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Various Artists - Sweden Rock Festival 2023 - The Festival Report

Tuesday – The Arrival

This year was special for several reasons. Sweden Rock Festival was celebrating their 30’th anniversary, and it was exactly 20 years since I attended the festival for the first time. I also had company of two old friends, Kenneth from my hometown Lemvig, who I had not seen for 20 years, and Anders, who used to write for RevelationZ Magazine, back when the old site was still active. The three of us drove to the festival in my car, packed to the brim with beer of a wide variety, a few tents and other assorted necessities.

Both Anders and Kenneth were attending Sweden Rock for the first time, so I was prepared to show them exactly how amazing a festival it is. I had been working 70 hours weeks in the months prior to the festival, so I was also ready for a vacation. We arrived at Rosenlund Camping without any delay, late in the afternoon and got the car parked. Looking around for the perfect camping spot, we were lucky to find the coolest spot, surrounded by tall trees providing shade from the warm sun. In addition to finding a great spot with plenty of room, we also managed to find the coolest neighbourghs, Tim and Hanne from Norway, who we partied with throughout the festival, sharing beers and music.

Sweden Rock Festival 2023

We celebrated our arrival with the most excellent Danish beer, Limfjords Porter (Kenneth has decided to do a beer report next year, as we went through so many great specialty beers, that it warrants a report of its own). After a few beers, I took Kenneth and Anders to get our tickets exchanged for wristbands, and on the way I showed them my favorite food truck, Indisk Mat, which was still located right outside the festival entrance (And there was much rejoicing…). I was so hungry now, but we decided to come back later for the food, after we had exchanged the tickets. The ticket exchange had moved to a completely separate area across the road, since I was here last time. It was the first sign of many, that the festival was growing.

We got the wristbands and ended up at the Sweden Rock bar for a beer afterwards. We found room at a table next to some nice guys, who were huge Freak Kitchen fans. They showed me their tattoos of the Freak Kitchen logo, and I was impressed. I talked to one of the guys, Johan, about Freak Kitchen and guitarist Mattias Ia Ekhlund. He had not heard Fate’s Scratch’n Sniff, where Mattias plays guitar, so I promised to send him a copy when I got home.

Noticing his empty plate of food still had, what looked like a whole untouched bowl of French fries, and me being supremely hungry, I asked “Hey man, are you gonna eat that?”. He said “No” and that I could go crazy with them. So while Kenneth and Anders were laughing at me, and maybe being a bit shocked, I wolfed down this guys fries, while finishing my beer.

Then it was time for my favorite food of Sweden Rock, The Tandoori chicken from Indisk Mat (They only had one of them, specially saved for me (I think), so Anders had to settle for something else), and then back at the camp for more beers and music. I had prepared a carefully selected playlist of 637 favorite songs, and they provided a great party foundation, and many sing-a-long opportunities throughout the festival, at least for me.

Most excellent neighbour Tim, had told us there was a Pre-party planned at Rosenlund Camping with four bands playing later that evening. Of course we had to check that out, but back at the camp we wanted to enjoy a few beers before heading off, so the time was a little past ten, before we headed to the pre-party, and when we arrived one of the bands were playing their last song. It was a very nice area, with a bar where you could buy some IPA’s I’d never tasted before. The pre-party ended up with us enjoying a few beers and heading home past midnight to get some sleep for the first full day of music.

We had arrived and it was a great feeling!

I have to admit that I fell under the lure of the amazing Sweden Rock vibe, and partied hard the first two days. Therefore the concert descriptions are on the short side, and I missed several bands I had ticked off from home as “Must see”. Friday and Saturday, I tried to be very serious to make up for it, but it ended up being quite boring. Striking that perfect balance can be very hard.

Wednesday – Party Day 1

When I woke up, I felt pretty good, in spite of all the beer, but then I noticed that my phone was gone. While searching the tent, I cursed myself for already losing my phone, and tried frantically to backtrack the last things I had done yesterday. We tried calling it, but the was no sound from anywhere. Anders and Kenneth were full of good suggestions, and even went to the loo's to call it. But the phone was nowhere to be found. Another suggestion was to empty my tent, so all the heavy boxes with beer came out again, and luckily, when I pulled out the last thing in there, my suitcase, the phone magically appeared below it, and I let out a sigh of relief.

