnny’s one-of-a-kind voice! I think it was indeed a great match and I’m more than happy that such great international music collaborations have been well-established and working out so perfectly!

The energy that was coming out from that stage was beyond anything I’ve seen before. From the audience interaction, to the funny jokes; from the passionate delivery to the song selection – Johnny was a hurricane of emotions, talent, dedication, tons of character and personality and most importantly – love for the fans and the people who came to show their adoration and respect. My smile was on my face throughout the entire evening – it was one great moment, after another; whether it was a song or something he said to make us laugh, Johnny just knew how to create a special place in the minds of the audience and stay there for a long long time…

In terms of songs, I was pleasantly surprised to hear classic Hardline tunes, such as “Hot Cherie”, “Dr.Love”. You all know how much “Double Eclipse” mean to me as an album and inspiration, so the excitement of FINALLY witnessing how this album materializes in front of me, was indeed indescribable. Johnny performed what is arguably Hardline’s most successful and instantly-recognizable hit, “Hot Cherie” more than 900 times throughout his career (according to his sarcastic, yet funny comment before the song began) but he still sings it with the same amount of passion and energy with which he did for the very first time many years ago!

I was hoping that “Rhythm from a Red Car” was gonna be included in the setlits, since it’s my favorite Double Eclipse song but it didn’t work out for me. Hopefully next time!!  

Newer Hardline hits, such as “Fever Dream” were also part of the evening. The way he delivered this song to us became one of the highlights for the night, at least to me. Axel Rudi Pell’s popular track “The Masquerade Ball” was of course on the playlist as well and of course, another moment to remember.

Moreover, classic rock tunes such as “Temple of the King” were welcomed with not just applauses but burning flames inside the eyes of the fans. Johnny did great justice to this song and DIO would’ve been immensely proud, for sure. “Mistreated” by Deep Purple was another cover Johnny and Eridan did. I love this song – it’s probably in my Top3 favorite DP songs, so for me, this was a very special moment. Johnny killed it (but no surprises there)!

These are some of the photos and videos I took from the concert. I was right in front of the stage so I managed to capture some really nice shots. Johnny was running like a wild tornado from one corner of the stage to the other so capturing him for a still photo was almost impossible. I did my best though!

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Huge thanks to everyone who made this concert possible – Johhny, Eridan, the organization, the club and the fans! I will remember it and cherish this memory forever!


P.S. This publication expresses my personal thoughts and opinions, based on actual experiences. All the photos are taken by me. Please be kind and considerate and make sure you don’t just save and use the written and visual content without my permission! Rock on!

Johnny Gioeli (HARDLINE, AXEL RUDI PELL) to Perform in Sofia, Bulgaria, alongside ERIDAN

(by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)

Discovering Hardline years ago was expected, given the fact that hard rock is exactly my kind of thing. However, falling in love with their unique sound and charismatic appeal that differentiated them among the endless river of hard rock bands that came out in the late ’80s/early ’90s, was also inevitable; I mean, don’t get me wrong but who wouldn’t?

me tixFor a long time, classics like Double Eclipse” and more recent releases like “Danger Zone” and “Human Nature” have been an inseparable part of my life. You know me – once a fan, always a fan. My unconditional support for the band can largely be contributed to the talented frontman – Mr. Johnny Gioeli who mesmerized me, ever since I heard him sing for the very first time on that timeless debut album. Imagine how my little fan heart felt the moment I found out that he was going to perform in my home country of Bulgaria at the end of March, 2018. The excitement is overwhelming and I just cannot wait to see how he makes magic on that stage. I’m dying to sing along with him on hard rock anthems like “Takin’ Me Down”, “Hot Cherie”, “Rhythm from a Red Car” or “Danger Zone” and “Where Will We Go From Here”. It’s going to be one of the highlights of the season and definitely a concert I will remember forever. (Concert review will come immediately after the event, so stay tuned)

I think dedicated fans from Bulgaria are expected to come and I am certain they will. What I truly hope to see is young rock enthusiasts like myself, eager to discover for the very first time the unbelievable talent of Johnny and his music! I sincerely hope to see many new faces and spread the word, because believe me, it’s totally worth it!

(… a song I truly hope to experience live; If he decides to sing it, I will just go on that stage and dance my ass off, I don’t care!)

It’s not just HARDLINE where Johnny flourished as a notable vocalist and won the hearts of many. Alongside guitarist Axel Rudi Pell, Johnny has been conquering the stages since the late ’90s. Those two are a match made in heaven and a duo worth appreciating. I cannot wait to enjoy their music as well, presented by him on the Bulgarian stage.


