Thursday, June 12, 2014

Sweden Rock Festival- Solvesborg, Sweden June 4-7th, 2014

Sue and I met at this festival 8 years ago.. Wow… how the time flies. We have been staying in the same place for the last 3 years and the place has the same people every year (Spanish people for the last 8 years, and Finnish people for the last 14 years) so everyone knows each other a bit now… We arrived in time to settle in and have a bit of a rest. The clock in the room was off by an hour so we laid around too long and missed Vdelli from Australia, whom, was one of the few bands I really wanted to see on this day.. Pity..

Freak Kitchen (Sweden) has played many times at Sweden Rock but I had never seen them. They had a pretty large crowd and played what the people needed, some good old straight forward heavy rock songs with some heavy metal guitar solos. We did not hang around too long and went off to see if anything was new.

          It was really disappointing to see they did not take the advice of the people or the soundmen to move the Rockklassiker stage and it was in the same position as the last two years. This is just a nightmare whenever anyone is playing on the Rock stage as it sucks for us watching the band but probably also for the players and certainly for the soundman. We must start a petition to get this moved next year. This is just not right and ruins the experience for everyone at that stage. Just foolish they have not fixed this…  

We checked out this young band who really wish the heyday of the 80’s would return called Dust Bowl Jokies… so what is a Jokie??? I have never heard the English word?? Anyway, people were really having fun and the band even had explosions and fireworks, etc.. and a real small following that loved them. It was like a mix of Faster Pussycat, Skid Row and these types of bands with every cliché in the book being used…. Fun…

Backstreet Girls (Norway) was much more fun though. The singer was a lurch like giant compared to the small guitar player and they were quite silly at times but played straight up Ramones inspired rock and roll music with a bit of a snotty attitude at times… Lots of fun songs and they even ended the set with Blitzkrieg Bop by the Ramones….

Eddie Meduza Lever (Sweden) had a large crowd and we tried to check some of it out but this was very Swedish and if you are not Swedish you will not really get or understand this bands humour. A bit like a Swedish version of Slade with some more nasty songs. There is a huge amount of info on this Swedish legend, who is now dead, named Eddie Meduza.. This gave us some time to go around to the stands and see what people were selling food wise and also merch and other stuff. Was cool to see my friend Johnny, who has a great stand of vinyl and CDs for sale under the Record heaven name.. We had a short chat…

We caught the first 25mins of Crowbar but this dual guitar, heavy tuned down angry stuff, I get quite bored with. Why have two guitars that both play 95% of the exact same chords? There are no guitar solos, not enough variation to keep me interested. People seem to enjoy it though so they must be doing something correct.

Black Trip (Sweden) is a new young band that is very inspired by Thin Lizzy. They have watched the videos, got the moves, the harmony guitars, the young energy the band had in 1977 or so…. Nils said they were great at Muskelrock so we checked them out and stayed for the entire show actually…. It was really enjoyable but they are not very original at all but do the Lizzy vibe and 70s rock great. The lead guitar player was really excellent on the right side. The end of the set they covered Outlaw by Riot and Built for Speed (Motorhead)… Fun stuff..

Magnum was up next and I guess we stayed and watched about 45mins and some of it was really cool like the long version of Jerusalem and a lot of it just did not interest me at all. This mid paced melodic hard rock sound with the occasional heavier guitar augmented with some cool and some padded synths, the style I really don’t like. The crowd loved them…

The Rainmakers were a US band I had never heard of and they actually did bring the rain! It had been dry since the festival started with only a few drops but half way through their set it really started to rain.. They had some really fun songs like Shithole Town, Monster Movie and others.. I actually guide liked them but it was hard to describe the style. Quirky rock music, sense of humour like the Talking Heads but a more music like Jason and the Scorchers or something.. They are from Kansas City… 

We caught a few songs of the Paul Dianno vs. Blaze Bayley before we left. I would have like to see Queensryche but the weather had turned quite nasty and we were tired now. The Iron Maiden thing had a huge crowd and it is sort of weird to see these ex-singers doing all these songs but clearly there is still an audience for it. Both singers are now bald and overweight and sing not nearly as well as they did back in the day (some singers are still great today like Bruce, Gillan, etc..)…. Anyway,,… the crowd was huge and into it and having fun and that is the way it is supposed to be…
Blaze Bayley

Day 2

11:00 We are already on the bus and want to see Jake E. Lee’s new band at 12. Spoke to people on the bus and Queensryche were supposed to have been really excellent. Lots of energy and focus on their new and early material. Pity we missed them.

