Diana Nitschke, Torsten Volkmer, Rebecca Böhning, Guido v. Damme, Caroline Traitler | Translation: K
Thursday, June 9th 2005, Day 1
In contrast to Germany the weather in Southern Sweden was just fantastic on this first day and also the mood in the wide area directly on the coast fitted to it. The Swedes from CRYSTAL EYES opened this year´s festival on time at 12.15 p.m. and the melodic power metal of the Scandinavians was, with pieces like „Confession Of The Maker“, a perfectly worthy warm-up for the musical elite that was due to perform at the Sweden Rock Festival 2005.
Like in previous years everything was again ideally organized; already at a quite early hour the masses scurried cheerfully around between the stages and the many stands and looked forward to the next hours. And they shouldn´t be disappointed either!
At 1.30 p.m. NAPALM DEATH entered the big Festival Stage and banged the fans a superb 26 song-set around the ears which besides some songs from their new record “The Code Is Red…Long Live The Code” included also divinities like “Scum”, “Deceiver”, “Siege Of Power”, “Nazi Punks Fuck Off” and “Life?”. Awesome!
Not only the Brits provided a mighty “sound thunderstorm”, no, also HELLFUELED who rocked at the same time on the Sweden Stage – by the way, one of the newcomer bands from last year – could thrill the rock fans with their songs. With their typical “Black Sabbath meets Stoner Rock” sound and the cool “Ozzy” vocals the Swedes held all the aces in their native country.
Afterwards two “ex or still” Mercyful Fate musicians presented under the banner FORCE OF EVIL their 2nd studio album on the small Spendrups Stage which was quite well-received. While many fans didn´t miss out on the reunion show from the “splenic fever” boys from ANTHRAX on the Rock Stage, I stopped by the Swedes from FREAK KITCHEN, who by the way, were the house band of the Sweden Rock Festival before Motörhead. What the boys around guitar-wizard and entertainer Mattias IA Eklundh showed on stage contributed as usual optimally to the amusement of the enthusiastic crowd.
The crunchy Sweden-girls from CRUCIFIED BARBARA were not only optically a feast for the eyes but offered also snappy music and thrashed snotty rock cheerfully and tight onto the Spendrups Stage. The fans celebrated enthusiastically to pieces like “Bad Hangover” or the Motörhead cover “Killed By Death”.
In bright sunshine even “Megadave” Mustaine with his “solo band” MEGADEATH had to go on the big Festival Stage already at 4.30 p.m. which affected the live-show a bit. MEGADEATH offered besides older songs like “Angry Again” or ”Peace Sells…” also current tracks from the “The System Has Failed” album. MEGADEATH have awesome songs and you can again rely on them “live”; only, in the middle of the afternoon the spark didn´t really want to jump across.
Afterwards the Dutchmen WITHIN TEMPTATION were granted to present their live-programme on the Sweden Stage and the adorable frontlady Sharon had the fans in the palm of her hands at every minute. With a celebrated “Ice Queen” this performance ended once again way to early. At the same time the old rockers from SAXON lifted the rock fans´ spirits. Both, the younger and the slowly aging rock fans could celebrate vigorously to the numerous classics of the Brits like “Denim And Leather” or “Crusader”.
With STYX one of the early megabands in the melodic hardrock-domain presented themselves live in Sweden while at the same time the reunited MORGANA LEFAY romped on the Spendrups Stage in front of surprisingly many fans. Singer Charles felt visibly good when their followers celebrated to songs like “Hollow” or “Master Of The Masquerade”.
Then a very special musical duel arose between MOTÖRHEAD on the Rock Stage and NAZARETH on the Sweden Stage. While Lemmy and co dashed their volume breakers in the evening sky as usual the 2 remaining original members, singer Dan McCafferty and bassist Pete Agnew, of NAZARETH set a high value on emotion with their timeless songs like “Dream On”, “Miss Misery” and of course “Razamanaz”. But also MOTÖRHEAD gave the fans a good dressing down and played the brilliant „Just Cos You´ve Got The Power (That Don´t Mean You Got The Right)“, surprised with 2 numbers from the “Another Perfect Day” album and the awesome encore triple “Bomber”, “Ace Of Spades” and “Overkill”.
The final chords of this first, sunny and perfect festival day were played by ACCEPT who were reactivated for the festival season only. It´s always nice to celebrate and sing along to the refrains of “Metal Heart” and “London Leather Boys”, also at the Sweden Rock Festival. Many thousand Swedes responded to the call of the band from Solingen and celebrated a peaceful, a bit chilly (at least regarding the nightly temperatures) but still awesome METAL-party.
