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!

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!

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.

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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

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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

Concert Experience: NAZARETH at Ancient Theater Plovdiv, Bulgaria (18/06/2017)

So far, 2017 has been a good year for me when it comes to rock&roll! Last month I saw Deep Purple and Europe and there was no way in hell I would’ve missed seeing the legendary Nazareth this June 18th! Not only that but they were going to perform in Plovdiv, my hometown, the place I grew up in and know better than anyone! What a fateful turn of events.

tix naI traveled back to Plovdiv, especially for this concert; it was raining cats and dogs, it was cold and I it was just me and my concert ticket…but who cares, right? Despite all the difficulties and poor weather conditions, this turned out to be a concert of a lifetime! I knew it was going to be a memorable experience but it ended up being way more than that. Despite nature being against it, I had the time of my life. I hope by telling you my story and supporting it with tons of visual materials, you will at least for a little while feel as if you were there with me…This concert was not just about the sound; it was also about the visual experience. I don’t think I can convey the array of emotions I felt because it was that incredible but I will at least try…


The current line-up of NAZARETH consist of bass player Pete Agnew, guitarist Jimmy Murrison, drummer Lee Agnew and vocalist Carl Sentance. The iconic band rose to stardom in the mid-70s with timeless albums like “Hair of the Dog” and “Close Enough for Rock ‘n’ Roll”. 23 Studio albums, a 50 year career, millions of albums sold, countless fans from every corner of the world…do I have to say more? do you actually need any more reasons to see them perform live? I don’t think so…

For their Bulgarian concert, Nazareth chose the famous Roman amphitheater, which is not only a popular choice for a venue but is one of the most famous tourist attractions of the city. Plovdiv is in fact the oldest town in Europe and Roman sculptures and ruins are spread all over it. Let me walk you to the venue…

This is the central part of the town and before we go to the amphitheater, we pass through …

 

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Pretty soon we arrive to the Roman Amphitheater which is located in the Old part of the town. Not only that but the Academy of Music, Dance and Fine arts is right next to it. And get this, my mom and dad who are both musicians graduated from it! How cool is that…

It was raining and I arrived a little bit early so I had to wait for a little while…Had the chance to take some photos before they opened the gates to the theater.

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It was raining like hell so everyone was carrying raincoats and umbrellas; I wasn’t but right before the concert, it stopped, thankfully! I thought I will be soaking wet and catch a cold but it all turned out fine…

This is how it looked from the inside. Breathtaking, isn’t it? This is a place of art, rich history and monumental importance to Europe and my country. On top of it all, the restorations made it look so gorgeous. The Roman Amphitheater in Plovdiv is well-known for it’s strategical location and perfect acoustics! Those Romans knew how to build an arena!

I was one of the first ones to enter and managed to take a few shots before people started flooding in.

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As you can see, it’s a pretty tiny venue; It can hold up to around 3,000 people only. This is its charm, however. The atmosphere is more intimate and you can actually see very well from each and every seat! Moreover, you can immortalize your experience with stunning photos.

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The show started at 9pm. The rain stopped and we were all ready to clap, sing along and enjoy the band. Frontman Carl Sentance came out on the stage like a tornado. I’ve been to many concerts and seen many vocalists but he blew me away with his pure uncontrollable captivating energy! This guy was simply phenomenal! I didn’t know what to expect because after Dan McCafferty retired in 2013 and then his successor Linton Osborne left the band so quickly, things were a bit uncertain for Nazareth. Carl took over the frontman duties in 2015 and this was my first time seeing him with the band and all I can say is that the guys were a match made in heaven! 

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Songs kept coming one after another. They of course, played some of their classics, including the ’80s staple “Dream On” which melted my heart…

The crowd was clapping, smiling and absolutely loving the show. I was immensely happy that I chose to attend this concert. Then, all of a sudden, Carl Sentance invites the audience to come down in front of the stage, because after all, this is “the rock&roll way”. The moment I heard that I literally flew myself down, along with everyone else, and ended up being RIGHT IN FRONT of the stage. The feeling of closeness, direct eye-contact with the musicians and of course the way you listen to the live music is indescribable when you are right there in front of the stage. You feel so connected, so intimate! Not to mention that you get to move your body, dance and jump! This was the absolute turning point for me! I just knew that this was going to end up being one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to…The view in front of me changed to this…

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I wanted to share a couple of moments which took my breath away and which will forever be branded on my heart.

