SWEDENROCK 2017: THURSDAY
PHIL CAMPBELL AND THE BASTARD SONS
It must not have been easy for Phil Campbell to start a new band, after being a member of the legendary Motörhead for over 30 years. Nothing is continuing forever, and even Lemmy Kilmister wasn’t immortal after all. The legend passed away on December of 2015. Fortunately, the band made a right decision and put the band in rest, without even thinking to continue Motörhead without Lemmy. A deep respect for Phil and Mikkey Dee for doing that.
After such a long and successful career, there are few options to choose from. You can quit your job, you can join to another band, or you start a new one. As many knows, Dee is currently a permanent drummer for the legendary German rockers The Scorpions, but Campbell decided to choose a different path. The new band, which is known as Phil Campbell & The Bastard Sons, features Campbell alongside his three sons Todd (guitar), Dane (drums), Tyla (bass). The line-up is complemented by vocalist Neil Starr. The band is currently working on their debut album which will be out later this year. The band already released self-titled EP which proves that the band has a great potential.
Campbell and the boys opened up their set with a pair of EP tracks. “Big Mouth” and “Spiders” sounded good, and received a fair reception, but when the band next headed into Motörhead classic “Rock Out,” the crowd broke out properly to life. The band sounded tight, and there was a lot of energy on stage through the set. Campbell looked surprisingly fresh although, it was funny to think that the other members are less than half of his age. Maybe the only little bit weaker link on the band is the vocalist. Of course, it is impossible for anybody to sing Motorhead songs without being compared to Lemmy. Starr did try his best but didn’t get even close. Actually, after second thought is not his or anyone’s fault because, in fact, no one can’t replace the man. The set list included all the songs from EP, one brand new track, eight Motorhead classics and covers of Black Sabbath’s “Children of The Grave” and Hawkind’s “Silver Machine.” Especially “Silver Machines” was one of the highlights of the set. Other high points were the Motorhead classics “Going To Brazil,” “Eat The Rich” and “Killed By Death.” All in all, Phil Campbell & The Bastard Sons were an entertaining band. Their material is solid, and it’s going to be interesting to hear the full album when it comes out. And the Motorhead stuff, although those now sound a bit different when sung by somebody else, it’s always great to hear these songs.
Iced Earth just unleashed a brand new album called INCORRUPTIBLE, so heading out for a short festival sting is a good way of doing promotion. But how can a band promote the album playing just two songs off the album – “Seven Headed Whore” and “Great Heathen Army”. It may not give a good perspective in a huge outdoor festival, even though those songs are kick ass indeed. Especially “Seven Headed Whore” which is pure aggression from beginning to end. Besides, Iced Earth has a huge catalog of great songs, therefore creating an ultimate mind blowing set list is a true challenge. SOMETHING WICKED is such an iconic power metal album, concluding the 60 minute set with “Watching Over Me” was a welcomed choice. Iced Earth is either a vicious beast on the stage, giving a powerful slap on a face or then toothless and a bit tired. The performance at Sweden Rock was in-between those elements. Jon Schaffer deserves hats off for navigating Iced Earth through these years of ups and downs.
Nifelheim presents pure evil, darkness and brutal, nihilistic blackened death metal, led by Tyrant and Hellbutcher whose fanatical Iron Maiden worshipping is known around the globe. Despite the sunshine, the evil twins with the devil’s force brought the storm of satan’s fire and unholy death for one hour. These fellows don’t joke or pose, just raging the utter barbaric and uncompromising approach of the simple, yet crushing hymns of the infernal flame of destruction. When being off the stage, they are indeed the nicest and the most humble guys on the earth.
