Heart of Steel: Concert Reviews

SWEDENROCK 2004

Text & Pics by Arto Lehtinen &
Marko “Hård Rocker” Syrjala

SATURDAY 12 JUNE


Danger Danger

It has become a tradition in recent years at Swedenrock to see at least a couple of re-unions and “reborn” shows. In this case, after 11 years apart, the original singer Ted Poley has returned to Danger Danger and another re-union has become reality.

Well Danger Danger actually never went away. They have released a great number of albums with vocalist Paul Laine after their break up with Mr. Poley. They have toured across the USA and Europe. But they have never reached the kind of success they had in the late eighties, and in the early nineties with Ted Poley.

As for the show,it was okay all in all. Ted was singing well and the band played like they always do. The audience seemed to be surprisingly well aware of their old hits like “Bang, Bang”, “Boys Will Be Boys” and MTV era favorite, and their biggest song ever, “Naughty Naughty”. It must be said that some of the material sounded a little “out of date”. They should definitely also play some more recent material from their The Return Of The Great Gildersleeves, Dawn or Four The Hard Way albums, not just the stuff from the first three. Overall, this was another reunion. How necessary or successful will this one be? Only time will tell.

Boys Will Be Boys
Beat The Bullet
Crazy Nights
Under The Gun
Going Going Gone
Don't Blame It On Love
Bang Bang
Afraid Of Love
Good Time
Monkey Business
Rock America
I Still Think About You
Naughty Naughty

 

Kingdom Come

The biggest problem with Kingdom Come is that nowadays they are not the same band as they used to be in their glorious past. After all personal problems, Lenny Wolf has had numerous line-up changes yet they still continue touring and recording under their old name. That’s a shame… They almost no longer play the kind of music that used to, but they had a good sound. Perhaps I'd have enjoyed it more if I'd actually known more than two of the songs played. The thing that stood out for me about them was down the band behind Lenny. They looked a bit like some reggae band and played very well, but I really couldn't understand what those guys were doing in this band? As for Lenny himself, even his vocals were pretty good. He mostly looked disinterested. At the end of the show Lenny was asking us if we'd had a great time. Somehow I don't think he really cared whether we did or not. Their performance in Swedenrock was in a few words: dull, lackluster, and boring. The only highlight of the show was a final encore “Living Out Of Touch” from the classic debut album which kind of reminded me what this band once was capable of. There’s no doubt that they were the biggest disappointment here this year.



I Feel Fine
Only Rainbows Know
Should I
I Don´t Care
Didn´t Understand
What Love Can Be
Twilight Cruiser
Mother
Slow Down
Always On The Run
Living Out Of Touch

 

 

 

Axel Rudi Pell


The well known German guitar virtuoso, Axel Rudi Pell, rose on the main stage as the first of the day and managed to pull a large amount of people to follow his set. The line-up of Pell’s band has undergone everal changes as known faces have visited the band such as Rage drummer Mike Terrana who is definitely one of the more known drummers in the metal genre. Mike has been behind the drum kit a couple of years by now with Axel Rudi Pell. As for the vocalist, Johnny Gioeli, who has been in the band since 1998, he is the longest surviving vocalist  in the band’s history. Johnny Gioeli did quite a routine job after all, but it was obvious all the interest of the audience was concerned with Pell’s playing. The rest of the band remained more in the background. There was nothing wrong with this gig but hey… just one song from the new King’s And Queen album. That’s not enough…
 

 

Heart

After a long silence the Wilson sisters have decided to return with a new album and a tour. Before getting to the stage, Heart, or actually the Wilsons’ sisters, held a press conference in the packed tent. Heart’s return to the limelight had been obviously anxiously waited with interest for quite a while. Basically the whole band was present, apart from Mike Inez. Even though Heart isn't a fave bands of ours, seeing what an enthusiastic reception they got was overwhelming. The Wilsons sisters were also totally stoked about getting such a positive response. The band did an equal set covering a lot of old and newer material and concluded with some old Led Zeppelin classics.