12:00 We saw the first half hour of this new Swedish band Riot Horse. This was a great way to start the day with some bluesy 70s hard rock style stuff. The band played well together in their 3-4min short song format. I think they have a way to go before they take it to the next level. The guitar player just was a bit of a let-down for me… it is his role to really make the songs go to the next level with better soloing, more emotion, pushing the bass player.. they all seemed a bit too relaxed… I still enjoyed their songs and will check out their record.

The crowd for Jake E. Lee’s Red Dragon Cartel was not that big but the people slowly came. Sadly, the first half of the concert was completely
Jake E Lee's Red Dragon Cartel
fucked up as Jake’s guitar cut out three different times during three different songs when he was soloing. I don’t know if it was his cables, pedals, the amplifier (this seem to be the problem..) or what but it sucked the energy out of the show completely. The last half they tried to make it up but the momentum, as shot. It was great to hear a lot of the old Badlands songs like Zep inspired High Wire, Shine On from Voodoo Highway, etc… I liked this band and saw them once back in 1992, I think.. He of course played Bark at the Moon.. Cool to see him back.. he started slow but was ripping at the end…

13:10 We saw the entire set of this new Swedish band, Mamont. They have had recently played in Copenhagen but I missed them but I picked up their record but had only heard one side. They were fantastic! A great mix of psych, stoner and doom with some 70s mixed it. The lead guitar player on the left he was great and did a lot of solos. The whole band played well and the singer was really passionate and into it as well. I have no idea what the set was but they were very good and a huge surprise..

15 the weather was very nice now so we sat up on the hill and heard most of the Cloven Hoof concert and that was not what I had expected. It is only the original bass player and a lot of young people and they play more like 90s heavy metal or something.. Lots of guitar heroic like solos, screaming vocals at times.. The young singer who also did a lot of lead guitar he was great, no doubt but the songs were just a lot of energy and fast solos and it did not really speak to me at all. Nothing epic.. I don’t think they even played any of their old songs at all.


16 Transatlantic was not a band I had actually expected to see but in the end, they were really fantastic. This is a prog superstar band with guys from Spock’s Beard, Dream Theatre, and the Flower Kings. Ronnie, the guitar player from the Flower Kings totally blew me away. That guy was killer…. They sounded a lot like early Kansas at times for me and they had really good songs with lots of solos, which was excellent. Amazing sound as well. The crowd was good until it started to really piss down rain during the bands last long song and people were sent scattering for shelter or their rain coats, etc… A very good concert…   I briefly met my friend Mats which was great..

17 We went to go see Black Stone Cherry but ended up leaving as the sound was just awful. The bass was so overdriven that you could nearly only heard bass, drums and vocals… Totally shit sound. I tried to tell the sound guy but he did nothing. There were a lot of people who also said the sound was shit.. This was the only band with bad sound yesterday.. It was not the sound system but the sound man…. Anyway, they had a lot of energy and all the sounds sounded the same to me, when you can’t hear the guitars clearly.. We left..  I had hoped to catch some of Turisas but we missed all but the last 1 min, just in time to take a picture. Damn..

19 A huge surprise was a 30th year old UK band called The men they couldn’t Hang. It was UK folk music mixed with some inspiration from Wales, Ireland and Scotland. They had two male singers, mandolin, two guitars, bass and drums. A lot of fantastic songs and they had a really great sense of humour. People were dancing and generally acting very silly but having a great time…

20 Another huge surprise was just how great, The Crystal Caravan were. This is a young new Swedish band that has made 2-3 records of high energy rock and roll. I have the first couple but had never seen them and they kicked our ass. One of the
The Crystal Caravan

