SWEDENROCK 2009

July 16th, 2009
by Arto Lehtinen

Saturday June 6

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Ripper Owens

Tim "Ripper" Owens visited Sweden rock a couple of years ago as a front man of Iced Earth. That was an absolutely brutal gig from the beginning to the end. Ripper’s second visit to Sweden rock with his own band had been placed as opening act. The back band consisted of several high quality and known metal musicians such as David Ellefson (Megadeth), Simon Wright (DIO, AC/DC), Chris Caffery (Savatage) and John Comprix who’s recruited from Ripper’s Beyond Fear. The set consisted of the material off from the man’s first solo album as well as a few Judas Priest songs such as "Burn in Hell", "One by One" and of course “The Ripper”. Beyond Fear’s "Scream Machine" was also included for some reason nothing was played from Iced Earth or from Yngwie Malmsteen. Perhaps there just wasn’t enough time to cover everything this time. As for the solo material, it must be established that although PLAY MY GAME is a good, solid album still many songs of it did sound a way better live. Especially “The Shadows Are Alive”, which is co written by Mr. Caffery, sounded really amazing and it was one of the highlights of the show. Tim’s voice was once again superb but the whole band did sound really strong through the set. What an excellent opening for Saturday.

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Tank

The British band Tank has gone through many changes during past few years. Gone is founding member and vocalist bassist Algy Ward and he’s now been replaced by onetime Rainbow singer Doogie White and bassist Chris Dale whose credits include working with Bruce Dickinson.  Amongst long running members guitarists Cliff Evans and Mick Tucker the bands original drummer Mark Brabbs has also returned in form so this current line-up of Tank is such an interesting mix of old and new elements here.This Sweden rock show was actually going to be very first live performance of this line-up and overall their first performance in many, many years. Tank headed up on the stage at 12 AM and “This Means War” opened the set.  Tank was in good form although at times it did appear that they haven’t done too much playing together yet. Doogie had to use crib on some songs and sometimes there was overlong breaks between the songs but overall everything went very well and the crowd seemed to enjoy what they did see and hear on stage. The set list included all the best known Tank classics like “Power of The Hunter” and “Shellshock” but band also did some brand new tracks which worked out pretty well.  Of course it was obvious that Algy Ward’s absence was something that can’t be bypassed here. Algy’s vocal style was much like “Lemmy” while Doogie is clearly a way more melodic singer. Algy’s stage presence was always such a “punk” while Doogie is more traditional rock/metal singer etc but sometimes changes can be good for the band? For sure there are several old school Tank fans who will never accept this band without Algy but they still deserve a chance at least. 

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Impeliitteri

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Riot

Mark Reale has navigated Riot since 1976 till now through several problems and line-up changes. Several albums have reached the cult success and status such as the mighty THUNDERSTEEL. Reale managed to gather the Thundersteel line-up together and book plenty of European dates. Fortunately Riot got a chance to play at Sweden rock. The 80’s sounds had been updated to meet the metal sound requirements of nowadays without loosing any inch of the known Riot style. Tony Moore sounded great and in general the Thundersteel line-up sounded ng really good and tight. The set was kicked off by the opening song of Thundersteel. The drummer Bobby Jarzombek gave his input to how powerful and dynamic songs sounded. Frankly Riot was excellent for sure. Missing them and this Thundersteel line-up would be a mistake, if you get a chance to see them, go and get it.

Narita / Fight Or Fall / On Your Knees / Metal Soldiers / Johnny’s Back / Sign of the Crimson Storm / Swords And Tequila / Wings Are for Angels / Bloodstreets / Storming the Gates of Hell / Outlaw / Dance of Death / Thundersteel / Warrior

 