Kick It Out
Crazy On You
Papa Was A Rolling Stone
Straight On
Oldest Story In The World
The Perfect Goodbye
Love Alive
Dog And Butterfly
Make Me
These Dreams
Alone
Even It Up
Vainglorious
Wild Child
Magic Man
Barracuda
Black Dog
Misty Mountain Hop

 

 

Children of Bodom

Finally it’s the Finnish band’s turn to show their skills in the front of the Swedish metal audience. Placing the Finnish band before the Swedish In Flames was definitely an interesting situation giving a good way to compare how differently the crowd would react to these two bands and to see how these two bands would compare. Anyway the Finnish pentad didn’t go and blow up the whole place up, instead they offered a more a standard gig experience for the Swedish crowd and a handful of Finns. The vocalist/guitarist Alexi Laiho appeared to be more talkative than normal as he even unveiled the name of the suspected murder of the Lake Bodom in public and above all when introducing the current axeman Roope Latvala, by telling the former guitarist switched to a more conservative family life. Those issues could have been left undone anyway as it wasn’t any smart move from him afterwards. Instead, focusing on putting the gear to the maximum level would have been a better choice… It could be fairly said that the Swedenrock festival was one gig amongst other ones in the touring calendar of COB as the band did a solid and routine gig without any unexpected or unpleasant surprises by relying on the known and guaranteed Bodom, let’s say now, classics…

 

 

Hirax

The thrash assault continued when LA based Hirax got on the Spendurps stage. However, there wasn’t that much audience raging in the battlefield as the Finnish Nightwish (for obvious reasons) pulled people to follow Tarja’s operatic singing. Only the very devoted and hard core fans decided to witness Hirax in action. The reunited LA thrash core veterans were absolutely on fire for the whole gig. The crowd should be rewarded for their ultimate looking head banging. The Hirax fronted Katon W Pena terrorized during the approximate 60 min set by both old classic tracks as well as newer ones. Obviously, the band was damn pleased with the reception as Katon jumped from the stage to the photo-pit in order to shake hands of people there and even the bass player did an unexpected visit to the crowd by running off from the stage to the field and played the bass in front of the crazy head bangers. Hirax would be an absolutely vicious live act in a small indoor club where crazy bangers and divers would create an ultimate atmosphere. I am definitely willing to testify Hirax in some club, because their performance at SwedenRock was already so energetic and full of metallic passion that this energy would cause a ballistic reaction in a smaller club environment..… (HEY KATON WHERE IS MY PROMO STUFF hahaha)
 

The New Age Of Terror
Hate Fear And Power
Hostile Territory
Destroy
Broken Neck
El Diablo Negro
Kill Switch
Demon Evil Forces
Suffer
The Plague
Bombs Of Death

 

 

 

 

 

Nightwish

The gods of the weather could have been a little bit merciful for the biggest Finnish metal export, Nightwish. It didn’t last but a couple of minutes until the heavens ripped apart and it started to rain like hell causing a massive exodus to the already packed beer tents. Nightwish definitely faced the worst weather of the whole festival. It would have been damn curious to learn what sort of reaction Nightwish could have created if the weather had remained as beautiful as it had been during the whole day.

Nightwish hit the audience with a surprise with the Megadeth cover “Symphony Of Destruction” sung by the band's hairy bassist Marco Hietala. Basically it was definitely a weird choice from the band which has a large repertoire of their own known and excellent tunes. In general, Nightwish relied on the new material from their majestic masterpiece ONCE by doing plenty of tracks such as “Nemo”, “Dark Chest Of Wonders”, “Planet Hell”, and of course some older material from Wishmaster and Oceanborn. Besides the one cover track from Megadeth, they did the old Gary Moore song “Over The Hills And Far Away”… Two cover tunes on one gig….Hmmm… Kinda odd to be honest… Technically there were three covers because they also played their own version of classic “Phantom Of The Opera”. As stated above, the rain definitely ruined the Nightwish set and it didn’t make any sense to be under the cold shower. But the Nightwish guys definitely battled with brave and understanding through the gig by giving to the remaining audience what they had earned for braving the weather.