Alter Bridge
highlights today for sure. The singer is a happy, fat and charismatic guy.. He also can really sing.. not sure he needed to take off his shirt for us but what the hell, its rock and roll!!!!!!!!!! Fantastic concert. I just totally got sucked into the vibe…  When they finished we went over and saw a bit of Altar Bridge, but all their songs sounded he same to start so we went to get some food and came back and heard the last part of the show. We could hear them where we ate, we just could not see them.. They had a huge and very enthusiastic crowd. The singer is great and a solid band. The lead guitar player seems to play the same style of ripping solos on every song. Wish he had a bit more variety. They played one ballad like song towards the end of the set where the singer did a great guitar solo as well. Pretty cool…

21:45 Now you had to choose between Rob Zombie and Uriah Heep. It was an easy choice for us.. Uriah Heep, of course.. I saw them for the first time in 1982 but I think this was the best ever. Mick Box was really killing it on the guitar today and what a great sound mix. They had poor sound last time they played. The classics were of course the best and it is a pity they always play the same ones, Sunrise, Gypsy, Look at yourself (The best song), July Morning, etc… They did play two new songs, one of which was pretty good. What did really surprise me was how amazing and intense the drummer of this band was. He hit he drummer and played more intensely than anyone we saw, including Mr. Portnoy from Transatlantic… Amazing drumming… they played a great set.. We missed he encore though as we wanted to get a good place for Alice Cooper and one more beer and have pee…..

01:00 Alice Cooper…. What can you say??? The guy is still totally amazing. He sings great, he performs great, has a killer band, great stage set up…. Just damn fun mix of the old songs. He opened up with Hello Hurray  and No more Mr. Nice guy, Dept of Youth, Billion Dollar Babies., and a mix of some newer songs as well. He had an amazing female guitarist how did more than 50% of all the lead guitar.,… very intense style of playing..  The graveyard set as I will call it was so cool. They popped up some different gravestones on the stage and then later on the backdrops for 4 famous dead rock musicians and then performed one of their songs. They started off with Jim Morrison and Break on through to the other Side, then John Lennon and the songs Revolution.. next up was Jimi Hendrix and Foxy Lady and finally, Keith Moon and My generation. They played the complete songs, not just a few hints but the real full songs. Alice did a great job of singing them all. The Hendrix one was the most difficult for him to try to sound like Jimi.. Wow.. so cool…  We got all the hits like Under my Wheels, 18, Schools out, I love the Dead, the ballad of Dwight Fry, etc… The huge Frankenstein character was really awesome as well. Like a  large Iron Maiden Eddie figure. Fantastic concert.. Dark Angel was playing when we left but we had been there hearing bands for more than 12 hrs now..

Set List: Hello Hooray, House of Fire, No More Mr. Nice Guy, Under My Wheels, I'll Bite Your Face Off, Billion Dollar Babies, Caffeine, Department of Youth, Hey Stoopid, Dirty Diamonds>Jam,Welcome to My Nightmare, Go to Hell, He's Back (The Man Behind the Mask), Feed My Frankenstein, Ballad of Dwight Fry, I Love the Dead, Break On Through (to the Other Side) Revolution, Foxy Lady, My Generation, I'm Eighteen, Poison, School's Out (with Rob Zombie)

Day 3

This was Swedish national day celebration and they had some specific things going on including some funny music for kids and adults on the main stage with the Electric Banana band. We could only seem them from a distance with a lot of pink and some people in banana suits… Skillet (USA) was on the Sweden Stage and I heard only one song by them as I walked over to see Talisman. Skillet was a strange mix of pop music and heavy metal riff guitars. The singer also played violin. It was a strange mix but people liked it.. They had a big crowd. Talisman had reunited just for this show and this was the first time they had played since Sweden Rock 7 years ago, the singer Jeff said. It was a large crowd but I know for sure I don’t care for this sort of melodic metal, with the sweet singing, almost pop but mixed with metal also but more melodic, smooth, fast ripping guitar solos, etc….. I watch a few songs but then headed over to the 4 Sound stage where I really wanted to see Jaguar. Garry, the guitar player was just sitting on the stage so I spoke to him a bit and he was super cool and excited to play. He said all was well but he had a bit of arthritis these days so sometimes it was a bit more of a struggle to rip it up!

