Sölvesborg, June 8-10


joked Tobias Sammet of Edguy in Sweden Rock 2006. Again the festival showed with its many brilliant performers it's place as Europe's number one metal festival. Eventhough this year the theme was the 80's, even younger bands such as Edguy were on the bill and proved they're also succesful among the mammoths of the 80's. Cancellations happened too. The progressive metal group Symphony X, legendary melodic group Asia and another 80's band in black'n'yellow stripes, the religious group Stryper weren't seen in Sweden, a major disappointment for many.

Starting in 1992, Sweden Rock has grown a lot from those days, and it shows in the ticket sales. The festival was sold out for the third time in row this year, but if the headliners were such big names as Def Leppard, Whitesnake, Deep Purple, Alice Cooper, Journey, Ted Nugent, W.A.S.P, Queensr˙che, Michael Schenker Group and so on this year, it's no wonder the place has been packed for three years in a row. Like last year, there were around 30 000 music fans at site and the festival was blessed with lots of sun, unlike some other years. Counting over 60 bands, and not including the bands which were playing in the Rockklassiker tent, the festival again kept the colourful and various aged crowd pleased.

Not going by the "festival books", a youth hostel was booked this year nearby the festival area instead of the moist, dirty and hot tent. Not being from the younger side of the festival goers, we still blended in well enough. Our room was in the basement (!!), call us "The People Under The Stairs", but it was a good deal after all. Each night as the noisy festival goers came back to the hostel they kept most guests awake, but we were safe in our basement. Or you might've thought so, before waking up the first morning and finding a nice, shiny and sharp jigsaw behind our door! That was all the horror though. This year the festival breakfast was voted out, instead the hostel breakfast had us going all day, only grabbing a bite of something later in the evening. Some ciders and Sweden Rock beer were bought too, and the hot weathers were welcomed in the festival, the beer tents were full anytime.


From Behind, Cathedral, Entombed and Bullet were first on the bill on Thursday morning, but all the formalities took time from actually getting to the festival area. DORO on Festival stage was the first bigger name of the day, and even when the sun was shining brightly, Doro and her active live band knew how to please the crowd. When most of the crowd was just standing and watching, they still screamed alright when Doro wanted more noise during "All We Are". The set was filled with loads of classics both from Doro and Warlock, but unfortunately she doesn't perform much material from "Doro", "Angels Never Die" and "True At Heart" albums anymore, which work best for melodic metal fans from her discography. They might even work better for her nowadays, since she tends to scream and break her voice too much. Her band was guitarist Joe Taylor, keyboardist Oliver Palotai, bassist Nick Douglas and drummer Johnny Dee (Britny Fox), who we caught from the audience among many musici ans while Journey was playing. Johnny is pleased about playing in Doro's band, after all she's a legend.

Setlist: Earthshaker Rock, I Rule The Ruins, You're My Family, Always Live To Win, Burning The Witches, True As Steel, Hellbound, Above The Ashes, Burn It Up, Breaking The Law (Judas Priest-cover), Fight, All We Are, Metal Racer, My Majesty

While Krokus took the Rock stage with a familiar set they played in Sweden Rock 2003, proving once again they're a powerful live band, DRAGONFORCE melted the Sweden stage with their fast and furious powermetal, and even melted some hearts of those female fans by giving them a try at shouting at "Dawn Over A New World". Eventhough the trampoline was missing from this show, the band always pulls an energetic show. Well, the exception being the Sweden Rock 2003 show, when everything fell apart. This year the guys came in like thunder, beginning the show with more energy than most of the bands in Sweden Rock and interacting loads with the crowd, so the guys truly gave something back from the expensive festival ticket. In one hour the smile didn't leave my face and when Vadim Pruzhanov played his keyboard solo, even the rest of the crowd knew this band was absolutely crazy. There has never been any solos that can match up to what Vadim and guitarists Herman Li and Sam Totman gave and when the band also delivered a perfect show otherwise, also playing material from all their three albums, their set ended up being one of the best of the day. When Dragonforce has a good or bad day, they're always unforgettable! On bass they introduced Maladaptive's and ex-Heavenly's Fred Leclercq, who's been in the band for a while now and fitted in well. The band wasn't seen in the festival area long afterwards, as they rushed for Download Festival soon after.

Setlist: Black Fire, Fury Of The Storm, Operation Ground And Pound, Storming The Burning Fields, Dawn Over A New World, keyboard solo, Soldiers Of The Wasteland, Through The Fire And Flames, My Spirit Will Go On, Valley Of The Damned

Rockklassiker tent held some contests for those interested, but the time was limited. HOUSE OF SHAKIRA played their hard rock at Zeppelin stage and drew in a nice amount of people. As was the case with House Of Shakira, the Thursday band line-up was filled with more relaxed bands, so Thursday showed a more relaxed crowd and it was still too early to be going crazy anyway. Well, Dragonforce fans and the band are an exception...

Setlist: The Song Remains, Uncontrolled, In Your Head, Hey Lord, Best Of Times, Wings, Seven Bridges Road (accapella), Morning Over Morocco, You Are, Method Of Madness, Pellucid Part 2

UK progmetallers PORCUPINE TREE managed to hypnotize their crowd with their eased up set at Festival stage. Only a few heavier songs were heard, so the crowd might as well been sitting while their set. The band seemed relaxed on stage too and even the front row was just chilling and enjoying the flowing melodies from the skilled band.

