Heart of Steel: Concert Reviews

Sweden Rock Festival 2002

The annual Sweden Rock festival was arranged for the eleventh time in a row in the beautiful landscape of Solvesborg. Approximately 11,000 (for each day) defenders of the faith of real metal from several countries had gathered together to enjoy both the good old legendary heavy metal and hard rock as well as new hopes. The festival has grown a lot during the last few years and it is quite obvious the festival will reach its maximum capacity sooner or later if the success of the festival grows a little bit more. Once again the schedule of the playing time of several bands had been booked at the same time causing some extraordinary arrangements to catch some of them and definitely making us run from one side of the festival area to the other! There were four different stages placed idealistically a long way from each other. The Festival Stage was of course the main stage whereas "Rock Stage" was the second biggest which definitely had a damn lot of killer bands. "The Sweden Stage" had been carried out to have more medicore bands whereas the fourth one, the "Spendrups Stage", was sponsored by the local beer company.


Thursday -The First Day

The first day was based on the free entry presenting and consisting of the several unknown and even smaller metal names like Lefay, Manticora, Fatal Smile, Million and so on. The first day was an excellent day to get familiar with the festival area as the whole area itself is huge and above all the southern Swedish landscape has definitely turned out to be an excellent and right place to arrange and carry out a huge metal festival. The biggest shock for both the Metal-Rules.com journalists was an immense amount of vinyl, CD, and  DVD video sellers and frankly it was came quite close to us losing our control there.

The first day was kind of crowned by the Thin Lizzy cover band called Thin Lipztick doing the well known evergreens of the legendary Thin Lizzy and had funny looking bombs on the stage. Of course it is quite important to mention in this case when Thin Lizzy came up now that the mother of the late Phil Lynott had been invited to the festival to be an official protector. One more band worth to mention was heavy and blues-oriented band called Savoy Truffle who came from Japan.


Friday - The Second Day

Freedom Call

Freedome CallBasically the festival kicked off on the second day with the full force and the weather was getting quite hot indeed. When the Finnish Metal Rules team arrived at the festival area, the German power metal outfit Freedom Call was about to start their set. Unfortunately the German power quartet sounded more like the b-class Gamma Ray clone on the stage and gave a negative and quite disgusting impression and above all their pathetic version of Manowar's "Carry On" didn't help to get us and several other metalheads convinced at all. On the contrary, it brought a more obnoxious feeling towards the band. It is real obvious Freedom Call definitely does sound much better on records than the stage in the Sweden Rock festival.

Freedome Call

 Freedome Call


Dream Evil


Snowy Shaw - Dream Evil

Dream EvilAfter the embarrassing set by Freedom Call set we were quite busy getting to the another side of the festival area to testify the Swedish power metal new comer, but featuring some similar faces in the rank namely Snowy Shaw (ex-Mercyful Fate / ex-King Diamond) and Fredrik Nordström (well known producer from bands like: In Flames, Hammerfall etc ..) in Dream Evil. Dream Evil just released their debut album called Dragonslayer some months ago and have received and gained a bunch of positive and overwhelming responses and even have been nominated one of the most promising new bands coming from Europe this time. The Dream Evil set was naturally powered by the material off from Dragonslayer for example: "Chasing The Dragon, "In Flames You Burn", "Kingdom of The Damned." Despite that the band is kind of young and new, the members have a long historical background in the metal genre, which definitely proved the band's routine to handle the gig professionally without loosing the sense of humour and fun which guitarist Fredrik Nordström showed on the stage and the whole compo appeared to be in the trained shape.


Gus G. - Dream Evil 


Doro Pesch

The German metal invasion continued when the former Warlock front lady Doro Pesch arrived at the stage and unleashed the gig by the mandatory Warlock classic "Burning the Witches." Her set list included a lot of classic Warlock tunes mixed up with her own solo tunes like "Burn It Up", "Bad Blood" and the title track new from the forth coming new Doro album "Fight." Among others came obligatory cover versions of the Billy Idol's "White Wedding" and KISS's "Only You." Doro herself still appears to be damn good looking woman and it's very hard to believe that the first Warlock album really came out back in 1984. The whole band appeared in the real hellish strike and Doro herself was thrilled about the response she got from the audience. Even though Doro was the main interest (as well as target of the males of course) the rest of the band can't be ignored consisting of Joe Taylor on guitar, Nick Douglas on bass and Johnny Dee (Britny Fox, ex-Waysted) who all proved that the band was obviously enjoying themselves, and their hearts as well as Doro's were in.

