Category Archives: Reviews

I’m with the chick that’s with the band

My day has finally come! I thought on Thursday. There are those certain moments when you realize that you’re making a difference in the blogging world. One would be the day where you first hit 1000+ page views in one day, another is when people start offering you free swag or passes to events or what have you. I had my first 1000+ page views years ago now – it had something to do with a review of a Metallica show in Aarhus, Denmark, I think.. But never once have I been one of those bloggers fancy or famous enough to be offered free things based on who I was, how I rolled or what I wrote..

Well, not until late last week anyways, when a cute, little blonde showed up with an offer I couldn’t refuse.. Even if I tried initially! See, I have this long time friend and follower of this blog called Pernille who you may remember her from such posts as “Dear Steel Panther“. She apparently works as a merchandiser for a Faroese/Danish band called The Dreams and apparently this very band was playing a show in my home town of Kolding this past Friday night. It seemed only natural for Pernille to chat me up on MSN and ask me if I wanted to go.

Though I have a history of not really being able to say no to propositions made by a pretty blonde, I eventually tried to wiggle my way out of it in the most diplomatic of ways by telling her that “I really wasn’t into that whole f’ing emo punk rock wave.” – I don’t remember her exact answer, but she did give me a bit of a well-deserved hard time for writing a band I’d never heard off as f’ing emo punk rock based on their image and the fans, so she suggested I stopped being such an ass, went down to see the band the next day and then she’d let me say or think whatever I wanted about them. A valid argument, I thought, and a fair enough deal especially after the sweet Miss Pernille said that she’d put me on the list so all I’d have to do was show up and form an honest opinion.. Oh and get to meet her as well, of course, she even gave me her number so I could confirm the whole thing the next day.

“Umm,” I ended up thinking to myself afterwards, “did I just throw a bunch of insults in a pretty blondes face and walked away with a phone number, a free show and a “date” to show? Yeah, I guess I did.. Wow, I really *am* the epitome of Rock n Roll.”

I quite honestly didn’t know what to expect from Friday night, at all.. Well, I’d heard one song from The Dreams, so I thought I was in for your pretty standard pop punk show in front of a young, predominantly female fan base. On the other hand, I didn’t really want to do too much research either because a lot of the time it’s just fun to have a band completely surprise you in a live show situation and then see where it all ends up. And, really, these days anyone (probably even me) can sound good in the studio, so a live performance is worth a thousand MTV videos in my book..

As such, the plan was pretty simple, I’d finish my chores Friday, go home, have some food, have a few beers, march the five odd minutes down to the venue, grab a beer at the bar there and check it out – and try to bug Pernille as much as I could in the process, maybe even hang out a little afterwards.. And save a few really strange and hilarious twists and turns, that’s pretty much exactly how the evening shaped out.

The first part of my plan, at least, went pretty smoothly and according to the book, I finished my job hunting process at around 4 PM and shot Pernille a text message to confirm our arrangement for the evening. I then went home and cooked up some dinner. I had a beer (Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast Bacon if you must know, it was full of smokey goodness) while talking to a few friends on MSN all of whom seemed pretty skeptical about my endeavors, but oh well, I’m used to getting crazy ideas and as such used to people being pretty skeptical about my adventures. At around 8:30 PM, I donned my white and pink Sex Pistols t-shirt, which I reckoned would be perfect for the occasion as I was willing to bet that most other people would be wearing black and donning some sort of mean appearance, and set off for the venue. Five minutes later, I arrived and that’s when things started to get really interesting.

“Good evening, Sir! Please, do step inside!,” said the doorman as I arrived, propping the door open for me and extending a welcoming hand. “Huh?” I thought, not used to such courtesy at a rock show, but figuring that maybe I had some new aura of authority around me after having cut my hair. “Hi,” I said to the people in the door, “I do believe I’m on the list..” – “Why, uhh, yes,” replied the men in the door, seemingly a little flabbergasted, “Michael, I believe this is your task..” – Before I could say or do anything, the kind gentleman from the door scrambled by me and started checking his list in a nervous and excited manner. “Johan Johansen?,” I offered in an effort to help. – “Ah yes.. Mr Johansen, welcome to the show,” he said, shaking my hand firmly, then stamping it.. “Go right in, I’ll sort this out (under his breath) where’s my pen?”

“Relax, guys,” I thought walking into the venue, “it’s not like I’m with the band or anything, I’m really only sorta with the chick that’s with the band.. Such commotion, I need a drink!” .. and with that, I did what I first do whenever I enter a concert venue, headed for the bar and ordered a beer. A seemingly uncomplicated task which suddenly got very complicated indeed when the friendly blonde behind the bar posed the essential question: “May I see some ID?” – “Sorry, what?,” I cocked my head and looked at her.. “Mixed crowd, she shrugged, we card all youngsters.. “But? I’m 29 years old,” I attempted, “I haven’t even brought picture ID, I haven’t been carded for the past 13 odd years!” – “Sorry,” the lady behind the bar shrugged.. “Look, I have my VISA card which technically I can only have at the age of 18+,” I tried, then swallowed my pride, bent my head and pointed to my bald spot, “.. and would a 17-year old have this?” – “I guess not,” the lady behind the bar smiled, “ordinary pilsner or classic?”

“Women..,” I thought as I walked away from the bar with a beer in my hand and a few scars in my dignity. TIme to check the place out, so I settled near a corner and started surveying the place. The first thing to hit me was that it wasn’t so much a mixed crowd as it was a young crowd which kinda explained some of the commotion going on around my arrival and my trying to order a beer. The only other beer drinkers in the house actually seemed to be fathers acting as guardians for their young sons or daughters. The next thing I noticed was the song playing over the PA.. I know this song, I thought, and yet again, I don’t.. And there’s something very odd about it. After going back and forth a bit, my mind worked out that the song being played was Johnny Cash and Joe Strummer doing a cover of my favorite Bob Marley song, “Redemption Song”. Which, in itself was pretty epic, but my brain couldn’t for the life of me figure out why an old reggae protest song covered by two (sadly) long dead rock icons were being played in front of an audience of mainly teens and preteens. Not that there’s anything wrong with a bit of musical education, it just seemed strange.. But both me and the family dad standing next to me tapping his feet seemed to enjoy the song, so I gave up wondering and instead scanned the place for the sight of a familiar blonde thinking I’d search out Pernille and do what I normally do when meeting someone for the first time after a few beers which is usually to come on full on and say or do something exceedingly stupid and/or funny, thus earning about a 50/50 chance of making a good first impression (or, alternatively, a really f’ing bad one).