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BLACKFOOT

Blackfoot was once one of the finest bands coming from “Deep South”. There’s no denying that albums like STRIKES, TOMCATTIN’ and SIOGO are true classics of that genre and they have a bunch of great songs but unfortunately it must be said that today’s version of Blackfoot is presenting something what doesn’t do justice for the original band. Although there are still two original members left: bassist Greg T. Walker and guitarist Charlie Hagrett, the rest of the band consist of one time Blackfoot guitarist and former Axe – front man Bobby Barth and new drummer (whose name I can’t remember),but Blackfoot without original singer/guitarist Rickey Medlocke and drummer Jackson Spires (R.I.P)just doesn’t feel right . Rickey was the heart and soul of Blackfoot, he even wrote most of the material. Imagine if ZZ Top being on tour without Billy Gibbons, right? Today Blackfoot is a cover band but to be honest there are many better cover bands out there. Bands performance was so spiritless and tired that perhaps now it’s time to let go and retire while there are still some dignity left?

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IMPELLTTERI

Impellitteri led Chris Impellitteri got on the main stage to do about 90 minute slot in the sunny weather. Even though the current line-up consists of the known and highly skilled musicians and the famous hard rock throat of Bob Rock, the group hasn’t managed to gain that huge commercial success. As for the Sweden rock show, the four piece did a solid and guaranteed performance in front of thousands of people by playing several known Impellitteri songs such as "Countdown". The band sounded outstanding and above all Chris Impelitteri’s guitar playing was admirable and Bob Rock’s voice as well sounded great.

 

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Journey  

 

AOR heroes Journey are back, now with renewed lineup with new Malaysian born singer Arnel Pineda.  What’s interesting detail here is that band’s previous front man Steve Augeri was released from Journey soon after just a few shows after bands perform in Swedenrock back in 2004. There was nothing wrong with the show then. Actually Journey was then one of the biggest positive surprises on the whole festival, especially Steve’s vocals were great and it was quite shocking for many to hear about the breakup back then but now it seems that Neal Schon and company knew what they were doing because Pineda was even better than his predecessor. Band’s latest album REVELATION, with Pinada, sold over million copies in U.S alone, not bad in these days. But now back to band’s performance in Swedenrock 2009. Band kicked of their set with new album opening track “Never Walk Away” followed with “Only the Young” and “Stone in Love”. The whole band looked totally re-energized on stage. Although Neal Schon and drummer were as impressive as always it was notable that even always solid but dull bassist Ross Valory and keyboardist/guitarist Jonathan Cain were like re –born on stage. The whole band sounded and looked really good on stage and it’s obvious that Mr.Pinada has a lot to do with that new character. He simply gives so much new and fresh energy for the whole band, just being himself on stage, that the rest of the band will follow him even unobserved. What more you can say. Journey in 2009 is a high energy rock band with great vocals, there’s an excellent band and some superb guitar playing from Mr.Schon. It’s really strange that although Journey all in all has sold tens of millions albums in their long lasting career they have never reached huge success outside of U.S.? Maybe now it’s time to invest more here, shows like this will not leave anyone cold here. 

 

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Electric Boys

Conny Bloom and A.C Christell find themselves unemployed after Hanoi Rocks surprisingly decided to call it a day on past spring. It wasn’t long until they announced that they will re-form their old band Electric Boys with all original line–up for tour and new album which will be out later this year. Electric Boys released their highly respected debut FUNK-O-METAL CARPET RIDE in 1989 followed by GROOVUS MAXIMUS in 1992. Original band, including Franco Santuione and Niclas Sivegall, break up soon after the album was released and although band still continued and released one more album, FREEWHEELIN in 1994, they slowly disbanded just few month later.  Now they’re back. Band has done a handful of “warm up” gigs in Finland and Stockholm before hitting on Sweden stage at 06:15 PM on Saturday evening. “Psychedelic Eyes” opened the show and it sounded really good there. Conny Bloom proved that he’s still a great front man in every aspect.  Although Electric Boys have never been as huge in Sweden as bands like Europe they now got really huge crowd to follow their 60 minute plus performance. Overall, Electric Boys did good, solid performance and they did all their best known songs, including “Lips’n Hips”.  Not too many surprises here but nothing disappointments either.

