Flights of The Electribird

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Metallica Preparty by Metal Monarcs

Last weekend, Metallica went to play live at Ullevi in Gothenburg, Sweden. Since I wasn’t able to get tickets on time, I had to settle for one of the several preparties that was held that evening before the concert instead. After all, when a Heavy Metal tribute band like Metal Monarcs invites you to come AND allows you to bring a real camera to their concert (some artists and concert event holders are against photography), you accept with a “HELL, YEAH!” and show up!

It took some time for me to find the place, to be honest. There were so many people there already wearing suits and fancy dresses, you never guessed a metal band were planning to play there. Then I spotted that one indicator that I had indeed reached my destination.

Thank goodness, I thought I was lost!

You know you’ve reached the right place when you spot the name of the band somewhere.

With time, the amount of fancy people were being replaced with rockers. The huge bar, which was inconveniently placed a few metres from the stage, was constantly surrounded by people. Music was already playing loudly through the speakers as more and more people wearing old T-shirts from previous Metallica-concerts appeared every now and then in small groups, all coming to see Metal Monarcs. Then the stuff on stage got their final tweekings and configurations and a Go-Pro camera was being set-up to face the stage from the roof of the bar. Then the band began to rock some well-known songs.

I thought these kinds of entries ended with Elvis Presley...

The concert starts with the singer facing the drums…

HELL YEAH!

… then hit the notes with full flare!

I take it that these gentlemen must look familiar to some people. That’s because they are all famous to the most knowledgeable of rock fans. All 5 of them are known from other well-known metal bands and have been in the business of rocking people’s socks off for years.

No drummer can hide from me nowadays!

Jesse Lindskog from Dragonland on drums.

Sunlight in the eyes couldn't stop these guys from rocking!

Eric Rauti and Mats Rendlert from Dreamland on guitar and bass.

Just seeing him there made my day!

Oscar Dronjak from Hammerfall on guitar.

He's just as awesome in person as he is on stage, I promise!

Jonas Heidgert from Dragonland and Destiny on vocals.

Just like any other tribute band, Metal Monarcs’s repertoire consisted of other people’s songs, like “I Want Out” by Helloween, “Run to the Hills” and “Wasted Years” by Iron Maiden, “All We Are” by Warlock, “Mr. Crowley” by Ozzy Osbourne and several more. But since this was a preparty for Metallica, their songs were of course played here too (“Enter Sandman” and “Seek and Destroy”).

Since alcohol and rock go hand in hand, you can count on that some odd stuff caused by the audience occurred, both during and between each set.

Someone's always show-boating when there's a camera nearby.

This man played air-guitar during the first few songs.

He had to get down to give room for the band.

This guy hopped up on stage just before the second set.

But the entire event was mostly peaceful (even if I did almost punch a guy for pushing past me and shoving his elbow on the back of my arm) and none of the shenanigans caused any interruptions for Metal Monarcs. They just kept rocking and the crowd loved it!

ROCK AND ROLL!

The more songs the band played, the more of a party the audience had.

And just like any good party, a lot of people were present at the event. As a matter of fact, the place was so packed, I was stuck where I was about an hour after the concert ended. At least this introduced me to a first – I’ve never seen a band pack their gear before that evening.

Who needs roadies on small events like this?

The band help each other pack their own gear.

Once there was no trace of the band left on stage, I decided to find my way out of the crowd. This wasn’t easy at all, since the place was packed like cars in a traffic jam and some of the possible exits had been blocked to prevent even more people from getting in. I ended up using one of those exits anyway, because the only one allowed was nowhere to be seen or found through the crowd.

Packed like a sardine can...

The crowd was huge when I finally got out of there…

How desperate could they have been for a drink!?

… and still growing bigger and bigger!

But in the end, this Metallica Preparty gets a 4/5 easily. Metal Monarcs were awesome from start to finish and really good sports among the visitors. My only issue was the choice of location. This place wasn’t made for concerts. Whoever decided to place a bar so close to the stage should get sued, because the damn thing took up a lot of space and blocked the view for a lot of people. I was also annoyed over that the exits were blocked. I understand that it was necessary to keep people from getting in, but they shouldn’t make it harder for people to get out. After all, when the party’s over, there’s no need to stay, especially when you’re on your way to a Metallica-concert afterwards. Lucky for me that I wasn’t, huh (I couldn’t get tickets, remember)? Well, “SCREW YOU!”, I say! I love Metallica…


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Testing Canon PowerShot SX50 HS on Iggy & The Stooges

This month, I’ve been keeping a close eye on good cameras. Finding one that can truly be used as an all-round camera for every occasion is an impossible task and the very best ones cost a fortune for the housing alone. Even the lenses cost more than the average consumer is willing to spend and the prices for those can be worth about 10-20% of the cost for the housing. Then we have the camera restrictions on certain places and events (only cameras without exchangeable lenses can be used in some of the concert halls where I am and flash photography can sometimes annoy people), how fast the camera can take a snapshot of a moving target and how far away you can be when you take that shot. Luckily for me and my very tight budget, I got hold of a cheap camera that does that and more, the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS.