Friday, June 10th 2005, Day 2
After the first day had already spawned some musical highlights, it was up to the Swedes from SABATON to open the second day with their melodic heavy metal sounds in the name of Dream Evil. Many viewers in front of the Spendrups Stage already celebrated enthusiastically shortly before 12 p.m. and let the gig unanimously become a little triumph for the sextet.
The opinions clearly clashed when the Swedes MUSTASCH who filled in for their fellow countrymen Arch Enemy took to the Rock Stage at 12 pm sharp. While some viewers believed to have seen a rather static performance the fans found the unexpected show of the men in black very entertaining. The tight performance – singer/guitarist Ralf Gyllenhammar made a trip into the crowd and sang partly without mic at the top of his voice – was well-received by the fans. A hit like the concluding “Black City” was sang out loud by them. This mix of stoner rock, snot rock and 70´s influences could´ve been smashed out a bit more scruffier but as a warm up of this day it was absolutely okay.
You couldn´t get to hear scruffiness from THE LIZARDS who played at the same time but instead at times endlessly long, whiny numbers like “Dark Angel”. They offered proper 70´s based, partially psychedelic rock that was supported by harmonica and Hammond organ.
ROB ROCK kicked off on the Spendrups Stage in front of a handful of melodic-types. After he had already grumbled at the sound check that it is way to early in the day, you could see quickly that he was a bit tired at the beginning and held off with the high screams. This changed a bit in the course of the just under 40minute gig and so he could score with the Abba-cover “Eagle”, the new “Slayer Of Souls” or numbers from his debut like “Streets Of Madness” and left few but satisfied viewers behind.
BLACK LABEL SOCIETY had their turn on the Festival Stage and had surely attracted some thousand people to the big stage who got the snotty mix of rock and metal from master Zakk Wylde blown into their ears and so the rests of the previous night were expelled. Definitely no “hangover music”!
It wouldn´t have been bad to have some alcohol in your blood with LANA LANE because soberly viewed their performance was rather so-so. The sound didn´t bring out the great voice of the pretty singer and the band played their programme a little too slick. It was solid and tight indeed but you are used to somewhat higher standards from LANA. Surely, the partly heavy wind that tore up the sound wasn´t helpful but with the heavily played “Destination Roswell” there was a forgiving closing.
HELIX on the Rock Stage lived up to the name of their stage because the Canadians ROCKED! Incredible, how energetic and super-rehearsed they presented numbers like “Freak Out” or also material from their new record with a lot of fun in their cheeks (and a cute second singer). Brilliant and an unexpected surprise like last year at the same place Danger Danger!
You were also reminded of last year´s Sweden Rock with OVERKILL. Like their thrash-colleagues from Exodus they took the same stage by storm and like the Exo-guys they didn´t miss the opportunity to finish the successful gig with a heavy version of the AC/DC classic “Dirty Deeds Done Cheap”. It was clear that afterwards all fans bellowed to Blitz´s order: “We don´t care what you say – FUCK YOU”. This probably wasn´t aimed at the music from OVERKILL because even after more than 20 years of band history Blitz and co showed that they are neither “Rotten To The Core” nor put up for “Elimination”.
SYMPHORCE were one of the few German representatives this year. The guys were up to play the Spendrups Stage at early afternoon. A small stage and an unearthly hour can ruin the mood of one or the other band and only a few and even less motivated viewers only contribute to the deterioration of the affection but with SYMPHORCE everything was different. Nice guy Andi interacted with the crowd like no one else. His positive aura immediately spread to the people in front of the stage and so it was properly rocked out to the traditional power metal sounds. Well done, guys!
With KANSAS stood like last year (Heart) slowly aging legends on the stage at coffeetime. It´s said that the Americans so far have never played live on a European festival. For a band with that history quite astonishing. Thus, many people were gathered in front of the Festival Stage. The heavy rock with permanent violin sections was generally well-received but a real party mood didn´t come up. Of course “Dust In The Wind” was offered to the fans at the end and at least the last part was true because on this day a stiff breeze blew from time to time and intensified the considerably lower temperatures in comparison to the previous day.
At the same time with Kansas the Swedes from SATANIC SLAUGHTER made noise and lured quite a number of bangers to the Spendrups Stage. They were entertained well with superfast black thrash hymns and nice titles like “Apocalyptic War” that reminded here and there of Kreator in oldschool black metal style.
