It was an early start on Thursday morning and the outbound trip went very smoothly. You hear Ryanair horror stories but I have to say that – despite and even including so long a hang at the airport – it’s one of the easiest schleps I have ever made. Edinburgh airport isn’t such a bad place to have to wait in. mainly because the Wetherspoon’s bar provides a reasonable service that won’t break the bank.
The trip into town from the airport was equally simple. Buses are ready to pick up passengers when the flight arrives and its 80 minutes from there into the City Terminalen. It only took 75 this time though despite rush hour. Some amazing snowscapes and ice formations to see on the way in too amid the odd snow flurry. I have never seen so much of the cold white stuff. Certainly not in a long time and being that it was so cold, it retained its white colour. No giant slurpies to wade about in.
Nick's succinct tips on how to traverse the city meant that I scored a 72 hour travel ticket (200Kr) and was on the bus to his part of town in a matter of minutes. The familiar sight of Bröderna Olsson meant that I hadn’t got my directions confused. I’ve been here often enough to have a beat on the general bearings. During early visits it seemed like everything was really spread out but it’s actually a fairly bijou cityscape. Of course, if you’re walking you have to build in time. And in this weather it helps to stay well away from the eaves of the buildings less you get iced.
The sharp blue, sinus clearing cold was bracing and if you were layered then it was fine. A hat or two was mandatory also. Conditions underfoot were treacherous here and there but I didn’t land on my arse. Nearly though on a number of occasions and I’m sure the locals were wondering who this daft looking wee “breakdancer “ was.
It was a nice low key start to the visit staying local and visiting a new joint called Babajan. Great to see Joakim, Hanna and Hedwig before they headed off to Portugal. From there it was back to Chez Vahlberg prior to an early night. Friday was shaping up to be action-packed and I was flagging to be honest. Shored up though by the effortless journey which was utterly hassle free. I don’t have many days like this let me tell ya.
Top notch breakfast fortification courtesy of Nick and Eva set me up to face the day, Mr V was working too ahead of the big Debaser event in the evening. I sauntered up to the Amigo offices to hook up with the Executive Director of the big shindig, Mr Ulf. From there we headed over to the Razzia World headquarters via his gaff close by. Martina and Daniel Ledinsky are two of the coolest people I have ever had the pleasure of hanging with. Their unique angle on running a label in this day and age is both refreshing and astonishing. I think their Aussie sojourn done them kids good because they’re limbering up to punch way above their weight. (That boxing analogy is for you, Marty).
From there to Cafe Tranan for the finest meatballs on earth. M & D got me hooked during my last visit and I was keen to see if indeed they were as good as my recollection was. I need not have mothered because they were. Served with lingonberries and mash, honest to the big fella – these things are just the business. I could gibber on and on but it would only make me very hungry and also very sad that I can’t hook up with them very lunchtime for this experience.
Two dangerously cool individuals with their fingers firmly on the pop pulse and outright sweethearts. I think their Australian sojourn did them a power of good and thusly they’re ready to get a whole bunch of new projects rolling. Not least of which is a very important album to readers of this portal, coming in the autumn. No names, no pack drill for now. Extremely gracious hosts and bloody nice people, you don’t get many of these to the pound. If there were more kids like this involved in the music business, perhaps it wouldn’t be going down the pan. Just sayin’.
I would be very interested to get Mr Peter Zaremba’s opinion on these spherical delights...
From there, another saunter back closer to Debaser. Dropped in to the Bengans store which is a lot like FOPP. Met Qina at Slussen and headed uphill to the Old Beefeater Inn where Nenne joined us. It’s always a total trip to hang out with these gals. A couple of refreshments later and we’re headed down to the gig where Anette Voladora is in the small queue. Once inside Debaser it was a huge social event…
So here’s how it all went down… with the lights around about 11pm.
At this point, it should be stated for the record that this event, and indeed this particular vista of Swedish Rock would not exist (particularly for me) if it wasn’t down to the vision of Ulf Lindqvist. And it was he who made this retrospective happen - every which way. We owe him no small debt of gratitude for him bringing us all together and through our friendship, I have an extended family unit out yonder that goes beyond just music. It’s an enormous privilege to be able to be part of all that. Words cannae really convey...
