A BASQUE IN VIKINGLAND, THE COURT OF KINGS OF SEVEN SEAS
TNT in Rockefeller, Oslo, Norway (June 21st, 2003)
We've all heard that dreams come true. And for yours truly it was indeed a dream come true to have the chance to see TNT live after 16 years of being a devoted fan. They never got to Spain [still working on that issue, tho ;-)], so the live presentation of their new EP "Give Me A Sign" sounded like the perfect chance to finally see the band onstage. So off I went, all the way from sunny Spain to not so sunny Norway, 3000 km (that is, crossing the whole of Europe from south to north) to be there, at Rockefeller on Saturday, June 21st 2003 (summer solstice, by the way, with all the magical/mystical implications that exact date may have).
Since this is a strict review of the band's performance, I'll skip here all the things that happened to me while in Norway, but let me tell you, I enjoyed each and every single minute since I got off the plane till I jumped in again on my way back. Met lots of cool people and made some new friends, who helped making of this one of the best trips of my life. And that's what travels are all about, not only the final destination counts, but the journey too and what you find when you're on it.
Sadly, and due to some personal commitments prior to the show, I missed the opening act, Intrigue, who play an original mix of heavy metal and Joik (the traditional music expression of Lapps - the Nordic Natives). But, on the other hand, I found a very packed crowd waiting to see TNT when I entered the venue. And that was the first surprise of the night, since, from my previous experiences at shows abroad lately, I expected way less people than the around 1800 people who gathered at Rockefeller that day.
After what seemed an eternity to me, lights went down and TNT appeared onstage at 23:15. Finally the moment of truth. They kicked off with the second track from their new EP, "Give Me A Sign", my personal fave out of the record, good! I love the well crafted harmonies, the always intense Ronni LeTekro's work on guitars, the solid rhythm base provided by Morty Black and Diesel Dahl, and the really impressive vocal performance, full of passion that Tony Harnell delivered. All together made this track work really well live and I guess this will turn soon into a classic in the band's live sets. They followed with "As Far As The Eye Can See", from their Tell No Tales album and those (few) who didn't catch up with the new song went mad with this one. I must confess I got surprised by the overall response of the audience at this show, as I had the preconceived idea that the Scandinavian crowd were a bit cold live. Well, they're NOT!
"Downhill Racer" was a surprise to me, as I didn't expect anything from Realized Fantasies album. They also played most of the new songs from their EP, (see setlist below), and like "Give Me A Sign", they worked quite good live. Tony apologized for (what he said) his poor vocal performance due to an incident the night before during the Trondheim show, but to these ears, and to most of the fans that gathered there, he sounded really good. It's true that compared to the previous performance I saw from him (May 2002 in Manchester, England with Westworld), he was slightly at a lower level this time, but nonetheless, he delivered a great show. These guys can offer one of the best live shows out there these days (as far as classical melodic hard rock bands are concerned), and take it seriously, despite Ronni LeTekro's endless gallery of funny faces while he's playing. Like Harem Scarem's Pete Lesperance, it's amazing how can someone play those freakin' complex riffs and solos and yet put those smileys on his face. I've always thought Ronni has been one of the most underrated guitar players of his generation, he had the talent whilst others took the fame, well, never mind, he proved me he's able to recreate all those wicked sounds he does on studio and more. Superb performance by him.
Morty Black was in very good spirits that nite, and showed those who hadn't seen him live before (like me) he has a playing level that is superior to the bass lines you can listen to on the records. Diesel Dahl was impresive as well, and he even menaced the audience with a strip tease! It all ended there, in a threat, but hey, what the hell, it ws funny! These guys enjoy playing live, even though it's been a while since this classic line up did it for the last time (untill last year's reunion, that is), and that fun is transmitted to the audience. By the time they played some of their much loved classic numbers like "Caught Between The Tigers", "Seven Seas" or "Intuition", the crowd went really crazy. They ended their regular show with "Break The Ice", and the band left the stage.
Back on the encore, Tony was exhausted by the extra effort he had to put due to his above mentioned problems, but believe it or not, it was not his higher notes that were affected, but his mid range, so the crowd sang along with him "10,000 Lovers", and more than one left their lungs on the floor trying to cope with Tony. The last number was "Everyone's A Star", and for that one, in a very Rockstar movie style, Tony was joined by Kai Somby, Of Intrigue, who acted like he was joining TNT every nite, not nervous, and showing the audience how talented he is. He did a great job singing the verses of the song, whilst Tony did the high pitched parts and the audience sang along the chorus. Like I said, it reminded me a lot of Rockstar movie, but unlike there, I just hope Kai wont replace Tony in TNT, [nothing personal Kai, it's just that we all love Tony so much! ;-)]
All in all, a great show, excellent performance by each and every member of the band, plus guests (I forgot to mention Dag Stokke on keyboards). Both the audience and the band had the best of times that nite. The sound was really good, the venue is great for that kind of concerts, and the lights were cool too. What else? Oh, yeah, I can't wait till the band release their almost finished new album and go back on the road playing again. In fact, they're still touring Norway, but let's hope with the new record they'll get to play somewhere else (Spain maybe???). Believe me, it was worth each and every mile I travelled to see them!
thank you to Birgit Osnes, Tor-Erik Ledang and Päl Kristiansen for their
kind help prior, during and after my trip to Norway. Without your help
this review wouldn't be possible. Tusen Takk!
1. Give Me A Sign
11. 10.000 Lovers (In One)
1. Give Me A Sign
11. 10.000 Lovers (In One)