Friday, August 27, 2010

Some happy news!

Expressen reports some very nice news today: one of my favourite Swedish couples, Lina Hedlund and Nassim Al Fakir, have moved in together.

This is very happy news and it's also good to see that Lina is on her way back after what has been a particularly difficult summer for her.

Best wishes to the happy couple!!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Aftonbladet Live-löpet 24.08.10: Robyn

Tonight was my final journey into the world of virtual concerts. I wonder if Aftonbladet will ever try this again, or if they have blazed a trail for others to follow?

Tonight was one of the most long-awaited of this year's concert series - Robyn.

At the moment, Robyn's musical career is on an absolute high, with her ambitious three-album Body Talk project. Three of tonight's songs - "Hang With Me", "Dancehall Queen" and "Dancing On My Own" are from the new albums, whilst the other song in the set was the now-legendary "With Every Heartbeat".

Robyn initially took to the dimly-lit stage dressed in what looked like a flying jacket, which she soon removed to reveal a grey top and some very interesting patterned trousers/leggings (!) and gave an excellent live performance as usual.

Unfortunately I don't know if it was my own internet connection, or if anyone else experienced the same thing, but the picture kept freezing and the sound was a little warped, especially during the first couple of numbers.

Apart from that, I really enjoyed the concert. As with previous concerts I had the same moans and groans about the overall visual experience and the virtual-effects, and a lot of changes need to be made to improve the format. However I guess it was a good opportunity for us to see some of Sweden's best artists - Mando Diao, The Ark, Salem Al Fakir and Robyn - in a unique live setting.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Aftonbladet Live-Löpet 23.08.10: Ola

He's just so....unstartable?

Yep, the picture above says it all. I logged in at 19:55 British time as usual, and waited. Waited. Waited. And waited....and....nothing.

What happened to Ola? Maybe we should have sent out an "SOS". I certainly didn't "Feelgood" having to wait for this no-show :(

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Aftonbladet Live-löpet 22.08.10: Salem Al Fakir

Tonight was the 4th in Aftonbladet’s Live-Löpet digital concert series, and the one that I was looking forward to most of all - Salem Al Fakir of course!!

24 hours after their Dalhalla triumph, Salem, Adam, Nisse and Jakob were back "on stage" although this time it was a virtual stage rather than a real one. Unfortunately I still have the same criticism of the format which I highlighted in my previous posts about the digital concerts by Mando Diao and The Ark.

In the immortal words of Salem himself: "It’s cloudy and dark, it’s hard to see". I was watching the show with my mum tonight (she’s also a big Salem fan) and she immediately said - "This is weird. It’s too dark and I can’t see anything". The digital-concert idea is an interesting one, although in my opinion it needs a lot of improvement to work. I just want to clarify that any criticism I have of the format is not a criticism of the bands/singers themselves.

As ever there was a list of songs for the audience to request:
4 O’Clock
All Day Love
Brooklyn Sun
Dream Girl
Good Song
It’s True
Keep On Walking
This Is Who I Am

(I was very intrigued to see All Day Love on the list: despite its famous ‘one night only’ performance from 18.06.2010, I strongly believe there is so much more life left in this song, and is a potential international hit in the making).

Salem and the band began with Astronaut. Although tonight’s show was billed as an acoustic set, Salem was sitting at his electronic keyboard. However I guess they gave the songs more of an "acoustic" feel. A very nice start to the concert.

Next up was I’m So Happy (which wasn’t on the request list!). There were all those ‘interactive’ options on the left hand side of the screen, but they really should have had a "la la la la...." singalong-with-I’m-So-Happy option :))) I particularly enjoyed Adam’s guitar accompaniment on this song.

The acoustic-version of Keep On Walking followed. I felt that Salem was a little strained vocally in parts of this song, although that’s understandable as he’s been singing all summer and I’m surprised he’s still got a voice left!

