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

SOA_new-poster_Plovdiv-2018

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

sons of apollo 1

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

sons of apollo 5

sons of apollo 6

sons of apollo 7

sons of apollo 8

sons of apollo 9

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!

sons of apollo 10

sons of apollo 11

sons of apollo 12

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

sons of apollo 13

sons of apollo 14

sons of apollo 15

sons of apollo 16

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!

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.

alessandro 2
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.

soundcheck sainted sinners and ian

backstage 2

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!

20171029_011932

The Before…

received_1691883914186290

& the after…

received_1691882810853067

 

from ...
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.

me and ian
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.

stage photo 1

concert photo 2

concert photo 3

on stage

concert photo 4

crowd 2

frank

concert photo 5

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. 

concert photo 6

ian 1

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

The grand finale!

DNSbc1GWkAAWVka.jpg large

final 3

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!

Music Shopping in Norway or How to Fill a Suitcase with CDs

This July, I had a little trip to Norway to visit relatives and relax a little bit. I have never been to Norway before which is weird considering the fact that my parents have been working as musicians there for such a long time. While I was in Norway, I had to, of course, do a little music shopping and explore some of the stores available near me. I mean after all, Norway is famous for its solid rock/metal scene and so many outstanding bands and artists came from there. I had high expectations of their record stores and wasn’t disappointed. I also knew that Norway will offer me a selection of CDs and records which would be very difficult to find in my country. That’s why I couldn’t wait till I see what I can dig up.

I was staying in Sarpsborg – a lovely little city, full of atmosphere and great landscapes. I must say, I really loved it! At the very center of Sarpsborg, there was this cozy little record store, named “Retro Vinyl & CD” where I found most of the CDs. The store was well stocked, it offered a wide selection of new and pre-loved CDs and vinyl records and last but not least, the staff was incredibly kind and spoke English very well. I have nothing but great things to say about it!

On my last day in Norway, I visited Oslo, which was equally appealing. I loved the dynamics, the architecture, the global atmosphere coming out of it! I visited two record stores in Oslo – Big Dipper and Råkk & Rålls. Big Dipper was very fancy and offering vinyl records only. Råkk & Rålls was the place for me – a true music paradise, full of endless selections and tons of rare items. I got lost inside it, honestly! The staff was also very helpful and kind and assisted me in finding what I was looking for so quickly! If I have the chance to visit Oslo again, I’m coming back here for sure! 

Now, let me show you a few photos of the stores and the things I got from my trip to Norway. Some of those CDs are impossible to get anywhere else except Norway which makes them very valuable to me. Others are easy to get but since I didn’t have them in my collection, it was the perfect time. In terms of prices, I have to say music in Norway costs money. Don’t expect a 4.99USD brand new CD. A second-hand CD was around 5-10EURO and a vinyl record starts from 7EURO and can go up to 30-40EURO and more. Anyhow, it’s photo time! By the way, I haven’t removed the prices because I think it’s charming. Might ruin the photo but I decided to keep them!


This is how “Retro Vinyl & CD” looked from the outside and inside. Very welcoming, isn’t it?

sarpsborg cd shop

Rakk & Ralls in Oslo – what a view!

rakk ralls oslo

You know how much I love TNT and me being in Norway meant that I just had to buy all the TNT I could find. Coming across a TNT CD in Bulgaria is almost impossible and now was my chance to stock up on their music. I couldn’t find “Intuition” – my favorite album of theirs which made me quite sad but there’s always a next time!