14 Jaguar totally kicked ass. It was so much fun to hear these old songs. I own all their old 7” and original press records as well. The singer was just fantastic! Sounded a bit like Biff from Saxon at time but he was funny and sang very powerfully. They played a lot of cool old songs like Axe Crazy, Dutch Connection, Stormchild, War Machine, etc…. Crowd was into it for sure and grew as the band played.. It was early…..

16 Joe Bonamassa started at 14 and played for 75 mins. He had 90 but quit 15 mins early and no encore. I did not expect him to play a Theremin but that was something different. He opened with a few heavy numbers before going into the more slow bluesy stuff. He also played soul, funk and of course a long and jammed out version of the Ballad of John henry.. It was a great set and the sun was out in full force.. I had not seen him since his first Europe tour in 1999. He has a great band and plays amazing guitar. Very good set. Poor Sue was in the cue for the bathroom for 45mins during their set as they had a local pipe break and the festival had to shut down 90% of the toilets for a period of time…

Set List: h Beautiful, Story of A Quarryman, Midnight Blues, Who's Been Talking, Slow Train
?, ?, Sloe Gin, The Ballad of John Henry

18 Kverlertak (Norway) was next up on the big stage. I had never heard of them. They are a 6 piece band with a powerful front singer and three guitar players (all riffing and very few solos). This was really angry, rock music with a punky, hardcore edge. The singer started the show of with this amazing owl mask. Wow.. that was cool…. This was a band that really lacked variety though. All the songs were about the same high speed and it was more rock and roll than metal, which was good but I got very tired of the singer yelling or screaming at me all the time… They really suffered from terrible sound though. The bass was just so overdriven that if you were standing where most of the audience was you just had a lot of low end, screaming voice, kick drum and some thin sounding guitars that were just noisy with no definition.

19 Blues Pills, are a young new blues from band living in Sweden but composed of a French guitar player, American bass and drums and powerful Swedish female singer. They played nearly the exact set as I saw the week before at Freak Valley but they did not do the opening jams and just played the songs on the records as they are on the record with no variation. All the songs are 3-5mins long. They are great players and could really jam it out but they don’t. Maybe one day. The crowd was really into it and they sounded great despite being drowned out by TNT on the Rock stage.. This really sucks that you can hear the band on the other stage better than the stage you are standing at. I still don’t understand why they don’t change the placement of the stage. It really sucks..
Blues Pills

20 Next we checked out a few songs of the high energy Swedish R&R band called Royal Republic. They had a big crowd and the music was very choreographed and they had a killer energy and attitude. They were really fun but it we got a bit bored after 4 songs so decided to go sit and hear some of Kamelot on the main stage. They had a huge amazing backdrop. I had never heard of them but they are another of these bands like Nightwish, Within Temptation, etc.. but the main vocalist is male but they also had female backing singers and sometimes lead vocals as well. Powerful, dramatic, melodic metal but a bit too predictable. This is a genre that is very hard to be unique. Each song that the heavy guitar riff, the combination of angry vocal, beautiful singing, ripping lead guitar, occasional keyboard solo but mostly these pad synths… No doubt they had some very great songs and played very well. Their sound was not so good to start, way too much bass like most of the bands on this stage this year.

22:15 We had to choose between WASP and Canned Heat… I had seen WASP many times and they never change the main set list so they were for sure going to be predictable. We went for Canned Heat, the old American band that was by far the oldest band to play this year, having played at Woodstock and starting in 1966! It was pretty relaxed blues with some nice harmonica and single or dual guitars. We really enjoyed the full concert from up on the hill. A lot of older people but also young ones.. This was something very different and a nice change.

23:30 BLACK SABBATH! IT is always great to see Black Sabbath and Ozzy was in a funny state making these “Cuckoo Cuckoo” sounds from backstage before they started. They opened with War Pigs and the sound was massive and powerful. Ozzy sounded quite good on this day but many times his vocal timing was slightly off since he reads all the lyrics from the monitor for every song instead of just knowing when to sing. The set was very focused on the early stuff, which Ozzy can sing best. Tony was struggling with his solos early in the concert and really lacked his normal speed but he was killing it by the time Age of Reason came around and played some great solos.. IT seems he was improvising his solos a bit more. Awesome concert.