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Forbidden

More classic thrash metal now from Bay Area! It seems like the Sweden rock attendance ain’t that into the classic thrash metal in general as there weren’t that many people watching Voivod and not that many at Forbidden either. Even one of the biggest Swedish newspaper had ranked Forbidden as one of the most important bands to be checked out, but obviously old school metalheads haven’t paid attention to that. Whatever…. Forbidden delivered a set of classic Bay Area speed thrash stuff picked up mostly from the first two albums. Both guitarist Locicero and the old new axeman Steve Smyth truly shed on the stage. Steve Smyth is truly a right man replacing Alvelais. As for the new drummer Mark Hernandez, having been involved in other bands such Defiance, Heathen, fits to the Forbidden concept extremely well. Forbidden’s return to the limelight has been waited for years amongst the metal fans. Frankly the return hasn’t turned out to be any letdown instead the band bursts intensive energy and strong stage charisma. The old classic songs sound as catchy modern killing ones as back in the day.      

Infinite

Out of Body (Out of Mind)

Step By Step

Twisted Into Form

R.I.P.

Tossed Away

One Foot In Hell

March Into Fire

Forbidden Evil

Off The Edge

Follow Me

Through The Eyes of Glass

Chalice of Blood

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Dream Theater

Dream Theater has never been that easy festival band in general. The usual playing time is app. 60 minutes whereas the DT songs usually last from 5 to 15 minutes. Therefore picking up right songs for any festival gotta be a complicated task for the whole band. Besides newer material off from the new album has to be played as well. However the set had been managed to include both the old stuff such as ”Hollow Years and the newer stuff such as “ A Rite Of Passage”. The whole DT gig was basically as a proof of technical playing skills what can expected from Dream Theater in general. When both Myung and Petrucci mostly focused on their instruments the frontman LaBrie instead moved more or less. At least Jordan Rudess was having fun on the rotary keyboard stand. For some reason even Dream Theater faced unexpected technical problems when the sounds kind of disappeared all of a sudden, but obviously the band didn’t notice when continuing the playing

It could be outspokenly admitted Dream Theater’s progressive metallish rock sounds and works in an indoor hall better an outdoor festival. However they offered a nice gig in the cold Swedish weather.

In The Presence Of Enemies

Beyond The Life

A Rite Of Passage

Hollow Years

Caught In A Web

Erotomania

Voices

Solitary Shell

Constant Motion

Metropolis Pt 1 : The Miracle And The Sleeper

 

   

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EUROPE

One of the Sweden’s finest, Europe, has been lately working on their soon to be released LAST LOOK AT EDEN album and this Sweden rock show was a kind of “escape from the studio” in between the still continuing recording process. When Europe some years ago announced their reunion tour they were headlining the whole festival whereas they now played as a headliner on the second largest stage on Saturday, mortal is the glory here? The show opened up surprisingly with the title track of forth coming album. This new song worked out really well and crowd seemed to love it instantly. The set included all their greatest hits from the 80’s like “Superstitious”, “Sign of The Times” and “Rock the Night” without forgetting the early albums gems “Scream of Anger” and “Seven Doors Hotel”. Lot of material from newer albums were also included, actually there wasn’t any Europe album totally ignored there. Having a break from constant touring has done good for the band. It can be discovered that Europe has barely ever had as much energy and passion in their performance. Also their new, darker, image suited them more than well. With shows like this band will soon return to headline the whole festival again for sure.

Last Look at Eden / Love Is Not the Enemy / Superstitious / Scream of Anger / Always the Pretenders / Seven Doors Hotel / Sign of the Times / Carrie / Let the Good Times Rock / Start from the Dark / Optimus / Seventh Sign / Ready Or Not / Rock the Night / Gonna Get Ready / Cherokee / The Final Countdown

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Last Look at Eden / Love Is Not the Enemy / Superstitious / Scream of Anger / Always the Pretenders / Seven Doors Hotel / Sign of the Times / Carrie / Let the Good Times Rock / Start from the Dark / Optimus / Seventh Sign / Ready Or Not / Rock the Night / Gonna Get Ready / Cherokee / The Final Countdown

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Helstar

Playing at the same as Europe and Immortal is a real tough place for any bands in general. The Texan power/speed metallers Helstar got to face that bizarre situation when playing at the tent stage. The tent was half full when Helstar led by James Rivera. The power speed five piece delivered an asskicking set consisted of several killer tunes picked up from several 80’s albums. For obvious reasons the newer songs from the great THE KING OF HELL album. 