Having found my phone was, in my mind, a perfect cause for celebration, so I decided to open a beer for breakfast, and we all celebrated.

The weather was absolutely perfect for the whole festival. The sun was shining from a clear blue sky, and though the wind picked up Friday and Saturday, and the evenings were quite cold, the weather could not have been any better.

Later I went with Anders and Kenneth to check out the breakfast options, and found the Rosenlund camping kiosk. They got a coffee and a baguette. I got a bag of chips for 60 SEK. When the guy behind the counter told me the price, my jaw dropped to the grass, but he was serious. I asked him if these were magic chips, but he could not say that they were. I still bought that bag, and I nibbled at it throughout the festival, carefully enjoying each chip. The prizes were crazy all over the festival, but I guess inflation has also reached Sweden Rock.

Back at the camp, we started on beer and music, and enjoyed some very heavy 10+percent imperial stouts, until we had to go to the festival area. My first band of the day was Dynazty at two o'clock. We got into the festival area late, just as Dynazty were finishing their set, so that was a missed opportunity. Instead we sat down at a bar for a drink, and went across the field to check out Soilwork afterwards.

Here we met up with Michael and the Nice Try guys, who were staying at another camping ground. We ended up talking for a while, and celebrating our reunion with some group photos and more beers. It was great meeting the guys again, and everybody were pumped for the music ahead. My first real highlight of the day was Angra, who was playing the Sweden stage, my favorite stage of all. But a quarter before Angra started, Enforcer started playing on the small tent stage, so I went to check them out first with Kenneth.

Sweden Rock Festival 2023

Enforcer made a great first impression with their classic heavy metal. They were ready for a party, and really tore up the tent with the first few songs I watched. They toasted with the audience between songs, and got great feedback. I am definitely going to check them out in the future, and was sorry that I had to run after only fifteen minutes, to make sure, I witnessed the entire Angra show.

Sweden Rock Festival 2023

I made it to the stage just in time, and got into the photo pit for the first three songs. The band opened with Newborn Me from Secret Garden, and then played one of my favorites, Nothing To Say. Fabio Lione fronts the band, and I was looking forward to hear them live, but I was left strangely unsatisfied. Not sure exactly what it was, but the performance just felt a little too clinical, and missed some feeling. While it was great to hear songs like Nothing to say and Angels Cry, Enforcer had been so much more enjoyable, so Kenneth and I decided to head back to the tent stage to catch the last of Enforcers show.

Sweden Rock Festival 2023

Sweden Rock Festival 2023

Sweden Rock Festival 2023

We made it just in time to catch the last two songs of Enforcer, and it was a show filled with great energy. Now it was a choice between Testament and Wig Wam. I wanted to see both, and ended up starting with Testament, who blew me away with their performance.

Sweden Rock Festival 2023

Their sound was huge and powerful, and it was clear that the band was extremely tight. I got a real live feel from Testament, as opposed to Angra. The Testament concert made me wish, I had listened to their albums properly before the show, but that is another band to put some time into for the future. During the middle of the Testament show I went to check out Wig Wam, who I also had high expectations for. They played some great party rock, but their sound was just flat, and nowhere near as enjoyable, as the one I heard at Testament, so after only one Wig Wam song, I went back to Testament, and watched the rest of their show. Testament left me with a huge Wow-feeling and I held their concert as the one, all other bands had to live up to.

Sweden Rock Festival 2023

Sweden Rock Festival 2023

Sweden Rock Festival 2023

Sweden Rock Festival 2023

I checked out the beginning of Def Leppard, but soon headed back to the camp, for some warm clothes. There our camp was having a Mötley Crüe warm up party, and I joined in. It was a great night, and though my memory is a bit hazy, I do remember making it back to the stages and watching part of Mötley Crüe, but I had lost Anders and Kenneth. I was not impressed by the performance, and I was peckish, so I ended up walking around eating some food, watching the show from afar, before being hit by sudden tiredness and heading back to the camp, before the show was over to sleep. Of course I called Tommy’s answering machine to sing a song, and tell him what he missed on the way home.