Great camera for rookies!

Canon PowerShot SX50 HS, a good all-round camera that’s easy to use and won’t kill your budget.

12,1 MP may seem pretty low compared to most cameras today, since even cellphone cameras are starting to catch up to that number, but the built-in lens with 50x zoom and ability to shoot HD-video makes up for that by a longshot. The fact that I could take photos, zoom in on objects that were extremely far away and shoot a movie at the same time was impressive enough, but not as impressive as how the camera can adapt to the light of the area automatically. I haven’t had the real need for the flash yet because of this, but there are still times when the flash does a better job than the firmware. But how about the situations when a good, fast camera with a proper zoom function is necessary, especially when the flash is a no-no? Luckily, I had just the opportunity to test this when Iggy & The Stooges came to town!

From past experience, I’ve learned the value of showing up several hours early to a concert. That way, you can secure a good spot at the very front of the stage. This is, however, the first time I see them block off the area before a concert. On the upside, this gave me the chance to test the zoom function on the PowerShot SX50 HS.

This could be approx. 100-200 meters from the stage.

The line between the concert area and the first group of people waiting to get in.

From here, I took some snapshots of the stage.

Some zoom may have been used...

The stage and the crowd area.

The text on the drums weren't visible in the camera's LCD-screen.

The stage gear. The zoom didn’t even break a sweat!

Maximum zoom wasn't even used for this shot!

Even the drum kit itself was perfectly visible from where I was standing.

2 hours before the concert, they started letting people into the crowd area. About 10-20 people had already gotten their spots at the front by the time I got mine and some were hanging out further back and in the cafés behind the crowd area. I was surprised to see a familiar face that far away and couldn’t help myself to lower my standards to paparazzi-level.

Can you believe I took this shot when I stood in front of the stage!?

I got a good shot at my favourite guitarist and bass player from the band Solaris, Johan Dedd, at the café. Sorry, Johan.

After an hour’s worth of waiting, the crowd was filling up, making it impossible for anyone at the front to move around. The stench of beer and tobacco was filling the air, which is a bad combination for people who get sick easily from breathing the two. Even the shoving and some chanting from a fan in the distance had already started and it got worse when Iggy Pop hit the stage. But before the concert started, there was a short announcement on stage. A winner at a competition at Hard Rock Café had won a trip to see Hard Rock Calling in London, where Iggy and the Stooges will be attending.

I envy you so much...

Congratulations to the winner of Hard Rock Café’s contest!

After that and some sound checks by the stageworkers, it didn’t take long before The Stooges took their places on stage.

The woman next to me thought he was hot.

Mike Watt accepted the first roars with delight.

Iggy Pop himself took some time for me to spot, because the old man was moving around like a speedy teenager in the middle of the stage. That’s right, people, age is just a number, which is exactly the way it should be!

And of course a stageworker, who failed to hide from my Canon...

The first image of the evening with Iggy Pop and the saxophone player, Steve MacKay.

Due to the settings, the PowerShot SX50 HS took several pictures in a row when I took my photos. This is a feature I was very thankful for, because Iggy Pop sure can move and the shoving and bruising from the eager fans behind and next to me did not do me any favours. But after some getting used to and the help of a very observant security guard, I got some pretty good shots of the evening.

Don't ask me what he was pointing at...

A pointing Iggy Pop.

His pocket looks empty.

Iggy Pop with his hand to the side.

Too bad the camera didn't adapt to the dark fast enough...

Crazy eyes in the dark!

The audience could feel it too, believe me...

Iggy Pop, singing with feeling.

Since this concert is a huge deal, even for the media, the press photographers got let into the front of the stage to take pictures of Iggy Pop.

Thank goodness I took my own...

The press photographers got to pass through the other side of the fence.

