SWEDEN ROCK FESTIVAL
Mission: Sweden Rock Festival
Facts: Great line-ups: Megadeth, Within Temptation, Styx, Motörhead, Nazareth, Accept, Status Quo, Dream Theater, Sammy Hagar, Blackfoot, Mötley Crüe and so forth.
Note: Setlists can be incomplete
Yes, once again it was time to drop by at our beloved neighbouring country, the Royal Sweden and this trip wasn't just slouching and drinking beer. It was actually tough work most of the time, since the schedule was tighter this year comparing to last year. Little did we know we were about to see at least 28 bands in three days, leaving out those we missed, which was at least as many. So hardly no breaks for the RockUnited team. Each day over 20,000 people invaded the festival, so imagine how hard it was seing the biggest bands, but if you tried hard a place with a view might've come up. Arriving on Thursday morning to Copenhagen, our journey continued by car from there. The road happened to be blocked two kilometers from the front gate and we were in a rush to reach the festival grounds in time to see the first band Crystal Eyes, which is fronted by one of my favourite singers Daniel Heiman (ex-Lost Horizon). But no worries, we checked the map and decided to give a try to a side road. Off we went leaving the barely moving line frying in the hot sun. The small road gave us a good ride with small rocks bombing at us as we drove it fast trying to be on time. Only 15 minutes to go or the game was lost for Crystal Eyes. As we got closer to the festival area, some people were partying outside in their gardens by the small and dusty country road, relaxing before the big party fully started rolling. Ah, the benefits of home county. We managed to pull to the front gate just in time to pick up our passes and while the guys started unloading the car, I went to see how the atmosphere was on Spendrups Stage at 12.15 in the morning.
THURSDAY, 9th of June:
It was really weird seing Heiman fronting a more normal metal outfit this time instead of the strong spirited Lost Horizon, where wearing costumes and facial paint was part of the game. But he isn't an official member of the band, so who knows what CRYSTAL EYES will come up in the future and where Heiman ends up in. The band played in Sweden Rock already in 2003, and their playtime was also in early hours then, so they hardly were getting much attention. This time around there seemed to be more crowd though, the presence of Heiman brought some new fans to the band, who enjoyed the show. The material was a bit better this time with over half of the songs being from the latest and the most powerful album and the band rocked better with Daniel on vocals, he lifted the spirits up one level for old songs like "The Wizard's Apprentice", eventhough he didn't sing as high as in Lost Horizon. Guitarist Mikael Dahl sang the last song "Highland Revenge". Crystal Eyes' material still carries the old metal mentality with pounding rhythms and simple structures, with a hint to the spirit of Lost Horizon in few songs, though not really reaching to any spectacular hights from the average metal scene. But I was pleased enough and happy to see the band evolving. Spendrups Stage surprised this year with good sounds, which seemed to be good throughout the festival.
Setlist: The Charioteer, Confessions Of The Maker, Northern Rage, White Wolves, The Burning Vision, The Wizard's Apprentice, Highland Revenge
FREAK KITCHEN isn't new to Sweden Rock either, but it's always a first time for someone, this time for me, eventhough being a fan already from the first album. Their set wasn't exactly what I hoped to hear live though, but they sounded good on Sweden Stage. They gained loads of crowd, some left due to the strange set, but the rest stayed and had a good time with this entertaining band. Singer Mattias Eklundh was wearing his usual strange outfit, including the helmet which he's had long. It's an added element to that humorous side which the band has had all along. The band's very energetic and inventive, so their shows never get boring to watch, and this time we saw guitar playing with teeth, a bull's filthy part, with chop sticks and in a Jeff Healey-way, the guitar lying on horizontal position. The band goes a bit over the top sometimes, but who cares, they're a band which brightens its listeners day and not many bands can have such a positive attitude live. A few songs stuck playing in the head, and this time Eklundh spreading his "goodie goodie"s all over darn stuck to my vocabulary afterwards. Some of the songs played were "My New Haircut", "Razor Flowers", "Porno Daddy" and the mighty "Speak When Spoken To", with the glue-like sticking effect. The crowd was very much into his game. The yellow band t-shirts which were spread all over the place brough a bright and cheerful colour to the festival grounds.
ANTHRAX was playing at the same time with Freak Kitchen, but I managed to see the last songs from the thrashers. With Joey Belladonna again in the band, one couldn't have missed this show. It was back in the early nineties that I last witnessed this line-up, so I had great memories popping up while watching the guys on stage. Their show was almost as energetic as always, though Belladonna seemed to take it more relaxed.
Setlist: Among The Living, Got The Time, Caught In A Mosh, A.I.R., Madhouse, Antisocial, Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.), Medusa, Indians, Be All End All, I’m The Man, Metal Thrashing Mad, I Am The Law
HELLFUELED played on Sweden Stage with their Wylde / Ozzy-stylish metal. A refreshing, really heavy and powerful act that still has an own touch to the songs without ripping other bands too much. The crowd seemed to be about the same as in Black Label Society gig.