TNT – TNT (1982)
TNT – The Big Bang – The Essential Collection (2003)
TNT – Give Me a Sign (2003)
TNT – My Religion (2004)
TNT – All The Way to the Sun (2005)

tnt cds

TNT.jpg

tony

Whitesnake – Good to be Bad (2008)

whitesnake good to be bad

Kingdom Come – Kingdom Come (1987)

kingdom come

Def Leppard – Now (Collectors Edition) (2002)

Def Leppard – Slang (Strictly Limited Edition) (1996)

Classic Albums: Def Leppard – Hysteria (2002)

def leppard

def leppard slang

Bonfire – Fireworks (1987)

bonfire fireworks

John Norum – Total Control (1987)

john norum total control.jpg

A-ha – Hunting High and Low (1985)

aha

Thin Lizzy – Thunder and Lightning (1983)

Thin Lizzy

Guns N’ Roses – Use Your Illusion I (1991)

Guns n Roses - Use Your Illusion 1

Pink Floyd – A Momentary Lapse of Reason (1987)

pink floyd a momentary lapse of reason

Audioslave – Out of Exile (2005)

The Best of & the Rest Of Original Pistols Live (1985)

audioslave sex pistols collage 1

CREED – Human Clay (1999)

Van Morrison – Super Hits (1999)

Simply Red – Stars (1991)

collage 2

I also got Paul Young’s “Other Voices” (1990), Chris Isaak’s “Silvertone” (1985), Kenny G’s “Breathless” (1992), “Broken Dreams” – a compilation CD featuring modern-day love rock anthems and Maroon 5’s “Songs about Jane” (2002).

cds together

I also got my FAVORITE Helix album, “Long Way from Heaven” which I was so happy to find…Finally I added it to my collection.

me and helix

Tina Turner’s “Break Every Rule” (1986) was a gift from Retro Vinyl&CD because I got so many things from their store. It’s great because you all know how much I love Tina Turner and I didn’t have this album actually on vinyl! What a great gesture…

tina turner break every rule

I think this is pretty much it. One more country added to my list of countries in which I did record shopping. I really enjoyed my time and I think I got plenty of great music for my collection. My suitcase wasn’t that big so imagine putting all that on the way back, along with my other belongings. Once again, it took me forever to close it haha. All worthy, though.

Hope you enjoyed my photos and stories.


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!

Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band in one Unforgettable Night in Seoul, South Korea

ringo

2016 was a busy year for Ringo Starr and His All Starr Band. Starting with a North American tour and moving on to Asia, these legendary musicians took on a long but quite important journey to remind people that no one can do it better than the originals. On the 4th of November, it was time for South Korea to experience for the very first time the magic of Ringo’s cheery, one-of-a-kind persona on the stage of Jamsil Indoor Stadium in Seoul. He was not the only highly anticipated star, though. Six other, A-CLASS musicians joined him for a perfect night, full of pleasant surprises, festivities and of course, breath-taking music.

I was so excited and was literally counting the days till the day of the concert ever since I found out about the event and bought my ticket. I was a little bit surprised that they included S.Korea in their tour because not many legendary rockstars are often coming here. So I naturally wasn’t gonna miss it for the world.

Experiencing the music, the aura, the talent and the legacy of such outstanding artists who worked so hard and achieved so much can be a life-changing moment. Let’s talk about the Beatles – the game-changers, the greatest of the greatest, the biggest rock band in the world! Those fabulous four guys made history not only with their music, but with the cultural and social impact they inflicted upon the world. Unfortunately, we don’t have Lennon or Harrison with us any longer. Starr and McCartney are the only two Beatles that are still alive and still rocking pretty good for their age! The amount of respect I have for the Beatles – all four of them, is limitless. So for me, to finally be able to see one of the guys I admire with all my heart and soul, was a moment of a lifetime. I hope I will get to see Paul anytime soon as well. Ringo Starr aside, let’s talk about the other members of his band – all great rockers who previously worked with some of the finest names in the industry. Steve Lukather, guitarist of the great (and one of my ultimate favorite bands) Toto; Richard Page from the 80s band Mr. Mister; Todd Rundgren who produced and worked with so many musicians, in addition to being in the band Utopia; Gregg Bissonette, a drummer coming from The David Lee Roth Band; Warren Ham, a saxophonist who toured with Olivia Newton John; and Gregg Rolie from Santana and Journey who is one of the greatest masters of the organ and keyboards. What else do I have to say? Astonishing assembly of monstrous talents; an exceptional evening was absolutely guaranteed.

