Mando Diao @ Gröna Lund

Hey guys!

Last night a good, old, classic, favorite band of mine gave their best shot in a filled out Gröna Lund. Mando Diao gave an amazing show in Stockholm’s most beautiful summer venue, and I was there to shoot.

Feel free to take a look, and happy weekend!

Xxx,

Irene

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Ten Little Soldiers Screaming in my soul

Hey Friends!

Today feels like a Mando Diao day. What is your favorite Mando Diao song? For me it would be hard to just pick one, but there are a lot of times that I recall their first albums and some more blues songs like Mr. Moon for example. How about you? 🙂

Have a great weekend lovely music people, with lots of positive energy and smiles!

Xxx,

Irene

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A Mando Diao Livelihood

Hey dear music friends! 

Last Friday, a band that I happen to be very familiar with performed here in Stockholm, in Gröna Lund. You might also have heard of them, since I have been writing articles about their music ever since I started this blog. This band is called Mando Diao. 

Now allow me at this point to explain a couple of things related to me and Mando Diao, because I believe that the term “familiar with” underestimates the whole situation. 

When I was fifteen years old, meaning almost eleven years ago, I got in touch with Mando Diao’s music for the very first time. Needless to say that I endlessly admired their unique style and edge of sound. They seemed like no band I had heard before and their music followed me in everything I did as a teenager. School, work, obligations.

As the years got by and it was time for me to make up my mind about what I want to do in my life, it came to me completely natural and without the slightest shaft of doubt that I want to follow the music path in a country that I was completely unfamiliar with. I had never visited Sweden, didn’t know what it looked like and knew nobody here. I still remember a lot of my friends asking me how I could be so determined and not second-guessing my decision that I wanted to leave this place and move to Sweden. My answer to them was and always is with no fear “As long as there is music, I am going to be fine.” 

The truth was though that in real life, moving away is never an easy task. And just like in my home country, here as well people kept asking me especially the first couple of years, “How can you be so positive and be in love with this country, when you have no clue about it? When you were not born here, when your background is the exact opposite of this way of life in Scandinavia.” And my answer was the same once again. 

The truth was though that I never let the obstacles and the problems of an immigrant life stand in my way, but secretly put music always first as my fragile weapon throughout the years of my life here. It would be needless to say that the band that I admired the most and probably one of the very few reasons that I decided to move here was Mando Diao. I wanted to live, breathe and understand the way that their music is constructed, here. Their influences here, this way of life, this attitude, this point of view. Because no matter what I might have thought of felt back in the days, it cannot compare to when you actually live in the mother country where this music is created.

 When I lived in Greece, I tried to be as close to their music as I possibly could, as I was member in their greek fanclub and was able to see them once live there and for the very first time, in Thessaloniki in December 2009, on their Give me Fire tour. Along with that, I tried to keep up with all their news and their promotional ways of marketing their music through their website, such as the different challenges and competitions that you could be a part of and gain points, points that would reward you with golden and platinum citizen passports in the Mando Diao community. And I did it all. Challenges, promotion, communicating with several other fanbases, anything needed to be feeling close to their art, while on the other side of the world. 

In 2011, when I moved to Sweden, I didn’t lose any time and followed their music journey here. Now this was probably a nodal point in their carriers because they decided to take a step back in 2012, and try something new, with a group of artists, musicians, producers, graffiti artists and many more creative nature spirits called Caligola. I was there when Caligola performed in Stockholm, in each and every performance of theirs, in clubs, in record stores, in Gröna lund, simply to show my support for their music. 

The year that followed, Mando decided that they wanted to be Mando again and released a record that went multi times platinum, a cultural legacy for the Swedish nation, called Infruset. Infruset is a record made by the poems of the Swedish poet and writer Gustaf Fröding and the music of Mando Diao. Needless to mention again, that I attended this tour more than three times, in Skansen, in Stockholm’s culture festival and in their hometown in Borlänge Sweden. 

In 2014 and with the rest of Europe hanging over Mando Diao’s future record release internationally, (the last one before it was in 2009 with their album Give me Fire), Mando released a record for their wider audience called “Aelita.” Now Aelita record turned out to be extremely controversial for almost all of their international Fanbase. New songs, made in a way that no Mando Diao record was made before.  Songs filed up with the synthesizers, completely transformed to the superficial computer sound, almost impossible to understand or relate to. Their stage performance changed completely as well. The man (Gustaf Norén) that used to say he dresses in black simply because he wants the music to drag the attention not the clothes or the outside look in a band, now dresses up with extravaganza clothes, bathroom towels, tennis hats and a lot of times, just his underwear on stage. People calling them a big flop, fans that had supported them for so long not having faith in them anymore and getting completely confused both by their music and their looks.  Mando Diao family members attacking fans on Mando’s official fan page on Facebook saying “If you want the same sound over and over go listen to a band like The Hives.” 