The Rocklassiker Tent was offering some side shows from smaller bands and you could spot some interesting acts there. Ten 67 played there again this year with Ian Haugland. Even Mats Leven and Meldrum singer Moa Holmsten were spending time where a cover band competition was also held.
MEGADETH played on Festival Stage when the sun was still shining and the mood wasn't exactly right for this kind of music. Mustaine is the only original member left in the band, so it wasn't a huge thrill for a fan who loved at least the longest lasting line-up with Marty Friedman, Nick Menza and David Ellefson, but it was still interesting to see what this line-up could do live. Mustaine was blurting words out without much effort to his singing, not like he used to perform with much more passion, and his singing wasn't at its best either. The whole show seemed to be more of a stripped down offering and not even speaches were heard much, though bands filling their playtime with long speaches isn't preferable either. The band played and performed like a real band though, but nothing spectacular was seen. The band had some young fans also, two small boys in the front row in metal outfits were moshing like old timers. An amazing amount of crowd was packed in the area, waiting for the oldies in the set. And Megadeth did surprise their fans with them. Glen Drover was on the other guitar and did fine with his parts.
Setlist: Blackmail The Universe, Set The World Afire, Skin O' My Teeth, The Scorpion, Wake Up Dead, In My Darkest Hour, She-Wolf, Die Dead Enough, Trust, Kick The Chair, Hangar 18, Return To Hangar, Back In The Day, Sweating Bullets, Tornado Of Souls, Symphony Of Destruction, Rattlehead, Peace Sells But Who's Buying, Holy Wars
Same time on the bill were WITHIN TEMPTATION and Saxon, and having seen Saxon a few times WT won the pick. Those who saw Saxon though also saw Jorg Michael from Stratovarius drumming away the show like in Wacken last year. Within Temptation were playing on the small Sweden Stage, which has problems with the sun shining straight into the eyes in the evening hours. The hill there is nice though, it's easier to watch bands when you can choose a higher ground from taller people. WT's set was an hour and a half and not much older songs were played, due to their more commercial side nowadays and their new fans based on that genre. Those death metal grunts would've dropped some eyeballs for sure from the pop generation. Sharon Den Adel walked together with the boys on the romantic green and gray settings and immediatelly started her wellknown surf with her hands, swaying all around dramatically in her white fluffy dress. Somewhere in the middle of the set Sharon's microphone did tricks and guitarist Robert Westerholt volunteered to sing, to which he immediately stated "You don't want that". But Sharon wasn't at her best either, singing a lot off key, though at times she did such amazing job with the high notes, that I was worried for my ears eventhough I wore earplugs. Sure the whole set and the bands music seems somewhat pretentious, but the music together with the soulful lyrics works for the sensual and romance hungry metal fans. I was quite pleased with the show, eventhough Sharon wasn't at her best today.
Setlist: See Who I Am, Jillian, Stand My Ground, Angels, The Promise, Pale, Forsaken, Memories, Running Up That Hill, Caged, Mother Earth, encore: Deceiver Of Fools, Aquarius, Ice Queen
Of all those old bands I've always wanted to see live, STYX is one of them. And it was even more greater to see them live, since Tommy Shaw was back in the band, a man who's vocal work I've admired also on his solo albums, especially "Ambition", to his days in Damn Yankees and playing with Jack Blades. So it's a good thing Sweden Rock can bring these bands over to Scandinavia, since otherwise you would hardly ever see them. Festival Stage was again piled up of people at eight in the evening, when the elegant band with Tommy Shaw and James Young (guitar), Todd Sucherman (drums), Lawrence Gowan (vocals, keys), Ricky Phillips (bass) and Chuck Panozzo (bass) hit the stage. The sounds and the atmosphere were great, everyone was anxiously waiting for them. The band seemed like a bunch of youngsters on stage, sharing good spirits with their smiles, relaxed presence and having a good time. Lawrence Gowan displayed quite a show with his keys, which stays unforgettable, spinning with his rack around, just like Dream Theater's been doing for some years now and Gowan also. The funny Beatles-cover "I Am The Walrus" was played, which made some non Styx-fans heads shaking in laughter. Chuck Panozzo, the original bassplayer with AIDS, also played with the band today, since he was feeling a bit better. The two last songs were played with Chuck on bass and Ricky Phillips on guitar instead. As an encore they played a song also known from WASP, I Don't Need No Doctor. Somehow I prefer the WASP-cover though, it's just insane with a sick energy level, though smooth versions are also welcome for certain moods. The whole band usually does the vocal harmonies with this genre of music and they worked well live also. The singers were also taking turns and whatever the band did sounded great. The band was very lively and Tommy Shaw was flying all over with his guitar. They even did Mr. Roboto live, though it was only included in the medley, but still. It's one of those songs they could just bury, since it doesn't fit their sound at all. "Suite Madam Blue" wasn't played or nothing from the album "Edge Of The Century" for me, but the show exceeded most peoples expectations and we left satisfied.
