REVIEW AND PICTURES BY MARKO SYRJÄLÄ
Trondheim Rock is an annual rock event held, like the name suggests, in Trondheim, Norway. The festival has a tradition of having high-quality performers outside of the mainstream and ongoing trends. Trondheim Rock’s history includes such artists as Def Leppard, Jon Lord, Kamelot, Whitesnake, Gary Moore, and Glenn Hughes, amongst many others. This year’s edition of the event included three bands: re-united the Darkness, legendary U.S hard rockers Twisted Sister and Norwegian band TNT, who now celebrate their 30th anniversary in their original hometown.
The re-united British hard rockers of the Darkness opened up the event in Studenter Samhudet. The venue is a cool-looking amphitheater type of place, and it seemed to be a perfect venue for rock concerts like this. The house wasn’t entirely packed when the Darkness opened up with a pair of PERMISSION TO LAND tracks “Black Shug” and “Growing on Me.” For sure, I wasn’t the only one who was surprised at how energetic and hungry the band was on stage. Energetic vocalist-guitarist Justin Hawkins commanded the stage, and the man was in excellent shape. The former “babyface” was now tattooed all over and bearded, so it was a bit hard to even recognize him at first. The setlist was built around the PERMISSION TO LAND album, and the band played nine tracks from their classic debut altogether. The sophomore album ONE WAY TICKET TO HELL… AND BACK was present with two tracks only, and also did a Radiohead cover of “Street Spirit (Fade Out)” and a couple of B –sides. In brief, there are three adjectives describing tonight’s the Darkness show: entertaining, sweaty, and action-packed. Welcome back, boys!
Since the band announced its highly anticipated re-union in 2004, Twisted Sister has regularly visited Scandinavia. The Dee Snider fronted New York quintet is one of the most influential and well-known bands from the 80’s glam metal era. The album STAY HUNGRY is an ageless classic, and songs like “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock” are well-known anthems worldwide. In a way, it was great that they are now playing in such an intimate environment as Studenter Samhudet. Usually, the band has been headlining different festivals, such as Wacken Open Air, Sweden Rock, and Hard Rock Hell, so this show is entirely different as tonight’s venue is about 700 people.
The show was completely sold out, and when the band took the stage at 09:00 PM, the place was entirely packed. The AC/DC classic “It’s a Long Way to the Top” was submitted as an intro, and then Twisted Sister took the stage by storm with “What You Don’t Know (Sure Can’t Hurt You)” followed by “The Kids Are Back.” Dee Snider was his usual hyper-energetic itself. It’s hard to believe that the man is already in his late 50’s. He has the same energy level that he had in the early ’80s. Like Lemmy, some good things never change. The club environment seemed to work well for Twisted Sister as the band now had close contact with the audience. Indeed, this kind of show was a welcome change from the band’s usual routine of festival appearances and bigger venues. The set was built mostly around STAY HUNGRY and the other albums UNDER THE BLADE, YOU CAN’T STOP ROCK’N ROLL, and COME OUT AND PLAY were present. It was remarkable that now, for the first time since the reunion, the band played a song from their fifth and last studio album, LOVE IS FOR SUCKERS! “Wake Up (The Sleeping Giant)” was a perfect addition to the set. Another gem on the set was “Sin after Sin” (UNDER THE BLADE), which was never played live until this tour. With or without the makeup, Twisted Sister is still on the top of their game. The crowd was all pleased, and the band seemed to have a great time on stage. Hopefully, they will carry on several years to come and go someday to the damn studio and don’t come out before you have some brand new music under your belt, right?
The headliners of this year’s edition of Trondheim Rock were the “town’s own” boys TNT. The band celebrated its 30th anniversary by playing a concert at the Clarion Hotel and performed with the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra and former TNT vocalists Dag Ingebrigtsen and Tony Harnell. TNT is internationally one of the most successful Norwegian acts ever, and altogether they have sold over two million albums worldwide. The band has gone through numerous line-up changes, and the current incarnation consists of guitarist Ronni Le Tekro, drummer Diesel Dahl, bassist Victor Borge, and vocalist Tony Mills. The show was sold out, and I did learn that there were approximately 1500 people in there. The stage setting was looking more than fine at the Clarion. As the orchestra took over most of the staging, the band’s setup was built in such a small area in the front of the stage. The current lineup opened the show with MY RELIGION track “Invisible Noise” followed by newer songs “Substitute” and “Refugee.”
Next, it was time to bring in the evening’s first special guest, the former vocalist Tony Harnell. Harnell was fronting the band during its “heydays” in the ’80s with him. Then the band released its most successful albums like TELL NO TALES and INTUITION. It is noteworthy to mention that this was Harnell’s first performance with the band since he left the band back in 2006. And Harnell was on fire. “As Far as the Eye Can See,” “Downhill Racer,” “Intuition,” and a beautiful ballad “Northern Lights,” dedicated to bands late keyboardist Dag Stokke, worked out extremely well, just like on the old days. There were a lot of mixed emotions in the air at this point, for sure. Next, it turns the original vocalist Dag Ingebrigtsen’s to have his moment in the limelight. The man did an impressive entrance with his “motorcycle,” just like Rob Halford… and sang a string of tracks from the debut album, including “U.S.A” and “Harley-Davidson.” Mills and Harnell shared vocals on “My Religion” and took it in turns through the set’s end. The band’s first worldwide hit, “Seven Seals,” closed the set, and it featured all three singers on stage.
This indeed was a night to remember, not just for TNT fans but for all fans of melodic music and great performances. Arrangements were working nicely, and the stage looked amazing. Ronni Le Tekro’s guitar playing was just as spectacular as ever. He’s a technically superb, world-class guitarist with a unique style. All three vocalists did a great job, and it was really interesting to see different variations of the line-up on stage. The orchestra did sound good and added some extra spice on old TNT classics, whereas Dahl and Borge’s rhythm section kept the basic beat going through the set. There’s not much to add, but hopefully, we’ll see more spectacles like this in the future!!