I eventually spotted Pernille, the familiar blonde face, up on stage and after very little consideration decided that moshing over a sea of frenzied teens and scaling the stage to get up and say hi to a girl who was exceedingly busy with doing her job was probably NOT the best way to make a good first impression.. It might, however, have been a good way to get thrown out. So I gave up on that plan and instead went and stood near the merchandise booth thinking that that would probably be a good place to meet up with a merchandiser once she’d finished doing her job. I’m smart, me! So there I stood for a while, trying to fathom what I’d gotten myself into.. And it was a good place to stand, it turned out because Pernille soon came down and started pushing merchandise to the hungry masses.. She still seemed very busy, though, so I deducted that now was not a good time either, so I tried to give her a wave just to let her know I’d spotted her and figured that if nothing else, I’d talk to her after the show.

“Alright, here we go,” I thought, as the lights went down and the screams from the teen girls in the audience went up in volume. I now rather expected to see a band of Faroese kids take stage in front of me, but rather I spotted a little blonde rushing towards me as fast as her high heeled boots could carry her. “That should be her now,” I thought before Pernille ran into me and flung her arms around my neck, giving me a big old hug. “Thanks for coming, welcome to the teenage rock show!,” she cried over the voices of the still screaming girls.. “Oh, thanks for having me,” I replied, “I might grow to like it here,” referring mostly to the always enjoyable feeling of having a pretty blonde in the arm and a cold beer in the hand of the other.. And thus, with everything properly sorted out, the band hit stage with the only song I knew of theirs, “Revolt!”

“I forgot my ear plugs,” Pernille cried after about five seconds, “I’ll be back!” – “Huh?” I replied, already half deaf from all the screaming and the onslaught of the band ripping through a pop punk song on stage. By the time she got back, I was fully busy head bobbing slightly to the second song of the evening which was much slower, heavier and more hard rock like than I’d expected. It took Pernille about a half second to find her “I told you!” smile as I leaned in and told her that “this stays between the two of us, but I may have to revise my impression of this band.” – “Oh, just you wait,” she promised, “we’ll have much more for you later on in the show!”

I had a few songs to think about what on earth she meant by that before the lead singer kicked into a frenzied, fast yet very, very familiar riff for those of us who had some of our first brushes with rock music in the late 80’s and early 90’s. I looked at Pernille and smiled, she looked back at me and smiled and then we just sorta bounced around for a while. It was the opening riff to Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” – and it was followed by the rest of the song, sorta.. Their cover was anything I’d expect a punk cover to be, fast, simple, aggressive, zero attention to details and with the added bonus that no one in the band remembered the lyrics, even though they all tried.. I think the chorus eventually got mangled in three different ways, but in a way that’s just SO punk rock.. And Cobain’s lyrics didn’t make a fuck of a lot of sense to begin with.

That broke the ice for me and from then on onwards, I was pretty sold. Not that I’ll become a fan of The Dreams any time soon (if ever), but I will hand it to the boys that they are much more than their appearance and fan demographic hint at. I’ll be honest and say that I went in not thinking that I’d come out with much of a change of mind.. But really, I’d be lying if I said they didn’t put on a great show, even if it wasn’t really my scene. They’re young, they’re spirited, they’re versatile and most of all they’re passionate about what they do and seem to genuinely enjoy it. With the dedication shown to them by the fans and the dedication they show their fans, I wouldn’t be surprised if they make it far.. There, I’ve come out and said it. Are you happy now, Pernille? 😉

That being said, they’re a bunch of weirdoes as well.. There was a lot of ramblings between songs like stories about back when their bass player came out of the closet on stage and other such nonsense which made me feel even happier about having Pernille around because she was able to fill me in on some of the madness that was going on like when the boys suddenly stopped the show to play with a remote controlled helicopter and she was able to explain that they thought that all big rock stars had a private helicopter, and as such they needed one as well, but this was all they could afford. At times, though, even Pernille had to give up, shrug her shoulders and roll her eyes.. Strange kids indeed 😉

Musically, the evening was a mix of punk rock, hard rock, pop punk, industrial undertones and even a bit of synth pop with darker rock elements elements and upbeat melodies thrown in.. Actually, some of it quite reminded me of stuff that Danish band Nephew could have made (or rather, would wish they could make) if they didn’t suck.. It wasn’t entirely down my alley but didn’t really put me off either.. And it was a hell of a fun experience to be kinda stuck on the sideline watching the fans go crazy.. Which they did.. A lot.. A little too much at times.. But like I said on the day, if that had been Iron Maiden up there, I’d be right up there screaming with the best of them and at the end of the day, it was all just rock n roll and it was quite fun to see what the younger generation was into.

Pernille eventually revised her statement from before the show and said “You can say or write whatever you want, as long as it’s not bad!”, so let’s not mention that I wasn’t terribly crazy about the vocals and that I found it kinda strange that a rock band didn’t know the words to “Smells Like Teen Spirit” but nailed every single word of their cover of The Backstreet Boys’ “Larger Than Life.” .. Also, I thought their timing on their cover of “Summer of 69” was a bit strange, but that’s possibly because the original is the only Bryan Adams song I actually like. On the other hand, they did do a good job on an old John Lydon/Johnny Rotten classic I forgot the name of but which Pernille introduced to me as “a song originally written by the lead singer of Sex Pistols. The original is the worst song ever written.” – Not really remembering the original, I’m still willing to take her word for it, though, anything written by Lydon is pretty, well, bad..

They played a pretty long show, too, the boys did, so long that when they first left stage to get ready for encores I had to, well, go dispose of a few pints, put it that way. As I went about my business, I was joined by the guy who had first let me into the show who struck up conversation about how far along in the show we were and all the chores and stuff that had to be finished afterwards, he seemed a little spiritless so I told him a bit about my stint in volunteer work and how good it feels to be doing something for others. I then pretty quickly excused myself and dashed off.. Which may have seemed a bit rude and I’m sorry if it did.. It’s just.. Well, it’s not that I believe there’s anything wrong with male bonding, on the contrary, I just.. Really prefer the kind of male bonding where everybody doesn’t have their genitals in their hands while it’s going on..

