SWEDENROCK 2009

July 16th, 2009
by Arto Lehtinen

Friday June 5

 

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Jon Oliva’s Pain


As it is widely a common thing known that Oliva’s physical condition ain’t that sharp. That definitely resulted in him sitting behind the keyboard and occasionally stoop up and moved a little bit around the stage with the help of walking stick. At least he wouldn’t have needed that much space on the stage though playing on the main stage in front of small audience. However the sounds had been turned to the maximium level to cause a real ‘pleasure’ of an infernal earache. Even though Jon Oliva has put a few albums out, however the 90 minute setlist had been built to cover the most known as well as Savatage classic ones such as "Gutter Ballat" and of course "Hall Of The Mountain king" concluded the whole gig. Savatage plays a very important role in Oliva’s metal career and is widely known all around. Although Oliva’s physical look is definitely…"huge"…the man’s voice ain’t in that sharp of a strike such as back in 2002 when Savatage was at Wacken. Hmm…presumably some day or one day Savatage will be resurrected from the world beyond and will be seen doing "Hall Of The Mountain King" or then the worst nightmare may come true ….

City Beneath The Surface /Sirens /Through Eyes of The King /Of Rage And War /Chance /Maniacal Renderings /Tonight He Grins Again /Gutter Ballet /The Hounds /Believe /Jesus Saves /Hall Of The Mountain King

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Voivod

Finally the Canadian thrash metal veterans managed to get themselves to Europe after being away almost the decade. Even though the band has undergone a lot of problems during the last few years, but seeing them on the stage after all was definitely one of the more anticipated moments. Unfortunately there wasn’t that much people watching them as the field was basically half full or half empty. Who cares as people missed the great opportunity of witnessing one of the most influential metal bands ever. The set was kicked off by the "Voivod" song and was followed by tons of Voivod classic ones. Kind of weird as none of songs was played from RROOAARR and even the mighty "Killing Technology" song didn’t belong to the set as truly expected. The whole set was definitely a real flashback to the heyday of the thrash metal phenomenon. Even though the set consisted of a lot of older material, a few newer songs off from INFINI were played as well.    

Piggy was surely watching over when the current guitarist Daniel Mongrain did a great job. Fortunately any Anders Kisser stepped in as planned in the first place. Snake’s dry snaring voice sounded quite punkish. Blacky literally beat the bass and Away thrashed his batteries. Blacky’s return to the ranks with the legenday blower bass has brought the essential and above all recognizable bass sound of Voivod.

Voivod’s killing technology still roars with war and pain. It is gonna be more than interesting to figure out how Away and company will handle the legacy of Voivod in the future if the band will be laid to trest or then not ! Piggy is a part of the VoiVod as ”Astronomy Domine” was dedicated to his memory.

Voivod

The Unknown Knows

Ravenous Medicine

Over The Reaction

Treasure Chase

Tribal Convictions

Tornado

The Prow

Brain Scan

Nothingface

Nuclear War

Astronomy Domine

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Unleashed

Long time Swedish Death Metal warriors, Unleashed, had finally managed to make it to Sweden rock. It was about time as other Swedish legendary death metal squads such Grave and Entombed have already made their performance here. Well so far Dismember haven’t been there yet… Unleashed led by Johnny Hedlund unleased a pure lesson of the Swedish death metal in front of enthusiastic maniacs. A death Metal victory roared on the fourth stage when several killer cuts literally hammered all these old death metal worshippers down by banging their heads. So did the whole band with ultimate head banging and a tight played set. 

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Lita Ford  

The original Metal Queen Lita Ford is finally back in action. After the release of a somewhat disappointing BLACK album 1996 she gave up the music business and moved to live on a Carribian island with her husband Jim Gillette (ex–Nitro). Lita returned in limelight few years ago first as a special as a special guest on Twisted Sister’s TWISTED CHRISTMAS album and later on she did a small series of club gigs is U.S and played Rocklahoma festival in 2008. Sweden rock was going to be her first appearance in Europe since the early 90’s so there was lot of expectations here. Unfortunately her show turned out to be huge disappointment. There were some technical problems, the sound was really off at times, but the main thing is that Lita’s performance was inconceivably weak. She was totally lost on stage.  In addition to her sloppy guitar playing and off key vocals she hardly made any communication with the audience. The set list was somewhat disappointing as well. Nothing was played from her debut OUT FOR BLOOD and just one track, “Gotta Let Go”,  from her second and best album DANCIN’ ON THE EDGE.  Her backing band consisted of Stet Howland (ex–WASP) on drums, bassist JC and keyboard played Michael T.Rossi (Hardline). They tried to save as much as they could, especially Mr. Howland was literally on fire, but he didn’t manage help save the whole show alone. Lita announced that she is going to release a new album in next fall. Hopefully she will do some more practicing before the actual tour starts otherwise it will be a complete disaster. 


EDIT:  Right after the show it was announced that Stet Howland and JC left the band immediately!

