|June had arrived and it was time for my seventh consecutive Sweden Rock Festival. I am tempted to say "Same procedure as last year? Same procedure as every year!" It was 5 days of great music, partying, meeting new friends and drinking way too much alcohol. I had a most excellent time but it's definitely not something one should do every week at this age as it took me about a week to get back to a normal state of mind and body. I'd been sick for a couple of weeks and had a work trip to France just prior to the festival so that wasn't exactly the best warm-up musically. All the same, I was more than ready.
I left the family on Tuesday and got on the morning train to Copenhagen where I met up with Nina, Mads, Thomas and the clan of Scotsmen, Stuart, Craig, Del, Eric and Dodge, several of them already in kilts. We arrived at the festival site both in and with great spirits and had our tents set up by the end of the afternoon. Needless to say, we partied all night and I spent an obscene amount of batteries on my small speakers which we often couldn't hear anyway as we were singing louder than their meagre 4-Watts could play.
I had a lot of band clashes this year and it made it hard for me to stay and watch a full concert as I wanted to check out everything. In hindsight that may have been a mistake and next year I'll probably make different priorities. You won't find a lot of detailed concert reviews here. It's simply an account of my fading memory of a highly enjoyable festival.
Wednesday - A Scotsman on a Shaun
It was raining all morning so I got my huge tent cleaned up, sort of. Michael and Borg arrived early in the afternoon and set up their tents. Eric the Scotsman got the biggest laugh of the day for his Shaun the Sheep wallet which he had hanging around his belt. It was just brilliant. I spent too much time mulling over where the other half of Shaun was.
I spent most of the afternoon meeting up with Lunah and Tobias to arrange our shared photo duties. It was a very serious meeting... To start out with.
I missed the Heart tribute band and the first band of the day was Scottish pirate band Alestorm which fitted right in with the overshadowing party mood I was in. After getting some pictures I went into the crowd and enjoyed an ok show. The band seemed very happy and in true pirate style the lead singer made a toast with the crowd right out of the bottle of Jack Daniels he had brought with him. The band introduced "Heart Master" as a song that they hadn't rehearsed but the crowd seemed happy enough. Nearing the end the band was running short on time and asked the crowd to make room down at the front before they played "Captain's Morgan's Revenge". From what I could see the front of the crowd was dancing madly but I was too far away to see what was really going on. This was my introduction to Alestorm and they seemed like good simple fun. I look forward to checking them out properly in Copenhagen in September.
Looking through the program I noticed the band name " Nalle and his Crazy Ivans". With a band name like that I decided I had to check them out. They were playing on the Rockklassiker Acoustic scene, a new stage in a tent which got a fine debut this year. Many bands played second concerts here acoustically. Turns out that "Nalle and his Crazy Ivans" was fronted by the Danish artist formerly known as Rock Nalle, apparently something of an institution in Denmark. The acoustic concert was a nice surprise and had a great vibe. Three acoustic guitars and a big floor bass made for a sufficiently big sound. Singing both classic rock 'n' roll songs and songs from his latest albums Nalle quickly won over the crowd, largely made up of Danes, a relationship he established quickly by addressing the audience in Danish only. People were having a good time, rocking along and clapping through the songs. It was great to hear something completely different from what else was played on the festival and songs like "Last train to Memphis" and "Shake rattle and roll" were just a lot of fun.
Suddenly Mr. Nalle announced that they were running out of time and had to, and these are his exact words "leave the stage and give room for Marilyn Monroe or whatever the hell he is called."
I went to check out the backstage bar and got a drink before Michael Monroe hit the stage. Unfortunately, due to the incredibly strict and illogic Sweden Rock rules I could not get back into the festival area with a drink even though the exact same drink could be purchased on the festival area at the exact same price. So I stood a while at the backstage entrance and enjoyed my drink. Meanwhile I found a wireless network and started posting comments on Facebook which wasn't exactly a good idea in my state of mind.
In the end I managed to get through and headed for the Sweden Stage to get pictures of Michael Monroe. That guy has an incredible energy. Already during the first songs he climbed off the stage and onto one of the speakers while greeting the crowd and singing at the same time. You can say what you want about Michael Monroe, but he's definitely not fakin' it.