Thursday – Party Day 2

I woke up just past 9:00, feeling surprisingly good, so Kenneth and I decided to start the day with more 10+% imperial stouts, and some morning music. If I remember correctly, Anders was on a Belgian beer streak. Close to noon two Danish ladies entered our camp, and asked if we were ready for a Rock Quiz. They were promptly invited to sit down, and we talked for a bit. They were seasoned festival goers, and could tell some great stories. This is one of the great things about Sweden Rock. Meeting random people by chance, who turn out to be really nice, and spending some time discussing a shared passion for music and just having fun. The Rock Quiz was a hit, and several more beers were consumed over the next hours, until we headed for the stages to see Lita Ford.

Sweden Rock Festival 2023

Seeing Lita Ford live was pretty cool. Not knowing her music so well, the highlight for me was her cover version of Cherry Bomb by The Runaways. Lita Ford was a good start to the day, and she seemed very happy to be playing at Sweden Rock. Again we ran into Michael and the Nice Try guys, and shared some beers. I was already getting tired of the Pistonhead beers, which were the only ones I had found in the festival area at this point, so I tried mixing a beer and Cider and that tasted much better to me (Sorry Anders).

My one moment of clear thinking today was when I went to the press tent to get a security box for my computer. Next, it was a choice between Katatonia and Modesty, and I ended up checking out Modesty in the tent. These four girls rocked the tent pretty hard, and I enjoyed the show. There is definitely potential here, and I will keep an eye on them to see how they develop in the future. On the way out of the tent, I discovered a very nice wine garden, where you could order a variety of wines and sit in the shade. I made a mental note to get back here at some point.

Sweden Rock Festival 2023

Then it was onto to the Blackleather stage to see Crowne. I watched the first part of a great show, where they opened with Kings of the North and Perceval, before I ran to the Festival stage to catch U.D.O. and tried to find Anders and Kenneth. Udo was in great form, but I had hoped for a few Accept songs, and was disappointed in that respect. Many rumors surfaced during the festival. Among others that U.D.O. would be playing an Accept-only show, that a secret band would open the festival on Wednesday, two hours before the scheduled opening, and that Metallica was the secret band, who would play a special set at a time on Saturday, where someone had apparently found a missing time slot in the program schedule. Of course none of this turned out to be true, but it was pretty funny how these rumors appear.

On my way to the press area to write notes, I met Michael and the Nice Try guys in Beavertown, a new bar I had not noticed before. They served three different IPA’s, so this was a great discovery. So instead of writing some notes, I partied with these guys and Kenneth soon joined us.

A good hour later we split up as Kenneth went to see Christone Kingfish Ingram, and I went to see Kamelot. I still remember Kamelot’s amazing show at Sweden Rock back in 2006, and had high expectations. They did not quite match this today, but it was a good concert, and Tommy Karevik sang really well. Maybe it is just me who yearns for the Roy Kahn days, and I have not gotten into the newer songs in the same way as the old ones, so there was no discussion that I enjoyed an older song, like When The Lights Are Down, much more than the newer songs live.

Sweden Rock Festival 2023

I ended up leaving mid-show, during Ghost Requiem, to check out Kingfish, who Kenneth had talked lovingly about. It was really cool to hear this guy play guitar, so even though I missed both Karma and Forever, I was happy to have heard a bit of Kingfish. I went to get some food and discovered a fish and chips stall, then went to Beavertown to order the most excellent Gamma Ray IPA. The bartender was very impressed by my fish and chips, so much that I offered to go and get him one, but he couldn’t eat on the job. I ordered the beer and gave him explicit instructions on how to find the stall instead. I hope he got one, as they were indeed excellent.

I then hooked up with Michael and we went back to our camp and started a Vain party. I had almost the whole No Respect album on my playlist, so we listened to that while drinking several beers. Kenneth joined the party and offered more beers from his huge inventory. Kenneth had had a magic moment with the Kingfish, and was totally happy about that concert. It turned into a party at the camp, and after the Vain songs, I switched to shuffling Enuff Z’nuff songs, much to the enjoyment of Michael and myself, but the others, maybe not so much. I remember turning down several requests, but once I start singing Enuff Z’nuff songs, it is hard to stop.

