Tales from a Metalhead: Chapter 3: “Hello Oslo!”

Tales from a Metalhead logo

This chapter is part of a book called Tales from a Metalhead written by Metal Express Radio’s President Stig G. Nordahl. The chapters will be posted one at the time and you can find them all here.

It was cheaper to buy scarfs than t-shirts at the shows…

Despite living in the Norwegian capital, for the most part I had to leave Oslo to attend the biggest Metal shows in the 80s. The concerts took place in two different arenas on opposite sides of Oslo. The arenas were mainly used for sports and were not meant to host Metal shows. Acoustically they were disastrous depending on where in the venue you were standing. The arena hosting the biggest shows was Drammenshallen, located in Drammen, about 25 miles outside Oslo. The funny thing is that a lot of band bands usually said “Hello Oslo!” even though they were in a different city.

Of course, at first nothing went smoothly when these arenas were used for Hard Rock and Heavy Metal shows and some parties had to learn valuable lessons. For instance, the organizers in Drammenshallen had placed folding chairs on the floor. They actually believed 6,000 Metalheads would be sitting down, enjoying the show and politely applauding after each song. Needless to say, that didn’t happen. People ended up standing on top of the chairs. Some even put chairs on top of other chairs to get a better view. Everything culminated at one show where most of the chairs were smashed. After that there were no more chairs at shows in Drammenshallen.

From the 2nd ZZ TOP show

Some train rides back from the shows were unforgettable. It took a few years before the Norwegian railway company understood that they had to provide more trains when thousands of Metalheads wanted to go home to Oslo after a show. It was especially unpleasant to come from a sweaty show during the cold Norwegian winter just to wait in the cold for what seemed like hours to get a spot on the train. When you finally got inside it was totally packed and steamy. Back then it was disgusting, but now these are fond memories.

I believe KISS was the first Hard Rock band to play Drammenshallen, with Iron Maiden as support. I mentioned in a previous chapter that it bugs me a bit that I got into Hard Rock a couple of years “too late”. Part of the reason for this is that I missed some classic shows in the early 80s. I was too young to go on my own and I didn’t have an older brother or parents that could (or would) take me to these shows. Money for tickets was of course an issue as well. It wasn’t until the late 80s that I got into shows for free as a journalist.

I was actually attending a show in Drammenshallen in 1980 with my parents. It wasn’t a Hard Rock show, and not my favorite artist either, it was the reggae legend Bob Marley. I think it’s pretty cool to have had the opportunity to see the legend himself before he died a few months later. I also saw Eric Clapton at the same place the following year. Excellent show! Check out his live album “Just One Night” to see what I mean.

My very first Hard Rock show was in 1983, and my live baptism was with none other than the legendary ZZ Top. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my uncle for taking me! One can of course discuss what label to slap on their music, but they have a huge following among Hard Rockers. This was on their Eliminator tour. Yes, the album with “Sharp Dressed Man” on it. Quiet Riot opened for them in the US, but unfortunately they didn’t make it to

From the Animalize tour

Europe. The German Heavy Metal band Bonfire was the support act on the European leg of the tour. The following year Bonfire released the album Fireworks which I became a huge fan of.

I was probably not that hard to please since I hadn’t been to a big Rock show before, but I remember this as an outstanding show. The stage production was simple compared to what ZZ Top had when they returned 3 years later. They had a big back catalog so the set list was really good! When they returned on the Afterburner tour they brought the biggest and coolest stage show I had ever seen. To this day they have always put a lot of effort into their show.

Bruce Kulick during a MER interview post Kiss

The first time I went to a show alone (well, with friends and without “adult supervision” that is) was to see KISS in 1984. They had just released the Animalize album. As I mentioned before, I had never been much of a KISS fan, but I actually bought that album when it was released. It’s not exactly a milestone in their career, but I was really into it and looked forward to the show. This was at the time when the band played without masks and had a stripped down stage production. Bruce Kulick had just joined the band. Bon Jovi was supporting them on this tour, but for some reason they didn’t play this date. Bummer! I thought the show was great. Looking at the footage from that show now, the band arguably looks ridiculous, but hey, this was the 80s! DIO played Drammenshallen with Queensrÿche just a couple of weeks before KISS and sadly I couldn’t afford to go to both shows. In retrospect I know I should have picked the latter but back then I was still figuring out which bands I liked. Some trial and error must be allowed.

Ad for the 2nd TNT show in Oslo

Another concert I attended in 1984 was in the city center of Oslo. For some reason the Norwegian Heavy Metal band TNT played in a building owned by The Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions. I can’t guarantee that’s the only Metal show that ever took place there but Hard Rock and Heavy Metal shows were hard to come by in Oslo. Support acts were Norwegian Hard Rockers like the Stage Dolls. I remember getting their debut album Soldier’s Gun the same day as I bought Accept’s album Metal Heart. Soldier’s Gun was a solid debut, albeit being more traditional Rock than Hard Rock. This was the first of many TNT shows I attended. American vocalist Tony Harnell (who was called Tony Hansen at the time because that sounded more Norwegian…) had just joined the band and they supported their masterpiece Knights of the New Thunder. It was a stellar show. The stage production was of course smaller than any of the shows in Drammenshallen but they had brought along a moving drum riser that went up and down inside of a castle. Guitarist Ronni Le Tekrø told me years later that drummer Diesel Dahl almost passed out during the drum solo because the drum kit was elevated very close to the spotlights and the heat was unbearable. I didn’t know back then how close I was to being a witness to a potential “Spinal Tap moment”.

Bon Jovi didn’t come with Kiss, but I caught them four years later with Lita Ford. I thought the show was rather boring actually.

1985 was a quiet year for Metal shows in Norway. Most bands thought it was too expensive to take the trip up to the cold north. Luckily, that changed from 1986…

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  • Stig G. Nordahl

    Stig is the founder and the president of Metal Express Radio, based out of Oslo, Norway. He has been around doing Metal radio since the mid-eighties. In fact, running Metal Express Radio takes almost all of his time. Is it worth it...? "Most times, yes," Stig says. "My philosophy is to try to give all Metal releases a fair chance to get promoted in one way or another. As you can imagine, it can be an arduous task to listen through about 20 albums every week! Still, I know we have the best METAL dedicated radio on this planet, and that is a reward in and of itself. I hope one day the whole Metal community can and will make listening to Metal Express Radio part of their daily rituals! Yeah, right..."

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