Setlist: Blue Collar Man (Long Nights), The Grand Illusion, One With Everything, Lady, Too Much Time On My Hands, Snowblind, I Am The Walrus 18 songs medley: (Put Me On, Light Me Up, Mademoiselle, Heavy Metal Poisoning, Midnight Ride, Crystal Ball, Shooz, Queen Of Spades, Great White Hope, Half Penny Two Penny, Borrowed Time, Superstars, Mr.Roboto, Rockin' The Paradise, Castle Walls, Man In The Wilderness, Put Me On, The Grand Finale) Fooling Yourself (Panozzo on Bass), Miss America, Come Sail Away (Panozzo on Bass) Encore: I Don't Need No Doctor (Humble Pie Cover), Renegade (Panozzo on Bass), One With Everything, Genki Desu Ka
The last band to hit Rock Stage was MOTÖRHEAD. They create thunder wherever they are and Sweden Rock was boiling. One of the things the fans were waiting for was the Bomber, the airplane-shaped creation made of lights and metal that at the end of the show starts its "fly" on stage, landing closer to the band members. The lightshow was as good as could be expected. Lemmy was doing his usual poses and sounded as evil as always, while the band was as tight as ever. The crowd was very lively, though later on Dio and Mötley Crüe also saw some wild action.
Setlist: Dr. Rock, Stay Clean, Shot In The Back, Love Me Like A Reptile, Killers, Metropolis, No Class, Over The Top, I Got Mine, In The Name Of Tragedy, Dancing On Your Grave, R.A.M.O.N.E.S., Sacrifice, Killed By Death, Iron Fist, Bomber, Ace Of Spades, Over
NAZARETH ended the evening for me, I was way too tired both physically and mentally to stay up till two o'clock a.m. to see Accept. Reason for such a worn off state was the current week. Mötley Crüe played in Finland on Monday, total sleep less than 4 hours. Tuesday had us partying with friends, total sleep less than three hours. Wednesday brought Black Label Society to Helsinki and total sleep was an hour and a half. Altogether we slept a bit over 8 hours in three days. What a way to start the weekend at Sweden Rock ! The Scottish Nazareth played on Sweden Stage, where singer Dan McCafferty and the band showed they were still in great fit, eventhough the other original member left in the band was bassist Pete Agnew. The drummer was his son Lee Agnew and on guitar we heard Jimmy Murrison. The setlist seemed kinda dragging, though there were quite a few pleasant songs that people got into, but still lots of my faves weren't played. During the older bands people were mostly just sitting where ever they could though, so the mood was relaxed at those shows.
Setlist: Hit the Fan, Open Up Woman, Razamanaz, Kentucky Fried Blues, This Months Messiah, Dream On, Bad Bad Boy, Love Leads To Madness, My White Bicycle, Hearts Grown Gold, Shanghaid In Shanghai, Cocaine (J.J.Cale), Turn On Your Receiver, Hair Of The Dog, Love Hurts (Everly Brothers), Night Woman, This Flight Tonight (Joni Mitchell)
So I missed the ACCEPT show, but heard it from the car, parked close to the Festival stage. We've got photos from the set though and listening Accept at the car they were sounding as heavy as ever, UDO giving his all for the classics.
Setlist: Starlight, Living For Tonite, London Leatherboys, Metal Heart, Love Child, Breaker, Head Over Heels, Neon Nights, Restless & Wild, Son Of A Bitch, Turn Me On, TV War, Up To The Limit, Monster Man, Flash Rockin’ Man, Burning, Princess Of The Dawn, Fast As A Shark, I’m A Rebel, Balls To The Wall
Thursday Highlights: Anthrax, Within Temptation, Styx, Motörhead, Nazareth
The remaining attractions : Crystal Eyes, Hellfueled, Freak Kitchen, Megadeth
Mission impossible: Napalm Death, Jug McKenzie, Force Of Evil, The Ring, Crucified Barbara, Trettiåriga Kriget, Thyrfing, Saxon, Morgana Lefay, Ten 67, Accept
FRIDAY, 10th of June:
Oddly enough as I woke up my feet were fine. But this was only the second day to go. Maybe after Saturday they'd be completely dead, or död in swedish. Waking up early enough before the bands started, it was time to check out the Sweden Rock Shop. Goodbye money. And yeah, I was again the last person leaving the place from our bunch, wondering will I be eating my cd's for the last day, as there were only a few kronor left in my pocket...enough for a few ciders, but that's about it. Good thing there were still some euros though, so it was time to check out the festival bank for the first time. Waiting in the long line on the front gate for a few minutes while my friends were shaking their heads to the usual "women & money", they decided to lead me to the other bank for a faster service. Lying right next to the Rockklassiker Tent and opening at the same time the first band started playing, I waited 30 minutes, so it was a lot faster than standing on the other place. Some percentage was taken as service charge, which wasn't deadly though.