Setlist: Open Car, Blackest Eyes, Hatesong, Don't Hate Me, Mother And Child Divided, Arriving Somewhere But Not Here, .3, So Called Friend, Even Less, The Start Of Something Beautiful, Halo, Trains

One of those 80's bands that hit Sweden Rock this year was the German BONFIRE. The band was welcomed by many fans, both young and old and it was great to see the guys on stage again after many years. Zeppelin stage mostly presented melodic and smaller groups, so the stage was quite small and seemed very small for the active Bonfire. Singer Claus Lessmann went so wild, that he decided to jump off stage and greet the fans face to face. All went well though, and he was soon back on stage. Eventhough the band wasn't at their best and seemed a bit flat soundwise, the action from both the band and fans compensated a lot and the show was very high spirited. The Lynyrd Skynyrd-cover of "Sweet Home Alabama" wasn't that welcomed in the short set, but it worked for most of the crowd, which sang it well with the band. The band was introduced at the end of the show.

Setlist: Day 911, Never Mind, Hot To Rock, Don't Touch The Light, Under Blue Skies, Sweet Home Alabama (Lynyrd Skynyrd), Sweet Obsession, Ready 4 Reaction (with "Champion"-part)

The Jeff Healey Band played quite an average and steady show, but the 80's glam rockers from Sweden EASY ACTION gave as their name suggests, good action instead and gathered loads of old fans at Sweden stage. It was a nostalgic glam party with ex-Europe guitarist Kee Marcello and ex-Shotgun Messiah singer Zinny Zan. Since Easy Action has been away from the scene for a while it was hard to recognize the guys, which was somewhat a moodspoiler, but that didn't spoil the songs and their old fans were having a really great time.

Setlist: Rocket Ride, Rock On Rockers, Round And Round, Don't Cry Don't Crack, Sweet Sangria, Drop The Bomb, In The Middle Of Nowhere, Roll Baby Roll, Number One, Rosie, Mental Dance, We Go Rocking

One of the older groups, and one of the legends among American rockers was JOURNEY, who played a few shows in Europe this summer and were among the most expected bands in Sweden. Guitarist Neal Schon (only original member of the band), played with Deen Castronovo (drums, vocals), Jonathan Cane (keys, vocals), Ross Valory (bass) and the youngest member, Steve Augeri on vocals (ex-Tall Stories, Tyketto). The weather was still perfectly warm and bright at eight in the evening, when the festival grounds filled with anxious fans, and when the first glimps of Schon and other guys were seen on stage, the crowd cheered like no other on Thursday. Some musicians were spotted at the show too. Members from Gotthard, Edguy, Doro and Evidence One were hanging out closeby the big screen on the left side of the stage, which was used the first time in Sweden Rock and was very useful with bigger masses.

As Journey took the stage with calmful and modest manner, the fans had no idea this show was about to be the best one of the whole festival and the set kicked off with hits already. For Neal Schon the playing seemed like an easy task, he was hardly looking at his guitar and nailing down the notes like nothing, while jamming along the music. When the rest of the group performed modestly, still showing their super group entertaining skills, singer Augeri was mostly on the spotlight. He filled the big stage well, yet not being arrogant at all, but making it all worthwhile for the audience and giving the show an intimate feeling. His vocals are a perfect match to those of Steve Perry, carrying the same emotion, which makes the songs work as they do. Unfortunately there were rumours his vocals weren't heard live and he's lost his voice, and on later news Journey replaced him for later shows with Jeff Scott Soto, stating Augeri has throat infection. To choose from either never seing the band or with some help, I'd rather see them as they were in Sweden, being a show I'll never forget. Here's hoping Augeri can still keep on singing.

Meanwhile the whole band was doing great vocals, Jonathan Cain did leads on "Mystery Mountain", while Castronovo did "Where Were You" and "Mother, Father", including all the backing vocals. The sound from Journey was just brilliant. It was nothing short from a stadium sound or at least one could've imagined the band doing it all as playback, just listening to the albums as they were recorded. The show was an emotional rush for many, even guys were seen crying and people were hugging and kissing each other. All this with the amazing effort from the band made it one of the best shows in a lifetime.

Setlist: Faith In Heartland, Separate Ways (Worlds Apart), Neal Schon guitar solo (classic piece), Stone In Love, Wheel In The Sky, Only The Young, Place In Your Heart, Mystery Mountain (Cain on vocals), Where Were You (Castronovo on vocals), Lights, Mother Father (Castronovo on vocals), Open Arms, Escape, Keep On Running, Faithfully, Don't Stop Believin', Anyway You Want It, Be Good To Yourself, Encore: Edge Of The Blade, Who's Crying Now

After Journey there wasn't much to look for from Thursday anymore, eventhough another classic band Deep Purple was still on the way. GEORGE THOROGOOD gave a steady bluesrock performance with his classics, including "Get A Haircut", "Who Do You Love", "I Drink Alone", "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" by John Lee Hooker and "Bad To The Bone" and his audience seemed pleased alright.

NEVERMORE's Warrel Dane was screaming in Sweden stage and was giving a good performance with a twist of that schizoid and oppressive feeling the band has. While lots of band members were seen among the festival crowd, they also enjoyed their time in the backstage more than last year. The reason was obvious, the area was much larger from last year with more seats and even good food available for everyone and a big tv screen to follow the football World Cup 2006 tournaments from.

