My Manowar story
… To a battle I ride…
Did I know back in 1994, that song “Crown and the Ring” which I heard by accident on the audiotape at my friend’s home would turn my life upside down? At the age of 14 you actually never think about what you are going to do in the future, and it’s impossible to predict that one song can make such an impact …. But exactly from this moment my journey into the world of heavy metal began, but not only music but also the philosophy that stood behind this music was important. The philosophy of the warrior‘s life, where you always have to move forward and never retreat, never surrender no matter how hard it will be for you. In Russian culture we have a great novel which main idea “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield” almost repeats ideas of Manowar’s lyrics and that’s why this band has totally filled me with power, that helps me in my hard moments.
Audiotapes, rumors and limited information – that’s what we had back here in Russia those days. Only “Kings of metal” audiotape that was always in my tape player, the video “Return of the Warlord” accidently seen on TV – that was my Manowar world… And then came the Internet and the information about our favorite music band that kept coming every day was a great treasure for us. The brightest moment was when I created the chat channel on the IRC DALnet chat network in 1997 about Manowar, where fans from all over the world had a chance to talk about Manowar topics and what was more important to had a chance to become friends. With some of these people I still keep in touch and we travel together around the world to visit almost every Manowar show. That’s where I met Michael Liebenow, who at that moment was helping Manowar with their first Internet steps and sites, I met Theo and Marjo Verdooren whom you all know by the World Wide Web Warriors, of course I can’t forget Allmighty Dawnowar – a famous Manowar fan from the USA, and Manoel Arruda, who is still with Manowar today. This was wonderful time, because that was the world of Manowar where we were able to share information, to share emotions and make new friends all around the globe.
…You wait in the rain, you walk through the snow…
In such tight everyday chatting we met 1999 year, which became a year of my First live show of Manowar. I met great guys from Sweden and when I had a chance to visit Sweden Rock Festival ’99 at Solvesborg I was heartly welcomed by a pack of fifteen Swedish manowarriors who met me at Stockholm airport. This was a real interpretation of the greatest hymn “Army of the Immortals”. Three days I had to “sleep” almost on the ground in totally broken tent under heavy rain. And only Russian Flag with Manowar logo on it told everybody that that was a crazy Russian warrior that came to see Manowar here on Swedish ground. But I lost my very first battle for the front row. That was one of a few shows which I had to see from the back. When mighty intro came in I was at the third or fourth row and there was hell. Crazy Scandinavian warriors were so crazy and strong that I had to pull myself out and it was the right decision. I almost passed out and had to work pretty hard to make my lungs work back, otherwise that could be my last show of Manowar ever. But the show…ooooh that show was incredible! Standing in the mud under the rain and listening to the “Gates of Valhalla” – I was absorbing almost every word that was sung, every guitar, bass or drum note. That was unbelievable. After the show I came back to the stage where was so silent already, like after a heavy battle. But exactly in this silence I met Eric Adams for the first time, who came back to the barrier specially for me, cause he knew me from my chat channel (I hope I can say now that he was there sometimes and chatted with fans undercover). We talked only a minute or so, but I was lucky to thank him for all the songs which were so meaningful that has helped a lot. It was the first greatest show of Manowar for me.
…I awaken the creator, in those who dare…
When I came back to Moscow I had a strong feeling that I can’t relax cause one thing was rotating in my mind and bothering me. Eric on every show during his speech noted all the countries they played and he always included Russia into this list. But they had never played in Russia before. The Dream to see them alive in my country forced me to find information about how all this things works – how anyone could invite a band to play a show in Russia. The Internet was very helpful and I found a small but very professional company “T.C.I.”. So me and some of my friends actually spammed its email with begging to bring Manowar to Russia. But we had to wait. At the End of 1999 this thunder struck and we got news that Manowar was going to a Scandinavian tour “Monsters of the Millenium” and that was a sign. We brought back our contacts with the employees from T.C.I. and after providing them with this information about upcoming tour we got the feeling that things began to settle. A few weeks later we were the happiest fans in the world, cause we got the information that after some negotiations Manowar and T.C.I. made an agreement to play three shows in Russia – one in Saint-Petersburg and two in Moscow. I did my best to be helpful for everyone – I provided the promoters with as much information about the band and fans as I could. My friends and I tried to help with everything they asked us to help with. One of the story is so crazy, that I still can’t understand how I was able to do, what promoters asked me to do for the show. It was the 5th of November 1999, actually it was my birthday and in a few days I had to leave for Stockholm to see Manowar on seven shows of the tour, and exactly at this day promoters asked me to help them. They asked me to take a huge amount of freshly printed posters and drive them to the train station to load a mail car of the train heading to Saint-Petersburg, where they would be used for an advertisement company of the show. Can you imagine how surprised I was when I was already walking beside a heavy loaded cart and suddenly understood that the mail car had been already closed and had loaded two days ago and nothing could be done at that moment. But I was born in the fire of Manowar songs philosophy, I had no chances to retreat, to stop and to surrender. I was standing there and thinking how to send over five hundred kilos of posters to Saint-Petersburg and I still can’t understand which words I used to persuade a train conductor to take these posters with him almost for nothing. The craziness of the situation was so high, cause I paid the conductor less than 10 bucks for this and three bucks I gave to a local policeman at a dirty basement who didn’t liked my activities around train car. But we fucking did it and especially because I was raised on this great band philosophy.
