Saxon… by Ivona Bogner
Hot summer day. End of June. Thursday. After I came home from my job early (luckily school year ended for kids two weeks earlier, so we teachers had flexible working hours), I opened emails and the adrenalin hit me. Saxon press conference scheduled for 7am, so how am I supposed to pass 250km and be there on time? Count time I need to pack my equipment, take a shower, to make a sandwich (yeah, I cannot live without food)… Ok, few phone calls and I am on my way to the bus station. Only two buses to Zajecar, one already full. I turned around and saw group of at least 30 metalheads in Saxon t-shirts. Be quick or be dead! Slalom through crowd, and I won! Ticket in my hands, so now I am calm.
Every time I travel somewhere alone, an annoying passenger has to sit beside me. Same this time. The guy just could not realize he is as boring as death, and although I had earphones, he did not stop babbling, laughing. Ok, I have whole the time of the world, strong nerves and above all I am too nice a person, so, ok let′s hear his story. It turned out my new friend is a truck driver who obviously did not emancipate himself at all, did not learn anything traveling across the world, if we are going to believe in his stories.
Typical Balkan look: greasy hair, gold tooth, mustache, an inevitable toothpick, too loud… Of course, he knows everything and he wouldn’t go to hear Saxon even he knew they are coming. If I had told him we are talking about Heavy Metal I bet he would start a story about Satanism, so luckily I did not. Anyhow, he will not miss the village fair no matter what… Phone’s ringing! It could be a savior! No, whole bus heard his conversation and soon I knew everything about his family. First stop. It might be his. After 15 minutes break, here we go again. He brought me some juice, so how could I be malicious and ignore his next confession? I pray to his lord he will leave the bus in the next city, village, wherever we stop. Yes, he did! Time to take a nap. As I woke up, all around me fog. No phone signal. Where am I? Time? Can you believe, I was already 5 hours in the bus and remember we are talking about 250km. Those villages, cities looked like Chernobyl. Majority of population had left their homes in search for a better life somewhere in Austria or Germany, so shutters are lowered on 90% of the houses. Ceramic lions, swans and eagles on the gates, stone fountains in back yards and even frescoes on fascades. Take me to hell now!
After six hours I have finally arrived and my next goal was to find the municipal building. Whoever I asked, everyone was willing to take me there: by bicycle, by car, by bike… Just tell me where it is and leave me alone! It can’t be that hard, right?
Think! Ignore people! This is small city. Find the center, building with national flag and that has to be building you are searching for. Bingo! It turned out I came even bit early, so I took my accreditation. It was raining so my idea to see what the city offers was a bit crazy. Time to use my charm. I desperately needed toliet and… Maybe to ask security. ″Excuse me sir.″ Sir looked at me like a wild animal ready to attack his prey. In that situations the best option is to talk as fast as you can in order to confuse your enemy. It seems I was talking too fast ’cause in the blink of an eye I was in major′s toilet! Security guy started with: ″Ok, you can use this toilet, but if I think twice, that is too nasty for you, I will let you use major′s toilet, but be careful. If I turn the lights off, that means someone is coming, so keep quiet.″ Come on, I am not robbing the bank! But ok. We have a deal. Big hall, fancy furniture in the office, to the right and here I am. Not much better than the toilet at ground level, but at least it had soap. Mission completed, let′s sneak out and pretend I was never there.
Finally, press conference. Or not. We were informed that Saxon will be late cause they are also coming from Belgrade. They had some problems with a flight in London, or Zurich, I can not remember. Great! I went to Congress Hall and took a nap. What else could I do? I heard some murmur, opened my eyes and I saw promoter who told us Biff and Paul are coming. Damn it! Where is my equipment? I took all I needed and set in the first row. Mostly, on press conferences people have no inspirational questions. I have at least a hundred in my head, but I always lose the power of speech when my idols are in front of me. I know I should be professional, mostly I am, but Biff is the deity of metal, so respect! I was carefully filming press conference hoping my hands are not shaking that much.
Biff is nice English gentleman, bit deaf on his right ear, so even if I wanted to ask something I was on the wrong side of his head/ear. He could not hear me. Just an excuse.
Asked what he thinks who Saxon′s audience is today, Biff said: ″These days, the audience is a mixture, we′ve got a lot of fans from the eighties like ourselves and lot of fans are much younger.″ And few hours later, I even saw a stray dog in front line, so…
After the conference was over, Biff was willing to take pics with us. You know how I felt sitting by mighty Biff? There are no words I can describe it.
Now what? I have enought time, but what to do? My guys did not come yet, some journalists from local tv station asked me to join them, but of course I refused. Yeah, I am a bit unsocial. Well, I have problem being surrounded by people I consider boring, so…
I was packing my equipment and by the corner of my eye I saw a familiar face. The face I knew but we were never close friends. Things changed from that moment. At first I was confused, cause I know Ivan as a drummer and now I see him with camera on press conference. I am not a navalent person, but that was a matter of life and death situation. Few words here and there and we were drinking beer with his friends in nearby pub. The guys came by car and I had to bribe them somehow in aim to go to field where Saxon will play. I had a few sandwiches left, so my idea was too feed guys in return for the ride.
I remember, besides Ivan and his friend who drove the car, there was one kid with them. As I had a press and photo pass, I thought it would be great to use official parking so I gave one pass to our driver to show it on entrance. Just before we reached the gate, that kid rapidly jumped out of the moving car, told me he wants to switch seats with me. ″What are you scared of?″ No answer, but in that crazy situation maybe you should not ask too much.
We are in! In the backstage we had tents with all the equipment we need, but shall I tell we did not even look inside? We are where we are meant to be, as close to the band as we can. Saxon started their set right on time and damn! Stage was so high I could hardly take few pics. Ok, I am a fan first, everything else (writer, photographer) is benefit I decide when I am gonna use it. Jump over fence and… Have you ever swam in mud? Last time I did it it was on Slayer back in 2005. Actually, I was more stuck, but at least stabile. That was the great position to make some pics (at least 700) and enjoy the show.
After Saxon was done, time to go back home. Hm… How to move now? We were slowly cementing…
As I was going back home with friends, (I think it was seven of us in the van), I just hoped we were come back home in one piece. Only one friend is driving. No idea about the others, I do have drivers licence, but… Thanks, no thanks. It would be suicide solution.
I have no idea how the guys can fell asleep in a blink of an eye. Anytime we are going on roadtrip, I am the only one who stays awake besides driver, although sometimes driver is suspicious. Remember it is summer, but during the trip I had a feeling we were in the middle of autmn. Fog, rain… At some point I was in t-shirt and five minutes later I was looking for hoodie in my backpack. To tell you the truth, I was scared when I realized the road is not that safe, people are driving as crazy and the sky opened. Just to come home in one piece…
Now, almost a year later, I have a feeling I am writing of something what happened in past life. I was always wondering how hard it is to be on tour. If I am that tired after day or two, depending where I am traveling to see the bands, I can not imagine how it is being on tour month or two, year or two… And each time I ask myself the same question, in my head is the same answer:
A gypsy’s way is what the choose
Not for all but a chosen few
They sacrifice a normal life
To tour the world with no end in sight…
I choose gypsy road 30 years ago, I am the chosen one, I have no normal life, I am traveling the world with no end and sight!