REVIEW AND PHOTOS BY MARKO SYRJÄLÄ
Stockholm Rock Out is a new rock festival in Sweden which is now in its second year. When the first edition of the festival took place on May 1st, it was almost disastrous because the giant volcano clouds forced most headliners to cancel their appearances. Still, this time, all measures worked well without any unexpected problems or last-minute changes. By European standards, the band lineup in Stockholm Rock Out was somewhat extravagant. The list included many great bands which haven’t been here in ages, like Keel and Tuff, and there were also some unique one-off performances like Great White w/ Paul Shortino on vocals and the farewell show of Zinny J. Zan. Like the organizers advertised, this festival is indeed organized for music lovers by music lovers.
PRETTY BOY FLOYD
One of Hollywood’s true hair/glam metal quartets, Pretty Boy Floyd, is a strange band in many ways. During their over a twenty-year career, the band released only one decent album, LEATHER BOYS WITH ELECTRIC TOYS, in 1989, and since then, the band has done very little. The current incarnation includes founding members Steve “Sex” Summers and guitarist Kristy Majors, who are currently joined by new members Criss 6 and drummer Patrick Troy Farrell. After over a 30-minute wait, the band finally took the stage and headed into the title track of their debut album. The band did sound much heavier than expected, but it worked out fine as Steve Summers still has his highly recognizable nasal voice. It was a little surprising how well the audience knew tracks like “Rock ’n Roll Outlaws” and the cheesy ballad “I Wanna Be With You.” There was even a noisy sing a long detectable on the air during the later one. Unfortunately, the show was soon over, just after 40 minutes. The band closed the set with their biggest hit, “Rock ’n Roll (Is Gonna Set The Night On Fire),” and that was the end of it. In brief, Pretty Boy Floyd performed a good routine gig with no subtleties or surprises. The whole band performed well. Summers’s peculiar voice might not please everyone, but it’s working well on this kind of material. But speaking about the material or lack of it… Perhaps it’s finally time to work out some new songs and maybe then return with a new album under the belt?
Shock rockers Lizzy Borden, who is often called the 80’s updated version of Alice Cooper, played a successful show in Swedenrock a couple of years ago and returned to Sweden and Rockout festival. Lizzy Borden has always been famous for their theatrical stage shows, and it was now going to be interesting to see how their show will look in an indoor venue instead of an outdoor festival in full daylight. The show opened up with “Tomorrow Never Comes” from the band’s latest APPOINTMENT WITH DEAD –album, and right from the beginning, there was so much going on stage that it was almost hard to notice all the things going on there. There were skulls, different horror masks, good-looking women with U.S flag bikinis, the ax, and the dripping blood were everywhere on display. But it wasn’t just about the show but about the music itself as well. Classic Lizzy songs like “Me Against the World,” “There Will Be Blood Tonight,” and “Eyes Of A Stranger” worked out extremely well and got a good response from the crowd, which was also partly covered in blood. There’s no denying that Lizzy is an excellent frontman, a true chameleon in many ways, but musically the guitarist duo A.C Alexander and young Dario Lotina were the best part of the show, perhaps in the whole festival. Their dual solo was something spectacular and worth seeing and hearing. The set ended with the old Rainbow classic “Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll,” which was, of course, dedicated to Ronnie James Dio (R.I.P). This was an excellent show with great effects but there also lots of good humor. The setlist was a good mix of material from each Lizzy album, although I was personally waiting for more songs from my personal favorite, MASTER OF DISGUISE. There’s not much to add here, but if you’re looking to be entertained and enjoy a great show, then Lizzy Borden is your band to see.