I personally turned out to be too confused as well. As I had already started working with blogging and wanting to do more with Mando Diao than just attend their show from the audience’s point of view, I soon found out that Mando Diao performed at least here in Stockholm in some sort of a secrecy, like the fact for instance that you had to take part in competitions to win tickets, otherwise tickets were not available for general sale, or the fact that Mando performed for very few in radio stations or Volvo presentations, or having Dj set sessions in clubs and bars that nobody ever mentioned anything about. Now when I applied for photo access in November 2014 in their performance in Stockholm Annexet as a part of their Aelita tour, I was rejected. I guess it must be because my blog and work in Mando diao’s management team might not be as fancy as in Volvo or NRJ radio or SVT. Anyhow, I did not have the chance to see and shoot  them in their Aelita tour, only from Youtube videos and from what other people said about their performances. 

At this point, I did though notice something that got me more disappointed that any press rejection; Björn Dixgård – The second founding member of Borlänge’s most successful band; At this very point in the Aelita era, he seemed sad. He seemed to me that like he stood in the background and didn’t let his talent show with all this foolishness that was going around. He seemed like he had to tolerate all of this. As if he had to go through with it like he didn’t want to but didn’t have a choice either. Like something was going on that was more than just artistic arguments. 

The news didn’t take too long to be revealed and then somewhere in 2015 Gustaf Norén makes a huge statement that he leaves what he once created himself, the band Mando Diao. The news tore me apart. Made me completely unable to think about anything Mando related, when Mando is not Mando anymore without Gustaf. This is when I wrote an article called “Mando without Diao”, one that still gets a lot of traffic from several countries all around the world. 

From what I could understand, I believe that their paths split because the artistic arguments were too big to handle. Like one band member was living in the East, and one of them in the West. At that point I didn’t know which one lives where artistically, but I did have my suspicions. And these suspicions came true last Friday night. 

Mando Diao have not released a new record yet, but what they did do was reform. They did get a new lead guitar player that stands in the place of where Gustaf once was. With Björn Dixgård in the vocals and rhythm guitar, C.J. in the bass, Daniel Haglund on the keyboard and Patrik Heinkipieti on the drums. 

A couple of days ago, I did have the pleasure to see one of the new reformed band’s performances. I did apply for photo access but once again didn’t get any because hey! big news I am not the Aftonbladet nor the expressen newspaper and since I already mentioned it, obviously a livelihood of Mando Diao true and pure support means nothing to the Mando Diao management team. Last days’ rejection probably makes it four years in the row of me trying to create a decent and professional piece on Mando Diao’s music. I wasn’t informed about any photo/ press access of this show, not from any Gröna lund associates nor any Mando Diao workers either. 

Anyhow once again, at least I would be able to watch the show and have a clear opinion about the new Mando Diao. Around eight in the evening and with an audience filled up with all sorts of ages, from sixteen year olds to eighty year olds, Mando Diao were about to hit the stage. No extravaganza stage equipment this time except a silver curtain and the band’s name in silver glitter letters in the background. I was too curious to see what they are going to sound like. What they are going to look like. What songs they are going to say. Is this new kid good enough to fill Gustaf’s shoes or is he going to turn the band into another more new direction? And the rest of the members, do they still have their original sound or did they turn into new horizons as well? Questions over questions, trying to supplement my worry over a band that I can easily say I dedicated my heart and soul to. 

A couple of minutes after eight and with this Gröna Lund reference guy saying “Ladies and gentlemen they are back!” (was it really so..?) , Björn Dixgård jumps on stage and along with him the new guitar guy ( forgive me I don’t know his name nor could I find it) , and then familiar faces, C. J, Patrik and Daniel. 

“Yellow burning thing, it’s a dirty sin I know, I’m on the pavement of my own mind it’s silly…”

Yes. A song from a very old era to open their last performance for this summer. Björn Dixgård; A passionate enthusiast whose voice surrounds my very teenage existence. A true, rock n’ roll, deep, untamed voice, fearless and unique. A real professional that turned out to be the one who successfully saved the band from this last couple of years’ unending storm. A different kind of an alchemist. 