I dashed back in time for encores and the end of the show. I then very politely and calmly sat down with my beer and watched Pernille go absolutely bonkers trying to push merchandise to all the members in the audience who needed a new shirt, a new sweat band or something else entirely.. All while also trying to keep track of the line building up for the upcoming autograph session with the band.. I did what I could to help, mind you, which was mainly to make sure I stayed hydrated while pointing and laughing at the right intervals and snapping a few pictures of her working her ass off. I even went so far as to say “aww” and pat her on the shoulder whenever she had two seconds to zoom by and pout and tell me that her feet hurt from walking about in her heels which I assured her were very pretty.. That’s just how great of a friend I am!

By the end of the night, the band came down for an autograph session and I must admit I was reasonably surprised that they actually took the time to sign everything for everybody and to talk to the fans as well.. Good show, dedicated boys. This gave Pernille some air to breathe and kick her shoes off while it gave me a chance to nearly break my neck as I scaled some pretty rickety tables in an effort to help her pull down a bunch of display t-shirts which had been pinned to the wall of the makeshift merchandise booth. It was around this time the idea developed that I should probably get something signed for Tina’s cousin who’s a huge fan of The Dreams and would’ve probably loved to have been there along with Tina and I. But since Tina was busy that evening, well it never came to be. Anyways, Tina’s poor cousin apparently has this idea that the world is against her and that not a fuck of a lot of people want to do her any good, on the contrary. So I figured someone should do her a favor and, like, get her a signed t-shirt from the band she loves.. Pay it forward, y’know.

Brilliant plan! The only real problem being that, as I’d have expected, they weren’t really selling any non-black t-shirts and you can’t well sign a black t-shirt with black permanent marker, can you? Well, my mind works in mysterious ways sometimes, especially after a few pints, so eventually it goes “Hey, you’re wearing a non-black t-shirt, in fact it’s white and black permanent ink looks pretty good on white.. It’s not a The Dreams t-shirt, mind you, but it’s been at the show that she was supposed to have been at. And it’s a Sex Pistol’s t-shirt, they were fronted by Johnny Rotten and they did cover one of his songs.. Hey, we should sign my t-shirt!”

So, I let Pernille in on my plan and she promises to help set it up and then I call up Tina going “Hey, what’s your cousin’s name again? I just happen to be sitting with the band and I thought we should do something..” This causes Tina to giggle and go “But of course you just happen to be sitting with the band”. she then gives me the needed info and hangs up. At which point Pernille looks at me, giggles and goes “But of course you just happen to be sitting with the band..” – “That’s what she said,” I reply, feeling a little confused.. Anyways, I then wait for the fans to get their autographs because I don’t want to feel like the dick who cuts in front of people who have been lined up for like an hour, I then with the help of my lovely assistant for the evening get each of the four band members to sign my t-shirt and it all goes reasonably well. That is until I get hold of the, by now nicely liquored up lead singer and ask him to do the dedication.. We end up in the pretty funny predicament where a rather hammered Faraoese rock star is trying to write “To Christina across my shoulder blade while I in a rather tipsy manner is trying to spell out her name letter by letter to him as he asked me to while at the same time trying to ignore him spelling the name out to himself for whatever reason.. And giving a very tired Pernille a proper hug goodbye and thanking her for a fun evening.

“There, I got it now,” he eventually exclaims, “sorta, well, it reads To Christinæ now.. That’s sorta what we wanted!” – “Good enough for me, cheers guys,” I say and then get ready to leg it out of there as I notice a lot of people suddenly taking a lot of interest in my t-shirt.. I eventually make it home despite a lot of solid interest in my t-shirt and some strange offers of both the monetary kind and other stuff as well.. Uhh, so here’s a tip for the guys out there who are around, say 10-15 years younger than I. If you ever want a lot of attention from the young ladies, try showing up at a The Dreams show in a signed t-shirt.. Just saying.

So there you go, unexpected fun times at the teenage rock show. Thanks very much to Pernille for the opportunity, the good times and the good company.. If you guys are ever in the area again, let me know!


A matter of perspective: Review of Iron Maiden’s “The Final Frontier” album

There’s something magical and fascinating about Iron Maiden. How many bands do you know who have gone strong for 35 years? Let alone never gotten tired, have never ceased to evolve or experiment, have never lost the passion to perform and are still performing, tirelessly, giving it their all, not for the obvious monetary rewards but for the love of the rush, the trip and most importantly THE FANS!

For me, the answer to that question is simple: ONE! In a world where so many bands have sold out, lost the spark or slowed down, Iron Maiden keep going strong, keep reinventing themselves, keep releasing new material, and they keep touring as well, giving it their all on stage and, in the process, making guys like me have thoughts along the line of “Wow, are those people up there really the same age as my old man?” .. Ah, but I digress, what I really wanted to do was set the mood and explain to you exactly why I adore Iron Maiden so much and why I was more than excited, anxious, thrilled, even slightly scared about yesterday, the official release of Iron Maiden’s long awaited 15th studio album, “The Final Frontier”

You get sorta worried when bands who have been around for ages release new material. There are so many expectations, so much to live up to, so many classic albums already under their studded leather belts.. What’s it gonna be like? Will it be like the rest? Will it rock your socks off? Or will it disappoint you horribly?

First things first: “The Final Frontier” is not like the rest, it’s not a disappointment, and given time, effort and seen in the right context, it will more than likely rock your socks off.

Now, then, let’s get one thing out in the open: The Final Frontier is, musically and technically a masterpiece of pretty epic proportions. But let’s be honest, musicality and technicality alone does not a classic album make. If that were the case, “Nevermind the bollocks, here’s the Sex Pistols” would not still be one of the most talked about albums in rock history.

The Final Frontier does not contain many of the well-known, fast paced, verse-chorus-verse-chorus sing-a-long classics that are so common of Maiden’s other records. Rather it continues, and further evolves, the progressive style which began on the “Brave New World” album and has continued since. And depending how you look at it, that’s either a really good thing or a really bad thing. If you’re a fan of classic Maiden or classic heavy metal, the album is likely to rub you the wrong way. If you’re into progressive rock, harmonies and a bit of folk or simply, like me, wept tears of joy upon THE mighty Bruce Dickinson’s return to the band and the 2000 release of “Brave New World”, then “The Final Frontier” is likely to be a treat for you.

