Melodic Rockfest Scandinavia 2018 at Slagthuset Malmo, Sweden

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Saturday

Last day of the festival and still no updates on their Facebook site or website, not any pictures or updates at all available, maybe something to think about next year? On their Facebook page it could be read that both Grand Design and Melodic Rock All Star and Jim Jidhed wanted to meet their fans and that they would do both meet and greet and signing session, well I couldn’t see any of that at all. I saw Grand Design amongst the crowd but it felt rather more like they were meeting up with friends and family, not like they were hosting a meet and greet or a signing session. The same went for Jidhed who was going to attend the festival all three days and host booth meet and greet and a signing session.. the one that introduced the band was Steve Price which host the Steve Price Rock Show at AR FM, he’s also one of the owners of Shades Records. The festival suffered from one cancelation in Cruzh which was replaced by the Swedish Colorstone. Fans from almost 30 countries visited the festival but the festival hasn’t released any numbers on how many visitors they had totally. The last day bands like Creye, Pretty Wild, the re-united Swedish act Alyson Avenue, Stage Dolls and Dare was going to perform and Jim Jidhed was going to do his unplugged session at 1.30 AM. My plan was to be at the festival in time to see Creye which was going to be on stage at 3.35.

Creye was founded 2015 by guitarist/song writer Andreas Gullstrand and with borrowed members he recorded the EP STRAIGHT TO THE TOP which was released last year. It didn’t take long until singer Alexander Strandell left the band as was replaced by Robin Jidhed as well as Fredrik Joakimsson who takes care of the guitar. The Malmo based AOR/Rock band landed a deal with Frontiers Records and this day they were standing on the Melodic Rock Festival stage in their hometown.

Creye

The band was warmly greeted by the fans and Jidhed said that the first song out was a new one, the second one followed instantly and Jidhed had an Ipad beside his micstand with the lyrics on, well, that felt a little cheesy. The bands AOR/Rock music fitted perfect into the festival image and the crowd seemed to be liking the music. The line-up in the band is:

Robin Jidhed – lead vocals
Andreas Gullstrand – guitar
Fredrik Joakimson – guitar
Joel Rönning – keyboard
Gustaf Örsta – bass
Arvid Filipsson – drums

Jidhed said he got a little nervous when he realized he was going to talk in English during the show and that he had to learn both English as well as Skånska (which is the local accent in Malmo) and then he laughed and said that Skånska isn’t a language but an accent.. When he realized the crowd didn’t think the joke was too funny he said it was time for a little bit of music and fired off the next song. The band felt solid together and the only weak link in the band was singer Jidhed, he felt insecure on stage and definitely needs to work more on his stage presence. Jidhed said it was time to play his favorite song, took a look at his Ipad and then said no I was wrong, however the crowd loved the next song and it was nothing wrong with the fans support towards the band. Then it was time for Jidhed’s favorite song, after that he thanked the fans for being so nice and fired off “Straight To The Top”. “All We Need Is Faith” followed and even though the band is pretty new and the same goes for the songs the fans had no problems with singing along in the lyrics. Last song for the night was “No Easy Way Out” and put an end to the show and even though fans shouted for encores the band was out of time and left the stage.

Creye didn’t impress me at all, the 35 minute show was more than enough for me to see that the guys need to take another round in the rehearsal room in order to gain a little more self-confidence on stage. They’re all skilled musicians but they lack some stage presence, however they are all young and have the time ahead of them. This time the show felt more like a show case rather than a proper show.

The Malmo/Stockholm band Pretty Wild was the next act on stage this afternoon and the sleaze/glam guys was scheduled to be on stage at 4.40. After another round outside to catch some air I spoke to some visitors that complain over the fact that the venue was cash-free and only credit card was allowed as payment. It didn’t say on the Facebook that it was a cashfree event and the people I spoke to was a bit frustrated about that.