One more exciting addition to the event would be the participation of Bulgarian rock band ERIDAN. I gotta say, I am not that familiar with them, however I can’t but be thrilled about the collaboration and the opportunity presented here. Since I was living abroad for so long, diving into the local rock scene and unearthing beautiful rock bands like ERIDAN can’t but be something to look forward to.

For my many international readers, I think it would be quite interesting to discover a new foreign rock band that is equally deserving. 

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ERIDAN (credits: https://www.facebook.com/pg/eridanband)

Here are a few videos, where you can get a glimpse of how magic is being made…

…and of course this incredible performance.

I am just as thrilled to hear him sing the evergreen hits of Rainbow and Deep Purple. That’s going to entirely shatter the ground beneath my feet because I’m a huge fan and seeing someone so vocally power doing justice to these classics will be a life-changing moment for me and the fans.

(Photos from  JOHNNY GIOELI and ERIDAN’s last concert in Bulgaria in 2017; Credits: Tonina Manfredi and Dimitar Lukanov)

For more information about the concert, please visit the event on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/1801415513492413/

 


References:
I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.
The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.
Cheers~

Memories, Becoming Friends and Learning more About the Music Industry in an Interview With Producer and Songwriter Alessandro Del Vecchio

(by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)

Revolution Saints Cover - FrontiersAs we all know, the month of October brought us Revolution Saints’ sophomore album “Light in the Dark” which according to many fans, including myself, is indeed one of the highlights of this year’s melodic rock scene. I already expressed my honest feelings in my review publication which you can go ahead and check over here: Album Review: Revolution Saints – Light in the Dark (2017). The album is the brainchild of a group of exceptional musical geniuses who were brought together by the same end goal – to craft a meaningful record that symbolizes and stands for something; a record that will bring strength and courage to people and will turn into their saving grace in times of need. The best thing is that they did all that and way more and you don’t need to be an expert in music to feel it – the vibe, the emotions, the message…it’s all there for you to take it.

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Alessandro Del Vecchio

The dream team behind “Light in the Dark” is Deen Castronovo (Lead vocals, drums), Jack Blades (Bass, vocals), Doug Aldrich (Guitar) and the cherry on top – producer/songwriter Alessandro Del Vecchio who’s the main star of today’s show. Not only did he oversee the production of this album but he also contributed with his appraised songwriting skills and of course, his favorite keyboards that put that extra color to the album. Yes, the reason why I got to meet and talk to him in the first place was because of his immense contribution to this album but you should be well aware of the fact that he is one of the most prominent, versatile and networked musicians in contemporary rock music scene. He produced, wrote for and worked with so many of the big names out there, including Deen Castronovo, Neal Schon and Arnel Pineda from Journey,  Fergie Frederiksen, Bobby Kimball, Joseph Williams and Steve Lukather from Toto,  Ian Paice, Glenn Hughes and Roger Glover from Deep Purple, James LaBrie and Jordan Rudess from Dream Theater, Jack Blades from Night Ranger and Damn Yankees, Doug Aldrich and Bernie Marsden from Whitesnake, Joe Lynn Tuner, Craig Goldy, Carmine and Vinny Appice, Russell Allen from Symphony X, Tony Franklin, Michael Kiske of Helloween , Bruce Gaitsch and Bill Champlin from Chicago and many more. He’s also working with his bands Edge Of Forever, Hardline and Voodoo Circle as keyboardist and singer. That’s not all! Alessandro is the in-house producer for one of the most prolific and hardworking rock&roll labels out there – Frontiers Records; that should tell you enough! He participated in the making of countless exceptional melodic rock gems and not just those that are under the Frontiers tagline. To sum it up, Alessandro is most certainly an artist worth knowing and appreciating for everything he did and keeps on doing for this industry.

The circumstances under which I got the chance to talk to him couldn’t have aligned better. He was touring with the new supergroup Sainted Sinners and fortunately, the guys were just about to have a little tour in Bulgaria, including gigs in Plovdiv, Veliko Tarnovo and Yambol where Sainted Sinners partnered up with the legend himself – Mr. Ian Paice from Deep Purple. I got invited to the concert which was believe me, most certainly a life-changing event. I wrote all about my experiences on one of my previous publications so you can go ahead and check it out here: Concert Experience: SAINTED SINNERS & IAN PAICE @ Diana Hall, Yambol, Bulgaria (28/10/2017)

 

The concert brought me and Alessandro together for a quick chat about so many things related with music and his long long list of activities and projects that keep coming out as we speak. I had the honor of interviewing him and finding out more about Revolution Saints, the new album, what it takes to fulfill your dreams and the past and current state of the industry. He’s certainly an artist you can learn so much from. I do hope you enjoy the following interview:


Q: I’m very interested in your work and how in the first place you got into the entertainment industry? Tell me your story from the very beginning?