It was nearly midnight when DEEP PURPLE hit the stage with an intro video from the screen showing the band getting ready backstage for the show, though this was an old recording, not live backstage. As the stage went black, the band appeared soon with full lights. Also playing on Festival stage like Journey, Deep Purple was also an anticipated band like Journey. Deep Purple has had its glory days though. Eventhough Ian Gillan used to have magic in his voice, it has suffered through the years and he's not as strong with performance anymore either, but again the opinions were many. The show was either brilliant, while some have for years thought the band has lost its power. The rest of the band played alright though, but the set only featured a few highlights from the bands career. "Perfect Strangers" lifted the spirit some and "Hush" was a fun addition for the set, knowing Gotthard performs it live as well, and played on the same stage the next day. Keyboardist Don Airey g ave some spark to the show with his solo, playing Sweden's national hymn "Du Gamla Du Fria", like he's doing usually with other countries as well, and parts from Star Wars and "Mr.Crowley" by Ozzy Osbourne were heard as well. Steve Morse played a guitar solo, which seemed a bit useless from him compared to his achievements in the past. Altogether the show lacked that spirit the band used to have.

Setlist: Picture Of Home, Things I Never Said, Hush, Rapture Of The Deep, Strange Kind Of Woman, Steve Morse guitar solo, Fireball, When A Blind Man Cries, Don Airey keyboard solo, Lazy, Don Airey solo, Perfect Strangers, Highway Star, Space Truckin, Smoke On The Water, jam, Black Night

Thursday Full Set Highlights: Doro, Dragonforce, Porcupine Tree, Journey


The sun was still shining nicely on Friday morning and just before twelve a.m. when Swedish Cloudscape started their set at the small Zeppelin stage, there were a few people awake to see them. Nice progmetal, but at first listen the live set seems too difficult to get into, so another 80's band was calling. VICTORY from Germany features Jioti Parcharidis (Human Fortress) on vocals nowadays, after Charlie Huhn and his follower, the more softer vocalist Fernando Garcia. Jioti is more like Huhn, he's got a rough rocker sound and cannot reach the highest notes, so the band seemed to be taking the songs down a notch to match his vocals. The band sounded much harder because of this and the more melodic songs earlier sung by Garcia didn't work as well as they should've. Since most of the songs were from Garcia's period, the show was lacking certain atmosphere, but Victory still rocked alright and Jioti's got that rocker attitude to make a good show. The band ended the show with "Hungry Hearts", when "Rock'n'Roll Kids Forever" would've been a nicer ending for the overall energetic show.

Setlist: Take The Pace, Power Strikes The Earth, No Way Tonight, Backseat Rider, Standing Like A Rock, On The Loose, Temples Of Gold, Don't Tell No Lies, Stop Believin', Checks In The Mail, Encore: Hungry Hearts

The Swiss rockers GOTTHARD gave a good surprise for many people unfamiliar with the bands tight hard rock. The band is very famous in their homecountry, but otherwise they haven't really conquered Europe all that well yet, but remain a mystery for most. The band is best live though, and while being aware of their skills, it's rare to see even the security guards in the front rocking along to a band that's playing. The guitar picks thrown out were also taken by them, which disappointed the front row fans, but in the end Gotthard made a few new fans and none from the crowd had a bad thing to say about the show. Singer Steve Lee and guitarist Leo Leoni are the bands eyecatchers, they have the ability to take the crowd and make movement there. The Swedish crowd was a bit more lazier from the Swiss though with one of the bands popular cover songs, "Mighty Quinn" by Bob Dylan. When Swiss fans go crazy over it, Swedes didn't really react much to it. There are too many bands doing too many covers nowadays anyway, and it has turned into fans demanding more originals at shows. Other covers Gotthard was doing, which can often be heard in their set, were Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" and "Hush" by Joe South/Deep Purple. Whatever the band plays, they rock hard and even beat the original versions.

Setlist: All We Are, Dream On, Hush, Mountain Mama, Top Of The World, I Wonder, Said And Done, Let It Be, Sister Moon, Ride On, Make My Day, Quinn The Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn), Firedance, Lift U Up, Anytime Anywhere, Immigrant Song

While the German-based JADED HEART with their new lead singer Johan Fahlberg from Sweden was playing their hits, including "Somewhere" on Zeppelin stage and had a nice amount of audience, the other germans GAMMA RAY filled the Rock stage area so well, that it was even hard to see the band. Still the crowd wasn't as passionate as in their homeland, though seemed to be digging the power metal spiced up with the Helloween-covers.

Setlist: Garden Of The Sinner, Man On A Mission, No World Order, Fight, Blood Religion, Carry On, Armageddon, Heavy Metal Universe, Ride The Sky/ Future World / I Want Out, Rebellion In Dreamland, Land Of The Free, Send Me A Sign

While coversongs were heard in most sets in Sweden Rock, there were also actual cover bands playing in Rockklassiker tent. Örjan Deep (Uriah Heep) and Queer (Queen) were strangely named, while the name Alice Troopers (Alice Cooper) had a nicer ring to it. The spirit was high anytime at the tent, no matter who took the stage.