Larger Than Life / Black Widow / Can’t Catch M e / Blueberry / Gotta Let Go / Back to the Cave / Hungry / Falling In And Out of Love / Hellbound Train / Mr. Crowley / The Ripper / Close My Eyes forever / Kiss Me Deadly / There’s Only One Way to Rock

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DEMON

Although often grouped in the same bunch of NWOBHM bands with IRON MAIDEN and SAXON, etc. DEMON are in fact musically more a continuation of the hard rock tradition already established in the ‘70s by such bands as THIN LIZZY and UFO. Ever since the late ’80s singer Dave Hill has been the last man standing from the original lineup, but of course it was always his brilliant voice, alongside the catchy guitar playing by the late Mal Spooner, that made DEMON stand out from the rest in the first place. Dave’s voice and live presence remain solid after all these years and the present lineup are certainly skilled enough to do the classic songs justice, while perhaps not exactly looking very much like rock stars. Although DEMON never quite made it into the big leagues, it was nice to observe that there was quite a sizable audience in attendance braving the uncertain weather. But a few drops of water couldn’t possibly have distracted one from the sheer magnificence of the songs from the bands first two albums, especially "Don’t Break the Circle", "The Spell" and "Sign of A Madman" from "The Unexpected Guest" LP. The overall sound probably could have done with a little less keyboards, but that’s a matter of taste of course. Too bad that the theatrics, unlike when DEMON headlined the warm-up day of the festival in 2003, had been cut, it would have been grand seeing Dave Hill, dressed as a demon, rise from the grave one more time, perhaps next time?

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Marillion

Back in the day Marillion used to be one of the most successful bands in the world of progressive rock but lot of things have changed since the glory days. Gone is their charismatic and unique voice of Fish who’s been replaced by Steve Hogarth since the departure which happened in 1988.  When Fish left, after CLUTCHING AT STRAWS and live album THE THIEVING MAGPIE, band managed to continue their success with next release SEASONS END in 1989 but since then band has lost its ability to write decent songs and because of that they have also lost most of their fan base. In a way it’s must be respected when band with such a history do believe their newer material but when they same time almost completely bypass all the classic songs in a festival like Sweden rock, it’s just foolish.


The band’s show was, in one word, boring. There’s no denying that Hogarth is a good and such charismatic singer but his voice can’t alone save weak song material. In addition to horrible set, the rest of the band look like a local pub band and none of them had any kind of stage presence, far from it. All in all, Marillion was a huge disappointment.  

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Kamelot

Kamelot has been a regular Sweden rock band since the early 00 decade. Why not, because Kamelot has got a solid following in North Europe and pulls a lot of people to their shows. The visual effects were huge and seriously planned. Even though the weather was quite warm, the five piece truly swear into the leather clothes and long coats. The set was full of pyros and fire balls. The vocalist Roy Khan is an excellent vocalist as well as front-man by doing a hypnotic performance and lives up to the Kamelot music as there is some emotional aspects involved for sure. Of course other members play with the passionate grip as well. The set for obvious reasons contained several known songs such as “When Light Comes Down”, “The Haunting” “Eden Echo” and of course “March Of Mephisto”.

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FOREIGNER

For many, these ’80s AOR giants are synonymous with their cheesy chart successes, songs like "I Want to Know What Love Is" and "Waiting for A Girl Like You". There is however, a lot of great hard rock music hidden away in the bands back catalog that is certainly worth checking out. And now is certainly the time to catch the band live since they’re rocking it more than ever. This is in no small way thanks to the recruitment of the quite brilliant Kelly Hansen (ex-HURRICANE), who took over the vocal duties from the ailing Lou Gramm in 2005, and bassist Jeff Pilson (ex-DOKKEN) as well as Jason Bonham and presently Brian Tichy [Billy Idol, ex-PRIDE AND GLORY] on drums. This lineup rocks even harder than seems probable and live versions of classic tracks like "Cold as Ice" and "Urgent" take on a whole new meaning. If the long in the making new album rocks anywhere as much as this band does live right now, it’s bound to be a classic. 

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Crucified Barbara

Crucified Barbara’s debut at Sweden rock happened a few years back when the first output IN DISTORTION WE TRUST had just seen the light of day. The debut one just proved the band’s being able to write and create catchy rockish sleeze stuff and above all the ladies rocked hard on the stage. There was no exception in that at all. Instead they have got more routine and experience about the touring which could be seen in their performance. Yes they rock for sure.  The brand new one TILL DEATH DO US PARTY by the four piece continues the same catchy rockish stuff and of course the new material such ”Sex Action”  and of course the songs from the first album belonged to the set such as ”Going Down”. The ladies should have been on the bigger stage as the success has increased a lot since the debut appearance.