Set List: War Pigs, Into the Void, Snowblind, Age of Reason, Black Sabbath, Behind the Walls of Sleep>NIB, Iron Man, Faries wear boots (with drum solo), God is Dead, Children of the Grave, Paranoid

01:30 After Black Sabbath you had the choice to see UDO, who replaced Megadeth or Death SS. I have some of the old Death SS recordings and had never seen them. They are quite a controversial horror metal band from Italy. They had a really cool stage set up with these big crosses, paper flames, and a screen where they showed clips of old horror films like Village of the Damned, and others.. They all had really intense make up and the music was mixture of mid and fast paced metal tracks. Steve is a great front man and singer and did a great job of acting. They had these women come up at various times as a dominatrix, completely naked with just a thin veil of clothes and at the end of the show they had a simulated sex scene on the stage. I really liked it a lot. Cool stuff and the music was very good. We were too tired to stay and see Therion though. We heard that was a stripped down line up and not the big band with all the singers and choir, etc.. Madjock said they were good and played a sort of greatest hits set. I guess most bands do these days, which is a pity…

Day 4

The Hawkins

10:40 I am on the bus with the Spanish and Finnish people from our hotel and I am going early as I want to see a bit of Horizont at 11:45 and Monster Magnet at 12. At 11:30 was a young band called The Hawkins. A Young four piece band that really rocked. I filmed one of their songs but sadly had to delete the video to make room on my camera. I liked what I heard.. Rockin'...

Horizont had a quite large crowd and really rocked out. I saw the first three songs including the Unseen and then I ran off to see Monster Magnet. On the last tour they played the entire new record from start to finish. I had my doubts they would do that at the festival. Monster Magnet totally blew us away. What a great choice of songs and a great concert. Dave was sounding great and having a good time although he did say much to the audience. They opened with Superjudge, a song I had not seen them play in a very long time. There was loads of classics in the set like most bands and nothing really out surprising. The two new songs were great live.

Set List: Superjudge, Medicine, Nod Scene, Dopes to Infinity, Last Patrol, Look to your Orb, Powertrip, Spacelord, ??, Tractor

My friend Gustav said we should see some of a band his friend Charlie plays in called the Night Flight Orchestra, which is a Swedish all-star group that get together to play classic 70-80s style rock like Boston or Styx. This was a band of great musicians and they were having fun and actually they played a lot of guitar and keyboard solos (although he was mixed too low). The crowd was having a good time as well. The weather was amazing on this day.

15 The RODS hit the stage at 14 and just rocked the place for an hour. I had last seen them in 1982 opening for Foghat, who were actually playing later today, which is funny. I was scheduled to do an interview with the band later today. Anyway, they played a great set. I had hoped to hear Waiting for Tomorrow and Nothing going on in the City (which they did play part of during a medley with Crank it Up and Power Lover). They played tracks from most all their records, which was cool. This was a band that still has the original members and they all were smiling and having such a great time playing together again. Great to see. Solid concert…..

Set List: Hold On For Your Life, Devil's Guy, Let Them Eat Metal>Born To Rock, Evil In Me
I Just Wanna Rock, Burned By Love>Drum Solo, The Night Lives To Rock, Fight Fire With Fire>Too Hot To Stop, Hurricane, Cold Sweat And Blood, Nothing Going On In The City>Crank It Up>Power Lover, I Live For Rock And Roll

16 Next, we went and sat down on the grass and heard some of Foghat. This is a band that were so great when I saw them in 1980 on the Boogie Motel tour with Blackfoot opening. Today, the band more or less played exactly the same concert as they did 5 years ago, which is a bit sad to see. I also felt like the songs were just a bit off today and lacked this sort of stoned groove they used to have. The crowd did not seem that into it to start but really dug it at the end.

Set List: Road Fever, Home in My Hand, Slide solo, Driven Wheel, Stone Blue,???????, Slow Ride

I had never seen Sodom before so we left Foghat after 30mins and went and saw the Sodom concert. They had a pretty good crowd and it was hot in the sun watching them. What a great energy. The pit really started up when they played Blasphemer from the first record. I don’t ever listen to this kind of music at home anymore but I really still enjoy to see these bands live actually..  We made it back to hear most of Slow Ride by Foghat actually.