And then the new guy who in my opinion fits the band like a glove. Creative, full of spirit, putting his own touch into the songs’ solo guitar parts. I never though that I could say this and didnt really know what to expect from this performance, but I didn’t miss Gustaf for a second. It seemed like he was never there in the first place. This new kid seemed such a good fit, that at some certain parts he looked like he almost moved and acted like Gustaf Norén. And I am saying this with a best intentions. 

The band played good old Mando songs. “The band” , “Mr. Moon “ , “You got nothing on me”, “Never seen the light of day” , with an audience jumping up and down, but oh wait a second; there was something funny that I noticed; Not many people knew about the very old Mando songs. Maybe a lot of them got familiar with their music since their smash hit “Dance with somebody” or the older ones heard of them when they created the national legacy with Gustaf Fröding’s poems. Anyhow, the thing that screamed and spoke volumes last Friday was this; That Mando Diao are indeed back. They are here, and this is their sound. I heard Gustaf Norén once replying to people who had doubts about their Aelita era, saying “Mando Diao have no sound”. Well I got news for you dear Gustaf and try not to act surprised. Mando diao do have a sound. And it is the sound that I experienced a couple of days back in Gröna. Maybe you should just accept that. 

And last but not least, the show could not close with a more touching final. As there was a couple of songs left, after the encore, I didn’t notice it visually but on the sound. The drum sound turned out to be louder and more intense. As if it got doubled in a way. I turned my head into the other side of the scene and there it was, the ear doesn’t lie. Sam. It was Sam. Good old, kind Sam. And Patrik too. They both played drums on the last couple of songs. I have never seen a two-drummers performance live before. It was not only unique but also surreal in a way that maybe only I can understand. And not to forget, Mats was there too. Good old Mats that I saw for the first time in 2009. Just like not a day had passed by. What can I say more, except that this was a true example of not to give up on the things and the people that you love. Things don’t always turn out the way we want them to. Not work, not music, not life. But we shouldn’t give up. I try to say that to myself so many times during the day. I almost gave up on Mando during their Aelita era, and when Gustaf decided to leave. And I am sorry I did so. I only did it because I couldn’t understand any of it. But I did secretly have a hope within me that a day will come and Mando will be Mando again. One of the very few reasons I chose to make Sweden my home for now. 🙂 

And one last thing before I reveal a couple of Mando photos during the years; hey dear managers, associates, you that make the important money-wise decisions and rule a band’s life in the most despicable way. Take all of this livelihood article and shovel it straight up your ass. Maybe then you’ll get it. Because no matter what you do, and no matter how greedy you might be, at the end of the day you cannot kill this spirit. And you cannot kill good music. Good music gets noticed. Always has been and always will be. 

Now to close up this very personal article, I decided to share some of my Mando Diao personal belongings that I have kept safe for more than ten years, and tag them so that you can understand Mando Diao through my eyes all of this time. 

Have a great new week my friends with lots of music and positivity! 

Xxx, 

Irene 

Mando Diao in Greece, December 2009

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Mando Diao with Caligola at Bengans Record Store in Stockholm – March 2012

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With Caligola in Club Sommar – Summer 2012 (Photo taken by Sommar’s fanpage on Facebook)

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With Caligola in Gröna Lund – August 2012

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June 2013

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July 2013 in Skansen-Stockholm

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Stockholm Culture Festival August 2013

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In Borlänge August 2013

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Last Friday night in Gröna Lund- Stockholm

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Mando Without Diao

Hey my dear friends 🙂 I do not normally make posts with huge monologues, but this specific one is going to have a lot of writing because I have been feeling for quite some time now that I want to write something regarding a band that used to be my favorite of all times. I didn’t do it all this time because I preferred to read people’s comments on their social media just to see if there is anyone else on the planet who feels the same way that I do. And it turns out there is actually a lot of people who understood that there is something going on for some time now, but didn’t really figure out what, until a couple of days ago, when me myself, I turned on the Swedish msn and found a breaking news article that Gustaf Norén and Mando Diao are going separate ways from now on. I actually did see that coming. It wasn’t anything too weird to me to be honest.

If you haven’t checked out any of my posts within these three years that I have my blog, let me explain to you why Mando Diao used to be my favorite band of all times. I come from Greece and had been living there for 21 years. I have always had the desire and passion in me to work with music management as music has always been the one thing that I breathe for. When I was 15, I found out on German MTV about a band from Sweden called Mando Diao. Their song “God knows” played all day long again and again and again. To me, there was something special about their sound. Something sophisticated and classic yet something mysterious and edgy. Except from their music, I found interesting the way they dressed and presented themselves in the different interviews on radio stations, on MTV, on the media. Something elegant , I would say, a sense of fashion that you couldn’t find where I come from. That, in combination with their raw guitar sound, was something that  caught instantly my attention and so I decided to follow their journey in music and in life. I had all of their work in physical records and also followed their latest news, challenges and competitions on their website when I was a teenager.