A: The very beginning was that in my house there was always music. My father was a teenager during the ‘70s and the ‘60s so what we normally used to listen to in the house was Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles and Jethro Tull and Uriah Heep so what happened every day is that you know, back then you used to have Stereo Hi-Fis in the house and my father was blasting music the whole day. My first memory is listening to the Greatest Hits from the Beatles so I think that shaped up my taste and I think around 6 or 7 my father gave me as a present a Walkman which back then was a cassette player and he gave me some cassettes and my favorite one was “Selling England by the Pound” by Genesis. I was a little kid listening to adult, mature music and that shaped up my taste so I ended up…I think I was 12 that I found out a cassette by the Queen and I heard “Bohemian Rhapsody” for the first time and I was struck by lightning! I was like, “I  wanna do that” and I remember my father came for dinner after work and I said “Pa, I wanna be a musician, I wanna be like Freddie Mercury, I wanna play the piano and I wanna sing!” I still remember his face. He was totally amazed and happy about it and that’s how I started. I wanted to be like Freddie Mercury and then I heard for the first time Malmsteen and I wanted to play that kind of music and then Deep Purple, Rainbow, Whitesnake…and it all fell into that thing.

Q: Right now, you do mostly production work or you are working on your solo career?

A:  I’m not a solo guy. I’m more like a band guy and I have my own band which is called Edge of Forever. We’re about to do our fourth record next year. Works for the others even if obviously bands like Hardline, you know I can say it’s my band cause I write and produce and been part of the band longer than any other member, apart from Johnny. I would say that Edge of Forever and Hardline are my main acts. I’ve always thought that if I had to do something as a solo artist, it has to be different than what I do with Edge of Forever, Hardline or Revolution Saints. It would make sense. I would love to do a blues record, actually cause I’m a blues guy more than anything else.

Q: The reason why we connect and we are here right now is Revolution Saints’ new album – “Light in the Dark”. I wanted to interview you because I know that you indeed have a huge contribution to this album. Can you please tell us more what exactly did you do for this album and how did it feel to work with Deen Castronovo? I would also like to know if you have a favorite song or a favorite moment from the process of making the album?

A: It’s kind of different than the first record because the firs record was more like, “Ok, let’s put songs together and let’s get a band for Deen; let’s make a band that’s made of friends!” – that’s how we ended up with the line-up. For the second record, I wanted to write with the whole band as much as I could. Even if I look like a control freak, I’m not. I’m a band guy so as soon as everything was put on paper for the deals and the schedule and everything, I said “Okay guys, everyone just throw ideas and we see what happens.” Basically, the record is I would say mostly me and Doug as the songwriting and Deen contributed to some of the vocals to “Freedom”, entirely for lyrics. I wrote most of the lyrics and Jack wrote the lyrics for “Light in the Dark”.

I think this record is special because we ended up working all together in the same environment for 3-4 weeks. We were in the studio, we recorded together, and we arranged parts together. It was a great feeling to have – three of my favorite musicians and idols in my studio and to do music together. This record I think it’s different because of that – it’s got more personality, it’s got more of everybody! It’s very deep because we tried to tell Deen’s story not in a romantic kind of way – kind of raw and real; it’s a record about resurrection and getting out of the dark.  It’s also a record about finding the way to express yourself out of the darkest moments. It was a vehicle for mostly all of us to prove that the first record wasn’t just a one record off; we wanted to make a stamp as a band. It’s tougher; it’s more rock & roll, rawer. 90% of the record was done together in the studio and I think you can hear the difference because of that.

Q: I’m generally a ballad person. I would die for a great rock ballad. I think that one of the greatest ballads that came out this year was “I Wouldn’t Change a Thing” from “Light in the Dark”. People are also responding to it quite well. I would like to know who wrote the song and what was the inspiration for writing it? Was it you?