…is metal in the air tonight, can you hear it call…
And then the magic began. My first meeting with Joey De Maio in Copenhagen and our quite long chat at Malmoe, where I talked and talked about Russian fans about which songs they would love to hear and what Manowar should know about Russia. When Eric Adams asked me about how good ticket sales were in Moscow, or when promoters asked me to ask the band about making promo video for upcoming shows I was feeling myself as part of historical moments of this tour. Day by day, show by show the band was getting closer and closer to their first-ever show in Russia. Every day I stood in the hall watching them creating magic again and again and then the day of Saint Petersburg show came. I had all access badge so my friends and I drove straight from the train station to the venue where the concert would take place to help with building the stage all together. Believe me, there is nothing better for a fan than helping band crew members to build the foundation of the very first Manowar show in Russia. It was a real honour to help such professional masters. Lots of translations, lots of different things, lots of work and few hours later the stage was ready…. Silence and tension filled the air… and only screams of the fans behind closed doors told us that there were only a few moments left. And the show began. To stay there and listen to Eric saying country names again and right before the very moment he looked at me and with a huge smile and scream ‘Russia’ he nailed the truth about Manowar playing in Russia. You can’t compare this moment with anything else.
And then was Moscow, the press conference, the meeting with fans, two more shows. I still remember Jeff Hair’s eyes and another crew members when they saw the angle of the stair by which they had to bring their equipment inside the building ( I’m pretty sure it was and still is the hardest venue ever for Manowar to unload their equipment). I remember how Joey stopped the show, cause they had to rescue a fan from a second or a third row who fell unconscious during ‘Sign of the Hammer’ song, I still remember my fear that the balcony would fall down, cause whole building was shaking so hard. And then was the second show and a present that the band did first for me, and then for all of the people in the hall . During sound check with words “This is for you” they began to play ‘Carry on’. That was a royal gift, which later was inserted into the setlist of the show. Moscow was the only city during the whole tour that got ‘Carry On’ and believe me Russian fans still remember it. Since then, Manowar has played in Moscow lots of times, they did a full Russian tour, but these first shows are still in our memory and hearts. Just before the second show in Moscow, Manowar took a photo on a stage with all crew members, sponsors, promoters and us, sadly I can’t find it and I really hope that it is still in the band’s archives and will be used in a new part ‘Manowar History’ book where they will write about Russia. The most funny thing is that it’s the only photo I’ve ever done with the band together.
…Words of power calling to us all
Holding us together
while other kingdoms fall…
It has been twenty years since that event, I have visited over fifty shows at different parts of the world and our red-black “Russian Manowar Brotherhood” flag is one of the most recognizable flags on different band’s videos. The most epic show were in Longyearbyen at Svalbard over the North polar circle in April 2019. Fans from almost all over the world came there to witness the history, sadly no white bears showed around to join us for a party. But the show itself was like a party of old friends that united together at these northern lands. I remember the show in Sofia 2019 which was my number 50 show and I got my first ever bass string from Joey. But the best thing was not just memories of different shows or occasional meeting with the band or bass strings, the best thing was that I became a part of family of Manowar fans, who travel together from town to town, help each other with everything even when you visit their countries for non – Manowar related topics. This is a real FAMILY. My thanks goes to Manowar, because this band gave us a chance to meet each other and to be the part of a big story called “Manowar”.
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