|Yes, I know the title is not very original. Indeed it will remind you almost immediately of Tolkien. In fact, like The Hobbit, it is a tale. Not a fairy tale, though. Neither a troll's tale, even though it takes place in a far away land where fairies and trolls dwell and live their magical existence. However, this story has its links with magic and fantasy, because they both came true this spring for me. This is a TNT tale...|
I. SORIA MORIA
Back in 1867, Henrik Ibsen wrote a poetic drama called "Peer Gynt". It tells the story of an ambitious young man who travels around the world in search of fortune and happiness. Peer describes Soria Moria as a palace amongst valleys and mountains, standing west of the Moon and east of the Sun, where kings and princes celebrate. The name also appears in a tale by Theodor Kittelsen (1857-1914), titled "The Castle of Soria Moria". Here it is a shining castle placed in a golden mountain with shiny peaks. Like in those tales, I travel the world through seas, clouds, woods, lakes, mountains and fog, in search of a dream, with a clear vision in mind. I had a mission, so off I went to fulfill it.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 24 2004
MADRID lat: 40:28:06N (40.4684) lon: 3:41:08W (-3.6855)
3:00 AM: The alarm rings, I can hardly wake up, why the hell is the alarm of my cell phone ringing? Oh, yes, I got to get a plane at 6:20 am! Why? And where? Well, that's gonna be a long story, but to make it short (I cannot think or speak very well at this time in the morning), I'm going to Norway to see TNT live with their My Religion Tour! So, I'd better get up and hurry up. Planes don't wait, you know?
6:20 AM MADRID BARAJAS AIRPORT: Taking off smoothly and on my way to Amsterdam, where I'll change planes to Oslo, first stage of my journey (not the band). :-) Actually I should try to sleep a bit since I woke up really early and the day ahead of me looks like it will be way long, but I guess I'm too thrilled to have a nap.
AMSTERDAM lat: 52:22:25N (52.3735) lon: 4:53:31E (4.8921)
9:00 AM AMSTERDAM SCHIPHOL AIRPORT: Amsterdam's airport is famous for being one of the most convenient, easy to use airports of Europe... Well, I don't know if that's true, what I can tell you though is that it's got the most gorgeous women per square meter of the world. It's been 10 years since I've been in Amsterdam for the last time and I almost forgot what I was missing! :-)
10:10 AM: Boarding and taking off northbound to Oslo. While on board I took the time to prepare some questions for a possible interview with the TNT guys. Some general questions, some addressed to specific members... at this point, I don't know who I will ask these questions to or even if I could do the interview at all!
OSLO lat: 59:54:46N (59.9128) lon: 10:44:25E (10.7402)
12:00 PM OSLO GARDERMOEN AIRPORT: Got this strange feeling every time I arrive at a foreign airport, I mean all airports are pretty much the same but yet I know I am in a different country and that gets me a bit excited... Yeah you guessed it, I love travelling.
1:00 PM: I'm now in Oslo (pronounce Oosloo), but where the heck is my hotel? It's supposed to be quite near Rockefeller, (the venue where TNT are going to play later tonite).
2:00 PM: Finally I found it. My fault since I was looking on the wrong street... Oops!
3:00 PM: A late lunch near Rockefeller. How convenient that there's a Kebab place just opposite the venue! After that some exploration of the territory nearby. I notice there is no trace of the band or gear trailer as yet. There is however, a nightliner parked by the service entrance, which is very strange since nightliners are very expensive to hire and I guess TNT doesn't need one, being relatively local in this town. Then something lit up in this small Spanish brain of mine, yes, Skid Row are playing tonite as well in John Dee, just downstairs Rockefeller. Must be their nightliner.
4:00 PM: Back in the hotel. Relaxing a bit before the show. Switched on the TV and was amazed. A local show on NRK2 (the second channel of Norway's public TV) and they are playing lots of cool 80's videos including TNT's Seven Seas. Friggin' unbelievable!
5:00 PM: Phoned my Norsk official assistant, Lasse Gundersen, who is still at work. He'll meet me at the door of the venue at 7.
7:00 PM: Meet Lasse. Have a long chat with him. It's been 9 months since we saw each other, when TNT played in Oslo back in June. (See review elsewhere on this site). It starts snowing...Welcome to Norway!
8:00 PM: Doors open. Met TNT's tour manager. She told me I will have my interview with Ronni LeTekrø next day. Cool! We enter the venue and have a drink before the show. Check the merchandise and get a couple of t-shirts.
