SWEDENROCK 2016

July 3rd, 2016
by Marko Syrjala


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REVIEW AND PHOTOS BY ARTO LEHTINEN AND MARKO SYRJALA

Once again here we are again as the Finnish Metal-Rules.com two-man-team made their annual road trip to Sweden Rock.  The  2016 line up presented a wide range of metal and hard rock as usual. Over 70 bands offered one hell of an experience for the attendees during the four day festival. Sweden Rock has been successful during the past ten years always being sold out like this year. However, it took a bit longer until all the tickets were gone this year. It has become quite logical for us to give an in depth article of several bands performing at Sweden Rock to all the readers out there. It was sad to see the final show by Twisted Sister, but of course fabulous to see a whole bunch of other bands. Unfortunately, we are not able to cover every bloody band, but hopefully you will have a pleasant reading experience… Rock on!


WEDNESDAY

AMARANTHE

Amaranthe are one of the “new” rising bands from Sweden. The band was formed in 2008 and they have enjoyed big success, especially in Scandinavia, for years already. Personally, I’m not too familiar with the bands style which mixes pop and some modern metal together, but to be honest, they were a very enjoyable live act at Sweden Rock. The main vocalist Eliza Ryd is an impressive-looking woman and there’s nothing wrong with her vocals (or clothing….) and the music also sounded much better in the live situation. They are a band definitely worth checking more in the future.

Digital World
Trinity
Hunger
Invincible
1.000.000 Lightyears
Razorblade
Massive Addictive
True
Afterlife
Electroheart
Leave Everything Behind
Amaranthine
Call Out My Name
The Nexus
Dynamite
Drop Dead Cynical

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TRIBULATION

Tribulation made the first visit to Finland by playing at the mighty Jalometalli Festival. The nature daylight and a little bit tired crowd didn’t give create the expected way hallucinate experience. The band definitely needs the certain atmosphere and lights  to surround them. As to the Swedenrock show then, the four piece was surrounded by the heavy smoke and awesome blue lights, molding those essential elements for  a perfect Tribulation gig. The guitarist’s strange and even eccentric dancejumps looked definitely hilarious and odd. The nine songs of dark and melancholic metal sounded splendid and all the manners and details of the stage in terms of lights brought its own vibe to the show.

Strange Gateways Beckon
Melancholia
Beyond the Horror
The Vampyre
Rånda
Cauda Pavonis
The Motherhood of God
Winds
Ultra Silvam
When the Sky Is Black With Devils

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GRAHAM BONNET BAND

It is undeniable that Graham Bonnet is a legend in every level. The British vocalist started his career already in the late 60’s with the band Marbles and later on he did a great career with such bands as Rainbow, Michael Schenker Group and Alcatrazz. Nowadays Graham is a solo artist and he’s fronting his new Graham Bonnet Band. The band opened their set with Rainbow classics “Eyes of the World” and “All Night Long” followed by famous Alcatrazz track “God Blessed Video”.  Bonnet’s vocals were in top shape. He was also joking constantly to crowd and seemed to have great time on stage. The new band sounded great. Especially guitarist Conrad Pesinato was really impressive player and performer on stage. All in all ,Graham and his band offered us a very enjoyable show. The set list included all biggest hits from his past bands and a few surprises like “Will You Be Home Tomorrow”.  It was great to see that Graham is still in such a great shape and hopefully he will be back after his upcoming new album comes out on the fall.

Eyes of the World
All Night Long
God Blessed Video
Will You Be Home Tonight
Jet to Jet
Island in the Sun
Since You Been Gone
Desert Song
Dancer
Assault Attack
Lost in Hollywood

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BLIND GUARDIAN

Blind Guardian definitely enjoys the loyal and fanatical following amongst the power and heavy metal fans. Therefore being a headliner of the opening day wasn’t an unexpected surprise, rather it was quite an obvious choice. Blind Guardian is such an eccentric band as far as the line-up is concerned, the core of the band consisted of three guys responsible for the outcome of the band in general. Whereas three other members (drummer, bassist and keyboardplayer) mostly remain in the static roles. However Kursch and the companies have definitely guided the band to the current position in the power metal genre. Blind Guardian has drifted away more and more from the obvious formula of the typical power/speed blitzkrieg more into the bombastic Queen inspirited  style. Of course those songs are the essential part of the set list. But the band hasn’t abandoned and forgotten the old power/speed metal oriented songs from the set. Skipping for example Valhalla would have got some fans totally pissed off or Bard’s Song. The main problem with Blind Guardian’s performance as it lacks the strong charisma  even though the frontman Hansi encouraged the fans to get involved in the gig. All in all Blind Guardian offers what their die hard fans are longing and looking for ; bombastic metal with powerful metal sounding approach.

The Ninth Wave
The Script for My Requiem
Nightfall
Fly
Tanelorn (Into the Void)
Prophecies
The Last Candle
Lord of the Rings
Bright Eyes
Time What Is Time
The Curse of Feanor
Imaginations from the Other Side
Sacred Worlds
Twilight of the Gods
Valhalla
Into the Storm
The Bard’s Song – In the Forest
Mirror Mirror

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THURSDAY

LORDI

The Finnish monster band Lordi now finally played in Swedenrock for the first time. Maybe their showtime would have been different if the band had been booked here 10 years ago when they won the Eurovision contest but better late than never. The band took the Lemmy stage as a first band on Thursday. As a Finn it was great to see how much there is still demand for the band in Sweden There was approximately a couple of thousand pair of eyes in the field when intro, the KISS classic “God Thunder”, started toll from the speakers. The band opened with the latest SCARE FORCE ONE album track “Nailed By The Hammer of Frankenstein” followed by “The Kids Who Wanna Play With the Dead” and really heavy sounding “The Riff”. The first half the show consisted mainly newer and not that well known tracks but the second half was a pure hit parade, (if we can say that about Lordi). The crowd was more than familiar with songs like “It Snows In Hell”, “Devil Is A Loser”, “Hard Rock Hallelujah” and “Would You Love A Monsterman”. Mr.Lordi did all his famous stage gimmicks and the band was playing tightly. What more you can demand from these masked monsters?