ROB ROCK was the beginning act for some of us on Spendrups Stage on Friday and he played with well-known swedish musicians; Carl Johan Grimmark on guitar (Narnia), Andreas Johansson on drums (Narnia) Andreas Olsson on bass (Narnia), and the guitarist Daniel Hall from Platitude. Rob had some fans travelling around to see him and he seemed pleased to see familiar faces in the crowd. The set was somewhat flat, though the band was moving professionally on stage. The best tracks were heard in the end and that raised the mood quite a lot. The setlist included Rock The Earth, In The Night, First Winds Of The End Of Time, Judgement Day, Eagle (Abba-cover), Slayer Of Souls, Streets OF Madness.
At the same time BLACK LABEL SOCIETY played their heavy stuff at Festival Stage and the set was almost alike to what they played in Finland, though shorter. This was one of the bands that drew the biggest crowds, but looking at them it seemed there were also curious ones among the real hardcore fans, there were those who looked like bikers, but also normal office worker-lookalikes. Wylde's Ozzy-fame was one of the reasons for such magnetism. Zakk Wylde in his ragged outfit delivered heavy riffs and speaches of politics, friendship and music. He played some solos, which haven't been that interesting in these shows, they rather seem like rehearsal bits he's doing back at home. He had the guy shouting one word to his mike again in the show, though he was missing his megaphone this time which he had in Helsinki. And he didn't now have the guy switching the lyrics in front of him either as the show went on. Even when looking like a brutal biker, Wylde's personality isn't all that rough in the end. He was a real gentleman when we met in Finland, with polite behaviour, giving hugs and kisses. Come to think about it, he was still a cute young chap some years ago when already playing with Ozzy. And so was bassist James Lomenzo, the other rough looking guy in the band, formerly from White Lion. Whatever made the guys go with the bikers looks, it hasn't taken their personality with it.
Setlist: Intro: The Godfather Theme, Stoned & Drunk, Destruction Overdrive, Been A Long Time, guitar intro with Black Sabbath's "Iron Man", Funeral Bell, Suffering Overdue, Suicide Messiah, Demise Of Sanity, Spread Your Wings, Fire It Up, Wylde's guitar solo, Stillborn, Genocide Junkies
The melodic and symphonic progrocker LANA LANE was basking at a beautiful weather on Spendrups Stage in the afternoon, while her fans were mostly lying on the grass relaxing and listening to her beautiful voice and the peaceful harmonies. The wind was blowing a bit, which scattered the sounds at times, but other than that all went quite smoothly. Her set didn't offer much variety though. "Secrets Of Astrology" began the set and the song selection was rocking evenly.
Gazed a little bit of my old faves OVERKILL from far, but I didn't get to hear my favourite "Fuck You" or "Nice Day For A Funeral" since I had to leave. The band was thrashing with profession and didn't have to play for just a few fans, there were many moshing around. The members, at least singer Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth, was in great shape, he even went shirtless. Mike Portnoy from Dream Theater joined in the drums for "Elimination" too, which I sadly missed.
Setlist: Within Your Eyes, Damned, Rotten To The Core, Wrecking Crew, Hello From The Gutter, Nice Day For A Funeral, Elimination, Thanx For Nothin’, Under One, Necroshine, In Union We Stand, Old School, F**k You, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (AC/DC-cover)
KANSAS is one of the bands with a long history. So in their 90 minute set you couldn't possibly have all your faves. This time they left all their eighties material out and opened with three old songs. Their set was as professional as Styx's, so it was very enjoyable. Steve Walsh on keys and other vocals was hardly recognizable. His vocal parts and playing were almost as good as you could expect from him. The members were all in good shape, but they seemed quite lazy on stage to move. Singer Robby Steinhardt played his violin again with slick moves and introduced "Dust In The Wind" as the ultimate heavy metal Kansas song. The band has never been that serious, so you could expect humour such as this. Richard Williams was on guitar and Phil Ehart on drums. Billy Greer on bass was showing great vocals also, something where Kansas shines really. Carry On Wayward Son was a fine ending for the show and the crowd was with the band all the way during the show, singing along and closing this song nicely in the same manner.
Setlist: Belexes, Paradox, Opus Insert, Miracles Out Of Nowhere, Icarus, Magnum Opus Song For America, The Wall, Bringin' It Back (+ Down The Road, Glimpse Of Home) Point Of Know Return, Portrait (He Knew) Encore: Dust In The Wind, Carry On Wayward Son
Somewhere along the line you just have to rest and while relaxing in the car, our front windshield worked as an entertaining tv with a view right to the road leading to the front gate from backstage. And boy were there celebs on the "walk of fame" ! If I was a fulltime autograph-hunter nuttie, I'd be lots richer now holding autographs from at least Helix, Megadeth, Black Label Society, Narnia, Hammerfall, Evidence One, Candlemass, Saxon and whatnot. And most of these people passed us in less than an hour. But most of them were also seen in the common festival grounds, besides the vast signing sessions selection. You can never tell who's gonna bump into you while you're moshing away. Well, you can forget Mötley Crüe from that crop though, they're considered to be too valuable to let them step into the average soil and they're also too big at the moment to be doing something as crazy as that. They were even driven from the press tent to their artist area some hundred meters away in blackened window-equipped cars, as they already caused some hysteria at that area !