9:30 PM: Lights out. I was expecting to listen to the intro for Invisible Noise which is the song that opens My Religion, TNT's brand new album. Instead of that Ronni goes onstage and starts playing the first chords of Give Me A Sign. This is going to become one of TNT classics live, with its hypnotic riff and Tony Harnell soaring vocals. Shocking! The stage is quite simple yet enough, as it's the music talking here, no paraphernalia needed, just the five guys (Dag Stokke on keyboards joins the band) showing what they can do live. The venue is not packed, not as back on summer anyway, but some 1000-1300 people have gathered on an weekday evening to see Norway's most emblematic rock act, and one of the best hard rock bands you can see live these days. Next song is Invisible Noise, which gets the audience a step further into the mood. From my previous TNT show in Oslo, I know the Norwegian crowd is far from being cold and distant, so it doesn't surprise me the highly positive response they give to the new songs. Time for an old time classic, As Far As The Eye Can See, which turns the audience completely crazy. Things are going pretty well and the band is obviously having a great time onstage, and that's kind of a feedback thing. People onstage have a great time and transmit it to the crowd, who at the same time ransmit the good vibes to the band. I think this is what they mean by "rock 'n' roll magic". Back to the new album, Lonely Nights, right now my fave track of My Religion, which, as the rest of the new stuff they played, works great live. The audience already know the songs and sing along with them as if they were old-time classics. Well, some of them soon will be, so I think. The sound is close to perfection, the lights suit the show well and the band is at top form. What else you can ask for?
Downhill Racer's next. Not my fave out of Realized Fantasies, but all in all a great song. Ronni LeTekrø is playing like a man possessed, Morty Black surprises me more each time I see him and Diesel Dahl's got THE GROOVE. He may not be the best drummer in the world, but no one gets close when it comes to give the songs the beat they need. He plays with guts and soul and you feel it. Dag is always brilliant on keys and Tony Harnell's got to be right now in one of the finest moments of his career. Past and forgotten are his throat problems during the show in June and he was absolutely in top form. Just a sample would be the acoustic rendition he and Ronni performed of Hey Love. Tony's passionate, powerful vocals there are as good as it gets and I doubt there are many vocalists out there that can top him at his game. As I said once, Harnell is one of the (if not the) best rock vocalist I've seen live, and I've seen quite a few, trust me! A storming Caught Between The Tigers followed, driving the audience to a delirium and up next was Ronni's solo. Up to this point, I gotta say you don't need a guitar solo to value LeTekrø's amazing guitar work, but nonetheless it is always like a slice of heaven (or should I say hell?) to listen to his wicked riffs, impossible scales and miscellaneous noises that takes you to Ronni's private, surreal world. Shine On was a pleasant surprise for me as I didn't expect it. And what really took me to paradise was Listen To Your Heart, one of my all time TNT favourite songs, having this and then 10,000 Lovers at the end of the regular show proved to the reluctant (if any) the superb form Tony is right now as they are two of the more high-pitched vocals on TNT's current setlist. After a short break came the encore with the title song of the new album, My Religion which was filmed to be included on a video-clip that starts to air in NRK as I type this. They ended their show with Intuition and Seven Seas to both the band and the crowd's joy. The only not so positive aspect of the show was that it seemed to me a bit short, 85 minutes is too little for a band with a repertoire that could easily go for 2 hours, but it was really intense. I know they always say that but in this case it was REALLY true. Well, all in all the show was fantastic, but I had yet another show to witness (or so I thought), could the band top this one?
11:45 PM: Backstage party with the band, crew, and guest, including among others Bjorn Boge (of Da Vinci and Street Legal fame). It's been a while since I met him in Manchester in 2002. So we had a lot to talk. The TNT guys are quite surprised to see me again and they are really cool guys. I am invited to see Skid Row (who are playing at that time) so off we go to catch the last part of their show. Well, they are not what they used to be back in the days, but if you have that in mind, you can have a good time for sure with their punk metal styled music.
VERY LATE NITE: We went to a local club after that. I met the guys and girl from a local band called Diabla. They opened for TNT on a previous show (being the only supporting act TNT got on this tour) and they gave me a demo CD for me to check them out. Very nice people to hang around with. From TNT inner circle, they tempted me with the possibility to go to a third show Saturday nite in Steinkjer (around 100 km north of Trondheim). I start considering it.
THURSDAY, MARCH 25 2004
9:00 AM: Wake up, shower and frokost (breakfast) Norwegian's way. I don't usually have a strong breakfast (just a coffee) but this is nice for a change, and you face things in a different way with your stomach full. :-)
10:00 AM: I decide to check some record stores in the city. My helpful assistant Lasse provided me with some addresses so I know where to go. Sound of Noise is a good shop and I get pleasantly surprised when I find quite a few Spanish releases over there. I also found Tindrum's "How About This" which I immediately purchase. Cool!
1:00 PM: At this time, I'm supposed to phone in order to find out when and where I have the interview with Ronni. I got no reply, so basically I spend the rest of the afternoon waiting for a call back. It didn't happen. :-(
II. THE ROAD TO NIDAROS
Back on the Middle Age, Nidaros Cathedral, in Trondheim, was the main focus of attraction for pilgrims around Scandinavia. Thousands of people made their way throughout Northern Europe to this magnificent building, standing in a somehow magical spot. 9 centuries later, it still attracts visitors from all over the world, including some bizarre looking guy from Southern Europe who made his way, not just to see the place, but to rock!
