|I got to met my favorite band...|
One Friday in July 2008, my sister Lill, her fiancé Mads and I went to Lakselv, a town five hours away from my hometown. We went there to attend the Midnattsrocken festival. Lill and Mads had decided to go to concerts on both Friday and Saturday, while I would just go on Saturday, to see the headliner band of the festival:
EUROPE, my favorite band for more than 20 years ever since I first heard "The Final
Countdown" back in 1986.
Because I was so young back then, I never had the chance to see EUROPE live. When the band decided to take a break in 1992, I was just 9 years old. But in 2003 EUROPE reunited with the classic "The Final Countdown" lineup: Joey Tempest, John Norum, John Levén, Mic Michaeli and Ian Haugland. Then I just knew that I'd finally get the chance to go to a EUROPE concert. Since then I'd been to three concerts, and the concert in Lakselv would be my fourth.
So on Saturday July 12, 2008, Lill, Mads and I went to the festival area. A friend of the family knew that I was a EUROPE fan, and he fixed a backstage pass for me. Just a half hour before the concert, a guard escorted me backstage to meet the band. As I walked further into the backstage area, I saw Ian talking to a couple. I later found out it was Ian's half-brother and his wife. It was great to see Ian, but I didn't wanna interrupt the conversation he had with the couple, so I walked past him and met the guy who booked EUROPE to play at the festival. He took me to one of the tents in the backstage area, where I could hear Joey singing the chorus to "Let the Good Times Rock" inside.
All of a sudden a long-haired guy came out of the tent.... Mic! He was soon followed by another long-haired guy... Joey! I was starstruck! I shook their hands and told them that this was a big experience for me and I'd been a fan since 1986. John Norum and John Levén were inside the tent the whole time, and I could see and hear Norum practicing "Let the Good Times Rock", "Open Your Heart" and "Ready or Not". I couldn't see his face, but I could see he had his golden Les Paul guitar in his lap.
Joey and Mic said they had seen me write a lot on the europetheband.com forum and asked me how I liked the forum. I said it was great and I'd met lots of great people there.
I asked Joey how things were going with the next album, and he said they were still writing songs, were halfway done and would start recording in the fall. I told Mic I was working on a EUROPE site (Aphasia), and he said he knew about it. That felt pretty cool. I told Joey and Mic that I had read on the forum that they had played some rare songs like "Danger on the Track", "Open Your Heart" and "Carrie" with the guitar solo at the gig in Skellefteå. So they asked me: "Do you want us to play those songs tonight? Nah, you don't wanna hear them tonight, do you?" and laughed. Then I asked about some other songs like "Scream of Anger" and "Memories". When I mentioned "Memories", they said: "Nah, we're not playing it tonight", but Joey said: "We'll play 'Scream of Anger' just for you." That made me feel proud.
Then I took out the two 7" single covers I wanted them to sign, "The Final Countdown" and "Rock the Night", and a pen, and gave them to Joey, who signed them together with Mic. Then Joey said: "I'll get the other guys to sign them too," and walked into the tent and got Norum and Levén to sign. Then he walked up to Ian, pointed at me and said: "This is Stein," and Ian shook my hand and signed as well.
And then I took out my digital camera and asked if I could get some pictures taken. I pressed the "on" button on the camera and... nothing happened. I freaked out, but figured out that I must have put the batteries into the camera the wrong way. Fortunately I had some spare batteries in my pocket, so Joey said I could just change batteries. But suddenly I must have put the batteries in correctly, because the camera finally worked and I got pictures taken with Joey, Mic and Ian.
Then Mic said they should start getting ready for the concert, so I said bye and went to the front row in the crowd in front of the stage. The concert was great, and I took lots of pictures. Several pictures came out blurry, but I managed to get some clear good ones as well. Lill took some great pictures as well. You can see them all on Flickr. And I filmed some videos as well, which I've posted on my YouTube page.
I decided to film "Danger on the Track", the guitar solo in "Carrie", "Open Your Heart" and "Wings of Tomorrow". Unfortunately the batteries in my camera stopped working right during "Carrie", so I asked a stage guard to hold my camera while I took out the spare batteries and put them in the camera. Of course the solo was finished when I was ready to film again, but at least I managed to film the end of the song. They didn't play "Scream of Anger" after all, but as long as they played "Danger on the Track", "Open Your Heart" and "Wings of Tomorrow", I was still happy. They finished up the concert with the three classic tracks, "Rock the Night", "Cherokee" and of course, "The Final Countdown".
Of course there were some drunks in the crowd. One guy in particular, an old hippie guy with long hair and beard kept bumping into me. Really annoying when I was trying to take a good picture and he bumped into me. A stage guard kept talking to him and told him to take it easy, but in the end two uniformed cops had to climb over the fence in front of the stage and take him away.
After the concert I caught up with Lill and Mads. Lill had back pains after being bumped into during the concert, but she had managed to take some great pictures which she showed me on her digital camera. I asked her how it felt like to finally see EUROPE live, 20 years after she'd been a big fan and made me become a fan as well. She said she was amazed that she could sing along to many songs, and was especially surprised that she could sing along on "Seven Doors Hotel", even though she hadn't really heard the song that much in 20 years.
So all in all, it was a great night.