Backyard Babies – headline
Tour BxY Tour Scandinavia 2016
Junkstars – support act
30/1 – 2016
Live review and pictures by: Anders Sandvall
The first concert of the new year for me was none other than Backyard Babies, a reunion I had waited a long time to see and experience live. The band released the album FOUR BY FOUR last year and it’s simply a stunning comeback album. The band’s previous studio album BACKYARD BABIES was released back in 2008 and during the break both Nicke Borg and Dregen released solo albums and continued to perform live as solo artists. Last year the guys headed out on a string of shows at festivals around Europe after which they went out on a European tour of their own. This year it’s time for Scandinavia to take part in the comeback tour.
The band visited all the Scandinavian countries and it all ends in Helsinki Finland. Heavy Tiger was supporting the band on the European tour but on the Scandinavian leg it’s Junkstars that took over as support act. Since the band visited Malmo and Kulturbolaget on a Saturday it was a night club after the show so the band had a curfew of about 11.30. I met the band during the day and it was not the same happy guys I’ve met a thousand times before during their active years. It felt like the guys thought it was a burden to sign my stuff and they didn’t seem too happy at all to meet fans. Some of them walked by and didn’t stop to say “hi” at all to the 3-4 fans that were waiting outside the club. The only one that was nice and talked to us was Dregen. The tickets to the show were almost sold out so there were no doubt that the Malmo fans had been waiting for the band’s show as much as I had.
I met up with my friend who also was really excited to see the show and together we went into the club at about 7.30 and the first thing I looked for was a photo pit and luckily there was one. I took a look at the merch stand and saw that the band had a lot of stuff with them, like Dregen’s and Borg’s solo albums, Dregen’s book, shirts, vinyls, posters and even candy that he made together with a large candy company. Everything was really expensive and I decided to only buy one T-shirt because of the prices. On the left and the right side of the stage two mic stands were positioned and two small podiums were placed beside the ramp that reached out from the stage. The time flew quickly and soon it was 8 and time for the support act to open the night.
The first song out was “Kill the Ravens” and the three piece act kicked off the show at a furious tempo. “Unrighteous Grave” followed straight away and singer Malmquist thanked for the applause and said that it was nice to be playing in Malmo. He told the crowd the band had released three albums and the latest one is titled THIS MEANS WAR. He asked if the crowd wanted to have more music and fired off “Snakebite”. The sound system worked great but the lights was poor. Since it was pretty dark and the singer had a hat on, it was hard to see his face. Junkstars is:
Max Malmquist – lead vocals, guitar
Tobbe “Bronxen” Ljungqvist – bass
Mathias “Matte” Wanneberg – drums
The band’s high energy punk rock n’ roll worked pretty great and the people in the club seemed to like what they heard. Malmquist urged the fans to shout “Babies” back to him when he shouted “Backyard” and even though the audience was pretty calm they shouted back the best they could. The singer wanted the crowd to help him with three things, take one step forward for Backyard Babies, one step for the next song and one step forward for the band. Suddenly the crowd stood a lot closer to the stage and the next song up was the great “First Time I Heard The Clash I Was So High”. Even though the members seemed a bit young they sure knew how to handle a crowd. The singer especially gave a little extra. The band seemed to be liking it on stage and that rubbed off on to the crowd. I found myself really liking the music I was hearing for the first time. The song ended and the crowd was so quiet that Malmquist had to ask if they still were there.
“Rock Bottom” and “Hometown” followed and Malmquist once again thanked the people for coming in time to see Junkstars. He had two things to say, the first was that the band had two more songs to play and the second thing was that in 2016 it’s not who sells the most albums anymore, it’s how many likes you get on Facebook so when the crowd came home he wanted everyone to go and like the band on Facebook. The brand new single “Romance Of Death” followed and Malmquist and Ljungkvist stood on each podium playing. Malmquist wanted the audience to do one last favor for the band; the guys wanted to take a picture with the fans and urged everyone to squeeze together in the middle and throw their hands in the air. The last song was “Go To Hell” and the 35-minute show was over.
Even though I had never heard the band before, they really impressed me with their edgy music and attitude. The band seemed to have fun together and Malmquist was the perfect front man. I’m looking forward to see more of Junkstars in the future.
Kill The Ravens
This Means War
First Time I Heard The Clash
Romance Of Death
Go To Hell
The stage started to get prepped for the headline act and a backdrop with the BB logo was seen. Around each speaker there were small lights placed. On top of each speaker stood police flashlights that were going to go off later during the show.
It took a while to get the stage in order and during the work more and more people joined the club. I wasn’t the only one that had really high expectations on the night and the hardcore fans were gathered in front of the stage chanting for the band to go on. The fans started to get a bit anxious because it had taken about 30 minutes to prepare the stage so far. Finally the intro “Welcome To The Jungle” by Guns N Roses was heard and that marked the beginning of the show.