A first sensational performance on Friday left its marks on the Rock Stage when DREAM THEATER entered it and brought the crowd to a frenzy. The Americans rocked out and came across even heavier than on their records. The men around dedicated vocalist James LaBrie and drum dynamo Mike Portnoy put across both snappy heaviness (“Panic Attack”) and also emotional moments (“The Spirit Carries On”) perfectly. With “Pull Me Under” the crowd went completely bonkers and you could see everywhere happy Europeans and Overseans – many Americans were present - singing along. Guitarist John Petrucci will always appear slightly frosty; this won´t change in 10 years either. Anyway – thumbs up!
By now it should be clear to every one of you that HAMMERFALL are folk heroes in Sweden. Thus the men around guitarist Oscar Droniak were celebrated during their entire gig. And so it was no surprise that the Swedes came across ponderous at the beginning. But don´t worry that Hammerfall have lost the former charm of their earlier days. After a totally failed drum solo and a following guitar solo the band remembered their strengths, put out all their hits and celebrated a nice “family evening” with 10´000 fellow countrymen.
The performance from the Poles of BEHEMOTH has to be labelled as sensational from the view of a death metal fan. What mastermind Nergal and his eerily painted fellows offered on the Spendrups Stage was just perfect. The guys thrashed their technical death metal hymns with an impressing precision into the crowd and are by now the better Morbid Angel with slight black metal influences. Brilliant!
The foxy ladies from VIXEN showed bite again after over a century of absence in Sweden and cast a spell over many headbangers and hardrock fans in front of the Sweden Stage. This wasn´t so difficult in the face of many old hits like “Cryin´” or “Edge Of A Broken Heart”. The mood level didn´t fall either when Vixen presented several new songs.
STATUS QUO showed once again in Sweden that they, now in their dotage, are still able to command a crowd of 10´000 people and brought everyone – yes, really everyone – attending to a collective boogie-sway along and this until the end of their regular set without even having played one of their big hits. Those were saved for the encores and so only at the end they were “rocking all over the world”. What Francis Rossi and co, in their age, collectively put onstage regarding joy in playing is awesome.
This joy in playing translated almost one-to-one to the headliner of the 2nd day: SAMMY HAGAR and his Cabo Wabos. The more than cheerful performer and his supertight-playing band (2 drummers) presented a well-balanced summary of the almost 30 years spanning career of the blond-curled nice guy from the States. From Montrose numbers over Sammy Hagar solo songs like “I Can´t Drive 55” to Van Halen epics like “Why Can´t This Be Love?” the good-humoured group offered a diverse medley of snappy hardrock songs and gave proof why Sammy Hagar is in contrast to Europe so hip in America. Unfortunately, this could be also seen in the sparse number of viewers, which wasn´t worthy of a headliner. In between SAMMY had some pretty – of course blonde – girls bring him some drinks and at a late hour smashed with his guitar as a special effect an oversized tequila bottle from which a bucketful of confetti was laid off. Cheers! .
Saturday, June 11th 2005, Day 3
Hard to believe but unfortunately true – the 3rd festival day had begun! In bright sunshine – although it was pitch-black in the sky all around – the Swedes THERION and the Swiss SHAKRA kicked off at the same time. THERION populated the Rock Stage. Besides the band members Christoffer Johannson had packed a solo singer and a choir with 4 singers who refined hymns like “The 7 Secrets Of The Sphinx” or “The Invocation Of Naamah” and delighted the numerous crowd. Awesome was also the Mercyful Fate cover “Black Funeral” that was played as the last song.
The fun-loving Swiss of SHAKRA have nothing to do with that kind of topics and so they kicked off with the positive hymn “Why Don´t You Call Me”. Superb melodic rock and a dynamic, cheerful start to the day.
PAGAN´S MIND following those 2 bands liked it a bit more progressive and attracted such a big crowd to the Spendrups Stage that even the hill that was situated close to the stage was crammed. The musicians offered an energy-laden show and convinced with melodic progressive power metal. Another good reason to check out the new record of the guys called “Enigmatic: Calling” which was released recently.
KIM MITCHELL had his turn on the Festival Stage. The fans enjoyed the melodic and bluesy rock of the Canadian visibly relaxed and he in turn supposedly didn´t disappoint the fans of melodic, blues-tinged 70´s rock, thanks to amongst others “Go For Soda” and “Rock´n´Roll Duty”.
Completely different the Swedish trio from DEFLESHED. The 3 blokes thrashed insane blast thrash riffs like you´ve never heard before. For some of the unfortunately sparsely attending fans the hyper thrash was apparently too rough and so they over and over walked off during the dozen tracks. Doesn´t matter because Gustav and co fought their way with a big grin through gems like “Fast Forward” or “Return Of The Flesh”. It´s of course a particular pleasure to watch drummer Matte Modin who casually smiling beats the heaviest sections. Great!