Finally, it was time for Brooklyn Sun. Usually Salem accompanies himself on guitar but he stayed at his keyboard and Adam provided the guitar-accompaniment. This is of course one of my favourite Salem songs and even after all this time it still touches my heart.

My only criticism was that the show was far too short. It was all over too quickly - an encore would have been welcome, but sadly it was not to be. :(

However I did enjoy the show - it was a very nice performance by Salem and the band, and I hope they enjoyed the experience too.

(This post has also been published at my fansite Planet Salem which is the place to be if you want to find out more about Salem and his music)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Guess who's the new lead singer in H.E.A.T.???

Expressen reports today that the winner of Swedish Idol 2009, Erik Grönwall, has joined the popular Swedish rock band H.E.A.T. as their new lead singer, following the departure of previous lead singer Kenny Leckremo back in June this year. (Picture above courtesy of
Fredrik Etoall,

I'm very happy about this. As you know I was a big fan of Erik last year in Idol and was delighted when he won. However it would be fair to say that his solo career hasn't really gone according to plan (like some other previous Idol winners), so I'm glad that he will finally get the chance to showcase his undoubted vocal talent in his natural environment - rock music.

Looking forward to some new music from them. I still love their Melodifestivalen entry "1000 Miles" - and I wonder if they'll ever compete in MF again?

Aftonbladet Live-löpet 20.08.10: The Ark

Last night I was "in the audience" for the latest of Aftonbladet's digital concerts, this time featuring one of my all-time favourite Swedish bands - The Ark.

To be honest, I wasn't really expecting much after my disappointment with the first gig (Mando Diao) however at least this time it wasn't just two blokes with a guitar, but the full band.

The set did last a little bit longer, although that was probably due to the fact that Ola talked a lot between each song. Which was ok, but "a little less conversation - a couple more songs please" would have been better. Anyway they played "Take A Shine To Me", "Superstar", "One of Us Is Gonna Die Young", "It Takes A Fool To Remain Sane" and "Calleth You, Cometh I" so I've no complaints about the song choices, and they did a pretty good job within the limitations of an acoustic setting.

The whole thing is still very weird though: it still looks as if the act on stage is down a dark tunnel a very confined space. I still have the same criticism as with Tuesday's show - it's far too dark! Please please please fix this, Aftonbladet!! Also last night the constant applause got a bit annoying after a while, drowning out what Ola was saying.

I know that I could have booked tickets with a better view but didn't, because I don't think my internet connection would support the HD thing, and I'd rather get to see and hear the show with a poorer view rather than have my connection break down and not see it at all.

This morning I found an interesting Swedish newspaper feature about the whole digital concert concept: some very good points made by Anders K Gustafsson at

Of course tomorrow night is the big one for me - Salem Al Fakir! I'll post my review on here and at Planet Salem tomorrow night.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

It's Turkey time! (Again!)

You probably didn't expect this one so soon, but we've decided to return to Turkey for our summer holiday in four weeks' time. After some intensive searching and consideration given to various alternatives, we finally settled on Turkey again, as we loved it so much last year. And after a couple of hiccups (notably the possibility of airport strikes, which thankfully have now been averted) we finally got booked up tonight!!

We are going to a different place this time - Bodrum - but I'm sure the famous Turkish hospitality will be overflowing from the beginning to the end of our holiday :) of course there will be a full report to follow!

Is this the future of how we watch live music?

Tonight was the first of the long-awaited series of Aftonbladet's "Live-Löpet" concerts - a new, revolutionary, interactive way to view live music on the internet.

A good idea, but did it work? Sorry, but on first viewing I'd have to

I thought tonight's opening set by Mando Diao would be a full band show, not an acoustic set by only two of the band: acoustic sets aren't really my thing, to be honest.

And then there was the challenge of "watching" the show - the setting was far too dark, even with my computer on its brightest screen setting - you could hardly see Björn and Gustaf singing and playing. For me, this was the biggest problem and it needs to be sorted out in time for all the other concerts.

