|As the first of 4 festivals on my schedule, Sweden Rock kicked off a busy festival summer in a great way. The lineup was pretty good with a lot of great bands but Avantasia on the last night of the festival was what I was really looking forward to seeing.
I managed to get a photo pass this year so all the concerts I saw were experienced from the photopit for the first three songs, followed by a couple of minutes of business trying to find a good spot to sit down (Yes, I'm getting that old). The photo pass also meant that this was without doubt my most serious Sweden Rock ever. No far out memory loss, no tumbling over and falling asleep on a hill, no going to the wrong scene to get pictures, no blue drinks, no screaming human jukebox, not really any far out happenings, in fact I seriously hope you don't fall asleep on this three day musical journey.
Michael and I drove up there on Wednesday where we camped with Nina, Mads, Stuart and the other Scottish guys. Special guest Dennis the Menace (Also now known as The Marshall) arrived just in time for a small warm up party.
Airbourne seemed like a nice way to start the festival. Their power rock of the AC/DC kind was perfectly suited for enjoying a cold beer in the hot sun. "Stand up for Rock'N'Roll" kicked off the concert and was followed by the nice rocking threesome "Fat City", "Diamond in the rough" and "Cheap wine, cheaper women". Lead singer Joel O'Keefe was high on energy and did a great job of getting the crowd going. At one point he climbed high to the top of the stage setup where he continued to sing.
The band did good but halfway through the concert I decided to move on and start warming up for my personal highlight of the day, Sabaton. The power metal elite had just released their new album and they opened their show with a new one. Heavy, powerful and with a memorable chorus it sounded promising. Unfortunately I was unable to find the album as it was sold out at all the merchandise stands I visited. The effect of a great show apparently.
There was a huge audience assembled at the Sweden stage and the band seemed really happy for the loud response they got. I got a spot some way from the stage after taking photos and when the band went into "Primo Victoria" the audience became a massive sea of jumping heads. It was quite a sight. "Panzer Batallion" and "Attero Domminatus" were other personal favorites that were delivered with much enthusiasm, though Attero had a taped intro that felt a bit awkward. Unfortunately the band was speaking in Swedish so I didn't understand anything they said. "Metal Machine" ended the set and the festival had officially been blown off to a great start.
Just before noon Sister Sin opened a busy day with a great performance. Energy was running high through their one hour setlist and any morning sleepiness was soon gone. Three songs from the latest EP opened their set. The feisty "Breaking new ground" worked excellent live with the gang vocals and good drive. "Love/Hate" was better live than on record and "Hostile Violent" proved that there is no holding back in their live delivery. Lead vocalist Liv was constantly on the move, her voice proved strong enough to hold up in a live situation and she really filled up the shoes of front lady in an impressive way.
Besides the five EP songs we got a Mötley Crüe cover, a Motöhead cover (Make my day), a couple of older songs as well as a new song of the band's own catalogue. The ultra melodic "On Parole" was a highlight but the band delivered on every song. Here's a band to watch out for in the future.
After they'd finished playing the band came back, bowed and threw a lot of shirts and other merchandise to the audience.
I went over to get a few pictures of Black Stone Cherry who sounded pretty good for the one song I caught.
Sebastian Bach had been cancelled due to a late plane and Bonafide was taking over so I headed over to the Zeppelin stage to see if Pain of Salvation would deliver the goods with their new drummer and bassist. I watched "The Perfect Element" and "America" from the photo pit and got some good shots. The sun (and the little party the night before) was already starting to take its toll so after getting the pictures I sat down in the grass with a bottle of water and a cold beer to enjoy the rest of the show as the band continued with "Diffidentia (Breaching the Core)". The sun was shining, the sky was blue and a cool breeze took away the hottest sunlight. It was Sweden Rock perfection right there.
To call the show by Pain of Salvation typical would be defying the very essence of the band. They are always a unique experience. This day they delivered several surprises.
After "Inside" the first notes of "Undertow" began flowing from the stage. As Daniel was just about to start singing the emotional beginning the band changed gear and went into an impromptu birthday song and the audience quickly followed. Daniel seemed very surprised and had to take a moment to get himself back into the song.
As "Undertow" began again not even the hot sun could stop the chills that went down my back as Daniel sang with incredible emotion. The version they delivered live today was very different from the album version and it worked absolutely amazing. Compared to the original version this delivery was quieter, slightly rearranged and incredibly even more emotional than the album version. Wow!
"Ashes" was great to hear as well.
