For two days (18-19 August), Varna Mega Rock attracted thousands and thousands of people with an unbeatable line-up of Kamelot, Glenn Hughes, Apocalyptica, and the big headliners, Nightwish. The festival is a very special one, so close to the beach, which was enjoyed by fans and bands alike. The weather was good, with a nice breeze blowing.
The first night was very exciting, starting with local acts Krossfire (who brought Romanian singer Aura on stage for a special song) and Kikimora. Then it was time for Kamelot, who absolutely killed it. They didn’t have to go so hard, and yet they did that!! They made sure the public was not standing still for a single moment. There were times I thought they were over-doing it with the Hey! Hey!, but they gave it their all and got the same from the public. Their setlist was as inspired as always, mixing the old classics with songs off their new album. Very special mention for “Here’s to the fall”, a very emotional ballad where the public joins in with their cell phone lights.
Many people were left wondering how Kamelot was not headlining the day. But they soon got the answer when Glenn Hughes got on stage. Best known for his bass and vocal work with Deep Purple, he is a legend of music and it felt like an honor to be able to see him. In a very purple hippie outfit, he impressed us all with his voice and moves, with energy, with dedication. Unlike Kamelot, he did not have to try to rile up the crowd. You just knew he came to do his thing and his many years in the music were showing, having the public eat out of his hand. He was humble and friendly in a way that made you forget just how big he was. He kept saying that it wasn’t the public who came to see him, but him who came to see the public. Of course, Smoke on The Water was the highlight of the performance.
All in all, a very strong day, great music, impeccable organisation. The latter was only true, however, for the first day. On the second day the gates were supposed to open at 4:30 and at almost 6, the stage wasn’t set up yet. The Nightwish screens and pyro were still being set up. I was allowed in the venue and got to see what was happening, but unfortunately, the hundreds and hundreds of people waiting had no idea why they were left outside for two further hours. Delays are bound to happen in the music business (not that I understand how the truck didn’t get there a good two days after their previous concert, which was 4 hours away). However, the way organizers deal with it is problem. I feel like they could have done a better job communicating with the people, both online and offline. Moreover, it would have been nice to distribute some water to the people waiting for hours outside the gates, ready to run and wait some more hours in the front of the stage.
Because of this huge delay, the first 2 bands had to be cancelled. I felt sorry for them, because they were there, dressed, prepared, ready to hit the stage, and they couldn’t. They had made plans and relied on the idea that they would share the stage with Apocalyptica and the mighty Nightwish.
However, the day started with Apocalyptica, who blew my mind. I have no idea how I hadn’t seen them before. Absolutely incredible and slightly insane show of energy for cello players. This time they were playing Metallica by Four Cellos, a fully instrumental show, but one where the public came in to fill the lyrics of the most famous Metallica songs. Huge show by them, definitely worth seeing again.
Finally, the Nightwish intro! We are doing this! What a show that was! Celebrating 20 years of activity, Nightwish are coming with Decades, a compilation album showcasing their most essential songs. While Greatest Show on Earth or Ghost Love Score were sure to be in the setlist, I loved hearing Dead Boy’s Poem, Come Cover Me, Elvenpath. Their show was a masterpiece of vocal and instrumental prowess, energy, joy, great music, and, of course, FIRE! I appreciated that the stage was high and far enough for the first row not to feel extra scared of being burned alive, even though giant flames were going on in front of them, giving off tremendous heat.
Other highlights of the show were I Want My Tears Back – a song where the public is always invited to dance and jump – or Slaying the Dreamer, which is just pure insanity. Song after song, we were show why they are the greatest. Compared to the previous Nightwish concert, I felt the Varna crowd a bit … quiet, especially when the band “left the stage” before the encore and they were mostly followed by silence. But with Ghost Love Score as an encore, the public revived to scream and dance and marvel at how amazing Floor’s vocals are.
All in all, I am very happy with the fest, but it is also so because I did not wait for hours in the sun. They had a decent selection of food and drinks and the queues were not bad. The line-up was absolutely incredible, so I am sure that all fans will only remember the great feelings, that they got to see Kamelot, Glenn Hughes, Apocalyptica and NIGHTWISH!
Let me know when the next edition of Varna Mega Rock is, because I am coming!