Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Sonisphere Festival 2010 - The Big 4

10 years ago, to this day, I had the honour of seeing The Big Four live. And a few days ago, I attempted to relive that experience by listening/watching "The Big 4 Live" CD/DVD which was recorded in Sofia, capital of Bulgaria, our neighbouring country a mere two days before they appeared in Athens, Greece

I was never a thrash metal fan, but I did love Metallica. Since two of my friends were also going and I wanted to see Metallica, I decided to see the full Monty. Well, at least The Big Four. That is The Big Four of thrash metal: Anthrax, Slayer, Megadeth and of course Metallica. We had a problem, though. The initial line-up had Anthrax billed at 1 o clock in the afternoon. On a weekday. After a lot of complaining and name-calling on Facebook, even from Anhtrax themselves, the bill was finally corrected like this:
17:00 Anthrax
18:30 Slayer
20:00 Megadeth
21:30 Metallica
As was appropriate!





Even though I had never listened to the other 3 apart from Metallica, I can say that I liked Anthrax a lot (and I like them even more now), wasn't too keen on Slayer (too thrash for my tastes back then, and yes, I did comment that Kerry King looked like he had killed Jesse James), I expected more from Megadeth (they didn't sound too thrash to my ears on the day and maybe that had something to do with Dave Mustaine's quote that they represented the melodic side of thrash metal - or something like that) and of course I enjoyed Metallica who were the reason why I went there. (another band that used to come to Greece often back then, but there was always something coming up and I had never had the chance to see them until then)
Kudos to Anthrax for playing Heaven And Hell as a tribute to Ronnie James Dio. My personal highlight from Slayer: At some point they started playing a song and everyone around us started headbanging. "That must be the hit single" a friend of mine commented...

As for the ticket? We had to get a VIP one, because with all these people, no one could guarantee that we would be able to see anything. On top of that the bands were alternating between the big and the small stage located at the front and at the back of the venue respectively. Moreover, the VIP area was located at the front and to the side of the stage and not inside the mosh pit which looed something like this:

Some people at the VIP area, were not satisfied with that either and preferred climbing on trees:

10 years later, I still haven't solved the mystery of who that woman was, who was watching Metallica from the side of the stage:

Finally, when Metallica came on, it started raining. That didn't affect the concert though. Us at the VIP section found shelter under the trees. (Relax, it was just rain, not a thunderstorm, so we were safe). I mentioned the rain, because it was these same promoters who had cancelled a Killers concert at the same venue a year before claiming safety issues.

It would have been a lot of fun if those very same promoters tried to explain to 20000 black-clad metalheads (who, by the way, had threatened that they would torch the place if Anthrax weren't placed at a reasonable time on the bill), that the concert would not take place because... it was raining!
Those who were truly lucky were the residents of northern Greece because at half the cost they went to the Bulgarian leg of Sonisphere Festival in Sofia and were forever immortalized on DVD. For my part, I had been in Instanbul a few days before for another concert and I saw a poster advertising the Turkish Sonisphere Festival. Have a look at what the Turkish fans could experience on their own Sonisphere Festival which was a 3-day event:



01. Caught In A Mosh
02. Got The Time
03. Madhouse
04. Be All End All
05. Antisocial
06. Indians
07. Heaven And Hell
08. Medusa
09. Only
10. Metal Thrasing Mad
11. I Am The Law


01. World Painted Blood
02. Jihad
03. War Ensemble
04. Hate Worldwide
05. Seasons In The Abyss
06. Angel Of Death
07. Beauty Through Order
08. Disciple
09. Mandatory Suicide
10. Chemical Warfare
11. South Of Heaven
12. Raining Blood


01. Holy Wars... The Punishment Due
02. Hangar 18
03. Headcrusher
04. In My Darkest Hour
05. Skin O' My Teeth
06. A Tout Le Monde
07. Hook In Mouth
08. Trust
09. Sweating Bullets
10. Symphony Of Destruction
11. Peace Sells


01. Intro-The Ecstasy Of Gold
02. Creeping Death
03. For Whom The Bell Tolls
04. Ride The Lighting
05. Harvester Of Sorrow
06. Fade To Black
07. That Was Just Your Life
08. The End Of The Line
09. Sad But True
10. Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
11. Broken Beat & Scarred
12. One
13. Master Of Puppets
14. Blackened
15. Nothing Else Matters
16. Enter Sandman
17. Breadfan
18. Motorbreath
19. Seek & Destroy

Our only bad experience from that night was the fact that after the concert had ended we had to walk for about half an hour, in total darkness, and without any sort of help or guidance from the organizers in order to find the...  VIP Parking.
As soon as we got there, most people went to take a leak (no, there were no toilets and it was all done in pitch black darkness, but at least the girls went to one side and the boys to the other). You see, all the other parking sections had to be emptied before we could leave. So much for VIP parking. I took a nap at the back seat and when I woke up we were still in the same place  (it took us about 2 hours to get out of there). I even noticed a couple having sex on the hood of their car (It was very dark and they probably thought that they could not be seen. At least, they found a fun way to pass the time).
I still wonder though what these, apparently permanent, residents of Terra Vibe, thought of the whole festival)

Thursday, 28 May 2020

My 2009 tour of Italy with Bruce Springsteen - Sightseeing

The Italian tour dates for Bruce Springsteen's Working On A Dream Tour in 2009 were ideal for someone to make a tour of central (Rome), north-west (Torino) and north-east (Udine) Italy. But I managed to squeeze a couple of other cities in it.
Well, my journey, started, naturally, from Rome. I took an Alitalia flight fom Athens to Rome on the day before the concert. It was an amazing sight when I glimpsed from the plane the western coast of Italy, my favourite country, which I hadn't visited in 20 years.