The consequence of this turn of events was that I completely missed Gojira and Myrath, and the rest of the day is one big haze. I also told Michael about the amazing Gamma Ray beer, which he hadn’t tasted it yet. However, every time he ordered this beer, he proceeded to ask the confused bartender if they could please play the whole Heading for tomorrow record too. None of the bartenders got the joke.

Anyway, several neighbourghs had joined the party now, and when Michael went back to his camp to change clothes, and see more music, one of the neighbours requested Battle Hymn….
Now, I have been told on numerous occasions that I cannot sing. But that does not stop me from trying my very best. After singing Vain and Enuff Z’nuff songs with Michael, I felt I was pretty warmed up, so I was only happy to oblige the Battle Hymn request. Of course I sang and acted out the song much louder than the speaker was playing. Fortunately, unnamed neighbourgh (sorry cannot remember your name, but you were very cool) joined in, and we made the most excellent duet out of this classic. Our neighbourghs also had brought along some home made liquor, and I really liked that, and thought it improved my singing voice immensely.

The party got slightly out of hand here, as the music continued to play, and Manowar was now on shuffle. The human Manowar jukebox came alive with a joy, that was heard all over the camping ground. I also remember the guy asking for I Will Build You a Rome by Cains Offering, right when I was about to head back to the stages. It is a personal favorite of mine, so I now wish I had played it just to go bananas with him, alas, I made a big farewell scene instead, explaining that my frayed voice needed to wind down, and promising that it would be back tomorrow with renewed force.

I made it back to the stages late in the evening, and caught part of Deep Purple. I arrived in the middle of a keyboard solo and enjoyed the show, but in my state of mind, I had trouble standing still in the cold wind, and there were so many people that couldn’t get even in the vicinity of being close to the stage, so I found it hard to keep focus. Not even Perfect Strangers could satisfy me. Instead, I got some much needed food, and only saw this short middle part of the show. At this point, I was suddenly completely busted, so just before Deep Purple ended their set, I decided to go back to my tent and sleep it off. Heading out, I heard the band playing Smoke on the water, and wished that I had had a bit more energy to stay for Europe, or bumped into someone who could keep the party going.

Friday – Serious Music Day 1

Waking up, I was well and truly tired. Two and a half days of partying had finally caught up with me. I woke at 6 in the morning, but only managed to get up at 10, as I was just too tired to do anything other than turn around and moan like a wounded cow. Today I decided to be a bit more serious, and didn’t start the day with a heavy beer, though in hindsight, that is probably exactly what I needed.

Kenneth, Anders and I discussed the previous day of music, and Anders was completely blown away by both Myrath and Europe, both bands I had missed due to partying. In fact, all his favorite concerts of the festival were those I missed. I decided to see everything on my list today, and not drink too much, so my memory would be intact. This turned out to be quite boring, and even more tiring than partying, so I now make a mental note to just give up, and keep drinking for the future.

The day began with Coney Hatch at the Sweden stage, at a quarter past noon. That was a nice way to wake up, as they were quite a bit heavier, and more rocking than I had expected. We all watched Coney Hatch, while I got breakfast from the Thai food stall. Somehow that vendor recognized me as “Number 5” every time I came by. We left before the end of Coney Hatch to see the Rockklassiker Allstars playing in the tent. This band gathers singer from a variety of bands, and should be a great experience. I have never been able to catch them at Sweden Rock, but this year I had planned on it. Unfortunately, arriving at the tent, it was completely packed, and we were unable to get in, so we headed over to see the last of H.E.A.T instead. H.E.A.T. were great, though I enjoyed their show at Indoor Summer 2022 even more.

Right after H.E.A.T., TNT were playing on the opposite stage. I have recently discovered TNT and had listened to the first three albums, so I had high expectations, which were almost met. TNT played a good show, but I was not completely captured by their performance. Unfortunately they had some sound issues during their show, and maybe that was the cause. Lead guitarist Ronnie Le Tekro played great, and was fun to look at, but those crazy faces he made whenever he played a solo almost became too much. Intuition was a highlight of an enjoyable show.