Swedish Chris Laney appeared once again in Rockout Festival. Last spring, when volcano clouds almost messed up the whole thing, Chris played a blistering set consisting of material from his two excellent solo releases: PURE and THEY COME OUT AT NIGHT. Zinny J. Zan and Stixx from legendary Swedish outfit Shotgun Messiah joined him for a string of Shotgun classics at the end of the set. Now, five months later, Chris repeated almost the same set of songs with slight changes only. The best songs were once again “Get U Down” and “They Come Out at Night.” Laney’s performance was once again strong and better than some of the overseas bands presented here. His backing band has improved a lot during on performing wise, and it must be mentioned that Chris himself has clearly lost some pounds since the last time… Zinny J. Zan also joined Chris again on stage, but this time it was very different to last time. Zinny, just some days earlier, had announced that he was going to leave Sweden behind and move over permanently to Brazil with his family. So in a way, this was going to be a kind of Zinny’s farewell performance in Sweden, at least for a while. Chris, Zinny, and his Swedish all-star band played a string of songs from Zinny’s whole career. The set included material from Easy Action, Zan Clan, and of course, from Shotgun Messiah. “Don’t Care About Nothing” was handsome closer for the blistering set and perhaps for Zinny’s entire musician career?
The German tank and his band have been annual visitors in Sweden during the last years. The band’s latest appearance here took its place on this year’s edition of Swedenrock, and in there, the band performed a strong show in front of thousands of people. U.D.O was now headlining the first day of the Rockout Festival, and here’s a brief report. The band took the stage by storm with the opening track of the latest DOMINATOR –album. “Boogieman” is an excellent live song, and it pushes forward irresistibly like a bullet train. The same thing goes on with “Dominator” and “Independence Day.” Udo is still singing or screaming, his heart out like he always does, and the band makes all the classic “moves” and plays tightly as hell. It’s always fun to watch another former Accept member Stefan Kauffman’s performance. At times the man is looking so harsh and angry that it’s getting almost ridiculous. Well, like said earlier, the band sounded good, and everything worked fine, but for some reason, there were only a handful of people following the band’s performance. So something went wrong when we are talking about the headliner here. The problem is that even most of the Accept/U.D.O fans have already seen this show many times before. The fact is that nowadays, U.D.O sounds like a programmed machine. In a way, it’s a good thing, but now, after witnessing personally more than 10 U.D.O shows, it’s getting boring. It doesn’t help that changes in the setlist are always kept minimal, and the band is still abandoning its three best albums almost wholly. Again, nothing was played from MEAN MACHINE or FACELESS WORLD, and there was only one track, “Animal House,” including from U.D.O’s classic debut. And speaking about Accept songs, why on earth does the band always do the very same songs year after year? Understandably, the band is doing a true classic like “Balls To The Wall” every night, but also “Midnight Mover,” “Burning,” “I’m a Rebel,” and “Princess of the Dawn” have been included in every U.D.O setlist during the past ten years. The question is, does U.D.O really need to play so many Accept songs? If they have to do so many Accept songs, they should keep on changing songs or then could play more original U.D.O material instead. Some changes must be made, or U.D.O will perform only outdoor festivals in Scandinavia in the future.
Former Mötley Crue/Union/The Scream –singer John Corabi has been a hard-working musician for over two decades, building a solid resume despite the fact that he has never reached widespread success, which he really deserves. After working years with various bands, he’s lately been working on his debut solo album, and now he’s also returning to Sweden for the first time as a solo artist. Corabi opened his set with a string of Union tracks: “Do Your Own Thing,” “Everything’s Alright,” and “Love (I Don’t Need It Anymore).” Corabi’s voice was in top form, as always, and he seemed relaxed on stage. Now, after hearing those excellent Union tracks again, one can only wonder why that band never made it big time. At least it wasn’t because of song material or vocalist, but I don’t know? As expected, John also gave a big role in his Mötley era songs. It was great to hear tracks like “Uncle Jack” and “Power to the Music” and “Hooligan’s Holiday” while those songs are hardly ever heard performed live here in Europe. Two tracks from The Scream were also included on the set. “Mother Father Son” and “Man on the Moon” sounded good, but it did seem that most of the audience had no idea about those songs.
All in all, this was a good performance. Corabi is one of the better vocalists in the business, and he has enough great material in his back catalog to create such an entertaining setlist. The whole band: bassist Chris Nolan, drummer Patrick Troy Farrell, and guitarist Kevin Hunter sounded terrific. The groove was locked in super tight, and the vocal harmonies were excellent. Special mention goes to Nolan, whose playing was almost miraculous during the whole set. Hopefully, this lineup will stay together, and Corabi’s long-awaited solo album will finally see the light of day?