The show kicked off right away with the first single from the new album “Th1rte3n Or Nothing” and it was followed immediately by “Highlights”. Dregen hit one of the podiums and as he stood there, smoke and lights came from beneath him and it looked really cool. It didn’t take long until Borg also stepped up on his podium and the two front men looked awesome standing there. Dregen asked if Malmo was ready for “The Clash” and he ran around the stage like whirlwind. It was really hard to get a decent picture of him because he almost never stood still for a long period of time. He wanted the fans to scream for him in “Made Me Madman”. The line-up is:
Nicke Borg – lead vocals, guitar
Johan Blomqvist – bass
Dregen – guitar, vocals
Peder Carlsson – drums
The audience was with the band from the moment they showed up on the stage and screamed and sang along to the songs during the entire show. Borg thanked everyone for the support and said it was time for an older song in “U.F.O Romeo”. Even though the fans seemed happy with the show I thought the members felt a bit tired and didn’t give their all. I missed the energy they used to have back in the day. As well, the guys hardly talked in between the songs, they mostly said the standard phrases like “thank you” or “throw your hands in the air”. The band is so experienced and skilled that they shouldn’t be repeating those lines. It wasn’t only Borg that didn’t seem to be comfortable on stage but Blomqvist looked like he didn’t want to be there at all. What has happened with the guys?!
The only one who seemed to think it was fun to be on stage was Dregen as he screamed at Malmo – “I got a “Brand New Hate” and the fans sang along at the top of their lungs. “Dysfunctional Professional” made the fans scream even louder and it was fun to hear vocals from both Borg and Dregen in this tune. There were nothing wrong with the energy or the edge the band brought to the stage but for some reason the spark wasn’t there and it felt like the band just had another day at the office. They did what they had to do but nothing more, Borg looked mostly tired and Blomquist appeared as if he wanted to be anywhere else but on stage. I know the band can do much better and I have seen them do better numerous times before. Borg asked if the crowd was doing fine and said the band recorded an album and that it was great fun to do it. We have been out in Europe performing last year but finally we’re back in Sweden and Malmo. “Bloody Tears” which is a ballad from the new album followed and the song felt like a show stopper and the tempo dropped a bit.
The lost tempo was re-found with “Heaven 2.9” but I thought the audience was going to be crazier at a Backyard Babies show. The crowd felt a bit lazy and not as on top as I had thought. Borg said that he was remembering a show with Social Distortion at Kulturbolaget back in 1996, how many saw that show he asked, Dregen smiled and said, “well memories, memories, it’s here and now that matters”, and Borg asked how many in the club had seen the band before. He also asked how many hadn’t seen the band before and dedicated the song “A Song For the Outcast” to the fans.
The epic “Star War” with Dregen on lead vocals continued the night and he wanted everyone to clap their hands, Dregen should sing more lead vocals because he has got a really nice voice that fits the music perfectly. The song made the crowd wake up and it felt like the older songs worked much better than the more current ones. The band did a solid version of the old classic song, Borg shifted to acoustic guitar and said that it was time for a song written by Tyla from Dogs D’Amour. He is a real pirate and the song is “Painkiller”. They played half of the song after which it transcended into “Roads”. Borg urged the fans to sing louder and in the middle of the song Dregen went up to the podium and fired off a guitar solo.
Borg said that the band’s Russian bear was selling a lot of merchandise so be sure to check out everything we have brought with us after the show. What he didn’t say is that the band was selling the merch overpriced. “Wasted Years” and “Nomadic” ended the show and the two front men walked on to the podiums where smoke came up to finish the show. It looked really cool when both of them stood there playing guitar together. Dregen walked over to his mic and told the crowd to sing louder and they all sang the lyrics together with Borg. When the song was over the band walked off the stage and the short 60-minute show was over.
The fans shouted for more and after a short while Borg arrived back on the stage and faced the crowds roar. After having played his guitar for a while the rest of the band showed up and it was time for “Abandon” as the first encore. Dregen had changed clothes into some kind of dress and a necklace and fired up the crowd by shouting “Malmo are you ready” and kicked off “Minus Celsius”. When Borg and Dregen didn’t talk it became quiet because the rest of the band didn’t contribute any talking at all. The final and long-awaited “Look At You” ended the show. It was a real crowd pleaser and the fans jumped and sang along with Borg. Altogether lasted the show 75-minutes which felt too short for a headline act that is as loved as Backyard Babies. I had expected them to be on stage for at least 90-minutes.
Well did the show meet my expectations? No not really. Yes, the set list was good, and it was really fun to both hear and see the band back together again playing their immortal rock n’ roll songs. Dregen was as wild and crazy on stage as usual and it’s never dull to see him live. However, the rest of the band lacked tempo, aggression, heaviness, energy, and the edge that defined them back in the day. This show was not even near the Backyard Babies I’m used to seeing live and the music sounded more polished than I remembered it. As it was their first time in Malmo since the break-up it would have been nice if they could have treated the fans to a little longer show than only 75-minutes. The show was OK but not more; I had expected more from one of my all time favorite acts that I’ve followed since they started out and to be honest, I was a little disappointed at what I had just seen.
Th1rte3n Or Nothing
Made Me Madman
Brand New Hate
A Song For The Outcast
Painkiller (cover)/Roads – medley
Look At You
Thanks to head of Kulturbolaget Totte Lundgren for help with press/photo pass to the show.
Thanks to the always friendly staff and security at the club.