Definately one of the best bands to see live is DREAM THEATER. Rock Stage welcomed them together with the mass of fans, who had taken the best places early enough from front. James LaBrie came on stage wearing a Toronto Maple Leaf-ice-hockey shirt, not a typical metal outwear, but ice-hockey shirts have been seen among other musicians on stage as well, including Stratovarius. The band played well again, though with their typical long tracks the hour and a half seemed like a short time, when they've got plenty of great material to cover at least some three hours. On the forthcoming club and other inside concerts they should be covering some three hours though. Because of the nature of their songs, the photographers got new instructions. They weren't allowed to photograph the first three songs as usual, but the first ten minutes, because a song from DT can last as long as 24 minutes (Octavarium) or if you count "Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence" b-side as one song, then it stretches to some 42 minutes. Some new arrangements of the songs were heard, when "Peruvian Skies" went even more slow motion, but then turned really heavy from the normal version. "Just Let Me Breathe" was another one that didn't get away clean.
Set list included: In The Name Of God outro (intro), The Root Of All Evil, A Fortune In Lies, Just Let Me Breathe, Never Enough, Endless Sacrifice, Panic Attack, Peruvian Skies, Pull Me Under, The Spirit Carries On, As I Am, Encore: Metropolis Pt 1
HAMMERFALL boys delivered their set among icebergs, which they've got on the cover of their latest album "Chapter V: Unbent, Unbowed, Unbroken". The scene seemed kinda 'Spinal Tapish' to some, when the sets didn't look too convincing. The band had strong fanbase in Sweden, of course coming from there, but not even some of the bigger bands from USA had as much fans as these Swede metal warriors in their mighty costumes, hailing with their metal hearts. They gave a strong performance, though not as good as in clubs. Singer Joacim Cans seemed to be on a good mood, probably speaking more than ever on their live shows anywhere around Europe. But it had been four years since they last played in Sweden Rock, so no wonder if it was a special moment for them and the fans. The chorus crowd shouts in "Heeding The Call" didn't get much respond though. Their set hasn't changed much in the past few months, they still added those Judas Priest / Metallica bits in between to raise the mood.
Setlist: Secrets, Riders Of The Storm, Renegade, Let The Hammer Fall, The Templar Flame, Fury Of The Wild, Glory To The Brave, Hammerfall, Hammer Of Justice, Crimson Thunder, Heeding The Call, Templars Of Steel, Blood Bound, Hearts On Fire
Another exciting moment was when 80'ies metal band VIXEN took the stage. Playing very melodic and catchy metal, yet maybe too soft for the toughest metal fans, it was interesting to see how the new line-up worked, when guitarist Jan Kuehnemund was the only original member left. The band had a good showtime on Sweden Stage, gathering both old fans and people who weren't at all familiar with their music, but their show won some new fans over. There were times when I thought their music was too mellow for me, but for the past ten years it's started working again. And it was a breathtaking trip down the memory lane for sure, having seen and met the band in Finland twice between the late 80ies and early 90ies, when their shows were rocking as hard rock should with full make up, hair spray and leather pants. The girls, even the new additions, were wearing quite a heavy make up here also, as you can see from the photos taken from the signing session. So Vixen still looks quite pretty and keeps their 80'ies image. Singer Jenna Sanz-Agero fitted well for the older songs, eventhough I still missed the touch of Janet Gardner, having gotten used to the songs with her on vocals. The other newer members Kat Kraft (drums) and Lynn Louise Lowery (bass) did a fine job as well. Eventhough an all girl band, there was still a man named Chris Fayz playing keys and the guitar behind the keys in the dark. In the midst of the show they got the crowd singing Queen's "We Will Rock You", where they continued on where they left with "I Want You To Rock Me".
Setlist: Rev It Up, Streets In Paradise, Live And Learn, How Much Love, Love Made Me, Anyway, Love Is A Killer, Pacifist, Little Voice, Not A Minute Too Soon, A Little Angry, Cryin', I Want You To Rock Me, Love Song, Cruisin', You Wish, Edge Of A Broken Heart, encore: Bad Reputation, Suffragette City (David Bowie)
One of the line-ups that raised questions was SAMMY HAGAR. Some were totally against seing him, while some were huge fans. Hagar has pulled two shows in Sweden with Cabo Wabo earlier, but the fans who came to see the show seemed to be happy to be seeing him again. And as expected, Sammy pulled quite a show on Festival Stage, going "Waitress, may I have another cocktail please" along with the act, as he ordered a drink from the stage bar, which was one of the sets among others on stage. He had brought some beautiful women there as waitresses, who were claimed to be swedes. He'd also brought a bunch of fans to cheer on stage in the background bridge. Those people were the luckiest fans in Sweden Rock this year for sure. Earlier during the day while Hammerfall was playing, some of the band members were seen in the crowd, maybe they were just relaxing before the show or picking the fans for the show at the time. The fans might've been members of a fan club also. while Hagar was doing "Mas Tequila", they brought the biggest ever pinjata on stage in the shape of a bottle and Hagar hit it with his eyes shut, spreading loads of confetti everywhere. One of the disappointments must've been when he played a lame version of "Right Now", but his voice was in shape so it was a pleasant show with the good band, consisting of a female bassist Mona, David Lauser on drums and the guitarist Victor Johnson. Sammy also played some guitar. They also had a percussionist on stage, so the show offered a wider range of experiences than an average show would.