16:30 Now you had to choose between Powerwulf, Pain of Salvation or Y&T. I had my interview with the Rods at 17:15 in the VIP area so we decided to see Y&T at the main stage. Y&T said this was their 3rd time to play here and the first time was back in 2003. We saw part of their set like 5 years ago. They were a great band in the 70s and most of the 80s, never becoming totally commercial and sticking with their mostly hard rock roots. The set was a real mix of their popular hits and hard rock songs. I was able to see the first 40mins of the show up through Black Tiger (although I could hear the rest of the show in the backstage area very clearly).

Set List: Mean Streak, Don't Stop Runnin', Don't Be Afraid of The Dark, Hang 'Em High
Dirty Girl, Midnight In Tokyo, Black Tiger, Winds of Change, I'm Coming Home, I Want Your Money, Contagious, I'll Cry For You, Rescue Me, Summertime Girls, Forever

Dave and Garry of the Rods

The Rods interview did not go that smoothly. Me another guy from a Norwegian radio show were sitting and waiting as the guy before us went 30mins overtime and had like tons of pictures and all the bands records he wanted signed, it was bit annoying. The band, one of the shortest in the history of metal and rock were super cool guys and we talked about the tour they did in 82 with Foghat and Danny Joe Brown, what they did for a living today, the state of the music business, etc.. sadly, my SD card on my recorder would not let me record so I had to record only some of the interview on my camera with video and that filled up as well. So I could not even get a picture with the band, pity. We agreed to stay in touch and I would send them the live recordings I made of them in the 80s…

18:30 Five Horse Johnson totally kicked our ass! This was one of my favourites today for sure. I just love their mix of stoner blues with harmonica with a lot of attitude. I will for sure have to get their new record..  They were in a really good mood and very happy to be playing. The crowd was really into it as well. Fun band..  Saga (Canada) was still playing so we could hear some of them while we waited for Avatarium.

20 Avatarium played a very solid concert. I had only seem 2 songs at Roadburn but it was nice to hear the entire concert. This was the only band really playing doom at the festival this year. They had a lot of great songs with some cool synthesizer-organ, heavy guitars and great solos and a beautiful and wonderful female lead singer who also plays the occasional acoustic guitar. All around a very good band. The crowd was into it.

Set List: Moonhorse, Bird of Prey, Boneflower, Tides of Telepathy, Deepest Sorrow, Pandora's Egg, Avatarium

23:30 Ok.. Ted Fucking Nugent….. this was my first concert in 1978 and it is always good fun to see him live and he brings a lot of attitude and killer classic songs. The set was all the hits and same songs as last time he played here except for Turn it Up (from Cat Scratch Fever) and the new song, Shut up and Jam. Strange that in shut up and Jam, that they sing nearly the entire song and it did not even have a guitar solo much less a jam…  The band for sure did not even have a rehearsal before this show as they were not that tight all the time and Ted was not really ripping it up that well. A bit rusty… the version of Strangehold was the clear highlight of the show. Great version. This was one of the loudest concerts at the festival this year but also too much bass in the sound mix.. I had a really good time…

Set List: Gonzo, Just What The Doctor Ordered, Wango Tango, Turn It Up, Stormtroopin', Free For All, Wang Dang Sweet Poontang>I Can't Quit You Baby, Fred Bear, Hey Baby, Shut Up And Jam, Cat Scratch Fever,, Stranglehold, Great White Buffalo>Spirit of the Wild>Great white Buffalo

I once again had a great festival and the sound was very good this year, the best in years, except for a few bands like Black Stone Cherry, who’s sound man just did a poor job. I still wish they would move the Rockklassiker stage as it really takes away from the enjoyment of the concerts. Please put it back where it was 5 years ago between the Sweden and Rock stages in a tent.. It was much better there..

For those who are thinking about coming I thought I would just give you a breakdown of what it cost us this year. For two people we spent 1660kr on drinks, 860kr on food, 400kr for two t-shirts, and 20kr for a program over 4 days. This of course does not include the ticket, train from Copenhagen to Solvesborg (1050kr), hotel (4000kr) and the buses back and forth to the festival (80kr per person each way, so we spent 1550kr)… it is far from a cheap festival but a great experience if you can afford it..

My favourite bands this year….. Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath, The Crystal Caravan, Five Horse Johnson and the Rods!

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