The set was concluded by ”Baptized In Blood” together with another Texas metal singer doing a duet with Rivera as Robert Lowe got on the stage to share the vocal duties.  Even though Helstar pulled a true metallic show by doing tons of classic ones, it was pity that they had to play between Europe and Immortal. Sometimes it ain’t that fair. If Helstar gets nearby your area, do not miss them at all as they slay and sound extreme tight on the stage as they did at Swedenrock.

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Immortal

Black Metal hasn’t been that big issue at Swedenrock even though a couple of blackish bands have visited during the past few years. However Immortal’s virgin trip to Sweden rock was also their debut gig in Sweden. That was kind of weird, but true. However the trio kicked the 90 minute set off and immediately got interrupted by technical problems. In general those technical unexpected problems plaqued several other bands’ gigs. After sorting out the minor setback, darkness descended over the Sweden rock fest creating an outstanding fram for the Immortal show with all lights and above all Abbath’s firebreathing. Immortal definitely fits to the dark environment than playing in the light of day. As for the setlist, all the essential Immortal classics got played such as Solarfall, One By One, Sons Of The Northern Darkness, Blashyrkh and a plenty of other ones.

 

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Heaven And Hell

Once again the Dio-lead linup of BLACK SABBATH, billed as HEAVEN & HELL, are touring the world to promote their new studio album THE DEVIL YOU KNOW (which showed that the band truely still are a creative force to be reckoned with). And here they are headlining the final day of the prestigious Sweden Rock Festival again having already done so in 2007. This time of course the fans were in for something new in addition to the tried and tested classics from the HEAVEN AND HELL, MOB RULES and DEHUMANIZER records. The setlist featured the single of the new album, "Bible Black", in addition to two more tracks, "Fear" and "Follow the Tears" from the new LP. Whether these were the best choices for inclusion in the live set is a matter for debate, but the band certainly seem to think so and that’s all that matters in the end. In other regards the changes in the set compared to previous tours were minimal with the obvious omission of the tracks from THE DIO YEARS compilation, and the very welcome return of the fast paced rocker "Time Machine" from the under appreciated DEHUMANIZER LP. Apart from that they also played, in a rather cruel way, only the first verse of "Country Girl", but that’s better than none at all one reckons. Furthermore, do we really need to hear an over 20 minute version of the song "Heaven and Hell", nevermind it being the signature song for the band these days, at EVERY show? Jamming is all nice and fine, but why not just play a couple of more actual songs instead? I guess Ronnie, great as he still is in voice and presence, really needs his rest breaks. The band themselves seemed to be in good spirits, unaffected by the freezing weather and rain unlike, by now, many in the audience. The gentlemen on stage seemed apparently to be also completely oblivious to the fact that the sound in the audience was totally screwed. The reason for this has since been explained to have had something to do with the decibel levels at the festival being restricted in accordance to the local Swedish law. This caused there being no guitar in the PA system, which in turn caused the bands onstage guitar technician and their sound technician to get into a pissing match, both apparently in fear of angering Iommi. So in the end everything was turned to the max and the resulting sound was an awful mess. It is, however, probably worth pointing out that the sound was rather muddy also at the in-doors hockey arena show in Helsinki four day previous.  Still, if you could stomach the sound troubles, you certainly got what you came for, an all in all very nice hour and a half of classic metal from a true company of genre veterans.

 E5150 / Mob Rules / Children of the Sea / I / Bible Black / Time Machine / Drum Solo / Fear / Falling off the Edge of the World / Follow the Tears / Die Young / Heaven And Hell / Country Girl / Neon Knights

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The official Sweden Rock sites :

www.swedenrock.com

www.myspace.com/swedenrockfestival

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