Despite the 'interactive' options - including taking pictures (check out my very own concert photo above!) - the whole thing lacked atmosphere. To be honest, I'd have preferred it if an ordinary live concert had been broadcast, with the full band, and a live audience.

Finally, I was expecting the concert to last a little longer than 15-20 minutes!

If you were "there" - what did you think?

Monday, August 16, 2010

New Jamiroquai album on the way!!!!

Big news today!! It was confirmed at today that the band's 7th album, titled "Rock Dust Light Star" will be released on 1st November 2010. More info at's-new-album-is-called-'rock-dust-light-star' where you can also find a little taster of new song 'White Knuckle Ride'.

Jamiroquai is one of this country's most underrated acts - they seem to be more appreciated within Europe, where music fans seem to have better taste of course. It's been five years since the fantastic "Dynamite" was released, and Jay and the boys have been sooooo missed from the UK music scene, so I'm really glad to have them back at long last.

Rockbjörnen Live: and the nominees are....

Nominations closed yesterday for all the categories in Aftonbladet's annual 'people's music prize' which this year has been given a "live" twist.

The final nominees were revealed today....of course I'm very very happy about some of them ;)

Of course with any poll which involves public voting, you don't always get a deserved winner, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the Swedish public gets it right this time!

Salem Al Fakir
Oskar Linnros
Lars Winnerbäck
Eric Saade
Ola Svensson

My choice: An entertainer, a showman, and an outstanding live artist with the potential to be a worldwide superstar. In other words...Salem Al Fakir!

Melissa Horn
Amanda Jenssen
Anna Bergendahl

My choice: I can't really see past Robyn for this one, although Amanda is a strong challenger.

Mando Diao
Hoffmaestro & Chraa
The Ark
In Flames

My choice: Again, good category - I'd be happy with The Ark, Kent or Mando Diao.

Från Och Med Du – Oskar Linnros
Keep On Walking – Salem Al Fakir
Unstoppable – Ola
Nothing Without You – Mando Diao
Manboy – Eric Saade

My choice: No contest - "Keep On Walking", which actually is the best Swedish song of this year. However, as with the Swedish Grammys, this can be one of those categories where you should never underestimate an artist's fanbase, which can often result in an inferior winner.

Tokio Hotel - World Behind My Wall
Lady Gaga - Bad Romance
Justin Bieber - Baby
Lady Gaga - Telephone
Lady Gaga - Alejandro

My choice..."ra-ra-roma-ma.." however I fear the worst, thanks to the incomprehensible popularity of J***** B*****. But then I'm not a 10 year old. Even if I was a 10 year old, I'd still find his popularity incomprehensible...!

Oskar Linnros
Eric Saade
Anna Bergendahl
Justin Bieber
Andreas Grega

My choice: Oskar Linnros - he is totally deserving of this award. But once again, unfortunately I fear the worst, 'baby, baby, baby, oohhhh..' :(

Tokio Hotel
Mando Diao
Lady Gaga
Lars Winnerbäck

My choice: He's not in this category :( so in his absence I'd be happy with either Kent, Mando Diao, or Gaga.

Peace & Love
Sweden rock

My choice: Peace & Love. I seem to remember it had a pretty good line-up.

OK so those are my choices, I'll probably be wrong as usual with most (or all) of them! Good to see Oskar Linnros getting three nominations - that's a nice birthday present for him as he is 27 today (happy birthday Oskar!!) There's an interview with him in today's Aftonbladet:

Needless to say, Aftonbladet's Markus Larsson has his own views on the nominations:

Sunday, August 15, 2010

New Lanark.

Part two of an occasional series which I'm going to call "A tourist in my own country".

Yesterday was a rarity - a beautiful, warm, dry day. Faithful travelling companion and I headed off to the conservation village of New Lanark, which is now a very popular tourist destination and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This was my first visit to New Lanark (although faithful travelling companion had visited before).