Fates Warning made a visit to Sweden Rock several years ago doing the whole PARALLELS album and only with that album line-up on the main stage. It was a nice and pleasant surprise to see them playing on the smaller fourth stage. They definitely fit much better to that particular stage than on the main stage. Fates Warning did a solid job with original bassist, Joe DiBiase in the line-up (Joey Vera had to skip the tour to attend his daughter’s graduation event). The set was a great selection of songs from several albums such as DISCONNECTED, A PLEASANT SHADE OF GREY, and PARALLELS. Fates Warning could, and should, be on the same level as Dream Theater or Queensryche, as the outfit has had a major impact and influence on the progressive rock/metal genre. The vocalist Ray Alder is a superb frontman with an amazing vocal approach. He is able to sing such great melodies and the current drummer Bobby Jarzombek is a perfect choice behind the drum kit. Fates Warning is a criminally underrated band, even though the material is splendid.
DORO PESCH’S WARLOCK
Warlock was one of the big names of the German metal scene in the late 80’s. Especially the albums TRUE AS STEEL and TRIUMPH AND AGONY, were a huge success in Europe and it seemed that all doors possible were open for the band to reach a massive worldwide success. Unfortunately, things started to change in 1988. The band went through several line-up changes, and they had problems with label/management, which eventually led the band to lose their name.
Vocalist Doro Pesch continued her career under name Doro, which is a name of her solo band. She has released eleven solo albums and toured continuously all over the globe. Doro’s career has been successful, but still today, most of the people always remember her as a vocalist of Warlock. After years of battle against her former manager, Doro regained the name Warlock back in 2011. However, it wasn’t until now, until she finally decided to use the name again and announced selected shows under the name Doro Pesch’s Warlock. The line-up for these shows includes all the current members of Doro band and guitarist Tommy Bolan, who was a member of TRIUMPH AND AGONY era Warlock.
It was known in advance that the band would perform that album in its entirely. It was a bit surprising that the opening song was “Touch of Evil” instead of “All We Are” which opens the actual album. Doro Pesch sounded and looked still amazing. She is a one of a kind metal queen who shows no signs of getting older or not giving her all on stage. In her words, she was just “superb.”
It was great to see Tommy Bolan on stage. He was apparently given a huge role on the stage. Bolan’s playing was razor sharp, and it wasn’t difficult to sense how happy he was to be back to perform with Doro. This was a truly welcome reunion and audience just loved to see the two together.
The rest of the band remained more in the background but played as tight always. There are no weak links in this line-up. The album itself is full of metal classics. “Metal Tango,” “I Rule the Ruins,” “Fur Immer” and, of course, “All We Are” sounded fantastic and although Doro has always performed most of these songs with her solo band, those songs sounded now even better. Unlike many bands who promise to play their classic albums in its entirety, but then skip over the obscure stuff, this band really did the whole album. “Kiss of Death” and “Make Time for Love” were now performed live for the first time ever. The main set was closed with “All We Are” and the encores included old Warlock standards “Earthshaker Rock” and “True of Steel” and Judas Priest classic “Breaking the Law.” The first two were excellent choices and rocked hard, but to be honest, there are so much great songs in Warlock/Doro catalog which could have been great to hear instead of the Priest song. However, with or without Priest, Doro Pesch’s Warlock offered one of the best performances of this year festival.
Larry Lalonde used to deny his involvement in Possessed in interviews years and years ago. Until now the Primus maestro himself Les Claypool introduced Lalonde as the former Possessed fame who was in the alliance with Satan. Primus was uber hilarious and entertaining, but on the other hand, both Lalonde and Claypool are the epitomes of the alternative rock with the intelligent music and weird song construction, that led the band to the ultimate success over 20 years ago. Primus still enjoys the success, maybe a bit less than in the heyday, and still pulled a nice crowd to the third stage. Claypool is nowadays more calmed down at the stage, not hassling and acting as reckless and out of control as he used to do in the 90’s. Apparently Primus have calmed down as well, but the songs are timeless and unique. By the way Primus sucks.