In December 2009, on the 12th to be exact, I was there in Thessaloniki, for their second show at that time in Greece (their first one was in Athens the day before). That night was a night that I would never forget, because that was the night that I fell in love with music, the real deal. And that was the night that I decided that I will move one day to Scandinavia no matter what. Except though from my personal decisions that night, it was actually the first time that I saw Mando Diao live. And let me just put it that way, that up until that day, you can say that I was dead and I came back to life. I will never forget the chills that I got when I heard live for the first time “Never seen the light of day” , or “Gold” or “All my senses” . I felt that this band knows exactly how to make music, how to stand on a scene and support their art and just pick up basic instruments and sing songs that make sense of your whole world. These dudes from Sweden dressed in black, not saying too much and yet manage to captivate you with their melodic guitar playing and their deep, strong voices. That was the night that I cried my heart out and promised to myself that no matter where life takes me, I will move to Scandinavia and I will see them again.

Maybe you have noticed it, or maybe not, I moved to Sweden in summer 2011. Almost two years after that live show. As a lot of people seem to find the fact “moving away from your country” as a hard or unpleasant thing, I consider myself super lucky, because now that I am here, except from my personal life, my studies or my work, I now understand clearly the influences that Mando Diao had and they made this music the way they did, so that I could love it when I lived in Greece. I now understand why there was this heavy guitar sound and the melodic voices in their songs, this certain touch of maybe melancholy in some of their tunes, or this certain sense of fashion that you could barely see in Greece. Maybe I was actually a bit late, or for some maybe not, but after I moved here, Mando Diao as you may know , changed the style that they had before and decided to do something a little bit more “folk” and “Swedish”. They released their album “Infruset”, which barely made any sense to the rest of their international fans, but the Swedish. I was actually lucky for being here when they did that, and for speaking swedish, so that I could understand their decision to do so, and also recognize the fact that it needs big balls to be able to do such a thing with such elegance and success. And of course to recognize the fact that this album of theirs had and will have a huge impact in the Swedish culture.

But what about their “old” style? How about the facts that the rest of the world’s Mando fans were waiting for a new international release? I am using a lot of “…” because I have seen this stuff already written down in their social media, questions that were never answered, and fans that just walked away from them calling them ” big flop” . Mando Diao released a new record after ” Infruset” , an international one called ” Aelita” . Do not ask what it means, do not ask about the art cover, do not ask about their totally new style. I did ask though, along with their endless facebook fans. I did wonder what is all of this new Japan- chinese – inspired-by style. I did wonder why their music was nothing like before. And by before I don’t mean to make an album like the ones they had before, I mean to give a hint that this is indeed a Mando Diao sound. A sound that you could close your eyes and turn on the volume on the radio and feel the rush into you because this is your favorite band, and you recognized it from the very first second that the song started playing.

I haven’t seen all these questions being answered by anyone, not them, not fans, not any support group, nor their management team. I have seen instead, a bunch of guys, being up on a scene dressed in their underwear, literally their boxers, in bathroom towels, and football socks. Apart from that I never really understood the fact that their gigs for the last couple of years had a touch of “secrecy” . They had these concepts, that you have to take part in this competition that is too exclusive, only for 15 people, or the fact that they would perform for the Volvo gala, or the football gala, or for a radio station and only 10 people would be able to see them…. Was this a management trick? A marketing trick? Because to be honest, I know nothing about managing a band, but I have been reading all my life marketing and management books, and the last three years  music business books, and one thing that I can tell for sure is that you should give your people easy access to your music. That’s the real thing. And let’s say that I am totally wrong about my sayings, and if that’s so, then why their latest videos have so many less views on youtube comparing with the old ones? Is it true what they say that a manager can either bring out the best in an artist or ruin totally their carrier for a lifetime?