The first moment was when Carl and the guys performed “Love Hurts”. You all know that I’m a rock ballad person and this is one of the songs which entirely re-defined the power and importance of a rock ballad. I know that it’s a cover but it did change the rules of the game and became one of the best heartbreak songs of all time. Carl did a perfect job capturing that vocal emotion and sadness needed to complete the beautiful song. Here’s a video I made:

Secondly, some of you know that I have this fascination with the bass guitar though I never really knew how to play it. I adore bands and songs that emphasize on the bass and use it as a lead instrument. I knew Pete Agnew was a legend and I’ve always respected him for staying with the band since the very beginning (he’s the only original founding member of Nazareth who’s still with them) but seeing it and feeling it with your own eyes and soul is something entirely different. This 69 year old rockstar knocked my socks off with his bass guitar! During his solos my eyes and ears were all pointed at him and his guitar; I kept on smiling because he was just extraordinary. He smiled at me back many times – I was right in front of him!

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Finally, I wanted to share how much fun I had thanks to Carl Sentance! He played with the crowd like no other; he engaged with the fans, cracked jokes, jumped, danced and poured his soul out on that stage. He touched and shook hands with the fans in front of the stage, including me of course. Later on, when they performed “Hair of the Dog” he was singing “Red hot mama, down light charmer…” and he pointed at me smiling. Everyone turned to see me and I blushed so hard! It was such a sweet gesture that made my day, week, month…etc haha; Later on when the concert was over, he waved especially at me and gave me a thumbs up with the biggest smile ever! Such a lovely man! I will never never never forget him and how well he treated the fans and me, of course! Now I have so much respect for him as a live performer because believe it or not, transmitting energy from your body and voice to a group of people is immensely hard. He did it splendidly! My hands are still red from all the clapping; my legs still hurt from all the jumping! All thanks to him and his invitation to go down in front of the stage and make memories!

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The concert was over sooner than I wanted it to be. I would’ve loved to listen to more and more. The sadness that consumes you after such a mind-blowing event is over has to be one of the most painful things. How do you go on living your ordinary life after this; You just want more and more. Concerts like this one make me feel alive! Thank you, Nazareth for one of the most memorable nights of my life! Thank you for bringing so much joy to my tiny little rock&roll heart! Till next time!

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P.S. All the photos are taken by me. Please be kind and considerate and make sure you don’t just save and use them without my permission! Rock on!

Concert Overview: DEEP PURPLE’s “The Long Goodbye Tour” Concert in Sofia, Bulgaria (14/05/2017)

Some things in life you gotta do while there’s still a chance. One of those must-do things for me was to attend a concert of at least one of “the three big” rock bands – Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple, of course. I couldn’t say goodbye to Black Sabbath and any hopes of a Led Zeppelin reunion went down the drain years ago, so I was left with just Deep Purple. I knew that those guys still have it in them and will pull out something special from their sleeve. In 2017 we got it – a new phenomenal album and a tour! There is a reason why those guys are one of the most influential rock bands of all time – they just keep on going, never stopping, never disappointing.  

Well, finally, after SO MANY years, I can proudly tell the story of how I attended Deep Purple’s “Long Farewell Tour” and crossed it off my bucket list. I can now say that I witnessed how classic rock songs that defined generations of musicians and completely changed the history of rock music materialized on a stage in front of me. This is just so big!! (at least to me) …

The moment I found out that Deep Purple will include Bulgaria in their “Long Farewell Tour” and most importantly, I will also be in my home country at that exact time, I didn’t even blink! The tickets were bought in that exact same second (even managed to score a sweet discount because I got them very very early). To be honest, one of the reasons why I was so excited to visit Bulgaria (I was living in South Korea) was to see Deep Purple and say goodbye to them. My wish came true and with excitement, happiness and smiles I am ready to share my experience with you and show you some photos.

The promo poster for the Bulgarian concert from Deep Purple’s official website:

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The tickets:

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It was Sunday, May 14th; the weather, along with the mood, was GREAT!

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Concert selfies (from outside and inside the venue)
(I bought a T-shirt of my favorite Deep Purple album, “Stormbringer” before the concert)

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That’s how the venue (Arena Armeec) looked from the outside [it was still quite early & the fans were just starting to come]

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deep purple concert venue outside

To get to my seat, I had to take the elevator (man, I’m such a diva, never missing a chance to take a photo….)

