'Sweden Rock Festival 2017' - Day Two
AEROSMITH / EDGUY / PRIMUS / ALTER BRIDGE / WINTERSUN / KNOGJÄRN / STEEL PANTHER / FATES WARNING / VEONITY / VA ROCKS / IAN HUNTER / COHEED AND CAMBRIA / NOCEAN / DORO PESCH'S WARLOCK / THE HAUNTED / SVARTNATT / LEADLIG LIGHT / ICED EARTH / HARDLINE / APOCALYPTICA / NIFELHEIM / DEAD SLEEP / GREAT KING RAT / PHIL CAMPBELL & THE BASTARD SONS / SKELETON BIRTH / STACEY COLLINS
Date: 08th June, 2017
Venue: Norje Havsbad
Ticket: 2690SEK (4-Days) (€258/$320)
Promoter: Sweden Rock Festival
Photos: Erika Wallberg
Luckily, the second day looked better to start with and the sun was out upon arrival at the festival grounds. Neither this day I was there from the start and missed out on some real goodies like PHIL CAMPBELL & THE BASTARD SONS, GREAT KING RAT, NIFELHEIM and DEAD SLEEP. But what can you do when you have obligations elsewhere?
Walking in, I caught the last few notes of APOCALYPTICA and got in place just as ICED EARTH hit the stage. Regardless the line-up I think ICED EARTH have put out fantastic records, with Matt Barlow as well as Tim “Ripper” Owens. And of course also Stu Block. With Stu it also feels like the band has found new energy and that they're actually enjoy being on stage. And what a start of the show! New “Great Heathen Army” sounds fabulous on record and with the power of the massive PA at Rock Stage it got even better. And then, to follow that with “Burning Times” from “Something Wicked This Way Comes” and “Declaration Day”. The last is one of my all time ICED EARTH favorites, in fact the whole “Glorious Burden” is phenomenal. The only downside here was that I was in the photo-pit and not out with the enthusiastic crowd. But it sure sounded good, really good! That's why I got a little surprised getting out on the lawn. The music was still very powerful but the vocals felt weak which I didn't notice up at the front. It's never a good sign if a vocalist lacks the usual power. But, it showed later on that this was not due to Stu's performance. It showed to be the same for other bands later on as well, including CANDLEMASS and weak and Mats Levén can't be mentioned in the same sentence... It's still unfortunate though since this did affect the overall impression.
But the set ICED EARTH delivered weighed up most. The mix of recent songs towards classics was super. Classic “Vengeance Is Mine” from “Dark Saga” followed by the shortly-titled “V” from “Dystopia”. Or, the live debut of “Seven Headed Whore” which was succeeded by “I Died For You”. It really doesn't get much better than that. ICED EARTH kept up the drive straight through the show, a very smart planning of a show they had. It's always the case, especially at a festival like 'Sweden Rock Festival' that it is the classics that count, no matter the band. But the way ICED EARTH did it, those people didn't get the chance to give up since the classics were distributed evenly over the set.
It was cool to hear the crowd sing to “The Hunter”. It's a catchy tune and one that everyone into ICED EARTH seem to hold as a favorite. But for that sake, the low-pitched chorus isn't easy to shout loudly so it became like a murmur rather. So ICED EARTH set a very high standard. They did a fantastic show and I'm glad I managed to look past the issue with the sound and just enjoy.
ICED EARTH setlist:
01. “Great Heathen Army”
02. “Burning Times”
03. “Declaration Day”
04. “Pure Evil”
05. “Vengeance Is Mine”
07. “Seven Headed Whore”
08. “I Died For You”
09. “Boiling Point”
11. “Slave To The Dark”
12. “My Own Savior”
13. “The Hunter”
15. “Watching Over Me”
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The first lady of Hard Rock would of course give ICED EARTH a match for their money. Doro Pesch's energy on stage is always great and she's amazing to watch. And it was very cool to see that she drew a great gathering and filled up the area in front of the massive Festival Stage. Of course, a set of WARLOCK classics should lure people down. Doro Pesch-fans because it's her and WARLOCK fans, well, also because it's her...