Let me tell you a few things about the concert itself. I will try to be as brief as possible because when all you have to say is positive and full of love, there’s no need for extra talking. The only thing I wish I could change was the size of the audience. Unfortunately not as many people as I thought came to the concert but I can understand it up to some extend because it’s South Korea. Over here people are not head-over-heels for old-school bands and rock&roll, especially younger generations who are more involved with newly-emerged genres like K-pop. There were so many foreigners, like myself, which was no surprise at all since Seoul is an international capital.

The show lasted for about two hours, throughout which I couldn’t stop smiling, clapping and screaming. Ringo started the show with a couple of uplifting songs, performed by him. Among them was “Matchbox” (Carl Perkins/The Beatles), “What Goes On” (The Beatles) and his first solo single after the break-up of The Beatles, “It Don’t Come Easy”. Each of the band members took turns in leading a song which provided us with the ultimate experience – it was like a box full of unique chocolates and you get to enjoy each one of their specific tastes and attributes. The moment that will be forever immortalized in my head was when I heard my favorite Toto songs performed live, by Steve Lukather. “Hold the Line”, “Rosanna” and “Africa” were the absolute highlight of my evening and I wanted them to never end. The feeling of witnessing how a song you love so much takes a physical live form is one of the greatest and warmest sensations in the world. Richard Page’s performance of “Broken Wings” was another breathtaking moment for me because it’s one of my most beloved songs. Gregg Rolie delivered superior acts as well that totally stole the show. There was a foreign guy sitting behind me who couldn’t stop screaming “Gregg f***ing Rolie” every few seconds! We heard some Santana songs but unfortunately no Journey which was kind of a disappointment because I’m a huge fan of Journey. They carried out “Evil Ways”, a song they did during Woodstock Festival in 1969 and absolutely stole my heart with it. The song that electrified the audience the most had to be “Yellow Submarine” – that’s the kind of tune it is, I guess. We were singing along and clapping like crazy. Just like that after a series of empowering rockers, the concert was coming to its end. Ringo wrapped things up quite obviously, with of course a Beatles’ song, “Act Naturally” and Sgt. Pepper’s “With a Little Help from My Friends” which is his absolute staple. He couldn’t have finished the night with a better song.

img_0065
Setlist

Ringo is such a character. During the show, he took time to make jokes and engage with the audience which naturally everyone loved. He read the signs of the people out loud and made some hilarious comments about them. There was a sign reading “Ringo 4 President” which I think he enjoyed the most! Also, at one point he said something like “You know, when I was in the Beatles, I wrote a lot of songs, none of which got recorded, of course…” and everyone started laughing because we all know who were the main songwriters of the band.

The guys had so much chemistry and such a beautiful aura. I couldn’t get enough of that refreshing air circling the venue, filled up with so much passion and great music. I had an awesome time and am so happy that I got the opportunity to see them live for the first time ever! Here are some photos from the event!


 

Me with my Beatles T-shirt, all ready for the concert;

me-with-a-beatles-t-shirt

Getting closer to the arena…

20161105_184921

And we are here, right on time to grab our tickets and take photos!

Peace & Love

kakaotalk_moim_4zcrufkch9anpcsxwow7wqjjoc3noz

Me & my lovely Malaysian friend/roommate posing in front of the huge poster!

kakaotalk_moim_4zcrufkch9anpcsxwow7wqjjoeb66z

Tickets and cool fluorescent bracelets we got ^^

These guys were hilarious! Loved how devoted they were…just look at the masks!

20161105_190727ewew

The venue from the inside:

 

And let the show begin…

Obviously we weren’t up front in the best (and most expensive) seats but the view from above was pretty good as well~

Thank you Ringo & Steve & Todd & Richard & Gregg B. & Warren & Gregg R. for the memories! You guys are the real deal!

