This is not a professional news article – it was never meant to be. In the next few minutes, what you’ll read is merely my version of how events unfolded at the very first concert of Two Steps From Hell.
I walked into the Disney Concert Hall at 7:50 pm, along with composers Jo Blankenburg and Yuichiro Oku. At that point, I honestly did not know what to expect. TSFH had never lived up to the fans’ expectations – they’d always exceeded them by a huge margin.
But this was a LIVE event. What if the music was a letdown as compared to their studio-recorded tracks? Nevertheless, we took our seats, awaiting what the next few hours had in store for us with baited breath.
A few minutes later, in walked the one and only conductor Petr Pololanik – amidst huge applause. The applause only grew louder and was also accompanied with whistles and cheers as Thomas Bergersen and Nick Phoenix walked in, followed by vocalists Merethe Soltvedt, and Aya Peard.
As the cheer died down, Nick walked to the drums, while Thomas stayed besides Petr, electric violin ready in his hands.
And then, he began playing.
It was a melody no one recognized. And I soon discovered why: it did not belong to any song of TSFH. Thomas had just improvised and had added a violin intro to the song.
And half a minute later, Petr and his orchestra joined in. I then knew the song immediately.
What a way to begin!
Petr’s movements were like water – graceful, yet precise – and his baton spoke a thousand words with each swish and flick. The goosebump brigade began as soon as Edie Boddicker and her choir joined in – and was only doubled when Merethe’s vocal started.
The song ended to a HUGE applause. Everyone’s apprehensions had disappeared. They had just experienced “epicness” in its purest form, and they knew that the remainder of the night would give them far more than they could digest.
Something funny occurred a couple of tracks later. Merethe re-appeared on stage barefoot. We jokingly named her “The Barefoot Queen,” half-inspired by the tiara-like ornament on her head. (Jo later asked her “what was up with your footwear? They were on-off-on-off” to which her response was “Have you ever tried wearing heels?!”)
Later in the concert, another funny incident transpired. The people began clapping and cheering when the song “To Glory” ended – or at least they thought it had – because when the clapping stopped, Petr and the violinists were still playing the outro of the track. And when that ended, everyone clapped AGAIN – but not before bursting into laughter, of course.
Here’s the chronological tracklist from the concert: (I’ve probably missed a couple of tracks, the rest are here)
- Black Blade
- Our Last Hope
- Protectors of the Earth
- Fill My Heart
- Fire Nation
- Mystical Beginnings
- Age of Gods
- Realm of Power
- Ocean Princess
- Titan Dream
- Moving Mountains
- Heart of Courage
- After the Fall
- Master of Shadows
- Freedom Fighters
- Am I not Human
- Army of Justice
- Remember Me
- Norwegian Pirate
- Strength of a Thousand Men
- 1000 Ships of the Underworld
- Birth of a Hero
- To Glory
Nick and Thomas were everywhere – switching between piano, drums, electric violin (Thomas) and vocals (Nick). And Petr was akin to wine – getting better with time (only @ 100000x the speed). I told Jo – who was sitting beside me – “I’m going to hug Petr after the concert.”
Then came the emotional speech, just before the last song: Thomas telling everyone that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity, then Nick expressing how strange things happen in life and opportunities come your way, and that Thomas inspired him (to which Thomas said – “Likewise”)
Finally, Thomas announced that the Concert Hall had a special guest that night: Eighteen year old Vincent from Georgia, who was there with the help of the wonderful organization “Make A Wish.” Thomas dedicated the last song of the evening, “Breathe” to Vincent, ending his speech with “Hang in there, buddy. This is for you.”
The song ended beautifully, and you could almost make out that the eyes of both Thomas (at the piano) and Merethe were moist. What an emotional moment!
Now begins the interesting post-concert part:
After almost everyone had left, one of the spectators came and asked Jo for an autograph. Not only did Jo sign the piece of paper, but he also had a five minute conversation with the fan. I was pretty surprised – were all composers this nice?
A few moments later, we ran into Petr and his wife Petra, and their adorable son Caspar. And I got my wish: I gave Petr a nice, warm hug!
We then proceeded to the after-party, where I ran into both Thomas and Nick. “I flew in for the concert from India,” I said to Thomas.
“Really? Wow! You want a picture?” he asked with a wide smile.
Why in my right mind would I refuse?!
I abruptly took a picture with both the amazing composers, after which I asked him, “You know Jo?”
“Of course, I love his music! Where is he?”
And then the two maestros met. The first thing that Jo said to Thomas was, “This concert was amazing. YOU were amazing!”
And Thomas’s response left both of us speechless for a couple of heartbeats. “I’m just another musician,” he said with a shrug.
I couldn’t believe it. Was this really the same guy who’d just been on stage?
All in all, it was an unforgettable night.
Was the time and money I’d spent to get there worth it? Totally.
Would I fly to their next concert again – regardless of where it would take place? Hell yeah.
Updated June 20th:
Enjoy Strength of a Thousand Men, Winterspell, Protectors of the Earth, Heart of Courage and To Glory live! Thanks to composer David Donges for recording it!