Setlist: Bad Motor Scooter (Montrose), Shaka Doobie (The Limit), There's Only One Way To Rock, Serious Juju, When The Hammer Falls, Give To Live, I Can't Drive 55, Right Now (Van Halen), Top Of The World (VH), Why Can't This Be Love (VH), Red, drum and percussion solos combined, Whole Lotta Love (Led Zeppelin), Heavy Metal, Mas Tequila, Rainy Day Women 12 & 35 (Bob Dylan), Stand Up, High And Dry Again, Hands And Knees, Three Lock Box, Cabo Wabo (VH, accapella)
The only time we had to check out the backstage bar was after Friday was over. Hammerfall guys were wrecking the tent after Hagar was finished, bouncing to the ceiling together. But that was about it, the glorious backstage has never been this dull. Wonder will it ever improve in the next Sweden Rock ? And who can even find any party mood when the bar closes already at two a.m. ? So before heading to the tents to sleep, we checked out the "grocery store" lying next to Sweden Rock Shop. Never been there before either. The selection of food and other necessities was limited though, but had at least something to survive on. We picked some refreshments and since the night was quite cold I asked for some hot coke...the cashier made some weird looks at me, but found some room temperature coke for me. A request such as this came from the lack of hot chocolate in the area. Sure you could find coffee, but we didn't come across no tea or hot chocolate. From there we headed to the tent and had some fun over there instead, inventing some fine festival tricks for your buddies while they're sleeping...
Friday Highlights: Black Label Society, Kansas, Dream Theater, Hammerfall, Vixen, Sammy Hagar
The Rest Attractions: Rob Rock, Lana Lane, Helix, Overkill
Mission Impossible: Sabaton, Mustach, The Lizards, Symphorce, Satanic Slaughter, Robin Trower, Diamond Head, Behemoth, Status Quo
SATURDAY, 11th of June:
The sun started shining heavily already at eight in the morning, so who in the hell could possibly sleep in the tent after that ?! I decided to try out the festival showers for the first time in my life, earlier having been survived on bottled water and hygiene cosmetics. You could call this Sweden Rock year a virgin trip, since it was a first time for many things for me. The showers weren't running with warm water at morning hours, so some ten minutes were spent for the system to start heating the water. A security guy was also waiting, but no one else at this hour. Hell, I didn't want to spend my whole day here, so being used to cold showers and a 4 degree celcius water back home diving in the fine scandinavian cold waters, I decided to take a plunge and see how hard I can scream. Our photographer Kari also decided to take a cold shower, so we took turns in screaming in the showers, while the "chickens" behind the curtains were having a blast laughing at us. The filthy floor made the experience even more frightening, but the gooey matter wasn't up to spreading infections on anybody today. A very delicious falafel breakfast stuffed us after that. If you were tricky enough, you got free meal by asking to try out the dishes. Some people have the nerve..
Went out to see SHAKRA a bit before the last part of the Therion show. Shakra were opening the day nicely and not too roughly with their fine Gotthard-stylish hard rock. Their sounds spoiled the mood quite a bit though, the vocals were mixed so low you could hardly hear them. Roger Tanner also broke his drumhead and the singer Mark Fox seemed like he had a hangover. When it was time to play a ballad, the band asked the crowd who was into them and who wasn't, though their guitarist Thomas Muster just added "we're gonna play it no matter what you say" to that, so they went with a fine song "Anything". Despite all their problems, the crowd was pleased and the show went nicely through.
Setlist: Why Don't You Call Me, Hands On The Trigger, Now Or Never, Done Me Wrong, Too Good For Me, Watching You, Sign In The Sky, Little Stories, Anything, Rising High, My Life My World, Trapped, Don't Try To Call, Nothing To Lose
THERION's show was alike to their one in Finland in December, but they ended the set with a Mercyful Fate-cover "Black Funeral". Leven sang like King Diamond himself, he's just an amazing vocalist. Since they had eight minutes left before this song, they first concidered reciting poetry instead, but no one was of course interested in that. One of the songs heard today was also "7 Secrets Of The Sphinx". No orchestra followed with them this time, they only brought the choir with them. The music still worked well enough with background tapes, and amazingly many people were drawn to the site.