One of my least favorite PoS songs, "Disco Queen" ended a special show. There was not a lot of dancing in the audience, probably due to the hot sun, or may people were just getting tired of this lightweight song?
I ran for the Sweden stage as Primal Fear started playing the moment PoS ended.
Primal Fear was my highlight of the day by far. Having recruited the genius guitarist Magnus Karlsson has clearly had an invigorating effect on the band.
They were on fire today as they charged through a selection of their greatest songs.
From the photo pit I switched between framing good shots and standing in wide eyed amazement at the energy the band displayed. Ralph's voice was in top shape and he nailed "Silver and Gold" in an impressive fashion. The band was clearly happy and as Ralph said "proud to be back on the Sweden stage".
"Nuclear Fire" was another highlight as I moved across the audience for a good spot. I found one on the far left side of the stage and was suddenly blown back a few rows as "Face the Emptiness" captured the immense power of the song in a wild way.
"Seven Seals" once again displayed the amazing shape Ralph's voice was in. After "Angel in black" Magus Karlsson was introduced and he thanked by giving a short guitar solo which evolved into a guitar duet/battle with Henny Wolter.
After "Final Embrace" the rest of the band was introduced. "Metal is forever" was dedicated to the audience and the least interesting song of the set. As the song finished people were starting to leave but Ralph came back and shouted "Where are you going?". As he said the band was celebrating their 10 year anniversary and did this with a powerful version "Chainbreaker". Fantastic show overall.
Here's to another ten years!
Primal Fear Setlist
Sign of Fear
Silver & Gold
Running In The Dust
Face The Emptiness
Angel In Black
Under Your Spell
Demons And Angels
Fighting The Darkness
Metal Is Forever
As I headed straight for the main stage to catch Coheed and Cambria I noticed the huge crowd gathered at the Zeppelin stage as Volbeat was playing. The whole hill was packed with people and it looked a bit crazy.
Coheed and Cambria was a recent discovery of mine and I was looking forward to seeing them live. They had two female backup singers on stage and this made the vocal melodies really come out.
The band delivered a great performance though sometimes their complex music had a hard time to reach all the way into the audience as the sound wasn't perfect. I recognized several songs off the new album and especially "Running Free" was a highlight.
Suddenly the band went into Iron Maiden's "The Trooper"! They delivered a great version of this classic, though the guitarist should stick to that as his primary instrument.
At this point the time was six in the evening and I had to miss out on Testament since the amount of bands along with the heat were taking their toll.
Having just discovered Dare's Out of the Silence my hopes were up for a great experience. Dare delivered a good concert but it was marred by a slow start, too much rambling from the lead vocalist and the absence of a bassist on stage. The bass was apparently played back from a tape and this gave the concert a slightly hmmm feel. The band was without doubt very happy to be there and it shone through in their performance which was captivating and easy on the ears. The songs from "Out of the Silence" were highlights with "Abandon" and "Into the Fire" being fantastic.
At the end of the show guitarist Brian Robertson of Thin Lizzy fame was welcomed on stage and the show ended with "Jailbreak" and "Rosalie". Brian looked pretty wasted but it was fun ending to an overall slightly weird concert experience.
After their slightly disappointing performance two years ago I was convinced the band had returned to set the record straight and deliver an energized punch of Heavy Metal. How disappointed I was to find out that they could not live up to their legacy.
Rob Halford's performance was the main problem. His voice has diminished and he struggled very hard to keep up with the rest of the band.
The setlist was really cool, but the songs were let down by a below average vocal performance.
Things started off good with a new Nostradamus song and Rob Halford slowly rising as the famed prophet from the stage. "Metal Gods" continued the show and everything was great at this point. From the photo pit I could hear the audience singing loudly along. But already by the fourth song, "Between the Hammer and the anvil" Halford's voice was showing signs of fatigue and he sounded tired already.
This became really obvious during "Devils Child" where Rob sounded strained beyond belief. "Breaking the Law" continued but the highlight, ie. the middle part, was sadly skipped. The real let down came with "Hell Patrol", one of my many favorites of Painkiller, as they completely butchered the song in a way I had not imagined possible.
After this I was in a slight state of shock and not even songs like "Electric Eye" or "The Green Manalishi" could get me back in the mood.
Judas Priest came off as a tired old crew and I walked away from the concert very disappointed and with the impression that the band had outlived their stay. This performance was way below what I had expected and didn't live up to their legacy at all.