But she sure looked tiny up on that massive stage. That she made up for with her big voice though and if not for “Touch Of Evil” at least for “I Rule The Ruins” she'd captivated the entire crowd. Walking out of the photo-pit after “East Meets West” and looking at the first few rows people looked ridiculously happy. And no matter what, this show featured the entire masterpiece “Triumph And Agony” which brought songs never played live before to the set. First of them was “Kiss Of Death”, an extremely cool song if you’d ask me but it didn't beat the feeling of hearing “Make Time For Love” live. Doro's voice cut through the air in this power-ballad and gave me goose-bumps all over my body. Another specialty for this show was that Tommy Bolan, the WARLOCK original guitarist which worked fine with the rest of Doro's faithful servants. The main set closed with “All We Are”, another crowd-favorite which brought on a massive cheer and some good singing from the crowd.
For me, DORO PESCH'S WARLOCK (as it was listed) could have kept going for another hour without getting boring. There are so many good songs that could have been added to the set. I'm not complaining about getting “Earthshaker Rock” and “True As Steel”, not at all. But I still don't get why the JUDAS PRIEST classic “Breaking The Law” being in the set. Good song, classic, bla, bla bla... I get that but I still think both WARLOCK and what's released under the DORO moniker is more interesting than a cover, especially one heard so many times before. But the show was great and remained one of the best throughout the festival.
DORO PESCH'S WARLOCK setlist:
01. “Touch Of Evil”
02. “I Rule The Ruins”
03. “East Meets West”
04. “Three Minute Warning”
05. “Kiss Of Death”
06. “Für Immer”
07. “Cold, Cold World”
08. “Make Time For Love”
09. “Metal Tango”
10. “All We Are”
11. “Earthshaker Rock”
12. “True As Steel”
13. “Breaking The Law” (JUDAS PRIEST cover)
DORO PESCH'S WARLOCK
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Then I ended up in a dispute with myself. Was I going to see Ian Hunter or COHEED AND CAMBRIA? I have seen Ian Hunter before but that was some time in the early 90's. On the other hand, I thought COHEED AND CAMBRIA did a very good gig last time they played the festival. In the end I decided to stop at the Rock Stage for IAN HUNTER & THE RANT BAND. Everything turned out as expected, almost... Musically it sounded amazing, like the sound only very experienced musicians can deliver (Ian had turned 78 a few days prior to the festival). It all trotted on in comfortable pace but was for that sake not tired nor boring. The action on stage was limited, but actually Ian was more forward than I expected. He sure is vital still. But, it was the start of the show that made it more special. It started with guitarist Mark Bosch strutting out on stage and started playing all alone and the rest of the band joined in. The build-up worked and the crowd, which had changed completely since ICED EARTH were thrilled to see it all.
To my excitement I actually knew a few songs, “Once Bitten Twice Shy” for example. Coming home I realized I didn't know any of the IAN HUNTER & THE RANT BAND songs, just the Ian Hunter solo material as well as MOTT THE HOOPLE of course. But with that, “All the Way From Memphis” sure was a treat. It's good on record but the dynamics from the band here made it even better. It was all very cool but I still decided to go and see some of the COHEED AND CAMBRIA set.
IAN HUNTER & THE RANT BAND setlist:
01. “That's When The Trouble Starts”
02. “Once Bitten Twice Shy” (Ian Hunter cover)
03. “Fatally Flawed”
04. “When I'm President”
05. “The Truth, the Whole Truth, Nuthin' But The Truth” (Ian Hunter cover)
06. “Just Another Night” (Ian Hunter cover)
07. “Fingers Crossed”
08. “All the Way From Memphis” (MOTT THE HOOPLE cover)
10. “Bastard” (Ian Hunter cover)
11. “23A, Swan Hill” (Ian Hunter cover)
12. “Sweet Jane” (THE VELVET UNDERGROUND cover)
14. “All the Young Dudes” (David Bowie cover)
15. “Goodnight, Irene” (LEAD BELLY cover)
IAN HUNTER & THE RANT BAND
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Over at the Sweden Stage I got reminded about what I've missed because of my choosing. COHEED AND CAMBRIA was just as good as I remembered them. I'm normally not into this type of Post Grunge/Rock but there's something about the nerve in COHEED AND CAMBRIA's music that appeal to me and also Claudio Sanchez voice makes them stand out. I can only ascertain I got over there too late. I think we got a track and a half from the band and not “Welcome Home” which was the song that got me hooked in the first place. But It was a good reminder about how good they sound live and I sure hope I get another opportunity to see them. If that show clashes with something else I know what to pick, that's for sure.