It’s gonna take some time out of your schedule, the ten song album has a total running time of 76 minutes (with the final song, “When The Wild Wind Blows” accounting for 11 of those minutes) and it’s probably gonna take several listens to appreciate the album. It’s a work of beauty, no doubt, but a somewhat demanding one at that. It’s an elaborate mess (and I mean that in the nicest possible way) of outstanding guitar work, impressive (though admittedly worn) Dickinson vocals, tempo shifts, intertwining guitar solos and spot on drumming and bass duties from Nicko McBrain and Steve Harries respectively. At times, especially on the longer compositions, it even takes the appearance of a small scale heavy metal symphony – with a bit of Jethro Tull thrown in for good measure.. But most of these facets you won’t even notice unless you make the effort and give the album some time and a few listens. Granted, one of the beauties about Iron Maiden is that, unlike many other highly technical bands, they’ve managed to make an album that is accessible even to those who may not care or know a lot about composition and the technical aspects, and at the same time rather impressive to those who are in the know and give it a chance.. The difference being that the album is gonna have a lot of impact on the latter group but not so much on the first.

Me? I’m sold! But then again, I have been an Iron Maiden fan for the past 15 years of my life and thoroughly enjoy the new style and the fact that the band is not afraid to evolve, experiment and try new things.. So, admittedly, I’m a bit biased here. Which is why I’ve resulted to giving two grades for this work, one being a fan-boy rating of a full, well-deserved 666 stars out of six possible.

A more fair, and less biased rating would be one of 4-5 stars out of six possible for one of the best metal performances released in the past few years. No, know what, make that a full five stars and a set of devil horns for good measure.

The good tracks: El Dorado, The Talisman, When The Wild Wind Blows (because I just adore 10+ minute songs that never get boring)

The not so good tracks: Satellite 15… The Final Frontier, Mother of Mercy

Overall rating:

***** \m/


Review: American VI: Ain’t No Grave

I had a weird experience yesterday. For starters, I bought the first full price album I’ve bought in, well years. I then took the album home, popped it in my CD player, hit play.. And then paused. For the first time ever, I just sat there, in perfect silence, doing nothing but staring into blank air and listening through an entire album without so much as even moving a muscle. That is if we disregard the goosebumps on my arms as being a form of involuntary muscle movement.

The album in question was Johnny Cash’s last studio album, American VI: Ain’t No Grave and it was not only, quite honestly, one of the best albums I’ve heard in a long, long time, it was also one of the more emotionally overpowering ones.

Let it be said from the get-go, America VI: Ain’t No Grave has but one theme, and that theme is death! The album is quite obviously intended to be the final words of a dying man who has come to not only accept his destiny but look forward to the road ahead. Which makes it a somber work of heart-breaking beauty.

America VI is, technically and music wise, a very simple production. The musical backdrop is at an absolute minimum here, sometimes featuring only Cash and a guitar, a bit of drumming here and there, a few backing instruments. Cash himself sounds more frail than ever as could be expected from a man in the last few months of his life. His voice breaks visibly at times to a point where it’s almost unbearably sad to listen to, yet you can’t help but feel impressed with the effort that must have been put into this final statement.

And what a statement! While others albums in the series have centered around the issue of death and the sadness of loss, American VI embraces death and, borrowing a few words from Bob Dylan, tells us that “death is not the end.” It expresses not so much a fear of death as a longing and a curiosity. Cash’s message becomes pretty clear: Death is but a transition and nothing to be scared of, and nothing to bed sad about:

On the opening title track, which music wise sounds more than a funeral march than anything else, Cash tells us that “Ain’t no grave can hold my body down” as if to say that his memory (as that of any good man) will live on long past his bones. On an absolute beautiful cover of Kris Kristofferson’s “For The Good Times”, which had even this diehard metalhead blinking a few times on account of something apparently getting stuck in his eyes, Cash tells us not to mourn the loss of our loved ones but instead rejoice in the time that we have spent with them and the memories that we will forever cherish. Other tracks are spent contemplating the things to come and coming to grips with the situation before the album eventually ends in the ever traditional Hawaiian hello/goodbye “Aloha Oe” – with the double meaning of the word Aloha obviously carrying a blindingly obvious symbolism here.

The result is an album which leaves you feeling in a strange state between  being borderline revolted and, at the same time, being in awe. Of being overwhelmed by the sadness of the theme or comforted by the message. It’s really quite impressive how many different facets and angles can be put into such a seemingly simple production. And that’s not even counting personal perceptions. While I, being young and still having quite a lust for life and fear of death, get a certain sad, scary vibe from the album, I imagine the experience would be totally different for someone much older and wiser on life than I am. Perhaps even soothing for someone who like Cash (at the time of recording) is at the end of his life.

Having listened to the album, and the albums before, a lot can be said about the genius of Johnny Cash. But this, being a posthumous album, a lot, too, should be said about the genius of the album’s producer, Rick Rubin. Obviously, Rick Rubin is the man to blame for relaunching Cash’s career, rebranding him and creating the phenomenal and hugely successful American Recording sessions of which this current release marks the end. That in itself is an impressive feat. Add to that the fact that Rubin singlehandedly put the last two albums in the series together following Cash’s death and you get to realize that the feel and the message on the albums are not only that of Cash, but that of Rubin as well, who was trusted with the not so easy feat of writing the last two chapters in Cash’s life and career after the man largely responsible for the songs featured on the works had passed. A tough job by any stretch of the imagination, but one that he manages quite well as the British would say. (Or very well as the rest of us would say.)

Some will undoubtedly argue that releasing another posthumous album is nothing but an attempt to exploit a franchise and squeeze a few more pennies out of the Cash name.. But I beg to differ. The sixth installment offers a valid end to the series. Where American V dealt very much with the pain of death and the loss of the loss of the life, American VI shows Cash coming to terms with his own mortality and accept that the end is near. Not only that, it actually shows him embracing this change and looking forward to the inevitable. So while American V would have ended the series on a much more serious and sad note, American VI ends it on in a somewhat lighter and more justified note.. And for that, I am grateful. Thank you, Rick Rubin! .. And if there is any justice in the world, please let this be the final original material released in Cash’s name. Let this be a fitting epitaph to an impressive life in music!

.. And happy 78th birthday, Johnny!

Guess what I did today?