 

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UFO

 

Classic U.K rockers UFO were surely one of the most desirable acts on Friday evening in case that band’s adherence would have been count in number of people watching the show.  It’s been a four years since the band last played atSweden rock.  The show started with “Mother Mary” from classic 1975 FORCE IT –album followed by YOU ARE HERE track “When Daylight Goes to Town” and “I’m a Loser” from NO HEAVY PETTING. Phil Mogg’s voice was still great shape and he did some funny jokes between songs. He went also serious at one point and stated that he’s only drinking water these days and warned younger people about the evils of alcohol. Paul Raymond, who originally joined the band in 1977, did a good, solid job with both guitars and keyboards and so did Vinnie Moore on lead guitar and returning original drummer Andy Parker behind his massive drum kit. There was nothing wrong with bassist Barry Sparks (Dokken, Ted Nugent) performance either, he was chosen to fill Pete Way’s shoes for this tour, but somehow the whole band appeared to be a little deceased on stage. Sadly it appears that the current incarnation of UFO is just a nostalgia act, nothing more. Their most recent albums are just too average compared to 70’s material and the same expression comes in mind if you draw a parallel between current and classic line up (w/ Michael Schenker and Way). Of course band can’t go wrong with songs like “Love To Love”, “Lights Out”, “Rock Bottom”, “Doctor Doctor” and “Shoot Shoot” but how long you can carry on without new decent material?

Mother Mary / When Daylight Goes to Town / I’m a Loser / Saving Me / Cherry / This Kid’s / Only You Can Rock Me / Ain’t No Baby / Love to Love / Too Hot to Handle / Lights Out / Rock Bottom / Doctor Doctor / Shoot Shoot

 

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Motorhead

For many the real headliners of this Friday evening were undoubtedly Motörhead! They should be titled an official house band of Sweden rock because with very few expectations they have been playing here every single year but that doesn’t seem to affect their success in any negative way here. If you’ve seen Motörhead there’s not much new to tell but here’s a brief summary of tonight’s show. Their performance opened with “Iron Fist” followed by another classic “Stay Clean”. Although they did all the necessary hits it was very refreshing to hear so many songs from most recent and excellent Motörhead albums, "Motorizer" , “Kiss Of Death” and "Inferno". Newer tracks like “Rock Out” and "Whorehouse Blues",  were definitely set highlights. For the encores, the legendary "Bomber" lighting rig had once again been hauled from storage and swung menacingly on the wires above the band, surely a sight to behold in the pitch black night. This time band had no special guests on stage/ The last time they had ex-Motörhead axe man Fast Eddie Clarke, but when encores started they had some really good looking girls doing fire breathing on stage. All in all, Motorhead did a great show as always. Lemmy was in really good spirits, through he is now in his mid 60’s there was no any sight of tiredness noticeable.”Youngsters” Phil Campbell and super energetic drummer Mikkey Dee were doing excellent work  and when set list included both necessary hits and bunch of new tracks it was near to perfect. Of all the numerous Motörhead  gigs throughout the years, this one ranks somewhere between the middle  and top . Motörhead never disappoints.

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Johnny Winter

All right as it is known Johnny Winter wouldn’t fit to the metal concept at all, but I can’t help but mention a few words about this legendary blues guitarist. He is one of the most respected guitarists out there for sure, who has gained fame and glory since the 70′s. Besides being a legendary and respected guitarist he has had other activities in life resulting him to play selected shows and have a massive legion of assistants working for him behind the curtain. It was kind of amazing that Johnny Winter had been booked to Sweden rock and he was still capable of arriving there. Well he was lead to the construction of the stage by some close assistant and was literally pushed to the stage something like "go and play now". With unstable steps he walked direct to the chair place in the front of the stage and sat down and picked up the guitar. He still has the touch left when it comes to playing solid and awesome blues sounding tunes. However his signing was barely heard. He did the gig and played well. All the respect to him for that.  

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In Flames

In Flames have become a tremendous big name during the whole decade. The band is either loved or hated. However the front line of the security barrier was totally packed by young kids adoring In Flames when the Goteburg’s melodic metallers concluded the second day. The frames on the stage were amazing, huge screens, massive lights and above all a helluva lot of pyros and bombs. It has to be admitted In Flames was extremely tight and lethal live band for sure, even though the latest albums do not sound that tempting, but in the live situation the newer songs sounded more than great. Sorry to all In Flames haters, but they are a great live band for sure.  Although In Flames were literally in flames, but the core and mastermind of the whole band Jesper Stromblad was absent from the Sweden rock show and had been replaced by a hired guitarist. The vocalist is still a  communicated and joked with the audienced and in general appeared to be nothing, but a relentless front man.   In Flames had deserved the headliner slot for sure. Their success is nowadays huge and younger metal generation truly adores them.

Delight And Angers

Touch Of Red

Trigger

Coerced Coexistence

Bottled

Pinball Map

Come Clarity

Dead End

The Hive

Cloud Connected

Disconnected

Only For The Weak

Embody The Invisible

Square Nothing

Alias

The Chosen Pessimist

The Mirror’s Truth

The Quiet Place

Take This Life

My Sweet Shadow

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