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and this is how it looked from the inside (the crowd started filling in the arena…)

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Part 1: Monster Truck

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In addition to seeing Deep Purple for the very first time in my life, I also got the chance to witness the incredible performance of the opening act, Monster Truck – Canadian rockers who actually played in front of a Bulgarian audience for the very first time! I didn’t know much about them but heard only nice things so naturally, I was equally excited to check them out. I was never disappointed by a Canadian rock band and this wasn’t gonna be the first time! Those guys totally blew me away and restored my faith in modern-day rock music. Monster Truck delivered one hell of an act. I was so impressed with them that the moment I got home, I immediately researched and listened to anything I could find on Spotify. The song that attracted me the most was “She’s a Witch” – that riff electrified the entire arena and don’t get me started on the vocal delivery! I have a new favorite band and I’m so happy!

What truly made Monster Truck’s performance so memorable was the guys’ sense of humor and enthusiasm. With that right attitude and refreshing positivism, they made a lot of new fans that night, I’m sure!

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Part 2: DEEP PURPLE

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After the explosive rock spectacle, delivered by Monster Truck, the stage was already hot enough and every single member of the audience was ready to welcome the giants! We took a little break after the opening act but we didn’t wait that long to welcome Ian Gillan and the rest of the legends. The crowd went wild the moment the lights went off and we heard the opening robotic monologue from their new song, “Time for Bedlam”. Ian Gillan, Roger Glover, Ian Paice, Steve Morse and Don Airey settled comfortably on the stage and the party started! It was unbelievable…the great Deep Purple were in front of my eyes, performing a song from their latest album I just reviewed, “Infinite” and other eternal classics! I was lucky enough to witness how one of the most influential voices of heavy metal, Ian Gillan (who by the way is 71 years old) sang “Fireball”, “Bloodsucker”, “Strange Kind of Woman”, “Space Truckin’”, “Hush” and of course, my dearly beloved “Perfect Strangers” which I patiently waited for. Of course, they couldn’t just miss the song that defined the history of heavy metal and encouraged millions of people to grab a guitar and learn how to play it; Yes, I’m talking about that “little” track, “Smoke on The Water”, containing the simplest, most instantly-recognizable riff that was and ever will be created. Needless to say, we sang along, clapped, jumped and everything you do when such a BIG song starts playing.

A couple of memorable and highly impressive moments (at least for me) included the phenomenal keyboard solo of Don Airey who definitely stole the night! I have a soft spot for keyboard players, ever since I became a huge fan of Keith Emerson so naturally, I was all eyes in ears, diving into the breath-taking playing of Don.

Another moment I was waiting for was Roger Glover’s thrilling bass solo. One of my many dreams in life is to learn how to play the bass and seeing him crafting magic on that bass guitar so effortlessly really made me think that it’s high time I did something about that dream of mine. I always respected that guy – there’s just something so charming about him and he definitely has a good aura which spread through every corner of the arena.

The concert ended suitably, with “Black Night” (1970).

It was a delightful, unforgettable evening, full of extraordinary rock music – the kind of rock we don’t really get anymore these days. A couple of things I wanted to share, though: Ian Gillan obviously had no idea which country he was playing in (he never said “Good Evening, Bulgaria” or something like that), he only said that he was feeling “positive vibes”; also, the Bulgarian audience standing in front of the stage was a little bit too stiff (or maybe I was too wild)… I bought tickets for the sitting area which wasn’t that close BUT I was still having so much more fun than some of the people down there who were literally centimeters apart from the legends. I think it was because the audience in front of the stage was mostly composed of old-school fans who didn’t know the songs from the latest album and probably didn’t  have the energy to physically participate in the show (like they used to). One more thing, I was disappointed to see that not many young people actually attended the concert. The majority of the attendees were 40+ year old people – it is understandable, of course, but still raises questions related with the musical attitude of today’s youth. Last but not least, as much as those guys looked like (& were dressed like) our friendly grandpa neighbor who always says hi and smiles, they are still relevant and deserve all the respect they can get from every generation out there. They still have it, believe me! Long gone are their days of prime but that doesn’t mean anything when you have it inside you…

I was there, I loved it and I had the time of my life! Thank you, Deep Purple for the memories and for everything you did and will keep on doing! Till next time…

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Setlist:

  1. Time for Bedlam
  2. Fireball
  3. Bloodsucker
  4. Strange Kind of Woman
  5. Johnny’s Band
  6. Uncommon Man
  7. The Surprising
  8. Lazy
  9. Birds of Prey
  10. Hell to Pay
  11. Keyboard Solo
  12. Perfect Strangers
  13. Space Truckin’
  14. Smoke on the Water

Encore:

  1. Hush
  2. Bass Solo
  3. Black Night

P.S. All the photos are taken by me. Please be kind and considerate and make sure you don’t just save and use them without my permission! Rock on!