FRIDAY, MARCH 26 2004
9:00 AM: Frokost again! :-) Today I gotta go to Trondheim to see the band again at Rosendal.
11:25 AM: I depart from Oslo Gardermoen Airport northbound to Trondheim. Now, this is a city I am eager to visit. Not only for being TNT's home, but also because it seems to me a cool place to see and check around.
TRONDHEIM lat: 63:26:04N (63.4344) lon: 10:23:53E (10.3981)
12:25 PM: Arrival at Trondheim Værnes Airport.
1:30 PM: I get to the hotel, which BTW, is hard to find as it is far from the center. On my way there, I passed by Rosendal and I could see there are TNT posters announcing the show. Winter refuses to go away from this part of the world and all the way from the airport to the hotel it was snowing. Hey, I'm just 400 km south of the Polar Circle, so it shouldn't be a surprise.
7:00 PM: I'm picked up by Paal and Lasse, who made his way to Trondheim as well to see the show, good on him! We go to Paal's place and have a pre-show warm up with some local fans. I found out the funny way how hard is for Norwegians to pronounce my name correctly. :-)
10:00 PM: We arrive at Rosendal, which turns out to be a cinema. Strange place to hold a concert, but anyway, they removed most of the seats so it's plenty of room. The venue is packed by the time the band is about to begin.
11:00 PM: The show was both the same and different from Oslo. Same setlist, same awesome performance by the band, but seemed to me that the amazing response from the Trondheim crowd (a packed 600 people) pushed the band a little bit further in their attitude. I don't mean at all they lacked of it in Oslo, but they went a step beyond here, IMO. The show was a bit longer, not because they played any other song, but because Ronni's solo was more extended. However, soundwise Rockefeller is a better place than Rosendal, so I'd say the perfectionists would prefer the Oslo show whilst the headbangers would stick to Trondheim, so to say. All in all, the TNT machine is oiled, fixed and working fine. One cannot even imagine where the limit is for these guys when they are in full shape like now. Highlights of the nite were again Hey Love and an emotional Seven Seas, which is the anthem per excellence for the Norsk crowds.
Post show party. Got the chance to meet lots of new people including some
local legends like Trond Øien from Tindrum and Dag Stokke, whom I didn't
the pleasure to meet before. We end up in MC Club Paranoid, a bikers club
in the outskirts of Trondheim. It may sounds scary, but we had a great
time there. I found out that Norwegians and Spaniards have a lot of things
in common, despite of the huge distance between our countries; we both
are friendly, cheerful and open people, the way it should be anywhere
if you ask me. It was also great to finally put faces to some familiar
names online. ;-)
III. UP THE FJORD
The final stage of my trip would lead me to Steinkjer, a small, quiet town at the bottom of the Trondheimsfjord. A road full of impressive landscapes as only Norwegian nature can offer!
SATURDAY, MARCH 27 2004
09:00 AM: Frokost at this hotel is not as good as in Oslo, but anyway I feel hungry after a long rock'n'roll party.
10:00 AM: Time for some sightseeing, as yesterday I didn't have time to do it. First stop was at Morty Black's Off The Record store, an excellent shop and a compulsory stop when in Trondheim. I got Return - V, Bad Habitz - Live at Studio Studio (dedicated to Phil Lynott), Rypdal & Tekro - The Radiosong, and Joe Satriani - Killer Bee Bop at Bospop (a bootleg live recording).
11:00 AM: Some walk around the centre of the city, which I didn't enjoyed that much due to a severe wind which brought tiny snow that hit you hard on the face, ouch!
12:00 PM: Another compulsory visit while in Trondheim has got to be Nidaros Cathedral, a gorgeous building that really impressed me. As a curious note, the cover for TNT's Intuition album was based on this building, or at least in part of it.
1:30 PM: Back to the hotel where I should be picked up to go to Steinkjer, some 100 Km north of Trondheim, where TNT will end their current Norwegian (spring?) tour.
2:30 PM: Off we go up the Trondheimsfjord to Steinkjer. The trip there was plenty of fun as we had sunshine, rain, and snow all in a 90 minutes drive. The weather is crazy around here.
STEINKJER lat: 64:01:21N (64.0225) lon: 11:29:15E (11.4875)
4:00 PM: Steinkjer is a small town with not much to see or do on a Saturday afternoon. Luckily enough we found a pub where we had some hot chocolate to keep us warm and stay away from Trøndelag's freezing cold... Vinter vinter.
