THE WRITING'S ON THE WALL, WE ARE THE YOUTH GONE WILD!
Skid Row and more rockin' at SWEDEN ROCK 2007, June 6-9, Sölvesborg
Yeah, once more we got to hear those famous lyrics live, this time not from Sebastian Bach, but Skid Row's new singer Johnny Solinger, and once again the nostalgia levels were high in Sweden. And imagine this, Sweden Rock can get bigger! The festival which started in 1992 in a much smaller scale has been sold out now for years in a row, now having the festival ground packed to 30,000 music fans each day. Along with the five old stages (Rock, Festival, Gibson, Zeppelin, Sweden), there was two more from last year to keep everyone busy. The Restaurant Stage was located outside the festival area, right next to Sweden Rock restaurant and shop, where a few bands already played on Tuesday, and SR was again for Sveriges Radio, one of Sweden's radio stations, which has been on its place for years now, but no bands have up to this day performed on it, other than doing interviews. The festival now lasted four days instead of the earlier three days, or better said three and half days, and was pure sunshine once again. And when this years band count went as high as 114, it only knew tighter schedules for everyone. Because of this and the overlapping schedules for bands, it's unfortunately impossible to write about each show, which has been proven impossible in the last years also. And since RockUnited mostly concentrates on the melodic acts, they were the primary bands to check out for you.
This years line-up wasn't exactly the best from Sweden Rock, but the festival is special from importing artists quite impossible to see anywhere else in Europe. This years headliners were Aerosmith, Heaven & Hell, Motörhead, Dimmu Borgir and those hard to catch in Europe; Meat Loaf (last seen in Finland in the 80's), Scorpions with their first guitarist Uli Jon Roth, and Reo Speedwagon. And of course Thin Lizzy and the Australian Pink Floyd Show topped the festival for older rock fans. The younger generation rocked to bands like After Forever, Hardcore Superstar, Hellfueled, Blind Guardian and Crashdiet, who now played with their new Finnish singer Olliver.
The festival once again managed to serve every rock fan, and southern rock wasn't forgotten either. What wasn't all too visible was black metal though, only a handful of artists like Dimmu Borgir, Amon Amarth and Marduk took that spot. But most Sweden Rockers seek nostalgia and black metal still being quite a young music genre can't offer that really. It also isn't exactly the best synonyme for the Sweden Rock title. But no worries. If you only came to see black metal, you could entertain yourself with loads of things while there were no bands to see. The festival area is full of shops selling various merchandise from t-shirts to cds to legendary album cover paintings, and artists such as Dimmu Borgir, Kreator, Annihilator and Dark Tranquillity were signing autographs at the Sweden Rock shop most of the day, along with the more mellower names like Talisman, Reo Speedwagon, Blind Guardian, Crashdiet, Thunder and so on.
There are many ways to dose off in Sweden Rock, and probably the most popular one, although not the most comfy one, is sleeping in an own tent (or maybe someone else's tent?) at the camping area. Or you can drive your caravan over. The camping area is situated close to the festival area and easy to find. Some people prefer to take a bus, taxi or drive themselves after each night to the closest hotels or other accommodations available, which isn't a bad idea either. The taxis are easy to catch outside the festival area.
WEDNESDAY KICK-OFF, 6th of June
The day started at three o'clock p.m, when unsigned bands took the Gibson stage, which presented these bands each day. Wednesday saw Blackbush, Emma Varg and Damien and people were curious to see unknown bands too, the tent was quite full all the time, or then it was the few seats the area had to offer that drew them in there.
Randy Pipers Animal, Vomitory, Mozkovitch and Switchblade were at least first on the menu, but Sweden's own sleaze rockers CRAZY LIXX, playing on the SR stage, caught our attention. The band handled well all the crucial clichès of this genre, and the bands vivid stage presence and great melodic hard rock hooks stopped most bypassers at their tracks. It was either curiosity of what was going on, or then the band charmed everyone. It seemed easy for them, since it was impossible to leave after staying there for a while. The band was a tight package full of attitude, presenting only what people wanted to see from the sleaze era. "Heroes Are Forever" and "No More Foolin'" were heard in the end of the show and eventhough the band was evidently an easily rollin' sleaze machine, these songs showed how dynamic they could be on their best and the songs were the crowds favourites. They sang along loudly, cheered and clapped their hands. Definately something to look forward to, since the band is working on their debut. Girls will love this cute longhaired band, formed in 2002.
More Swedish metal followed, as WOLF kicked their set off in Zeppelin Stage, which had the best sounds this year after so many mediocre ones. Staying true to the NWOBHM sound, the old school and the 80's metal, the band also mixes in German style power metal, creating strange musical illusions. The band sounds quite unique, and while mixing all the above styles, they still manage to pull off a sound what I'd call swing metal. Their singer/guitarist Niklas Stålvind shreeks both vocals and guitars intriguingly in high mode, giving Wolf's music something to cling to, while the background mostly gorges with straightforward beats. Still, a very balanced set that kept the almost full audience attention from start to finish. Their (now ex)- bassist Mike Goding (now replaced temporarily by Anders "Tornado" Modd from Tad Morose) and other guitarist Johannes Losbäck among with Niklas kept the show alive with their onstage jesting.
Setlist: Steelwinged Savage Reaper, The Bite, Electric Raga, Wolf's Blood, I Will Kill Again, I Am The Devil, Evil Star, Black Wing Rider, Children Of The Black Flame, Genocide, In The Shadow Of Steel, Demon Bell
Now wait a minute! There was definately something fishy going on here on Wednesday. The third band in a row for us was YET ANOTHER SWEDISH BAND! Sweden Rock had filled Wednesday with local bands, so there wasn't nothing wrong with my head after all. NOCTURNAL RITES has played in Finland, but I was glad of the chance to catch them in their home country. This metal band delivers inspirational and strong melodies sung by Jonny Lindkvist and played by guitarists Fredrik Mannberg and Nils Norberg, Nils Eriksson (bass) and Owe Lingvall (drums). The band seems to be on the right place on stage, as their shows are strong performances with true showmanship, entertaining their fans to the best of their abilities. Lindkvist is a good frontman, and no shy to the crowd and makes their fans feel comfortable with his speaks spiced up with jokes. The band introduced locals Nordman as guests to the full crowd at the Zeppelin Stage, and their hit "Vandraren" was played by this line-up. The metal crowd loved the pop material as well and sang loudly along to the chorus.
Setlist: New World Messiah, Cuts Like A Knife, Never Trust, Shadowland, Not The Only, The Sinner's Cross, Another One Bites The Dust jam (Queen cover), The Iron Force, Wake Up Dead, Strong Enough, When Fire Comes To Ice, Never Again, Vandraren (Nordman cover), Fools Never Die, Afterlife
CRASHDIET filled the Gibson tent at ten o'clock, when the crowd was in high spirits both mentally and physically, so the atmosphere in the tent was very hot. Even before the band started people pushed towards the stage, but no riots were seen, although with Crashdiet's biggest hit and still a crowd favourite "Riot In Everyone", there was a good chance of it happening. Eventhough the show got clean papers it was during this song the security carried at least one person out, who looked pretty tired. Crashdiet is a very lively band, who played in a stage not best for them. The small Gibson stage inside a tent doesn't have much room for fans and also suffered from a bad mix with some bands. Crashdiet's vocals got their share from it in the beginning of the set. The band still played their show through like there was nothing wrong.
