Heart of Steel: Concert Reviews

SWEDENROCK 2004

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

Here we are here again at the mighty, legendary, and prestigious Sweden Rock festival in southern Sweden for the third time in a row to enjoy some good old hard rock as well as some more aggressive thrash metal. For the first time ever in Sweden Rock history, all tickets were sold out rapidly especially when Sweden's own hard rock heroes EUROPE was announced as one of main three headliners of the festival. All 18,000 tickets were gone and due to public demand, the festival organization decided to put an extra 2000 tickets up for sale. It is obvious that the limit of the festival may have been reached as it is quite impossible to further increase the capacity or all kinds of various problems may arise.

Anyway, having a great opportunity to witness bands on the stage at the Sweden Rock festival is more like a godsend for several old school metal bangers as most of these booked bands hardly play elsewhere in Scandinavia. For example, thousands of Finnish metalheads had arrived to witness the glorious return of the British heavy metal legends Judas Priest in action, but on the other hand seeing the legendary UFO outside of Sweden Rock is more or less out of question.

As the band Europe was one of headliners this year, Ian Haugland wasn’t involved in the hosting which was instead taken care of by Vanessa Warwick and the local Swedish rock promoter Peter Löfberg. But above all, the gods of the weather had blessed the rock-ish/metallic weekend event with both a thunderous raining maelstrom, and on the contrary, an infernal red hot sunshine, creating such a wonderful atmosphere. Here for another year is our “brief” article on the Sweden Rock festival. Read and enjoy!!!

Rock On!!!


THURSDAY 10 JUNE

The Haunted

Starting the festival with The Haunted couldn’t be a bad choice as the Swedish thrashers definitely started the gear with the maximum full force ahead. Especially since the old original screamer Peter had rejoined the Haunted, it was damn interesting to catch him in action as the previous frontman (Marco Aro) had been testified on the stage several times before. Peter Dolving’s stage appearance differs a lot from Marco's, as Peter’s way of acting on the stage has more hardcore elements and mannerisms. He jumped several times on his knees and screamed his lungs out and was in general moving around throughout the whole set. The Swedish thrashers did an equal set by consisting of tracks from each album. Even a couple of new tracks from the forthcoming studio album, especially the simple, but the catchy '99' sounded like strong and brutal, which will be causing a strong reaction in the pit at upcoming shows. But the audience at 3PM wasn’t that 'alive' yet. The Haunted is in dangerous form with Peter being back in the ranks, beware!

 

TNT

Norwegian band TNT followed next. They recently released the brilliant new album My Religion. TNT haven’t toured outside of Norway much since then which is a shame. The band has also suffered a bit from the poor playing time, but once they got started it didn’t really matter anymore. TNT hit the stage, and when they did there was a big burst of in-your-face energy. They opened with 'Invisible Noise' then went into 'As Far As The Eye Can See'. Other songs in the set included 'Intuition', 'My Religion', '10 000 Lovers', 'Downhill Racer', and their first hit single 'Seven Seas'. The band closed the show with 'Everyone’s A Star' which was a kind of an MTV hit back in the late eighties. Ronnie LeTekro’s guitar playing was top notch, and was completely mesmerizing. Temporary bass player Sid Ringsby did his job well with no mistakes. Diesel Dahl’s drumming was as solid as ever. His outlook is VERY different from what it used to be some fifteen years ago. Gone is the big hair and spandex, now he is completely bold with Hells Angels tattoos on his shoulders... Biggest points must be given to Tony Harnell…he is one hell of a frontman! He really knows how to work a crowd and his vocals were great. He can still do all the high notes and in this case, those are VERY high ones. The sound overall was really tight and surprisingly heavy. It appeared that even people, who usually are not too familiar with hard rock, really liked them a lot, which is quite unusual. TNT was one of the best bands here and Tony Harnell was possibly the best singer performing at Sweden Rock 2004.

 

Setlist:
Invisible Noise
As Far as the Eye Can See
She Needs Me
Downhill Racer
Seven Seas
Caught Between The Tigers
Intuition
Listen To Your Heart
Shine on (?)
My Religion
10,000 Religion
Everyone's a Star

 

 

 

Entombed

The Swedish extreme metal march continued when Stockholm’s death metal legends, Entombed, unleashed a real inferno. Frankly, the Sweden stage has always turned out to be an excellent place for several band to carry out their own set and for some bizarre reason most of bands playing on the Sweden stage have more or less sounded damn good and above the size of the stage isn't any huge making the following of the band for the crowd much easier. For example, the Sweden stage suited extremely well to Entombed’s tight gig. Above all, the curiosity towards the band increased with newly recruited bass player from Terra Firma, Nico Elgstrand, replacing Jorgen Sandström. Entombed played a really heavy set by covering their long career from the first legendary Left Hand Path album till Inferno. If I had to compare Entombed’s performance to The Haunted, I for one would however choose The Haunted.

