Flights of The Electribird

Through Games, Events and Multimedia

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The Hiatus is Over When the Hammer Falls

Damn, what a hiatus! Reassignments, trips overseas and death in the family sure take time to deal with, don’t they? Well, no matter the excuse, I owe you something good to read after being away for so long. How about a concert review? Last Friday, I had the honour of spending the evening in front row of a band that’s been on a hiatus too (2 years, to be more precise). If the title wasn’t a good enough hint for you, Hammerfall are back on stage and headbanging their way loud and clear for every soul to hear.

You can really tell that Hammerfall’s been missed after being away for so long. Eager fans had already begun to flock the front row by the time I arrived – over 2 hours early! I was still lucky enough to secure my usual spot, though, which was something I learned to regret in the end… I had a little mishap while moving the images from the camera to the tablet, causing some photos to go missing. Thank goodness I found them in the end, because one of them is the best shot I could get of Hammerfall’s drummer, Anders Johansson.

Hammerfall's drummer, Anders Johansson, checking the drums before the concert.

Hammerfall’s drummer, Anders Johansson, checks the drums a few hours before the concert starts.

After two hours of waiting and sound-checking, Hammerfall finally kicked off – and goodness, did they kick off big! The soundwaves from the on-stage speakers nearly caused an earthquake, fireworks sparkled up from the edge of the stage and smoke sneaked up from behind the band. The combination of these things made it hard for me to get good shots of the band early on, but things got a bit easier after disaster struck. If I heard Joacim Cans, Hammerfall’s current singer, correctly, he’s allergic to sulfur, which caused him to lose his voice halfway through the concert. After a 5-minute-break, he was able to sing again and notifyed the pyrotechnician backstage to stop activating the fireworks for a while. As Joacim’s voice got better, he later told the audience to beat up the pyrotechnician if the fireworks went off again. Just as well, the fireworks were mostly blocking my view anyway…

Hammerfall performing with the stage on fire!

Hammerfall performing with the stage on fire!

After that, it became easier to take pictures of the rest of the band.

Joacim Cans with a large hammer.

Joacim Cans, holding a large, heavy hammer.

One of the guitar players, Pontus Norgren, and the electric bass player, Fredrik Larsson.

One of the guitar players, Pontus Norgren, and the electric bass player, Fredrik Larsson.

The other guitar player, Oscar Dronjak.

Apart from their well-known songs, like “Bloodbound”, “Let the Hammer Fall” and “Last Man Standing”, if I remember the titles correctly, Hammerfall also performed some songs from their knew album, (r)Evolution, for the first time. I wish I could post the videos I shot of them. Too bad the soundwaves from the speakers messed up the sound recording, turning the music in my videoclips into noise. Well, at least the photos that survived the vibrations were enough to serve their purpose as mementos and visuals for this blog post. Then the fireworks went off once more after the last song, which makes me wonder if the pyrotechnician got beaten up in the end after all…

Hammerfall finishes their last song with fireworks.

Hammerfall finishes their last song with fireworks.

Then, after the concert was over, Hammerfall signed autographs in a tent nearby.

The tent where Hammerfall signed autographs to a VERY long line of fans.

The tent where Hammerfall signed autographs to a humongously huge line of eager fans of all ages.

All in all, Hammerfall earned a 4/5 easily. Don’t get me wrong, they deserved top score, but if I have to choose between a good performance from the artists and visual flare, performance ALWAYS comes first. The extra flare on stage isn’t worth it, if it’s going to affect how the performers do their gig in a negative way. A rocker’s life is normally known to be short, so why let them risk their health for our entertainment’s sake? Allergies should never be taken lightly, because most of them can cause all kinds of hell if they don’t kill you first. Luckily, Joacim Cans seemed fine by the end of this concert. Hopefully, he and the other members of Hammerfall will remain in good health for the rest of their lives.


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I’ve Been Watching Sting!

Last week, I got the honour to attend a concert I never thought I’d be attending – especially for free! I grew up listening to Sting, both while he was in the band The Police and afterwards, so you can imagine my delight when I found out that Sting was going to hold a concert nearby. Since I’m a fan of his, I couldn’t possibly say no to going to watch him live without paying a lousy coin. After all, it’s stuff like this that makes a blogger like me very, very happy! That being mentioned, let’s put the fan crap aside for a while and get to the review.

