Friday June 8th
No rest for the wicked, first up on the 8th of June was Pretty Maids from Denmark, a great band back in the ’80s. After three moderately successfull records, in 1987 the band released their masterpiece “Future World” and a couple of years later another great album “Jump the Gun”. With these albums under their belt they toured with Black Sabbath and Deep Purple among others. The future looked bright, but suddenly the band split up with only singer Ronnie Atkins and guitarist Ken Hammer remaining from the original lineup. The new lineup released a couple of solid hard rock albums such as “Sin Decade“ and “Carpe Diem”, but that aside today’s version of Pretty Maids is a farcry from the band that I saw live in Finland at the Giants of Rock festival back in the day. The only recognizable element from the glory days was the great voice of Ronnie Atkins. He also managed to look somewhat like he used to unlike the rest of the band… What the HELL happened to Ken Hammer? He looks like a member of Mammoth. Bassist Ken Jackson is not far behind either and drummer Allan Tschicaja, formerly of Royal Hunt, looked more like a nu-metal than a hard rock drummer. All very good players still and old classics like “Love Games” and “Yellow Rain” sounded amazing, but weak songs like “Virtual Brutality” really brought the overall experience crashing down.
Next up was White Lion featuring Mike Tramp. White Lion, one of the big “hair” bands in the late ’80s, got killed by grunge in early ’90s, but not before releasing four albums, selling millions and having loads of MTV hits such as “Wait”, “When Children Cry” and “Hungry “. After White Lion split up, Mike Tramp formed a new band called Freak of Nature to little success. After a few years Mike had had enough of the music business and moved to Australia and for years only released a couple of solo albums. A few years ago he returned with a band called Mike Tramp’s White Lion, which disbanded soon enough. Now he’s back with White Lion, but without Vito Bratta or any other former members. The first song of the set was “Hungry” which actually sounded surprisingly good. Mike himself was in a perfect mood, looked like a rock star and sang horribly just like back in the day. The rest of the band was also pretty good. Guitarist Jamie Law did nice job on Vito’s stuff and drummer Troy Patrick Farrell was impressive behind his kit. The overall performance was quite nice and only deflated slightly as the show progressed. It was nice to be reminded of how strong a lot of the White Lion material actually is. Hopefully we’ll get to hear something new of equal quality from this band in the future… or perhaps it’s time for another reunion.
Finally some thrash metal. Frankly the offerings of thrash metal at Swedenrock was quite quite limited compared to other years when Exodus, Testament, Sodom, and Onslaught have all visited Swedenrock. Besides Kreator, the Canadian Annihilator was another thrashy band on the bill. However Kreator was definitely a welcome addition to Swedenrock along with various other types of metal and southern and AOR bands.
When Kreator hit the stage, some wiseguy from the Kreator crew placed a couple of smoke bombs and set them off. The visibility to the stage was quite awful and besides all the smoke floated more in the stage construction which must have caused some hilarious moments in the Kreator camp. In general Kreator had got vicious good sounds and the whole four piece appeared in the good thrashing strike. Even though the Finnish guitarist has been criticized for not moving enough on the stage, but the guy obviously got thrilled about the sunny day and didn’t stay in one place that long. Kreator was for obvious reason the one and only band in Swedenrock drawing some kind of mosh pit in the front of the security wall. Frankly moshpits are extremely rare a sight at Swedenrock. The previous mosh pit happened when Exodus played back in 2004.
Well Mille still has a lot of anger and hate inside which bursts out on the stage with extreme aggression. Racists and politics got to feel Mille’s hate and despise in the Kreator set when “Betrayer” and “Europe After The Rain” were rampaged out. But as for other songs, Enemy Of God”, “Reconquering The Throne” and of course mandatory classic one from the past “Pleasure To Kill”, Flag Of Hate/Tormentor”.
