|Ok, how shall I say this. I got a bit ...erm... helplessly inebriated during this years Sweden Rock Festival, which resulted in a few momentary memory losses and as a result a couple of concert reviews are a bit on the short side.
This was surely the most surreal festival I have experienced. It was in the same league as Wacken 2003 (report to be online at a later date)! In the recent years Sweden Rock has actually managed to overtake Wacken Open Air in terms of varied music and just plain fun.
Because of my very serious training for the Stockholm marathon, I had not consumed any alcohol for the past month and I think that was part of why it seemed to have a very interesting effect on me. But having just survived the Marathon three days earlier, I was in a mood to party, and so I did, with a finely mixed dose of Metal, beer and whisky.
Thanks to the Sweden organisers for granting us a photo pass this year. I was down in the photo pit for the first three songs of most of the concerts, which was very cool indeed.
Well, here we go with my Sweden Rock 2005 diary...
Wednesday, June 8'th - The Arrival
Arriving on the train in Copenhagen I hooked up with fellow staffer Nina, her boyfriend Mads, Thomas (Perris dude) and Niceguy Martin. On the train to Sölvesborg we immediately tried out my new portable speaker system, which I was very proud of and we started the party right there on the train. Arriving in Sölvesborg we were approached by a nice man who offered to drive us to the festival area pretty cheap. We jumped at the opportunity and convinced him to make a pitstop at the local Systembolaget, where we got the ultimate Festival survival kit. That means more cases of beer than we could carry and bottle of Dooley's for breakfast (Dooley's is a great Bailey substitute). We even found a big case of Newcastle Brown Ale! This was already looking to be a great festival.
We pretty quickly got there and set up our tents and it was a good feeling when I could sit down in the green grass next to my tent and pop open a Newcastle Brown Ale. The sun was shining, and my new 0.9 Watt speakers were blasting Metal songs across an area of at least 1 square meter. The party evolved and around 6pm I suffered a severe memory loss but I do know we had a lot of fun. The party must have gotten completely out of control since I woke up with an earthshaking headache the next day in all my clothes, Nina had sprained her wrist and Mads had a big wound on his forehead... None of us remembered exactly what had happened at first.
During the night I had somehow managed to get my backstage wrist-band as well as a very yellow photo shirt. Nina later told me in vivid detail how that had happened but that is just too embarassing to go into detail with here.
Michael and the guys from Nice Try (Borg the Cy-Borg, Troels, Thomas and Simon) had arrived later in the evening amidst much confusion, since I had not been able to guide them to our camping ground in my beer haze.
Thursday, June 9'th
I felt extremely bad this morning, but after a few headache pills, washed down with a Newcastle Brown I started to think a little more clearly. Unfortunately we had also consumed the whole bottle of Dooley's the night before so the breakfast was gone. I went to get a hamburger, coke and fries instead. As soon as I started thinking of food I got a vague memory of finding a vendor selling amazing chicken wings the night before.
Unfortunately someone had stolen my new speakers as well as my discman during the night, so there was no music but what we made ourselves. We more than made up for that later to the horror of the nearby neighbourghs.
I also saw a few bands today...
Crystal Eyes had the honor of opening the Sweden Rock Festival 2005 and they did a good job overall. Daniel Heiman, formerly of Lost Horizon, had taken over the vocal duties for a few live shows and he was my main point of attraction to the band. I was not as blown away by his performance as I was when I saw hime with Lost Horizon last year. While he did a good job there is just something in my mind that tells me that he belongs with Lost Horizon. A nice Power Metal beginning to the day without any real surprises. There was a good crowd at the Spendrups stage and they seemed to welcome the band warmly.
Force of Evil
There was time for a few beers at the camp before fellow countrymen, Force of Evil took over the Spendrups stage. I had not heard their music before and was very interested in what they would offer. Martin Steene came running on to the stage in some makeup that made him look really weird and kinda scary. Hal Patino and Hank Sherman looked like they had a great time and I was pleasantly surprised by the band's performance. Several songs sounded like they had great potential. This was heavy metal with a bite. Unfortunately the sound was not the best and Martin Steene's vocals were quite low in the mix.
A choice between Anthrax and Freak Kitchen turned out in Freak Kitchen's favor. The band made the best entrance to the stage I witnessed for the whole festival, since they incorporated sounds from my favorite animal, the Cow! Loud sounds of mooo'ing blared from the speakers for a few moments before bassist Christer Örtefors came running on to the stage in a freak costume with a "Ready to Rock"- look on his face. From the photo pit I had a great view of the stage for the first three songs. The band opened with Speak from the new album, which worked pretty well live.