After TNT, we split up and I went to the press area to write notes. Then Michael texted me that they were at the Brutal brewing bar, getting ready for Mike Tramp (Songs of White Lion), so I decided to join them. There I had some beers and started feeling better, and when Mike Tramp took the stage, I was ready.

Mike Tramp had gathered a band, to honour and celebrate White Lion, and only played their old classics in new reworked versions. When that new album came out a few months ago, I was hesitant, but upon actually listening to it and giving it a chance, I was blown away by the amazing new way these old songs were presented. So, I had high expectations for this show. My expectations were met, and then some. Mike Tramp was a definite highlight of the festival for me. This was also one of the few concerts, I actually watched from start to end, in the company of friends, who I could sing along with, so that definitely helped too.

The show started with Lonely Nights and Hungry. Unfortunately Mike had some issues with the microphone during the first two songs, but they were soon fixed, and the rest of the show went fine. Compared to the originals, the songs felt quite different, somewhat slower, but they captured the same essence as the original, just in a different way. The songs worked great live, and the band played very well. Especially guitarist Marcus Nand was brilliant, playing solos and licks left and right. The audience was in a great mood, and several people around me were singing along from Lonely Nights and onwards.

Mike was in a great mood and talked a lot to the audience between songs, first making a joke about his pants being 40 years old, but still fitting, later more emotional speeches about human rights and music. He made a very good impression.

Sweden Rock Festival 2023

Musically the band was on fire, and delivered classic after classic, in their own special way. Tell Me was great to hear, and I let out a great roar, when they announced Living on the Edge. The first big highlight came with one of my personal favorites, Cry for freedom. It had been rearranged and was very different to the original, but it worked well, and was so great to hear live. Wait and Broken Heart were other personal favorites, where the band delivered. All in all, a great concert experience.

Lonely Nights
Tell Me
Living on the Edge
Cry for Freedom
When the Children Cry
Little Fighter
Broken Heart
Lady of the Valley

I went straight on to Blue Öyster Cult, who started playing the main stage 15 minutes later. I’d discovered the band, when they put out their latest album, The Symbol Remains, and was blown away by their complex, melodic and heavy music. So I was hoping for lots of new songs. This was not to be, as the band played a set consisting of only one song from their latest album, the rest were older songs, I mostly did not know yet. The opener from their latest album, That Was Me, was the second song of the set, and it worked perfectly live. They pulled the song off in all its heavy glory. It was followed by "Golden Age Of Leather", which also sounded great. The band played extremely well, and it was interesting to hear all these songs, I did not know so well. It made me want to go home and go through their discography.

I did know "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" though, and it arrived near the end of the set. It gave off a really special atmosphere, and was perfect for this sunny afternoon. The band delivered a fantastic version, and all in all the show was excellent.

It was really sad that I missed Bloodbound, but they played at exactly the same time as BÖC, and I will see them early next year, when they play at Epic Fest 2 in Denmark.

After BÖC, Michael and I went for a beer, and we were lucky to find two empty seats on the raised tribune in the middle of the two main stages. We sat there and drank our beer, while discussing the festival. It was a perfect spot to get a good overview of everything, and both stages were in perfect view. I have to remember this spot for later festivals.

After a beer, the time was close to eight, and the cold wind had picked up speed, so I skipped Powerwolf and went back to the camp for warm clothes, and to get ready for another highlight of the festival, Iron Maiden.

I'd heard the band would focus on Somewhere in Time, and as it has some of my favorite songs, I was looking forward to the show, even though my body was already extremely tired. When I came back to the festival area, the whole area was packed. I'd never experienced so many people at Sweden Rock before. I lost Kenneth, when he went to get pictures, but was denied access, and Anders was on the other side of the stage. The amount of people was really crazy, and I gave up on getting close to the stage. It was a bit sad to watch the show alone, from very far away, and it affected my enjoyment to some degree.

What was not in doubt however, was that Iron Maiden's performance was extremely professional, totally energized, and highly impressive. Right from the opening moments, when they played the opening segment of Caught Somewhere in Time from tape, only to explode onto the stage, when the fast part arrived, was really cool to experience. Bruce was, as all the times I have seen them, a beast on stage, marrying a powerful singing voice with constant movement.