Kreator on the stage… As you can see
Next up, performing on the stage outside the main festival area, was one of the biggest suprise acts of all and a great point of curiosity, a Swedish band called Gypsy Rose featuring in their ranks the legendary ex-Accept lead singer David Reece. The American began his recording career in Dare Force before joining Accept for their “Eat the Heat” album in 1989. More recently he has appeared on two Sircle of Silence albums aswell as albums by Bangalore Choir, Stream and Alex de Grosso. David Reece is currently recording material for the new Gypsy Rose album aswell as preparing to shortly release his solo album. As for the gig itself, even without knowing the material before hand, everything worked and the good songs were done great justice by David’s powerful voice. Truth be told, except for David, some of the band members might wish to look in a mirror before getting up on stage again. For many of the numerous, perhaps a couple hundred, spectators the highlight of the show was self-evidently the track concluding the proceedings, a spine chilling rendition of “Hellhammer”, one of the finest tracks of Accept’s and thus David’s careers.
Udo and David, two former Accept singers, on same picture…
To whose ever bright idea it was to have the two ex-Accept singers perform with their respective bands simultaneously, thanks alot. A lot of rushing about was needed in order to catch the last two thirds of U.D.O.’s set. Drawing comparisons between Udo and David Reece would be pointless, since the only thing the two guys, in Udo’s own words, have in common is that they’ve both been fired by Wolf Hoffmann with whom, along with his other Accept buddies, Udo performed at this very festival only two years ago. Now he has returned with his solo band which of course featrures on guitar none other than ex-Accept drummer Stefan Kaufmann, who these days, together with Udo, is also in charge of composing the bands songs. And it was a pleasure to hear some of the new songs played live since the latest album is actual pretty good after a few mediocre ones. As for the performance itself, rarely has Udo sounded better than he did at this show, his voice and charisma were as impressive as ever. The old Accept favourites, “Son of A Bitch”, “Balls to the Wall” etc., are of course, deservedly, always going to remain in the set. Ryan Roxie [of Alice Cooper], who also guested on stage with Zan Clan the previous day, got up on stage for “Balls to the Wall”, which was a nice surprise.
The Wrong Side of Midnight
Restless And Wild
Son of A Bitch
Princess of The Dawn
We Do – For You
Man And Machine
Balls To The Wall
Just as the dusk was starting to set in, billed as their final show, Talisman, fronted by the ex-Yngwie J. Malmsteen’s Rising Force singer Jeff Scott Soto, took on the “Zeppelin Stage”. Quite a nice, if somewhat by the numbers, performance of good songs by a fine bunch of musicians. Remains to be seen whether this was actually the final show for the band, seeing how Journey has now rather unceremoniously discontinued the use of Jeff Scott Soto’s considerable singing talents. When inquired, both Jeff and bassist Marcel Jacob seemed rather uncertain about the finality of Talisman’s tale. (Marko)
The Swedish/American Talisman was doing their farewell tour because of the vocalist Jeff Scott Soto had teamed up with the AOR giant Journey, but unexpected things definitely happen as Soto got booted out. However the audience was definitely under the impression of Soto’s departure and of course thousands of people had gathered the assumed farewell show of Talisman. Judging by the amount of people following the gig, to be honest Talisman had been placed to an entire wrong stage. The frontman Soto was damn energernic moving all around the stage damn actively whereas other members rather remained staying in their own placed and focusing on the playing. Even though the playing time had been limited to 45 minutes, the four piece went thru all the essential stuff picked up from several albums. Interesting to see if Talisman will continue or what shall happen. (Arto)
The legendary Tiamat led by Johan Edlund entered the third stage for the first time at Swedenrock. The long time Swedish melancholic metallers or whatever should have visited Swedenrock years ago as still having a solid and loyal fanbase in Sweden. It was quite amusing sight when Edlund got to the stage with the Halford looking sunglasses on his face. As for the set featuring the brand new stuff and of course immortal Tiamat material from GAIA. The big surprise was when the old “In A Dream” was played as well.
Frankly Tiamat’s atmospheric and melancholic music would suite perfectly to a dark and smoky club environment where people can hold their lights up in the air. For a huge outdoor metal festival Tiamat may get a little bit boring though.