Here is the set list from Doro:
(not in exact order ..)

  • I Rule The Ruins

  • Burning The Witches

  • Hellbound

  • Bad blood

  • Only You

  • All We Are

  • Hear Me

  • Always Live To Win

  • East Meets West

  • Fight

  • Burn It Up

  • White Wedding

  • Ich Will Alles

When the metal vixen Doro was making the audience shout all we are on the Rock Stage, the Finnish proge fusion combo Five Fifteen was on the Sweden Stage playing the quite Led Zeppelin oriented stuff for the half empty field and the whole set turned out to be a more jamming session.


Gamma Ray

The third German metal attack in a row when Kai Hansen and especially Gamma Ray entered the stage. The Sweden Rock festival was their first gig of this year after being on a short hiatus and hopefully punching away the new material. The Gamma Ray set was basically based on the same tunes as having done on the "New World Order" tour and of course a bunch of the most well-known ones from the separate studio albums for example, "Man On The Mission", "Rebellion In Dreamland", "Land Of The Free" and the mandatory Helloween stuff belonging to the routine set of Kai Hansen and his happy fellows.

 


Candlemass 

The reunited Swedish doomsters Candlemass received the prestigious respond from the audience, even though the original doom legends have been absent from the stage for about ten years, but no piece of evidence could be testified at all as it was obvious the magic was there within the band and the chemistry between the dudes worked damn well. Candlemass definitely sounded majestic doomy and heavy indeed. Vocalist Messiah Marcolin's voice is a known trademark of the Candlemass unique sound world, which can't been ignored, neither his massive looks. The reunited doomesters went through from Epicus till Tales by doing a great deal of killer tunes like "Samatrian", "Bells Of Acheron", "Under The Oak", "Solitude", "Bewitched" … The reunion was nothing but welcomed to bring the real Candlemass back to the nigthfall. Hopefully the reunion will last!!!


Virgin Steele

Virgin Steele… have always been a kind of mystery for us, mostly considered as a copycat of Manowar (editors note: This is the opinion of the Finnish Metal Rules team....and not mine! Virgin Steele are fucking awesome!!!)  some way or other even though both the bands have been around the same time and secondly VS have never achieved any huge band status in Finland. The singer, keyboardist and the leader of the band - David DeFeis - performed with passion and a lot of energy and the rest of the outfit mostly stayed behind him all the time. David's keyboards had been placed in the middle and the front of the stage which wasn't the smartest idea and actually looked quite silly causing some difficulties to follow what was actually going on the stage. Yeah guitarist Edvard Pursino looked quite strange as having cut his long hair off, and he was very hard to recognize at all in the earlier autograph session. Generally the VS performance was pretty good and even funny as the show even included some swords - So it was not disappointment, but …..


Status Quo

When Virgin Steele was giving a lesson of the ancient Greek mythology to the festival crowd on the Sweden Stage, the legendary British boogie (or whatever it is now) group Status Quo stepped on the Rock Festival to get the most intensive and enthusiastic reception. It was really weird to witness how the front of the stage was totally packed by people of all ages singing the Status Quo tunes like "Down Down", "Caroline" and "In The Army Now" by heart and above all to see dozens of bodies coming over the security wall and old women in the tight jam in the front but singing bravely and finally see the Gamma Ray dudes and Doro in the security pit jamming. Status Quo is definitely ones who can't be hated, disliked or looked down on because they belong to the institution of the traditional three cord guitar rock hall of fame.


God Halford

The first day was concluded by Rob Halford aka "The Metal God." The start of the gig was rather simple, but stylistic indeed. The legend arrived on the stage without any intros or other extra things; just dressed up in the leather clothes with a lot of chains and a real g-looking cap. He watched the audience for a while until unleashing the beast by screaming "PAINKILLER" and the audience went totally insane! The set aimed to please several old Judas Priest fans, even though his own solo material from the Fight era as well as Resurrection and two songs from his new album Crucible cut the air faster than a bullet. Halford's stage charisma and performance was both extremely strong and really active only proving Rob's damn good health and his ability of being in bloody good shape. But when noticing a couple of dozens of photographers taking pics in the pit the Metal God politely welcomed all of them by wishing "Fuck you, Fuck you" to each dude there.