After the ageless and good MAGNUM and SEBASTIAN BACH who played a lot of classics to the good-humoured and enthusiastically celebrating masses (amongst others “On A Storyteller´s Night” or “18 And Alive”) the Swedes from FACE DOWN brought their neothrash to the Spendrups Stage. Although the Swedes kicked off wholeheartedly they couldn´t reach the mood and class of the grand old men who are always guarantors for great performances. Because of overlappings the grin-rockers from GEMINI 5 who rocked the tent in which a cover show had taken place before unfortunately fell by the wayside.
These shows were only a foretaste of what YNGWIE MALMSTEEN afterwards had to offer to the lads and lasses in front of the Festival Stage. A joyously playing YNGWIE soloed, riffed and fiddled himself into nirvana but didn´t forget songs like “I´m A Viking”, “I´ll Be The Light Tonight” or more smoochy songs like “You Don´t Remember, I´ll Never Forget”. Dougie White swung his vocal cords to the melodic metal numbers so that the somewhat fattened master of the 6 strings showed a content look. However, he didn´t miss any opportunity to demonstrate his arts so that also after this performance you face the choice if you love or hate the Swede. There´s nothing in between which was also reflected by the reactions.
To see/hear BLACKFOOT without the scruffiest voice of the scene (Rick Medlocke) is certainly a bit sad but Bobby Barth (AXE) was a more than worthy substitute when “Good Morning”, “Wishing Well” or “Every Man Should Know” were rocked into the Swedish sky. In any case the group displayed a lot of dedication, honesty and emotion, not least to honour the early death of drummer Jakson Spires with a new very touching song. For me personally the highlight was the awesome “Left Turn On A Red Light” and (for everyone) of course the southern rock hymn “Highway Song”. In 1½ hours BLACKFOOT didn´t make the mistake to overstrain their guitar work but always soloed appropriate to the song. Finally rocking to “Dry County”? Gladly!
That you can never be sure with CANDLEMASS if the band still exists next week or if Messiah Marcolin once again had a quarrel with Leif Edling is one story. That the Swedes are talented entertainers onstage is another story. Luckily at Sweden Rock the second story was followed through. And although you have to frankly say that the kings of doom had left out some classics like “Bewitched” in their choice of songs to push the new album “Candlemass” the concert was again an absolute highlight. With Messiah as fronter every band in the world would do well. It´s unbelievable what this man puts onstage when it comes to joy at playing, charisma and power. His doom dance will surely have build up its own culture in 1000 years. Fortunately, my all-time favourite “At The Gallows End” from the legendary “Nightfall” Album didn´t fell victim to the CANDLEMASS setlist deletions and so I had at least one absolute highlight.
Performances from DIO also belong to my all-time favourites, although I have seen him live over and over again in the last 5 years. As co-headliner he had booked the Rock Stage as his “living room”. Unfortunately, that stage is not as spacious as the Festival Stage on the opposite side and so it got quite crammed. The viewers that SAMMY HAGAR was lacking were clearly too many with DIO and so the beginning jostle turned into spontaneous escape. In the end I enjoyed the main part of the concert from the back rows which meant that I really had to search for DIO with a magnifier. But safety first. DIO´s setlist included all of his big hits, although “Holy Diver” was played rather early. However, With “Rainbow In The Dark” and “Heaven And Hell” DIO had saved his über-hits for last. The performance of DIO was quite alright but vocally he has been in better conditions before. Nevertheless DIO certainly belongs to the Top 5 of this festival.
As expected there was a lot of fuss about MÖTLEY CRÜE. The backstage area was doubly secured. The big van drove up, the hairdos were styled rightly once again and then it got going. Already at the press conference the media tent burst at the seams, it was not different at the gig. Messrs Sixx, Mars, Neil and Lee were virtually shouted to the stage from 20´000 fanatically screaming fans. At first some kind of mini monster from a fun fair came to the stage and was accompanied by several cheap strippers. The show had begun and this meant “Fire at will!” The hot side show went through the whole gig and so the girls from the intro came back for „Girls, Girls, Girls“ to rip their short tops off at 8 degrees Celsius. With songs like “Shout At The Devil”, “Too Fast For Love” and “Looks That Kill” the Americans probably met the taste of the about 5000 MÖTLEY CRÜE t-shirt wearers. However, this mustn´t belie the fact that Vince Neil wasn´t in best shape. But because the masses liked the band the Americans were a worthy headliner and closed the festival which has absolutely established itself as a spearhead of metal and rock concerts in Europe. See ya next year in Sölvesborg! Hej då!!!