Pagan's Mind played on Spendrups Stage, but I still didn't quite get into their music, eventhough having seen them many times. One of the toughest picks in this festival was choosing between Magnum and SEBASTIAN BACH, who both played at the same time. It was a tough pick eventhough just having seen both last year in Bang Your Head festival in Germany. But Bach's energy won, sorry Bob, but next time it's definately Magnum-time. So Sweden Stage called me. And Bach didn't fail this time either, he was as energetic as always like he was still living those Skid Row times. With that attitude it isn't hard to get the crowd into great mood and so the plethora of dressed up hard rock fans were screaming along and going wild. His voice wasn't at its best though, but he did pull the songs well enough. The band with him today was Steve DiGiorgio, who played with a double neck bass on "I Remember You", Bobby Jarzombek on drums, Metal Mike Chlasciak and Johnny Chromatic on guitar and backing vocals. "We Are One" was introduced as being written by guitarist Mike Chlasciak. Bach wanted to bring a swedish singer Sofia on stage with him to perform "Wasted Time" and the duet worked miserably. Sofia did remember her lyrical parts, but sang off key most of the time. Bach fans weren't pleased about having someone else singing their fave songs and with such a bad performance, eventhough they still did applause her. And they applaused to Bach also, when he kept his speaches in bad swedish.
Setlist: Slave To The Grind, Big Guns, Piece Of Me, Frozen, Here I Am, We Are One, 18 & Life, Livin' On A Chain Gang, Rock 'N' Roll, The Threat, Monkey Business, Wasted Time, Riot Act, I Remember You, Youth Gone Wild
MAGNUM was praised from anyone who saw them and why not, everytime I've seen them they've played a brilliant show. Their set hadn't really changed from BYH, Germany, last year, but this is almost a perfect set if you only have an hour and 15 minutes to play.
Setlist: Brand New Morning, Back Street Kid, Need A Lot Of Love, How Far Jerusalem, Les Morts Dansant, Soldier Of the Line, We All Run, Two Hearts, All England’s Eyes, Vigilante, Kingdom Of Madness, Scared Hour
YNGWIE MALMSTEEN is very well known of his guitar skills and while waiting his show to start I had a feeling this wasn't going down easy, with a vision in my mind him stuffing loads of guitar solos anywhere possible and that's what he did exactly ! The show was a complite disaster, since the show contained many solos and many instrumentals. His instrumentals are good though, but vocal songs are the ones that most people want from him. His show has stayed the same since 1988 when I first saw him live, all the way from his dramatic moves and facial expressions to his egotistical solos. What makes them egotistical is the fact that everytime he playes a long solo, the stage gets emptied from other bandmembers. Who can say no to a break when you're on a long tour, but letting down the fans this way isn't funny. Be it the leader of the band, but still. The sounds with this show weren't too good, and one had to listen hard to hear Doogie White's vocal work. The only thing that lifted the mood was the song selection, which mostly contained older songs.
Setlist (not with all instrumentals): Rising Force, Never Die, Masquerade, Don`t Let It End, guitar solo + Far Beyond The Sun, band introduction, I Am A Viking, Baroque & Roll, Demon Driver, guitar solo + Fugue, keyboard solo, drum solo, You Don`t Remember I`ll Never Forget, guitar solo + Black Star, As Above So Below, guitar intro with Swedish National Anthem, I See The Light Tonight
BLACKFOOT was one of the older bands, which play lean southern rock and their entry on stage caused some hysteria, when their bassist Greg Walker wore an indian costume, all the way from head to toe. This was new to those who haven't yet seen their shows. The band played an even set in good and relaxed atmosphere, where the crowd was sitting on chairs, as they were while Kansas, Nazareth and Styx were playing. Now that is something concerts would need these days, chairs. Half the area for thrashers and half for chair people. One of the low points of this show was the absence of their drummer Jackson Spires, who just passed away while ago. The slower song "Sunshine Again" was dedicated to him and the crowd listened in silence with respect. They replaced Spires with an Austrian drummer Christoph Ullman, who played very well. Since Sweden Rock lies in the Southern part of Sweden, the band felt a connection there, as Blackfoot comes from the Southern part of USA. "We've got a thing going", they said. The other members here were guitarists Charlie Hargrett and Bobby Barth (on vocals also), who's been with Blackfoot since 80's.
Setlist: Good Morning, Wishing Well (Free), I Got A Line On You, Baby Blue, Sunshine Again, Every Man Should Know (Queenie), Fox Chase, Left Turn On A Red Light, On The Run, Rollin' And Tumblin', Fly Away, Train Train, Highway Song, Railroad Man, Dry Country
SONATA ARCTICA interested more people this year than two years ago on the same Sweden Stage. I only managed to see the last fifteen minutes, but the band had enough action going on, so it seemed like once again a good show. The guys left the stage 15 minutes earlier than their schedule showed and we asked what was that about from the keysman Henrik Klingenberg, who was roaming around while Mötley Crüe played, signing autographs while there. Straight from his mouth he said there was a mixup with the schedule, the band was told they had over an hour stage time, when it was actually an hour and a half. They weren't the only band with such mixup.