TUFF / SHAMELESS
Just like their colleagues Pretty Boy Floyd, Tuff has a similar kind of history. Both outfits came out in the late ’80s / early nineties; they both released one decent album and then more or less disappeared from the big picture. Either of those bands never quit but carried on with different lineups during the years. Somehow they’ve survived through the years till this day. The other common thing with Tuff and Pretty Boy Floyd is a band called Shameless. A project band started by German Hard Rock maniac Alexx Michael has released four studio albums and several live recordings during the years, including both Steve Summers and Stevie Rachelle doing vocals on those albums, so here we go… Now when Tuff, or should we say Stevie Rachelle, finally arrived in Europe, he decided to join forces with Alexx again, so for that reason, the band was now actually performing under the title Tuff/Shameless. Well… although Tuff’s WHAT COMES AROUND GOES AROUND is a quite acceptable release in the vein of Poison and other late 80’s hair metal stuff, somehow its material does now sound a little bit outdated and bland. “I Hate Kissin’ You Goodbye” and especially “American Hair Band” were the so-called highlights of the set and actually the only songs which were properly recognized by the crowd. The band also did some Shameless songs like “Queen 4 A Day,” but they were nothing special either, unfortunately. Alexx and Stevie Rachelle, who’s also an editor in chief of legendary www.metalsludge.tv did a good decent job on stage and worked hard and but as a whole, this was just a mediocre performance after all.
Former Alice Cooper guitarist Ryan Roxie surprised everyone a few years ago when he decided to quit Alice and moved over to Stockholm from the U.S. Since then; he’s not been too active in the music scene. Still, there have been some small projects and bands where he’s been involved during the last few years. Recently Roxie reactivated his old band called Roxie 77 and released an album called TWO SIDES OF THE STORY. Ryan and his renewed version 2.0 of Roxie 77 played a nice string of songs from the new release and some oldies like Alice Cooper’s “Schools Out” featuring John Corabi on vocals. Roxie is not the world’s best singer but not the worst either. The same thing goes with Roxie 77 songs. They’re ok but nothing memorable.
U.S hard rockers Keel haven’t visited Europe in 26 years, so it was about time for them to return here. After a long hiatus the band reunited in 2008, released their 7th album STREETS OF ROCK’N ROLL in January 2010, and is currently touring for their 25th anniversary. Keel got popular with the 80’s albums RIGHT TO ROCK and FINAL FRONTIER and such hit singles as “Right To Rock,” “Because the Night,” and “Tears of Fire.” Singer Ron Keel formed the band in the early ’80s after quitting his previous band, Steeler, which included a young Swedish guitar sensation, Yngwie Malmsteen. The classic Keel lineup consisted of Ron, guitarists Marc Ferrari and Bryan Jay, drummer Dwain Miller, and Kenny Chaisson. Still, the latter didn’t want to participate in this reunion, and he’s now been replaced by Geno Arce. The intro tape started to roll, and soon band headed into “Reason to Rock.” It was a little strange opening track while it was originally released in bands in 1998 soon forgotten BACK IN ACTION album. The new album track “Come Hell or High Water” followed, and it proved that Keel still has plenty to say with its more recent material. Another weird choice in the setlist followed when the band next headed into old Rose Tattoo’s favorite “Rock ’n Roll Outlaw.” Keel has recorded a version of that song for its 1987 release LARGER THAN LIVE so when Ron told that they had decided to play at least one song from each Keel album so that’s probably why it was included on the setlist and… it’s not a bad song, after all. So it took three songs before the band headed into vintage classics. “Somebody’s Waiting” and “Speed Demon” made people jumping and raise their fists in the air, and why not? Significantly “Speed Demon” rocked out like hell, and for sure, it was one of the tracks that most people wanted to hear from Keel. Next, Ron crabbed next his acoustic guitar, a headset microphone, and the band started a beautiful “Does Anybody Believe.” The song worked out well, and it’s slowly growing as my favorite track of the new Keel album. Ron looked quite funny when using the headset, but he sounded good, and that’s what’s important here. “Because the Night” followed, and it got an outstanding response from the crowd. The band finished their set with the MTV power ballad “Tears of Fire” and the rock anthem “The Right to Rock.”The entire set lasted about 75 minutes, and it was a nice mixture of new album material, classics from the ’80s, and even tracks from their lesser-known albums, like mentioned earlier. Personally, I was waiting for a couple of my own favorites like “Rock ’n Roll Animal”, “United Nations” or “Lay down the Law” but this was a good selection of songs as well. As a whole, this was a solid performance from the 80’s rockers. Ron Keel still had his voice in top shape. Actually, it was a little surprising how well he still could reach all the high notes and octaves that he used to do back in the days. Ron has such a strong presence but there’s also lots of charisma in the band’s other figurehead Marc Ferrari who was looking exactly the same as he used to do some twenty years ago, in a good way. Marc was presenting very tight playing and great performing during the whole show. While there was nothing wrong with the rest of the band either, this show was a better, if not the best, performance in the entire Rockout festival.