COHEED AND CAMBRIA
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Next up was one of the bands I was the most eager to see on the whole festival, FATES WARNING. Walking over to the 4 Sound Stage the last notes of “All The Young Dudes” came from the Rock Stage and it became as cozy it only can be when the spirit is high and music and weather is good. For this round, FATES WARNING bassist Joey Vera had to sit out the Euro dates and in came original bass player Joe DiBiase. I really like Joey Vera's playing but I have to admit it was cool to see Joe play too!
“From The Rooftops” from the amazing “Theories Of Flight” opened the set and it all sounded just as fantastic as I expected it to. I think Ray Adler is a fantastic vocalist and his attitude on stage perfectly suites FATES WARNING's music. And to follow that one up with “Life In Still Water” from amazing “Parallels” made it a magic show, even this early in it was clear that this was going to be awesome. Jim Matheos was of course his fabulously grumpy self on his flank. But as he plays flawlessly I really don't mind. This time though he actually stepped forward to the edge of the stage a few times even. I was hoping for a lot of tracks from “Theories Of Flight” since I think that album is great and after the equally incredible “A Pleasant Shade Of Gray, Part III” came “Seven Stars” followed by “SOS”. The last of the two was a song I got stuck on digging into the album and kept hitting repeat on the player countless times. I was a little scared I'd raised my expectations a bit too high but it sounded as fantastic live as on record.
Another song I really enjoyed was “Point Of View”, again from “Parallels”. I know there's been a buzz about FATES WARNING with John Arch, especially since the release of “Awaken The Guardian Live”, recorded in 2016 featuring the original vocalist. That was of course really cool to see but I truly enjoy this version too and it was great to have them focusing on the Ray Adler releases now and ignoring the classics completely. So yes, this too was a fantastic show. Not that I expected anything less from the band. FATES WARNING always deliver.
FATES WARNING setlist:
02. “From The Rooftops”
03. “Life In Still Water”
05. “A Pleasant Shade Of Gray, Part III”
06. “Seven Stars”
09. “The Eleventh Hour”
10. “Point of View”
11. “A Pleasant Shade Of Gray, Part XI”
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No rest for the wicked... Off again and back to the Sweden Stage for PRIMUS. I can't say I've ever been a fan of the band. In fact, the only songs I've heard were the ones spinning on MTV back in the day. I didn't like it and I surely didn't get what it was all about. I can't say I was overly convinced by either “Too Many Puppies” or “Wynona's Big Brown Beaver” this time around either... Funny thing was with PRIMUS though. Normally the photographers are granted three songs but since the PRIMUS songs are very extensive the security got tired of people being in their way and kicked everyone out at the end of the second song. I think everyone was done at that point anyway. It was actually very boring lights for the show. Getting out on the field I realized that the big screen behind the band was black, apparently they didn't get it to work, hence the poor lights.
My idea was to watch a bit and leave when I got bored. I found myself getting lost in PRIMUS hypnotic beat and was actually surprised when the last song was introduced. My taste, and perhaps even more so, my tolerance for well-played music has grown over the years. PRIMUS were convincing in what they were doing and to manage to lure me in and kind of getting lost for almost an hour must say something about how captivating (at least) their performance was. I'm still not convinced though but I would definitely go and see them again if I get the opportunity.
01. “Those Damned Blue-Collar Tweekers”
02. “Last Salmon Man”
03. “Too Many Puppies”
04. “Wynona's Big Brown Beaver”
05. “Frizzle Fry”
06. “Mr. Krinkle”
07. “The Toys Go Winding Down”
08. “The Seven”
09. “My Name Is Mud”
10. “Jerry Was A Race Car Driver”
11. “Here Come The Bastards”
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It was debating whether AEROSMITH were holding tight nowadays or not prior to the festival and the same buzz hung over the crowd prior to gig time too. But, this year's festival was really owned by old(er) geezers that jammed. BLACK STAR RIDERS on the first day (well, Scott Gorham at least...), Ian Hunter earlier on and THE DEAD DAISES (sorry John...) later during the festival. Would AEROSMITH join in there as well? I have to admit, I was a little reluctant that they would beat the great impression I have of the band from the early-mod 90's. But of course they could!