Nailed by the Hammer of Frankenstein
The Kids Who Wanna Play with the Dead
The Riff
Dynamite Tonite
Blood Red Sandman
My Heaven Is Your Hell
Sincerely With Love
It Snows in Hell
Devil Is a Loser
Hard Rock Hallelujah
Who’s Your Daddy?
Would You Love a Monsterman?

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HALESTORM

Speak about positive surprises, Halestorm was definitely one of those. To be honest, I had heard a couple of their songs before, but I had never really listened them. Lzzy Hale is a wonderful person and amazing performer. Just listen to her vocals and watch her live and you’ll learn that there’s still true rebellion and attitude still left on female rockers. She is A LOT younger but in a way her stage persona reminds me of many legendary ladies of rock like Courtney Love, Joan Jett and Janes Joplin.  And that’s a lot said, I think. More about the gig itself, the band concentrated mostly on their latest INTO THE WILD LIFE album. The set included seven tracks from that album and the rest was older stuff including “It’s Not You” from the bands eponymous debut (2005). The bands performance was a great experience and I’m sure that Lzzy and the boys find lot’s of new fans now. Swedenrock and other festivals like it needs new blood and here’s one potential torchbearer for years to come.

Apocalyptic
Love Bites (So Do I)
Scream
I Am the Fire
Sick Individual
It’s Not You
Mz. Hyde
Unapologetic
I Like It Heavy
Mayhem
Freak Like Me
I Miss the Misery

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ENTOMBED A.D.

Entombed AD vs Entombed or what ? No, this one is now Entombed A.D. led by L.G Petrov. Entombed A.D. was kind of born from the ashes of the demised Entombed. Even though the legal dispute is still on, however Entombed A.D. keeps rocking with the deadly approach. With the addition of the second guitarist, Entombed A.D. sounded brutal, tight and above all as deadly as they are supposed to sound. The set consisted of all the essential Entombed tunes as well as the newer material.  Entombed A.D is rough and uncompromising on the stage, delivering the deadly death metal to the bone.

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SIXX A.M

One thing is sure. If there never was Motley Crue, there would not be Sixx A.M. Tonight the majority of the large crowd came see the ex- Crue bassist’s new band only because of his former band. Sixx A.M has been a side project of Sixx, guitarist DJ Ashba (Guns’n Roses, Beautiful Creatures) and vocalist Michael James but when Crue decided to call it quits last year this band became the main priority for all its members. The band was formed back in 2007 and so far they’ve released four studio albums including the eponymous debut HEROIN DIARIES and PRAYERS FOR THE DAMNNED VOL 1 which came out only a few weeks ago. The band opened with action-packed “This is Gonna Hurt” which rocked out great. The band was full of energy and looked cool on their “Mad Max” look a like costumes. The new album main single “Rise” was played next followed by another newbie “When We Were Gods”. To be honest, I’m not a big fan of Sixx A.M studio albums and that’s for two reasons. First of all, I don’t like Michael’s vocals too much. On album he sounds too neutral and “safe” without any personality on his singing. Another thing I don’t like are the drum machines which are used on most of their albums. But fortunately both of those things are different when the band plays live. Michael sounds excellent live and he’s also a good and energetic frontman. The songs also sound much more alive and energetic with real drummer and Dustin Steinke does a great job behind his kit. Sixx A.M show highlights were the opening track “This Is Gonna Hurt” which sounded much like Rob Zombie, a beautiful ballad “Skin” and the the last track and also the bands biggest hit “Life Is Beautiful”. Although the majority of the crowd seemed not to know Sixx A.M material at all the band still received a solid reception from the crowd. The band sounded great and they had a good and energetic vibe going on through the show. Of course Nikki Sixx is the star on stage and the one who the audience is following constantly.A man still looks great and he clearly enjoys his new role on this band. But it would still not hurt anybody if the band would add a one or two of Nikki’s past band songs to the set list. Overall Sixx A.M was much better than expected and they surely reached lot of new fans from Swedenrock.

This Is Gonna Hurt
Rise
When We Were Gods
Everything Went to Hell
Live Forever
Skin
Dead Man’s Ballet
Prayers for the Damned
Goodbye My Friends
Lies of the Beautiful People
Stars
Rise of the Melancholy Empire
Life Is Beautiful

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L.A GUNS

It’s a strange that these long running glam rockers have never performed at Swedenrock before. The band achieved the moderate chart success in the late 1980s and early 1990s with albums L.A GUNS, COCKED AND LOADED and HOLLYWOOD VAMPIRES before endless line-up changes started and the grunge invasion take care of the rest. Today L.A Guns consist of two “classic era” members Phil Lewis and Steve Riley and the band is completed by bassist Kenny Kweens and guitarist Michael Grant.  A band dressed in black band opened with bunch of good oldies. “No Mercy”, rarely heard “Showdown (Riot On Sunset) and the classic “Sex Action”. It was not surprising that the set list was mainly built around the first three albums but fortunately there were a few expectations as well. Criminally underrated WAKING THE DEAD (2002) was present with one track “Hellraiser’s Ball” and they also played “Gypsy Soul” from TALES FROM THE STRIP (2006). Nor should we forget the bands cover version Prince’s “Purple Rain” which featured Grant on lead vocals. It was beautiful and great tribute to the fallen star (R.I.P Prince)
Vocalist Lewis might not be 25 anymore physically but he still has the attitude and ability to perform like he still is. The same can be said about Riley who’s close to veteran age in real life already. There’s still plenty of kick left on these “old men”.  The band sounds great, they perform great and the current line-up is easily their strongest since the glory days. Hopefully the band releases some new material soon and returns. The crowd here wants to hear more!

