Rockin’ Scandinavia
Tampere, Tullikamarin Klubi, 11 December 2021

Rockin’ Scandinavia festival took its’ first steps in 2018, and managed to take the second step in March 2019, just before the Covid outbreak got serious. Then everything went sour, and concerts were pretty much over and done. Towards the end of this year, things started to look brighter again, and several tours and events were brought back to life. I wasn’t expecting a new Rockin’ Scandinavia festival, but out of the blue, an announcement was made in late October. Two cities, Oulu and Tampere, 4 bands in each. Tampere was the logical choice for us since it’s fairly close, and with the line-up of Cruzh, One Desire, Dynazty and Reckless Love it was a no-brainer. Unfortunately we had to give up our plans to see the Raskasta Joulua (”Heavy Christmas”) spectacle in Turku. Somewhat frustrating - almost two years without live music and then suddenly there’s so many gigs that one has trouble choosing which to attend! But rather this problem than no gigs at all... [ Editor's note: and now, early January 2022 when I'm finishing this article, we've gone back to the latter option. Not good.]

A few days prior to the event it was announced that it had been moved from the big concert arena of Tullikamari to the smaller, more intimate club venue in the same building. I guess the ticket sales had been somewhat disappointing, but there are several reasons for this. First of all, the festival was announced merely a few weeks before it took place, and on a weekend that’s one of the busiest Christmas party weekends. A lot of people already had other plans. Also the Covid-situation in Finland is getting worse again, so that probably left its’ mark on the ticket sales. In the end, the move did work pretty well, as the club was quite packed and everyone was having a good time, the crowd and the bands.


The first band of the evening was CRUZH from Sweden. Their first album was well-received and on the strength of that, they got to play several AOR festivals. We saw them at Rockingham, where they played with a stand-in singer Philip Lindstrand. The singer on the first album was on keyboards and the singer of the first demos was (and still is) on drums! The long-awaited second album ”Tropical Thunder” was released earlier this year, and with a new vocalist Alex Waghorn in the band, they seem to have found a steady line-up. That said, guitarist Anton Joensson wasn’t able to make it to the gigs in Finland, and on his place there was Joey, whose last name I didn’t catch.


With two albums to draw from, Cruzh used their 50 minutes wisely and played a solid set, a mix of their their more AOR-styled material and the harder-edged ”Hair Metal” anthems. Both worked well, and I was quite surprised how well the crowd knew their songs. Starting with the stomping ”Are You Ready” they got the attention, and to their credit, they never really let it slip. The ”video hits” ”We Go Together” and ”Aim For The Head” might have gotten the best response, but I saw people singing along to every song.

The new singer Alex is a real find, he has a great voice and he’s a lively performer. The towering bass player Dennis Butabi Borg is an impressive showman too. With a ”middle name” like that, I wouldn’t be surprised if one of these days Cruzh would cover Haddaway’s ”What Is Love”… he actually did some singing on his own.

Are You Ready
Turn Back Time
Hard To Get
Tropical Thunder
We Go Together
Set Me Free
Moonshine Bayou
Aim For The Head

We've seen ONE DESIRE quite a few times during their career as a recording artist, and some of the former scribes of RockUnited.Com have even longer history with the band, all the way to the formative steps of OD, as they used to be called in the beginning. The first official One Desire gig they played was in the same venue, although on a different stage.

This gig was one of the first post-covid shows they've done, and they were quite excited to be back on stage. Vocalist/guitarist Andre Linman even said that "It's the first time it feels like before Corona"....

The previous One Desire shows we've seen were before the release of "Midnight Empire" and the setlists of all those shows were pretty identical. Now we finally got to hear new material...never mind that the album was released almost two years ago!


The band was loud and more metallic than on albums, and sometimes the guitar crunch buried the vocals and keys. Yes, the band was the only one in the line-up with an actual keyboard player on stage, and the guy also sang his heart out, backing vocals that is. His name remains a mystery. I've also have to say that Jimmy Westerlund is a very classy guitarist, his lead work is melodic and tasteful. And Andre... he is slowly but surely becoming a legend of between-song banter, it's all pure comic gold!

Now with the songs from the second album in their catalogue, the band has no trouble putting together an "all killers, no fillers" setlist. The one they played in Tampere was pretty close, most of the nine songs are among my favourite OD songs.

Turn Back Time
This Is Where the Heartbreak Begins
After You're Gone
Whenever I'm Dreaming
Buried Alive

DYNAZTY, another band from Sweden was up next. Or should that be "Zweden", since swapping "S" to an "Z" is apparently the way to zpell theze dayz! Anyway, they were the most METAL band of the event, and damn, they had lots of hair! And leather,studs and stage moves! Thoroughly entertaining, even though I wasn't that familiar with all of the material.

In Nils Molin, also known as the clean male voice of Amaranthe, they have a bonafide star and a first class singer. I was already impressed by him back in 2010 when I first saw the band in Stockholm, even though they hadn't really found their groove yet. These days the band have ditched the hard rock leanings of the first couple of albums, and have turned into a modern melodic metal monster.


The studio versions of Dynazty’s songs are heavily enhanced by all sorts of ”blipety-blops” and whatnots. Even though those additional sounds can be heard in the background of their live performance as well, the standard band instruments pretty much drown out the electronics. Most of their songs would sound just as good without them, at least in live setting.

For me, the Dynazty gig was a bit of a roller coaster. When they were at their best, they were an unstoppable and brilliant. When they weren’t, they were still good, but somehow I kept hoping for them to get to the next song, hoping for another killer track. They did play several of those - ”In The Arms Of A Devil”, ”Firesign” and ”Heartless Madness” being some of my favourites. And ”Waterfall”, even though it sounds a bit like heavy metal version of Loreen’s ”Euphoria”!

In the Arms of a Devil
Power Of Will
The Northern End
Presence of Mind
Drum solo
The Smoking Gun
Raise Your Hands
Heartless Madness
The Human Paradox
Titanic Mass

The headliners RECKLESS LOVE had a bit of a situation at hand. Half of the band was struck by the COVID virus, so they were forced to use replacement musicians. On drums they had Hannes Pirilä from Brother Firetribe who’s been helping them before, and on bass they had Mitja Toivonen of Bodom After Midnight and ex-Santa Cruz. The stand-in guys did a good job and especially the rock star cool of Mitja Toivonen fitted the band’s style quite naturally. The guys didn’t really have time to rehearse together, which meant that the setlist had to be adjusted and we didn’t get any tasters from the next album ”Turborider”. Instead, it was a ”golden oldies” set, with many songs from the band’s first two albums.


Despite the challenges, both ”originals” vocalist Olli Herman and guitarist Pepe seemed to be very happy to be onstage. Indeed, Olli said that’s he’s really grateful to be there doing what they love to do, and that the audience had come to support live music.

The band surely deserved the headliner status. The place was jumping with people singing along to their infectious hits, and the band put on a good old fashioned rock show with lots of action on stage. I haven’t been listening to the band a lot lately, but this show reminded me of how good they are at writing these pop metal anthems. Their previous album ”InVader” was a disappointment for me, but I’m looking forward to the next one with its’ synthwave vibes.

Animal Attraction
So Happy I Could Die
We Are the Weekend
Beautiful Bomb
Edge of Our Dreams
Back to Paradise
Wild Touch
Night on Fire
On the Radio


Review by Kimmo Toivonen
Photos by Mira Suutari-Toivonen

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