Their new Finnish singer Olliver received a noisy welcome and proved he's the right man filling the shoes left by late Dave Lepard. He's easy to compare to a legend like Mike Monroe, another Finn, and checking Olliver on stage doing those Monroe kicks and other moves alike it's easy to see why so many idolize Monroe, being the charismatic frontman he is with the looks and great style. For Olliver the stage wasn't enough though, and he was seen climbing on the side of the stage above the monitors and shaking hands with front row fans. Once he even surprised people by suddenly jumping on the fence in front of the crowd and taking a short walk on it. The security people weren't too happy about it and followed his each step, keeping their eyes on the crowd they won't do anything stupid. In one hour Crashdiet went through their whole debut album "Rest In Sleaze" and finished the set with two more unknown songs I recall being either new or old demosongs. Fans were thrilled of the show, and still yearned for more. No wonder, this show was a riot.
Setlist: Knokk 'Em Down, Queen Obscene/69 Shots, Out Of Line, Needle In Your Eye, Back On Trakk, Tikket, Riot In Everyone, It's A Miracle, Straight Outta Hell, guitar solo, Breakin' The Chainz, two demosongs?
The next band offered another great trip, and it was the only show on Sweden Stage on Wednesday. Seing this band some ten years ago in Ireland it's still fresh in mind, how people smoked weed at the venue and those sitting closeby also got their share from it. The Pink Floyd fans love the relaxed mood from the band and also like to relax at the shows. The substitute for the real Pink Floyd in Sweden couldn't have been better, THE AUSTRALIAN PINK FLOYD SHOW, and I'm sure I smelled something funny amongst the crowd, who were enjoying this cover band in pretty much the same ways as in Ireland. Those who know how big a Pink Floyd show is can imagine Sweden Stage being too small even for a cover band. The stage didn't leave much room for the band to move in, the sets filled it well, but the band isn't too mobile anyways and the four background singers also stayed on their place through the show.
The Adelaide based band (Steve Mac/guitar, Jason Sawford/keys, Colin Wilson/bass, Damian Darlington/ vocals, guitar, Paul Bonney/drums) couldn't be more solid. Their career started in late 80's, and it has taken them playing at David Gilmour's 50th birthday celebration and the Royal Albert Hall, among other things. The band still sounds as good as ten years ago, but their show has evolved. Now they're showing their Australian origins to the crowd. When original Pink Floyd makes a pig fly, the Aussies put their national animal kangaroo everywhere, even filling the last empty stage spots in the form of a jumping rubber kangaroo almost reaching the stage roof. And when you're talking about Pink Floyd, the lightshow has to be perfect too, and the Aussies gave just that. The show was perfect in many ways, and it was probably the first time in Sweden Rock history, that the Sweden Stage sounded so big and brilliant and such amazing background singers set foot on it. Giving this b and the last slot on Wednesday was a great move from the organizers, the crowd left the festival area pleased, relaxed and ready for bed. Who would want to hit the sack anyways to some shreaking screams tormenting your mind when you put out the lights? Since you can't catch the complete original Pink Floyd live anymore, there's nothing better out there than these guys, they'll leave you awestruck.
Setlist: Shine On You Crazy Diamond, What Do You Want From Me, Money, Us And Them, On The Turning Away, Time, Take It Back, The Great Gig In The Sky, Nobody Home, Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun, Learning To Fly, Pigs, Wish You Were Here, One Of These Days, The Happiest Days Of Our Lives/Another Brick In The Wall part 2, Comfortably Numb, encore: Run Like Hell
Best shows of Wednesday: All reviewed
THURSDAY, 7th of June
The festival offered at least Dark Tranquillity, Bluestone Company with Chris Duarte and Tokyo Dragons for first bands on Thursday, but THUNDER kickstarted our day with a classy rock show. I can't recall Thunder ever playing a bad show, they're a very stable live band and thus can easily give a great show. Singer Danny Bowes and his mates (Luke Morley/guitar, Ben Matthews/ guitar/keys, Chris Childs/bass, Harry James/drums) can also entertain otherwise, it comes natural from these Englishmen. And what could've been a more better intro for them, than AC/DC's "Thunderstruck", 'cos that's the effect you'll most likely get from their shows.
The band's performance was very relaxed, with some sidejokes thrown in. At around two o'clock those who were present were asked a complete silence by Bowes in the end of "Low Life", so he could sing the last sentence peacefully. "They won't find peace of mind in such a lonely place" he sang and closed the song, but the Festival stage area wasn't a lonely place, it was full and filled with warmth, coming straight from the sun and the people. Once again Thunder managed to do their magic, rockin', jammin' and swingin' like only Thunder can, making the crowd do singalongs and do some soloing with a mouth-organ and acoustical guitar parts. Their set was a good collection of Thunder hits, especially "Love Walked In" goes straight to the heart, the powerful song still works like it has always done. Thunder has a lot of hits and doing a 75 minute show just don't do justice for their discography.
Setlist: Loser, River Of Pain, Higher Ground, Low Life In High Places, Robert Johnson's Tombstone, You Can't Keep A Good Man Down, The Devil Made Me Do It, Backstreet Symphony, Love Walked In, I Love You More Than Rock'n'Roll, Dirty Love
Eldritch was sharing schedule together with Thunder, and as AXEL RUDI PELL started, Amon Amarth and Backdraft took other stages. The last visit from Axel Rudi Pell in Sweden Rock was in 2004, and the great show is still fresh in minds, but somehow the band failed to leave as great impression this time. The show and the band was great of course, so the fault must've been the setlist. Pell is one of those artists who've released so many albums, that it's a tough job for the rarely gigging band to choose songs for the set.
Just for the heck of it, let's compare the setlists; in 2007 "Living A Lie", "Mystica" and "Rock The Nation" replaced "Nasty Reputation", "Follow The Sign" and one of my favourites "Carousel", while "Strong As A Rock", the medley, "Tear Down The Walls", "Temple Of The King", "Fool Fool", "Call Her Princess" and drumsolo stayed the same. Not much variation, but it seems like the newest tracks can't beat the older material, and some of those tracks left in the set aren't the best ones from the band in my opinion. Their best album so far is "Oceans Of Time", and leaving it completely out of the setlist does make a show kinda flat. Still, you can't deny the fact that the band rocked.
It seems like singer Johnny Gioeli gets more muscular each year. This year he wasn't as energetic though as in 2004, which was a shame, but the rest of the band was moving more so. Once again keysman Ferdy Doernberg did a good performance on his keys, again carrying around the whole thing it was attached to, and boy did that look like heavy duty! Then there was a hassle between the boys, show of course. The drumsolo from Mike Terrana didn't include nothing new for those who've seen the man live with Rage or Masterplan, but it's still a powerhouse performance. The Beast, as Gioeli introduced him, came in front of the stage after the solo and humorously bragged around with his muscles. Gioeli introduced the whole band, having "no fucking idea who I am" about himself. The whole band, including of course the leader of the band, guitarist Axel Rudi Pell, and bassist Volker Krawczak, gives their all live, and plays balanced sets, but as the band thanked the crowd, bowed and left , the shows conclusion was easy to put in one sentence; a bomb without fuse. Still an entertaining show, and even Finns Sturm Und Drang enjoyed it as much as taking a dance spin together on the grass next to us.
Setlist: Living A Lie, Strong As A Rock, Medley (with a new song/The Masquerade Ball/new/Casbah), drum solo, Tear Down The Walls, Mystica, Rock The Nation, Temple Of The King (Rainbow cover), Fool Fool, Call Her Princess (Steeler cover)
QUIET RIOT sneaked on stage suddenly, under the "Mission: Impossible"- theme, and as soon as they appeared, the first notes of "Put Up Or Shut Up" were aired. This American band still has a fanbase after all these years, and half of the area was filled with fans. The band still has the looks and the garments to show off, and watching singer Kevin DuBrow take the stage with ease is pleasant, he was confidently swirling around on stage like a hurricane. The comments coming from his mouth were 80's clichés; if he took his jacket off, all the women had to take their tops off. Don't know if anyone went for it, at least nothing was shown on the stage screens. This year Sweden Rock had added a second screen on the other side of the stage, so it was easy to watch bands from anywhere.