From the airport I took the train that goes directly to the central station.

From there, I took a taxi to my hotel where I met people who I had only known online before from the No Surrender forum. From there it was on to the Stadio Olimpico for our first roll call.

In the taxi I noticed how close the hotel was to Villa Borghese. Villa Borghese was on the itinerary of my first holiday in Italy way back in 1984 when Italy was the World Champion in football (and guess what : It was again in 2009). Unfortunately, it was closed at that time. I didn't have time to visit in in 2009, but I made a mental note to do so in the future. And I would get to visit the city several times in the coming years.
Well, we made it to the roll call area near the Stadio Olimpico (but not too close) where an (un) friendly football match had been arranged between the Italian and the Greek fans which sadly never took place. Afterwards, some of my friends decided to go sightseeing in the Vatican, but I skipped that to get some rest since I had visited Rome twice in the past (1984 and 1989). While walking around Rome later we found the hotel where Bruce and the band were staying near Piazza Del Popolo and we managed to glimpse Steve as he was rushed from a van to the hotel.

But the highlight of that Saturday night was when we went to a Bruce Springsteen party arranged by some Italian fans in a warehouse in some part of Rome that I wouldn't be able to find now. Once in there an Italian band played not only Springsteen but also other rock songs. And no, I can't remember the name of the band anymore. (Well now that I look at the photos it seems that they might have been called The Backstreets - The Band Of Hopes And Dreams). One thing I do remember though, is that at some point, a female singer came up on stage and performed an amazing version of "I Shall Be Released"

When we came back we learned that Bruce with his family was seen on Piazza Barberini the square that was near our hotel!
There was no sightseeing the following day, it was the day of the concert, it was extremely hot and it was spent on trips to and from the Stadio Olimpico.
On Monday morning we went straight to the railway station for a 7 hour trip to Torino. There wasn't much sightseeing in Torino I'm afraid. This time I was determined to follow the complete roll call procedure since I got a number that was low enough. So the only photographs I took were those near the hotel or the stadium. I plan to return to Torino one day, either to see a concert there or on a day trip from Milano on my next visit there and see the sights.

Udine was a different story however. I had decided not to go to the pit (I was too exhausted from Tuesday night's concert in Torino) so, when I arrived there on Wednesday afternoon, I decided to rest in my hotel (which was a beautiful building as you can see) and walk around the city.

I concentrated on the resting bit and left the sightseeing for the following morning on Thursday, the day of the concert. But before I started my sightseeing, I decided to go to the stadium to see what was going on there. There were special buses taking people to and from Stadio Friuli marked "Concerto Springsteen".

When I got to the stadium it was at the time that the pit bracelets were being handed out so I secured my entrance to the pit and was able to enjoy Udine without worries. I walked through the old town taking my time occasionally coming across headlines on newspapers about Springsteen's concert in the newspapers.

Then in the evening I went back to the stadium and straight into the pit.

On Friday morning I had to make my way to Milano from where I would catch my flight back to Athens. On my train ride from Torino to Udine, two days before however, I had noticed that I had to change trains at Mestre and from there it was less than an hour's journey to Udine.

That meant that Udine was close to Venice. So I decided to spend Friday in Venice and go to Milano at the end of the evening. And that's exactly what I did. It had been 21 years since my last visit to Venice in 1988 (I had also been there in 1984) and I enjoyed it immensely. I took the vaporetto from Piazzale Roma where the train station is to Piazza San Marco and slowly, via Rialto Bridge I made my way back enjoying several beers and stracciatella ice cream along the way (And bumping into several Springsteen fans). I was shocked to discover two things: that the bridge of sighs was closed for restoration (it was almost completely covered) and that there was a Simple Minds concert taking place at Piazza San Marco on that night. I wanted to attend that one was well but as I could see by my calculations I would not be able to catch the last train to Milano.

I arrived in Milano on Friday night, checked into the hotel went out again to get something to eat and just as I got back in again one of the heaviest rains I had ever seen started. So I stayed in.

Saturday morning was a different thing though. It was a beautiful sunny day and after I left my hotel I went to the Piazza Del Duomo to enjoy the sunshine, drink more beer and eat more ice cream. It was hard to believe there wasn't going to be a Springsteen concert that night since I had been going to one every two days (Sunday night in Rome, Tuesday night in Torino and Thursday night in Udine). However, I got a phone call while sunning myself beside the Duomo from my friends in Athens who wanted to tell me that we were going to go out that night in Athens. So I made my way to the train station, went to Malpensa airport and from there I took an EasyJet flight to Athens.

I arrived in Athens on the hottest night of the year. And yes, I didn't take any time to rest, after I arrived home I went out again to the city centre and met my friends, most of whom had only been to the Rome concert and we stayed there until 6am on Sunday morning. I took a well earned rest for the whole of Sunday and on Monday morning I somehow managed to go to work...