It looks like my habit of being extremely early to a concert has become a common trend. In less than 15 minutes after I got myself a good spot at the front 2 hours before the concert, the crowd had quadrupled. You’d think that some people would avoid waiting in the rain for a concert, but it looks like I’m not the only one who can take a bit of water from the sky. Some people didn’t even bother with their umbrellas when the crowd got too thick, which was just as well. The rain kept going on and off like someone’s playing with a faucet during the entire evening. This frightened me a bit, because my camera wasn’t built to resist water. I had to keep wiping it every now and then to prevent it from short-circuiting on me…

When the concert started, it didn’t take long for me to notice how hard it was going to be to take good photos of Sting. He doesn’t move much in front of the microphone and kept his eyes closed most of the time. Thank goodness I’m not a photographer for hire yet, huh?

He doesn't make it easy for me...

Sting sings with feeling instead of eyesight.

It’s always good when singers put some emotion into their vocals. Even amateurs like me can feel every note that comes out of the singer’s mouth that way and with Sting, you could definitely see that he was really giving it all from the bottom of his heart. For every note he played and every word he sang, you couldn’t stop listening and it wasn’t just him. The other musicians and the back-up singer were really hard to miss. Especially the guitar player, Dominic Miller, kept himself so visible, you’d think he tried to steal the show.

This guy almost rocked the stage.

Guitarist Dominic Miller sure likes the spotlight (or possibly just my camera).

Can't believe I spotted him so well...

Pianist David Sancious kept his focus on the keys.

I think he also played the lute, but I couldn't see it...

Peter Tickell rocks along with the violin.

She also danced her way from one side of the stage to the other.

The voice of vocalist Jo Lawry was hard to hear, but her voice made a difference.

He's a quick one!

Sadly, this is the best shot I could get of this speedy drummer, Vinnie Colaiuta, in action.

But there wasn’t just casual singing and music playing. There was some walking about on stage as well and Sting also did some belly-dance-like movements to the song “Desert Rose”.

It took some time to understand that he was singing partially in Arabic...

Sting “belly-dancing” to “Desert Rose”.

Sting wasn’t the only one to move around. Dominic Miller moved around half the stage about 25% of the time, Peter Tickell left his hiding place in the back to do his solos at the front of the stage and Jo Lawry danced her way from one microphone to another on the other side of the stage. They way Sting interacts with the band is quite amazing. I’ve seen performers interact together before, but not like this. If my lip-syncing skills served me right, Sting cheered his bandmembers on like a boxing coach while they were doing their solos, which is something I’ve never seen lead singers do.

This rocky Mozart couldn't ask for a better coach!

Sting cheers on while Peter Tickell plays his solo like a speedy heavy-metalist.

Even the guitar-duets between Dominic Miller and Sting looked like fun! It was so hard to tell if they were duelling or co-operating, but it definitely gave you the feeling that they were enjoying themselves while they went at it. I’m not sure if it’s a duet or Dominic Miller’s solo on the photo below, but Sting looked like he was struggling to get an awesome finish.

I'm not sure if this photo is of a solo or a duet, though...

Duets or solos, Sting looked like he had a hard time keeping up with Dominic Miller’s pace near the finish.

All action aside, I still ended up wishing I filmed the concert instead. For snapshot-shooting, there wasn’t much to catch on film, but I did catch the shot I wanted…

Not bad for an amateur photographer, huh?

My best shot of Sting!

… before the concert ended and everyone on stage gave their bows.

Got'cha, Vinnie!

The performers bowing to the audience and a view of Vinnie Colaiuta’s face in one shot!

But in the end, whoever hired the cameraman in front of me came out the biggest winner of them all…

He failed to block me!

The cameraman who was hired to record the close-up shots in front of the stage.

This concert certainly earned its 5/5. This may have been an ordinary concert with a bucket-load of nostalgia, but the energy and love on stage made up for that. Being there didn’t feel like you were at a concert. Instead you were in a crowd watching six people play for the fun of playing and the joy of music on a stage, like youngsters in a garage. It was pure music and fun. No real showboating, media stunts or any other form of rubbish. That’s how a concert should be. Fanwise, I was also glad to hear my favourite songs from both The Police and Sting’s solo-career on stage and wish I could upload the videos I recorded here without having to pay a coin (can’t afford such luxury yet)… either way, it was an honour to be there and if anyone plans to let me watch something like this again, I’ll say yes before Sting shouts “ROXANNE”!