The band members were like having escaped from the local "The Strongest Man In The World" competition as all of them were heavily trained and looked more like bodybuilders, but the band's tight playing and attitude gave a real kick in the ass to Halford's aggressive approach. The set had been changed quite a lot since the last year's strong live album Live Insurrection which was a pleasant surprise. This show proved beyond all doubt that Halford is once again making heavy metal, and is again one of the best at doing it.

Here is the complete set list from Halford:

  • Painkiller

  • Jawbreaker

  • Resurrection

  • Made In Hell

  • Locked And Loaded

  • Into The Pit

  • Nailed To The Gun

  • Exciter

  • Sinner

  • Betrayal

  • Golgotha

  • Cyberworld

  • Freewheel Burning

  • The Hellion

  • Electric Eye

  • Riding On A Wind

  • encores:
    -Screaming For Vengeance
    -You've Got Another Thing Coming
    -Breaking the Law

 


Saturday - The Third Day

When getting to the festival, the reunited Swedish hard rock combo 220 Volt were on the stage bringing some 80's once again feeling of the local hard rock genre. Of course the dudes have become a little bit older and the look had also been updated to the modern time as the old hair style doesn't look that modern in 2002. By the way, their sound was surely louder than any other band in this festival for some strange reason??

 

Hanoi Rocks

Another interesting reunion gig of the whole festival (besides Saturday's excellent Candlemass gig) was the Finnish glam rock and hair band Hanoi Rocks which once achieved quite a controversial reputation in the era of 80-86 when the band was in its finest strikes until Motley Crue vocalist Vince Neil's dramatic car accident in 1984 kind of destroyed the band's existence when Razzle, the band's drummer back then, was killed and band broke up after trying to carry on with different line-ups. But the past is the past and is gone now. This year they are back with another line-up and two original members namely vocalist Michael Monroe and Andy McCoy. The band definitely rocked on the stage and did a bunch of classic Hanoi tunes like "Highschool", "I Can't Get It", "Tragedy", "Malibu Beach" and also some newer material like "People Like Me" and "Lucky". Michael Monroe was still in superb condition and also Mr. McCoy seemed to be in rather good spirits. Sometimes he seemed to be in a little bit lost or otherwise in "another dimension" but playing and singing was overall quite good. The rest of the band (Lacu, Timpa & Costello) stayed in the background during the whole concert. Musically, this new version of Hanoi is much stronger than the original one. Looking ahead a little, they plan on going into the studio this summer/autumn to work on a new album, which they hope to get out in September of 2002 with a world tour to follow. Time will tell how successful this new incarnation of band will be but the start looks promising.

 


Rage

After the lesson in the glam rock, German metal veterans Rage started their set on the smaller "Sweden Stage." The Line-up had once again undergone some changes featuring singer/bass player Peavey Wagner of course being the only original member in the rank along with the current members drummer Mike Terrana and guitarist Victor Smolski.

They opened with "All I Want" from the new album. A really heavy cut that really showed what the band presents today. They followed this up by "Insanity", one of the best songs off from the new album. Actually they did a real good medley set of their songs covering almost every single album that they have released by now. Peavey looked a little bit different now than before....in other words, to be honest he has put on some weight now and he was a quite "big man" with a true beer belly....but this has nothing to do with the vocals! His voice throughout the show was great. It just looked funny when physically top trained drummer Mike, "the animal" sitting behind his huge drum kit, was the true opposite of him. To sum it up, it was a great show and really proved that Rage hasn't lost any bit of the raging touch. Actually speaking of the crowd size, they seemed to be so popular here that they should have played on the bigger stage for example instead of some less interesting bands like Girlschool or 220 Volt.

The Rage set list looked about like this:

  • All I Want

  • Insanity

  • Paint The Devil On The Wall

  • Back In Time

  • Down

  • Set The World On Fire

  • Sent By The Devil

  • Firestorm

  • Unity (-drum solo-)

  • From The Cradle To The Grave

  • Lunatic

  • Dies Irae

  • Don't Fear The Winter

  • Higher Than The Sky


Girlschool

At the same time Girlschool played on the main stage. They have for some eccentric reason survived to be alive after 25 years, despite that they have been gone and away for some years. The band has three out of four original members now lead by Ms. Kim McAuliffe. Actually there is not so much to say of this band to be honest. A couple of classic songs like "Hit and Run" and "C'mon Let's Go" played by middle age ladies who looked more like a female version of Motörhead. They played fine but definitely in the wrong place, obviously in a wrong time and maybe 10-15 years too late….