It was of course mainly Steven Tyler and Joe Perry that roamed around the stage, being the show but the dynamics and vibrancy in the music were phenomenal. Again, something decades of routine can generate. Sure, Steven squeaks a little extra here and there but overall everything sounds very good. The flow in the show was also fantastic. I was actually a little surprised that “Cryin'” came so early in the set. But it worked, and the crowd got loud. Not very neat and in tune though, which made parts rather hilarious. And then AEROSMITH kept serving the hits from the MTV era, “Livin' On The Edge”, “Love In An Elevator”, both holding a steady groove and a fantastic stomp. One real highlight was “Janie's Got A Gun”. And for this one especially I didn't think that Steven's voice would hold together, and perhaps it didn't but he solved it perfectly and when his voice broke over the highest notes it sent shivers down my spine, absolutely perfect.
Then Joe Perry took over the microphone for two songs, both FLEETWOOD MAC covers, “Stop Messin' Around” and “Oh Well”. Joe's voice differs quite much from Steven's, it all became more basic and dirty but the break worked and just increased the feeling of musicianship. I would have preferred another two AEROSMITH originals before these two, even if both are very good songs. Then it was back to the real groove again, the 70's songs though, “Mama Kin”, followed by “Back In The Saddle” and “Chip Away The Stone” didn't get the same response as the hits from the 80's and 90's. Ok, “Sweet Emotion” is also a 70's song but that was revived during the 90's. One of my all-time favorites from AEROSMITH is “Dude (Looks Like A Lady)” and that one closed the main set in a fantastic way.
But it was about to become more intense for the encores. Having Steven alone on stage with a white grand piano for “Dream On” was a very cool experience. Genuine, emotional and barren and it all sounded amazing. This was really the high point of the show, even if it was fantastic from start to end. So hell yes, AEROSMITH too was to be counted into the bunch of geezers that jams, hence on the top of the list of best performances also.
01. Intro - “Mannish Boy” (MUDDY WATERS song)
02. “Let The Music Do The Talking”
03. “Young Lust”
05. “Livin' On The Edge”
06. “Love In An Elevator”
07. “Janie's Got A Gun”
08. “Stop Messin' Around” (FLEETWOOD MAC cover)
09. “Oh Well” (FLEETWOOD MAC cover)
10. “Mama Kin”
11. “Back In The Saddle”
12. “Chip Away The Stone”
13. “Sweet Emotion”
14. “I Don't Want To Miss A Thing”
15. “Rag Doll”
16. “Come Together” (THE BEATLES cover)
17. “Dude (Looks Like a Lady)”
18. “Dream On”
19. “Mother Popcorn” (James Brown cover)
20. “Walk This Way”
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But it wasn't over... I really like it that the headliner for the night on the Rock Stage is after the main act on the Festival Stage. Even if the day had been very good, weather and wind take its toll and around midnight I was kind of beat. But I wanted to see EDGUY, at least some of it before I called it a day. And I want to like the band, foremost because Tobias Sammet seems to be a very cool guy. I mean, at a show I saw some (or many) years ago he refused to sell shirts because the venue added about the same amount he wanted to charge for the shirts in commission. Instead, he had a local mail-order company take orders and ship it afterwards instead to make sure fans weren't overcharged for the merch. But no matter how I try, EDGUY's music isn't cutting it for me. I still have to admit it was a trip down memory lane when they played “Vain Glory Opera” and “Tears Of A Mandrake”. So at least EDGUY's music stick when I get around to listen to it. And I have to give them kudos for a fun and very entertaining show. Tobias is a true performer and know how to chase a crowd and get them to follow. And that is fun no matter what. After “Ministry Of Saints” I decided to call it a day. Even if EDGUY did a very good show and I appreciated it more than I expected they didn't beat AEROSMITH's complete run-over. But it sure was a good day, all bands I saw did really well so I sure left the Festival very happy.
01. “Love Tyger”
02. “Vain Glory Opera”
04. “Tears Of A Mandrake”
05. “The Piper Never Dies”
06. “Lavatory Love Machine”
07. “Land Of The Miracle”
08. “Ministry Of Saints”
10. “The Trooper” (IRON MAIDEN cover)
11. “Save Me”
13. “Out Of Control”
14. “King Of Fools”
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