No Mercy
Showdown (Riot on Sunset)
Sex Action
Never Enough
I Wanna Be Your Man
Over the Edge
Wheels of Fire
Hellraisers Ball
Gypsy Soul
Purple Rain
One More Reason
Electric Gypsy
The Ballad of Jayne
Rip and Tear

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SLAYER

Slayer visited Swedenrock a few years ago when Hanneman and Lombardo were still in the rank. Despite being on the stage, Slayer were quite boring and apparently it was just another mandatory officeday at work for them back then … Even though the band has undergone a few radical line-up changes, therefore hoping to see Slayer would have regained the intensity. Obviously the main stage is far too big for a band like Slayer and secondly the crowd just watched and drank the beer and sat in their sunchairs. Gary Holt breathes the metal spirit from his guts for sure, whereas Aray is quite flexibable, well a bit too much.As for songs played at Swedenrock, it was an equal dissection of their long career. All the expected Slayer evergreen ones have been the part of every set since year zero. Obviously Fight Till Death was a nice pleasant surprise addition. Slayer would have worked better at a smaller stage as Anthrax and Megadeth played. At least this was quite breathless and soulless performance from the LA thrash veterans.

Repentless
Disciple
Die by the Sword
Black Magic
War Ensemble
When the Stillness Comes
You Against You
Postmortem
Hate Worldwide
Mandatory Suicide
Fight Till Death
Pride in Prejudice
Take Control
Seasons in the Abyss
Dead Skin Mask
Raining Blood
South of Heaven
Angel of Death

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MEGADETH

Dave Mustaine is such an eccentric vampire being in need of the new fresh blood to create something unique and magic as the latest Megadeth album Dystopia proved. It is more than obvious the Lamb Of God drummer Chris Adler brought something new and old that was a bit lost in Megadeth. Because of the touring schedule of Lamb Of God, Adler had been replaced by the Soilwork batteryman Dirk Verbeuren who turned out to be a real human drum machine. Mustaine and the whole band was in the enormous brilliant sharp and strike thru the whole show. Kiko Loureiro is definitely a fantastic addition as the second guitarist giving the entire new boost to the playing and above all stage performance. Mustaine and his wingman Ellefson have both got the new vital and energy to the asskicking set which featured the bands biggest hits but also five songs from the latest DYSTOPIA album. For some reason the set list didn’t include any songs from the previous albums. In fact there was a long gap, years between 1998-2014, which were now skipped over completely. And that’s a pity because there are many killeralbums released during that era as well. Frankly judging by the performance, Megadeth out of “the big four” is definitely the tightest playing band at the stage at the moment (along with Anthrax), wiping other bands like Slayer and Metallica out easily… Did I say that honestly ? … Yes, but that is a cold bloody true and fact..

Hangar 18
Wake Up Dead
In My Darkest Hour
The Threat Is Real
She-Wolf
Post American World
Sweating Bullets
Poisonous Shadows
Trust
A Tout Le Monde
Fatal Illusion
Dystopia
Symphony of Destruction
Peace Sells
Holy Wars… The Punishment Due

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MAYHEM

Mayhem seems to be having a vocalist charge – week going on at the moment. The former Mayhem growler had been recruited to take care of the vocals for Swedenrock, whereas Attila is still the part of the band by doing for example a special gig based on playing the whole De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas album. However Mayhem is such an weird live band as it manages to either sound extremely terrible or extremely brilliant. As for the Swedenrock gig, to be honest it was quite horrible. The band sounded as a bunch of rookies learning to play when starting the set. Well that’s quite brutal way of describing the band’s newer material as it definitely sounds a mix of chaotic approach. When Hellhammer’s massive drumming rolled over all, there was no way of avoiding the cacophonous
feeling. Obviously the general sound quality was truly blurry. When the older material cut the air, it definitely sounded more pleasure to enjoy these classic ones.  Please focus on the older good material and skip songs like My Death.

A Bloodsword and a Colder Sun (Part I of II)
A Bloodsword and a Colder Sun (Part II of II)
Crystalized Pain in Deconstruction
To Daimonion (part I of III)
View From Nihil (Part I of II)
Ancient Skin
Symbols of Bloodswords
A Time to Die
My Death
Freezing Moon
Silvester Anfang(Conrad Schnitzler song)
Deathcrush
Chainsaw Gutsfuck
Carnage
Pure Fucking Armageddon

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QUEEN

If the band size would be measured only in terms of the number of albums sold, then Queen would be obviously the biggest band ever performing in Swedenrock. The band have released a total of 18 number-one albums and estimates of their record sales are close to 300 million records, making them one of the world’s best-selling music acts ever. As everyone knows, the bands original vocalist Freddie Mercury died of complications of AIDS in 1991. Bassist John Deacon quit in 1997 and retired from music business. But guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor have still occasionally performed together under name Queen with different guest vocalists. Between years 2004-2009 the band was fronted by Bad Company and ex-Free vocalist Paul Rodgers. With him the band released its as yet the last studio album COSMO ROCKS in 2008. Currently the band is fronted by pop star and American Idol runner-up (2009) Adam Lambert. Lambert’s explosive personality raises up mixed feelings especially among the old fans of Queen. And that’s understandable because Adam is so young and he comes from totally different world musically. And in fact nobody can really replace Mercury, that’s for sure. But let the music do the talking and let’s not judge him before that.

The stage was covered with huge white curtain with a huge. Queen logo on it which dropped off with a bang when the band finally opened with “One Vision”. Gray-haired May took over the center stage whereas Lambert stayed a bit background with his giant black sunglasses on and concentrated more on his singing. In the end of the song he took the glasses off and took the stage in control when the band next headed to “Hammer to Fall”. There began a hit parade of the kind that had not been previously been heard on Sweden Rock. “Stone cold Crazy”, “Fat Bottomed Girls”, “Don’t Stop Me Now”, “Love of My Life”, “I Want to Break Free”, “I Want It All” and the list just continued on. It is amazing how this band has so many songs which are so familiar even for the people who are not actual fans. Truth be told, so I was a little skeptical in advance of how the Sweden Rock metal/hard rock oriented crowd would react for a band like Queen but I was totally wrong. The massive size of the audience enjoyed the band and it hits directly from the heart. I have never heard Swedenrock audience sing along as loud as now. “Bohemian Rhapsody”, Radio GaGa”, “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions” were the perfect way to close this magnificent spectacle.