Mattias had two solo moments which were pretty funny. Unfortunately I was too far away from the stage at this point to get all the details. But seeing him playing violin on the guitar using various props was pretty fun. I've seen Freak Kitchen several times by now and it is cool that Mattias always comes up with something new. The songs they played from Move were all highlights for me. The crowd loved Nobody's laughing. Christer did a really great job on Razor Flowers and Seven Days in June was so great to hear live as well. Another highlight was Vaseline Bizniz really got me singing along too.
Unfortunately I was moving away from the stage as the band asked the audience if they wanted to hear Blind or Porno Daddy as the last encore. The crowd went for the porn and there was a lot of jumping at the front. Since Porno Daddy is a personal favorite I banged my head into a nearby tree for leaving early.
It was extremely hot this day and I needed something to spark up my energy for Megadeth, so I went back to the camp for a quick beer before returning to the photo pit to get pictures of Megadeth. The band definitely has their shit together and went on to perform an energy filled concert with few breaks to breathe. Personally I missed more of the songs I knew but songs like Skin o' my teeth, Hangar 18, and Symphony of Destruction had me smiling big time. The Drover brothers, Glenn on guitar and Shawn on drums did a splendid job. They were introduced by Dave in both Swedish and English at one point. In the midst of several long instrumental parts we were lucky enough to get Peace Sells... and Holy Wars towards the end of the show.
The fatal Photo mistake
The band I had been looking forward to seeing the most this day was Within Temptation. This was not the least because I had a chance to get in the photo pit to get some surely stunning pictures of the enchanting Sharon Del Adel. I got to the Rock Stage photo pit real early to get a good spot. The band was delayed and I breathed a sigh of relief as we were finally let in to the photo pit. I line up the camera for some really good close-ups and you can probably imagine my surprise as Biff Byford of Saxon walks on stage....! "Oh fuck, I'm at the wrong stage. How did this happen? Damn those Newcastle Brown Ale!" was all I could think, as I plowed through thousands of people to get to the Sweden Stage where Within Temptation had already started playing.
I think I set a new record in the 200 meter Sweden Rock hurdle and made it to the front of the left side of the stage as Within Temptation started on their second song, Jillian. To my horror I realized that I had chosen the wrong side of the stage, as photo people were only going to be let in on the right side of the stage... I was not going to make it through the mass of people again before the band was well into their third song and that was the end of my Sharon close-up photo shoot. I couldn't help but laugh about my stupidity and so I decided to stand my ground at the left of the stage and did a lot of zooming instead.
After being very disappointed with the new album The Silent Force, I was interested to hear how the new songs would go off live. The band still has it, that is for sure. Some of the new songs worked great live like Stand My Ground, Angels and the beautiful Memories, but a song like Aquarius really started getting on my nerves. Sharon has the charm and energy to completely mesmerize you and her voice was amazing this night as well, though she should come up with some new moves in the near future. "The Octopus" is getting a bit old after having seen the band live several times.
The Kate Bush cover Running Up That Hill was really powerful but Caged definitely took the prize as the highlight of the day for me. It is completely amazing live and very powerful. The sound was not perfect and Sharon's voice was very loud and sometimes had a jarring edge to it that just carved through my brain and made me move further back in the crowd. The speaker system seemed almost overpowered by her voice. Mother Earth was a crowd favorite and the band ended the concert with Deceiver of Fools and Ice Queen, which had the whole place jumping, something the band definitely likes to do.
See Who I Am
Jillian (I'd Give My Heart)
Stand My Ground
Running Up The Hill
Deceiver Of Fools
Beer, A Scotsman on a horse and food
I managed to locate the chicken wings vendor, I found last night and amazingly, I was welcomed with open arms and everyone in the stand seemed to remember me. I did not bother to ask what I had done last night.
It took at least an hour and some 15 chicken wings with barbecue potatoes to get over my fatal photo mistake. That and a few beers. I got back to the camp and partied with the others. Suddenly it was very late and I felt bad about not making it to Morgana Lefay and at least get some pictures. Damn!
While I was sitting in the camp drinking beers, I heard a voice with a Scottish accent saying "Steen?" and it turned out that it was Andrew, who I had met at last years festival at the front rows at the Nightwish concert! Amazingly the whole gang of Scotsmen lived only four tents away from us and we had a blast partying with them through the next days. Several of them were great Manowar fans and the party we had on the last night of the festival will most likely haunt them forever.
During the night I went back to the Fingerfood stand to get some more chicken wings and decided to head to the hill in front of Sweden Stage and sit under a tree eating my dinner, while listening to Nazareth. Turned out to be a good idea and I was pleasantly surprised by their old school rock music. Especially Bad boy left a good impression. Of course the band ended with Love Hurts.