Caught Somewhere in Time was a perfect opener. Bruce was in top shape, and sang the song perfectly, the guitar solos were brilliant, and the whole band just felt extremely tight. The show continued with Stranger in a Strange Land, which was also awesome to hear live. Aside from Bruce, it was also highly enjoyable and impressive to watch the other guys, who were also very active and constantly on the move.

Sweden Rock Festival 2023

Then the show switched to the latest album, and with Writing On The Wall, Days Of Future Past and The Time Machine, I felt the energy being pulled out of the show. Now I felt really tired, and went to get some food. Unfortunately, right when I was standing in line at the fish and chips vendor, I heard the band begin playing The Prisoner. I missed that one, and was back for Death of The Celts, which was really great live. Now, I was so far back that I couldn't even make out the stage, but followed the concert on the big screens. A fantastic part of the show started with Can I Play With Madness, followed by Heaven Can Wait, where everyone sang along. I'd never expected to hear Alexander The Great live, but the band played it, and it was a moment to remember.

One of my favorites appeared with Fear of The Dark, and this was the song where the audience sang loudest. If I remember correctly, it was after this, during Iron Maiden (the song) that a giant Senjutsu Eddie walked around on the stage with a huge sword, swinging after the band members, who were running around between his legs, while playing.

Sweden Rock Festival 2023

Encores were Hell On Earth, The Trooper and Wasted Years. A superb show had come to an end, and I was already on to the tent stage to see Perfect Plan. I left Maiden a bit early, to be sure to catch all of Perfect Plan. Kent Hilli fronts this melodic hard rock band, and they delivered a fine concert, in spite of me being on the brink of falling asleep.

The band I had looked most forward to seeing at Sweden Rock were Threshold. Incredibly, they surpassed my expectations, and delivered a magic concert. The only disappointment was me, who was now so tired, and my back and feet hurt so much, that I could no longer stand still, and I was freezing with too little clothes on, so I had to give up half way through their concert and retreat to my tent, as, in spite of the amazing performance, I was just not able to enjoy it fully, and just wanted to sleep.

Sweden Rock Festival 2023

The band opened with Haunted, just like their latest album. Right away, I was impressed by the tightness and pure musicality the band expressed, but when Glynn Morgan started singing, I was completely blown away. His voice exploded with control and power. It was amazing to hear him sing live. I stayed to watch them do amazing versions of The Domino Effect and Snowblind, before I had to leave and crawl back to the tent. This was my biggest regret of the festival, that I didn't stay and experience the rest of what felt like an amazing concert.

Sweden Rock Festival 2023

Saturday – Serious Music Day 2

I woke up feeling tired but better than yesterday. Today was completely alcohol free, since I was driving home the next day.

Kenneth, Anders and I went to the festival area around noon, to see Mammoth, who had Eddie Van Halen's son as part of the band. But first we had to get in. Today was even worse than yesterday people wise, there were so many people now, that the queues to get in went all the way to the street. Going by the VIP entrance we made it in, in time and got some food by the Sweden stage, just as Joddla med Siv started playing. We had no idea what this band was about, but there was a huge audience there. We waited to see what all the fuss was about, only to witness one of the funniest moments of the entire festival. When the band went on stage and started playing, all the audience members around us started jumping and dancing a special dance and sing something in Swedish. It looked so funny, Kenneth and I looked at each other in disbelief and laughed loudly. I guess this is some kind of well known Swedish practice. The band had a guy playing harmonica, and it reminded me most of some kind of Swedish folk music. We quickly realized that we were not part of this club, and moved on to Mammoth, laughing about what we had just seen.

Mammoth delivered a solid concert. Especially the song "Think it Over" made a great impression to me. Standing at the show, Michael and the Nice Try guys came by, apparently noticing my cow hat, and we had a small reunion. The cover of Foo Fighters My Hero was pretty cool too.