Judas Priest Setlist:
Eat Me Alive
The Hammer And The Anvil
Breaking The Law
The Hellion / Electric Eye
Rock Hard, Ride Free
Hell Bent For Leather
The Green Manalishi (With The Two-Pronged Crown)
You've Got Another Thing Comin'
Friday was a day of half-concerts as I ran around taking pictures and didn't have any bands I really wanted to see. Most exciting event of the day was Royal Hunt with their new frontman Mark Boals. Due to a bathing incident at the beach I got there a song late. A massive loud sound and a powerful high pitched wail was the first thing that hit me like a gust of wind. "Message to God" was the first song I heard. Mark Boals was very impressive and hit some insane highs without faltering while two female singers provided backing vocals. The sound varied a lot through the show. Suddenly after some insanely loud screams Marks voice was very low in the mix for a while and it gave the impression that not everything was being played live.
Highlights were "The Mission" and "Last Goodbye" where Mark proved that he is a great frontman.
I continued on to Tesla for pictures but the band did little for me today and I headed for the camp. A band with the name of Axewitch were taking the Zeppelin stage and I just couldn't take that band name serious at that moment so I continued to the camp where I found out that Shakin' Street was going to have Manowar's former guitarist, Ross The Boss with them on stage. So as the compliant Manowar fans that we are I headed down there with Stuart and Nina. The music turned out to be a disappointment. Nothing really special with a generic sounding female vocalist. The band looked like they had fun though.
I headed over to see what the deal was with Team Cans. Nothing special either. As I closed in on the stage a big choir was singing Def Leppard's "Pour some sugar on me" which sounded pretty terrible. As I entered the photo pit they started singing the Swedish national anthem. Cans was speaking a lot of Swedish and finally they ended their show with "O Fortuna". My overall impression was a bit "Hhmmm okay..."
I waited around for Ace Freehley and snapped some pictures before moving on back to the camp for warmer clothes.
Hanoi Rocks turned out to be the highlight of the day. They were absolutely Highwired and it felt like they had endless steam to blow off. Lead singer Michael Monroe was a true frontman and he had a fantastic stage presence. He kept the security guys on their feet as he jumped off the stage to get closer to the audience. I'm sure Michael will go into more detail about the concert in his report. I met Dennis in the audience and we held a small party.
Since it looked like everyone were seeing Hanoi Rocks and I was broke I went to the bank halfway through the concert and got some cash.
I was there to get pictures for Whitesnake as well and they opened their show with "Best Years" which sounded very good. It was obvious who was the main man as the focus was always on David Coverdale who, in an open shirt and a rock hard gleam in his eyes obviously was no stranger to the stage.
I left after "Is this love" and when I returned nearing the end of the show I noticed a shitload of effects on David's voice. This made them seem much more fierce and powerful than earlier in the show. It also made them feel fake. "Here I go Again" and "Still of the Night" ended a show that started out good but ended a bit stale.
I went right down to get pictures of Saxon before heading back to the camp for a beer.
I was back again for Def Leppard were I got the pictures and managed to watch a few more songs at the front part of the audience along with Michael before I fell asleep standing up. I slept for the entire concert and woke up standing in the exact same spot just as the band was finishing their last encore. I know I was tired at this point but the band did nothing to keep me awake. Their performance lacked spark and felt more like a "had to be there" than a "Yeah we're back!" kind of thing.
It was a hard choice between Stormwarrior and Lizzy Borden. Power Metal won out and I headed over to catch the entire Stormwarrior gig. They opened with a handful of their own songs. Straight ahead power metal. Unfortunately their sound sucked big time. The bass part of the sound was so loud and booming that I couldn't even stay in the photo pit for more than a song and a half. I moved much further back where the sound was more acceptable, but it never really became good.
I remember "Thunderer" as being a strikingly good Power Metal hymn and I was humming the song most of the afternoon. After this song the band was joined by former Helloween guitarist Kai Hansen and it was time for a retro party.
"Ride the sky", "Murderer", Victim of fate", "Judas", "Heavy Metal is the law" and finally "I want out" were all enjoyable to hear again but the show never really reached the fantastic heights of the one I witnessed at Wacken last year. Though Kai was in fine form he didn't sing quite as well and the sound was way worse.
It was a good show overall and a nice way to start the day but I left with the feeling that maybe I should have caught Lizzy Borden instead. Just at that moment the band came back on stage and played and encore. A crowd at the front of the audience had been chanting for about 5 minutes and this paid off as the band introduced a new song that they hadn't even rehearsed. We got "Into the battle" from a forthcoming album and it sounded pretty good.
I decided to go CD shopping, just for a change, and after great success in that area I managed to catch "Anytime, Anywhere" from Gotthard during dinner and this sounded really fantastic.