I went back on the job and headed down for the photo pit at the main stage to get pictures of Accept, who were one of the headliners. I held on for the first four songs but then headed back to my tent as I was just too tired to keep it together anymore. I did get to hear great versions of Starlight, Living For Tonight, London Leatherboys and Metal Heart before I left.
I bought this big bucket of popcorn before I left the festival grounds and ate half before falling asleep. Unfortunately putting me drunk in a tent along with a big box of popcorn for a night can have some unfortunate effects, which I found out the next day, when I woke up to find popcorn scattered all over the tent.
Friday, June 10'th
This day had one of the events Michael and I had looked most forward to: The Jack Daniels Whisky taste.
But first it was time for.....
We arrived at the Spendrups stage early and I got into the pit to get photos. I witnessed an energized band, who put on a great performance. I had never heard their music before but this was enough to convince me to check them out further. Lead singer Joakim had a good interaction with the crowd going on and the rest of the band had a good stage presence as well. The crowd was really into the band and the concert ended the show with Primo Victoria, which was an instant ear hanger
Arch Enemy had been cancelled to my great disappointement, so the next stop for me & Michael was the Jack D. whisky taste at the press tent...
The Jack Daniels Whisky taste
The nice people from Jack Daniels/Philipson & Söderberg AB had invited us and other press people to try out some of their new whisky. Michael and I jumped at the opportunity at once with especially Michael being a great whisky lover. Arriving at the press tent we looked with eager eyes at the people setting up two long tables with glasses and pouring whisky. When we were let in we took the end of a table and David Mortimer-Hawkins started presenting Jack Daniels and their whisky in Swedish. Photographers were taking several pictures of us so we tried to act as professional as possible.
We listened intently and smelled the whisky number one as we were told. Mmmmm, nice one. So one by one we went through the glasses and each one got better. My absolute favorite was the Gentleman Jack. Awesome whisky. The Tennesee Gold was a soda-style drink like the Bacardi breezers, which I will no doubt get addicted to once it goes public. The Tennesee Gold delivered a knockout to any competition in this field (Smirnoff Ice go home). Seriously, it tasted fantastic.
When the guy holding the speech told us to go back to glass number one and taste it again Michael and I looked at each other, hhmmm we had already swallowed that one completely. Looking at the filled glasses and empty seats next to us we decided not to let the holy drops go to waste, so we started on those glasses as well.
Nearing the end of the presentation, a two-digit number of glasses stood in front of us on the table as the Swedish guy rounded up his speech by asking if anybody had any more questions. By this point I had lost my memory, but as Michael later told me, I had apparently misunderstood the guy, since I raised my glass and let of a loud "Skååål!" in Danish (meaning Cheers).
It was time to head back out but we couldn't just let all the good whisky stand there only to maybe be thrown out later, so Michael and I grabbed a couple of glasses each and filled them to the brim with the most excellent Tennesee Gold and headed down to the natural extension of a Whisky taste, to experience Black Label Society live...
Lana Lane, Rescued by Scotsmen, and popcorn
Somewhere along the line, I managed to wander off and never found Michael again, so I decided to head over to the Spendrups stage to get some pictures of Lana Lane. Around this time I suffered a severe memory loss and don't remember a thing before waking up on the hill in front of the Spendrups stage long after the concert had finished. Next to me was something indescribably icky... As I found out later a few of the Scotsmen found me more or less alive in front of the stage during the Lana Lane concert and so I will give the word to Andrew, good friend and a most loyal Scotsman who offered to write this part of my report.
A report from the Lana Lane concert by Andrew Nicolson, a mind less hazy:
"Arrived at Spendrup's stage.
Saw Scottish friends.
Sat down and explained Jack Daniels whisky tasting.
Laughed for ten minutes solid.
Promised Andrew a T-shirt.
Laughed some more.
Tried to stand up.
Andrew offered to help.
'I can do it myself!!'.
Took 100 pictures of Lana.
Left to pass out on the hill.
Awoke 45 minutes later.
Got loads of chicken wings, chips and coke.
Went back to camp. Drank some more."
I have absolutely no comments... But it sounds vaguely familiar.
Returning to the camp, I located my half-full box of popcorn in the tent and started passing them around the camp. Suddenly someone asks why there is a key at the bottom of the popcorn box and I look in wonder as I find the key to the front door of my apartment in the box!! I don't have a clue how that happened, but I was just happy that I didn't throw out the popcorn earlier when they were messing up the tent... I thought I had the key in my pocket all the time. Scary!