7:00 PM: A quick dinner before the show. Funnily enough, Morty Black enters the place to order some dinner and make sure we are on the guest list. I had a quick chat with him and he explained to me that he's about to sell the shop. The new management will do well for sure. He has made sure of that.
8:00 PM: We go to the venue, named Molly. Doors don't open till 10, but anyway my local guides, Nina and Evie want to make sure they got the privilege of front row places, and hell, no one could beat them in that! ;-) We waited in the venue's side door's hall. We met Tony Harnell on his way to the hotel, where he's gotta prepare for the show. His words remind me of John Carpenter's film The Thing: "Welcome to hell!" he says.
10:00 PM: Doors open and we get, of course, front row places. We are so close to the stage (as the venue is small) that the pics I will take gotta all be close ups :-)
10:30 PM: I am told to do my interview right now, just 15 minutes was not enough for the set of questions I had prepared, but it was better than nothing, so I went all the way down to the dungeons where the band was getting ready for the show. Ronni was very kind and talkative and it was a pity we didn't have more time. It was funny seeing Tony Harnell running around the place and saying: "Don't say anything bad about the band" as he passed by.
11:30 PM: Show starts. Unlike the previous shows, and though the venue is packed (around 350-400), it seems to me that they are mostly people that want to have a good time on a Saturday evening rather than die-hard TNT fans. Nonetheless, the band reacted well enough for such a different crowd, and the show was really good, although a bit shorter as they didn't play Hey Love. Don't get me wrong, there were for sure many TNT fans there, but the overall attitude of the audience, prior to the show was like they are regulars of the club rather than devoted fans gathering for a show of their favourite band. However, I'm pretty sure TNT gained some new fans after this gig. The atmosphere at Molly was very intimate, as you can imagine being a small club, so the audience was in the mood for a party, which suited very well the final show of the tour. This concert also gave me a glimpse of what it would be like when TNT plays before new audiences, and all I can say is that the band is ready and very capable to face that situation. We'll see in the future to come, as according to Ronni, there are big chances of some European dates later on the year.
3:00 AM: No, wait, 4:00 AM, since they changed to summertime while we were going back to Trondheim. I'm back to the hotel, time for some sleep before the journey back home I have tomorrow.
IV. THE LONG WAY HOME
My mission was completed successfully. It was time now to go home, a long journey back (almost 4000 km), tired but happy, knowing it was worth each and every Norwegian mile (around 10 km) I made to get here!
SUNDAY, MARCH 28 2004
9:00 AM: My last frokost in Norway. Sadly I will miss today's Ronni LeTekrø's appearance at Ringve Museum in Trondheim, where he'll do a lecture about all you can do with a Fender Stratocaster... interesting, to say the least!
12:30 PM: Departure from Trondheim Værnes Airport towards Oslo.
1:20 PM: Arrival at Oslo Gardermoen Airport. Time for some lunch before taking my second flight of the day.
4:35 PM: That was my scheduled departure time from Oslo. Unfortunately, one of the tires of the landing gear was wasted beyond reasonable limits and had to be replaced which made the flight depart with +45 minutes of delay.
5:20 PM: Finally we take off. Next stop Amsterdam. I am warned by the stewardess I won't make it to my connecting flight.
7:00 PM: Arrival at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. I think I can rush to get my plane to Madrid, so off I run through the terminals. I arrive at my boarding gate ten minutes later: I made it! But, since my luggage didn't I'm not allowed to board and that was the last flight to Madrid for this day; in other words, I'm stranded in Amsterdam, gotta love when that happens! I'm referred to KLM passenger service desk. They provided me with a free hotel room at a nearby hotel, including dinner and breakfast (no longer frokost), and since my luggage has to stay in the airport they also provide me with an "emergency kit" to spent the night.
9:30 PM: A boring night zapping to the TV channels of the hotel room. This is no longer Norway thus no cool 80's videos. Just a documentary on MTV about sex in music, with some fashion porno stars turned into hip hop acts, oh well...
MONDAY, MARCH 29 2004
5:00 AM: Wake up call. Shower, some breakfast and off I go to the airport.
6:30 AM: Back in Schiphol Airport. I think I will end up hating this place!
9:30 AM: Madrid Barajas Airport. Just a quick trip on the metro and I'll be home.
10:00 AM: Finally at home! They say after some good holidays the best place to stay is home. I definitely had a great time in Norway. I saw 3 terrific gigs by one of the best bands in today's melodic hard rock scene, visited some really nice places and met lots of cool people. What else could I ask for? Just one thing, not having to work this afternoon...
2:25 PM: At work. Welcome to the real world! :-(
TNT LIVE SETLIST:
*Not in Steinkjer.
I would like to thank the following people, without you this could have not been possible:
Ronni LeTekrø, Morty Black, Diesel Dahl & Dag Stokke (TNT)
Tusen takk, you all rock!
Story & photos by Jorge Antonaya