A: No, it was Richard Page from Mr. Mister.  He wrote the lyrics and the music. Richard wrote the song years and years ago. Nobody picked it. It was just available as a demo on an Indie record that he did. Serafino from Frontiers sent me this acoustic track with just an acoustic guitar and vocals and said “Can you turn this into an epic ballad?” I pushed play on the song and I was totally struck because the lyrics kind of resonated and I think they resonate with everyone because everyone can come out of a relationship, out of friendship, out of everything with a person and know that even if whatever happens, still what you experience – it’s still worth living it so…

If you hear the original, it’s a little bit different. It took me days to get to that version. I had to change the melody in order to fit Deen’s voice and range. We wanted to make it as Journey as we could. I think it’s probably my best production and arrangement ever because everytime I’m very critical with my work but if I play that song it feels like I almost didn’t do it. It’s like I’m listening from the outside and it’s kind of cool. It’s the first time that it happened to me that I’m listening to a song and I’m listening as a listener, like a regular rock lover, not as an insider.

Q: Do you have a favorite song you wrote on the record that really means a lot to you?

A: Probably “Falling Apart”. That is the real resurrection song. Everybody can fall apart. Everybody can make mistakes and see everything destroyed as a reaction to what you do and then raise from the dust and get over it, learn and live. Everybody lives and learns from mistakes and experiences. “Falling Apart” is my special song on the record. Also I really like “Ride On” because it’s a double kick and it’s kind of different. I’m a meaningful, slow songs guy, so “Falling Apart” is my favorite from the record.

Q: It has a beautiful message. This whole album is one beautiful striking message.

A: It’s kind of strange because I’m Italian and I never wrote songs in Italian. I always wrote in English since I’m a teenager; it’s kind of ironic that I’m writing for American people and the songs are perceived the way I wanted them to be perceived. The fact that I can write about life and not just the love, sex, whatever, rock & roll kind of thing; I really care about the lyrics even if I don’t feel like I’m the greatest lyricist but if I can tell a story and the story and the story is clear and I think the combination of having Deen through something and having a voice that knew what was happening made the songs even more real. It’s not just singing my lyrics; it’s got the experience to express something that’s so deep. We were calling each other during rehab and all the stuff that he was going through and I said “Well, Deen, if we do a record, it’s going to be a record about you; you are the singer and I don’t want you to sing something that’s not personal.” That’s how I started to write all about resurrection, getting up and making it right.

Q: You mentioned that you are from Italy. You are also the in-house producer of Frontiers records that are based in Italy. But you also mentioned that you write for American bands. How the American audience does differ from the European audience, especially in terms of experience music?

A: The big difference between America and Europe is that America had great American bands and we had Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Uriah Heep and all the bands that came out of the British Rock Invasion; We had the Beatles, Free, Bad Company. I think that European bands weren’t driven by a dream; they were just expressing themselves because that’s what we have done for centuries. I think that Americans, their cultural expression was driven differently. When they were doing things, they were doing them 200%. If you think of the success of bands like Chicago or Journey or Van Halen, the soundtrack of American rock, the energy is different. I think it’s because the starting point of the creative process is different. Basically, that’s the big difference. Nowadays, the reality is that in America there’s no rock scene anymore. There’s no rock ground. It’s still about the classics; it’s still about the soundtracks of the 70s and the 80s for rock. American musicians think that in Europe we get that and we think that Americans are getting that so. To me it’s just the cultural environment that’s different.

Some bands didn’t even tour in Europe. We never saw Journey in the ‘80s or the ‘90s. American audiences are a little bit spoiled because they saw everyone and we didn’t. The first Rush show in Italy 10 years ago, and they’ve been touring forever in the USA and Canada; I think that’s the big difference probably, we’re still starstruck because we’re not used to seeing those bands.

Q: You live in Italy. Most of your work is in Italy. I know that you are doing vocal couching, etc. I’m very interested to know about the rock music scene in Italy and how does it differ from other European countries?

A: The environment is totally against rock. A general average people going to a rock show is about 200 in Italy, if we talk about underground bands like Hardline or you know the Dead Daisies. Obviously if it’s Deep Purple or Toto, things are different. There’s no middle ground. You go from 200 to 2000. Right now it’s tough because we don’t have the venues anymore. We have 300 people capacities and 2,000 people capacities and the big arenas. A lot of the tours don’t even come to Italy because it’s not worth for the crowd; it’s not worth for the laws and illegal merchandise outside of the shows. It’s all against the rock touring thing. There are a lot of bands; there are a lot of okay bands, there are very few great bands but you know we’re Italians, we go against ourselves. For example, Lacuna Coil has been mocked and discouraged by everyone. Still today, Lacuna Coil is the most well-known band from Italy. We’re not a rock country. We never had it. We are still struggling.