It was time for Dream Theater and a big highlight of the festival for me. I got down in the pit to take photos again but as the band entered the stage I looked in horror as the display on my camera read "Memory card full". I quickly discovered that I had taken a shitload of pictures of Lana Lane, the concert which I did not remember... I frantically started deleting pictures while the band was playing The Root Of All Evil from their new album. This was the first show on the European tour, but the band seemed in good shape and ready to Rock. As we heard the beginning of A Fortune in Lies the crowd let out a big roar. Great performance of this one and a very cool song to hear live.
The songs from the new album sounded good. Especially Panic Attack left a promising impression. The absolute highlight for me was when the band started on Peruvian Skies. I just love this song and when John Petrucci nailed the amazing guitar solo, I was in heaven. By this time I had moved into the crowd and gotten a pretty good spot with some other fans very close to the stage. We all sang along to a wonderful version of The Spirit Carries On and when Pull Me Under was played all the guys and girls that were standing next to me went nuts as we started a jumping frenzy.
The band did a great show for a festival appearance. I would personally have wished for more older songs, as As I am ended the show for a short while. Luckily the band came back for an encore with Metropolis Part I. The perfect end to a great show.
The Root Of All Evil
A Fortune In Lies
Just Let Me Breathe
Pull Me Under
The Spirit Carries On
As I Am
With only 15 minutes to spare I took a deep breath and ran for the photo pit at the main stage to get ready for Hammerfall, who turned out to be in great shape this day. The whole Festival stage had been decorated with snowy mountains to reflect the theme of their latest cover artwork and during the encores a large hammer provided some light effects. It was pretty fun. The band was obviously ready to rock and it showed, but I did feel they lacked something to pull the concert into the stratosphere. Maybe it was the choice of songs which leaned heavily on the latest albums. Renegade worked great live and came off really heavy.
During Anders Johansson's drum solo he teased the audience with both fills from Run to the Hills and Painkiller. Now if the band had pulled off any of those songs that would have demanded great respect. This way it just felt like a big tease. During Glory to the Brave we got another break as the band started playing Metallica's Enter Sandman which was pretty cool. Unfortunately they decided to end it after the first verse and went back to ending Glory to the Brave instead. If they wanted to do a cover song then they should do it properly instead of this half-assed way.
I kinda forgave the band as they started on my favorite, Hammerfall song, Hammerfall... Raising my hands (hammers?) high, I shouted along to this great song. I noticed a couple of swords in the wind and made my way through the crowd to say Hi to the Scotsmen who looked very happy indeed. Heeding the Call ended the show and we all started screaming for more. Of course the band came back and we were treated to three encores. Unfortunately none of the first two albums. Still, Blood Bound came off really well live. As the band started on their final song I thought they were going to play another cover, namely Helloween's I Want Out. Instead I recognised the horrible Hearts on Fire after a few moments, my least favorite Hammerfall song by far. Interesting how close these two songs are in the opening moments.
Riders of the storm
Let the hammer fall
The templar flame
Fury of the wild
Glory to the brave
Hammer of justice
Heeding the call
Templars of steel
Hearts on fire
Back at the camp we started a little party before I noticed I was late and had to run as fast as I could down to get pictures of the Vixen concert, which Michael was going to review. I ran back and forth a few times since I forgot various things, like my photo shirt but I made it to the stage in time to get a few pictures. The bass at this concert was the loudest I have ever heard. Even wearing my earplugs my ears screamed each time the bass played a note. Back to the camp for more beers and then back to the festival ground to get pictures of Sammy Hagar. It is a tough life to have a photo pass :)
After taking pictures of Sammy Hagar I went to hang out in the beer tent where I got to talking with some nice guys and bought a few to many beers from the good looking bartender. An hour later I stumbled back to get some sleep. What a day.
Saturday, June 11'th
It was time to make the hard choice between Swiss hard Rockers Shakra and Symphonic Metal phenomenon Therion. I chose Shakra and headed for the Sweden stage. I felt a little unfulfilled after the concert, but I can probably only blame that on myself since I only have one of the bands albums. The amazing Power Ride, from which they only played two songs, Why Don't You Call Me and Watching You. Lots of songs I did not know made the concert a little static for me. But the band was in great shape this early and did all they could to get the audience going.
