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09 July 2005

glancing briefly through my eyes


black sabbath was playing tonight and i needed to rearrange my travel plans to see them.

0900: call the hurtigruten office. the woman told me i'd need to call the individual ships and gave me the phone numbers; first the ship leaving tomorrow [ms nordlys] to make sure they had available room; second the ship leaving today [ms kong harold] to cancel my reservation. complete. complete. code green for metal. |m|/

0930: down to the post office to pick up the ticket. map; destination located; number 22. she didn't have the reservation number on file. called magnus to get his last name. reservation found. tiicket secured (above). complete. code green for metal. |m|/

1100: back to the hostel. across the street to pay and check into my new hostel. complete. no access to the room until 1200; i'd mill at the other hostel until then. code green for metal. |m|/

1110: email to the tromso hostel informing them i'd be arriving a day later than expected. complete. code green for metal. |m|/

1200: move into new hostel. no lockers. blah. elaborate locking system with pacsafe travel safe and two padlocks.

in three hours i'd rearranged all of my travel plans to stay in bergen one extra day, all in the name of metal. we were code green, devil horns locked and loaded for the show tonight. |m|/

unbelievably, it was the third consecutive sunny day in bergen, a city known for it's rainy weather. amazing. short walk into town, i found the location of the show and saw some 'no camera' signs. i'd seen many digital cameras at the nin and rammstein shows and was hoping to be able to take pictures at the concert tonight. code red, blah. back to the hostel to drop off my camera, grab my earplugs, and change into shorts. back into town.

my vip ticket gave me access to a pre-show performance by an ozzy tribute band. wow. WOW were those pants tight. i think the singer would have been arrested in the states; first by the fashion police for wearing skintight pleather and second by the local authorities for indecent exposure. in summary, he didn't look comfortable; they didn't look comfortable. i don't think even mid-80's big hair ozzy wore pants that tight. still, the guitarist was _tighter_; dead on, executing the solos perfectly, a metallic master. kick. the band sounded great and the vocals were excellent; ozzy would have appreciated the performance, if not the pants.

afer the nin and rammstein shows, i'd returned to the hostel soaked in sweat from heavy pit activity. i wasn't planning a repeat for the black sabbath show; wanted to stand back and watch the band perform and didn't want to have to worry about fighting the pit monsters. velvet revolver had been scheduled to open the show but had pulled out for one reason or another. two norwegian bands were booked to open the show. the first band, not so much. i believe they were from bergen and despite their unmetal rem-esque music they still got a good crowd reaction. the second band was heavier, but after the vocalist/guitarist walked out, he planted himself firmly in the middle of the stage and did not move for the entire set; the band gardener came out halfway through the set to check the soil ph and add some fertilizer. i prefer more mobile performers.

set changes were quick; drum kits on rollable risers. i'd like to see time lapse footage taken from above the crowd area to follow individual movement during a heavy music general admission show. in this instance, my movement. i know i wasn't conciously trying to find a different location, but by the end of the second band's set, i found i had moved from the far side of the stage to about fifteen rows back and about five meters stage left of center and was standing in some type of hole. perfect. i'd need to change my position once sabbath started playing.

silence. ozzy screamed and sang the first part of a popular european sports chant; the crowd completed it. again; completed. he screamed again, declaring that he wasn't going to come out if the crowd wasn't 'crazy enough'. intro music began to play a medley of sabbath songs, mostly guitar riffs, some vocals. i didn't like this intro at all; why play recordings of songs that you're about to play live? still, forgivable. the band walked onstage and the crowd surged forward; me along with it. this was the first time i've seen a band walk onstage at the beginning of a large show and not immediately kick into a song. legends. the band looked great and ozzy was smiling widely, almost too widely, unflinchingly wide.

the band kicked into nativity in black and i forgot about ozzy's smile and became a part of the surging crowd, moving with and against the music. i soon found myself in the center of the stage, so close to the front that the sound i was hearing was coming mostly from the amps and monitors onstage rather than from the gigantic stacks of speakers on either side. ozzy ran frantically all over the stage, occasionally remembering that he was the vocalist at which points he would quickly run back to the microphone only to find that he'd forgotten the lyrics. i couldn't believe it. another first for me; i'd never before seen a band of that caliber come so closely to disintegrating midsong onstage. during the second song, after forever [which i was so incredibly psyched that they played; amazing riff, mr. iommi], ozzy actually completed a verse with mumbles and grunts rather than lyrics. all one hundred percent forgivable; legendary.

show highlights:

01. during the second song, after forever, i decided i didn't want to wear my ear plugs any longer. i was so close to the stage that the speaker stacks weren't hitting me at all, i was getting only the stage volume and i wanted to absorb the music at another level. shortly after i removed the earplugs, a giant norwegian leaned over to my ear and asked me [norwegian] very loudly. ouch. i'm sorry, i only speak english. [click] 'i'm right behind you. i'll look out for you.' [holds hand up. we lock hands, bonding in some type of metal moment that only occurs in the front five rows of a very loud metal show. stay evil, my giant norwegian friend.] problem: he'd screamed far too loudly into my ear, overcompensating for the loud music; i've experienced that situation before many times before. ouch. i knew later that night my sweet tone angels would visit me as i tried to fall asleep.