After the first few songs I went to get pictures of The Quireboys who were playing the Dio Stage. The band naturally opened in true rock 'n' roll style and energetic lead singer Spike threw the mike stand around a lot. Their new acoustic album was introduced in between songs. The Quireboys were good but I wanted to see The Murder of my sweet as well so I headed for the Nemis stage to check them out. I was pretty impressed even though at the end of the show I got the impression that a background tape was running.
Around midnight I went to get photos of U.D.O. who was solid and reliable as always.
The main area of the festival area where the two biggest stages are located had not opened yet so there was not a lot to see inside the festival ground yet.
After getting pictures of U.D.O. I thought I it was time to relax and have a drink so I went to the backstage area, met Lunah and Tobias, sang "Achilles..." and then it gets hazy.
Thursday - Screaming Eagles
This was a big day as most of my favorites were playing. There was plenty of time till Treat would hit the stage at a quarter to two so we warmed up at the camp for a good while. My nice Australian Neighbor brought out a bottle of Jägermeister for breakfast so that woke me up pretty quickly. The weather sucked with rain and cold wind so it was necessary to warm up on alcohol.
I was really looking forward to seeing Treat and they didn't let me down. Having only heard their latest album I was hoping for the majority of that and I pretty much got that wish granted. The concert opened with the intro from the new album and soon after the band came on stage and started on "The War Is Over".
The band sounded absolutely excellent and had a great sound with the guitar right up front. I wanted to get out of the photo pit as quickly as possible and jump around in the audience and two songs later I ran into the crowd to get a good spot and soon found Nina and Mads. The band launched into my personal favorite "Paper Tiger" (Roaaaarrrr) and right away I tried to make the first of many phone calls to Tommy just because I knew how much he wanted to be there but unfortunately my stupid phone wasn't working so all my awesome loud singing was wasted on those standing nearby who didn't appear to really appreciate it.
Other new songs included "Roar", "We Own the night" and "Skies of Mongolia" which were all great to hear live. Several older songs got aired and they sounded promising as well. The band looked like they had a lot of fun on stage.
My hand-written notes from the festival simply has the word "Great" under my Treat review and with my memory already busted I'll just move on.
The War Is Over
Ready for the Taking
Changes / Rev It Up / Party All Over / Too Wild
We Own The Night - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2mUjdt9oAEg
Get You On The Run
Skies Of Mongolia
World Of Promises
After Treat we moved back to the camping ground and then some heavy rain started so I missed Y&T. I waited as long as I could and then ran to catch Evergrey's acoustic performance in the Rockklassiker tent. I was excited about this since I've never seen Evergrey in an acoustic setting. I was not disappointed as the band opened with a joke in Swedish which I did not understand a word of (Okay that was slightly disappointing) and then "As I Lie here Bleeding" (This was not).
Tom sounded fabulous as his voice rang loud and clear as he sung his heart out in a really chilling way. My notes from this concert are 100 percent better than Treat as I actually managed to write down a two word review in the form of "Fantastic voice".... I do however remember that they also played a stunning version of "Blinded". I simply can't get enough of Tom's voice when he sings in this all-out way. Unfortunately I had been stupid enough to arrange a meeting with Lunah to talk photos half an hour into Evergreys set so I had to run to the backstage area before the concert finished. Argh...
After a quick visit out there I made it back for the Pretty Maids show. Ratt had cancelled and Pretty Maids stepped up to the plate, most of the band abandoning their holidays to come to Sweden to play. I'd decided to just enjoy the show and not get any photos as Lunah was taking care of that. Due to the bad weather not a lot of people had shown up at the start of the gig but the Pretty Maids didn't care and went all in with two of their new songs, "Pandemonium" and "I.N.V.U." The band sounded good and they looked in great shape. New bassist Hal Patino has given the band new live energy and compared to Kenn Jackson who stood completely still for an entire concert the last time I saw them. Hal was flying around on the stage having a lot of fun.