 

 

Helloween

When Helloween came to the stage, the festival area was totally full of people. After a short intro band went directly into old classic “Starlight” which wasn’t a bad choice to open the set. One tradition which was now seemingly broken is the amount of Michael Kiske era material performed. Since Andy Deris joined this band, they’ve never played so much old stuff. And if I'm not wrong, there never was too many Kai Hansen era songs on the set list either. Andy Deris appeared to have certain problems with singing some of the older tunes, but he gave it his all, and it came out quite well mostly. Especially the really old stuff from Hansen's days worked out well. New band members Stefan Schwarzmann (ex Accept, Running Wild, U.D.O.) and young guitarist Sascha Gerstner did a good job but it must be said that Sascha certainly doesn’t quite have the same kind of charisma on stage such as his predecessors. What surprised me was the lack of new material played. Only one song from the newest album is certainly not enough. Also, picking up just only one song from the brilliant THE DARK RIDE album was strange, maybe some more next time? Still, despite only a lukewarm reception at encore time (Power, Sun 4 The World), the crowd seemed to enjoy the show, particularly “Keeper Of The Seven Keys” and “Dr. Stein”. There was a huge crowd gathering at the front, ranging from 13 year olds to forty something's, who were really getting into it. Overall the gig had various songs from different periods to make it interesting. The band gave it their all, and they had enough energy, charisma, and talent to make the gig an absolutely good one, if rather short... (They had to cut off last song “How Many Tears” because of because of time schedules.)

Setlist:
Starlight
Murderer
Keeper Of The Seven Keys
Future World
Eagle Fly Free
Hey Lord
Forever And One
Open Your Life
Dr. Stein
If I Could Fly
Back Against The Wall
Where The Rain Grows
Power
Sun 4 The World

   

 

 

 

JUDAS PRIEST

Judas Priest was the first headliner booked for Sweden Rock 2004. That was already celebrated last Autumn in Stockholm at the Sweden Rock party. Frankly, getting Judas Priest as the headliner of the first day wasn’t any big surprise, neither the news as the band got activated after Halford’s return and was immediately catapulted to the mega star level as the return of Rob Halford A.K.A. “The Metal God” had been anxiously awaited for 13 years since his bitter departure from the band in the early 90’s. Finally it happened, it was about time indeed.

The immortal and well known riffs of “The Hellion” started roaring out of speakers, followed by “Electric Eye”. The guitar duet K.K. Downing and Glen Tipton had taken the well-known head banging stance whereas Ian Hill, as usual, to stay more in the background, where his place has been…forever. Rob Halford decided to have a slower method to reach the audience’s interest as well as attention by being in the left part of the stage (seen from the audience’s standpoint) and did the whole “Electric Eye” way up there there and it was entirely impossible to see the “Metal God”. Finally he realized to take a few steps to the right that he could be finally witnessed live. The man had dressed in a heavy metallic insane looking custume, which must have weighed a hell of a lot. The set contained real metallic fireworks of the old JP classics, roaring out of the speakers hammering the audience down one by one. “Metal Gods”, “A Touch Of Evil”, “Turbo Lover”, owing to Halford’s return to the JP rank it was quite expected the stuff from “The Ripper” era had been entirely ignored… It is kinda worthless to compare Halford’s own gig at the Sweden Rock festival a couple of years back to the JP gig, but let it go now. As when “Painkiller” was unleashed by the Halford band, it sounded damn heavy and above all extremely brutal, but JP’s version of “Painkiller” sounded quite soft and didn’t reach the same the brutal approach. In general seeing the classic guitar duet Downing and Tipton doing the immortal Priest JP riffs and above all, Halford’s return to the band, made those people that traveled for this gig damn happy hearing those classic evergreen metal hymns. But Judas Priest’s show left quite the divided impressions and opinions amongst the festival visitors. Following the whole gig from a little bit far away gave quite the lame picture of the band’s current stage condition as it looked like the British heavy metal legends weren’t in the best strike, whereas people being in the frontline claimed Judas Priest were nothing, but great. But hey PRIEST IS BACK!

1. The Hellion
2. Electric Eye
3. Metal Gods
4. Heading Out To The Highway
5. The Ripper
6. A Touch Of Evil
7. The Sentinel
8. Turbo Lover
9. Victim Of Changes
10. Diamonds And Rust
11. Breaking The Law
12. Beyond The Realms Of Death
13. The Green Manalishi (with the two pronged crown)
14. Painkiller
15. Hell Bent For Leather
16. Living After Midnight
17. United
18. (You Got) Another Thing Coming

 

Read on for FRIDAY 11 JUNE