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Chugging Metal at Rockstage Festival 2013

Noticed the changes? I figured that I needed to leave the nest once in a while to get better at what I do and decided to do some people a favour and listen to some music. Nothing puts me in a working mood more than Heavy Metal, so when I was told about this new local band, I couldn’t resist the temptation to cough up some money for tickets and fly to the location of their gig.

Since I’ve never been to a nightclub before in my entire life, the scene was entirely new to me. I’ve never been on a list to a place like this before and never thought I ever would be, but this time I was. My companion for the evening and I went in, payed the coat-check woman and went casually into an almost half-empty partyroom with a small stage and a slightly-lit bar, where you could buy drinks that costs about as much as the value of gift certificates at any posh store in the nearest mall. The second band, Maleficio, was already playing, because we arrived a bit late. What a shame, I was curious about the first band, Lost Seconds, but there’s nothing I can do about that now. Still, Maleficio was a good way to start my evening, so I can’t complain, even though the bottle of fake blood the singer covered himself with made his guitar a bit too slippery for him to hold steady.

A Bloody Good Start!

Maleficio – not bad for a bloody mess!

I noticed that the next few bands made the same mistake before entering the stage. Their singers forgot to prepare their voices well enough before singing (or roaring), because their vocals where a bit off during their first songs. The singer in Eta Carinae started off as a tiger kitten and ended the performance like a panther…

Eta Carinae - nice kitties!

Eta Carinae – nice kitties!

… the singer in Oak sang like Tarzan most of the time…

Oak - Tarzan would be so proud!

Oak – Tarzan would be so proud!

… and it was hard to tell if the singer in Descending Chaos was trying to roar or scream in parcel tongue.

Descending Chaos - chaotic enough for Harry Potter.

Descending Chaos – chaotic enough for Harry Potter.

Still, the music of these bands wasn’t too bad and they did what they could to keep the tiny crowd interested. Since it was Easter Eve, Eta Carinae happily shared an Easter egg with the crowd…

Eta Carinae treats the audience with more than just music.

Happy Easter from Eta Carinae!

… and what kind of rock festival doesn’t have its bunch of show-boaters? If anyone deserves extra credit for this, it’s Descending Chaos, because their singer was energetic enough to do everything from dedicating a song to a girl hidden in a corner somewhere to rampaging off-stage without his shirt on. If there were more people in the nightclub, it might have been a bit more entertaining, but in this case it was a bit much. At least their music impressed a lot of people, especially my companion, who wanted to go to their next gig.

If there was some kind of Heavy Metal that I did not expect to see or hear at this festival, it was something nostalgic. The boys of Shotgun Sally got the attention of several girls (girlfriends, I assume) before their gig even started and attracted a slightly bigger crowd already from the start. Not only did their music have a 1980’s-1990’s style to it, they even dressed like bands from the same decades! Call me old-fashioned, but I enjoyed listening to these guys from start to finish.

Shotgun Sally - too good for my old camera...

Shotgun Sally – too good for my old camera…

Among all of the bands I saw perform at Rockstage Festival, none of them kept things as professional as the next band, Chugger, and it’s no wonder that I’ve been seeing their name pop up daily lately. This band was so balanced, no bandmember outshined the others more than necessary. Even the singer’s roaring could be identified as words, which is great for someone like me, because I’m almost def when it comes to lyrics! This band may be new to the public, but the bandmembers are no rookies. Well done, Chugger!

Chugger - no outshiners, just pure metal!

Chugger – no outshiners, just pure metal!

You always expect the last band on stage to be grander than the previous ones, but this was not the case with As They Arrive. These eager boys acted like complete newbies on-stage after their first song, which sounded like something they ripped off from some mainstream band and slashed to bits. Oddly enough, I can’t help picturing these boys performing at some famous talk-show in the future and it wouldn’t surprise me if they do someday, just to make me eat my words. If they do, I’ll laugh happily and congratulate them personally when the day comes, but at the moment I’m just going to congratulate them for the crowd they managed to gather before my companion and I went to get our jackets.

As They Arrive - in need of more practice, I'm afraid.

As They Arrive – in need of more practice, I’m afraid.