It’s hard to describe this performance with great depth because it was so unusual compared to any other shows I’ve ever seen. It felt more like a great musical than a regular concert. However, if we start from musical point view, it was pure magic. The stage show was professional and splashy but without too many gimmicks. And if we talk about the players it’s easy to say that Brian May was as convincing as ever. His unique guitar sound style is very recognizable and it’s the heart of the Queen sound. Roger Taylor also survived the gig with honor although he needed some help at times. Actually there were two set of drums on the stage and Roger’s son Rufus played the other set when Roger needed some extra kick. Rufus, who plays with The Darkness, also had his own momentum when he played drums alone for “Tie Your Mother Down”. There’s no anything negative to say about Adam Lambert’s performance. His singing was strong and his voice is close enough of Mercury to make justice for any Queen classic. Lambert is also a good and energetic performer and what’s the most important thing. He’s not trying to copy or imitate Freddie too much so he is definitely a good fit for this band. And in a way Freddie was present on the show as well. His vocals were used from the tape during “Bohemian Rhapsody” and at the same time vintage video footage of him singing the song was rolling on video screens. That was purely emotional moment for many and showed how much the band still pays respects for Freddie Mercury. All in all, this was a great evening and one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Long live the Queen!

One Vision
Hammer to Fall
Seven Seas of Rhye
Stone Cold Crazy
Another One Bites the Dust
Fat Bottomed Girls
Play the Game
Killer Queen
Don’t Stop Me Now
Somebody to Love
Love of My Life
A Kind of Magic
Under Pressure
Crazy Little Thing Called Love
I Want to Break Free
I Want It All
Last Horizon
Tie Your Mother Down
Bohemian Rhapsody
Radio Ga Ga
We Will Rock You
We Are the Champions

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KING DIAMOND

When King Diamond returned from the death’s door back to the stage a few years ago, he has effectively kept himself busy by being on tours. The comeback gig by Diamond happened exactly at Swedenrock, therefore bringing the Abigal based thema concert to Swedenrock was definitely appreciated by the die hard Diamond bangers. However the stage construction and setup looked 95 % similar as the stage setup at the comeback show. Of course some small details had been modified such as holograms and some backdrop paints. When taking a general glance at the stage it looked kind of similar. However the setlist had been planned to cover the entire Abigail album, but the beginng of the set consisted of Sleepless Night, Halloween, The Eye and of course the mandatory Mercyful Fate classic Come To The Sabbath. Doing Melissa was definitely the pleasant choice. The whole Abigail album was performed in the song order. King Diamond himself proved to be in a real good physical fit and shape. His voice is so tremendous sharp and still reaches the higher upper register, well his wife may help a little bit of course. La Rocque and Wead double guitar work was once again tight and fantastic. However it would have been fabulous to see Michael Denner visiting with King as he was involved in the recording process of Abigail 1986-1987 before existing the band and not forgetting another Mercyful Fate lad Timi Hansen. All in all the whole Diamond band sounded tight and intensive. However it would be about time to put a new album out and modify the stage setup a little bit and embark on the full scale European tour.

Out from the Asylum
Welcome Home
Sleepless Nights
Halloween
Eye of the Witch
Melissa(Mercyful Fate cover)
Come to the Sabbath(Mercyful Fate cover)
“Them”
Funeral
Arrival
A Mansion in Darkness
The Family Ghost
The 7th Day of July 1777
Omens
The Possession
Abigail
Black Horsemen
Song played from tape
Insanity

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FRIDAY

LOUDNESS

The legendary Japanese heavy metal export ever Loudness have finally managed to get the doors open to the European metal/rock festivals. Frankly it was about time indeed. The four piece kicked the set off with Crazy Night and was followed by a few other tunes from the breakthrough album Thunder In The East. The set was like a flashback to the heyday of the 80’s when this type of heavy metal was dominating. Of course the material from the brand new album got played as well. The nice surprise was to hear a song from the Mike Vescara era. Akira Takasaki is definitely the wizard and genious with the guitar playing. Obviously the vocalist Minoru Niihara’s voice may sound a bit tighter than 30 years ago, but he still pulled thru by doing all the songs. Even though Loudness have released a number of albums, however relying on the older 80’s material which is widely known amongst the die hard metal fan.

Crazy Nights
Like Hell
Heavy Chains
The Sun Will Rise Again
Street Woman
Shadows of War (Ashes in the Sky)
Got to Be Strong
The Power of Truth
In the Mirror
Mortality
Crazy Doctor
S.D.I.

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GLENN HUGHES

Former Deep Purple bassist/vocalist Glenn Hughes has been a lot in headlines recently. His old band was included Rock’n Roll Hall of Fame earlier this year and during the past few years he’s been playing with super groups like Black Country Communion, Kings of Chaos and California Breed. But now he’s back as a solo artist which is a good move if you ask me. Glenn has been known as “The voice of Rock” for a long time and it was good to hear that he still deserves his nickname today. It was just breath taking to listen Glenn’s vocals when he opened the show with Deep Purple classic “Stormbringer”. A man is 65 years and he sounds still like an angel! The set list was very well built. Instead of playing only the obvious choices Hughes played material from his entire career. It was great to hear vintage Trapeze stuff like “Touch My Life”, Hughes/Thrall’s “Muscle and Blood”, a few solo songs and a pair of Black Country Communion tracks as well. My personal favourites were the Purple songs. Glenn just nailed it with “Sail Away” and “Burn”. Nothing more to say but thank you Glenn! We are curiously waiting for your upcoming solo album and Black Country Communion re-union and perhaps we’ll see here again next year?