By chance I was walking past the Zeppelin stage and heard some Led Zeppelin from the stage so I headed over there and it turned out to be the winner of the tribute band contest. so I sat down and enjoyed "The song remains the same", "Rock'n'Roll" and "Stairway to Heaven". This was a sweet departure from the rest of the festival and I still remember lying down in the soft grass as the guitar solo to "Stairway" blew around me. Classic.
I stayed at the Zeppelin stage since the program said that next up was "Rifftävling" and I wanted to see what that was all about. Turned out it was an amateur guitar riff contest where 10 people got on stage and played 30 seconds of guitar and some judges decided the winner. It was a fun contest. Especially the guy in a cowboy hat who, nearing the end of his time in the spotlight, made a crazy guitar move and threw the guitar high in the air where it spun around, fell towards the stage and crash landed as the guy was unable to catch it again. It looked far out and the guy who was controlling the event was momentarily stumped for words. The guitar didn't work anymore so a second one was brought out and the contest continued.
I'd wanted to check out Apocalyptica so I headed for the Rock stage, but one song was enough to make me turn around and head back for some refreshments at the camp. I met up with the other guys for a beer under a tree and it was around this time that I discovered alcoholic cider which was much better than beer in this heat.
I went to get pictures of Ratt. I didn't find them too exciting so I headed back for warmer clothes. Then it was back again for pictures of the return of Triumph, who sadly looked and sounded a bit deprived of energy. Then it was back to the camp for an Avantasia warmup with Nina.
Finally the moment I had been anticipating the entire festival had arrived. Avantasia were about to take the stage and I had taken up a pretty good spot in the photo pit. Soon the lights dimmed and the band went directly into "Twisted Mind" from their latest album. Tobias Sammet ran onto the impressive stage with a wide smile, obviously happy to be there. His voice was in good shape and he was backed by two female singers, Amanda Somerville and Claudy Yang who were located at the back of the stage. They sang backing vocals for all songs and did a great job, both vocally and aesthetically.
"Twisted Mind" served as a great opener. As on the record it was followed by the 10-minute "The Scarecrow"! It was a fantastic song to experience live and it introduced the first guest vocalist, none other than Jorn Lande, "devil of devils" as Tobias later introduced him. As is usually the case Jorn's voice was pure joy and it was a fantastic moment as he entered the stage with "So you're an angel meant to walk down here...". There was no doubt who had the biggest voice this evening. The middle part of the song worked nicely live with an extended guitar solo.
"Another Angel Down" continued and was a definite highlight as Jorn and Tobias nailed the hard hitting song with so much enthusiasm. It did also effectively show the shortcomings of Tobias' voice. He completely lacked the power to match Jorn here but still gave everything he had.
I ran from the photo and tried to find a good spot in the audience as a short prelude signaled a time warp back to the first Avantasia album. I found a pretty good spot and started my highly energized jumping routine as "Reach out for the light" blasted off. André Matos, former Angra singer, was the second guest of the night as he shared vocals with Tobias for this song. André was in full speed and he ran around the stage, headbanged and did a great job edging the audience on. He and Tobias interacted very well. During the middle part Tobias came running with the Swedish flag to the center of the stage and waved it around and there was much rejoicing in the audience.
With "The Story ain't over" Mr. Bob Catley was introduced and it was another sing-a-long feast. By this time things were starting to look pretty damn fantastic.
André Matos was back for "Shelter from the rain" but unfortunately his microphone was not working properly and it ruined much of the song.
"Avantasia" was great to hear as well but another highlight came with "Serpents in Paradise" which had Jorn singing David Defeis' parts and he amazingly delivered those with bravura. It was another fantastic song to hear live.
"Promised Land" had a great duet with Jorn and Tobias and this was better suited for Tobias voice.
Since Kai Hansen was playing with Stormwarrior the same day I had a hope that he would appear on stage with the band for a bit of "Chalice of agony". I was almost right and happily surprised as Kai suddenly appeared, not singing Chalice of Agony but instead singing Alice Cooper's parts on "The Toy Master"! Kai came on stage in full costume, hat and everything and delivered a cool performance. This was a fantastic surprise.
The familiar melody of "Farewell" continued the show which was nearing its end. Amanda Somerville and Tobias joined at the front of the stage for a fantastic duet. The song brought a nice feeling of closure to the night. Everyone were waving their hand high in the air and singing along.
After this Tobias talked about how this Avantasia tour was a onetime thing and introduced the rest of the band.