Reclusion

Meanwhile Rage was raging and Girlschool hmm.. playing, the Swedish Reclusion was terrorizing on the smaller stage, "Spendrups Stage." Actually, Reclusion was definitely the one and only combo representing the extreme metal stuff and it was definitely a welcome choice among dozens of power metal bands. But unfortunately Reclusion's death / trash with some attitude metal elements didn't get the both needed and deserved reception and attention from the audience.


Wolf

Wolf, having young looking dudes in the rank, did a quite dynamic gig with the old school metal elements tied up with the old NWOBHM influences. Both the speed metallic influences with the mentioned NWOBHM elements the young quartet sped up the whole Black Wings album by including the classic Mercyful Fate cover "A Dangerous Meeting" that King Diamond would get pale when hearing this version…


Motörhead

Motörhead kept the public press conference before their performance. There was actually no big news this time to tell. As for the Motörhead gig then... Well if you have seen a Motörhead gig, you know what you'll get for sure. The whole set was unleashed with the song "We Are Motörhead" which has quickly become a real classic followed by "No Class", "Damage Case", "Born To Raise Hell", "Civil War" among others classic songs.

Only a couple of things have been changed or were otherwise a little bit different compared to previous gigs as a couple of newer songs had been added to the more standard Motörhead set list off from current Hammered album. The biggest negative surprise as well as letdown was the absence of "Orgasmatrom" which was definitely real shame since the as having belonged to the set for years. Also Lemmy had obtained a brand new hat as the previous "classic" one was stolen some time ago in L.A. and it was hugely mentioned in the news worldwide. When Bomber was hammered out Lemmy's old friends from the past Girlschool also visited the stage doing the background vocals and having fun with both Phil and Lemmy. Once again it came to be testified Motörhead is a killer live band with a hell of a kind of attitude along with a great number of high quality songs.


Ted Nugent

Ted Nugent… Well Sir's press conference was quite interesting and hilarious as well. The man made clear to everyone what he was thinking of almost anything. For example in the beginning of press conference he announced: "If you don't like hunting, fuck you and get out of here." Hard to say if he was 100% serious or just acting in order to prove to be a real rock rooster, but at least every question asked he usually interrupted by starting shouting like some maniac having lost his mind even though his answers didn't give any proper answers to asked questions…But very funny press indeed. Some news from the press conference: new album is coming out about next August with another tour to follow - maybe in Europe as well this time? He hasn't been to Europe (or at least in Scandinavia) since 1978!! So let's wait and hope the best.

Ted Nugent was a real man on the stage doing a lot of classic tunes for example "Cat Scratch Fever", "Free-For-All" and "Great White Buffalo". His current band consisting of Marco Mendoza (Thin Lizzy, D.Coverdale) on the bass and (just 21 years old !!) drummer Tommy Clufetos played amazingly together.. This was the occasion on which he was most energetic, and you could tell that he was really enjoying what he was doing all the time. Ted kept his personal humour going on all the time. In the end of the show he picked up the well known Indian hat and shot arrows across the stage with the bow…

The real "Motorcity Madman" .. yeah for sure !

Setlist from Mr. Nugent looked like this:

  • Paralyzed

  • Strormtroopin'

  • Free For All

  • Snakeskin Cowboys

  • Just What The Doctor Ordered

  • Wang Tang Sweet Poontang

  • Rawdogs and Warhogs

  • Yank Me, Crank Me

  • Hey Baby

  • Cat Scratch Fever

  • Strangehold

  • Motorcity Madman

  • (Encore) - Great White Buffalo


Lost Horizon

When Ted Nugent pulled and appealed more to the older rock generation so the Swedish power metal combo Lost Horizon instead pulled their stuff for much more younger audience to rise their own fists in the battle hymns. Before running to the stage, the Lost Horizon dudes made some kind of ritualistic battle oath by hitting their hands together.

The bald headed singer, Daniel Heiman had adopted Bruce Dickinson's style running all around the stage making the audience shout. Lost Horizon's show was a pure power metal triumph in the spirit of "The High Lander", only swords were missing.