Kingdom Come’s most successful years are placed in the late ’80s when Kingdom Come released its self-titled debut in 1988. The chart-topping “Led Leppelish” single “Get It On” helped the band to get tours with such names as Van Halen and the Scorpions. The second release, “In Your Face,” was successful as well and its first single, “Do You Like It,” became another Kingdom Come classic. Since then, the original band split up in 1989, and since then, Lenny has continued Kingdom Come with several different lineups. There are nine studio albums released under the Kingdom Come banner since 1989. The current version of Kingdom Come consists of Lenny, guitarist Eric Foerster, drummer Hendrik Thiesbrummel and bassist Fran Binke. Well… today’s version of the band doesn’t have much in common with the original band. The band looks everything else but hard rock band, except for Lenny himself, and its newer music is far from early day’s style. The new material is difficult even to describe but definitely, it’s pretty far from traditional hard rock or 70’s rock what the first three albums were presenting. Mainly for that reason, this show turned out to be such boring for the most part. Things always went better when the band went into classics. Already mentioned, “Get It On” and “Do You Like It” made people sing along, and it kind of felt that Lenny was enjoying doing those ones as well. Perhaps it’s the time of another reunion here? As a final comment, Lenny’s voice was still in excellent shape, and he would make Robert Plant jealous for him for sure…
Great White has faced many problems during its 25 -year career but now they are in the situation where the band’s lead singer Jack Russell can’t take a part in an ongoing tour because of his serious health issues. Instead of having an indefinite break, the band has decided to carry on their 25’Th Anniversary tour with the help of several other singers. Terry Ilous of XYZ has done most of the recent shows, but just a couple of weeks ago, the band hired former Warrant singer Jani Lane to fill Jack’s big shoes for a couple of shows. But that’s not all, for this Rockout show only, the band hired former Quiet Riot/Rough Cutt vocalist Paul Shortino to handle vocals here and it was going to be more than interesting how Paul will handle the job after just one jam before showtime. The band opened their show with “Can’t Shake It,” and although Paul and the whole band seemed a little bit nervous, the song went through quite fine. Paul’s bluesy vocal style fits Great White’s material well, and he could easily have been singing these songs forever. As expected, the band now played a kind of best-of–set, including all the best known Great White songs. “House of Broken Love”, “Save Your Love” and “Rock Me” worked out great and got a warm response while newer songs like “Situation” from the band’s latest opus RISING just came and went without any proper reactions. Bassist Tom Snyder also sang lead vocals on one song, but I completely missed that one. There was also one song from Mark Kendall’s solo album called “Rooster,” and it brought a nice change on the middle of the setlist. Most of the fans seemed to accept Paul Shortino leading Great White with no problem, but a few “puritans” keep on repeating “Where’s Jack?” between the songs. Like I said before Paul’s voice was a good fit for this kind of material but perhaps he and the band should have rehearsed together a little bit more than just once. At times it was a little shameful when Paul needed to read the lyrics directly from the crib papers… But other than that and the fact that Paul should have kept his shirt on during the last two songs, the show went through just fine without any problems, and the band closed their set with their biggest hit song, “Once Bitten Twice Shy,” which got a brilliant response. This was an entertaining performance, and it was an excellent way to finish the second Rockout festival.
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