I’ve been outside the house for a change! And I’ve gotten my fill of rock n roll and cheap draft beers! And it was awesome! I’ve been wanting to get out for a while but have sorta kept myself back on account of me having been really, really sick for the past couple of weeks and not really wanting to risk anything.. Today, though, was the day when I finally felt up for the challenge, and I had some pretty good motivational factors to help me get out:

Some time ago, I read a flyer somewhere that a local cover band had changed their ways and morphed into a full fledged Bruce Springsteen cover band and labeled themselves “The Boss”. To celebrate this new-found calling, they apparently decided to throw a free inaugural concert at a small local venue. This concert was to take place today, January 10, and was apparently very conveniently scheduled for the date that I finally felt well enough to leave the house.

Okay, to be honest, I didn’t feel 100% well, but as we all know I pretty much hate just chilling on the couch by myself.. And I do like me some rock and roll,, And  beers.. And I absolutely adore The Boss (as in Bruce Springsteen).. So, the prospect of getting out, seeing a free show and getting a beer or two while listening to a tribute to one of my favorite artists was enough to raise me from my bed and get me out the door.

To be honest, I didn’t really know what to expect from the experience. I’d never heard of the band before nor had I heard any of their songs.. And I didn’t even decide on going until like half an hour before show time.. So all in all, I’d say I was a little apprehensive when I showed up at the venue. As it turned out, though, I may have been the only person in town aged 28 and above that hadn’t gotten the memo about this band, because when I showed up at the venue, the place was pretty much packed which is saying a lot for a free show by a relatively unknown band on an early Sunday afternoon in a 600 people venue.. Apparently this whole word of mouth thing works!

Either way, I showed up at the venue, quickly decided against checking my coat on account of the place being absolutely packed and having no hangers left for me to check my coat onto. Instead I headed for the bar and ordered a pint of stout on tap at the very reasonable price of DKK 40, then made my way towards the stage as we waited for the show to start.. In true, cool rock n roll fashion, the band was a few minutes late to take the stage.. And then, in not so cool a fashion, they decided to let their intro music loop twice before taking stage which left the crowd all but a little anxious and impatient.

Eventually the band did hit the stage.. More or less.. Which is to say that the lead singer took stage and opened with a one man acoustic version of Thunder Road. Half way through the song, the drummer walked on stage to get ready and by the end, the rest of the band also took stage and kicked into a personal favorite of mine: Atlantic City.

A lot could be said about the technical aspects and the music.. There were a few kinks here and there, especially in the beginning. The lead singer looked the part, but didn’t really soundlike Springsteen. That’s not to say he wasn’t a good singer though! And the band looked like the were truly having fun on stage and the crowd felt that as well, getting into the mood and spirit of the thing as well.. And isn’t that what live music is all about? Having a good time and rocking out?

What followed were basically 90 minutes of Bruce Springsteen’s greatest hits live. To name a few songs i no particular order: Radio Nowhere, Fire, Hungry Heart, The Rising, Born In The USA, My Hometown, Waitin’ on a Sunny Day.. And, of course, The River.. Which for some reason was introduced as Springsteen’s second most famous song to date.. I could probably lash out and start a huge debate over this, apparently a lot of people think that Born In The USA is better know.. But let’s leave it at that.

Encores, of which there were four (good show!) included Dancing In The Dark, Glory Days, on song I honestly don’t remember (hey, I’ve been sick for three weeks, cut me some slack) and one song that I didn’t know – some Irish folk inspired stuff which really had the place rocking. Much to my disappointment neither Badlands, Murder Incorporated or Born To Run were played. I hold these as solid Springteen classics and honestly expected them to show up on the setlist.. If not all of them, then at the very least Born To Run. I’m gonna go out on a whim here and probably insult a lot of Springsteen fans by saying that I’d love to have seen Born In The USA dropped from the setlist in favor of one of the above.. But then, I never though Born In The USA was a very good song, and a terrible live song to say the least.. But the general crowd dug it so maybe I’m in the minority here.

For an inaugural concert, and a free one at that, I’d say the boys did good.. Really good, actually.. I got to get my rock on and  most certainly had a blast, as well as a few really good, cheap beers. I might really go see these guys again some other time! Here are a few short video clips from the afternoon, courtesy of my camera phone, which goes to explain the crappy video and sound:

Radio Nowhere:

The River – didn’t quite know they were gonna do a sing-a-long version when I started recording, so bear with us here 😉 :

Shock and Raw Tour 2009: Shadows Fall & Five Finger Death Punch in Aarhus, Denmark

Now, I’ve seen some pretty big bands play in some pretty intimate settings. I’ve seen Iron Maiden play a nowhere near sold out concert at at parking lot in Horsens, Denmark, I’ve seen Volbeat play for 700 people a few times, and I’ve seen some pretty large scale Danish bands play in front of 40 odd people back in the Student House days. I also knew that the night’s concert with Five Finger Death Punch (5FDP) would be a bit of an intimate ordeal..

Yet, I somehow wasn’t really prepared for the sight that met us when we eventually found our way to the venue of the night’s show. The venue was a small, intimate place called Voxhall which fits about 500 people on a good day. Ridiculously small considering that 5FDP had just recently toured summer festival circuit in Europe, playing the main stages in front of crowds of upwards of 50,000 people. Well, at least I thought it would be ridiculously small coz when Tina and I arrived about fifteen minutes before doors would open and expected to find a huge line, we found a huge line of.. Well, a total of three teenagers.. Plus a group of three people around our age who arrived at exactly the same time than we did.

The sight was both a little comic and a little tragic and disheartening at the same time. Especially if you consider the fact that the first person in line had been there since 9 AM. What a great time he must’ve had. But hey, the weather was bad, so we figured people just didn’t want to stand in line and would eventually show up later. And at least we now had something to joke about while whiling away time waiting in line. Doors eventually opened at 8 PM and the massive line, now counting some 25 people or so poured in, nearly knocking over the security personnel which were completely unprepared for the situation.. Well, no, we just sorta trotted in slowly in a single file, showed our tickets, got our hand stamps, checked our coats, and (in the case of Tina and I) naturally headed straight for the bar where I ordered us a pint of beer each. You grow thirsty and weary from waiting after all.

Though small, the venue was actually really cool, consisting of a main bar, a large open room with a stage on one end, a small cafe like area where fans, warmup band members, roadies, groupies and what have you buzzed around, talked and drank beer, and an upstairs balcony kinda thing with another smaller bar and a great areal view of the main room and stage. A view that Tina and I would soon come to enjoy, along with a few chilled jäger shots.