I took a walk into the VIP section where the door was opened outside in order to get some ventilation. I thought it might be some tables etc outside the VIP area to hang around but there was nothing there.

Pretty Wild has been active since 2006 and the debut album ALL THE WAY was unleashed 2009. The second release PRETTY WILD came 2014 and it was then the band signed a deal with Dead End Exit Records from Malmo. I saw the band as support act a few years back and to be honest their music didn’t catch me at all. It was a while since I saw the band and I hadn’t seen the guys perform together with the new guitarist Ludwig. But maybe they were going to win me over this afternoon, I was eager to see what they could come up with.

Pretty Wild

“Starring At the Sun” was the opening song and the fans closest to the stage cheered and clapped their hands when they saw the band entering the stage. “Get It On” followed and after having waiting for the fans to clap their hands the band fired off “Come Out Tonight”. Singer Höglund thanked the crowd saying it was time for “Superman” and the line-up in the band is:

Ivan Ivve Höglund – lead vocals
Axl Ludwig – guitar
Kim Chevelle – bass
Johnny Benson – drums

The two that moved around using the space on stage was Höglund and Ludwig, and it was those two that connected the most with the fans. Höglund said it was time to play a song called “High Enough” and it felt like it was some time ago the band played together. The show felt a little un-organized and the members didn’t feel solid together. Höglund asked if there were any fans from Switzerland attending the show looking at Ludwig while asking, the fans shouted but Ludwig didn’t bother to look at Höglund who kicked off “Break Down The Walls”. Smoke filled the stage as the band ran through “Stand My Ground” and “All I Want”. If I was to compare Pretty Wild with Crazy Lixx who fits into the same musical category as Pretty Wild I’d say that Crazy Lixx outdid Pretty Wild by far. Crazy Lixx felt more cohesive in their performance than Pretty Wild and as for now Pretty Wild has a lot to work on when it comes to their stage appearance.

“Wildheart” and “Are You Ready” ended the show and as Höglund thanked the crowd I took a look at my watch and saw the band had been on stage for about 40 minutes.

As you already probably have figured out the show wasn’t anything for me, I lacked presence and some life on stage. The most prominent people on stage during the show were singer Höglund and the cool and very talented guitarist Ludwig, what the other guys was doing there is a big question mark. It was a tired band that put in the absolute minimum of work on stage this afternoon, sad but true.

Set list
Starring At The Sun
Get It On
Come Out Tonight
Superman
High Enough
Break Down The Walls
Stand My Ground
All I Want
Wildheart
Are You Ready

Time for change of gear and for me time for some air, when I passed the merch stand I saw that Creye stood behind a table across the stand but no one seemed to be noticing the band.

Next up on the agenda was the re-united Swedish act Alyson Avenue with former Nightwish singer Anette Olzon behind the mic. I have to admit I haven’t heard the band before but the organizers seemed to be really happy with the booking so I was eager to see what the band could achieve on the stage. The band comes from Helsingborg, a town located a few kilometers outside Malmo and was founded by keyboardplayer Niclas Olsson and bassplayer Thomas Lyöskä. In 1995 Olzon joined forces with the band and she replaced the original singer that’s been with the guys since the beginning back in 1989. The band started out as an AOR/Melodic rock band but when Olzon came in their music diverted into becoming a little more “pop” like style. In 2000 the debut PRESENCE OF MIND was released and three years later the follow up OMEGA saw the light. Olzon left to join Nightwish but the band decided to continue on without her and in came Arabella Vitanc on vocals. In 2011 the album CHANGES featuring guest efforts from Olzon, Michael Bormann, Rob Marcello and Mike Andersson hit the stores, which were the last album from the band that was put to rest the year after.

After leaving Nightwish Olzon came back to Alyson Avenue and she and Olsson began to write new songs together and this year the band pretty much consist of the original line-up except for the bass player which is new.