As Ronnie introduced the title track of "Wake up to the real world" he got a big cheer from the crowd. "Little Drops of Heaven" was next and it worked excellent live. Another live hit from the new album was "Final Day of Innocence". Some of my older favorites were aired as well, "Scream" and "Queen of Dreams" which included a superb guitar solo. I went absolutely bananas with headbanging and jumping when the band played "Back to back" and "Walk Away" is always a highlight. "Please Don't Leave Me" is not and at this point I left the concert and headed to the opposite stage to get a front line spot for Sabaton.
Wake Up To The Real World
Little Drops Of Heaven
Queen of Dreams
Final Day Of Innocence
We Came To Rock
Back To Back
Please Don't Leave Me Alone
Red, Hot And Heavy
Sabaton was the concert I enjoyed the most at the whole festival. I had decided to forget about taking pictures and just get in the crowd and enjoy the show. I wanted to get a good spot in front so much to my dismay I decided to leave Pretty Maids' excellent concert 15 minutes early to get to the front for Sabaton. Quite simply a matter of priority. I got to the stage 45 minutes before the show and already the front line was taken. I got a good spot in second row and started waiting, meanwhile making sure that I did not dehydrate. From the front line of the opposite stage I listened to Pretty Maids finish their set with the almost obligatory "Love Games", "Future World" and "Read hot and heavy". Soon Nina showed up and we hung out till the concert started.
A large crowd had gathered and when Sabaton came on to the stage they got a big roar. Ghost Division opened a fantastic show with much power. It was clear that the band was really happy about the turn out. They had a great show lined up with several explosions and fireballs being blown up from the stage. With me being at the front of the stage to the right the sound was not the best. The drums and bass took over way too much of the sound but that was the rule for all concerts I saw from the front of the Rock Stage.
"Panzer Battalion" continued the show and this personal favorite was played with total conviction. Unfortunately a couple of big, really drunk guys wanted to get to the front of the stage by might during the first songs of the set so that ruined the first part of the show a bit for me since I had to fight for my place. They didn't know any of the songs so I decided to not let them pass so easy, singing as high as I could directly into one's ear while headbanging and jumping as much as I could with the rest of the fans. The title track of the new album helped this greatly and fortunately they gave up and backed off around this time. By this time some room was cleared up at the front line so I got a place at the rails and quickly handed over my camera bag, RevelationZ hoodie, Rain coat and cow hat to a security guard on the other side of the fence so I didn't have all that weighing me down and could enjoy the show to the fullest. If you've ever been at the frontline at a show then you know the magical feeling of sharing something special with other like-minded fans up there. Today there was that special feeling up there. I soon noticed two dark haired guys on either side of me who were headbanging and singing along and it didn't take long before I was singing along with either one of them to most of the songs for the rest of the shows.
Halfway during the show Joakim started talking to the audience in Swedish. I couldn't understand a word but wanted to shout for "Screaming Eagles", my favorite from the new album. To my delight I didn't even have to as he introduced a new song which he said they would only play live if they could play it 100% live. It was indeed "Screaming Eagles" and I let out a wild scream of approval before going NUTS as the powerful beginning of the song blasted off. I had so much fun during this song and it was all pure pleasure at this point.
The striking "Uprising" was next and it proved to a great live song. Some parts of "Aces in Exile" were hard to pull of live but the band did a commendable effort. One song that worked 100% was "40:1" and it was screamed with much passion from the front row where my newfound brothers in arms jumped and sang along. Unfortunately the bad sound made it hard to notice musical detail. That and my mad headbaning, jumping and singing routine.
The first part of the show was over but the band soon came back for encores and after "The Art of War" was over this tall thin elderly Swedish dude comes out and starts singing a song in Swedish. To me it sounded like a Danish Kim Larsen song "Køb bananer". A fun and far out part of the show which was lost on me but probably made sense to the many thousand Swedes who were present.
The absolute jump fest "Primo Victoria" was another highlight where everyone in the audience went mad and "Metal Machine / Metal Crüe" ended a sublime concert. I couldn't be happier since I had such a great time at the front of the stage. Unfortunately I never got to talk to the two guys who vanished quickly after the show after only a brief hail. When I had gotten all my stuff back from the security guard they were gone.