Live Quiet Riot sounds pretty good, although could've sounded better. Their music is a curious mix of various styles, mostly based on hard rock, but glam rules strongly too, and this mix makes them interesting. Brawl rockers is something that comes to mind, when Quiet Riot fuss around live, but it's a nice fuss. Kevin DuBrow liked to call their music old school rock'n'roll, but they're plenty more than that. It was great to see ex-House Of Lords bassist Chuck Wright on stage too, and Frankie Banali, who's also drummed in WASP. Their newest addition, guitarist Alex Grossi, had his own solo spot too. The guitarist has a pretty grungy way of playing, but also likes to shred it out, making the guitar scream in pain, just what we metalheads like! It's nice to notice a band that has been on the scene for three decades is still going strong and are a strong match to the younger generation of rockers.
Setlist: Put Up Or Shut Up, Slick Black Cadillac, Free, South Of Heaven, Mama Weer All Crazy Now (Slade cover), Red Light Mama Red Hot (Humble Pie cover), Run For Cover, Old Habits Die Hard, Sign Of The Times, bass solo, drum solo, The Wild And The Young, Let's Get Crazy, guitar solo, Cum On Feel The Noize (Slade cover), Metal Health
THOSE WE DON'T SPEAK OF replaced Trail Of Tears, and the hype surrounding the band took us over to Zeppelin Stage. The band is fronted with a female singer Sara Löfgren, with members famed from at least Cemetary, Beseech and Nightrage. Strangely with such history behind all the members they didn't much burst out to the crowd, and people seemed unimpressed by their stage presence. Their material isn't the kind to leave a permanent mark on first listen, but since it lacked much in climaxes it's hard to imagine where this band will be heading. Löfgren does sing nicely though and the band played well, but maybe their material needs rearranging. There was a rumour about Daniel Heimann appearing on stage with them, but we didn't catch him. He did a song with the band though, but it turned out to be unsuccessful. Makes you wish Lost Horizon was still together, since afterwards its members have mostly been drifting pointlessly.
The days first show for us at Gibson stage was ahead, as STURM UND DRANG, the Finnish youngsters, started their gig at six o'clock. The band has so far released only one album, but the tent was quite packed before the band even appeared. Finally when they started with some uneasiness in their faces, the crowd wasn't all too convinced with them. The start had some timing difficulties, if I remember correctly they started with "Broken", and the keyboardsound took too much room from other instruments, but everything was corrected after just two songs. Singer/guitarist Andrè Linman warmed up the tent with his Swedish speaches and once while trying to get the crowd shouting, he screamed "yeah, yeah", and to everyone's surprise turned the third "yeah" to "no", and people laughed. Soon the crowd realized these guys can rock, and gave the band raving applauses, but it was "Rising Son" that did the final trick and raised the mood. The crowd clapped their hands, sang along and threw fan stuff on stage. It felt like a much bigger show than it was with the crowds awesome response.
Linman is the bands frontman in all means, he's learned the metal clichès, has the looks, knows how to move on stage and with his guitar he looks like a real rockstar. His complete style resembles the Children Of Bodom singer/guitarist Alexi Laiho, thus it is funny to see him play wearing a COB t-shirt. The second guitarist Alexander Ivars is the second person to keep your eyes at, while keysman Jeppe Welroos, drummer Calle Fahllund and bassist Henkka Kurkiala still need to find their styles and get more confidence. Their shyness didn't bother really, since the band rocked and everyone was having a great time in the end. Apart from their hit song, the Judas Priest cover "Breaking The Law " was a crowd favourite, and "Indian", the heartfelt song with awesome melodies and soulful lyrics, saw the guitarists duetting and the crowd was clapping the rhythm very loudly along. Asko Kallonen, the Finnish Idols-judge and the second founder of Helsinki Music Company, travelled with the band and was seen enjoying the show, as was UDO Dirkschneider. From all the badmouthing I've been hearing from everywhere, I don't see any reason why Sturm Und Drang couldn't have their share of fame with such powerful melodies, catchy choruses and a perfect idea behind it all. I only see them as young musicians with a future ahead, truly the rising sons.
Setlist: Broken, Learning To Rock, Talking To Silence, Indian, Rising Son, Breaking The Law (Judas Priest cover), Forever
While we were in the tent's triumphant battle of the teenagers, most people watched SYMPHONY X at Rock Stage. I would've wanted to see their full show also, but having seen Sturm only once and Symphony X who knows how many times, the decision was this. At least we managed to catch most from the progressive metal masters show, who played an hour and a half, but in case you weren't in the first front rows, the show didn't sound as impressive as it was in reality. There's no doubt Symphony X would ever play a bad show, after all Russell Allen (vocals), Michael Romeo (guitar), Michael LePond (bass), Michael Pinnella (keys) and Jason Rullo (drums) have since the beginning of the bands career been a tight group of musicians. The problem with their music is still their complexity, which doesn't strike a normal festival crowd, and even when a band like them plays a good show, the crowd number is never the biggest. But whatever the crowd count was at the show, there was noise and a ction enough from the fans to make the band happy. One of the reasons for such excitement must've come from the year wait, the band had to cancel their show here last year due to LePond’s surgery, and now they were finally here.
Right on the brink of releasing their new "Paradise Lost" album, a total surprise in the end of the set came in the form of the complete "The Odyssey", just when you mostly expected new material. I wonder what those non-prog metal fans thought, while the song went on for over 24 minutes. The band played the song brilliantly, and it's always a pleasure to listen to such great guitarist like Michael Romeo, who doesn't seem to have a boring moment in their shows. He's tricking all the time and the melodies are both touching and impressive. The band suffered a little from the drum sound, which topped everything else and they also played a bit too loud. Still the fans loved the special treat and made a lot of noise and partied along as well as you can to complex prog metal. Russell Allen is a good frontman, who's not afraid to do his thing on stage. His performance was very strong both vocally and physically. Occasionally he resembled a huge goblin taking his long steps on stag e with really heavy feet. He can be a humourous guy, it also showed in the way he introduced "The Odyssey", joking about the song length. Three new songs were also heard, and some were instantly moshing along to them, but from far at first listen it's hard to say much. They did sound quite heavy though, and what could only be written by Symphony X.
Setlist: Of Sins And Shadows, Domination, Inferno (Unleash The Fire), Communion And The Oracle, Smoke And Mirrors, Set The World On Fire (The Lie Of Lies), The Serpent's Kiss, Sea Of Lies, The Odyssey
What kind of images does a name like MEAT LOAF raise? The man's a legend, he's been on his "Bat Out Of Hell"- quest for three decades now, and his success doesn't show no signs of fading. I witnessed his show in Finland two decades ago with The Neverland Express, and the whole show was huge, Meat Loaf (born Marvin Lee Aday) having one of the biggest voices around that era. Of course his big appearance easily leaves an impression like that, but he really did pour his soul into the performance back then. Sweden Rock showed a little bit mellower side from him, the biggest spark was gone and his vocals weren't in the best shape anymore, but still the band pulled off a good and entertaining show. The band also featured singers Aspen Miller and Carolyn Coletti-Jablonski, John Micceli (drums, ex-Rainbow), guitarists Paul Crook (Anthrax) and Randy Flowers, Kasim Sulton (bass), keysmen Mark Alexander and Dave Luther (also saxophone).