Alyson Avenue

After being introduced by the presenter the band arrived on stage facing the cheers from the fans, first song out for the night was “Tonight Is All You Get” and it was followed straight away by “Free Like The Wind”. Olzon said it was fun to be on stage this night in Malmo performing for all the beautiful fans, here is “Perfect Love”. To judge by the huge support from fans the band was highly anticipated and their music actually fitted perfect into the melodic rock genre. The line-up is:

Anette Olzon – lead vocals
Christer Engholm – bass
Niclas Olsson – keyboard
Tony Rothla – guitar
Fredrik Eriksson – drums

The band felt strong and completed each other on stage, it was Olzon that took up most of the stage presence and it looked like she was really comfortable with her role as lead singer in Alyson Avenue. “Lost and Lonely” followed and Olzon had the fans to clap their hands with her in the song. Olzon introduced Rothla on guitar saying here come “One Desperate Heart”. If I’m not mistaken this was the first time the band performed live together since their re-union and it was no doubt the guys had a lot of fun together on stage. Now it was time for a serious song Olzon said, a song they never played live before in “I Have Been Waiting”.

If you’re happy we are happy Olzon said and smiled at the crowd, here is another song we haven’t performed live before, and as she was talking Rothla leaned over to her saying something while Olzon took the mic telling the crowd that he wasn’t ready with his guitar yet and that she had to do a little more talking. Well, I can tell you that Alyson Avenue is back! The last time we performed live was many years ago at Kulturbolaget here in Malmo. Now Rothla was done with his guitar check and it was time for the song “Can I Be Wrong” and by now the really hot temperature had reached a ridiculously high pitch and if there’s going to be a festival next year please make sure there’s some proper AC in the building. The tempo slowed down a bit in “All This Time” after which Olzon asked if the fans wanted to hear more music “we have only a short amount of time with you today” Olzon said and “Without Your Love” followed and the song that ended the show was called “Another Night”. Olzon thanked the fans for the amazing support and after they took off their instruments and thanked the crowd the evening with Alyson Avenue was over.

I was a blank canvas when it came to the music of Alyson Avenue but have to say they did impress me. I really enjoyed Olzons voice that I thought fitted perfect with the music. The quality of the material felt strong and it was nice to see she had narrowed down the “danceband” moves she brought with her into Nightwish. I had wished to have heard more from the band this evening and I think the show was too short. Overall the band made me curious to see what they’re up to in the future!

Set list
Tonight Is All You Get
Free Like the Wind
Perfect Love
Lost And Lonely
One Desperate Heart
I Have Been Waiting
Can I Be Wrong
All This Time
Without Your Love
Another Night

The curtain was pulled and the 45 minute show with Alyson Avenue was over. Outside I met a Danish guy that was really upset. He had bought the VIP ticket for the day before for 800 SEK extra and thought he didn’t get anything out from the purchase. When he asked which artists the VIP customers was going to meet the answer he was given was that the staff on site hadn’t got a clue about that. He also told me he had walked by the artist entrance and saw Kee Marcello outside and since he and Marcello was friends he walked over to say hello to Marcello that brought him into one of the dressing-rooms to have talk. When one of the organizers had seen the two inside he went frantic and threw the Danish guy out from the dressing room and also took his beer from him. To make a long story short the Danish visitor was really upset with the festival that he felt had tricked him to pay a lot of money for a VIP ticket that basically didn’t provide him with any special happenings.

The organizers also didn’t provide in the info that the venue only accepted credit card and not cash. I met a few foreign guests that had got a huge amount of Swedish currency in cash and couldn’t use it, they were really annoyed to say the least. I saw that the organizers telling the visitors about the card only policy but it was only done the day before the festival, maybe they should have taken up the matter way earlier. Next up on the band list for me was the Norwegian act Stage Dolls that was about to head on stage at 8.25. I know the band by name and have one or two of their albums but they have never been first choice of band for me. When I stood beside the stage I saw one of the organizers walk by together with Dare, the band stopped and spoke with the fans in front of the stage but that didn’t land well with the guy from the festival as he hurried the band into the VIP room. A few minutes later we could hear him yell that Dare was available for the VIP ticket holders in the VIP room. Dare was the first band I personally saw meeting fans in the VIP room, and come on, why don’t announce it on stage or at the website instead of having a staff member from the festival yelling it out in the venue. The entire VIP experience felt a bit un-clear. For fun, and because I could, I walked into the VIP room to see Dare meet the fans and well inside I discovered there wasn’t any line in to meet the band, instead it was a smaller chaos with people everywhere and if I had paid extra money for a VIP ticket I too had been really frustrated.