Stormbringer
Orion
Touch My Life
Muscle and Blood
Sail Away
Medusa
Can’t Stop the Flood
One Last Soul
Mistreated
Black Country
Soul Mover
Burn

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LITA FORD

Many long-term Swedenrock visitors still remember former The Runaways guitarist Lita Ford’s almost disastrous performance here in 2008. Based on that performance not too many believed that her comeback would last too long but here we still are in 2016 and Lita is back. A lot of things have changed in 8 years. She has released a decent album LIVING LIKE A RUNAWAY and a memoir book under same title. In personal life she has also gone through a difficult divorce with Jim Gillette and last, but not least, she’s now having a completely new band with who, Lita has done tons of gig s together. It that obvious since the opening chord of “Gotta Let Go” that this show was going to be something completely different to the previous one.  Ford was full of energy and her vocals and guitar playing is back to the level where it belongs. It was great that she has added a few faster tracks to the set list. Especially DANGEROUS CURVES tracks “Larger Than Life” and “What Do You Know About Love” rocked hard. Otherwise the set was built upon LITA album which features her biggest hits. “Kiss Me Deadly” and “Close My Eyes Forever” sounded just great and so did inevitable Runaways classic “Cherry Bomb”.  All in all, Lita Ford’s show was very solid and good-humored from start to finish.

Gotta Let Go
Larger Than Life
The Bitch Is Back
Living Like a Runaway
Relentless
Hungry
What Do Ya Know About Love
Back to the Cave
Can’t Catch Me
Cherry Bomb
Black Leather
Close My Eyes Forever
Kiss Me Deadly

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FOREIGNER

AOR-legends Foreigner played last time Swedenrock in 2009. Back then the band had just released the album CAN’T SLOW DOWN which is still their latest studio release. Currently the band is touring with no actual new music to promote but they release IN CONCERT UNPLUGGED album just few months ago. However, this show was not acoustic but a regular “Best of” show from the band. Concert opened up with classic “Double Visions”. In fact Foreigner plays only classic and hits. There are not many bands who can say that they’ve had sixteen number one hits in their career but Foreigner can. All the best known hits were heard. “Cold As Ice”, “Feels Like A First Time”, “Hot Blooded” and the megaballad “I Want To Know What Is” are songs what everyone know no matter if they like them or not. Perhaps the song which now describes Foreigner best is “Juke Box Hero” because that’s what they nowadays are. The ultimate hit jukebox touring around world like a Las Vegas show on wheels. People like them and the band is having good time. The band sounds excellent. Especially vocalist Kelly Hansen is just brilliant. For sure he is one of the best vocalist/performers on the scene right now. But there are always two sides on each coin. When you have talented guys in the band like bassist Jeff Pilson (Dokken), drummer Chris Frazier (Steve Vai, Whitesnake) and Hansen, how long they are willing to continue doing the same songs and everlasting tours with no anything new in sight? That’s probably a good question for the bands mastermind and only remaining original member Mick Jones. Perhaps the money is the answer here and of course that’s good as long as all parties are happy. Next year marks Foreigner’s 40’Th Anniversary. Maybe then we’ll see some surprises and at least partly re-union with more original members appearing with the band.

Double Vision
Head Games
Cold as Ice
Dirty White Boy
Feels Like the First Time
Urgent
Juke Box Hero
Long, Long Way From Home
I Want to Know What Love Is
Hot Blooded

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GAMMA RAY

As every Gamma Ray fan is more than aware, a new singer was recruited to sing these classic GR songs along with Kai Hansen. It is widely known Hansen has been struggling with his voice and throat problems for a whole. Listening to the new guy singing the old Gamma Ray classic is definitely weird and sounds odd for obvious reasons. The weirdest thing was that Kai Hansen was still able to sing well, even those higher parts whereas the new hired gun shared some parts. As a long time Gamma Ray fan and follower it is definitely hard, difficult, and challenging to appreciate the new guy standing behind the mic.  As far as the setlist is concerned it consisted of the old classic ones, but played in the medley such as Rebellion in Dreamland / Heavy Metal Universe / Ride the Sky / Somewhere Out in Space and of course the material from the later era played the essential role such as To the Metal , Master of Confusion. The role of the new singer remains quite a big mystery why he has to be there….

Heaven Can Wait
Last Before the Storm
Fight
I Want Out(Helloween cover)
Induction
Dethrone Tyranny
Master of Confusion
The Silence
Rebellion in Dreamland / Heavy Metal Universe / Ride the Sky / Somewhere Out in Space
Encore:
To the Metal
Send Me a Sign

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HELLACOPTERS

Last year we witnessed the re-union of Backyard Babies and this year it was the turn of another Swedish legend The Hellacopters. The band disbanded amicably in 2008 after the release of somewhat disappointing HEAD OFF covers album so maybe it was then a wise decision to call it quits if the band was simply running out of ideas. The band now includes the SUPERSHITTY TO THE MAX line-up including long-time missing original guitarist Dregen and keyboardist Anders Lindström who originally joined the band in 1997. Nicke Anderson and the boys started their high octane show with “Born Broke” followed by “Ghoul School” and “How Could I Care”.  As announced earlier the set included the entire SUPERSHITTY TO THE MAX album but also some rarities like “1995” from CREAM OF THE CRAP NON-ALBUM WORKS, VOLUME 1 and “Another Place” from VOLUME 2. The new single “My Mephistophelean Creed” was a nice addition as well although it didn’t distinct from the rest of the material, which is only a good thing here.  Maybe the bands energy or intensity wasn’t as high level as back in the days but the boys certainly still had fun on stage. Nicke and Dregen were present the most whereas bassist Kenny Håkansson stayed more in background. Special mention goes to drummer Robert Ericsson whose playing was just incredible, as always. The Hellacopters re-union show in Swedenrock was a big success. The band is not too old to be only a nostalgia act, they have genuine passion on their performing and it seems that they still have a big following. Of course I was missing their newer material. It would have incredible to hear songs from GRACE OF GOD or HIGH VISIBILITY but maybe that’s something what Nicke and the boys now saved for the next time? Anyway, welcome back and hopefully we will hear announcement of full Hellacopters tour very soon…

Born Broke
Ghoul School
How Could I Care
Fake Baby
Fire Fire Fire
Ain’t No Time
My Mephistophelean Creed
Such a Blast
1995
Bore Me
Tab
Random Riot
Ferrytale
Didn’t Stop Us
24h Hell
Another Place
Spock in My Rocket
(Gotta Get Some Action) Now!

