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!

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 …

 

Plovdiv1

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.

Plovdiv 2

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.

Plovdiv 3

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.

Plovdiv 7

Plovdiv 6

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! 

1 Nazareth Plovdiv Bulgaria 19 06 2017 28

2 Nazareth Plovdiv Bulgaria 19 06 2017 26

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…

10 Nazareth Plovdiv Bulgaria 19 06 2017 34

11 Nazareth Plovdiv Bulgaria 19 06 2017 32

12 Nazareth Plovdiv Bulgaria 19 06 2017 31

 

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!

nazareth 11

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!

15 Nazareth Plovdiv Bulgaria 19 06 2017

16 Nazareth Plovdiv Bulgaria 19 06 2017 2

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!

cover photo Nazareth Plovdiv Bulgaria 19 06 2017 1


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 Review: EUROPE Rocked The Night in Sofia, Bulgaria (16/05/2017)

I don’t even know how to begin writing this…I am just feeling so overly-emotional and hyped and I think I will be feeling like this for the next few days till I completely calm down. The amount of 100% pure rock energy I soaked in was the exact thing I needed in my life right now. The feelings, the emotions, the indescribable happiness I felt when one of my most beloved bands of all time – Europe stood in front of me and performed songs to which I cried and laughed – that’s something I will never forget!

You know that I am the ultimate ‘80s rock music enthusiast and on top of it all I am European! Europe and I were simply a match made in heaven! I’ve always identified with their sound, image and style and I guess part of the reason why was because I could sense that cultural and subsequently musical proximity. Many successful rock acts came out of European countries but those Swedish rockers justifiably made the biggest fuss in my little rock life!

After being a fan for so many years and listening to their songs on a daily basis it was about time I saw them live! Nothing or noone was gonna prevent me from attending that concert, despite uncertainties whether I was going to be in Bulgaria. Legendary albums such as “Prisoners in Paradise”, “Wings of Tomorrow”, “The Final Countdown” and “Out of This World” were essential in laying the foundations of enormous passion for rock&roll music so I just had to be a part of that magical show at any cost.

Europe released their phenomenal multi-platinum album, “The Final Countdown” in 1986. To celebrate the album’s 30th anniversary, in late 2016 Europe went on a tour. This January, it was announced that they are adding more countries to their special anniversary show and one of them was Bulgaria! How cool is that…

I was part of it all and would love to share my experience with you. Hope you enjoy reading about it!


The promo poster for Europe’s concert in Bulgaria:

europe promo bulgaria

This is how the concert venue looks from the outside (Arena Armeec). The weather was a bit rainy and gloomy but that didn’t matter!

concert 6

Before the concert, I bought a headband and took a couple of selfies with it. I absolutely adore these headbands and have a little collection  of them from concerts I attended. You can see how happy and thrilled I was by the look on my face! The fact that I was at work all day and was very tired wasn’t gonna prevent me from being in my best shape for one of my favorite bands of all time.

To get to my seat, I had to use the elevator which was the perfect moment to snap a little mirror selfie of my concert outfit. I was wearing shorts and a BOSTON T-Shirt as you can see.

europe concert 3

This is how it looked from the inside. I swear this arena is like my second home these days…haha. I got a nice, more expensive seat this time because it was EUROPE, after all – one of my most favorite bands of all time. The view was simply stunning! The crowd was smaller than the Deep Purple one from two days ago mostly because not all seating parts of the arena were available for the concert. Honestly, I am glad that the arena wasn’t that full l because usually that means more fan engagement and a better show, actually. The band can interact more easily with the fans and the whole atmosphere feels less “heavy” (at least that’s how I think).

europe concert venue inside

The opening act was Sevi – a Bulgarian hard rock/goth band, led by a female vocalist. I’ve never heard of them before but I think they have a strong Bulgarian fanbase and people were obviously really happy to see them. It turns out that they actually opened for Europe a couple of years ago during Kavarna Rock Fest (a famous Bulgarian rock festival) when the Swedish rockers last came to Bulgaria. I really enjoyed their enthusiasm and it was pretty good to witness some solid female rockstar power. They seemed quite confident, started their gig on time and looked like they really enjoyed themselves. I was too excited for Europe and probably didn’t give them the attention they deserved but I will definitely check them out! 

europe concert opening act

Europe are coming out any second now…

Europe concert logo

aaaand…there they are… the band that changed my life with their music; the band that gifted me with songs I cannot imagine my days without; the Scandinavian guys who I’ve always identified with. EUROPE

They kicked things off with the title track from their 2015 album, “War of Kings”. No words can describe the way I felt the moment Joey Tempest came on the stage… I thought I was flying; my heart and soul were free and nothing or no one else was there – it was just me, my favorite music and my favorite band playing for me. Since it was my first time seeing Europe you can only imagine how life-changing this experience was for me. I had a seat in the nearest to the stage sitting area but I couldn’t just sit down and clap so statically. I got up and went to the little terrace near my seats and for the rest of the concert I, along with other fans, stood up and danced, clapped, waved and screamed all night long!