Stage Dolls from Norway was born in 1983 and two years later their debut album SOLDIER’S GUN was released. After a few lineup changes the second album COMMANDOS came -86 and during the 90’s the only released two more albums. The band is one of the bigger ones from Norway and their domestic fan base is big. 15 minutes past scheduled time was it time for Stage Dolls to conquer Malmo.

Stage Dolls

“Left Foot Boogie” marked the beginning of the night for Stage Dolls and “Love Cries” followed straight away. All the three members felt on fire and almost a little too lit, but there’s nothing wrong with having energy on stage. “Highway Of Life” followed and the line up in the trio today is:

Torstein Flakke – lead vocals, guitar
Terje Storli – bass
Morten Skogstad – drums

Flakke thanked the small crowd for being there saying the band was going to play a new song which was called “Hey Rock n Roll”. I couldn’t but be impressed by the bands energy, tempo, vitality and fire that rubbed off on the crowd. All the joy made it fun to see the band and even though I maybe didn’t fell flat for their material I fell for the joy and the love the band had live. Flakke said – as you know we have good songs and we have great songs, here comes a few great songs from us to you. “24/7” and “Stand By You” followed until it was time for “Money” and “Dig”. The songs were compiled in a medley that became really long. As Flakke took on an acoustic guitar the rest of the band walked off stage and alone he delivered.

“Sorry (It’s All I Can Say)” which seemed to be a crowd pleaser since the fans all clapped their hands singing along in the song. The song became a semi-acoustical version and the other two members joined in at the middle. Flakke asked if the fans was doing fine saying he wanted to see everyone throw their hands in the air. Flakke really is the perfect front man for Stage Dolls and with his energy and dedication both the band as well as the fans have their all this night. He asked if anyone remembered the 80’s, well this is a song from the 86 year album COMMANDOS.

“Taillights”, “Hard To Say Goodbye” and “Wings Of Steel” shortly followed and the song that ended the ordinary set was “Love Don’t Bother Me” and as soon as the band played the intro the fans went nuts. Flakke filmed the crowd with his phone when they sang along and clapped, then the song ended and the guys took farewell and thanked the fans. The crowd screamed for more and the trio shortly returned back on stage firing off “Still In Love” and “Soldier’s Gun” as encores. The bands classical tunes really lit up the fans and the mood as well as the temperature reached the boiling point.

Then the 70 minute show ended and I was ecstatic. I really enjoyed the show and have to say that the band really surprised me in a really good way. All the elements like sound, lights, songs, and atmosphere worked in favor of the band and this show was sure one of the best ones during the festival.

Set list (not in order)
Left Foot Boogie
Love Cries
Highway Of Life
Hey Rock n Roll
24/7-Stand By You-Money-Dig medley
Sorry (It All I Can Say)
Commandos
Taillights
Hard To Say Goodbye
Wings Of Steel
Love Don’t Bother Me
Encores
Still In Love
Soldier’s Gun

It was now one band left for the night and the festival and it was Dare that was going to enter the stage at 10.10. As everyone probably know Dare was formed by the ex- Thin Lizzy keyboard player Darren Wharton when his main band was put to rest. OUT OF THE SILENCE, the debut album, came 1988 and many members have come and gone in the band. Wharton have remained solid in the band but joined Scott Gorham and John Sykes at the late 90’s when they were out airing old Thin Lizzy songs as Scoot ann John Thin Lizzy. The latest effort from Dare came 2016 titled SACRED GROUND and the band recently re-recorded OUT OF THE SILENCE which was released this past summer now titled OUT OF THE SILENCE II. It took about 30 minutes to get the stage ready for the icon and at 10.20 it was time for Dare to take on Malmo.