While grabbing a bite of something, this year the prize for worst meal was won by a small shop between the Festival and Rock stage. If you have to have pasta, make sure it's not just filled with tincan tomato sauce. Tasted like garbage and flew right there soon enough with a terrible aftertaste. The Mexican and Indian food were great picks again.

QUEENSRYCHE was one of the bands who weren't in Sweden Rock for the first time. Among Queensryche, Sweden Rock 2003 also saw Whitesnake, Krokus, Kamelot, The Storyteller and Dragonforce, who played here this year also. Even the stage was the same for Queensryche. The band used some props on stage, and along with a tight-jacket, Tate had a fake gun, which he used in "shooting" Dr. X during "Murderer?". The gun gave some trouble for the band later on June 11th at the Amsterdam airport. Tate also used the gun again in "Suite Sister Mary".

Eventhough it's always great to see Queensryche live, it's not the biggest thrill anymore since Tate lost his highest register years ago. This time he did better than in 2003 in Sweden, though went a little bit to extremes while stretching his voice at "The Needle Lies". The band played somewhat lazy and slow and balanced the songs with Tate's vocals. The result was that even the guest singer Pamela Moore (from Operation: Mindcrime album) had trouble singing so low and because of that her vocals weren't as beautiful anymore either as three years ago here. Of course Queensryche fans were still happy to see the band and when the show was still fairly good and included most songs from both "Operation: Mindcrime"-albums, what more can you ask for?

Setlist: I Remember Now, Revolution Calling, Operation:Mindcrime, Spreading The Disease, Suite Sister Mary, The Needle Lies, Breaking The Silence, I Don't Believe In Love, Intro: Convict, I'm American, One Foot In Hell, Hostage, The Hands, Signs Say Go, Murderer?, If I Could Change It All, An Intentional Confrontation, Eyes Of A Stranger, Jet City Woman, Empire

Among the famed oldies from 80's was Nasty Idols, but unfortunately they played at the same time with Queensryche and KAMELOT, so next up was Kamelot. As before, the American band with their Norwegian lead singer Roy Khan, convinced the metal fans who gathered to the Rock stage after six in the evening with their tight set. Apart from the great set, more effort than ever was put to the show. As "When The Lights Are Down" started, huge pyros blasted and they reached as high as the stage roof, nearly lighting it on fire. When the band began their seventh song "Forever", it was only now that the crowd really started warming up. They also introduced guest singers Elisabeth and Karianne Kjęrnes and Marianne Follestad on few songs.

It's easy for Khan to perform in Sweden, he speaks the language and easily gets the crowds attention. The speaks were few as for most bands, but he did introduce the band and Khan was curious to know from which countries their fans had come from over to Sweden. This year there were probably more Finns than ever, which showed at the Kamelot gig too from the raised hands and flags swaying above the masses of people. The band was supposed to perform for the first time in Finland this August in the legendary Tavastia, but like their appearance at Ragnarock in Norway, it was cancelled. They are planning shows in both countries next year though. Oliver Palotai was on keys in Sweden, but not as visible as he could've been, and both Casey Grillo (drums) and Glenn Barry (bass) were as energetic and precise as ever, so the rhythm section couldn't be better. The pompous and heavy "March Of Mephisto" ended the Kamelot show, with guitarist Thomas Youngblood singing the parts of Shagrath (Dimmu Borgir). A dramatic ending with Khan giving all his got both vocally and performance wise, with all the pyros, grunts and fine guitar work! A great show from Kamelot once again.

Setlist: When The Lights Are Down, Soul Society, The Edge Of Paradise, Center Of The Universe, The Spell, Moonlight, Forever, band introduction, keyboard solo with entertaining and classical part, The Haunting (Somewhere In Time), The Black Halo, Karma, Memento Mori, drum solo, Farewell, March Of Mephisto

Mix hairspray, tight pants, make-up and all that glitter from the 80's and you get TIGERTAILZ. The UK glam band split into two camps years ago, and the line-up Sweden Rock saw included Kim Hooker (vocals, guitars), Jay Pepper (lead guitars), Pepsi Tate (bass) and Matt Blackout (drums), who are legally using the name Tigertailz nowadays. The band played their first ever gig in Sweden this year, eventhough releasing their first album "Young And Crazy" already in 1987. Although it's been a while since the Tailz were on such big spotlight, the guys gave their fans an unforgettable show, they were high on energy levels and what one might see Spinal Tappish, to the true Tailz-fans the choreography-filled show was a joyous trip that brought back memories and brightened the day. While the band isn't all that praised among some musicians and music lovers, they even it up with their attitude and sparkling show. Many fans had dressed up for the occasion, so it was a very colourful cr owd, which also reacted loudly to singalongs and other actions on stage. Some of the songs heard were "Murderess", "Dirty Needles", "Call Of The Wild" and "Love Bomb Baby".

Next up on the same stage was a bit different kind of metal, the progmetallers VANDEN PLAS, who weren't here for the first time. Those who weren't into the easygoing Tigertailz, probably liked the tricky and more complex side of this band. Strangely Vanden Plas hasn't in their long career, starting from the 80's, gotten a bigger following, but again played on this small stage, having a good crowd though. The band had some trouble with their equipments, mostly sounding good though, but weren't exactly giving much from themselves show wise to the crowd, who chose to check out the band sitting in the sun.