See, the thing about the warmup bands booked for the evening is that they were both death metal acts and the thing about death metal is.. That.. Well, to most people it’s just not a very interesting genre.. Which is to say that death metal, like most metal, has pretty groovy rhythm and interesting details, in the case of death metal, it’s just a matter of spotting it amidst all the noise, murkiness and growling.. So rather than pushing up front and banging our heads with the rest of the crowd, Tina and I sorta just hung back near the bar where we felt we belonged. As one warmup band gave way to another, and the genre changed from melodic death metal to death/groove metal (in this case mainly noticeable by the lack of keyboards and clean vocals in the second act), Tina and I decided to check out the upstairs balcony area which turned out to be a pretty swell idea because apparently the prices in the bar upstairs were far better than the ones in the bar downstairs.. And they chilled their spirits upstairs, so we could get jäger shots cheaper AND colder than on the floor, simply by traversing a few stairs.. An offer we abused to the fullest.. After all, nothing goes better together than metal and hard liquor, right?

After struggling through two warm up bands and a shot of jäger or three.. or four.. It was time for the main event of the evening, a double feature of two new school American metal bands, Shadows Fall and Five FInger Death Punch. Shadows Fall were up first, and granted, we were mostly there for 5FDP, but people were starting to move towards the stage now and who were we to miss being in front row for a performance for a Grammy Award nominated metal band? Or the subsequent performance by 5FDP for that matter.. So as the stage crew scrambled to set up for Shadows Fall, we scrambled downstairs and pushed our way into the front row.

We ended up finding a spot in the front row at stage left, right in front of the lead guitarist’s spot which seemed as good a spot as any – at least in theory, and so we settled in and chatted for a while, waiting for the show to start – which it did pretty quickly with Steel Panther’s beautiful “(Fuck All Night And) Party All Day” blaring over the PA (much to my amusement), followed by Shadow Fall’s own instrumental “The Path To Imminent Ruin” as the band hit stage to a surprisingly loud reaction from the crowd of 50 or so people.. And then things got a little crazy and confusing.. Shadows Fall tore into their set with great enthusiasm, spirit and energy, the crowd went crazy and started jumping and moshing.. And Tina and I found ourselves in the middle not really understanding half of what was going on because the lead guitarist had his monitors (the speakers that reflect his own sound towards him) turned up so loud that pretty much all we were able to pick up was the guitar and drums which kinda drowned out the vocals.. Which was a fucking shame coz I’m pretty damn certain that the boys delivered one hell of a show.

At any rate, they gave it their all and rocked their hearts out in front of a ridiculously small crowd for a band of their stature, which I found both pleasing and impressive. I just wish I could’ve heard more of it. The only songs that I did manage to recognize were “Still I rise” and “A Public Execution” both of which included a fair bit of crowd participation, the former in the shape of Brian Fair, the lead singer, letting the crowd sing parts of the chorus and the latter with the entire house, all 50-100 people strong, screaming along on the “FUCK IT ALL” parts.. Good times, hot times.. Had the vocals gotten an extra boost and the guitars been lower, it would’ve probably been a fucking awesome show!

After about a 45 minute show which included a surprising amount of songs, a fair bit of crowd interaction and even some eye candy for Tina as Brian apparently got so hot that he decided to throw off his t-shirt, wring the sweat out of it and dispose of it, the boys said thank you to the crowd, throw a few goodies, including a guitar pick to yours truly, and left the stage. Leaving us behind quite hot, dehydrated and shaken up.. Which, I suppose, is why we felt like we needed more jäger shots to cool us down. After much debating, arguing and eventually a round of rock, paper and scissors, it was decided that I’d keep our spot in the front row while Tina pranced upstairs and got us a few shots.. Ah sweet victory!

So while more roadies scrambled around more on stage, Tina took off upstairs and I grabbed a chance as the crowd thinned out a little and moved a few meters to the left in front of the stage to center stage where i had a reasonable idea that Ivan Moody, front man of 5FDP, would be during the show. In this new spot I ended up standing next to a couple of really intoxicated young men who kept trying to strike up random conversation. I talked with them a little until I saw Tina on her way back and turned around to greet her. Needless to say, my very beautiful and quite out of place companion did not go unnoticed by new new front row “friends”, neither did the fact that she smilingly and dutifully walked up to me, handed me a shot, toasted with me and waited for me to finish mine, then grabbed both empty glasses and headed back to the bar, leaving the male portion of the front row staring at me in a combination of shock, awe and jealousy. I of course merely smiled, shrugged and made some clever comment along the lines of “I’m bringing her to every show I go to from now on.”

Having played her role of drink getter, Tina soon returned and found her spot in front of me in the front row.. See, the good thing about having a tiny best friend is that you can both fit into the front row at a show on account of me being able to look well over her head while at the same time being able to keep most of the moshers at bay.. Now, all we had to do was wait which we did, along with a couple of our newfound drunk friends who were pretty good at sharing anecdotes and beer, so the wait actually went pretty smoothly even of anticipation was starting to grow.. A lot!

Eventually the lights dimmed, the crowd buzzed and the guests of honor of the evening took the stage.. To the sound of a roar so loud I had trouble understanding that it was coming from such a small crowd.. Evidently what the crowed lacked in size, it made up for in dedication. 5FDP opened with a super heavy version of “Burn It Down” which had the crowd screaming, singing, moshing and jumping along.. And once again had me questioning the size of the crowd, because, honestly, I’ve felt less pressure in the back at major stages on the European festival circuit.

Up next was “Salvation”, a song with a chorus which goes something along the lines of “Monkey see, monkey do, you’re always doing what they tell you to”. Ivan illustrated this beautifully by jumping around and acting like a monkey on stage which was not only hilarious to look at, but went to show that he was thoroughly enjoying himself. As was the rest of the band. And I dare say it was a pleasure to watch because quite honestly you’d expect them to be a little bummed out with the turnout. But rather than being pissed, they were visually pleased that such a small crowd could created such an intense feeling, show such dedication and be such a “fucking loud bunch” as Ivan put it after having hushed down one of several “FIVE FINGER – DEATH PUNCH!!” chants I started that evening.