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GRAND SLAM

Grand Slam was the last real band of the legendary Thin Lizzy vocalist Phil Lynott had before his tragic death in 1986. The band never released a full album of original material they but they did release some songs of note and several live recordings. However, most of those are post career releases. The current line-up of Grand Slam features two original members; keyboardist Mark Stanway and guitarist Laurence Archer. Neil Murray (Whitesnake, Black Sabbath, Gary Moore) is playing bass and former Magnum drummer Mickey Barker is sitting behind the kit. Swedish Stefan Berggren (Company of Snakes etc.) is taking care of vocals.  The band opened up with “Military Man” (which is best known as a version by Gary Moore released on his 1985 album RUN FOR COVER) followed by a bunch of Grand Slam originals “Nineteen”, “Sarah” and “Crime Rate”. It was really cool to hear now these often forgotten classics from Lynott’s last section of his career. Some more known songs were performed as well like Thin Lizzy’s “Cold Sweat” and “Whiskey in The Jar”. Actually the set list was pretty much the same what the original performed on their classic GRAND SLAM LIVE 1984 album. The show was entertaining which is not surprising because all the musicians in the band are top class players. Berggren did a good job on vocals and handled all different vocal styles he needed to adopt for this show. In fact, there were only two things I didn’t like. First of all, Berggren did read most of the lyrics from the notes. That’s not too professional and secondly why the band included Whitesnake’s “Ready and Willing” to the set. That song has nothing to do with the band and it would have been so much cooler to hear something like “Dear Ms. Lonely Hearts” instead”. But perhaps this was just the band’s way to show their respect for Neil Murray. However, Grand Slam show was very enjoyable and lot of fun.

Military Man
Nineteen
Sarah
Crime Rate
Cold Sweat
Parisienne Walkways
Back On The Streets
Dedication
Ready And Willing
Sisters of Mercy
Whiskey In The Jar

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TWISTED SISTER

When AJ Pero tragically passed away on the tour bus of Adrenaline Mob, the Twisted Sister fans were truly shocked and devastated. So was the band as well. Obviously the sisters realized when one member is missing from the classic line-up and the 40 years have passed by, it would be about time to announce the farewell for all the fans. Apparently that was another shockwave for fans, but to be honest all goods and bads will end some day. Twisted Sister’s the 13 year reunion action started out exactly at Swedenrock back in 2003. Therefore the circle is getting closed in the logical way.  The former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy was recruited to handle the drumming. Ten thousands of people had gathered and arrived to have good places to witness the last ever show on the Swedish soil. And What A Show !!! Dee Snider is definitely a real show man to the bone. The whole show with seventeen songs was a tremendous blast from the beginning to the end. The show started with the AC/DC tune “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll)” was followed by “What You Don’t Know (Sure Can Hurt You)” and a helluva lot more TS classic ones. What was the total cool from the Twisted Sister crew, was letting all the photographers stay in the photopit during the whole damn gig. That was more than fantastic. The band rocked hard and harder, Snider even recalled how the Swedish coffee culture has made an impact on the band in general. Snider being at the age of 61 is the sharp and extreme tight condition, being able to run and rush and jump like back in the day, without getting exhausted.  It was obvious the whole band was entirely spellbounded by the unbelievable reaction and responds of the huge crowd. That pumped more energy and more passion to the band to give 100 % of themselves on the very last Swedish gig at Swedenrock. As for Portnoy, to be honest he was like a kid in a candy shop. He played all the parts as they were exactly supposed to. The swansong tour of Twisted Sister has started now. This is the way how they were expected to kick it and showed no weakest part nor dull moment during the whole time. And yes it is definitely sad to see when these classic names just go away. Before that I Wanna Rock !

What You Don’t Know (Sure Can Hurt You)
The Kids Are Back
Burn in Hell
Destroyer
Like a Knife in the Back
You Can’t Stop Rock ‘n’ Roll
The Fire Still Burns
I Am (I’m Me)
I Wanna Rock
The Price(Dedicated to AJ Pero)
I Believe in Rock ‘n’ Roll
Under the Blade
We’re Not Gonna Take It
It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It)(The Rolling Stones cover)

Encore:
Come Out and Play
Tear It Loose
S.M.F.

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AVANTASIA

Being a closing band after the energy filled set of Twisted Sister is definitely extreme challenging as well as difficult place for any other bands. Obviously Sammet must have thought of that as well, cos he briefly mentioned about Dee Snider as a energy filled frontman. Even though Tobias Sammet is the mastermind of Avantasia, but all these several guests have always been the important and essential piece of the Avantasia show. Sammet has found the reliable artists with whom he has worked all these years. The show was based on the concept of the same kind as they have done at several other festivals. The well trained and carefully planned timing for each guest was truly well rehearsed. After “Mystery Of A Blood Red Rose”, the Pretty Maids frontman Ronnie Atkins entered to do a sing before the former Helloween goldthroat Michael Kiske stepped in to do a couple of songs. Then came Bob Catley and Jorn Lande and finally Eric Martin. The whole Avantasia can be without any doubts described as metal opera referring to the same album title. Avantasia is definitely one hell of a metal/rock circus that appeals to several metal/rock fans because of the fantasy aspects and of course these remarkable guests. The whole Avantasia world at the stage is like a journey into the world of a mystery.