Setlist included: Christ0, Postcard to God, Silently, Shadow I am, Far off Grace, Scarlet Flowerfields, Garden of Stones, Rainmaker

Sweden's Eurovision song contest participants THE POODLES amazingly had to play in the small Rockklassiker-tent, where Treat also played. Any fool knew what that meant. Already an hour before the band started, the tent was ready to blow up from hundreds of people and as the show started, the area around the tent was so crowded it was hard to walk anywhere or even catch a glimpse of the band. While people were trying to hear bits and pieces from the show outside, WASP was blasting off at Rock stage so loudly, that it was better to forget the whole Poodles-show with their hair-do's and what not clichees from the 80's.

WASP seemed to take over the festival on Friday, or that's what it looked like. Their fans were going crazy, squeezing themselves tight against each other and screaming the bands name out loud like a herd of mad cows. It didn't take long from the start of the set when ambulances started arriving at the backstage, nearby the stage. The action at the scene resembled WASP's visit in Tampere, Finland. Their fans are wild anywhere they go to. But it's not only the fans, the band and Blackie Lawless still burst with energy on stage and have the ability to spread that lively madness over to their fans. The band sounded good among all that raving and played loud of course, with a nice sing-along at "I Wanna Be Somebody", which still works brilliantly among metal fans. All that "I wanna be somebody"-raving always makes you wonder how many people identify with the song, since the chorus is always sung so passionately? There's a lot of nostalgia to it though, so it's probably just that. Works for me anytime.

Setlist: On Your Knees, Chainsaw Charlie (Murders In The New Morgue), Hate To Love Me, L.O.V.E. Machine, Wild Child, Widowmaker, Sleeping (In The Fire), The Real Me (The Who), The Idol, I Wanna Be Somebody, What I'll Never Find, Blind In Texas

When Wasp hardly disappoints their fans live, the same should be said of the Swedes EVERGREY, who played exactly at the same time with Wasp, but on the much smaller Sweden stage. That didn't seem to bother neither the band or their fans, who were in masses. The front row was filled with hard core fans, who were very active through the whole show and the rest of the crowd also joined in, when it was time to show some hands in the air. When the band and it's singer Tom Englund aren't into making long speaches, they have more time to play loads of hits. Among the crushing songs the audience also witnessed a battle of the axe and keys, and the band used their stage space well. The perfect lightshow did justice for Evergrey's melancholic metal and the guys in their blacks brought more drama for the show.

Setlist: Blinded, More Than Ever, She Speaks To The Dead, Still In The Water, Monday Morning Apocalypse, Nosferatu, Rulers Of The Mind, Mark Of The Triangle, When The Walls Go Down, Recreation Day, I'm Sorry (Dilba), Obedience, A Touch Of Blessing, The Masterplan

The last treat of the day was one of UK's finest, DEF LEPPARD, who just released their latest "Yeah"-cover album and played two songs from it. The big screen showed the bands history during the show and the set was filled with the more heavier classic songs, which were more suitable for the metal crowd. They even managed to gather as much crowd as Whitesnake and the atmosphere was very intense all through the 90-minute show, although there were mandatory solos and Joe Elliot wasn't right on note all the time. Vivian Campbell's fantastic guitar work lifted the spirit a lot. The band was on a good roll and seemed to be enjoying it all. They were so great actually, that it was a pleasure to watch the show through. It was pure nostalgia for older fans.

Setlist: Let It Go, Rock!Rock! (Till You Drop), High 'n' Dry (Saturday Night), Let's Get Rocked, Make Love Like A Man, Promises, Hysteria (with Heroes bit), 20th Century Boy (T-Rex-cover), Rock On (David Essex), Rocket/ Whole Lotta Love, Photograph, Armageddon It, Animal, Pour Some Sugar On Me, Rock Of Ages, Encore: Love Bites, Wasted

Friday Full Set Highlights: Gotthard, Kamelot, Evergrey, Def Leppard


Those who were up early, could catch the drum clinic from Carmine Appice, which was only thirty minutes. THE STORYTELLER and CRUCIFIED BARBARA were the first bands we caught and there were enough crowd for both, though not all were yet fully awake. The Swedish girlie band Crucified Barbara had an angst-filled rock show, which worked even for those who've never even heard the band before. Most of the crowd was men of course, but a few women seemed to be enjoying the energetic vibes the band gave.

It's always a first time for something, and this time Sweden Rock offered MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP, for short MSG, which I've never seen live before. Being an old fan from the 80's, it was a show to wait for. Unfortunately Schenker himself isn't much of a showman. Some like his what could be thought as down-to-earth type of performance, but his passiveness gets boring to watch after a while, Michael just standing on one spot and not interacting with the crowd. The setlist filled with older material from Schenker's early years from the 70's didn't lift the spirit either. No songs were heard from the hard rock era from the middle 80's. Bassist Rev Jones gave the audience the biggest show. He was like the sun itself, filled with energy and in yellow shirt, propelling his long ponytailish hair throughout the show. The Finnish vocalist Jari Tiura (Snakegod) sang well and proved to be a good bilingual showman, speaking Swedish, English and Finnish on stage. It wasn't his first time here though, his band Snakegod visited Sweden Rock in 2002 on a smaller stage. MSG also had guitarist/ keyboardist Wayne Findley and drummer Pete Holmes, and Leif Sundin (ex-Treat, MSG, The Johansson Brothers, Yngwie Malmsteen) joined in for two songs. Not an earthshaking show, but a relaxing one on a hot summer day.