So The Real Cool Night Revisited houseband was assembled by Måns Månsson, the Leonard Bernstein of garage rock and the program was presented in a revue type style with the various “acts” being ably bolstered by Johnny Elfström and Jonas Lundberg. The Crimson Shadows section of the programme cranked forth "Even I Tell Lies" with Indy Neidell (ex-moneybrother) on organ.
Mike of Maryland Cookies ventured up and sang “Don't Lie To Me”. He looked a wee bit like Ricky Gervais. Thomas Söderlind might have been jetting off next day but represented his combo by dropping by to deliver a belting run through “Don't Push Me Around” (Not the Zeros song) with fellow onetime Slammer, drummer Jonas (Lundberg).
Then it was Stefan Kery in his Stomachmouths guise with “Too Much”. I didn’t get a chance to meet him unfortunately. Jan Liljekvist of Shoutless performed “Insane”. During this, if I recall – Eva Voladora and I made our way to the front for the upcoming attraction.
The expression “guitar hero” has been undermined by the computer game in recent years but a proper analog version of this rare breed was coming next. Robert Johnson jacked up the fever by several notches with a shredding “Ramblin’ Wreckless Hobo” and “Bottlebeat”. He told me later that this might just have been the last time he’d ever go onstage. I like to think that was a fib, told for dramatic effect. Sure you’ve seen people play the six or however strings but not like this one. Seriously.
Events took a paisley turn with Per Ahlén and Jonas Engberg of Wayward Souls. “Unknown Journey”. A pre-madchester-tastic taste of pölsadelia.
I’m not sure when the last time Robert Jelinek was on stage but he has presence and charisma to burn. Måns stepped in for the indisposed Hans Ingemansson to do the memory of Backdoor Men proud with “Out Of My Mind” and The Creeps “She’s Gone”. These performances were electric and not just in the fuel sense. And finally… Nick Vahlberg and Hans Östlund brought down “Where The Wolfbane Blooms” and “5 Years Ahead Of My Time”. I don’t need to tell you that those two guys are responsible for bringing this music to the fore and indeed making all of this possible. With 4-Eyed Thomas being their Andrew (Loog) Oldham (Oldjham – ha ha) – everyone in the room had been affected by The Nomads to some degree, some of us beyond the point of help or indeed recovery. Not the kind of kick I would care to go without.
And then it was an ensemble deconstruction of the hymn that is “You’re Gonna Miss Me” before it was all over. The crowd howled for more but there was no more to give. The celebration of the compilation release was always going to be a special event but I think all concerned surpassed themselves. Mans , Johnny and Jonas did a sterling job and I imagine there was some relief when it was all over. The whole thing seemed to jet past in a blip. – somewhat punchdrunk rather than drunk drunk by the close of the night. Or should that be early hours? No point in asking me. It was a particular gas to finally meet Bådde, Ms N’s other half. What a geezer!
And also Tuija Stargirl, it was about time.
I always find it very humbling to run into folks who are familiar with this and whatever else I’ve been doing, to the point of being a bit bashful. It’s simply not possible to list everyone but I sincerely hope they know who they are. Reacquainting with my old pal Gunnar Johansson was a trip too. Some of you will be aware that we fought in the trenches together during the original garage wars back when the material being celebrated at the show was still fresh.
The evening drew to a close around 4am.
Next day, with a surprisingly clear head – I took a bus – over to the other side of town for a rattle around with Mr Ulf. Got a copy of the new release by Uncle Mort favourite, Oskar Schönning entitled “The Belgrade Tapes” at RuntRunt with “unsung lyrics” by one Annika Norlin. That name is probably familiar.
The Robster met us at Nostalgip Alatset and from there it was a quick pitstop at Ritorno, a cake and coffee shop that made no small impression. Very nice place indeed.
Then back to Ulf’s for the customary journey through the annals of popular music where Nick joined us. Some refreshments later, a little Thai food from downstairs hit the spot and we were bidding farewell to our host – who had donned his jammies by this time and was just about to put the cocoa on I think – and made for Bröderna Olsson to hang with the Stockholm massive. Chairman Rob was left in charge around 11pm after we’d had a couple of bloodshots for the road home. I figured it was best not to tie one on with having a bit of a journey looming for the next morning. So that was about that. The end of another stonking adventure in the company of individuals who make a difference.
The daunder home went without incident. To the point that the plane touched down in Edinburgh 25 minutes ahead of schedule. No amount of Dr Marten heel clicking would transport me back so the game was the proverbial bogey.
A real cool 72 hours in every sense of temperature control. No question ‘bout it!