I found this to be as useful as it was meaningless, because after the shoving that was required to take the photographers to the front, they had to leave shortly after, missing the rest of the concert. I may not be a press photographer myself, but that’s not the approach I would take. I would rather choose me a good spot and shoot my pictures from there, so I could enjoy the concert too. Well, perhaps they had other obligations… either way, I’m 90 % sure I got home with better shots than these people did and, believe it or not, a nice gentleman wanted to charge me for my photos! I was so honoured, I let him have them for free (the photos were already uploaded here anyway, so the press shouldn’t be a problem).

So did the sunshine...

Eager photographers got some good shots of Iggy Pop.

By now, you’ve probably noticed how the light appears different in some photos. It turns out that the PowerShot SX50 HS doesn’t always adapt to the dark fast enough. I also noticed that the more sky there is in the photo, the darker the photo will become, because the camera thinks we’re in a bright enough location (that’s my guess, anyway). This is not good when you have a fired-up 66-year-old rocker on stage. Luckily, most of the photos can be edited with a good software, but I didn’t want to edit anything to show how well the camera did on the concert. You think you’d notice all the flaws in the rotatable LCD-screen on the camera, but when the camera displays the photos you just took in a row, you get sick of watching what just happened on stage like a buggy replay and just focus on Iggy Pop.

Who doesn't love good equipment?

Iggy Pop keeps his lips close to the microphone.

A lot of people focuses on just the singer during concerts. I can understand that, since the singer is the most visible one. As for me (and the lovely middle-aged woman standing next to me, with a Citroën-decal in a chain in her hand, who had a crush on Mike Watt), the rest of the musicians are worth paying attention to as well.

Too bad I can't show you Asheton's drum solo, it was awesome!

Mike Watt on bass and Scott Asheton on drums.

I've never seen sticks like that before...

James Williamson on guitar and Steve MacKay on… sticks?

But in the end, most of my photos were of Iggy Pop too…

He makes it look cool.

Even the finger-to-the-dimple-pose works for Iggy Pop.

The zoom on the PowerShot SX50 HS is awesome!

Got a good close-up of him too.

Most of the time, Iggy Pop kept himself on the centre and the right side of the stage, but when he eventually came to the left side of the stage, I was able to take better photos when there wasn’t much shoving going on…

After all that moving around, I'm impressed that there was no panting!

With mineral water in hand, Iggy Pop chills down a bit.

… but that didn’t last very long…

I hope he stays sober...

Iggy Pop singing in a relaxed Captain Morgan-pose.

After all, when you have a sitting with one side of the crowd, it is only fair to have a sitting with the other side of the crowd too.

And then it was fair...

Iggy Pop chills down on the other side of the stage.

Then it was time to say thanks and wave goodbye before the encore.

Cheerful as a cheerleader...

Iggy Pop waves happily to the crowd.

It’s always impressive when the artists on stage try to interact with the crowd. Some say something specific to a random person in the audience. Some get close enough to the audience to shake a few hands or more. Iggy & The Stooges took it a step further. They brought a small chunk of about 20-30 people from the audience up on stage.

Very biblical.

Like a messiah, Iggy Pop shines with his fans on stage…

Not even the cudliest fans on stage could stop him!

… without interrupting his singing, like nothing happened.

I personally love seeing this kind of interactions, but I do have to mention the few downsides with this for the sake of people’s safety. When people enter and leave (or move in any direction at all) in the crowd area, things like shoving, bruising, suffocation and choking are unavoidable and sometimes lethal. Since I was standing less than half a meter away from where everyone entered the stage, I got several blows to my back and head and was often pushed towards the fence in front of the stage, which caused me to lose my breath and almost die. Courtesy isn’t always an available trait when you’re high on excitement, alcohol and/or possibly a random drug and people do end up getting hurt. But wait, it gets worse!

This guy sure likes to get close to people.

Iggy Pop visits the audience off the stage.

Yes, inviting people to the stage wasn’t enough. When Iggy Pop came to my side of the audience, things got lethal again. Arms were showing up everywhere, fingers were in my hair, other people’s hair were in my face, elbows hit my head and back and my stomach and chest were being pressed against the fence again. Even the nice woman next to me got hurt (at least emotionally) when she lost her spot to a pair of hyper youngsters, who’s long hair and arms kept bruising me and blocking some of my shots. This bugged me to the core, because I had Iggy Pop right in front of me and couldn’t see enough to plan a good shot at him with the Canon. But then, as I look through the photos on my computer a couple of days later, I discovered that the PowerShot SX50 HS had a few surprises for me.

And none of them were mine.

Hands were stretching out everywhere to reach Iggy Pop.

Don't ask me why a guy is trying to grab his abs...

Even the touching didn’t mess up his singing!