Setlist: Assault Attack, Ready To Rock, Let It Roll (UFO), Dust To Dust, Love Trade, Shadow Lady, Angel Of Avalon (Leif Sundin vocals), Lights Out (UFO), Into The Arena, solos, But I Want More, Too Hot To Handle (UFO), On And On, Only You Can Rock Me (UFO), Armed And Ready, Attack Of The Mad Axeman, Doctor, Doctor (UFO, Leif Sundin on vocals)

One of the bands on personal see-list is Dream Evil, which really surprised with their "The Book Of Heavy Metal" album. It actually doesn't fall nowhere behind on the other releases from the band. Instead of Dream Evil I got the Greek FIREWIND, which introduces the Swedish Dream Evil guitarist Gus G on guitar. Firewind was a pleasure to see also, being familiar with their material, which is dynamic heavy metal. The band played on the small Zeppelin stage and eventhough the crowd was the same in numbers as in most shows on this stage, the atmosphere only grew wilder during the show.

No need to say the band had a terrific show, probably the best sounds on this stage on the festival and proved anyone questioning the bands potential that they mean it. A female guest singer Tara was seen on stage too, but she wasn't all that popular with some Firewind fans, who thought she was too weak on vocals, but opinions were many. Keysman Bob Katsionis gave a good kick to both the keys and guitar, while Gus G and Stian Kristoffersen showed their talents and the crowd went nuts. I found Thomas Youngblood and Casey Grillo (Kamelot) from the audience too, who thought Firewind was brilliant.

Setlist: I Am The Anger, Beware The Beast, Falling To Pieces, drum solo, The Fire And The Fury, Between Heaven And Hell, Brother's Keeper, Breaking The Silence (with Tara), Tyranny

One of the great things in Sweden Rock is that it offers a variety of bands for music lovers and usually among those bands you can also find Southern rock. This year the American, Florida based MOLLY HATCHET presented that side mostly for the older crowd, but even teenagers were seen partying at their show. Molly Hatchet played on the same stage as Blackfoot last year, the Rock stage. Being an experienced old band they played their set through with ease and comfort, which showed in their heartwarming steady performance, which worked both sound-and show wise.

Setlist: Bloody Reunion, It's All Over Now (Rolling Stones), Gator Country, Son Of The South, Fall Of The Peacemakers, Devil's Canyon, drumsolo (Shawn Beamer), Beatin' The Odds, instrumental, guitar solo (Bobby Ingram) with Hall Of The Mountain King-bit, Dreams I'll Never See, The Journey, Junkin' City, Flirting With Disaster

THE SENSATIONAL ALEX HARVEY BAND took room next, but even with all the commotion around the band the show didn't impress that many. It was filled with tasteless humour, which worked for some though. More humour was to be expected at the next show too. This time it was quite tasteless too, but Tobias Sammet of EDGUY is one helluva performer, who's humour works easily for metalheads. Maybe Alex Harvey Band was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, but Edguy rolled with their jokes. The show kicked off with their intro, welcoming fans to the "freakshow". The first song continued where Alex Harvey Band left with, the humorous "Catch Of The Century" started the show with a whole lot of action, which kept going through the show. If the other guys were moving alright, Sammet was a space rocket. As the football games were continuing at the time in Germany, there was one song many people were waiting the band to play that day. "Trinidad" is one of the newest songs from Edguy and with strange coincidence Sweden was playing against Trinidad that day. Unfortunately the band didn't play the funny song, but in his speach Sammet hoped Sweden to win Trinidad, and the fans cheered to that. They also had to do some yoddling, but it wasn't as noisy as in Edguy's homeland Germany.

The humour kept flowing through their show and Sammet even played some guitar before "Mysteria". The first ballad in the set was "Save Me". Sammet opened the song, saying those funny words everybody was laughing at; "Can't you cry a little, this is a heavy metal show", but not many lighters or hysterically crying fans were seen. After "Asylum" he came on stage wearing a cowboy hat on his crotch and said; "Are you sure you wanna see my banana". What a dirty-minded man! Or maybe it was just the crowd, who again went wild. The hat exposed a real banana underneath and those dirty-minded women felt betrayed. The show's best rockers were the most dynamic songs, among those "Superheroes", "King Of Fools", "Out Of Control" and "Avantasia" from Sammet's soloalbum. Between playtime it was usually Sammet-time, but he did get serious too. One of the bands playing in Sweden Rock this year was the legendary hard rock group Treat from Sweden, and Sammet stressed out "Don't miss Treat", which could've been taken incorrectly, so he corrected his words "I mean don't miss the band Treat". Afterwards the crowd was asked "Do you wanna get rocked", (Def Leppard actually played that song the day earlier), and the crowd went "Out Of Control". The pyros were blazing and heating up the show even more from the hot day, but luckily there was only one more song to be heard in that heat. Before that the band went off stage, leaving the stage with words "We don't have much time left, so better make it quick. We go out the stage, you scream, we play one more song". The band acted fast, the guys came almost right back on stage after leaving. "Avantasia" was a great ending for the show, and left the fans powerless not only with energy, but with words too.