New Lanark is best known as a revolutionary social experiment of its time. A number of cotton mills were built there, back in the 18th century, and the village was subsequently developed by Robert Owen, a pioneer of social reform who had houses built for the mill workers, developed childcare and education and improved working conditions. If you want to know more about Robert Owen and the history of New Lanark, here are some links worth checking out:

After having a look around, we headed up through the woodland trail - I particularly enjoyed the little riverside boardwalk, then we began an energetic climb up to Corra Linn, the first of the Falls of Clyde. Much more fun coming down :)

As we were only there for a couple of hours, we didn't have time to explore the visitors centre - we'll do that another time, as there's no doubt we'll be returning. New Lanark is a unique and rewarding day out destination, and a great place to get away from it all.

Above: one of the restored buildings.

Above: Wise words indeed: Robert Owen's quotations are as relevant today as when they were first written. We could do with more like him today....

Above: Looking down towards New Lanark, on the way to the Falls of Clyde.

Above: the wild woods.

Above: Corra Linn, one of the Falls of Clyde.

All in all, a fabulous day - beautiful weather, beautiful scenery...and I walked 4½ miles too!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A daily treat for Darin fans....

It won't be long till the release for Darin's new album "Lovekiller"....between now and then, Darin will be posting a video clip of a new track each day on his YouTube channel:

First clip out is "I'll Be Alright" - the last track on the album, and one of Darin's personal favourites on the album. Check it out at

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Aftonbladet's "digital concerts" on the way!

I already mentioned this last night on Planet Salem,
but for all of you who don't read that blog, I thought I'd mention that Aftonbladet is launching a revolutionary new internet live concert-concept with real audience interaction.

The event is held in conjunction with this year's Rockbjörnen Live, and the following 'digital concerts' are lined up...

17.08.2010 Mando Diao
18.08.2010 Eric Saade
20.08.2010 The Ark
22.08.2010 Salem Al Fakir
23.08.2010 Ola Svensson
24.08.2010 Robyn
25.08.2010 Anna Bergendahl

There will be 20,000 (free) tickets for each concert, and these will be available on 14th August at 12:00 Swedish time. Of course there is one particular concert I'm desperate to see, but failing that I'd settle for almost all of the others....! (I'll let you know if I'm lucky enough to get a ticket)

EDIT: I got my tickets on Saturday and I'm "going" to Mando Diao, The Ark, Salem, Ola and Robyn :))))))

Link to more info:

Oh well, fingers crossed anyway :)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A new Orup album on the way!

According to this Aftonbladet article/interview, one of Sweden's greatest ever popstars (IMHO) is releasing his new album later this year. It will be Orup's first solo album since 2005. Since that time of course he's been recording and touring with the legendary Lena Philipsson - 250 live shows, no less. They recorded an album together as a duo, which was OK but I really wanted to love it more than I did. A case of the parts being greater than the whole, I guess.

Anyway I'm eagerly awaiting this new solo album and no doubt I'll be reviewing it on here! I wonder if Lena's got any new music on the way?

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Autotune: please, please, PLEASE MAKE IT STOP!!

It doesn't take much to push me over the edge at the moment, and tonight, I am (at the very least) teetering on the brink.

Alex Gardner is one of the very very few British musical talents that I've got excited about this year: "I'm Not Mad" is one of the most underrated songs of 2010, so inevitably it followed that it wasn't a hit :( anyway the follow-up is called "Feeling Fine" and it is by all means a catchy tune, even if Popjustice delivered a very definite thumbs down here:

I don't object to the song, but it's one thing dishing out the autotune-treatment to the likes of Iyaz, Sean Kingston, Jason Derulo etc...i.e. to cover up fly-by-night, musically redundant chart fodder, but it's another thing doing it to the chorus of a song by a very good singer whose talent does not necessitate this.