Q: I want to know more about your production work because this is very interesting to me. You are putting your magic touch into so many records that are coming out these days. I would like to know which record you crafted this year meant the most to you and what comes next for you in terms of production?

A: Apart from Revolution Saints, for the records that are already out, I really loved working with Kryptonite – a Swedish band. I loved working with Jakob. To me, he is one of the best lyricists in Europe and if you read through the lyrics of the record, it’s just stunning the way he puts down the stories. I also really enjoyed working with Kee of Hearts.

As far as the next records, I’m working on Johnny Gioeli’s  solo record which is going to be very challenging because it’s not an AOR record, it’s more of a modern new breed kind of record; very melodic but very modern, I would say an AOR version of Foo Fighters. I like to challenge myself with grounds that are not what I normally do. That record I think is gonna be really something.

Q: What gives you the most pleasure when you produce a record?

A: Probably when I’m mixing because it’s already done. It’s like giving birth to a baby – it becomes evident. When I write a song or when I arrange a song, I already picture in my head how it’s gonna sound and how it’s gonna be at the end. So, it’s not a surprise emotion; it’s more like a good relief and a sense of accomplishment. I feel like “Ah, you made it again!”. It’s a good sensation.

Q: Do you always get that feeling of satisfaction when you hear a band in the studio and then you hear them live? Have you ever been disappointed to hear a band that sounds different in the studio than the way they sound live?

A: It’s a tough question. For the experience that I have, I can feel when a record is fake and it’s not representing the band. I’m not very surprised when a band is not exactly on the record when they play shows. You can feel when a record has been done more by the production than the band itself.

For example, if you listen to the new Europe record, you know listening to the record that the band is gonna sound like that live. To me, it’s more because new bands are spoiled in the studio. They know that they can fix it. Back then, you couldn’t. You had to be extremely good. You know, what I miss of those days is that a lot of bands don’t rehearse the records anymore. They just go into the studio and they create the records in the studio. So what happens? You don’t know how it feels to play that thing. You just add spices all over the songs and maybe you cannot play them live. They rely more than the technology than the music itself. That’s why bands like Rival Sons are special. Even if they didn’t re-write the history of rock & roll or didn’t break any new ground, they are real, compared to all the other bands that are cheese and stuff in the studio and trying to sound so good that’s unrealistic.

It’s not good and it’s not bad, it’s just a different way of crafting entertainment. It’s not right or wrong, it’s the way you do things.

A: You’ve created a perfect bridge for my last question. We are now here, talking to each other because of the Internet and the new technologies.  You have been in the industry and worked with so many people for a long time. What do you think has been the biggest change in the music industry and how did it change? Is it the Internet, social media, etc? Did it affect it positively or negatively?

Q: I’m very realistic. I don’t wanna see the negative sides of things. It’s poisoning, especially if you are an artist. I think that the Internet is one of the biggest things that happened to the music world because it glued the whole world in one place. When I was a young musician and trying to get work and get known, I literally sent CDs to every address that I found. Nowadays, if you wanna get in touch with someone, you just write an e-mail and maybe you get an answer. Everything became very easy with the Internet. Finally, the bands are more real. It’s not like in the past – you didn’t even know the way an artist was. But nowadays, you can picture the person behind the artist because of the Internet.

I have a strange, divided opinion on social media but I’m every day on Facebook. It’s more like a promotional tool but it’s also a way to stay close to my friends and people who are supporting my art. I take it as it is. I take the good sides and elevate them. It’s fun to me that a person from Australia can write to me and say “I loved your record, thank you very much for doing it”; it’s amazing.

Obviously, the downside is the trolls and the negative people. They are everywhere; it’s not just the Internet. If you go to a bar, you hear the same opinions. The Internet opened the cages so everyone can shout their opinion. Years ago, you could say it; nowadays you can shout it and hide behind the screens. You just don’t care about them and go on.

Q: Is there an artist you haven’t worked with yet, but really want to someday? Whether we are talking about producing or songwriting?

A: It’s tough because I honestly work with so many of my idols. I think Malmsteen and Coverdale are left out of my dream list. I would really like to work with Steve Perry – that would be a dream. One thing I would like to do is to get to work with Chicago – one of these real groups, big bands. It’s a tough question because I didn’t even dream of doing everything that I’ve done. I always tell the story of when I saw “California Jam” from Deep Purple for the first time. Then I dreamed of being playing with Ian. I ended up playing with Ian for years.