Joey was fantastic! The kind of rockstar you don’t really see anymore these days. He was funny, confident, acrobatic, artistic and so passionate! What a sight he was! He said a couple of words in Bulgarian language, including “hello” and “we love you” which made everyone go crazy – this is the kind of gesture that speaks volumes and I always respected bands who try to say at least “hello” using the language of the country they are performing in. The second song was “Hole in My Pocket”, again from “War of Kings”. Their timeless rock anthem, “Rock the Night” was next and I just lost my mind!! Every inch of my body was electrified by Joey’s vocals and John’s thunderous guitars. “Rock the Night” has always been one of the most empowering songs I’ve ever heard and seeing how those rock Gods perform it live is something no one can ever take away from me.

A lot of hits (from his newer and classic albums) followed but the highlight was definitely their performance of “Carrie”. You know how much I adore power ballads and this one is definitely one of the most touching and heartbreaking ballads of all time. I was live-streaming on Twitter actually but I got so emotional during that ballad that I stopped the broadcasting and just decided to sing along with Joey, enjoy the song and embrace the upcoming little tears in my eyes. I will be forever grateful for that once-in-a-lifetime experience…

After the power ballad, Joey and the rest of the guys went full on straightforward hard rock with songs like “Firebox” and “Sign of the Times”…& then the best thing happened. I haven’t mentioned it yet but my favorite Europe album is “Prisoners in Paradise” (1991); maybe because I was born one year after its release or because of other personal reasons and songs that bring so many memories, but ultimately, this is one of the albums I will pick if I’m send on a deserted island with only 20 records. “Girl from Lebanon” is one of the strongest tracks from that album and one of my favorite Europe songs in general. The moment I hear those enchanting first riffs by Norum, I was about to faint, literally!!!! They didn’t play my favorite song, “I’ll Cry for You” but “Girl from Lebanon” was just as good.

We got the chance to listen to “Ready or Not”, “Nothin’ to Ya” and of course “Cherokee”, “Days of Rock & Roll” and the ultimate fan-favorite – “Superstitious”. There was also a little moment when he went “I don’t know where I’m going…but I sure know where I’ve been…” and I was like “wait wait…is this the right concert?” haha – but it was a wonderful, quite entertaining touch!

No one actually believe that the concert will end without the song that defined their career and became one of the biggest rock hits of the ’80s. After all, we are celebrating the anniversary of that worldly-beloved album. When I heard those keyboards at the beginning of “The Final Countdown” I was both ecstatic because this tune is 100% pure energy…but at the same time sorrowful because this meant that the night was over and I had to say goodbye to those outstanding musicians that mean so much to me…and who knows when will I see them again.

Soon enough the song, along with the concert itself was over but my heart was still left there, thrown on their stage… I can just shoot some fancy words to describe Europe’s showmanship and greatness but it wouldn’t mean anything… After their concert coming back to reality and working on the next day seemed unreasonable and even painful to do. The guys just transferred me to another dimension… Joey was jumping, laughing, singing his soul out, waving at everyone (including me) and he even gave the guitar to the bodyguard to try and play a little riff (which was so funny). John Norum’s presence on that stage was quite memorable too, mostly because of his mysterious, enchanting and alluring aura. He looked like a handsome magician who can compel you to do anything he wants with his guitar playing.

I would like to finish by saying that this was one of the greatest concerts I’ve ever attended and it meant the world to me to be part of Europe’s “The Final Countdown 30th Anniversary Tour”. I am sure that the day will come when I will see you again, my dear Europe!

(Here are some photos from the concerts. Apologies for the bad quality but most of the time I was enjoying the band and wasn’t really taking that many photos or videos.)

concert collage europe

europe collage 2

The happy audience:

audience europe concert


Setlist:

War of Kings
Hole in My Pocket
Rock the Night
Scream of Anger
Last Look at Eden
Carrie
The Second Day
Firebox
Sign of the Times
Girl From Lebanon
Ready or Not
Nothin’ to Ya
Superstitious
(the first couplet of… “Here I Go Again” /Whitesnake/ )
Cherokee
Days of Rock ‘n’ Roll

Encore:

The Final Countdown

 


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:

deep purple 4

The tickets:

IMG_20170511_010408_032

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

deep purple concert 1 - edit

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

concert selfie

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

deep purple concert - arena 3

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….)

deep purple concert selfies14

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

arena armeec inside deep purple concert

Part 1: Monster Truck

monster truck

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!

monster truck collage

monster truck 2-wordpress

Part 2: DEEP PURPLE

deep purple 1

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…

deep purple collage

bye bye deep purple wordpress

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!