The show was mostly based on entertainment, and male fans were happy to see the two beautiful female singers with Meat, who sang like angels and probably had gone through some acting in their career, like Meat himself. Doing such a dramatic performance with Meat, being the two Miss Teasers for him, their show was pure acting along to the music. Now you have to know, that being the kinda music Meat Loaf is, influenced by broadway musicals, being epic and melodramatic with a rock opera feeling, his shows are also based on expressing those feelings, and sometimes it can get a little humouristic. The acting seemed both ridiculous and passionate at the same time, but for me it worked and the colourful crowd seemed to enjoy the show, as everyone was singing along and participating the show in all manners possible. Well, at least no one threw panties or bras on stage, though I'm sure Meat would've welcomed them with bright eyes.
The only things apart from the performance seen on stage were pyros seen in "Out Of The Frying Pan", the grand piano Meat played and the balloons floating around in human forms and "playing music" with their long hands and legs. The show didn't really need more than that, since Meat brought a theater on stage with the girls. With all said and done, it's hard to imagine how Meat's music can still effect like it does, even when the show didn't burst with the mightiest magic and Meat showed off a bit lazy both vocally and showwise. I'm sure his charisma plays a big role though and carries far, many musicians could take influence from him. After all the hits they played and many left out, the band strangely ended the show to a selection of cover songs, not all too welcomed for the crowd, but Meat Loaf makes any songs work, so the end of the show was also a rock feast at its best.
Setlist: If It Ain't Broke Break It, Paradise By The Dashboard Light, You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth, Out Of The Frying Pan (And Into The Fire), Life Is A Lemon And I Want My Money Back, In The Land Of The Pig The Butcher Is King, Bat Out Of Hell, I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That), Black Betty (Ram Jam), Mercury Blues (K.C.Douglas), Gimme Shelter (Rolling Stones)
Immediately after Meat ended it was THIN LIZZY time at the Sweden Stage, where the Aussie Pink Floyders amazed the night before with nostalgic feelings. Once more the stage was set on that, as the famous four, John Sykes (vocals/guitar), Marco Mendoza (bass), Tommy Aldridge (drums) and Scott Gorham (guitar), stepped on it in a way only legends like these can. The most legendary were of course Gorham (from original Lizzy from 1974 to the end in 1983) and Sykes (played on the last Lizzy album "Thunder & Lightning"). Both were welcomed with loud cheers on stage from the huge crowd, which was so massive that it filled the area all the way close to the Zeppelin Stage. The rest of the band was warmly welcomed too, all of them have gained high respect from different line-ups through the years, and playing in this line-up together for almost a decade has glued them tightly together.
The band dedicated the tour for the late Phil Lynott, especially "Cold Sweat" by Sykes, who wondered if Lynott was watching us from somewhere above right now. The show was very melancholic and heartwarming. Songs written by Lynott have such deep impact and his memory will live on in the hearts of his fans. The band couldn't have played more precisely and with such pure respect towards Lynott as they did, and with all the sentimental feelings attached, the show still managed to have the party effect too. Songs such as "Cold Sweat" and "The Boys Are Back In Town" haven't lost any of their magic through the years, and a ballad like "Still In Love With You" has more emotion than many other ballads from most artists. The song was dedicated to all the beautiful women around the world by the way, and I'm sure all the women present were very taken by the comment coming from Sykes, who's still looking very vigorous and vivid. "Dancing In The Moonlight" engaged the crowd to a singalong, and when it was time to introduce Aldridge, this was done actually three times, the crowds response only grew noisier each time. The drummer played his solo in his usual manner, with both the sticks and bare hands.
It's not easy though to accept the fact, that Mendoza is the one playing one part of Lynott's role. While Sykes takes over Lynott's vocals and passes great at his role, the womanizer type Mendoza doesn't leave the right kind of impression of what Lynott was. When the Lizzy's got back on stage for the encore, surely Mendoza's shirt flew off. Talk about respect, but this move seemed foolish, although some women for sure liked it, and he even went on showing off his sixpack, which he's done during his Whitesnake years. The guitar parts by Gorham and Sykes couldn't have been more perfect, and vocalwise Sykes is a great match to Lynott with his deep sound. The crowd must've felt the magic, we were in heaven, but something was missing. Not only Lynott, but the band didn't play "Whiskey In The Jar". What a shame, but we're still in love with you, Lizzy!
Setlist: Jailbreak, Waiting For An Alibi, Don't Believe A Word, Cold Sweat, Are You Ready, Chinatown, Dancing In The Moonlight, Massacre, Still In Love With You, Bad Reputation, drum solo, Emerald, Suicide, Cowboy Song, The Boys Are Back In Town, encore: Rosalie (Bob Seger), Black Rose
Talk about heaven. The next band had just that, but they also dealed with the evil side. Where else could've HEAVEN & HELL played other than a graveyard? Most people were really expecting this show to happen, and I did too, although seing Ronnie James Dio again didn't have the biggest spark for me anymore, seing him perform so many times since the 80's. Of course it was another thing seing the second line-up of Black Sabbath perform, too bad they're not able to use the name though. The Heaven & Hell show mostly based on the songs, although the screens were blasting various visual things, song titles, skeletons and things involved around the song themes. The lightshow was very colourful and quite dark, but strengthened well the shows otherwise doomish and heavy mood.
The musicians, apart from Dio (Tony Iommi-guitar, Geezer Butler-bass, Vinny Appice-drums), played a shorter set they've played in other places, but starting at 11.30 p.m and ending around one o'clock was probably enough for most. Everyone knows Tony Iommi isn't too keen on using too much energy on stage, and he stayed loyal to his attribute, although was seen doing some excercise using the whole stage. Vinny Appice is probably the only member in this supergroup, who still keeps fit by drumming powerfully. Dio instead didn't seem to be himself much. Usually he's got the power of keeping the audience in a hypnotic grip with his charisma, but now he seemed a bit tired. The band seemed to do the show as one of those necessities, so it wasn't as magical as it could've been, although it was nice to hear the old songs again sung by Dio.
Setlist: Intro:E5150/After All (The Dead), The Mob Rules, Children Of The Sea, I, The Sign Of The Southern Cross, Voodoo, drum solo, Computer God, Falling Off The Edge Of The World, Shadow Of The Wind, guitar solo, Die Young, Heaven And Hell, Neon Knights
Best shows of Thursday: Thunder, Meat Loaf, Thin Lizzy
FRIDAY, 8th of June
At twelve o'clock PRETTY MAIDS, the Danish gentlemen, (Ronnie Atkins, Ken Jackson, Ken Hammer, Allan Tschicaja from Royal Hunt and the keyboard replacement Morten Sandager from Mercenary) called out all Pretty Maids fans over to Rock Stage. It was a pure hard rock wake up with the starter "Back To Back", one of the best rockers from this band, and their set included many great rockers. The band was messing around on stage with things, namely singer Atkins introducing wrong songs and such, but they sounded good, very professional as always and the audience was very enthusiastic about them. "Please Don't Leave Me" was a great choice for Sweden Rock, probably chosen because of the fact that it was written by John Sykes and Phil Lynott, and Thin Lizzy played here the day before. It was an unexpected surprise in the setlist, and the bands dedication to Lynott got a noisy response from fans. The ballad "Another Shot Of Your Love" sounded good too, and there wasn't much misses in the show, although I miss the "Jump The Gun" material in their shows. "Red Hot And Heavy" is always a fine conclusion to their show, and this time the sea of hands was amazing in the air. The sun was stirring our skins even more badly than last year, so we in fact felt like we were "red, hot and heavy", like crabs boiling under the sun!