Q: How does it feel? To play with him on stage?

A: I’m a professional. I’m used to that. I’m not starstruck. Honestly, every time that I sing Glenn’s part from “Burn” with Ian, it always feels like “Oh, man – I cannot believe that!”

When I was a kid and somebody came to me and told me – “One day you are going to be singing that part a hundred times with Ian and members of Deep Purple” I would’ve laughed my ass off. That’s the fulfillment of my dream and living my dream.

I’m not the best musician around. I’m not the best singer, I’m not the best songwriter. I just try to be competent and put my soul every time. I always try to give my best and I always try to be as good as I can. I still think that the attitude and the way you work with the people, makes a difference. Ringo wasn’t the best drummer but he was making the songs special and he never gave up.  

Still, when I play a Deep Purple record or a Black Sabbath record or a Journey record, I’m still like “Oh  man, I played with him!” A lot of friends of mine are making fun of me because if they name a band, somehow I worked with them. It’s a great feeling. I enjoy it. Every morning I wake up and I’m so grateful. I don’t know what I could’ve been. I only know how to make music. I put everything there. I’m grateful, I work hard and I take all the joys from doing it.

Thank you, Alessandro so much for the amazing interview and I wish you all the luck and success!

me and alessandro


This interview was conducted by Velina (me), founder and owner of “My Rock Mixtapes”. If you would like to use quotations or reference it on your website and/or blog, please make sure you first contact me at velina.rockmixtapes@gmail.com

Cheers.

 

Concert Experience: SAINTED SINNERS & IAN PAICE @ Diana Hall, Yambol, Bulgaria (28/10/2017)

(by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)

backstage pass - ian paice yambolI think about this rock&roll weekend I had with Sainted Sinners and Ian Paice and I still cannot fully process what happened to me and how lucky I was to be there and have this life-changing experience. I’ve been to so many rock concerts, of all shapes, styles and sizes, but this was the first time I got the chance to have the “insider’s look” and closely witness how hard but immensely rewarding it is for artists, crew and everyone involved in an event to put everything together and deliver it to the beloved fans who came to support them.

me and alessandroIt was an honor to be invited backstage by the versatile musical genius Alessandro Del Vecchio and sit down and talk to him about the current situation of the music industry (stay tuned for the full interview on my blog, coming up pretty soon). Getting this opportunity was certainly the highlight of my career as a music blogger and will forever cherish the memories and insights I gained; Not just that, but I cannot wait to share everything with my devoted readers.

The concert was held at Sports Diana Hall in Yambol, Bulgaria. Despite Yambol being one of the small cities in Bulgaria, the 2,000+ people that ended up showing was no surprise. Legendary drummer Ian Paice, along with the supergroup Sainted Sinners who are composed of top-notch musicians, including lead guitarist Frank Pané, vocalist David Reece, drummer Berci Hirleman, bass guitarist Malte Frederik Burkert and guest keyboardist/vocalist Alessandro Del Vecchio are certainly a solid reason for fans to gather up for a night of pure rock&roll!

I’ve been to many sound-checks but as I said, this was the first time I’ve witnessed something of this calibre. The preparations and the level of precision and dedication from the band and crew were admirable and equally pleasing to watch as the show that came later on. I expected nothing but professionalism and great attitude from all the rockstars on that stage and believe me, that’s the only way they handled everything.

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Backstage photos with David AndNadia Reece & Malte Frederik Burkert. Both were incredibly kind and sweet. I especially enjoyed talking to Malte who by the way puts to shame any lady out there with his gorgeous hair. 

Me and Frank Pané . Had the chance to tell him that Bonfire‘s “Byte the Bullet” is in my Top3 albums of 2017 so far! He was so happy to hear it!

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The Before…

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& the after…

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Right before the show; Proud of everyone who contributed to this concert and the lovely audience!

Everyone was thrilled to see Ian Paice rock the hell out of those drums, just like he’s been doing for the past 50 years or so. The first time I saw him, he immediately said hi to me and moved on to the stage for soundcheck; I will never forget how natural the encounter was. I met him after the concert as well, took a photo with him and got his autograph! What a memory. I mean, we are talking about a founding member of one of the most legendary and history-defining bands of all time – Deep Purple. Seeing him at this shape, despite being 70 years old is inspiring and I was blessed to once again this year be in his presence (I went to Deep Purple’s concert in Sofia, Bulgaria this past May too). He did a splendid job and it seemed like everyone was enjoying themselves in the company of this legend.