The Joys of Record Shopping in Seoul, South Korea

I was fortunate enough to be born in 1992 – a year in which LP/CD/Audiocasette stores were everywhere and people were still enthusiastically buying music. On top of it all, I come from a family of musicians, so you can imagine the kind of musical collections I grew up with. By 1992, the CD had already established itself as a major music format and its importance in people’s lives was unquestionable. I remember asking my parents for CDs every time there was an occasion – birthdays, name days, Christmas, I would always get tons of CDs or audiocassettes of my favorite ‘90s artists as gifts from my parents. I was (and still do it by the way) giving CDs to my friends too.

I guess the CD mania didn’t really allow me to appreciate or look for any other music format when I was a kid. I remember my parents’ vinyl collections but it never really made much sense to get into the whole thing myself. Most of the LPs we had were Russian pressings and it just looked so weird to me. Like, what do I do with that black round thing? How do I play it? I better just go back to the cool stereo and play my CDs. I should’ve known better…

I’ve never really thought about the true value of a vinyl mostly because I was too young and basically moving along with the trend. The technological advancements in sound quality and proliferation and affordability of HiFi stereos made it even easier for people to enjoy music and purchase CDs (and audio-cassettes till early 2000s actually).

As I was getting into music more and more with each second, it was only natural for me to discover the magic of a vinyl record. I guess it all fell into place when I became a die-hard fan of old-school rock music. When this whole new world opened up in front of me, all of a sudden I had tons of exceptional ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s rock bands settling in my heart and they brought so much more than mind-blowing rock&roll in my life. These great artists brought with them the old ways of music which eventually became a staple for me. Of course, growing up with artists like Eric Clapton, The Beatles, Chicago, Toto, Tina Turner, Foreigner and similar, had a lot to do with my natural progression towards becoming the ultimate classic rock enthusiast. When you reach the next level of fandom, listening to Led Zeppelin or The Beatles on a CD might not be satisfying enough. I’m not sure I can fully explain it but as I was growing up and my level of music expertise and knowledge of rock music history expanded, my preference for musical formats changed too. I still buy CDs all the time but it’s the LP records that excite me and make my heart jump the moment I come across a LP store.

Some of you may know this but I live in Seoul at the moment, though I come from Bulgaria. Just like in my other countries around the world, in Korea too record stores keep on disappearing as we speak. Korean pop is still a massive force and the market for idol merchandise, including CDs, is still going strong. For a moment, if we forget about Kpop and focus on the international music market, there aren’t actually that many places that offer a wide selection of past and current releases. Moreover, my adoration for second-hand LP record shopping had to be satisfied sooner or later. After my favorite little local record store closed (because of course it had to) I felt quite lost for a little while. I had this routine and the owners knew me not just because I was the only foreigner who would come every week but because I would spend a long time there, browsing and listening to music and trying to find comfort. Eventually, I was fortunate enough to be brought to this underground shopping area, located in Myeong-dong (명동), Seoul. I’ve been to Myeong-dong area plenty of times but never knew that there was this second-hand vinyl heaven right beneath my feet. First time I went it was quite late and I couldn’t really make the best of it. I promised myself to devote at least one day and go through each and every LP that was there! I kept my promise….multiple times Ha!

I wanted to share this meaningful experience with you, guys and emphasize once again on how magical it can be to dive into this world of old-school music, put into a vinyl record so many years ago. I am well aware of the fact that most of my readers are probably from previous generations and grew up with LP records so they keep on buying and collecting them. However, it’s not just the older rock fans that know a thing or two about records. Believe it or not, there are many younger people, like myself, out there who are devoted LP collectors and appreciate this format. With this publication, I wanted to not only share what it is like to go record shopping in Seoul, Korea, but also to emphasize and remind everyone that records are the real deal and no other format can ever replace the value and the spirit, this vinyl carries within itself. I truly hope you enjoy the photos!


…This is Myeong-dong – a shopping district, located in the heart and soul of SEOUL, South Korea. There are thousands of tourists who can enjoy all kinds of stores, restaurants, malls and tourist attractions. It is always extremely crowded and it looks something like this:

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…But this is where we are heading for! Myeong-dong underground shopping center – that’s where the real music is!