Setlist: Back To Back, Rock The House, I Am The End, Wake Up To The Real World, Such A Rush, Yellow Rain, Another Shot Of Your Love, Virtual Brutality, Please Don't Leave Me (Lynott/Sykes), Love Games, encore: Future World, Red Hot And Heavy
Us red crabs soon walked over to see WHITE LION, which made its first roars at three o'clock on Sweden Stage. The legendary 80's hard rock group played 75 minutes, and so managed to include a good selection of hits in the set. Unfortunately White Lion has for years only included Mike Tramp as the only original member, so we couldn't witness the fine guitar work by Vito Bratta, but Jamie Law played brilliantly as well. Tramp is still a good showman, although (and maybe it was good), he didn't speak much between the songs, but sang like it was still 80's. He even showcased his talents at the end of "Lady Of The Valley" with a gigantic scream, which ended to his voice delaying over the speakers for a while. Seing the band for the first time brought up such an amazing feeling, shivers down my spine and almost a tear in my eye, that I couldn't help but smile through the show. It was magical. And sometimes you gotta wonder how you can still remember lyrics from two decades ago. Everyone was singing along and felt the warmth of memories the band's classy performance raised.
Tramp's thoughts wondered to the 80's a few times, and he thought, like most of us, that 80's rocked this night and so took us "back to the battlefield", playing "All The Fallen Men". He also dedicated "Living On The Edge" to the glory of the 80's, and brought up such classic tunes like Iron Maiden's "Rime Of The Ancient Mariner" and Black Sabbath's "Heaven And Hell" in his speaches, after which his conclusion was that White Lion doesn't have a classic 80's ballad, playing "When The Children Cry" afterwards. That did the trick too, and most do consider it a ballad, even with such a wimpy title. Unfortunately only one song was heard off "Mane Attraction", which is a great album in my opinion, and that was "Broken Heart", actually already released in "Fight To Survive". The Golden Earring cover "Radar Love" ended the show with style, although they could've played an own song instead. Keysman Henning "wanderer" Wanner was seen wandering all around the festival area, though mostly backstage. The man has energy and takes time to chat with fans and other people.
Setlist: Hungry, Little Fighter, El Salvador, Living On The Edge, Broken Heart, Tell Me, All The Fallen Men, If My Mind Is Evil, Lady Of The Valley, Wait, When The Children Cry, Radar Love (Golden Earring cover)
One of the bands I was supposed to see last year in a Norwegian festival was CIRCUS MAXIMUS, and having missed them back then I was glad they now happened to play in Sweden Rock. The melodic progrockers from Norway amazed many with similar material to Dream Theater, playing at the Zeppelin Stage between four and five o'clock. They played a very clean set, which worked all the way through and joked along the set. The band even played at least two new songs which sounded good, and it's amazing how extremely melodic they manage to be while still carrying their prog style strongly through. Singer Michael Eriksen has the most beautiful voice in the genre, and the band (Truls Haugen/drums, Mats Haugen/guitars, Glen Mollen/bass, Lasse Finbråten/keybords) played their show with such ease, it suited perfectly the relaxed mid-afternoon mood, when you feel like you need a lift off and something to sing along to.
Setlist included: Why Am I Here, The Prophecy, Imperial Destruction, Alive
Checked out a bit of the Dutch group AFTER FOREVER, who've been in Finland, but never in Sweden. They've kept themselves very busy the last years. The band fronted by Floor Jansen played their show in a cheerful mood and seemed to enjoy their visit in Sweden, although the crowd wasn't all too sure if they liked the band, but went along with Jansen's clapping. After Forever isn't a band you immediately get a hang of, so live they can be a bit challanging. Keysman Joost van den Broek is known from having played in different projects, and while the rest of the band is very skillful too, the keys and Broek's performance, along with guitarist Bas Maas and Jansen, collected most attention. Jansen's operatic metal vocals and her looks are of course the one that first get your attention, but the band is right at home on stage, playing tightly together, so they're a nice band to watch and listen, although Jansen isn't the best speaker. The band is like a spitten image of the other Dutch band Epica, so maybe some of you Epica fans might like them.
Like I earlier mentioned, this years Sweden Rock line-up wasn't as spectacular as before, of course they had the giants like Aerosmith and others, but who hasn't seen a band like UDO a thousand times already, with Dirkschneider on stage with his army pants? Same goes with Accept. Their setlists are almost predictable nowadays, even if Udo does mix both bands material live, and it's kinda sad. Of course you have to respect this German band, they're heavy metal pioneers, who respect their fans and always play with true metal spirit, giving 100 percent of themselves. They manage all the clichès and moves, just like the young singer Linman from Sturm already at his age. There's not much to say about the band anymore, I've said it tens of times already. They once again showed they're "Restless And Wild", waiting for the "Princess Of The Dawn" with "Balls To The Wall", a band with true "Metal Heart", and their show is like an "Animal House". Scream for me UDO, you still got the touch!
Setlist included: Mastercutor, 24/7, Independence Day, The Bullet And The Bomb, Metal Heart, Balls To The Wall, Animal House, Restless And Wild, Son Of A Bitch, guitar solo, Princess Of The Dawn
The next two bands were again Swedish. HARDCORE SUPERSTAR played in Sweden Rock last year too, but we couldn't catch them back then. They've been around for long, but most know them from their hit "We Don't Celebrate Sundays". Unfortunately we didn't have time to listen to that live, but witnessed how energetic the band is and will make some musicians envy them. As often happens, once again the spotlight was aimed on the singer, they're usually the best crowd entertainers. Jocke Berg has a bulls charisma and the fitness of a racerunner, and the rest of the band (Thomas Silver/guitar, Martin Sandvik/bass), Magnus Andréasson/drums) also kept the sleaze rock alive on stage with their attitudes. A great show I wish I'd seen all from.
Setlist included: Last Forever, Bag On Your Head, Bastards, Hateful, She's Offbeat, Wild Boys, We Don't Celebrate Sundays
The reason why Hardcore Superstar had to be cut short was TALISMAN, who were playing their farewell tour show on Zeppelin Stage at the same time. It was hard to believe this band would quit, and now that Jeff Scott Soto doesn't have his frontman slot in Journey anymore, maybe there's still hope for this band after all. Many fans waited their show anxiously, since they played an amazing show the last time in Sweden Rock. The show from 2003 can be seen on their DVD, they played on Sweden Stage back then. This years setlist was very good, although I'm no big fan of covers at live shows, depending on a lot of things of course. Doing those only leaves out the originals the bands could otherwise play and they don't always serve the purpose what the fans would normally listen to. Talisman did their normal Seal cover "Crazy" again here like last time, and also added Madonna's "Frozen".
Talisman featured a guitarist from David Lee Roth- fame, Brian Young, who fit right in with the rest of the bunch, Jamie Borger on drums (also from Treat) and Marcel Jacob on bass, along with Soto, who was so excited on stage from the noisy crowd response, that while doing his jumps and other usual coreographies, he once managed to drop his mike and couldn't sing everything, but caught fast on the song and continued like piece of cake.
Soto had requested this specific schedule for the band on Friday, so he could see Aerosmith himself too, and he kept his speaches short so they were able to play a wide selection of songs throughout their career, although the set did include solos from bass, keys, the band jamming and a lot of crowd singing. So even more songs could've been played. The crowd was very noisily singing along to everything, so Talisman was a very waited and popular band. Even John Leven from Europe was watching them from other side of the stage. Soto also knew Skid Row started their set on other stage immediately after Talisman, and in the last part of the show he stated "I know some of you wanna go see Skid Row, but there's something we gotta do first". And they went on to "Standin' On Fire" and still continued till "Crazy", but we were already rushin' to see Skidz, who were already makin' a lot of noise on stage.