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Me and the legend! It was an honor to meet him!

Don’t you even get me started on Sainted Sinners. This was the first time I watched them live and I had the time of my life. I knew that David Reece was going to tear down the place with his vocals and he did it, believe me. The stage dynamics were a beautiful thing to experience. I loved the energy and interaction between the members, as well as the way they portrayed their style in front of the Bulgarian audience. The concert was divided into two parts – first part was with Sainted Sinners, mixing golden oldies and newly released music. The second part was with Ian Paice and it exclusively featured Deep Purple’s strongest hits, like “Stormbringer”, “Burn”, “Highway Star”, etc. The concert was quite long and at one point I could feel that I’m no longer 20 as my back started hurting from so much dancing and jumping around.  

Some of my favorite moments include Alessandro Del Vecchio taking over the mic for a beautiful cover of Rainbow’s “Since You’ve Been Gone”. Just listen to his powerful vocals, I was entirely mindblown by how good of a live performer he is.

The setlist included timeless classics like this and more, even AC/DC’s “Back in Black”, performed by Frank Pané‘s wife Lydia was on the table. Another memorable moment for me was Sainted Sinners performing the highly energizing “We Are All Sainted Sinners” which was the point where I realized I won’t be having my voice on the next day (and yes, it was gone). You know how much I love Bonfire so seeing Frank Pané live in action was a dream becoming true. The guy is effortlessly stunning as a guitarist – he just barely touches that signature polka dots guitar as if it’s a feather and the ground starts shaking. Malte Burkert was something else – his youthful, playful but passionate presence on that stage make me drop my jaw a few times.

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on stage

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For the second part of the concert, as I’ve already mentioned, drummer Ian Paice joined Sainted Sinners and put us all into his back pocket. What a musician! I especially loved when the band played “Burn” – a pivotal moment for the evening. There’s a video but you can hear me sing my guts out so I think I will keep it to myself for now. 

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Check this out! He is unbelievable – drumming as if he was a 20-year old…

The grand finale!

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Happiness…my face says it all! I was part of a historical concert and thank everyone who made it happen! Cheers to more!


P.S. This publication expresses my personal thoughts and opinions, based on actual experiences. All the photos are taken by me. Please be kind and considerate and make sure you don’t just save and use the written and visual content without my permission! Rock on!

Concert Experience: Marillion Live at Ancient Theater, Plovdiv, Bulgaria (24/09/2017)

(by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)

With so many unique rock bands out there, each bearing their own distinctive style of sound, appearance and approach to music, no wonder people can never get tired of live music and crave for more and more. I’ve always been a fan of live musical events, not just because I’m a fan of a certain band but because that’s the most genuine way to touch the heart and soul of the artists and turn it into a distinctive piece of memory you can always carry with you. There are bands out there that devoted their entire career to making spirit-lifting music, full of encouragement, excitement and confidence. Their concerts are usually filled with tons of action and fire, leaving the fans tired but satisfied to the bone.

There are also of course, the bands that make music with deeper, more complex meanings, complemented by more sophisticated sound and instrumentation. We refer to this type of rock as progressive, so I will just stick to this term for now. I’ve been a fan of progressive rock for a long long time but honestly, I’ve never attended a concert by a progressive rock band. I’ve had my ideas and expectations but once you actually witness it in front of you, you see how little you know and how much more you have yet to understand and experience. In that sense, I am quite proud and privileged to have the legendary British neo-progressive rock band Marillion come to not just my country, but to my hometown and reward me and their fans over here with not just a concert but an impossible manifestation of audio and visual techniques, creating one of the most spine-tingling and arousing musical journeys of my life so far. I must say, I’m not the most devoted fan of the band but I was never in a million years going to miss the chance to see their life-changing show. I hope to inspire you with my story and do justice to Marillion because believe me, those guys know how to deliver a striking not just musical but theatrical performance and you just gotta go see it while you still have the chance.