Coat of Arms
Cliffs Of Gallipoli - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMamB7JLFpg
The Price Of A Mile
Uprising - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hjM4-s9FdUI
Aces in Exile
The Art Of War
Långa Bollar På Bengt
Metal Machine / Metal Crüe
I was quite wasted at this point and decided to not go and see Slayer if I was to survive the rest of the band-packed night. Instead I got something to eat and headed back to the camp for a refill. There I met Michael and Borg and we went together to The Quireboys' acoustic set. It was a great performance which I wanted to stay and see but I had to leave after only 15 minutes as both Jorn and Danzig were starting their concerts at this time. I was still undecided on who of those I wanted to see the most so I missed the opportunity for three great concerts and instead only got glimpses of all three. Jorn was first and there I enjoyed "We brought the Angels Down".
Danzig sounded really amazing and I was sad that I only caught the last part of the show. I was spellbound during "Dark Angel" and "Mother". Two songs which sounded superb this night. Danzig had a great voice and gave himself 100%.
I was back at Jorn for an extended drum solo which I soon regretted and when I got back to Danzig the show had ended. Doh!
My final mission of the day was to get pictures of Aerosmith and Mayhem so I headed for the main stage to get Aerosmith first and then continued directly over to the Dio stage for Mayhem. Mayhem was, how shall I say it, an interesting experience. I've never experienced anything quite so far out as that lead singer.
Friday - The Larch
Grave Digger played at noon and fittingly opened their show with "The Gallows Pole" and "Ballad of a Hangman". The band is celebrating their 30'th Anniversary and looked like they had a great time but unfortunately the sound was all bass and drums and it was hard to hear Chris at all. After getting photos I found Nina and the rest right in the middle of my personal favorite "Lionheart". "Knigts of the Cross" and "Rebellion..." were other favorites in a solid show.
The Gallows Pole
Ballad of a Hangman
Hell of Disillusion
The Last Supper
The Dark of the Sun
Knights of the Cross
Rebellion (The Clans are Marching)
Heavy Metal Breakdown
The Danish D-A-D were next and I was very impressed by their fun-filled performance. It was a great time in the photo pit and beyond. Lots of fire on stage and lots of outrageous bass changes. Bass player Stig even marched onto the drumkit a couple of times which looked pretty far out.
Later in the day the choice was between Magnum and Steel Panther and I started out with Magnum while having something to eat. It was great to hear Bob Catley but I remained unsatisfied so I headed over to catch the last part of Steel Panther. This concert was an absolute riot and if this last part of the show is anything to go by this has got to have been the funniest concert at Sweden Rock. I did not know anything about Steel Panther prior to the show so when I got over to the stage and the first line I made out of the song they were playing was "Suck my balls all night" I decided to stay a while.
Surprisingly the band kept this direction throughout the show, both with the songs and the interaction between the band members between the songs, which was laugh out loud funny. When the "Suck my balls..." song ended the lead singer proceeded to advice all guys to shave their balls and girls to do the same because, as he said "You don't want to go down on a girl and wrestle with ZZ Top!". Next up was a song called "Eatin' ain't Cheatin'". After this the lead singer made a joke about Rick Springfield and the band went into "Hell's on Fire" followed by "Death to all but Metal". The lead singer then announced, directed at the guitarist "I think we missed a song while I was penetrating your mom" and then asked the audience "Who likes to party?" - Lots of hands went up. He then asked "Who likes to fuck?" - All hands went up... And then the band launched into a massive party song which had the chorus "Fuck all night and party all day".
Though the music sounded quite promising and the interaction between the songs was fun and well timed I wonder how the band will proceed as there doesn't seem to be any way to develop their act further in this direction.
After the Steel Panther concert I went on a massive drinking binge as the Jack Daniels and coke served at the backstage bar tasted too damn good today. I did however manage to get pictures of both Cinderella and Gary Moore. Gary Moore sounded pretty good and "Over the Hills and far away" was especially memorable.
