Let's start with the first impression. I knew the book would be big and heavy and impressive. But when I finally found it in a store, I was flabbergasted - wow! It's not big and heavy, it's huge and enormous. And impressive doesn't do it justice. The outside is very fine and noble, made to look old, in thick gray cardboard. The paper is thick and heavy, matching the overall impression of an old book from some antique book shop. The pictures, mostly in black and white, are more a part of the text than that they stick out as something additional. Text and pictures taken together form a perfect unity. One little drawback with this is that it means that the pictures are printed on the normal paper in a matt way. Instead of having at least some pages with glossy paper for the pictures, like it is often done in books. But - this wouldn't fit into this book at all, so it's perfect the way it is, I'm not criticizing it at all. But sometimes you have the feeling that you could see much more details if the pictures were printed differently. Which probably wouldn't even be the case.
When I looked through the book the first time, I was just standing there gaping - there is so incredibly much stuff in this book!
The structure is a very good idea: There is one chapter per concert of the tour. And each chapter in turn is divided into two parts: The first part is about the current events, so about what is happening on tour. No concert reviews, but anecdotes from the day, conversations, impressions. Then, the second part gives a part of the history, from the basement in Bryne up to the Maestro album - and here we come full circle, as the book starts with the first concert of the Maestro tour.
The two elements of each chapter are also separated in the layout, which looks nice and distinguishes the different content very clearly. The only bad thing about it is that - as the lines in the "current" part are very short - a lot of words are cut in the middle. Which actually isn't a problem at all - except that it makes life even harder for us poor Non-Norwegians trying to read Nynorsk... It took me a long time to figure out what "forster-karar" might be. =;-)
Talking about Nynorsk. Yes, of course it is hard to read - but you get used to it after the first two pages or so. So whoever can understand Norwegian more or less and either is good at skipping some words while reading or doesn't mind picking up the dictionary once in a while, won't have any trouble reading the book. Of course, it's hard to get everything - but it's worth trying even if you only understand parts of it!
It's amazing how much information there is in this book. It contains basically everything you want to know as a fan - plus, some stuff you don't really want to know, actually. I was a little in doubt already before I got the book about whether I really wanted to have such clear insights into the band life. Those doubts remain. Maybe it would be more comfortable to only suspect the "dark sides" of rockstar life instead of seeing them in cold print. (And no, I'm not talking about sex, drugs & rock'n'roll, but rather about, for example, the "millions" you make...) Anyway, leaving out those parts would have made the book incomplete.
And all the anecdotes and stories, the ones from the current tour as well as the very old ones, are really really fun to read. I was laughing out loud several times. And as I saw a lot of concerts of this tour it was very interesting especially for me to also hear about the background of some of the stories. For example, I heard about Geoff Berner taking a taxi 'cause he missed the bus - but the rest of the story (which I'm not gonna tell now because that would be a real spoiler - you MUST read that yourself!) remained in the dark. And the book fills in some gaps there, I have to admit. And it is also amazing for me to see it all in relation to my own experiences. For example the description of the concert at Rheinkultur - it is perfect, this is exactly the way I would have told about this concert. Or the thing with the incredibly hot concert in Berlin and the reactions - I can remember some alarmed SMS as well there... *g*
I don't want to just praise the book here, but well, that's the way it is! But I got two small things I'd like to criticize.
First, I think it's a little irritating that the photos aren't from the concerts that are mentioned in the text. This is understandable of course - there are so many great pictures of so many concerts that are so terrific they just HAVE to be in the book. It would be a pity to leave them out and put other pictures in there, even though they are worse, just so that they match the text. But an improvement would be to have a short remark for every photo saying where and when it was taken. I can place some of the pictures, but not all of them.
The second thing is that it seems to me that the chapters get shorter and shorter towards the end. Might be I'm just imagining it, because I'm speeding up while reading now - who knows. But I think this is really true. I think this is not the smartest way to do it. It looks a little as if there wasn't anything else to tell in the end and the book needed to be finished. =;-) Maybe it would have been possible to divide up the historic part a little differently so that there's some stuff left at the end.
But that's no big criticism. All in all, the book is just impressive. It's written very nicely and it contains much more than I had expected. The pictures are terrific, the look is noble - what else could you possibly wish for?
(Well, except for the sequel five years from now, of course!)