 


Bruce Dickinson

After a while it was a turn of Bruce Dickinson and his band. A lot of things have happened during a last couple of years for Bruce Dickinson. Iron Maiden "re-union", Brave New World album and two world tours with Maiden. So now it was time to do some solo stuff again when Iron Maiden is in hiatus for a while.

Bruce had gathered the entire new line-up for the summer tour as his last solo tour he did back in ´99 featured for example Adrian Smith. The current line up of the solo touring band consisted of former Skunkworks players Alex Dickson on guitar and Chris Dale on bass, Pete Freezin (Almighty, ex-Alice Cooper) on the second guitar and drummer Robin Guy. Actually all of these guys have a band together in England called Sacktrick now. The whole set was started surprisingly with a new tune called "Silver Wings" which is from new Best Of album. More followed: "Back From The Edge" from often underrated "Skunkworks" album and more stuff from new Best Of .. "Broken". Compared to his last couple of tours it was very refreshing to hear some stuff from every single record he's done by now. Also the "have to play" Iron Maiden songs were also something not being so usual ones on the Maiden gig like: "Revelations", "Powerslave", "The Prisoner" and "Bring Your Daughter...To The Slaughter". Some of those songs Maiden hasn't been played in years! But as for Bruce's clothing, the man appeared to have escaped from some asylum because of his stress free dressing which looked very non-metal! Maybe because of his outlook it wasn't so shocking to hear them playing Tom Jones cover song in the end of the set. Overall it was a very strong performance with Bruce's endless and never-ending high energy and stage charisma and definitely a lot of surprises here.

 

Here is the complete set list from Bruce:

  • Silver Wings

  • Back From The Edge

  • Broken

  • Revelations

  • Accident Of Birth

  • Dark Side Of Aquarius

  • The Tower

  • Tears Of The Dragon

  • Laughing In The Hiding Bush

  • Innerspace

  • Bring Your Daughter .. To The Slaughter

  • Tattooed Millionaire

  • The Prisoner

  • Powerslave

  • Delilah (Tom Jones cover)?!?!?!


Saxon

The three metal and hard rock inferno was concluded by the long time British metal veterans Saxon whose success in Sweden is incredible from our Finnish point of view, the whole field was entirely packed. Saxon's show with the hundreds of lights of the Eagle looked extremely brilliant in the Swedish nightfall. This was the first time since last years Wacken's performance that the Eagle was used. From the first strains of "Killing Ground" to the last chords of "Wheels Of Steel" Saxon eased effortlessly through a very varied and extensive set list (almost 2 hrs.). Biff Byfords vocals are still amazing and he can still reach all the highest notes without any problem. Bassist Nibbs Carter was as crazy as always. He never stops running around as did guitarist Doug Scarratt while Paul Quinn mostly seemed to stand in his place like a stone statue. Saxon really rocked the crowd of many thousand Swedish metal heads (and some Finnish, Germans etc ..) with a attitude and energy that is amazing, considering just how long they have been doing it. They showed here undoubted class and they really were perfect choice to be closer for this year brilliant festival.

Set list for Saxon (not sure about order) :

  • Killing Ground

  • Dallas 1PM

  • Court of the Crimson King

  • Dogs of War

  • Metalhead

  • 747 (Strangers In The Night)

  • The Thin Red Line

  • Dragon's Lair

  • Strong Arm of the Law

  • Backs To The Wall

  • The Eagle Has Landed

  • Conquistador / Drum Solo/Heavy Metal Thunder/Conquistador

  • Broken Heroes

  • Never Surrender

  • Power And The Glory

  • Princess of the Night

  • Encores:
    - 20,000 Ft
    - Solid Ball of Rock
    - Crusader

  • Second Encores:
    - MotorcycleMan
     - And The Bands Played On
    - Denim And Leather
    - Wheels of Steel

The whole general spirit of the festival was extremely relaxed and peaceful and above all the audience during the whole event behaved fantastic. When another metalhead met another metalhead there was an immediate conversation about the real metal bands. The gods of weather had blessed the whole mighty festival event with the incredible warm and sunny days…

Fantastic festival, fantastic organization (THANX TONY!!), fantastic bands, fantastic audience. No need to say more apart from everyone should get there next year!!!

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