After that, it got harder to get some good photos, because the closest of the youngsters kept jumping on my foot…

Too bad he's not wearing his jacket here...

Iggy Pop mews on in a lion-like fashion.

Odd, I could barely hear them sing...

Iggy Pop directs the audience.

Go, drummer man, go!

The other Stooges had no problem keeping up the pace.

Then Iggy Pop did a move even I recognized.

Is it just me or was he still singing when he did that?

Iggy Pop spins the microphone above his head and the right side of the audience.

For a energetic man, Iggy Pop sure slobbers like a energetic dog. Whenever I saw him take a swig of water, half of it ended up somewhere else. Unlike some gross rockstars, who like to share their bodily fluids, Iggy Pop kept his liquids away from the audience. Good, because the PowerShot SX50 HS isn’t waterproof and spittle would have ruined my shots. As for the water, I thought singers knew better than to drink carbonated water, because it ruins the vocal cords.

He shouldn't be drinking carbonated water during a performance.

Iggy Pop spitting mineral water on stage.

Even cool rockers need bibs sometimes.

Behold the slobber on Iggy Pop’s chin and chest…

Iggy Pop's a real rockhound!

… and more slobber on the other chest.

But spit wasn’t the only thing I spotted on him. From time to time, there was even a smile on his face.

A contageous smile.

Iggy Pop, smiling with open arms.

... and into the camera.

Iggy Pop, smiling towards the left side of the audience…

Eventually, Iggy Pop left the stage to get his jacket. Strange, considering how hot it was that day. But then again, I was wearing a spring jacket in a warm, crowded audience on a summer’s evening, so it’s no wonder that cold was the last thing on my mind…

Or is it cheetah? Can't tell...

Iggy Pop appears in his leopard-coloured leather jacket.

Nice kitty.

Here’s the back of the jacket.

Then he returned to his usual routine.

There must be some nice people there.

Iggy Pop returns to sing to the right side of the audience…

... which I'm very thankful for, because the camera caught it...

… turns to the left side of the audience…

No water this time.

… and spits all over the stage.

Ick...

Watch the saliva fly!

Even his teeth got busy!

He must have a very good dentist.

The microphone dangles nicely on Iggy Pop’s teeth.

But then the jacket came off and after some more singing, Iggy Pop made his way back down to ground level.

How touching...

Iggy Pop is reaching out to the audience once again.

After that, it didn’t take long before the concert really ended. Too bad I didn’t get a good photo of Scott Asheton’s drum-solo, because he was way too fast for me to shoot…

I’ve been to a lot of concerts in my life and some of them had dangerous things involved with the act, like fireworks or a live animal on stage. This concert was by far the most dangerous concert I’ve ever attended and the act was never intended to be dangerous in the first place. Iggy Pop just likes to get close to his audience and I admire him for that and the audience can’t really help themselves when they see their idol within reach. Because of this, I hold no grudges to those in the audience who almost got me killed. As a matter of fact, if the youngsters who were next to me asked me nicely, I’d even send them the photos of them from the concert with a smile on my face!

So, was the concert worth dying for? Well, it definitely earned a nice 4/5. After so many years, Iggy Pop & The Stooges certainly don’t disappoint. The songs rocked, they all had the energy to perform almost constantly for over an hour and Iggy Pop interacted with the audience the best he could. The only problem was that the danger level made your senses focus on other things than the music itself, so you never really got to enjoy everything to its full capacity. Luckily, I got some nice compensation, thanks to the camera.

The smile alone was worth getting trampled and suffocated.

My favourite photo of the evening.

As an amateur hobby photographer, taking shots like this is like a dream come true. Whenever I look at this photo, it’s like Iggy Pop himself wanted it to be for me, even if my memory tells me that this was a lucky shot (he was about to move his head towards the right side of the audience when I took this shot). I love this photo so much, I even edited it to remove some unwanted scenery and put my alias on it.

Best photo of Iggy Pop ever!

On purpose or not, thank you, Iggy Pop!

This photo definitely made my week and the other photos turned out pretty well too after some editing. As for the concert itself? IT ROCKED!

As for the camera, the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS is definitely worth a grade of 4/5. If it adapted faster to the darkness of the surroundings and had the capability to handle tougher weather, this camera would have been absolutely perfect for any form of out-door photography, but the last thing it did was disappoint. It helped me take the most amazing shots ever without even knowing it and I didn’t have to stand so close to get some high-quality shots or a good video. If you’re a total rookie at both movie and regular photography, who wants an easy-to-use camera for any occasion, I recommend this camera highly. It’s also MUCH cheaper than the other alternatives.