Mystery of a Blood Red Rose
Invoke the Machine(with Ronnie Atkins)
Ghostlights(with Michael Kiske)
Avantasia(with Michael Kiske)
The Great Mystery(with Bob Catley)
The Scarecrow(with Jørn Lande)
Promised Land(with Jørn Lande)
Dying for an Angel(with Eric Martin)
Twisted Mind(with Eric Martin & Ronnie… more )
Farewell(with Amanda Somerville and Michael Kiske)
The Story Ain’t Over(with Bob Catley)
Prelude
Reach Out for the Light(with Michael Kiske)
Let the Storm Descend Upon You(with Ronnie Atkins and Jørn Lande)
Lost in Space(with Amanda Somerville

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SATURDAY

THE WINERY DOGS

There’s no doubt that The Winery Dogs is a supergroup. It was actually surprising that the powerhouse trio which consists of drummer Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater, Transatlantic, Twisted Sister etc), bassist Billy Sheehan (Mr.Big, David Lee Roth band, Talas) and guitarist/vocalist Richie Kotzen (Mr.Big, Poison) performed that early (01:15 PM) on Festival Stage. Perhaps for that reason there wasn’t that much people in the crowd when the band opened with “Oblivion” followed by three more tracks from the bands latest album HOT STREAK. Maybe it was the daylight and early show time but this Winery Dogs show didn’t go anywhere. Ritchie Kotzen is great vocalist and elegant guitarist but now he seemed and sounded quite uninspired through the set. Portnoy and Sheehan played great, they’re probably one of the greatest rhythm sections ever, but they could’t save the show because their frontman was so tame. It didn’t help either when the band now played mainly material from the latest album which unfortunately lacks the quality of the debut release. However, the last two songs (both from the debut) “Desire” and “Elevate” sounded just great. Like said, the band played amazingly, but overall this show was disappointing.

Oblivion
Captain Love
Hot Streak
How Long
Time Machine
Empire
The Other Side
I’m No Angel
Desire
Elevate

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FINNTROLL

Finntroll seems to be having the solid fantrollbase in Sweden as the nice amount of people have arrived at witnessing the Swedish singing trollpartol. The music and style of the trolls are simple folkoriented with the hooks in the riff making the audience dance and run in the pit. Listening to the trolls’ funny polkawhatsoever forestmetal is always entertaining and hilarious.

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Solsagan
Nattfödd
När Jättar Marschera
Nedgång
Svartberg
Skogsdotter
Häxbrygd
Fiskarens fiende
Jaktens tid
Trollhammaren
Under bergets rot

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KING KOBRA

One of the great things with Swedenrock is that every year they manage to find bands and artists who haven’t existed in years or even decades but are willing to appear in this festival. King Kobra is one great example of this tradition. The band released their classic debut READY TO STRIKE (1985) followed by THRILL OF A LIFETIME (1986) but although the band then toured with bands like KISS and they never gained a large international success and they slowly disbanded in 1989. Later on the band has released a couple albums with different line-ups but last time they officially performed live was 31 years ago in 1987. Originally it was announced that this show is a re-union show of the classic band but in fact there were only three original members present in Swedenrock. Bassist Johnny Rod, who’s also famous from his successful career with W.A.S.P, guitarist David Michael-Philips and the drum legend Carmine Appice are remaining from the 80’s band. The current line-up is completed by vocalist Paul Shortino (Rough Cutt, Quiet Riot) and young guitarist Jordan Ziff who joined the band only a few weeks ago. How was King Kobra on stage years 2016 then? The band opened with classic “Ready To Strike” followed by a pair of never tracks “Tear Down The Walls” and “Knock Em’ Dead”. The set list was 50/50 mic of early and newer material .It was also interesting choice to play Black Sabbath’s “Heaven and Hell” which was dedicated to Ronnie James Dio.  One of the show highlights was hilarious “The Ballad of Johnny Rod” which ended up with Johnny singing a snipped of his old band hit “Wild Child”. That was a lot of fun and audience loved it. Johnny Rod was definitely the star on stage. His playing was brilliant and a man was constantly running around the stage like a maniac. I have to admit that although Shortino is really good vocalist, I’m not 100% sure if he’s a good fit for King Kobra. His stage presence and performance was little fumble through the show and it seemed that he just struggled through the show. Guitarist duo Michael-Philips and Ziff did a decent job, However, I was still missing Mick Sweda’s presence on stage. And then there’s Carmine Appice. He played here a couple of years with Cactus and then I saw him for the first time. Now he did a double work in Swedenrock becuse his other band Vanilla Fudge played here two days earlier. He is not that young anymore, but he is still a kick ass drummer and a true legend on all levels. As a whole King Kobra was a little disappointing. Maybe the band had not enough time for rehearsals etc because something was definitely missing from this performance. Or would it sometimes be better just to let the sleeping dogs lie?

Ready to Strike
Tear Down the Walls
Knock ‘Em Dead
Shadow Rider
Live Forever
The Ballad of Johnny Rod
Hunger
Heaven and Hell
Monsters and Heroes
Iron Eagle (Never Say Die)
Raise Your Hands to Rock
Turn Up the Good Times
Running Wild

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DEATH TO ALL

Death To All being the tribute band to treasure the legacy of the late Death frontman has been quite active what comes to touring commitments. It had been made it public as this Swedenrock gig might be the last one, but never knows after all. However the line-up of the outfit is based on the former Death member and keeps changing time to time. Besides Steve Digiorgio and Max Phelps having been involved in DTA since the early incarnation, but Gene Hoglan and Bobby Koeble were in the part of the current line-up. The set covered a whole wide career of Death from the first output up till the last one Sound Of Perseverance. The weirdest thing was the choice of a couple of Slayer cover “Raining The Blood” and “Black Magic” Well Death used to play some Slayer tunes as covers at gigs, therefore those songs were in the set. However the band sounded good and were extremely flexible at the stage. Especially the basswizard Steve Digiorgio seemed to be enjoying being at the stage. Hopefully DTA ain’t over yet, as there is still demand for sure.

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SYMPHONY X

Symphony X is an American progressive metal band from New Jersey. The band has often remained in the shadows of it’s “big brother” Dream Theater but they have a strong fanbase among prog metal fans around the world. The band performed Swedenrock last time in 2012 so now it was good time to return. It was surprising that the band which has released 9 albums played now UNDERWORLD album in it’s entirely. It’s not usually the best thing to do in festival like this but Symphony X did it with no problems and it did seem that the fans were just exited about it. A few older songs were played too of course. During the the pair of THE DIVINE WINGS OF TRAGEDY tracks Russel Allen wore theater masks which are familiar from the early albums. It was a good theatrical element for the show. The band is full of wonderful musicians but the heart and soul of the band is vocalist Allen. A man can really sing and he has an exceptionally strong stage charisma. It would be awesome see this band doing a full indoor show, with extended setlist, sometime soon because this performance was one of the best on the whole festival.