Setlist included: Falling, Colour My XTC, Mysterious (This Time It's Serious), Comin' Home, Break Your Chains, medley, Tears In The Sky, bass solo, All Or Nothing, In Make Believe, medley (Back 2 The Feeling, Just Between Us, Since You've Gone, Frozen (Madonna cover), I'll Be Waiting/jamming/Back 2 The Feeling), Standin' On Fire, Crazy (Seal cover)
SKID ROW played on Rock Stage just before ten o'clock, and their set kicked off powerfully. They were probably as popular as Talisman, as the area was heavily packed already when we got there. Their albums after Sebastian Bach haven't found as wide fanbase as the band might've dreamed of, so "Piece Of Me" was the one that more so woke the crowd into noise pollution and action rarely seen at shows, although not often bands blow up the place as well during the first song as Skidz did here. During "Piece" though the crowd went berzerk, runnin' around like beheaded chicken and probably even fainting from the thrill (might include me in 'em too). Of course the most energetic fans were the teenagers, who still have youth energy, the older fans mostly cheered loudly when they heard their fave old tunes.
Skidz' follower to Sebastian Bach, Johnny Solinger, didn't quite do justice to Bach's earlier vocal achievements, but you couldn't be disappointed at all to his performance, it was one of Sweden Rock's most action packed and Johnny can truly entertain. The Brett Michaels (Poison) lookalike with his blonde hair and scarf has a good set of lungs and sang with emotion and good skill. Guitarist Scotti Hill seemed all crazed up on stage, most of the time keeping this chilly madman's grin on his face, rolling his eyes around in their sockets. That if something worked up nightmares for the faint hearted, and Hill couldn't stop there, but gushed a mouthful of water on some poor photographers, who didn't see it coming. Not all too nice and I bet fans wouldn't want that kind of treatment either. Also seen on stage: Rachel Bolan (bass), Snake Sabo (guitars), Dave Gara (drums).
Most of Skidz' set was a tribute to the 80's like White Lion's gig, and the rest of the songs didn't get a too excited welcome. "Psycho Therapy", their careers earliest cover songs, was dedicated to its original performers The Ramones. The song has so much vibe and rush to it, that it probably would work miracles played by any band. That is, if you didn't turn it into a ballad. In an hour and a half Skidz managed to pull off one of the best shows in Sweden Rock, the overlengthy guitar part in "Monkey Business" being unnecessary though, and their encore included more songs than usual. Their hit song "I Remember You" got continuation in the encore, as they also played the second part from it, "I Remember You Two". The encore didn't include ballads at all, and I was so hoping to hear "In A Darkened Room" or "Quicksand Jesus". The encore was a one big party, that found its climax in their best song ever, "Youth Gone Wild". Well, the youth probably went wild, but I was too far already from the best party adrenalin getting ready for Aerosmith. "Youth" is the perfect closing track and the band made the crowd feed from their hands. We're not worthy, definately, and we still bow down to Skidz, even without the motormouth Bach.
Setlist: Thick Is The Skin, Piece Of Me, Sweet Little Sister, New Generation, 18 And Life, Monkey Business, Another Dick In The System, Big Guns, Psycho Therapy (The Ramones cover), I Remember You, Disease, Slave To The Grind, encore: Beat Yourself Blind, Makin' A Mess, Get The Fuck Out, I Remember You Two, Riot Act, Youth Gone Wild
On the opposite side of Rock Stage lies the Festival Stage, and AEROSMITH was the main band on Friday to play there, starting half past eleven. All the signs on the stage predicted a huge show, photographers had different rules than for the rest of the bands and the stage widened to a bridge in the shape of a t-bone, the t's one end going to the middle of the crowd. The band used the bridge well, mostly it was singer Steven Tyler and guitarist Joe Perry who were seen in the middle of the crowd though. Maybe they had most of the options for that, being the bands two most strong performers keeping the show running. Aerosmith being the main band they had enough time to play a lot of hits, although you can't always please everyone. Some of the not so obvious hits heard were "Jaded", the cover song "Baby, Please Don't Go" and not all liked the bluesy part sang by Perry.
All through the show the screens were showing footage from their videos or like "Living On The Edge", it showed the state of todays world and the damage we've caused to our blue planet in the past few years. Very dramatic scenes that hopefully made some impact on people to realize what kind of a legacy we're leaving behind. It's hard to believe Aerosmith can also be this serious, when you see Tyler and Perry doing their stuff on stage, entertaining to the max. It's also hard to believe how long this band has been around when you look at their performance. Tyler could still be in his twenties, running around with such a crazed attitude, dancing like a youngster and singing well, and Perry joining in with a matching attitude.
Sweden Rock once again filmed a lot of bands for future DVD release and one of the cameramen worked on Aerosmith, once running fast towards Tyler on the bridge , finally closing a shot on his belly, stating "kick me". "Eat The Rich" got a funny end with Tyler first caughing and burping to the mike and from these noises the band strangely moved to the Armageddon-movie ballad "Don't Want To Miss A Thing", which collected cheers as loud as what Tyler's bodily noises got. The band continued with a slower set and gave everyone a breather here. Later Tyler and Perry sat down on chairs and continued doing their timeless ballad "Dream On", still creating a magical feeling amongst the crowd and the band still performs it with as great a feeling as ever.
Perry got more spotlight on him while performing the bluesy "Hangman Jury" and "Stop Messin' Around", singing himself and Tyler pulled out a mouth organ he'd already earlier used, playing a little off-key at times. Perry ended his personal show, which had a jamming part in "Draw The Line", by him beating the crap out of his guitar with his shirt and moved on to drummer Joe Kramer's set, the emphasis in the word "ON", as he layed on the drumset, his back against the hard drum surface and this is when Kramer started drumming his guitar with his drumsticks. Another funny part from a band, that possesses both inspiring crazy spirit, and then again a certain sincerety in its two most faceless musicians, Brad Whitford and Tom Hamilton, who seem to like their certain spots on stage and give most space to Tyler and Perry by being in the shadows themselves.
After "Draw The Line" the band thanked and gave their appreciations to the fans. After a moment of absence from stage they returned to do "Walk This Way" as the final encore. Eventhough the song isn't in my books the most greatest closing track, the band performed it with such passion that everyone got kicks out of it. A camera attached to Tyler's mike showed his funny facial expressions during the song and gave a little more impact to the song with the crowd laughing to whatever Tyler came up with. Another top notch show, eventhough Aerosmith didn't perform hits like "Rag Doll" or the most beautiful ballad from the 80's, "Angel". Still their show concluded Friday brilliantly, and ended up being one of the top shows in Sweden, showing Aerosmith only gets better through the years.
Setlist: Love In An Elevator, Dude (Looks Like A Lady), Falling In Love (Is Hard On The Knees), Cryin', Eat The Rich, I Don't Want To Miss A Thing, Jaded, What It Takes, Baby Please Don't Go (J.L. Williams cover), Hangman Jury, Seasons Of Wither, Dream On, Last Child, Livin' On The Edge, Stop Messin' Around (C. Adams & P.A. Green cover), Sweet Emotion, Draw The Line, Encore: Walk This Way
Best shows of Friday: Hardcore Superstar, Aerosmith, Skid Row, White Lion, Talisman
SATURDAY, 9th of June
The last day of Sweden Rock had arrived, and the atmosphere was melancholic of course. The chaotic and jampacked festivals always manage to seperate friends and do other miracles, so we had to celebrate the last day without some dear friends. The morning started with doom metal played by TROUBLE, although Hellfueled, Focus and Falconer were the first bands to kick off Saturday. Some bands prefer to dress up for a show, but Blind Guardian and Trouble were among those bands that came on stage wearing nothing but black t-shirts and jeans. These doomsters nice and mellow music with a hint of Black Sabbath were an easy choise to start the day after Friday's rollercoaster ride with Aerosmith, which stretched somewhere after one o'clock at night.