The rest of the show was a tour de force of the two albums worth of material that the band has. “The Way Of The Fist”, “Bulletproof”, the new single “Hard To See” and of course “White Knuckles” which ended in a shout-off with Ivan hollering “I’m taking back control..” and the crowd dutifully replying “WITH MY KNUCKLES!” – through it all the band got more and more energetic, the crowd got more and more crazy and we went from a situation where I could pretty easily throw both hands in the air and spend my time taking pictures and rocking out to one where I actually had to get a pretty firm grip on the rail around Tina to not only protect her a bit better but also keep my own footing as various elbows, arms, heads and people started crashing in to me.. This tactic worked pretty well until the very end of the concert where people had gotten so worked up that I pretty much had to just place both arms on either side of her little head to at least ward off the stray arms and elbows from hitting her all while wondering what the hell had gotten into this crowd.. Good show, though!

The show ended in a bit of a shouting contest at Ivan asked the crowd whether they wanted to hear an old song or a new song, after a lot of senseless screaming and debating back and forth, they eventually “decided” to do both and kicked into “Dying Breed”, probably their most brutal song to date, which in an anticipated, but welcome move was followed by “The Bleeding” – Their largest single hit and a kick-ass hardcore ballad to boot.. Which, I’m reasonably sure, is the moment that most of us had been waiting for.. So at that very moment I did something very uncommon for me and let Tina fend for herself (’twas but a slow song after all) while I grabbed my camera and shot this video to capture the mood and setting.. I’m reasonably sure she forgives me for getting bumped a little:

.. And with that it was pretty much over. After 45 intense minutes, the band said thanks, took a bow, threw a few collectibles (including a pick that Tina caught) and left the stage.. And so there we stood, banged up, slightly bruised and sweaty, weary from the experience.. And, once again, very thirsty.. Which is why our first move after the show had ended was to rush off to the upstairs bar and have me buy us a round if jäger shots.. Only then could we even start worrying about how the hell to get home..

AC/DC Rocks Copenhagen, Part 2: Let There Be ROCK!

Making it into the Parken arena actually only meant the beginning of a long waiting session. I was there by about 6:30 and the first support band were to hit stage at around 7:30. I killed most of the time carelessly chatting with passerbys and watching people file in. I was kinda taken aback by how relatively small the venue was and how relatively retarded the setup looked. Tina had texted me earlier saying that one of her former co-workers had been in Parken during sound test and said it’d sounded as if the windows were about to blow in.. And I could see why. Someone had placed two relatively unneeded speaker towers about 100 yards from the back wall, meaning that huge amounts of sound got blown right into the concrete walls and the glass windows of the office section.

The result of this, at least during the warmup bands, were an amplification of a phenomenon known to most Danish live music lovers, and feared by me on this very day: The phenomenally bad sound of the Parken arena.. Sitting in the middle of the place and getting the sound from the PA front on only to have it echoed back at you from the back wall.. Just isn’t cool! But it was something you got to live with after local band “The Floor Is Made Of Lava” (I think?), and AC/DC’s choice for warm up “The Answer” came on and delivered a set full of energy and will to be the best that they could. I’ve never heard of these guys before, but they seemed pumped to be on stage.

Around the mid of their set, a helicopter made a low, slow swoop over the stadium, pretty much stating that hey, the band is here which got the crowd even more psyched and got me talking to the people next to me. A nice couple who’d traveled even further than me, were possibly ten years older than me, but every bit as psyched. I ended up talking and going crazy with them for the rest of the night which proved wise because they happened to have these VIP tickets which meant free beers for the rest of the night.. Awesome!! And cudos for sharing with a poor student! Speaking of crowd, I happened to look back at see an ex girlfriend of mine just two seats behind me which prompted me to feel really freaked out, because, really.. What are the odds of that? (I did he math, they’re 8 to 48,000 not factoring in the luck of the draw as far as getting tickets was concerned). But let’s leave it at that, we were there for the music anyways.. That, and to go absolutely fucking ballistic.

Which we did at 8:43 exactly when AC/DC’s opening animation hit the giant screens and the sound started hitting us full force. Then, a giant freight train literally(!!) crashed onto the stage and out emerged the coolest midget alive, Angus Young, who tore right into the new hit single “Rock ‘n’ Roll Train”.. Two hours of mayhem had begun.. Or as front man Brian Johnson put it: “We’re gonna do some rock’n’roll tonight, and the party starts right here” And from then on, I didn’t really touch the ground much. AC/DC’s sound crew must have done quite a job as they actually managed to produce a pretty good sound for the show.. And while definitely not perfect, all was forgotten three songs into the set when rock classic “Back In Black” caused a crowd reaction louder than anything I’ve ever heard in my life. As someone so obviously put it: “If you can put one of rock music’s greatest classics as the third song in your set, you know you’re in for good things to come!” .. And that we were! Solid rock classics such as “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” and “Shot Down In Flames” followed with every section of the crowd singing along at the top of their lungs while pounding their fists, fingers and horns in the air in a perfectly synchronized manner. Watching the spectacle from up high in the stands was an experience to say the least.

Then we were treated to a small breather where I just had time to be handed a beer by the female half of the couple I’d hooked up with before Angus (with admitted difficulty) launched into the opening riff of “Thunderstruck” which caused the whole place to erupt again and me to freak out more than a 12 year old Britney Spears fans over the fact that this was actually happening and that I’d just been handed a beer with perfect timing no less.

The only weak parts of the set were probably the new numbers off the Black Ice album.. Not that they were bad, they were just not classics and didn’t really have the same crowd response.. But I didn’t really mind that much. For me, they offered some welcome breathers to just hang back a little and actually sip my free beers for a change. Throughout the whole thing I actually had to remind myself that I was watching people who were generally in their 60’s on stage. The energy and intensity was just amazing. Brian Johnson was all over the place was was Angus Young.. Who still, at the ripe age of 54, methinks, does his strip routine on stage.. Which was a riot to watch.. Because when have you ever seen thousands of grown men in absolute ecstasy over a decidedly ugly midget stripping down all the way to his AC/DC branded boxers?

While Angus and Johnson got most of the attention, it’s actually the rhythm section that deserves the most credit because while they really weren’t seen they’re part of the reason why AC/DC is such a tight live band. The drumming bass playing and rhythm guitar work was impeccable and professional. Simple, uncomplicated and spot on, something only AC/DC sems to be able to get away with for 36 years on end.