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After a couple of minutes this breathtaking view welcomes you to paradise! There are plenty of music stores in that underground area but this one is the biggest and offers the widest selection of records. On top of it all, it’s not just this one wall – the owner has little record displays everywhere. I love going there because they have the best ’80s hard rock LPs and in the greatest condition (I am convinced he is a huge classic rock fan)! Don’t even get me started on how awesome the prices are! 

Of course, there are plenty of other genres offered – you can spot classic music, jazz music, pop music, ’90s music and many other subsections!

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…In addition to vinyl records, they also offer CDs (second hand, of course). Here, it says that you can get 4 CDs for 10.000Won, which is around 10$.

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Sometimes you can come across real treasures! That wasn’t what I came for, though…

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My favorite section – the place where all the great things happen is this one – this little shelf that contains mostly Korean (or Japanese) pressings of LPs from the good old days of hard rock (a.k.a the ’80s). The prices vary from 5.000Won (5$) to 15.000Won (15$), depending on the condition or popularity of the LP. I’ve been going there for quite some time now and what truly impresses me is that there are new (old) ones every time! Some even quite rare, actually! There is a little chair provided for the people (like me) who just have to go through every single record and make sure nothing is left unseen. Time flies so fast when you are looking for your next big discovery!

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These are just some of the treasures I found…

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Some of them I do have, some of them I don’t! I am still working on my rock collection and have a lifetime to do it! I wasn’t really sure what to get till I saw those two albums…

It’s amazing how the things we want so much, always find a way to come to us! I have been record shopping for ages and this is the first time I see those two albums in any music format. Bonham’s “The Disregard of Timekeeping” has been on my “list” for so long! It was almost unbelievable that it was there, just waiting for me…

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Fortune’s self-titled debut album is one rare-gem! I have never came across it and knowing how rare it is, I just had to buy it!

The prices of both were 7.000Won (7$ each). It’s crazy, right? Excellent condition, still with their lyric and promo sheets inside! This is what I’m talking about – I don’t know about you, guys but the thrill of browsing through records and all of a sudden finding one that you wanted so much can be such an emotional moment. Moreover, the most amazing thing is that these kinds of experiences can make you feel so much closer to the music. I didn’t have the chance to be born during the time these albums were released. I never attended their concert or passionately discussed such records with my friends. For someone like me, this is the most genuine way to feel that ’80s rock vibe. For a second there I feel like I was part of it all and it feels so good! Just like that, by holding an old-school second-hand record, I was brought back to the late ’80s and time didn’t matter anymore, it was all about my favorite music and me.

Bonham – The Disregard of Timekeeping (1989)

Fortune – Fortune (1985)

Moving on to the big wall of records… I just had to browse through them all.

Def Leppard

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Other interesting records I thought I’d never see in Korea!

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I wasn’t the only one on a hunt…

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The kings!

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Another separate CD section for the enthusiastic collectors.

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There were a couple of more stores which I had to visit before I leave. Though this one was the biggest and definitely the best, sometimes you never know what will jump out of the old vinyl boxes. Interestingly, there were plenty of people who were browsing and looking around. Korean people haven’t fully given up on LPs and that’s great!

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One of the other little stores always offers the best deals! In front of it, you can spot a couple of boxes, full of records, all for 5.000Won each (5$). I always find pretty interesting things there! Last time I went, I purchased Europe’s “The Final Countdown” and TNT’s “Tell No Tales” so with the hopes of finding new treasures, I went back…

& let the browsing begin…

I don’t have Guns N’ Roses’ “Use Your Illusion I” and it was such an amazing deal that I just had to buy it!

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Guns N’ Roses – Use Your Illusion (1991)

There are plenty of LP stores all over the underground shopping center but some of them were closed as it was too early when I went there.

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Of course, there are stores that offer the suitable sound equipment for listening to those LPs you just bought.

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…and there’s me at the end of my record shopping journey all happy and full of smiles, holding my three new LPs.

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I hope by my words and photos you can tell how exciting and joyful this whole experience was for me. I do that quite often but this time I decided to photograph it all step by step with the hopes of triggering pleasant emotions to my readers and create a sweet memory. I am leaving Korea for good pretty soon but this habit of mine will keep on existing wherever I go. I hope that people out there don’t forget the many benefits of purchasing a record and don’t stop doing it. As I said, that’s one of the most beautiful ways of going back in time. Imagine – this LP was made 30+ years ago and somehow it found its way to your arms. To me that’s just so extraordinary.

When I went back home I had the chance to take a closer look at my new LPs. Ain’t they amazing?

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

The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.
Cheers~

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

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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.

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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;

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Getting closer to the arena…

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

Peace & Love

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

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Tickets and cool fluorescent bracelets we got ^^

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

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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…

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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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!