I don't have anything against vocoders, but autotune is really p**sing me off. Please make it stop.

Oh and one more thing, the chorus of the new Jack McManus song "Heart Attack" also slightly suffers from autotune-disease, although on a more bearable level:

(By the way, I'm very happy about Jack's return to the music world, and I promise I will do another separate Jack post soon, preferably when I'm not feeling so grumpy!)

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Bonnie bonnie banks.

Ever felt like a tourist in your own country?

I might be a bit of an expert on European travel by now, but when it comes to my own country that's another thing entirely. So it's about time I checked out some new places...!

Yesterday, faithful travelling companion and myself "took the high road" and headed for Balloch, a village on the south banks of Loch Lomond.

Of course the main obstacle stopping you from discovering this country will always be our horrible, wet weather but if you wait for a dry day you'll probably wait forever. So, umbrellas at the ready, we arrived in a wet (but mild) Balloch, a nice little place with more than enough dining options but not much else really. (Although there is a shopping centre called Loch Lomond Shores, but that's for another visit).

The prime draw here is of course Loch Lomond itself, and we took the opportunity to take a one hour cruise which takes you as far as Inchmurrin (the largest island on the loch) and then back. It was all very lovely and scenic and serene, which was just what I needed after a turbulent week! We also took a little stroll through a woodland trail down to the edge of the loch, where we dipped our toes in the water.

The rain went off, the sun came out later on, but by that time we had to make our way back for our connections home. As you know, my definition of the great outdoors is usually the bit between the restaurant and the shopping mall, so this was a nice new experience for us. We really enjoyed our day out, and would like to do something similar again in the future!

Summer Rewind: Tour de France 2010

The 2010 Tour de France ended last Sunday, as usual on the Champs-Elysees in Paris, and as usual with an exciting sprint finish. The "Manx Missile" Mark Cavendish chalked up his fifth stage win this year, although that still wasn't enough for him to win the points classification. (This year's green jersey winner was Alessandro Petacchi). Former multiple winner and race legend Lance Armstrong meanwhile completed his final Tour and announced his (second) retirement after the race.

Above: Fifth time lucky for Cav. (photo courtesy of BBC Sport/Getty Images)

There were high hopes for the British riders this year, and a new British team (Team Sky) in the competition. Great things were expected from Bradley Wiggins, Team Sky's main man, however inevitable disappointment was to follow. Wiggins was philosophical about it all, and described it as a 'bad season'. Team Sky had another couple of promising young riders: Norway's Edvald Boasson Hagen, and the Welshman Geraint Thomas, and they both did well this year and showed great promise for the future.

Usually the early stages of the Tour are predictable and uneventful, all flat stages and sprint finishes. This year's Tour started in Holland, and then travelled down through Belgium, finally entering France. The organisers of 2010 clearly had, dare I say, a vicious streak?! It was cobbles, chaos and carnage in the opening days, with rough weather and rough roads. One major casualty of the cobblestones was Frank Schleck who had to retire through injury on Stage 3. The Schleck brothers, Frank and Andy, were serious contenders to prevent reigning champ Alberto Contador winning the race again: but it was left to Andy to soldier on.

Above: the Schleck brothers. (photo courtesy of BBC Sport/Getty Images)

By stage 15, Andy was in yellow, and all was going well. That was until the chain came off Andy's bike. Alberto Contador, sitting on Schleck's shoulder, then launched an attack and all hell broke loose. I know everyone has their own view on the situation, so here is mine: That was the point the Tour turned sour for me. Did Contador need to attack? Yes. Did he need to attack so fiercely? Definitely not. Andy Schleck deserved to be very, very angry. And all the YouTube apologies in the world didn't make it right.

Yes, the 2010 edition of the Tour de France was exciting, but Contador's inevitable eventual win left a bit of a bad taste for me. Fingers crossed that Andy Schleck's time will come!