Kenneth and I left a little prior to Mammoth ending, to go and see Twilight Force playing on the Blackleather stage, while Anders went for Nakkeknaekker in the tent. Twilight Force turned out to be a highlight of the festival for me. At first, I did not know what to think, as the band members all entered the stage dressed in majestic outfits. I feared a Rhapsody-like playback experience, but from the moment they started playing, it was clear that this was totally live, and these guys were brilliant musicians. The band went all in, in every way, and from the moment lead singer Alessandro Conti opened his mouth, we were treated to the most insane high pitched voice, I have heard live in a long time. Kenneth and I started out behind the sound mixer tent thing, and from here, all I could hear was voice and drums. It was a weird experience.

Fortunately, we went to find Anders, who was standing right in from of the sound tent, and here the guitar was audible and the sound much better. Now it was possible to enjoy the show much better.

Sweden Rock Festival 2023

I groaned when I heard some narration between songs, but then I noticed that it was the keyboard player doing this live, in this far out voice, and it was no longer awkward, but suddenly became hilarious and yet another highlight of the show. It was just so far out. This was the perfect, and in my opinion, only, way to do something like this.

Even though I did not know the songs in advance, they were all highly melodic, and sing-a-long-able in the best possible way. The band delivered a really powerful rendition of each song.

They had a female singer as well, who I at first had thought was a tree, but then it moved, and I saw it was yet another dressed up band member, with horns. She took the spotlight for the song Twilight Horizon, where she sang amazing solo parts, and a duet with Alessandro. Her voice was absolutely amazing, and I really hope that she was not just on this show.

Sweden Rock Festival 2023

It was clear that the band members really enjoyed themselves on the stage, and had a perfectly balanced sense of humor. Suddenly Alessandro Conti let out this weird croak, as he tried to nail a perfect high pitch scream. I thought "Oh no…". Then he tried again and failed, and I looked at Kenneth and shook my head, and said "What!???". I finally got the joke, when Alessandro asked the audience, if anyone had some of that special magic dragon potion. He got something to drink and then nailed this amazing high pitched scream. It was the funniest moment of any concert I had witnessed at Sweden Rock.

The show ended with a blast, with the song The Power of the Ancient Force.

This was my first Twilight Force live experience, and now I look forward to discover all their albums, so I can sing along to these great songs, when I see them again at Epic Fest 2. What a surprising and wonderful show!

After this breath of fresh air, I was ready for Symphony X. I went to the photo pit to get pictures but I only lasted one and a half song, as the drum sound was just so incredibly loud here, that my ears started to complain. Instead I found Anders and Kenneth back in the audience, folded out my chair and spent the rest of the concert alternating between sitting down to relax, and standing up applauding.

The band opened with Nevermore, and it worked as a strong blast of power. It is an amazing song live. Russell sang it with much power and conviction. Back in the crowd, the sound was not befitting the band, and their complex music. Way too heavy on drums and bass, while voice and guitar was often drowned out, which was a shame. It made it hard to follow the complex songs.

Sweden Rock Festival 2023

Russell gave a great speech about the importance of music, and how much the fans and audience mean to the band. He ended his speech by saying "We are nothing without you". It was the perfect introduction to Without You, and I enjoyed the song immensely. The rest of the songs blended a bit together, as the sound was not very good.

Sweden Rock Festival 2023

We caught a little bit of Skid Row from very far away. We didn't endure to go through the huge crowd. I already feared for later in the day, when the headliner Ghost would play. Instead of watching music, I went to shop for records and CD's at the only vendor, I found this year, Hot Shots records. It was a real shame that no other vendors were present. Spending an hour and a half to go through their entire inventory unveiled a few gems, and I left there with several bags worth of albums.

Back to the camp for a change of clothes, I talked a bit to our neighbors. I was talking to Tim about heading back to the stages to find Anders and Kenneth, when suddenly Anders' tent started speaking. "What the hell", I said with surprise, and shortly after, Kenneth crawled out of his tent. I should probably have taken a nap too, so I could manage to actually stay awake for the late bands, but I never got to that.

Back at the festival area, It was a tough choice between Pantera and Chez Kane, but I went for Chez Kane, to the surprise of both Anders and Kenneth. I was glad I did, because Chez Kane absolutely blew me away. I was hesitant to have too high expectations, because her albums always felt a bit too polished for me, but live, she and the band really came alive, and delivered something even greater than her records. They totally rocked the tent this evening.