Setlist: Beastie Boys-intro, Catch Of The Century, Sacrifice, Babylon, Fucking With Fire, Tears Of A Mandrake, Lavatory Love Machine, Mysteria, Vain Glory Opera, Save Me, The Asylum, Superheroes, King Of Fools, Out Of Control, Avantasia

Some think he's arrogant, some that he's a true showman. TED NUGENT (ex-Damn Yankees) doesn't need much introduction, he's got a status, where he's either loved or hated. Many things attracted people to see him and his band was a surprise for some. Mick Brown was seen on drums and Barry Sparks on bass, both known from Dokken. All of the members in this line-up are great performers, who don't leave people cold. Nugent is an average singer, but he does a lot with his voice and knows how to use it, which is important for a performer. He's a person who sounds very convincing and his speaches along with his brilliant show with his guitar playing aren't to be missed. He's also known from being active in all things America, a redneck who curses politics, talks about wars and hunting, and taking this into concideration, what would be a better intro for the band than "America, Fuck Yeah", from the marionette movie "Team America: World Police" and the makers of South Park. The pat riotism not only is heard, but also shows on stage with a huge American flag backdrop. While Nugent's show can be quite provocative for many non-Americans, he did not forget to please the local crowd either with the big Swedish flag seen right next to the drums.

Setlist: Stormtroopin', Wango Tango, Snakeskin Cowboys, Free For All, Wang Dang Sweet Poontang, Klstrphnky, Rawdogs & Warhogs, Soul Man (Motown cover), Hey Baby, Dog Eat Dog, Still Raising Hell, Motor City Madhouse, Cat Scratch Fever, Stranglehold, Great White Buffalo.

One of the most expected shows for me personally was the Swedish TREAT, who unfortunately played at the small Rockklassiker tent. For most foreign fans it was a first time to see them live, so the front rows were filled with non-Swedish fans and also familiar Swedish faces for the band. No one knew what to expect from this rare comeback show, so while the fans were afraid of chaos, the tent was also filled with security and local Red Cross personnel. As the band took the small stage they were welcomed with loud noise and a show of hands, but no chaos. The lack of teenagers might've explained the crowds calm appreciation towards the band. Mostly people were just screaming, headbanging and clapping their hands at the gig. It was a huge sing-a-long throughout the show, and the band seemed really amazed about the noise and cheerful faces throughout the show.

The band kept the speaches short, but at least the line-up was introduced. It was familiar for Treat fans; singer Robert Ernlund, Anders "Gary" Wikström (guitar), Patrick Appelgren (keyboards & guitar), Jamie Borger (drums) and the newest addition Nalle Påhlsson on bass. Along with the old hits the band also played a newer track "I Burn For You" from their latest compilation and it truly worked live and paid respect to the 80's, being a very melodic and catchy sing-a-long song. Everyone at the tent knew the song immediately. What gave the show even more colour and variation from the rest of the Sweden Rock shows was the fact, that the band didn't waste no time with solos or cover songs. Considering how many great songs Treat has it would've been sad to waste time with something as meaningless as those. Any Treat setlist would be perfect, but still the show seemed way too short for old fans, and songs like "Fallen Angel" and "Eyes On Fire" would've been awesome to hear as well. Anyway, true nostalgia and the athmosphere was just perfect at the front row!

Setlist: Changes, Ready For The Taking, Too Wild, I Burn For You, Ride Me High, Home Is Where Your Heart Is, You're The One I Want, Strike Without A Warning, We Are One, Conspiracy, Mr. Heartache, Get You On The Run, World Of Promises, Sole Survivor, Rev It Up

The horror master himself from the sixties, ALICE COOPER, went on stage while Treat was playing, so we caught him a bit on stage. His show has been pretty much the same for the last few years, this time playing the newest tracks though and the best of oldies, which seemed to work for the massive, mostly older crowd. The band kicked the show off theatrically wearing masks, and other props used were Cooper's stick, guillotine, his own money poured down on the crowd and his daughter seen as a dancer. Cooper always had a good eye and ear on musicians and this time his band again featured a bunch of great showmans; Keri Kelli (guitar, Slash's Snakepit), Eric Singer (drums, Kiss, Badlands), Chuck Garrick (bass) and Damon Johnson (guitar, Brother Cane, John Waite). No matter how many shows you've seen from Cooper he always manages to entertain.

Setlist: Department Of Youth, No More Mr. Nice Guy, Dirty Diamonds, Billion Dollar Babies, Be My Lover, Lost In America, I Never Cry (acoustic), Woman Of Mass Destruction, I'm Eighteen, You Drive Me Nervous, Is It My Body, Go To Hell, The Black Widow (instrumental), drum solo, Feed My Frankenstein, Medley: The Piece (Welcome To My Nightmare, The Awakening, Steven, Only Women Bleed, Steven, Ballad Of Dwight Fry, Killer, I Love The Dead - without Cooper), School's Out, Poison, I Wish I Was Born In Beverly Hills, Under My Wheels

Before Whitesnake came on stage, CELTIC FROST continued with a different type of horror feeling with their gloomy metal at Sweden stage. Their eerie thrash melodies became even more effective in the very dark night, accompanied with a great and colourful light show, that seemed to strengthen the bands doomy atmosphere. People watched the show in awe, the Sweden stage area even turned silent at times, as if a higher spirit caught the crowds breath for a while. What gave the show even more magical touch was the lead singer Tom Gabriel Fischer's unique vocals. They fit the bands sound brilliantly and are very easy to recognize. He had just went through a surgery three days before the festival, but his performance didn't show no signs of such ordeal. There hasn't been many shows that have had such an atmosphere and the show was highly praised by most who saw it. The band ended the night perfectly for the fans of this type of music.