Nevermore
Underworld
Kiss of Fire
Without You
Charon
To Hell and Back
In My Darkest Hour
Run With the Devil
Swan Song
The Death of Balance / Lacrymosa
Out of the Ashes
Sea of Lies
Set the World on Fire (The Lie of Lies)
Legend

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DIRKSCHNEIDER

Former Accept vocalist Udo Dirkschneider announced last year in Wacken that he’s going to say final “Farewell” to Accept songs after his upcoming world tour. It was interesting announcement because although Udo’s current band U.D.O has released 15 studio albums, the integral part of the band’s show have always been the selected Accept classics. Only time will tell how the band will keep the promise but now it’s time to enjoy a full set of classics. The band, which is now temporary names as Dirkschneider, opened up with “Starlight”, followed by “Living For Tonite” and “Flash Rockin Man”. There’s no denying that Udo’s voice is the key element of the classic Accept but when the other key is missing, the guitar playing of Wolf Hoffman, then the results are somewhat mediocre. Udo’s current band just have no the heart and soul needed to play these songs the way they should be although they’re are good players. The set list was built very safe. It included all the biggest hits from the early 80’s. For some reason nothing was performed from RUSSIAN ROULETTE or 90’s re-union albums. That’s a shame because there are lot of good material on those albums as well. However, the gig was entertaining and the majority of the fans got what they wanted.

Starlight
Living for Tonite
London Leatherboys
Midnight Mover
Breaker
Princess of the Dawn
Restless and Wild
Son of a Bitch
Up to the Limit
Midnight Highway
Screaming for a Love-Bite
Flash Rockin’ Man
Losers and Winners
Metal Heart
Fast as a Shark
Balls to the Wall
Burning


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ANTHRAX

The legendary NY thrash/speed veterans Anthrax has always unleashed the uttermost live gigs and caused the tremendous caught in the pit experience for fans at shows. The Swedenrock Fest has always been kind of problematic for thrash bands to get the crowd nuts. After demanding and above all brilliant playing, killer setlist and of course Joey Belladonna’s charismatic role as a frontman are the key for a killer Anthrax gig. The band balanced the set of new stuff like Evil Twins and the older classic material such as Madhouse. However due to the limited playing time, Anthrax was forced to play three new songs off from the latest opus and of course three off from Among The Living. The biggest surprise was to note Benante’s return back to sit behind the drumbattery, that has been waited for a while. However needless to say, but Anthrax always sheds on the stage.

You Gotta Believe
Got the Time(Joe Jackson cover)
Caught in a Mosh
Madhouse
Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t
Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.)
Evil Twin
Medusa
Breathing Lightning
Antisocial(Trust cover)
Indians

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MY DYING BRIDE

My Dying Bride’s depressive doom/death/gothic sounds and approaches in the darkened Swedish landscape were the exceptional monumental combination. The British doompatrol’s depressive, but yet melodic catchy songs are definitely long for the festival show, therefore only seven songs got played. The vocalist Aaron Stainthorpe definitely lives up to his lyricalpoems. He seems to draw the religious aspects to his stage manners and performance. My Dying Bride is definitely dismal and gloomy, on the other hand those aspects fit t their performance and music.

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DEMON

Demon that legendary old British heavy metal still waving the flag of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal with the passion and proud. As a matter of fact Demon have called its quit several times, but still rolling and fast. The vocalist Dave Hill, only surviving original member left from the early days, sounded absolutely great and the whole band was in the fire at the stage. The indoor tent stage was a suitable place for this old school metal with the intensive atmosphere. “Night Of The Demon” started the set and it was a triumphal journey of good old Demon stuff. Great performance and great band.

Night of the Demon
Into the Nightmare
Sign of a Madman
The Plague
Nowhere to Run
Standing On The Edge
Liar
The Spell
Life on the Wire
Don’t Break the Circle

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MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST

Michael Schenker has influenced several guitarists due to his incredible knowhow and genius to create riffs. Especially his time and work as a member for UFO and Scorpions are highly worshiped by several old and young guitarists. As the last act of the day and the festival Michael Schenker had got the fest name of his own titled Michael Schenker Fest. The purpose on this was to have many former band members together to play several classic tunes. The gig was kicked off by MSG’s own instrumental song “Into The Arena”. Followed by a number of songs together with Gary Barden, which was like spending a rough night in some nightclub. Although the setlist was phenomenal including such gems as “One and One”, “Cry of The Nations” and “Armed and Ready” it was truly hard to enjoy it because Barden’s voice was totally gone. Maybe it’s better for him to continue his retirement instead of trying to come back permanently. All in all seven songs with Barden on vocals got played until Michael Schenker performed another instrumental”Coast To Coast” by the Scorpions. Another guest was Graham Bonnet whose own solo gig was tremendously good a few days earlier. For some reason he now little overachieved or then the scale of his voice went too high during some songs. However  “Dancer” was one of the hightlights of the entire show and it was great to finally see Schenker and Bonnet together on stage. It was incomprehensible that when Barden got seven songs to sing with his broken voice but Bonnet only had three songs to perform. When the opening riff of “Save Yourself” hit out of monitors, the third guestsinger Robin McAuley hit the stage. Despite a bit  rusty start he started sounding better and better. Finally his performance was truly amazing and conquered the audience. UFO standards such as “Shoot Shoot” and “Rock Buttom” hit the audience down like a sledgehammer but it would have been great to hear more material from McAuley Schenker Group albums. McAuley was definitely the strongest vocalist of the three today. Special mention goes to the rhythm section of drummer Ted McKenna and bassist Chris Glenn who did a phenomenal job through the set.  This was a good and classy way of concluding the mighty Swedenrock of 2016.

Into the Arena
Attack of the Mad Axeman
Victim of Illusion
Rock My Nights Away
On and On
Cry for the Nations
Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
Armed and Ready
Coast to Coast
Desert Song
Dancer
Assault Attack
Save Yourself
This Is My Heart
Shoot Shoot
Doctor Doctor
Rock Bottom

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