IAN HUNTER AND THE RAND BAND
What is always the best part of Sweden Rock is always the line-up itself. There bands of all kinds styles, from black metal to southern rock and hard rock to blues and modern rock. This time the iconic squad was represented by legendary Ian Hunter, best known from Mott The Hoople. A man is already in his mid’ 70’s, but it didn’t slow him down at all. When the band played such immortal classics as “Once Bitten Twice Shy” or “All The Way From Memphis,” the crowd was sold immediately. Ian Hunter and his Rant Band were in good shape and offered, not only the hits but also a wide selection of never material from critically acclaimed FINGERS CROSSED and WHEN I’M PRESIDENT albums. “All The Young Dudes” and “Goodnight, Irene” closed the brilliant set and it seemed that everyone, including Hunter himself, was satisfied.
It’s hard to believe that the US parody band, or should I say a humor glam metal band, Steel Panther are still here, after nearly ten years. I still remember when the band released its hilarious debut FEEL THE STEEL in 2009. The album was a great collection of good songs, funny lyrics, and fantastic playing. Speaking about the parody of the 80’s bands, that album was a perfect. The same can be said about the bands live shows. Those were always a kind of spectacles including all the clichés what the hard rock bands used to do and have. There was always lots of spandex, big hair, pink guitars, terrible jokes and girls with bare breasts. The shows were always a lot of fun; there’s no doubt about. But now, eight year later things are a bit different. Or should I say, things are not any different? The band is still doing the same show. All the elements used in the past are there, but the difference is that each album released after FEEL OF STEEL have been worse than its predecessors. The old songs still work great and make people smile. “Death to All but Metal,” “Asian Hooker,” “Eyes of the Panther,” “Glory Hole” and “Fat Girl” sound as good and fresh as always, but the newer material is just boring. When the band played material from the latest BELOW THE BAR, the audience almost fell to sleep. Maybe the joke has been used too many times. If the band can’t come up with something new soon, then the end is near.
All the good things come to an end at some point and now it’s Aerosmith’s turn to say goodbye to their fans for good. The band’s farewell tour, titled “Aero-Vederci Baby!”, has been a massive success everywhere. The wildest rumours are already telling that this might not be their last tour after all, but only time will tell how things will evolve. But at present, this is the final farewell so, it’s time to once again witness one of the greatest rock band of all time.
After intro tape of Bo Diddley’s classic “I’m A Man” several pictures of Aerosmith’s history were flashing across the stage back screen. Then Steven Tyler and Joe Perry emerged on the end of the long ramp, and the whole band started the set with “Let the Music Do the Talking”. A manic “Young Lust” followed. It was a pleasant addition in the set list since it’s not been played live since 1994. But that was about it, if we talk about surprises on the set list. As expected, the band was focusing on material from their post reunion albums. The set included all the necessary hits starting from “Dude (Looks Like a Lady”, “Janie’s Got a Gun” and “Livin’ On the Edge” to the power ballads that actually gave the band their second life, like “Cryin” and “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing”, which is the band’s biggest hit ever. It wasn’t that surprising that especially those ballads prompted a huge mass singalongs within the massive crowd.
Although Aerosmith’s 70’s albums weren’t present much, the band only did the five required songs from that era, they did a bunch of covers which suited the band quite well. Old Fleetfood Mac songs “Stop Messin’ Around,” and “Oh Well” were good but the Beatles cover, “Come Together”, sounded like Aerosmith’s own song and it was definitely a good fit on the set. The covers were good, but maybe the obvious question is still, would it have been greater to hear some obscure Aerosmith songs instead of covers especially IF this is going to be the band’s last tour ever. For the encore, Tyler appeared at a white baby grand piano out on the secondary stage for an epic “Dream On”. Both Perry and Tyler took turns standing on the piano before the song was over. The show closed with “Walk This Way”, and then the band gathered at the tip of the stage’s runway and said their final goodbye to Swedenrock. All in all, the show was really good and entertaining. In fact, the band was now playing even better than on last few tours. Tyler and Perry are both close to 70 years old but they certainly don’t look or sound like that, not at all. The rest of the band wasn’t any weaker. The did their work with style and with no sight of fatigue. There’s still enough energy and passion on this band to do this, and although this may or may not be their farewell tour, Aerosmith still can have a bright and long future if they want it.