Later that night I went to look for the Sabaton tour bus with Eric and Shaun and ended up drinking homemade Swedish Liquor and a variety of other things. When I walked back to the camp in the middle of the night I was completely blotto and ready for a party. I believe it was around this time my phone worked and I was finally able to make a silly call to Tommy who of course didn't answer so I put a completely far out message on his answering machine instead. When I located our camp several people were still up but in the end it was just me and Michael who was somehow just as blown out of his skull as I was. We ended up partying and "singing" Enuff Z'nuff songs throughout the night, much to the dismay of the rest of the camp, especially Borg, whose tent we apparently had decided to make the center of our little party and thus used it to dance around, often stumbling and falling unto it, on top of Borg who was in the tent trying to get some sleep. He sure was none too pleased about that but we didn't really notice as we were more interested in getting the lyrics right for the songs, standing up or lying down.
Getting the lyrics right didn't go too well and when we had finally realized that we were so wasted that we were never going to finish a single song properly we decided to call it a night and shuffled off into our tents. It was early morning and I was hungry so I decided to open a bag of popcorn...
Saturday - Warning: Sweden Rock is hazardous for your health
When I woke up my voice was gone and replaced by a weird croak. I immediately called Tommy again and delivered an even weirder message on his answering machine.
I felt quite horrible today and even decided to not drink any alcohol and stick to water. Amazingly I kept that silly, spur of the moment idea up until late in the afternoon. Today Fates Warning were playing. One of the main reasons I was here. Naturally I couldn't miss this show, no matter how sick I felt so I managed to drag myself down to the Festival stage at half past one. The weather was really bad today. Cold and windy with several showers. Even though I turned up right before the show was about to begin there was plenty of room up front so I got a good spot at the left side of the stage.
Fates Warning played a great and very special show. Since they are celebrating the re-release of Parallels and have reunited with the 1992 lineup the focus was on that album. An intro tape played the beginning of "Leave the past behind" as the band walked on to the stage and as the main guitar riff arrived the band took over and played on. The band played the entire Parallels album in chronological order and only skipped "The Road Goes On Forever" which did make sense even though I would have loved to have heard it just for Ray's performance.
Just hearing Ray Alder sing was amazing. His voice holds up very well in a live situation and he only held back on a few really high notes through the concert. The sound was superb and captured the detail in the music very well. As far as I know this was one of the first concerts this incarnation of the band played together and I was mightily impressed by their tightness and overall ability. Frank Aresti on guitar played some amazing solos, really brilliant.
They perfectly hit the right rythm in "Life in Still Water" and it was quite a special experience hearing one of my old time favorite albums being performed almost in entirety. "The Eleventh Hour" was another highlight with the break halfway through being very powerful and memorable. Ray mixed up his introduction of "We Only Say Goodbye" with "Don't Follow Me" which got a good laugh. The mood in the band seemed very good.
After the Parallels part of the show the band continued with songs from the later part of their career and threw in "Through Different Eyes" from Perfect Symmetry as well, which was another highlight. It was all good and well played but I was constantly hoping for a song off Spectre or Guardian which maybe didn't make much sense but still....
"A.P.S.O.G. III" was memorable as well and performed with much vigor. "Monument" ended a fantastic show.
Leave the Past Behind
Life In Still Water
Eye to Eye
The Eleventh Hour
Point of View
We Only Say Goodbye
Don't Follow Me
Face the Fear
A Pleasant Shade of Gray Part III
Another Perfect Day
Through Different Eyes
Epica and Unisonic with Michael Kiske were playing at the same time. After some thought I went with Unisonic because, how often do you get to hear Kiske live? It was a good choice since Unisonic was a very nice surprise. Due to the strong wind the top of the sound stage in front of the rock stage had blown off and the whole area in front of the stage had been sealed off. I thought Unisonic had been cancelled and it was only by chance when I returned later that I saw that they were in the middle of their show, much delayed.