We all live in a yellow submarine
Yellow submarine, yellow submarine
We all live in a yellow submarine la la la…

ringo-twitter2


 

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

Scorpions Rocked As Hard As Ever On Their 50th Anniversary Tour Concert in Sofia, Bulgaria

ScorpionsTour

 

What a life, what a career… I cannot believe those guys have been rocking for 50 years! In honor of their 50th anniversary, Scorpions went on a grandiose one of a kind world tour that begun last year and will end this December. They performed all over Asia, South America, North America and of course, Europe. On the 17th of July, it was time for Bulgaria to celebrate the long and productive career of those rock legends and welcome them on the stage of Arena Armeets in the capital – Sofia. The news about them including Bulgaria in their world tour came as no surprise, as the band is quite fond of the country and Bulgarian people have a very special relationship with Scorpions. Fun fact, Scorpions is actually one of the bands drawing the hugest crowds at their concerts among all the other rock bands that come to perform in Bulgaria. This time, around 15,000 people came to listen and rock with their favorite band, for probably the last time.

I was extremely excited and have been looking forward to this event since the day I bought my ticket in March. The anticipation and the idea of seeing them perform live for the first time in my life, kept me alive for my entire spring semester abroad – I simply couldn’t wait to come back to my home country and attend their concert. Finally, the day came! The whole experience took me a couple of days since I don’t live in the capital, however it was totally worth it! I was so happy to see people of all ages and all generations coming together, all wearing rock band T-shirts, smiling and ready to rock! This is the kind of atmosphere I really thrive in! Anyhow, huge kudos to the team who organized the event and made sure that given the current events, the security was at its finest and we could all enjoy ourselves, without worrying. I was very impressed by how easy and fast we were able to safely get inside and find our seats and by how smooth and distressful, 15 000 people managed to get out of the arena when the concert finished! There were no unpleasant scenes or people who wanted to darken the bright moment. Once again, it was all thought of brilliantly.

Now, let’s talk about the concert itself and the great Scorpions! With no “warm up” bands, no further dues and not much talk, Scorpions came out on the stage and rocked as hard as ever, right from the beginning with “Going Out With a Bang”. Needless to say, the crowd went wild! Klaus Meine, the frontman, then greeted the fans in Bulgarian. He said “Добър вечер, София! Как сте?“, which means “Good evening, Sofia! How are you?” Of course, the crowd went absolutely wild after this respectful gesture of the band! After that, we went on memory lane with Scorpions and listened to the superb performance of some of their greatest hits from the 70s and 80s, such as “Make it Real” and “The Zoo”. I was mostly touched by their gentle, yet empowering performance of “Send Me an Angel”. I felt like at that point, the soul of each and every person of the audience was filled with so much warmth, hope and happiness that the whole arena became one huge bright star, shining on that dark night sky. One more thing I would like to point out was the fantastic, out-of-this-world drum playing of Mikkey Dee from Motorhead. His violent drum beats, which by the way made the whole arena shake as if there was a crazy earthquake, left us completely speechless. I am glad there were so many young people and even children among the audience so that they could truly feel and appreciate the precision and skills needed to become a drummer. Not many people actually realize or have the chance to hear a storm like the one we witnessed yesterday, in the face of Mikkey! After that, the band went on with “Blackout”, “No One Like You” and “Big City Nights”.

The concert ended with the timeless classics “Still Loving You” and “Rock You Like a Hurricane”, which was actually quite predictable and we were totally ready for the splash! I honestly had the time of my life! I do hope I have the chance to see them again! Their spirit, attitude and dedication inspired me and I can only wish to achieve as much as they did and be as awesome as they are at that age! Thank you, Scorpions!

Check out some photos from the event!

  1. The arena from the outside

2. Me (because of course I would put on a Def Leppard T-shirt, regardless of the band whose concert I was about to see)

3. When we got inside, there was this merchandise shop, where you could buy T-shirts and other things, such as drinks and food.

y20160717_182457

4. We found our seats! I cannot really stand up for such a long time so I decided to buy tickets for the seating areas. It was maybe a bit far but I still loved it and the view from above was just perfect! As you can see the arena was a bit empty since it was still quite early.

y20160717_184055

5. However, soon after, everyone started coming!

6. The concert begun…

7. And after one hour and a half of heavy rocking and rolling, it’s over… 😦

 

Thank you, Scorpions!

That’s me with a Scorpions headband I bought at the concert!

1=sc.jpg


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