I should start by saying that Marillion challenged every norm and standard I had in my mind about rock concerts. The entire evening was one endless stream of sensual audio and visual provocations, topped with a magical artistic performance by vocalist Steve Hogarth. To many it was probably just a different kind of concert but to me it was way more than that – it was a beautiful theatrical presentation, incorporating compelling singing, melodramatic gestures and body movements and irresistible audience interaction, all decorated with stunning visual effects and videos that perfectly complement every song and the lyrics. I’ve never seen anything like this before. Marillion certainly put a lot of effort to make a “heavy” show; I say heavy but I don’t necessarily refer to the music. The show itself required a lot of attention and sweat from the viewer. We were assaulted with many different show pieces, all challenging each and every one of our senses; The concert put me to a test – it’s been a while since I last felt so uptight but definitely in a good way.

I’ve been talking so much about the excellent visuals and now it’s time to actually show you. The venue here also played a huge rule in the atmospheric progressive experience. My readers might be familiar with it from my Nazareth concert experience article a few months ago as it’s the same one – The Roman Amphitheater in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

Marillion Plovdiv Venue

Marillion Plovdiv Venue 2

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You could clearly see how much time and effort were put into the making of those videos that were accompanying each performance. The lyrics perfectly matched the scenes and it provided the audience with another treat to watch out for. To me, the most appealing aspect of the show was when they performed “King” and the video behind them showed famous artists and musicians who have passed away, including Bon Scott, Elvis Presley and of course, my Steve Clark who I miss so much. It was unbelievable!

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Steve Hogarth was undoubtedly the star of the evening. The man doesn’t know any limitations and once in character, nothing or no one can stop him. His performance was a work of art. I cannot specifically talk about his singing or acting or stage presence, because it’s just one whole and you don’t know where Steve the actor and Steve the singer merge. It was a pleasure to observe how he becomes one with the music, the stage and the audience. He delivered many unique performances but I gotta say the way he did “The Invisible Man” stood out the most to me. Maybe because it was the first encore and the audience sensed that we are about to wrap things up, the air around us became thicker. That’s something I will never forget. One more thing I have to acknowledge is his keyboard skills – the man is an alien!

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As a young fan, who saw Marillion for the very first time, all I can say is that those guys changed a lot of perceptions I had for artists’ stage presence and musical delivery. I met new songs and learned new lyrics, which I guarantee will become an inseparable part of my life (“You’re Gone” and “Power” for example, both impeccable rock pleasures). I am delighted that I had the chance to witness this other type of concerts – the ones that make you think and observe carefully. I was so used to the crazy rock&roll vibes that make you jump around and party hard so I really needed this refreshing art experience. Thank you, Marillion


Band Members:

Steve Rothery – Guitars
Mark Kelly – Keyboards
Pete Trewavas – Bass Guitar
Ian Mosley – Drums
Steve Hogarth – Vocals

Setlist:

1.El Dorado
2.You’re Gone
3.The Leavers
4.Fantastic Place
5.Mad 
6.Afraid of Sunlight
7.Sugar Mice
8.Real Tears for Sale
9.Sounds That Can’t Be Made
10.Power
11.Man of a Thousand Faces
12.King
13.Neverland

1st Encore

14.Invisible Man

2st Encore

15.Three Minute Boy

Event management: Radio Tangra Mega Rock


P.S. This publication expresses my personal thoughts and opinions, based on actual experiences. All the photos are taken by me. Please be kind and considerate and make sure you don’t just save and use the written and visual content without my permission! Rock on!

References:
Cover photo and concert poster, retrieved from http://www.radiotangra.com/en/news/read/29005.html
Setlist, retrieved from http://www.radiotangra.com/guide/read/30293.html

Lou Gramm, Al Greenwood and Ian McDonald join FOREIGNER for a REUNION CONCERT

History was made this Thursday (07/20) during a Foreigner concert at Jones Beach, New York. Three former members of the legendary band joined the band on stage for a night, celebrating old friendships and great memories.

For the first time in almost 14 years, Lou Gramm – Foreigner’s original lead vocalist, shared a stage with the rest of the band members as their frontman. It’s been even longer since multi-instrumentalist Ian McDonald and keyboardist Al Greenwood last played with Foreigner. Together, they performed “Long, Long Way From Home,” “I Want to Know What Love Is” and “Hot Blooded.”

This is a video, shared by Foreigner on their official Facebook Page. Watch it and let me know what you think. I personally believe that Lou Gramm sounds better than ever – his voice is clearer and he’s obviously doing so well. I got quite emotional when I watched it earlier today and I just had to include it in my blog. What an amazing event!


References:
Watch Foreigner Reunite With Three Members for First Time in 37 Years: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/watch-foreigner-reunite-for-first-time-in-37-years-w493475
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