Setlist included: Procreation (Of The Wicked), Dethroned Emperor, The Usurper, Jewel Throne, Ain Elohim, Necromantical Screams, Mesmerized, Sorrows Of The Moon, Return To The Eve, Visions Of Mortality, Into The Crypts Of Rays, Progeny, Inner Sanctum, Circle Of The Tyrants, Synagoga Satanae

For some it might be a long time, but personally thinking three years go by fast. That's when Sweden Rock last saw WHITESNAKE on the bill and on the same stage as well. The band featured Marco Mendoza on bass back in 2003, but due to his other commitments Coverdale replaced him to a younger guy Uriah Duffy, who Coverdale likes to introduce as "terribly young and terribly sexy", and who also seems to find admiration from the crowd as much as the rest of the band members. The legend that Coverdale is and coscidering he still has high appeal among female fans, there really shouldn't be any need in fishing around more fans with a gorgeous looking band. Of course it's always a plus, but who wouldn't go see him anyway? During the last few years Whitesnake has been touring a lot and those who've often seen them perform these last few years don't get much surprises in the setlist anymore. The song orders change some and a few songs keep switching on and off. This time they played ten same songs as in Sweden Rock 2003. While losing a few songs, "Lovehunter", "Take Me With You" and "Ready An' Willing" were new this year. The set began with "Burn", mixing in some "Stormbringer" to it.

Coverdale has also cleaned up his act, he has barely been heard cursing during the last two years anymore, but he doesn't really need ego boosting in that way, he's a born rockstar, who handles his crowd fluently. The rest of the band also performed as if the huge crowd didn't get on their nerves at all and it was refreshing to see how Duffy would fill the huge space left by Mendoza, who is an awesome performer. Needless to say, the job is hard, but all in all Duffy has what it takes. His act is more calmer though, but most importantly his talents are what count and he filled that space well. While Coverdale mostly handles the middle part of the stage, the rest of the group walks quite freely around. Drummer Tommy Aldridge is tied up to his drumkit though, but he tricks around giving more colour to the show. He drums away with bare hands and gives signs to the crowd with his sticks and stands up occasionally to let everyone see him. With a set of approx 90 minutes and lea ving the stage with "Still Of The Night", the crowd was still expecting more. It seemed as if the band ran out of showtime in Sweden Rock the way they left the stage quite calmly and how the outro tape for "We Wish You Well" went on only after a moment had passed. Who knows, but a month later in Finland headlining their own show they still came back for "Bad Boys". Whitesnake still manages to pull off great shows and touches the hearts of both older and younger rockers, which is a great achievement.

Setlist: Burn/Stormbringer, Slide It In, Love Ain't No Stranger, Walking In The Shadow Of The Blues, Lovehunter, Slow An'Easy, Is This Love, Ready An' Willing, guitar solo by Doug Aldrich, Snake Dance (instrumental), Crying In The Rain, drum solo by Tommy Aldridge, Crying In The Rain, band introduction, Ain't No Love In The Heart Of The City (Bobby Bland), Give Me All Your Love, Here I Go Again, Encore: Take Me With You, Still Of The Night, outro: We Wish You Well

Saturday Full Set Highlights: Firewind, Edguy, Treat, Whitesnake


It was the last night again in Sweden Rock and time to say goodbye to so many friends. As we passed the festival area from Festival stage where Whitesnake had just finished off, to the Rock stage and through the backstage and its bar with many band members, it was hard to spot familiar faces from the huge amount of people. Some still stayed around and kept partying, while we took off quite fast fearing what traffic was lying ahead. As we were leaving the backstage area, a white limousine slowly drove past us with blackened windows. The same car was driving last year's headliner Mötley Crüe in Sweden Rock 2005, so this was probably Whitesnake. Some musicians use the local busses to get around and some use limousines, but giants like Whitesnake deserve their luxury for sure.

Amazingly the traffic wasn't all that bad after Whitesnake, and while dodging the drunken metal fans on the road and seing one smashed up car, we managed to arrive to our hostel in less than twenty minutes. Some people were still on the party mood, but we didn't have the luxury from the early wake-up call. The next day was spent again in Copenhagen, seing sights, taking some time off at an Irish bar and seing some hungover festival goers. The sun was still shining on the Denmark side too. It was a perfect day to end this years trip and hopefully the sun keeps spoiling us in the future celebrations too. In one word, Sweden Rock 2006 was total NOSTALGIA. Suits me completely and you, sir.

Also in Sweden Rock 2006: From Behind, Cathedral, Entombed, Bullet, Sleazy Joe, Extrema, Lord Belial, Leaf Hound, Raise Hell, Grave, Hardcore Superstar, Arch Enemy, Gehennah, David Harleyson Power Trio, Metal Church, Neil Turbin's Deathriders, W2, Cactus, Venom, Anvil, Overdrive, Sodom, Onslaught, Blitzkrieg, The Sweet, The Quill, Obituary

Report by Satu Reunanen, satu [at] rockunited.com
Pictures by Satu Reunanen and Kari Helenius; carda [at] metalphotos.com
Hi-Res versions of the pix and more at http://www.metalphotos.com/Coppermine (c)2006 RockUnited.Com