But wait, there was more? Of course there were no way we’d leave without hearing more classics such as “You Shook Me All Night Long”, “Hells Bells” and “TNT”. The first featured more singing and dancing in the crowd and a lot lf couples huddling together for obvious reasons”, “Hells Bells” were loud as fucking hell.. And naturally featured the symbolic lowering of the bell on stage and Johnson taking a swing..  “TNT” gave the classic rock statement of “Everything Louder Than Anything Else” new meaning. I’m actually pretty sure my ears were bleeding by then but I really didn’t care. One thing I knew for sure, though, is that I DID notice the entire foundation of the structure shaking during the frantic chants of “Oi! Oi! Oi!” during the song.. Crazy!

The ending of the show was as predictable as it was awesome: “Whole Lotta Rosie” followed by “Let There Be ROCK!” the latter featured a pretty awesome light show and Angus Young monkeying around like a mentally retarded kid on speed, eventually culminating in him charging into the sound tent half way down the field from the stage and being raised high in the air on a 10 meter platform, soloing left and right as lights illuminated the entire crowd and tons of confetti shot left and right.. A-W-E-S-O-M-E!!

Though, after that things got a little drawn out for the first time that evening as he charged back onto stage and extended the song past the 19-minute mark with more soloing and begging for crowd attention. I could’ve been without the last five minutes or so of this, mainly because I really had to pee..

Eventually Angus did calm down, stopped his monkey business and cut off the soloing, with that the band said goodnight and headed off stage.. At which point my newfound friends started to move to pack up and leave.. Something I of course told them to forget all about because, as I told them, I was willing to bet the last remaining dollar or so of my student grant that we’d yet to hear “Highway To Hell” and “For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)”.. And with that, the lights came back on and the arena once more exploded in almost tear-filled ecstasy as the 1979 classic “Highway To Hell” rang out into the Copenhagen night air.

While I in no way wanted this particular song to come next, I was also dying for what I knew would be next, the full on 21 one gun salute that is “For Those About To Rock” which was delivered in exactly the way we’d expected, crowd chanting, lights, fire and, of course, guns and all… It was beyond epic, and that 21 gun salute, by the way, is beyond loud in real life! My ears are still ringing and I don’t fucking care!

And with that, it was over. As quickly and as suddenly as it had begun just over two hours before. As a large fireworks display filled the front stage area, the band ducked off stage and the long hard struggle to get out of our seats, into the bathroom and from there on home now began. As I fought my way through the crowd, I looked at some of the reactions to it all.. Some had obviously passed out in their seat either from beer, exhaustion or both, others were still standing nailed to the ground, staring at the stage, awestruck and unable to comprehend what had happened. In other places, fully grown, fat and balding men in leather jackets were falling around each other’s necks, clearly almost moved to tears over what they’d just been witnessing. Others again just filed along, chanting “AC-DC .. AC-DC..” over and over again.

However we chose to cope with the experience, we all knew we’d just had the concert experience of a lifetime. For many of us it was a boyhood (or girlhood?) dream come through. And we’re all pretty confident that seeing AC/DC live in our home country was a once in a lifetime experience. At least for those of us who weren’t there 13 years ago when they last visited.. It may seem that I’m just ranting on and on, but it really was that great  and that magical an experience. Ask anyone who was there and they’ll tell you the same.. In just as many words, or more..

THANK YOU, AC/DC! From the bottom of my rock ‘n’ roll heart.. THANK YOU!

Still, it makes me wonder.. Johan watches Ed Wood!

I watched Ed Wood today – the semi-biographical Burton movie, that is, not the actual works of the so-called worst movie maker in the world – more by accident than by anything else.. I was at Dunkel’s plowing through his collection and jokingly went.. Hey, why don’t we watch Ed Wood? And much to my surprise he went sure, so we put it on.. And I was about to be surprised in many more ways.

Firstly, I didn’t even know this was a Tim Burton movie.. Which was a welcome surprise. Also, I had no idea it starred Johnny Depp.. But that was of course just another welcome surprise because everybody knows that Tim Burton + Johnny Depp = awesome!

Now, I had every cell in my brain telling me that a movie about the worst movie-maker in Hollywood history was either gonna be really strange or really bad and/or pathetic, too.. Well, this movie has Burton behind the wheel so a the weirdness factor was a dead give-away.. But, apparently you can also leave it to Burton to make a movie about the worst director ever both gripping, funny, touching and thought-provoking.. While leaving out the bad and/or pathetic factor.. Another small surprise.

And speaking of leaving things to people.. Leave it to Johnny Depp to spend half a movie wearing ladies’ underwear, v-neck angora sweaters, skirts,  a stuffed bra and a blonde wig.. And still have every woman on the face of the planet thinking he’s drop dead sexy and leaving them in need of having his babies! Seriously, I mean, come on.. How the fuck are the rest of us gonna compete with that? Whenever I .. When I occasionally .. That one time.. I wore women’s clothing, I spent most of the time stopping pictures from being posted because I figured it’d be really bad PR.. Johnny Depp films it for the world to see and is STILL a sex symbol.. For the love of God..

But I digress.. What I really wanted to talk about, since I’m actually a huge Johnny Depp fan, was how fascinated I was by watching a Depp movie.. And being completely blown away by the character portrayal and acting.. Of someone whose name wasn’t Depp. I mean, Depp was good, but Martin Landau’s performance as my personal hero of the horror genre, Béla Lugosi, was impressive to say the least.. The portrayal of the washed up, aging Hungarian drug fiend in the last year’s of his life is so spot on, well done and haunting that Dunkel and I at times seriously thought that they were either using stock footage or that Lugosi himself had risen from his grave.

So, I ended up actually liking the movie more for its portrayal of Lugosi over that of Ed Wood himself.. Which was another surprise, but only a smaller one as I have, for whatever strange reason, been really captivated by Lugosi since first watching the 1931 version of Dracula.. The supporting cast in general was way better than Depp in this one, and I’m probably gonna get slammed for saying that.. But there you go, that’s just how I felt.. And how can you not love a motley crew of old Hungarians, psychics, busty vampires, pro wrestlers and Bill Murray playing the part of an obviously flaming young man in search of a sex change? Really!

In conclusion, Ed Wood’s own movies may not have been very good.. In fact some claim they’re the worst in the world.. And they’re probably right.. Me, I’ve just finished watching Robo Vampire the other day, so I’m more than looking forward to  an Ed Wood marathon with drinks and all that jazz.. It can’t possibly be worse! But either way, his movies may have been bad.. But the semi-biographical movie made about him certainly wasn’t.. Mr Burton, I tilt my hat to you!