I walked in as Kiske was singing "Sign of the Times" by Place Vendome. Michael Kiske can still sing with the best of them and he proved that throughout the concert. Several Place Vendome songs were played and they were all great to hear, especially "Streets of Fire" and "My Guardian Angel". A highlight came near the end of the show when Michael announced that he never thought he would play the next two songs live again. He proceeded to sing "Kids of the Century" and "A little time" which was absolutely great to hear. During the middle section of "A Little Time" the band perfectly blended it with the Judas Priest classic "Victim Of Changes". It provided a great transition and as the band went back into "A Little Time" Kiske let out one of those high pitch screams not many singers are able to pull off live. It was a memorable moment and finished off a concert where I wish I had been able to see it all.
As I was feeling extremely bad at this point I had to retreat to the camp where the rest of the guys also hung out. I got some more clothes on and sat in the freezing cold camp and finally gave in and pulled out a few beers to keep warm. This meant that I missed Opeth, Saga, Bachman & Turner and Anvil which would have been nice, but under these circumstance I had to gather some strength. Later in the evening I went to get photos of W.A.S.P.. The band was energized and in great shape and played loads of older songs. I had filled up my camera with photos and went to the press tent to go through them, delete some and make up room for the Guns 'n' Roses concert later in the evening.
I got back to the festival area nearing the end of W.A.S.P. And headed over to the Festival stage to get ready for Guns 'n' Roses. There were lots of photographers there all waiting. We were told we would be split into three groups and get in to take pictures during one song each. The first group was let in while the rest of us waited outside. Stratovarius started their concert half an hour later at the Dio stage so I was hoping to be able to cover both concerts. Unfortunately Guns were delayed and I waited in the photo queue growing more and more tired. After 35 minutes of standing and waiting and occasionally fallling asleep, almost bumping into other photographers Stratovarius had started their concert so I decided I'd had enough of waiting and went to check out Stratovarius.
Of course, when I had just made it through the crowd and halfway to the Dio stage, the lights went down and Guns 'n' Roses started their show. It was too late to get back to the photo pit so I stood there, a good deal away from the stage and watched the impressive stage show. Several video screens showed some footage while the band was playing, the guitarists were excellent but it couldn't take the focus away from Axl's voice which sounded not exactly in top shape this evening. When he first opened his mouth to sing it sounded terrible but then it was as if he found the hoarse part of his voice (or maybe the sound guy got the microphone corrected?) and it picked up. I left to check out Stratovarius after "Welcome to the Jungle". Unfortunately Stratovarius' sound was partially drowned out by Guns 'n' Roses. This annoyance with sound coming from other stages is turning in to a serious problem at Sweden Rock, especially with the creation of the acoustic stage right in the middle of all the other stages.
I was just not in the mood to get close to the stage so I gave up on Stratovarius and went back to Guns n' Roses for a bit before calling it a night and heading to the backstage area to hand over my photo shirt.
This year's Sweden Rock Festival was once again a great fun-filled experience and already I am looking forward to next year.
Nalle and His Crazy Ivans
Eric, Nina and Shaun
All pictures taken by Steen except pictures of Sabaton, Pretty Maids and Fates Warning by Lunah of Metal Moments - www.metalmoments.net
Written By Steen
Online: Sunday, June 27, 2010
Updated: Saturday, December 27, 2014 - Added the old article to the site
Sunday, June 27, 2010 - Stuart
Steen, perhaps one day you will write a festival report that I will not sit and read with a big grin on my face, but it is not this day! Good work again sir! Although I will pick you up on one point, U.D.O were more than reliable, they were superb! Also congratulations on only spending a few lines talking about the wankers in the crowd during Sabaton, I think my report includes several pages about each and every one of them (and there were a lot) :)
Sunday, June 27, 2010 - Tobias
Great review Steen, I can certainly nod recognisingly at many points you made. One thing missing though; you seem to have forgotten about our DIO tribute Evil Eyes contest. Oh, and I do seem to remember something about a disastrous pinball match as well... Good times... Hope to see you again next year, if not before!
Sunday, June 27, 2010 - Steen
Hey, thanks guys! It sure was a great time. Tobias, the pinball match actually got a mention in the first draft of my report but I have since suppressed it... Damn!..... Rematch next year! Haha the Evil Eyes contest... I get a strange flashback now you mention it but that bit is really gone. I will be in Copenhagen for the Sabaton/Alestorm concert in September so hope to see you there!