TNT (Live)

at Studentersamfundet, Trondheim, Norway, June 20, 2003

Now most of you out there might believe that the Metal Express staff up here in Vikingville see TNT from time to time. After all, it’s a Norwegian band. Hell no, let me take you to TNT’s first show in Trondheim since May 1987.

Now Trondheim is Norway’s 3rd biggest city, I believe, so that will give you an idea about how often The Norwegian Thunder comes out at night. Come to think of it, the band has only done 3 full length shows in Norway since 1987 – and one of them was just a secret warm up in a hotel’s dining room back in 1992…

Jay Jay French from Twisted Sister is right when he points out that the winner of “Idol” makes it in 15 minutes and might last just that long. TNT made it in less time back in what used to be their hometown in Norway, much due to the fact that original singer Dag Ingebrigtsen aka DD Dynamite already was a huge star when forming the band in 1982. 16 years later, TNT still moves a sold out crowd in Trondheim. THAT is dedication, faith and proof of quality rock ’n roll, people! Opening with the star himself (excuse me Tony, but in Norway Ronni IS the star of TNT), guitar explosion Le Tekrø takes a few laps around the stage floor while playing the opening chord of “Give Me A Sign”. Diesel Dahl shows his increased biceps and takes off his motorcycle uniform, Tony joins in and starts singing the verse, enter Morty Black on bass, then boom – the show begins with an explosion. “Give Me A Sign” is perhaps not the opener that people want to see, but it works in the dim light and the craziness that Ronni stirs up.

“As Far As The Eye Can See” is next, and now the crowd goes nuts. Don’t even ask me how the sound was or the overall expression of the light show… I was up front having a blast myself. “Downhill Racer” from the much underrated “Realized Fantasies”, hell yes, the crowd know that one too, before the band goes into more new stuff. Now I doubt how smart it is to present the new songs that early – there’s no secret that the crowd is out for a trip down Memory Lane – but I happen to find the new songs very, very addictive, so personally I don’t mind. They work out just fine live. Dahl works hard through “Satellite”, but he pretty much nails it all, even the songs he never recorded (most of them, ha ha). Diesel digs the technical stuff in a Harley-Davidson engine, but when sitting behind his kit he’s a square A4 rock ’n roll drummer – simply the guy TNT needs. He has his limitations, but I wouldn’t want anyone else back there, and together with Morty, he is an important part of the TNT backbone.

Tony Harnell’s voice hasn’t aged since he first stepped on Norwegian soil and declared “Du har fine pupper!”. Ok, he lets the crowd handle a good part of the singing, but with a crowd like Trondheim it just makes sense. Poor Tony suffered from the support act’s smoke machine the next day when playing for a sold out Rockefeller in Oslo, but that’s another story (and a good reason for reviewing the Trondheim gig instead). Harnell is unique, and that word describes guitar maestro Tekrø best as well. He is one of my favorite guitar players of all times, his sound and technique is something no-one has managed to copy yet, and yeah – people have tried. But I do have a few issues with Ronni this time around. First of all, it wouldn’t hurt to sit down and listen to what was recorded back in the days of “Knights Of The New Thunder”. When playing outside Norway, for instance at the Bang Your Head festival a few days from now, lots of rabid Tekrø fans will show up and expect to hear exactly the same magic he cut when he was 20. The “Break The Ice” solo has just a few seconds of its original take, the “Downhill Racer” solo is altered, and as Tony didn’t sing the line that goes into the “Intuition” solo at this show, Ronni misses out on the first part. In my perspective, Tekrø peaked on “Intuition” (the 1989 album), after which he never focused much on the melody when creating solos. I am sure he still can do it, it’s just necessary to dig out the old albums and give them a spin, Ronni!

Oh, back to the show: I think it is “Caught Between The Tigers” (a riff Ronni doesn’t play in its original funky form, but simply speeds up too much) that leads into what always is a highlight, Ronni’s own extended guitar solo showcase. This year there are no magic tricks and talking guitars, simply Tekrø and the band backing him up. Ronni is clever at his own thing, and that thing you just have to witness to believe. Fuck AK-47, his right hand technique thunders a lot faster than the machine gun. Only Tekrø can play like this, first of all because his style is matchless, but also because his guitars are built in a special way. “Forever Shine On” almost makes up for the absence of “Desperate Night”, before “Seven Seas” takes the crowd by storm. No wait; it is the other way around. The crowd takes TNT by storm, and I realize that this song is the hard rock national anthem in Norway. The crowd sings so loud I blame them – not the band – for the ringing in my ears the next day. What a madhouse TNT and the Trondheim crowd raise! “Intuition” is another winner, while “Break The Ice” ends the main set.

The encores are quite obvious if you have followed the band over the years; “10 000 Lovers (In One)” and Everyone’s A Star, which indeed is the case this night. The set is what an old fan would call predictable. There are no surprises really, just what you expect the band to play. On the other hand, that’s maybe what others would like to hear. With such an impressive catalogue as TNT has, it’s hard to please them all… But may I ask for a few surprises coming up next time? You see, TNT have their true followers (nomads), so it wouldn’t be totally wrong to walk that extra mile and rehearse more old goodies.

Photo by Hakon Grav of Scream Magazine


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