Keyboards - Miro
Guitar - Oliver Hartmann
Guitar Sascha Paeth
Drums - Felix Bonke
Bass - Robert Hunnecke
All singers were introduced as the band started on "Sign of the Cross" as a last goodbye. The song worked extremely well live with an intense and bombastic chorus. Suddenly the song transformed into "The Seven Angels" and all singers came to the front of the stage to finish it off. It was a rather indescribable moment.
An impressive array of singers and musicians had delivered a more than satisfying concert. This was the best show I experienced at Sweden Rock for sure and one that will stay in my memory for a long time.
Another Angel down
Reach Out For The Light
The Story Ain't Over
Shelter From The Rain
Serpents In Paradise
The Toy Master
Sign Of The Cross / The Seven Angels
After the concert I headed for the Festival stage to get the last pictures of Poison. They were late... It turned out that Poison was simple fun and not enough to keep my interest so I headed for the camp to make a final party with Nina where we could still hear the concert and had a laugh as they played the inconceivably funny Unskinny Bob bob bob bob. With no more beers the party ended as I once again started looking like a zombie who had had one too many sing-a-longs. It was time to close down and turn off for me this year.
|Click pictures for a bigger version
The audience at Sabaton
Pain of Salvation
Pain of Salvation
Pain of Salvation
Pain of Salvation
Pain of Salvation
Pain of Salvation
The audience at Royal Hunt
Relaxing at the camp
Written By Steen
Online: Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Updated: Wednesday, June 1, 2014 - Added the old article to the site
Wednesday, July 2, 2008 - Alanna
LOVE the report! Not as "wild" as some of the others but...WOW. The Avantasia concert seems like a once in a lifetime event. I can only imagine what Jorn Lande and Tobi sounded like dueling it out - LIVE! Incredible! You managed to get some awesome pictures too! Ahh it's almost as good as being there.....almost. :D
Thursday, July 3, 2008 - Dennis the Menace
Oh yep, and we did a lot of sing-a-longs! Photopass truely was worth it. Maybe some of the best shots ever on Revelationz (Avantasia, Primal Fear, Sabaton - damn I missed them). Readin' the report is always the cozy journey back in time when the real memories seem to fade away and become only spotlights. For me this years Swedenrock was the best festival in the last 12 years although my highlights differ pretty much from yours. The only negative five minutes were when I was informed that Sebastian Bach wouldn't play (You read his letter to the fans?) and that is nothing in comparison to 4 and a half days of Metal, party, Kung, toyguns, coffee and coffee, Big Burgers, Painkillers, Animals, Fallen Angels, Wanted Men, Marshall-Stars, Fashion, Ice-Cream, the Turbojugend, Reapers, Jailbreaks, Scottish who standed the Ramones-test, Savage Irish, evil Norwegians, Sleazerock on every corner, SUN and STEEL! Everybody who was not there this year really missed out a rememberable event. And yes, it just has started.
Thursday, July 3, 2008 - Stuart
Hey Dennis, hows it going? You gonna make it to Magic Circle? Its going be some festival! Also unlucky in the Euo's I was supporting you all the way to the final. I guess it just wasn't to be.
Friday, July 4, 2008 - Dennis the Menace
HeyHo Stuart, well the finals ... silence .... Unfortunately no chance to circle the magic way. Too busy, but I am so jealous. The Coop, the Lawless and the first six albums. Hell yeah, this is gonna be something. Singalong for me too, I'll open my window Saturday night and scream as loud as I can "Herz aus Stahl", direction Bad Arolsen. Have fun!
Saturday, July 5, 2008 - Stuart
Man that bites, still I'll listen out for your cry on the wind of "Schlag' die Schlacht!" :)
Friday, July 11, 2008 - Revgoomba
Dude, you ARE getting old. I agree with Alanna, love the report - but bring back the WILD STEEN we all love! Things to do next year: Achieve far out memory loss, tumble over and fall asleep on a hill (waking up next to your own vomit), go to the wrong scene to get pictures, find as many "blue" drinks as possible and drink them all at once, scream human jukebox sounds at the top of your lungs and moo! Ha ah! Seriously though, great report... wish I was there.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008 - Steen
Haha thanks! Those were the days... I guess I peaked on the wild-o-meter back in 2005. Hhmm next year I will have to come up with something new. Hopefully you will be there. For now watch out for the Magic circle report which I have just started working on. Amazing experience.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008 - Revgoomba
Who knows... but I feel I may have had all my Sweden Rocks. There's more I want to see and do. But never say never (or NI!). Emma and I traded it in this year for the Amsterdam experience... MAGIC!