I wish I could get an answer to all of this. And I also wish that I could walk one day in one of these huge and endless parks here in Stockholm and see Gustaf Norén playing his guitar like it is 2004 again and just fall in love with music all over again. Even though I am 24 years old and I have so many other things to take care of and worry about in my life, I cannot help myself but feel sad about this turn of things. I know that people change, I know that bands come and go and I know that music has to be adjusted with the imperatives of time. But I also know that people, management teams and artists should not forget the reason why they make music. Should not forget that without people’s support they are literally nothing and without love and interaction with their supporters they are never even gonna get far in life. “Gustaf is really creative as an artist and it would be really exciting to see where his art will get him” is not a press message for a band who has 350, 000 followers nor a band who has sold so many hits and records all across the world. Not even a personal message from him, saying even the tiniest thing to the people who have supported him for so many years now.

I have followed Mando Diao here in Sweden whether it was with Caligola, or their Infruset tour. I haven’t seen them live on their Aelita Tour though. To be honest, I would not know how much my heart would take with the thought that once upon a time this band changed my life and now they are dressed in silver boxers and perform when you can almost see their nuts in your face up on the scene. I don’t know if I would want to cry for the 2015 music in general or break down in laughters. I just don’t know what to believe. No matter what it is, I know that at the end of the day we are not the ones who will decide what Gustaf Norén or Björn Dixgård are going to do with their music. I hope they are happy whatever they choose to do in their music carrier and hope they won’t forget the reason why they make music.

I keep these pictures in my room as a reminder that I am in Scandinavia, I am alive and happy and once upon a time , that band sparkled a flame in me to push myself and believe in the power of music and life. 🙂 I hope you guys enjoyed reading this and please feel free to comment anything you want about them, because I would be really interested in reading and replying to anything you have to say!

Have a great weekend friends with lots of music! 😀 ❤

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That Moment Came Finally True

That moment finally came true last night. After living for 2 years in this country, I was finally able to see Mando Diao , my favorite band, the band that has inspired me like no one else , live.

It was a night full of really strong emotions. I could not believe that in this empty scene full of instruments, Gustaf Noren and Björn Dixgård were actually going to perform live along with the whole Mando Diao crew. As soon as I saw them coming out, I knew that it was not in my head any more. The flashbacks kept running through my brain like these dejavu moments that you can’t actually realize if they are true or not. I kept thinking  about  the moment when I saw them live for the first time, that night in Greece, and how much my life changed since then. How much I grew up as a person and how much they actually contributed to that. Also how much they have changed since that night. How deep their music has become and how wide range of different ages you could actually see among the people standing next to me. They all were there for the same reason.

A while before the show started , a little blonde boy comes standing next to me and watches the stage with so much passion in his eyes. I knew we felt the same way about what we were going to see. So I ask him how much he likes them. His eyes explained it all. And the fact that he knew every single lyric of their latest album. This feeling was beyond anything that I felt for such a long time. The  whole crowd was so silent and watched with so much support and love.

It was so hard to keep my tears while I listened to their voices like that again. These faces, these feelings that sometimes you think they are not actually there, because reality can drown you so much in the every day life , and then here comes this moment to remind me that I actually achieved so much within the last two years. My love for music and for them brought me where I am today. It made me have faith again and even explore my artistic nature and create this blog in the first place, as a tiny way to just say a really huge and meaningful “thank you”. A huge part of who I am today, what I want to do and who I want to be through my blog and my work , is based on you.

I actually think that this piece must be the most honest one that I have written here.  I really love you from the bottom of my heart ( and my whole family too) and hope one day to get to work with you , as well. You are and always have been such hard workers and perfectionists and there is nothing in this country that has inspired me more than that. All love.

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Mando Diao Sold Triple Platinum!

A couple of days ago, I read on Mando Diao’s fan page on facebook that their latest album “Infruset” sold triple platinum! Yes triple platinum! Mando have changed my life, they are and always going to be special in my eyes and I honestly believe that they deserve the best, since they are so hard workers!

I love you guys!! ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤

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Mando Diao always in my heart

I used to listen to alternative music more when I was younger, but even if so, Mando Diao are always in my heart. They recently released their first album in Swedish called “Infruset”  and today they were guests in a morning TV show on the swedish television. I watched it a while ago and I have to say I was a bit surprised with myself in the first place, because I understood exactly what they said! 🙂  (In swedish! Because swedish is actually my 4th language and I am still learning! )  I also felt unbelievably happy that now I can see them every time I want to, something that I couldn’t do before. (Because I used to live in Greece and now in Stockholm.)

They got a lot of good critics for their new album, as it was said on the interview, and they will start touring in February 2013.

You can find more info about Mando Diao here : mando-diao-in-town

 

 

Here you can watch today’s interview (in swedish) at the swedish television . 🙂

(I have no idea if it’s available in other countries as well, I hope so! )

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