The narrator came on stage and said that we are seeing you all next year when the festival returns and he wanted to thank all the people that made the festival possible like rockstage Malmo, all the volunteers and all the rest of the people, and thank to all of you here as well. See you all next year and now please welcome the last band in

Dare

One by one the members entered the stage prepared to kick off the show, first song out was “Sea Of Roses” and the band was given a warm welcome by the blissful fanbase. “Home” followed straight away and main man Darren Wharton looked cool with his dark shades on. “Until” taken from the album SACRED GROUND followed straight away and the current line-up in the band is:

Darren Wharton – lead vocals
Vinny Burns – guitar
Nigel Clutterbuck – bass
Marc Roberts – keyboard
Kevin Kev Whitehead – drums

While I walked out from the photo pit Wharton thanked the fans saying it was great to be in the beautiful country of Sweden again. Here comes “I’ll Hear You Pray”. Wharton asked if any of the people was going to Sweden Rock Festival the upcoming weekend, well the next song is about meeting someone at a festival here is “Days Of Summer”. Wharton moved around on stage side to side to get the crowd going and he had the fans clap their hands in the middle of the song. It felt like he was a bit reluctant on stage from the beginning of the show but the longer it proceeded he opened up. Wharton asked if the crowd was doing well saying the next song was taken from the album SACRED GROUND and it was “On My Own”. The crowd loved both the old as well as the more current songs and the atmosphere was really high and loving inside the venue as the show went on. The next song was about women Wharton said and it was time for “Every Time We Say Goodbye” and Wharton looked really happy on stage when he saw the respond from the fans on the song. Next song up was a bit celtic as Wharton said, it was now time for a song from the Thin Lizzy era in “Silent Thunder”. The crowd really loved the song and as Wharton told the people he believed in life after death it was time for the band to run through “Where Darkness Ends”.

Have you heard about the boys of Thin Lizzy? Well we have done a cover version of the excellent Lizzy song “Emerald” would you like to hear it? During the more celtic parts of the song Wharton pretended to dance some kind of river dance which was really appreciated by the fans. Would you like to hear something from the album BLOOD FROM STONE he asked, “Wings Of Fire” was started by Burns on guitar and the fans all cheered when they heard which song it was. Burns showed off on guitar and the show continued with “We Don’t Need A Reason”, Wharton urged the fans to add the bands as friends on facebook and then said the band re-recorded their debut album OUT OF THE SILENCE, originally released 1988, and I’m going to tell you why we did it. We have got a lots of new friends that haven’t heard the album before and that’s why we wanted to give them a fresh sound picture and production to listen to, all that plus we really like the album, here is “Abandon”, the album was released in Europe at the end of June. After some sing a long it was time for the next song in “Into The Fire” after which it was time to slow down the tempo, Burns came up to Wharton saying something to his ear and Wharton apparently announced the wrong song, he took a look at the set list saying, oh well I was supposed to say it was cold in Sweden but in England it always rains. Well next up is not a slow song but a song about England in “The Raindance”. The next song the band dedicated to Phil Lynott, Wharton told the fans how it was to work with Lynott and it became a pretty long story, the song was “King Of Spades” and the fans loved to hear it. The band also incorporated a few lines from the Lizzy song “Black Rose” in the middle. That song ended the 70 minute show and the band walked off stage.

After a few minutes of chanting for encores by the fans the band returned and Wharton said the fans had been amazing and the first encore out was “Return The Heart” and Wharton had the audience to scream at his command. The song was another one from the debut album, it was instantly followed by “Beneath The Shining Water” and that song ended the show.