02. over the course of the next few songs, i was pushed forward into row three, center. there i encountered a large bald man, mid-20's, [i'll call him vigor, pronounced vee-gor] with an insensed expression on his face as if he didn't know where he was, pale blue eyes wide open, staring into a nothingness. vigor, along with the rest of us, was being crushed from all angles and it was unclear whether or not he was enjoying himself or wanted to extricate himself from the situation. i asked him if he was all right and he didn't answer, glancing briefly through my eyes, still staring into the void. apparently vigor had been causing a disruption earlier; the man one row in front of him was waving widely to the security personnel to try to get them to remove him from the crowd area. problem: the only way out was over the barrier in front of the stage and vigor was a large man. when security came over and asked him to move forward so that they could pull him out, vigor shook his head no. interestingly, later in the show, a man larger than vigor was willingly pulled out over the barrier by three security guards as everyone in the crowd looked on in awe. i looked at a random with a 'wow' expression on my face; he returned the expression.

03. the performance of war pigs. a level beyond, trans:incendiary. ozzy was in full zone. absolutely brilliant. war pigs is not close to my favorite sabbath song, but this performance made it magic.

04. i miss my combat boots. truly. these hiking boots i purchased in north carolina in order to disassociate myself with the military and to better blend into the average global society are not cutting it at metal shows. in addition to the distinctive non-metal exterior, the laces have come untied at both the rammstein and black sabbath shows. this is not a fun experience when one is in the midst of a franticly moving crowd; the untied laces are easily trampled and it's very hard to keep one's footing during the intense swaying. despite my best efforts to tie the laces tightly, the laces came untied three times during the black sabbath show. in all three occasions when i leaned down to tie them, kind people around me realized what i was doing and did their best to fend off the hordes and stabilize me as i balanced on one foot. i sensed the third unlacing at the beginning of ironman; the bass drum was pounding and i knew it was only a moment before mr. iommi began playing the main riff at which point the crowd would move and one of my boots would be anchored firmly to the ground, laces trampled, putting me in a precarious situation. i leaned down quickly and began the tying process and made it back to the surface one second before the riff. kick.

05. at some point during a particularly heavy moment when i was taken over by the music and wasn't thinking clearly, i reached over and grabbed the fist of a random [i'll call him olav], pulled it up into the air, and pried open his index and pinky fingers, forming the extended devil horns. once olav had realized what i had done, he looked at me and said 'no, double the evil.' and put both fists together, crossing his wrists so that the pinky fingers were touching, and extended both index fingers to form double the evil. olav had gone one level above; i'd been outdone.

the band ended with paranoid and left the stage. ozzy had completely destroyed his voice and was barely able to talk. i didn't think they'd be out for an encore, but sure enough, back out to end with children of the grave. amazing. ozzy basically talked the lyrics. at the end of the show, the four band members all walked to the middle of the stage and bowed, a perfect ending to a powerful show. thank you, gentlemen.

back to the hostel, soaked in sweat as before, so looking forward to a hot shower. i let the water run in the first shower for a full five minutes and the water remained a chilling cold. the second shower was the same, unfortunately, and i had to suffer through a very cold experience. i counted to three outloud before the final rinse. spent the rest of the night writing; met a bergen local who was hanging out at the hostel. when i asked why he'd be hanging out at a hostel bar, he told me it was part of the unknown bergen underground. i had my doubts.

posted by paul on Sat 09 Jul 2005 at 00:00:00 est (-05:00)


Great write up of the show. This is the type of stuff you read in the good zines. I like the line about prefering more mobil performers. I had visions of you running all over the stage with flamethrowers and a taken over by the show expression your face while I'm wondering if there will be litigation at the end of our show.

posted by Derek on Mon 18 Jul 2005 at 18:42:53 est (-05:00)

i will not call you derek. glad you dug the write up. i found a classic: http://www.globalrecon.org/images/flamedashnine.jpg

posted by paul recon on Tue 19 Jul 2005 at 18:15:39 est (-05:00)

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