Setlist: Misplaced, Dream Thieves, Blinded No More, Victoria’s Secret, Broken, Weballergy, My Land, Kingdom for a Heart, Black Sheep, 8th Commandment, Don't Say a Word, The Cage
About thirty minutes before DIO started the stage grounds were already too packed to even breathe. It was tough trying to see at least a glimpse of the band, watching it from aside as much as one could. It was a celebration for everyone though, old songs in the set like he's had lately. People were really dancing the night away and after the band finished, many people left the festival, though some just moved themselves to the stage right next to Rock Stage, where Mötley Crüe was about to start. The ones who still stayed for the last band were mostly in their thirties, but even younger fans were seen. The stage was really plain compared to what we've gotten used to seing from Dio, and concidering they were one of the headliners, it seemed kinda strange. The whole band seemed a little tired, Craig Goldy on guitar, Rudy Sarzo on bass, Scott Warren on keys and Simon Wright on drums and he already played his drum solo after a few songs. Not only did we hear the old Dio songs, but also classics from Rainbow and Black Sabbath. "Man On The Silver Mountain" was dedicated to Ritchie Blackmore, and it raised suspicions about a possible Rainbow re-union. Maybe next year in Sweden then ? All in all a great show though.
Setlist: Killing The Dragon, Egypt (The Chains Are On), Stargazer, Stand Up & Shout, Holy Diver, Sunset Superman, Don’t Talk To Strangers, The Man On The Silver Mountain, guitar solo, Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll, Shivers, Gates Of Babylon, Heaven & Hell, We Rock, Rainbow In The Dark
The main band of the event was of course MÖTLEY CRÜE. And everywhere they go it shows how huge they are and how well their record company has stood by them. As mentioned earlier they caused commotion even among the press in the backstage. Some media members squeezed inside the press tent from any hole they could find and after the conference was through Mötley sneaked out real fast. I could still see a glimpse of Vince Neil sitting in the cars backseat wondering about the chaos. I didn't find a hole to get myself inside the tent, so no bits from the interview here. Recording the thing was also prohibited. Having just seen them from the front row in Finland I wasn't going to get squashed again, but checked the band further out from the stage. Even before the band started, the fans were already getting hysterical, they were running around headlessly and stuffing themselves in any space they could. All hell broke loose when the band finally arrived, bringing the circus with them as seen in Finland and other shows, though it was more plain this time. The photo pit was soon filled with fainting fans being carried away and it seemed like someone was about to die this evening. Sebastian Bach was watching the band from the photopit with his band, but was rudely booted out as the situation got worse. Mötley shows have usually begun with a short film, but in Sweden it wasn't seen. Neither was the circus tent they've had on stage. Tommy Lee had his titty-camera with him (also in Finland), this time there were no screens for the crowd to watch what he filmed though. His boyish act happened just before Live Wire. Throughout the show they had the women keeping the show going for the guys, playing their sexy games on stage with firecrackers and stuff and of course strippers were also seen. I heard about an 18-years limit to Sweden Rock and with this band there better be. At least they didn't go to such lengths as in Finland, the girls almost went naked in front of the crowd. Their usual keyboard stunt with explosions was at least done here with Nikki Sixx playing a solo behind it while that happened. "Don't Go Away Mad" saw a stripper dragging a midget on a lead behind her, and there were plenty of other things happening.
Setlist: Shout At The Devil, Too Fast For Love, 10 Seconds To Love, Red Hot, Looks That Kill, Louder Than Hell, Live Wire, Girls Girls Girls, Wild Side, Don't Go Away Mad, Primal Scream, Home Sweet Home, Dr. Feelgood, Same Ol' Situation, Sick Love Song, Kickstart My Heart, encore: Helter Skelter, Anarchy In The U.K.
Saturday Highlights: Therion, Sebastian Bach, Blackfoot, Sonata Arctica, Dio, Mötley Crüe
The Rest Attractions: Shakra, Pagan's Mind, Yngwie Malmsteen
Mission Impossible: We, Kim Mitchell, Ten 67, Defleshed, Magnum, A.C.T, Gemini 5, Face Down, Nightingale, Candlemass, Goda Grannar, Statetrooper, Savoy Brown
Once again Sweden truly rocked, with only a few drops of rain this year. And I found there's still plenty of cd's to buy. The shows from Kansas, Styx and even Sammy Hagar which many were prejudiced about, were worthy of updating the cd collections. Lots of friends were seen again, two of them are a great couple from Sweden, originally hailing from Finland. Could be my parents really, but they're still living the heavy metal life, so all hail Asela-the heavy parents ! Strange winds were blowing in Sweden this year, the swedish guys harrassed me to the point where one guy was about to get booted off because of me. There was also a funny incident with my papers, but all in all I left with some more fun memories. But...there's always a "but". Our working was made harder with mixing up the guest and press passes, but come to think about it, it ain't always easy for the rockstars either. They sometimes get in trouble with people who don't recognize them and almost miss their own shows because of it. We didn't see that happening, but these things happen even when you reach the top. We still left very pleased with the festivals overall offerings. The end of this trip was spent flying back home in silence. Destiny played its tricks on us on the road to Malmö. "Send me an angel" was the punchline afterwards, but we were lucky enough not to be needing one, not this time. Stay safe and rock on !
Report by Satu Reunanen, satu [at] rockunited.com