As good as the bands were, I’m pretty sure this rock festival could have been better. But then again, who am I to complain? I had fun! It’s not everyday you get to listen to non-mainstream music and I don’t really care for large crowds. Still, it shouldn’t cost that much to get a drink, no matter if you’re a poor teetotaller or a rich drunkard, and the bands deserved a bigger audience. Other than that, the event was well-planned, none of the bands I saw were booed at (except Chugger by some joker, who chanted “Black Sabbath!” for the fun of it) and the audience – drunk and sober – loved the show. I’d gladly see everyone of these bands live again and hope you get a chance to see or listen to them too.

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The Gender’s Test: Rock Band

Since Rock Band’s been on my mind for a long time now, I finally decided to get it for my Wii. When the disc for the game finally came (the instruments and Rock Band Song Pack 1 came with a previous delivery) the boys were already present and ready to play, so we set the game up and started playing. An hour or so later, the girls came by and gave the game a try as well and that evening turned into a rocking karaeoke night. Here are their opinions:

Male 1: The game would have been more fun for him to play if there were songs he actually liked. He doesn’t really care for this kind of music, but he enjoyed to play the instruments (except for the microphone, because he can’t really sing).

Male 2: The game was fun for him to play, but he would have enjoyed the game more if there were any Iron Maiden-songs available from the start. I think the reason for why he kept playing so long was because he knew there was an Iron Maiden-song to find among the ones that had to be unlocked, so he kept on trying. Bass guitar seemed to be the most fun for him to play, though.

Female 1: This gamehater loved Rock Band! The instruments were too hard for her to play, but she sure loves to sing. Most of the songs were pretty unknown to her (oddly enough), which made the game really challenging for her (and hillarious for us), but after som practice, she really rocked the house! Then she found her favourite songs and rocked some more!

Female 2: This girl has music in her blood and has nothing against games, so it’s no wonder that Rock Band reached her heart as well as mine. The instruments were easy enough for her to play and it was awesome to hear her sing. She has an amazing voice and is used to sing in front of a huge crowd, so hearing her sing along to rock songs like a karaeoke singer was definetely fun for her and awesome for us.

In conclusion to this test, Rock Band manage to do the impossible. It impressed more females than males! It’s usually the male crowd who’re attracted to games, but so wasn’t the case this time! Sure, I only had 4 subjects, where 1 of them did not like the music very much, but he still liked the gameplay enough to want to continue. I still say that Rock Band managed the next-to-impossible, because it managed to impress both female gamers as well as non-gamers, which is far from easy! Everyone doesn’t like rock, but I can’t think of a person on the planet who wouldn’t want to try to play good music, so well done, Harmonix! With more kinds of music and instruments to play, Harmonix could make 10 times more money than they already do, but at least they picked my favourite music to begin with. So, while Rock Band went home with the ladies, the gentlemen will have to settle for the awesome gameplay next game/karaeoke night.

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The Perfect Way to Enjoy Music

Only a few hours ago, I got to try out 2 music-related games for the first time – Rock Band and Singstar for PlayStation 3 (a game console I’ve never played with before either). I’ve never tried anything related to real karaeoke before, so this was definetely something I refused to miss at any cost. If there’s anything I love more than good music, it’s singing and playing good music. It’s a shame my throat isn’t very keen about singing as much as I am…

Allow me to start off with Rock Band. I got to play drums for the song “Say It Ain’t So” by Weezer, which (according to those who saw me play) was pretty well done for a beginner. The gameplay for the drum did seem like a combination between Guitar Hero and the music games in Rayman Raving Rabbids 1 and 2, where you have to shake the Wii-remote and nunchuck in a certain pace and moment, so that helped a bit. It was a little tricky to play, since I’m not used to keep track at all the things I could hit with the drumsticks or the pedal, but it sure was fun to play! I hope I can get hold of this game with all the instruments, because this game rules! Play it once and you’ll keep coming back for more.

Singstar was quite interesting. Like I mentioned before, I’ve never sung karaeoke before. That’s why I was delighted to give it a shot, because I love to sing! I was surprised over how easy it was and how easy it could have been if there were less noise in the room. I’m used to sing in a choir and therefore listen to what the other sings and sing along, but it was way too noisy to hear the original singer sing. Too bad, because I noticed how well I could ace a song if I remembered how it went…

So, which game spoke to me the most? Rock Band, of course! Most of the songs on Singstar sucked bigtime and were too unknown to me to be able to sing. Rock Band, on the other hand, had plenty of good songs to try out and play with the instrument of choice and was able to be played by 4 players at the same time instead of just 2. But I did enjoy the 2-player-twist Singstar had, though, but as mentioned, that game needs better songs.