(not in right order)
Dark Chest Of Wonders
Planet Hell
Wishmaster
She Is My Sin
Nemo
The Phantom Of The Opera
Elvenpath
Stargazers
Higher Than Hope
Symphony Of Destruction (Megadeth cover)
Bless The Child
Elvenpath
Stargazers
Sleeping Sun
Over The Hills And Far Away (Gary Moore cover)
Dead Boy's Poem
Slaying The Dreamer
Wish I Had An Angel

 

 

Nifelheim

Wow…Nifelheim got to be the most brutal and obscure band ever booked to the Swedenrock fest as far as I can remember. The Gustafsson brothers are known for being the die hard Iron Maiden freaks and have been interviewed by the Swedish TV a couple of times. They definitely created a chaotic maelstrom on the Spendrups stage which has never ever been experienced in the history of the Sweden Rock festival. The band follows the real way with an utterly nihilistic old school dress code by having chains, and leather....even more than Rob Halford could have. Unfortunately, the stage show was more lame, cos the Gustafsson bros may have not been allowed to carry out their most grotesque ideas on the stage. They had to settle for using candles and a war of words. As a matter of fact, the Swedenrock festival could have a little bit more of these kinds of brutal bands on the bill I think.

The Devastation
The Final Slaughter
Sodomizer
Satanic Sacrifice
Demonic Evil
Die In Fire
Death Strike From Hell
Storm Of Satan´s Fire

 

 

U.D.O

The German metal icon, UDO, seems to be constantly touring around by doing a lot of normal indoor gigs and during the summer these huge outdoor festivals. Well, why not? If there is a tremendous demand among fanatical hard rock fans then he might as well! It is more or less obvious when getting a new album Udo and company head out to tour and do a couple of tunes off from the latest output, but mainly focus on the old Accept material. The exact same thing happened now as the set contained several old Accept songs, a couple of new tunes from Thunderball and just few old U.D.O. gems. Of course, it would have been great to hear more tunes (now there was only 6 U.D.O. songs out of the 16 songs) from U.D.O.’s own solo career like “Living On The Frontline”, “Shout It Loud”, “In The Darkness” etc. But all in all Udo and the rest of the band did a solid gig without any surprises at all.

Thunderball
The Bullet And The Bomb
Metal Heart
Independence Day
Pull The Trigger
Living For Tonight
Restless And Wild
Son Of A Bitch
Blind Eyes
Man And Machine
Up To The Limit
Animal House
Balls To The Wall
Princess Of The Dawn
I´m a Rebel
Burning

 

 

In Flames

The Finnish own Bodom beach terrorists, Children of Bodom, unleashed one hell of a ass kicking set on the Swedenrock stage. It was a real challenge for In Flames to outdo CoB. Putting In Flames on the third stage was a weird choice from the Swedenrock organization since the combo’s current highly acclaimed album has been highly placed on the Swedish charts for several weeks. The band has also become bigger during the last two years and has gained a new fanbase. Especially in Sweden, In Flames could be named as one of the biggest selling metal combos at the moment. It wasn’t any surprise that the whole field was totally packed by thousands. In Flames kicked the set off in the daylight but it got better as darkness claimed the Swedish sky. Especially vocalist Anders Friden definitely seemed to enjoy playing in front of the home crowd and turned out to be one hell of a humorous dude by telling how he feels kinda stressed now that Europe are gonna play after them. The band was in the damn fine strike and naturally focused on doing a plenty of newer tracks like "Quiet Place", "Cloud Connected" and of course as a surprising mandatory old tune off from the first album Behind Space.

There were a lot of happy people leaving for the main stage after the kickass set of In Flames. Who won the Finland - Sweden contest, In Flames or Children Of Bodom, well In Flames!

 

EUROPE

Sweden’s biggest ever hard rock name, Europe, had managed to be the third headliner of the festival by being the last band on the bill. The huge interest toward Europe’s comeback was already experienced in the press tent earlier in the same day when the first two seat rows were conquered by the Swedish media, but fortunately the whole press conference were held in English. The whole band was at present in the conference where the band announced about working on the comeback album having taken some influences from Thin Lizzy and even from Sabbath...wow cos usually the latest material on the last studio albums especially the kind failed Prisoners In The Paradise were based on the softer direction in order to attract to the fans who had fallen their knees by the megalomaniac 'The Final Countdown' hit. Anyway someone threw quite an interesting question about the band’s guitarists by asking why Europe didn’t have the second guitarist, cos for example Iron Maiden has three ones in the rank, Ian Haugland ironically replied if Deep Purple got Richie Blackmoore, why they would have Steve Morse in the band.