Trouble's music works for certain moods and days, and for mornings they'll do alright. But there's more to them than just the easy notes, and if there ever was any mystic surrounding Trouble, that veil dropped right here. The new discoveries mostly brought negative sides out from the band though. Live Trouble seemed the world's most lethargic band, who even beat Black Sabbath at it. They came on stage doing their whole set in a rehearsal mode, not really giving much out of themselves to the crowd, and as sneaky as they took the stage, they also busted the hell out from there fast. Their behaviour was unrespective towards fans and all what happened might be blamed of under whatever influence they were on. It's not often you see a band stumbling around on stage, knocking out mike stands, or then just standing on one spot for whatever reason. Singer Eric Wagner managed to do some short speaches, stating "we have come to rock you", and completely failed being convincing, as he kept bouncing behind the curtains during the show singing there too, lighting a cigarrette on stage, standing his back against the crowd at times and just doing his vocal parts like he was reading a book.
Even though Trouble's show screamed out indifference and they failed in many aspects, they regardless of all that still managed to pull off their songs and satisfy at least the most dedicated fans. Live they really reminded of Black Sabbath both style- and musicwise, and the real fans probably knew what they came to see. This show introduced one of the smallest drumsets ever seen, but simple doomrock doesn't need much more than that. In a scale from one to ten points these guys did the most horrific show I've ever seen though, so they deserve three points. Trouble's mishaps and absent performance flattened the atmosphere way too much to get any facelift from things such as jokes or the smallest drumset seen in music business these days. You gotta wonder are their liveshows always some sort of nosedives.
Setlist included: Come Touch The Sky, Plastic Green Head, Assassin, Pray for the Dead, Revelation (Life Or Death), All is Forgiven, Mindbender, Goin’ Home, The Tempter, Bastards Will Pay
They used to be a mix of melodic metal dressed up in death metal penguin masks, but Zeppelin Stage brought over a simple looking metal band in jeans and leather. BLOODBOUND had gone through a singer switch back to their original one, Urban Breed, from the much expected Michael Bormann. Breed was probably just a temporary placement, and either way it was great to finally witness this band live and Breed gave the crowd their money's worth with his lively presence and funny speaks. The weather was still very hot like during Trouble's show, so Breed once decided to just work on his suntan a bit on stage and almost laid down there for that. The whole show was filled with small oddities, and the band sounded quite good, although once again the wind was doing some tricks like in earlier years. Otherwise Zeppelin Stage had better sounds than ever.
It was almost "Bloodbound for breakfast", as Breed joked, after all they were playing as early as between two and three o'clock. Among Breed, the rest of the band (Tomas Olsson/guitar, Fredrik Bergh/bass, keys, Pelle Åkerlind/drums, Henrik Olsson/guitar) showed they were really enjoying their showtime, but of course Breed stole the show completely. Doing some of his speaches in English he joked "I'm from Sweden, but I speak English, I'm so cool". Didn't bother those who weren't Swedish, so it was all welcome, yet rare pleasures. A very compact show from the happy band, which got their biggest response from the crowd while playing their older songs. The newest album hasn't been out too long yet, so people still need to hear it more, but over all they also worked well live.
Setlist: Behind The Moon, Into The Dark, Desdemonamelia, The Tempter, Crucified, Black Heart, Bless The Unholy, Metal Monster, Book Of The Dead, Nosferatu
BLACK OAK ARKANSAS overlapped with Fastway, and it would've been great to see both bands. The critic of BOA's show and Jim Dandy wasn't the best though, but at least Sweden Rock was blessed to have a legend like Tommy Bolin's son Johnnie playing there. Meanwhile FASTWAY also featured something special for their fans. Their original guitarist Fast Eddie Clarke from Motörhead fame played in this show, and Toby Jepson from Little Angels stepped in as their singer. Not everyone welcomed him loudly, but Jepson is known of being a vivid performer, and did his vocal parts well, and eventhough his mike was cutting his vocals off in the beginning of the set, he didn't seem bothered by it, but went on with the show confidently. The bands first steps on stage weren't as confident though, but Jepson corrected it soon enough.
The band played on Sweden Stage, and their set mostly concentrated on bluesy kinda rock and jamming, rather than playing anything from their more melodic hard rock albums. Since their set concentrated on the bluesy material, the crowd didn't rock as hard as the band would've wanted to. Only a few people were really into the set, although the band played well and were quite entertaining. The only low point came from Jepson's speaches, throwing cursewords around that weren't welcomed at all. He once asked the crowd to start clapping, trying to inspire them with "come on fuckers", but he did get a pleasing result after all. Guitarist Clarke stood still on his place through the set and seemed as absent as the Trouble guys. The band also featured Stephen Strange, Raymond Haller (Sweet Savage, replacing John McManus from Mama's Boys) and John Harbinson (Stormzone). A good and steady performance anyways from the band also dressed in jeans (seemed to be this summers fashion), and Jepson still rocks well like in Little Angels days. The material Fastway played works well during daytime, unlike some heavier material. Unfortunately the band took the stage a bit late and also finished too early, so their set ended up being somewhat short, and it was another mood spoiler.
Setlist: Misunderstood, All Fired Up, Steal The Show, Another Day, Heft, Telephone, Say What You Will, Feel Me Touch Me (Do Anything You Want), Non Stop Love, Easy Livin'
BLIND GUARDIAN's show was predictable; the guys will flood the festival ground with metal fans and play their show in black jeans and t-shirts. And that's what happened, the jeans fashion continued. An hour and a half was filled with their bardish power metal and the mass of fans seemed to be in heaven. The band sounded as tight as ever and the band seemed once again to enjoy their success. They still have to conquer Finland though. After Sweden Rock they performed in the much smaller Tuska Festival in Finland, which also got good feedback, but it's a long way to go from the success they've enjoyed for years already around Europe.
Fronted by the Fair Warning-singer Tommy Heart, SOUL DOCTOR continued the more relaxed mood on Zeppelin Stage between 17.30-18.30. The mood was quite similar as in Bloodbound, although more people were standing now. The downside was the crowd loss though, due to the Blind Guardian show that was happening at the same time and magically stole most festival goers. Even with such crowd loss Heart and the boys did their best to bring in the right rock spirit, throwing guitar picks to the crowd, giving good speaches and performing in the very hot weather. Bit by bit the crowd warmed up and started singing along and clapping hands, although most seemed unfamiliar with their material. This was one cause to the quiet feedback to the band, but all in all a good and professional performance from the German band.
Setlist: Get It On, Good Times Slippin' Away, Under Your Skin, Ten Seconds Of Love, Goodbye, Eatin' On Me, Unspoken Words, Whole Lotta Love (Led Zeppelin cover)
Before Motörhead got their spotlight on Rock Stage, ICED EARTH came and thundered through their set with sheer profession and power, like always. Their setlist didn't please everyone, but where the songs flattened the mood for some, the band won their fans hearts back with their brilliant and intense show. Singer Tim "Ripper" Owens still can't match the input earlier poured in by Matthew Barlow, but he can still roar the songs powerfully and has a big enough charisma to fit the bands needs. He even threw in a very impressive long scream once. The band is very breathtaking live and their song choruses are always the most catchiest, managing to get full crowd participation singing them. And like always, guitarist Jon Schaffer nailed his notes down well, and played with a passion that only shows in a handful of musicians. Their hour and a half show was built to go through their career, but not like they did years earlier having different sets for each album. Here the set was mixed up and performed by a band, that didn't seem to have changed at all from their earlier Florida years. Amazing work once again, although fans were disappointed by their set cut short. No explanation was given, but at least a lot of great songs were heard, everything went smooth otherwise and fans even got a few drumsticks.
Setlist: Burning Times, Declaration Day, Violate, Vengeance Is Mine, Pure Evil, The Reckoning (Don't Traed On Me), The Hunter, Ten Thousand Strong, Jack, My Own Savior, Iced Earth
While Iced Earth was playing, Finnish KORPIKLAANI filled the Gibson Stage so full, that the outside was flooded with people also. This band was enjoying a huge success too, and Finnish trollmetal is doing great in many countries. Just check out Finntroll for starters.