The band came on stage to the sound of Def Leppard's Pour Som Sugar On Me, Chez thanked the audience for being here, and they launched straight into I Just Want You. It was clear that in a live situation, the song works much better for me than on record. I was on the right side of the stage, so I mostly took notice of the guitarist on the right. He was going all out crazy during the whole show, making karate kicks, jumping around and doing all kinds of stuff, while playing great solos.

Sweden Rock Festival 2023

One of my favorite songs was next, and with Too Late For Love, the show really got underway. I tried to get as far to the front as possible, but it was pretty packed, so I enjoyed the song from row 20. Chez and the band had a great interaction with the audience, and it felt like they had a great time.

Nationwide and Better Than Love were other favorites that the band played with much enthusiasm. Chez also commented on a recent video, which was controversial among some fans, and said that she loved it, even if it was a little risky. I'm guessing it was the video for I Just Want You. If I remember correctly, the show continued with (The Things You Do) When We're Young in Love, which was also great to hear live.

Sweden Rock Festival 2023

Nearing the end of the show, we got Rock You Up, and a fantastic powerful version of Powerzone, where the two guitar players made a synchronized karate kick. It was pretty funny. Ending the show, was the fan favorite and also my favorite song of hers, Rocket On The Radio. I had made it to the second row by now, and spent the last of my energy going crazy to this song. I even got a nod from the long haired metal guy standing next to me for playing air guitar with much feeling.

Sweden Rock Festival 2023

Chez and the band thanked the audience many times, and seemed very happy, got the audience photo, and then they were outta there. Another highlight of the festival for sure. Special mention goes to Chez' voice, as she sang really really well live.

Pantera were still playing, so I went back to the Rock stage and caught the last song of their set from very far away. Then some food and I was ready for Ghost. I discovered Ghost recently, when my daughter played Mary on a Cross, and I was intrigued. Apparently it was trending on TikTok, and that was the only reason she had discovered them. I totally loved that song, so I began discovering their back catalog.

There were even more people here than at Iron Maiden, and it was crazy difficult to get anywhere. I found a spot far to the right of the stage, where the ground was raised a bit, so I could look over the entire audience. Wrote Kenneth and Anders to come and find me, and amazingly it worked, even if another huge guy managed to squeeze between us just before the show started, so again I watched the show pretty much alone.

Around me were people of all ages. I noticed a family standing in front of me with this young kid, who was very excited to see Ghost. When the band went on stage, she turned around and looked at her parents. I will never forget the look of wonder and excitement on her face. That was priceless. To witness that gives me hope for the future of music in general.

Then the band started on their first song, and all eyes were on the stage. The show was interesting, but it did not feel as a headlining show of Sweden Rock. Highlights for me included Spillways and Hunter's Moon, but I admit that following Hunter's Moon, I was only waiting for Mary On A Cross before I headed to bed. Finally it appeared, and got the loudest audience reaction of the evening. It was great to hear the song, but I was a little disappointed with the sound, the performance and especially the lead vocals, which felt held back and not very strong.

After this, I started heading home to the tent, and the next morning we got packed up, said goodbye to Tim and headed home. We all agreed that this had been a fantastic festival, and Kenneth was already planning for this to be a yearly event. After a week of recovery and writing this report, I am now 100% ready for next year too and can't wait to get back.

I just have one final hope. That the festival organizers scale it down a bit, and don't let in so many people in the future. The site really can't handle it, and the unique Sweden Rock atmosphere disappears with too many people. Especially Friday and Saturday there were just too many people. I heard that they had let in 50.000 people and had sold 9.000 VIP tickets. Not sure if those numbers are true, but if they are, then I rue for the future of Sweden Rock, and fear that it will turn into a new Wacken, where the coziness and special feeling evaporates, as the festival becomes too big. I truly hope this was just a one time thing because of the 30'th Anniversary, and that the festival will set a max limit at 35.000 people in the future.

Anyway, Sweden Rock 2023 was yet again, a fantastic festival experience, and I hail all the cool people I met, even if I can't remember all your names. Special thanks to Tim for being a great neighbour and hails to Kenneth and Anders for being the most excellent companions. We shall return!

Written By Steen
Online: Wednesday, June 21, 2023
Updated: Thursday, June 21, 2023 -