Sweden’s biggest hard rock export Europe was definitely one of the most anticipated acts for sure. The whole field was entirely covered from the front security barrier to the last corner of the field. The set was started off with “Seven Doors Hotel” from the debut album, followed by “Wings Of Tomorrow”. As a matter of fact, Europe did a nice set consisting of a surprising lot of tracks from the first two albums, whereas the material of the last album released in 91 was totally neglected. Of course the mandatory guitar solos and drums solos were the obvious part of Europe’s reunion gig at Swedenrock. Especially Haugland’s drum solo was definitely too long anyway. As for the sound, it was damn heavy making all the classic softer rock songs sound tight and heavy.

Vocalist Joey Tempest appeared to be in real good shape, jumping all around the stage, whereas Norum and Leven were more calmed down by being more in the same place on the stage throught the whole gig. As it was already widely known, Europe had spent the whole spring in the studio recording new material for their upcoming comeback studio album. Of course Swedenrock was an ideal place to test the new material on the audience. “Start From The Dark”, a title track from the forthcoming album, got played for the first time and frankly the song in the live situation sounded quite heavy, but with normal melodic parts and Tempest’s clear voice giving the traditional Europe landmarks to the structure of the song. It isn't any surprise which song concluded Europe’s gig and all in all, the whole brilliant festival. Yes, it was 'The Final Countdown'. Europe definitely melted all the hearts of even the truest death bangers singing the old Europe classic by heart and several known faces from known Swedish bands were in the audience were following Europe.

1. Seven Doors Hotel
2. Wings Of Tomorrow
3. Superstitious
4. Time Has Come
5. Ready Or Not
6. Heart Of Stone
7. The King Will Return
8. Scream Of Anger
9. Sign Of The Times
Gitarr-solo: John Norum
10. Stormwind
11. Carrie
12. Open Your Heart
Trum-solo: Ian Haugland
13. Let the Good Times Rock
14. Yesterday's News
15. Cherokee
16. Rock The Night
17. Start From The Dark (new song!!)
18. The Final Countdown

Now it would be about time to express both thanks and a little bit criticism as well. Firstly the criticism... As for the price, having gone up to 150 euros this year was definitely a little bit too much for anyone’s normal blue collar wallet for sure. From any festival visitor’s point of view putting such a price is without any doubt a huge price to pay. Of course most of visitors have normal day jobs, being able to purchase the normal 150 euro three day ticket, but there are a lot of students digging metal music who can’t even afford to purchase a normal CD from a shop so instead go and download the whole album from the net in order to save some money for food and paying mandatory bills. For everyone’s sake it would be wiser to decrease the price a little bit. Of course big rock festivals like Swedenrock definitely need a huge budget in order to book more bands for upcoming events.

Another thing to point out is the photographing. The Swedenrock organization had limited photo passes to 80 persons because of problems having come up in previous years, especially last year when some wise guys didn’t obey the rules of the security guys to leave the photo pit on time as required. Therefore, taking pics of bands in this year’s event turned out to be more than complicated. As far as those 80 passes given to the press people, it went beyond the normal comprehension of anyone as magazines that only use maybe 2 or 3 in an article had full accreditations whereas magazines using several dozens of pics in articles and interviews got absolutely nothing. Therefore, some of our pics unfortunately look lame because we were forced to take pics from such a long distance (for example, the Scorpions pics were not even usable).

The whole festival was, like before, very well organized. Everything worked well timed in every aspect. As usual the whole festival was damn success in every aspect in terms of huge crowds, app 20000 visitors each day. All the security issues had been taken care of extremely well as no fights or any kind of other dispute was witnessed. Even a legion of the Swedish cops marched through the merchandise area like soldiers on parade.

It is sure these 20,000 visitors are eager to enter the festival in 2005 and hopefully the legendary Mötley Crue would be testified there at last.. Adjö !!