REO SPEEDWAGON also bathed on success on Festival Stage, the magical Blind Guardian and Aerosmith stage, that only seemed to bring out goodies for people. Well, Trouble was a different case, but anyway, the Reo crowd was very colourful and it's not often one can witness such variety among the crowd in age and all. Singer Kevin Cronin seems to be one of the most happiest fellows in rock business, he was smiling the set through and giving uplifting speaches and storytelling among songs. Reo definately belongs to the most interesting bands to watch live and the years experience and the confidence it has brought them shows in their performance.
As Cronin put it, "we came here to party", they sure did, and even when the band was rockin', although not being the most edgiest rock bands in the scene, the air was filled with emotion radiating directly from the band. Reo hasn't been performing in Europe in two decades, so their excitement must've been roof high to finally reach this part of the world. The excitement was mutual between the band and the crowd, and even when the younger crowd felt the band was a bit too mellow for them, they couldn't disagree the band was very inspiring and their music was easily reachable, taking everyone to some comfortable place, where you can just let your spirits flow free.
The band (Dave Amato/guitar, Bryan Hitt/drums, Bruce Hall/bass, Neal Doughty/keys) played both new and old material, and the newest stuff worked as well as the old. "Dangerous Combination" was introduced with words "don't drink and think at the same time", but most festival goers were doing just that at the exact moment. You can't beat such classics as "Can't Fight This Feeling", which followed the new rocker, or "Keep On Loving You", where people stood up, sang along and even bursted to tears. I was totally in heaven. Cronin sang like an angel with a big heart and his spirit was strongly in his performance, playing the grand piano at the same time. All this made their show very impressive and inspiring, not to mention the thoughtful speaches from Cronin, that gave people more meaning for life. Another tearjerker was the very melodic "I Needed To Fall". The whole show brought out great vocal harmonies and the band performed in relaxed manner, keeping a close and intimate t ouch to their audience. Reo gave ten points worth of performance, which will be treasured in the hearts of those who were present. The only minus was, that "Keep On Loving You" should've been played last to give their show an even greater and deeper last impression, but any which way those melodies will live on forever.
Setlist included: Don't Let Him Go, Music Man, Take It On The Run, Keep Pushin', I Needed To Fall, That Ain't Love, Tough Guys, Dangerous Combination, Can't Fight This Feeling, Time For Me To Fly, Back On The Road Again, Keep On Loving You, Roll With The Changes, encore: Ridin' The Storm Out
QUIREBOYS was another band, who filled up the Gibson Stage tent after Korpiklaani, and their party rock has only one effect; turning the concert attendees into one big happy family, who only want to have a good time. Their singer Spike's smile through the show only enhanced the already cheery mood, and his inspiring encouragements to rock hard had a strong effect. People were dancing and singing loudly along in the tent that hardly gave any room to move in. The band was very lively, sounded clear and strong and Spike's harsh vocals are a great match to their bar influenced English rock'n'roll, accompanied with an old fashioned piano sound. The band is one of the best in interacting with their crowd, and this is why their shows are always such a rush. It was hard to leave their show after only a few songs, when the tent was so alive and I knew they were still gonna play so many great songs. Check them out if you ever have a chance and like your music alive and rockin'.
Setlist included: Sex Party, Hey You, Misled, Roses & Rings
After leaving the Quireboys tent, HINDER's typical American rock filled the air from the Sweden Stage. They had a clear sound, that brought vocalist Austin Winkler's voice well out. The band sounded like decent poprock, and were rockin' alright in the vein of Black Crowes and such and having a hint of that big stadium rock in them.
"We are MOTÖRHEAD", and the crowd laughed to the obvious. Lemmy Kilmister is one of rock's most charismatic persons, and his words always have an impact to their crowd. His modest band introduction was a good start for the gig, although Lemmy wasn't at his best this time, due to probably too much liquids...Motörhead isn't new to Sweden Rock, and this time they also brought the light rig called Bomber with them, seen here also on their last show. A surprise treat was also coming for the fans, as their ex-guitarist Fast Eddie Clarke took the stage with them after playing with Fastway earlier the same day. Clarke performed "Ace Of Spades", "Overkill" and "Bomber" with the band in the end of the show. The band has a strange impact on their fans, who once again went crazy from every track played. The front of the stage was again sardin packed and looking dangerous, and ambulances were standing by behind the scenes. The band also performed "Whorehouse Blues" acoustically in the end, which was a nice change from their otherwise typical rough set, although the title is far from being nice.
Some funny incidents: after returning from our trip to Mexico in the end of July and flying through London on the way back to Finland, who else but Phil Campbell sat down next to Kari in the airplane! What a nice guy he was. Motörhead was playing in Finland the next day in Seinäjoki, and they'll be returning here in December. Another funny sidenote connecting Sweden and the Mexico trip together; you can find those lovable langos dishes found from Sweden Rock also from Mexico. The dish originates from Hungary though.
The last band to perform in Sweden Rock was SCORPIONS, who took the Festival Stage half past eleven, and played around two hours with years of profession that showed. The band seems very comfortable on stage and their set went smoothly through. There hasn't been much change in their act during the years, and so singer Klaus Meine was seen in his usual sun glasses and Matthias Jabs in his cap playing together with Rudolf Schenker with their typical modelled guitars. Why change something that works, and people love seing them the way they were back in the 80's. It's easy to rely on Scorpions, although their musical style went through some changes along the way as it usually goes with long career. Now they're getting back to the basics though, and once again sound more like the way they were, having songwriting help from Desmond Child himself. Their show in Sweden Rock proved they still have plenty of fans, and that their old ones haven't deserted them.
Even when Scorpions' shows are quite far a repetition of old shows year after year, they still pull off great shows and are a lively band, that works well for the crowd. In Sweden the band went back in time even more, inviting their old guitarist ULI JON ROTH as their special guest, and it was something many were waiting to see. Roth has a good following himself too, and a reunification like this was very rare. Roth played with his good old seven string Sky Guitar, which he's designed himself, and his favourite from the model, the Mighty Wing. His style hasn't changed during the years either. It was in the middle of the set that he accompanied his old pals on stage, and played "Pictured Life", "He's A Woman, She's A Man", "We'll Burn The Sky" and "Fly To The Rainbow" with them, also doing some vocal parts himself and later rejoining the band on stage.
James Kottak on drums and Pawel Maciwoda on bass have to take the sidemen spots in the band, after all the original members always have the strongest place in fans hearts. So eventhough Kottak is a one mean and wild drummer and Maciwoda also has performer talents, the eyes kept following those three guys, Schenker, Meine and Jabs, who know exactly on how strong ground they're standing on. And following the basic rock show rules the band left space for all solos, of course guitar solos being the most captivating. Meine also grabbed a guitar as he's done in other shows too, and backed Schenker while he was playing his unusual guitar. A great show, and if you really miss something from the set, it would have to be the "Savage Amusement" material.
Setlist: Hour 1, Bad Boys Running Wild, The Zoo, Love 'Em Or Leave 'Em, Deep And Dark, Coast To Coast, Holiday, Humanity, Wind Of Change, Pictured Life, He's A Woman (She's A Man), We'll Burn The Sky, Fly To The Rainbow, encore: Tease Me Please Me, 321, bass solo, drum solo, Blackout, Big City Nights, Dynamite, Rock You Like A Hurricane, In Trance, Still Loving You, When The Smoke Is Going Down
Best shows of Saturday: Reo Speedwagon, Iced Earth, Quireboys, Scorpions
Festival Stage: 25,000 Rock Stage: 20,000 Sweden Stage: 10,000 Zeppelin Stage: 5,000 Gibson Stage: 3,000