For many people, the face of Skid Row will always be that of outspoken front man Sebastian Bach but since reforming in the late ’90s the three original members of the band have been carrying on the Skid Row name without him and now have Johnny Solinger on the microphone. It’s been fifteen years since I last saw this band live, with L.A. Guns as a support act, in 1992 after they had just released their second album “Slave to the Grind”. The title track from the “Thickskin” album gave an erergetic start to the show and was followed by “Big Guns” from their multi platinum debut. The band was really on fire right from the beginning. Naturally the set included all the classics like “18 and Life”, “Youth Gone Wild”, and “Slave to the Grind” from the first two albums as well as a couple of new tracks from the “Solinger era” like “Disease” and “New Generation”. Johnny Solinger has sure got his work cut out for him stepping into Sebastian’s shoes and sometimes looked almost shy. Still, he’s got charisma and a strong voice that suites the old classics perfectly, especially slower stuff like “I Remember You”.
Johnny in a hard place..
Bassist Rachel Bolan has cut off his hair again but besides that not much else has changed. Scotti Hill was the heart of Skid Row’s performance, a kind of “Angus Young” like character almost, constantly running across the stage, playing great solos and singing some good backing vocals. Dave “Snake” Sabo was on the other side of the stage and did his parts well, but seemed rather passive in contrast to his guitarist colleague. There was no sign on the stage tonight of the condition that had forced him to abstain from playing live in the past few years. All in all a pretty nice gig, but not really a patch on Sebastian Bach’s unbridled performance at this very same festival in 2005.
The Boston based Aerosmith was one of the most popular hard rock bands of the ’70s. Even then the band had a unique ability to pull off both ballads and rockers which brought them a string of gold and platinum albums. “Toys in the Attic”, “Rocks” and “Draw the Line” amongst others are undeniable classics. After a while though, things started to change. In the early ’80s, the group lost their original lineup and soon after their audiences started to dissipate while some of the members suffered from serious intoxicant problems. As a result the was nearly destroyed, but somehow manged to pull their act together and in the late ’80s accomplish one of the most successful comebacks in history. Returning to the top of the charts with a series of albums like “Pump” and “Get A Grip”, with the help of MTV, they even managed to top the sales of their ’70s albums. To this day Aerosmith remains one of the biggest live acts in the rock world.
Finishing off the night on the main stage were Aerosmith. At tonights show the bands set started with the classic “Love in An Elevator” from the “Pump” album. Right from the beginning it was relieving to discover that these guys had still “got it”. It was amazing to see how Tyler and Perry, who once were known as the “toxic twins” because of their drug and drinking habits, are still in top shape both artistically aswell as physically. Tom Hamilton and Joey Kramer did a good solid performance and it can be said that they haven’t changed much at all neither but what on Earth has happened to Brad Whitford? Honestly the guy looked like a 70 year old janitor, but to his merit there was nothing wrong with his playing.
All in all a pretty good show with a hell of a start, but unfortunately the momentum dwindled down towards the latter part of the show. The setlist comprised mostly of the the big hits from the ’90s and ’00s and may have been a bit of a disappoinment to some of the bands long time fans. Of course some of the old classics like “Dream On”, Sweet Emotion” and Walk this Way” were played, but that was hardly enough. Where were “Mama Kin”, “Toys in the Attic” or “Back in the Saddle” ? While there’s nothing really wrong with songs like “Jaded”, “Cryin’” or “Falling in Love (Is Hard on the Knees)”, what the audience got served, instead of an actual “Best of” -set, was more of a “Best of MTV” -set. Still, Steven Tyler is an exceptional frontman with plenty of energy and charisma to go around and delivered the songs to the best of their potential. A bit confusingly the show came to rather an abrupt end with the band looking like they were gonna come back for another song or two, but instead seemed to have gotten their plugs pulled and being hurried off the stage. One might have hoped for more return for one’s investement with Aerosmith admittedly being the most expensive band on the festival bill. Oh well.
Love In An Elevator
Dude (Looks Like A Lady)
Falling In Love (Is Hard On The Knees)
Eat The Rich
I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing
What It Takes
Baby, Please Don’t Go
Hangman Jury (Acoustic) >
Seasons of Wither
Livin’ On The Edge
Stop Messin’ Around
Draw The Line
Walk This Way