Why Don't You Call Me
Hands On The Trigger
Now Or Never
Done Me Wrong
Too Good To Me
Sign In The Sky
My Life-My World
Don't Try To Call
Nothing To Lose
I had a whole afternoon to party since I wasn't seeing anything until Sonata Arctica later in the evening, so I did a lot of shopping before going back to the camp and starting on the last batch of my beers. Probably not a good idea since my memory from the rest of saturday is extremely hazy. As Sonata Arctica went on stage I was ready with the camera again. I was ready to rock, but the band hadn't really evolved since I saw them the last time. They are still a great live band but lack any real surprises. Absolute highlights for me included the powerful Weballergy, the all around amazing My Land and the fast Kingdom for a heart (Does anyone else hear him sing "Dingdong for a heart" on the album?).
I had been looking forward to seeing Candlemass for some time and they didn't disappoint. As usual I had a field day in the photo pit, watching the Manic Messiah put on a great show. He was the main attraction of the band and he gave a fantastic animated performance of all the songs. Amazing voice and amazing stage presence. Black Dwarf opened the show with crushing power and from here the show slowed down as the band went further back in time. Unfortunately my beer soaked mind has flushed any specific details from the concert. I just remember leaving with a very satisfied feeling, going right to a vendor and purchasing all the Candlemass re-issues.
Re-discovering the whisky magic
It was right in the middle of DIO that I went out to get a refreshment from the backstage bar. I was ecstatic to discover that they sold Jack Daniels and coke and I proceeded to re-live the glory days of yesterday in the whisky tent, spending the rest of my money here.
The after party
After taking my pictures of Mötley Crüe I went back to the camp where I met Nina, Mads and the rest and we proceeded to party long into the night, making sure that none of our neighbourghs got any sleep. After I had been singing a few Manowar songs very loud, I saw an army of Scotsmen approaching and they took full advantage of the human jukebox this night. I'm pretty sure that my screams will be waking them in the middle of the night for years to come... Especially Barry and Stuart were very much into Manowar and I seem to remember giving several performances of Achilles, including the instrumental parts in special shortened versions, as well as perfecting my gunshot sound during Brothers of Metal. It was far out.
After the Scottish guys had gone to bed Nina and I decided to head for the backstage bar and use the last of her money on JD and coke. This got us one JD and coke to share and that was not much. I was seriously thinking about performing a song or two for the other press people to try and make some money, but Nina luckily talked me out of that. Instead we met the Sabaton lead singer, Joakim as well as their bassist. Joakim invited us back to their camp where we partied until the sun was starting to come up and drank the last of their beers as well. The human Manowar jukebox was turned on again and Achilles… was sung along with several other classics. This was a crazy night and I'm sure that I left some kind of an impression with all the people who were there that night. Good or bad, I have no idea.
When I crashed in my tent the sun had already come up and the birds were beginning to chatter. I heard nothing except the sweet sound of waves of whisky splashing against my skull. I did not want to go home. This was too much fun.
|Click pictures for a bigger version
Partying on the train. Notice the speakers on the left.
Force of Evil
The crowd at Freak Kitchen
The audience at Megadeth
The best chicken wings in Sweden!
A very well-provided table
During the whisky taste
Your faithful reporter finds his front door key in a box of popcorn...
The whole gang of Scotsmen
All pictures taken by Steen except Scottish group and popcorn pictures by Martin Borg
Written By Steen
Online: Wednesday, July 6, 2005
Updated: Friday, October 6, 2012 - Added the old article to the site
Wednesday, July 6, 2005 - Andrew
YYYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAASSSS!!!!!!!!!!! I am a journalist for Revelationz! I will never take off this t-shirt!
Wednesday, July 6, 2005 - Alanna
Ahhhh you write the most entertaining live reviews that I have ever read... I laughed so hard too many times to count during this. The descriptions of your singing are absolutely hilarious. Oh my gawd it sounds like this was pure metal heaven! I'd hawk pieces of my soul on ebay to see a show like this. Rawk on!
Wednesday, July 6, 2005 - Carsten
Very bad i missed Sweden rock this year, i must be there next year for sure
Wednesday, July 6, 2005 - Steen
@Alanna: Haha thanks! You will have to make it over here one day and I will give you the full tour of Sweden Rock as well as a varied selection from the jukebox :)
Wednesday, July 6, 2005 - Craig
Its freakish how accurate the Lana Lane report is. 'Mon the crazy Manowar singing Danish guy!
Monday, July 11, 2005 - Stuart
Fantastic review Steen, its just a shame Andrew neglected to add "Lana Lane was pish" into his report :)Nice pictures of Sharon too so dont be too hard on yourself And i dont think ill be able to listen to the Triumph Of Steel again without hearing your far superior version of Achilles :)
Friday, July 15, 2005 - Steen
Haha thanks Stuart. Yeah I really think that my "toned down" version of Achilles brings out the essence of the song, even though I gotta work on the last part. Hopefully you will all be back next year.