I was really impressed by how energetic, vital and how fun the show felt and it was obvious the members had a really good time performing. The show started off a bit rocky but the band managed to build it up to a magic ending and Dare really showed what a skilled and experienced live band they are. Dare was one of the highlights during the festival.

Set list (not in order)
Sea Of Roses
Home
Until
I’ll Hear You Pray
Days Of Summer
On My Own
Every Time We Say Goodbye
Silent Thunder
Where Darkness Ends
Emerald (Thin Lizzy cover)
Wings of Fire
We Don’t Need A Reason
Abandon
The Raindance
King Of Spades (including segments of “Black Rose” by Thin Lizzy
Encores
Return The Heart
Beneath The Shining Water

Dare ended the festival and it was the perfect way of ending three days of music. The venue was emptied pretty fast and the merch stand was already closing as I left the festival area. It was a nice edition of the first Melodic Rock Fest held in Malmo, maybe it was too many Swedish acts performing as well as too many local band’s from south of Sweden. It wouldn’t have hurt with a few more international names but I guess maybe the organizers wants to take it slow and build up the festival before they take on the bigger names. There are also in my opinion too many bands per day, why not narrow down the line up and focus on fewer but bigger acts?

The venue was good but if they’re going to host it at the same place next year please make sure to add some air condition, it was way too hot this year. It was clean and nice all over Slaghuset but the hygiene at the toilets left more to wish for. And a proper soundcheck would have been in order, partly the sound was terrible during the three days. The organizers should also have informed the foreign visitors about the non-cash policy at Slagthuset, there was a few unhappy guests that aired what they thought out loud outside when smoking. It was a nice crowd of people which made the festival feel intimate.

Until today I haven’t seen any numbers on how many that was attending the festival at all. For next year maybe the organizers have to rethink the dates so it won’t be so close to Sweden Rock Festival, maybe more people would have come to the festival if the dates weren’t placed so close to each other.

Next year I really hope the organizers steps up when it comes to the meet and greet/VIP events and signing sessions. This year those events didn’t work at all. I understand the frustration the VIP buyers had this year when they really didn’t get anything for the money they spent. I only saw Eden’s Curse and Dare signing and that wasn’t much to cheer for. The festival promised meet and greets with both Jim Jidhed and Grand Design, when did that take place?

And also why don’t think about adding another stage next year, having two staged would create a better flow in between shows and I would really appreciate a little more info if and when a band is delayed.

There are a few things the festival can do better and that the organizers should think about if it’s going to be another year of Melodic Rock Festival. However the venue was perfect and located close to the train/bus station so it was easy to get there, the event was well organized and the sound system got better for every day. Since the AOR genre is pretty big in Scandinavia, a festival of this kind is well needed, great job guys and girls. I hope to see you next year.

Highlights
Treat, FM, Dare

Biggest surprise
Stage Dolls, Grand Design

More to wish for…
Creye, MRF Allstars

 

Thanks to executive chief rocker Rockstage Malmo/Melodic Rockfest Scandinavia Mikko Tweedberg for help with press/photo pass to the festival.
www.rockstagemalmo.com

Facebook Page

More info about the band’s day.1

www.facebook.com/midnitecityuk
Label: www.aorheaven.com
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www.germusica.com
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www.granddesignrocks.com
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Label: www.gmrmusic.se
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www.onedesire.net
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Label: www.frontiers.it
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www.playgroundmusic.com
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www.facebook.com/treatofficial
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Day,2

www.edenscurse.com
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Label: www.afm-records.de
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www.crazylixx.com
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www.facebook.com/keemarcello

www.fmofficial.com
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Day,3

www.creyesweden.com
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www.prettywildband.com
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Label: www.deadendexit.com
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www.germusica.com
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www.alysonavenue.com
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www.stagedolls.com
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www.facebook.com/stagedollsmusic
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www.facebook.com/recordlabeltexasrecords

www.darebandofficial.com
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