The night from Friday to Saturday was not the driest one I ever experienced, hence the mud and fixing whatever was damaged overnight was probably the main reason for the little amount of crowd gathered to watch the black metal band which participated in the pre-selection for Eurovision, Keep of Kalessin. Of course, I guess the blame can also be shared with the ingested liquids. They play a rather melodic black metal with a lot of technical elements, perfectly fit for their fast windmills which make for good photo material.
I didn't watch the whole concert from the front of the stage, but from what I heard towards the end when they played some of their hits, the audience gathered more members and they were awake enough to cheer and clap. We went on with musicians from Trondheim on the mains tage, this time the a Norwegian hard rock/glam metal band TNT, with a history of 12 albums since they formed back in 1982. It was a nice time with good heavy metal/hard rock rhythms on the main stage and really powerful harmonies scattered along the songs. I was even hoping for a second that their previous singer, Tony Harnell, would show up on stage as I saw him live on the same stage the previous year. It didn't happen though, but this doesn't mean it was less of a show. Alas, due the fact that the skies opened and it was raining like crazy, I ran to the cozy cover of the press area a bit after the second song or so.
I returned to watch another German power metal legend in the person of Tobias Sammet who performed now with Edguy (he is also the creator of the metal opera Avantasia). He is a very charismatic appearance in himself, with a fantastic voice that conquered the hearts of the public after few seconds of singing. He got even more popular because the sun started shining right when they begun playing and also by stating that Norway is the most beautiful country he saw (with the shittiest weather, of course) and that he's going to release an album which will be the best in the history of rock. The band even performed a song from the upcoming album. The backdrop was representing a huge castle and it fit very well with the atmosphere of the music. I wish I didn't have to run away for few songs and dry camera and all, since it seemed like a very nice and cozy performance, with a vocalist who really knows how to press the right buttons to set the right mood. I also enjoyed watching how the drummer keeps throwing the stick in the air most of the time and trying to always catch it back.
I had seen the Brits from The Darkness a few weeks before Norway Rock in Austria, at Nova Rock. I had no idea about them or their music, but I found their show extremely funny, hence I spent some time listening to their glam/heavy rock/metal in between the two festivals. It's not my all times favorite, yet it's catchy enough to make you go back to it occasionally. And it's surprising that the singer, Justin Hawkins, actually manages to hit those high notes during his live performances. Some might say that the tight pants do help with that. I have to admit that their stage presence is rather genuine, with their hippie like looks and especially the singer's silly behavior on stage - 'Egyptian walking' body stances, funny jumps, standing on his arms by the drum kit, the way he throws and spins the microphone, the way he dresses and especially the way he takes his voice to some high notes, almost unknown for majority of mankind.
The only band I saw in the tent this day was Mongo Ninja, a project of a Norwegian famous character, Kristopher Schau. I have seen him in Kvinesdal last here with another project, the Cumshots. Actually he even mentioned on stage that he played here in 2010 and since Gary Moore was still playing and his band couldn't start singing, he got all the crowd to scream 'Fuck Gary Moore'. And then G. Moore died. But life and music go on anyway, and despite the sad memory, he did the same insane show as he does each time I see him live. It usually starts with coming on stage smoking a cigarette, then spending most of the time during shows doing tricks with the microphone stand, jumping around and joining the other members on stage in acting crazy. All these don't really stop you from hearing some very interesting riffs in their heavy music that makes you feel closer to the apocalypse with each drum beat.
The 2011 edition of Norway Rock festival was ended in an amazing fashion by a 63 year old Vincent Damon Furnier, whose show, no matter you want to call it cheesy, creepy, lovely, awesome, scary, etc, it's one of the most extraordinary I ever witnessed on a stage. He had 90 minutes to deliver us with his famous hits from Brutal Planet, Billion Dollar babies, to Poison, Elected and Shcool's out spiced with Pink Floyd rhythms. I remember the presence of guitarists on stage, I don't recall anything sounding bad or wrong. I recall a great drum solo during which the drummer was making quite fancy stick tricks. But all these really faded away in front of all the stage crops, effects and acting used. It started with Alice Cooper having spider arms/legs spreading from his back during the first song. Then a walking stick with which he stabbed a guy who was wearing a 'Rock press' jacket. Actually this guy got quite often kicked from the stage. Then Alice Cooper was holding a dog on his legs and singing to her. Then he summoned Frankenstein who was walking on the stage from one guitarist to another. Then he got decapitated. Then he came on stage with a jacket saying 'new Song' and took it off and the shirt was saying 'I'll byte your face off'. We got huge balloons floating over the crowd during School's out. And probably few hundred more things happened on stage that I simply don't recall due how overwhelming the whole experience was.
So that was my side of the story on how the festival went this year. Talking the next day with some friends and reading comments online I saw a lot of negative feedback related to the way the security is handled when it comes to people accessing the festival area. People have to wait too much in queues and as well as I understand that security people have to do their job, yet when people are on their way to enjoy a concert and especially after having had had some drinks in the camping, well, any such delay is not a pleasant experience. On the other side, during the Alice Cooper show an idiot threw a light stick, luckily not in the audience but between the fences. Such behavior leads to increased security unfortunately. I hope the issue gets fixed soon and it won't have an impact on the festival's future editions.
For the end, I feel like sending big thanks to everyone who worked to make the event possible, to those responsible with press who helped us with a neat press area, but most of all to those who actually spent time in that area and made the moments between concerts so full of fun and laughter. I would really love to meet the same crew again.
By Andrea Chirulescu