Friday, June 13, 2003 @ 4:26 PM
Sweden Rock Festival in Solves
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REVIEW BY: Eddieshead
Wednesday, 11 June 2003
I can’t believe I am sitting at my desk. Looking to my left I have four days of accumulated work I need to catch up on. Looking to my right I have the tattered shreds of my program from the Sweden Rock Festival 2003. Guess which one I’d rather be looking at?
There is nothing that you can say about a festival experience unless you’ve had one yourself. All sorts of compromises have to be made. There is no way you can see every band you want, and if you go with friends then you have an additional number of sacrifices that need to be made. I’m looking at the program and thinking about some of the bands I could have watched for a little longer, some of the bands that were a waste of time and precious energy --and I think I’d rather reflect on those many highlights from last weekend that made (and make) this one of the most worthwhile festivals on the “European Summer Circuit.”
Saturday, 7 June 2003,
I’m trading in my ticket at the reception area for the three-day wristband. I’ve also just purchased a program. I was here last year and the site is exactly the same. We’ve planned to have about an hour of looking around in the marketplace. I’ve also noticed that we’ve missed Paul DiAnno & Killers. Don’t know why they were playing at 12:00 -- they would have been a good warm up to the Iron Maiden shows I plan on seeing next week…! I’ve also just noticed that Demon had headlined the Friday night. I haven’t even been at the festival for ten minutes and I’ve already missed two bands I was curious about. Anyway I buy a couple of bootleg CD’s and head over to the “Rock” stage.
15:00 - 16:15 // BUDGIE // Rock Stage
I’ve parked myself right up in front of the stage. I’m just a little bit to the right of centre. It’s a nice sunny afternoon and I’m about to have my ass kicked by a band named after a domesticated bird. I’ve always thought that these guys should have been huge. At times heavier than Black Sabbath and owners of some of the most powerful riffs and jamming tunes from the ‘70s and early ‘80s. This was a brutal, ultra heavy set of rock. Perfect for getting the cobwebs shaken and me started for this marathon weekend. They included my personal favourite song by them, “I Turned to Stone,” from the Nightflight album, so I was well pleased. The lively appreciative crowd were also rewarded with renditions of the songs Metallica made famous -- “Crash Course In Brain Surgery” and one of the true highlights of the weekend “Breadfan.”
16:30 - 18:00 // JETHRO TULL // Festival Stage
Time for a spot of recovery… I’ve never been that big of a fan of this band known for the rock songs with a flute. Nonetheless, I’ve positioned myself in a comfortable spot. Had a bite to eat and a refreshing drink. And I’m moderately amused. Ian Anderson is standing on one leg. His eyes look like they are about to burst from his skull. And, I am afraid I am going to laugh out loud! I do recognise about half of their set from my years listening to “Classic Rock” radio. They really lost me during some song about a girl from Budapest, but made a good recovery with “Aqualung” and the encore “Locomotive Breath.” I actually got to hit a pretty solid shot into the giant balloon as it passed over my small patch of ground!
18:15 - 19:45 // KROKUS // Rock Stage
Let me just say I was expecting to be let down by Krokus. I didn’t even try and fight my way through the fairly packed masses waiting at this stage. I had a good view of the band about 35 meters from stage -- a position where I could move away fairly easily if I wanted. Well, I didn’t want. Some really old songs I had forgotten about -- “Long Stick Goes Boom,” “Easy Rocker,” plus their cover of “American Woman.” Additionally, two tracks from Headhunter were the only other songs I recognised. The rest could have been new from the Rock the Block or other mid-80’s material that I missed out on. It was a well-blended set. At times very much the clones of AC/DC -- but there is nothing wrong with that. Anyway the vocalist, Marc Storace, kept the masses entertained and must have appreciated the reception. He actually said, “It’s great to be here in Switzerland… I mean Sweden. We’re from Switzerland!”
20:00 - 21:30 // QUEENSRYCHE // Festival Stage
When did Geoff Tate shave his head!! This is my third time seeing the ‘Ryche. But, I haven’t heard anything new by them since Empire. Personally, I really enjoyed the older songs they included: “Screaming in Digital,” “Empire” and “The Needle Lies.” There was also a series of the key songs from Operation Mindcrime. Newer tracks that I didn’t know were not really that memorable to me, and it didn’t help that the microphone seemed to cut out from time to time. Thank God they didn’t play “Silent Lucidity.”
21:45 - 23:15 // MOTORHEAD // Rock Stage
What can I say about Motorhead. A year ago they were possibly on the top of my list of bands that I had never seen that I still wanted to see. And now I’m watching them for the third time! They are still promoting Hammered and they are still opening the set with “We Are Motorhead!” I’ve got a pretty good view. I’m over to the right side of the stage and about 20 meters back. They were definitely enjoying themselves up there -- perhaps having a bit too much fun? There was entertaining banter leading into “God Save The Queen” as well as “R.A.M.O.N.E.S.” And no Motorhead experience would be complete without “Overkill.”
23:30 - 02:00 // WHITESNAKE // Festival Stage
Sorry. I am sure I’m not going to be the first person to say it -- but this was the David Coverdale Band. Don’t get me wrong, this was a slick set of polished tunes that were immensely popular amongst the masses assembled. Concentrating primarily upon material from Slide It In and 1987, every song well rehearsed this could have been a performance from 1988 -- except only Tommy Aldridge would have been the same musician in the band. But, it’s the music that counts, and we got guitar solos and drum solos and I lost count of the number of times David said, “…here’s a song for ya…!!”
Sunday, 8 June 2003
13:?? - 14:?? // Parking Area // near the road
I thought it was pretty funny that we parked in the exact same spot as the day before. A good ten-minute walk later and I’m back in the marketplace. I’m on the lookout for any live recordings by “Budgie,” and they must have sold out because there is nothing available anywhere I look. And I looked everywhere.
15:00 - 16:15 // SEPULTURA // Rock Stage
It was fun to stand well back from the stage and watch the hard-core masses going nuts during this set. I was over to the left side of the field maybe forty meters from the stage. I was 33% watching the band, 33% checking out people who were gathered around this part of the festival and 33% trying to make up my mind what to have for lunch. I’ve never been able to get into Sepultura (or any of the other Metal bands with the “growling” style of vocals) but the music kicks serious ass. I guess I’d love any instrumentals they might have done. They also did an ultra heavy cover of “Bullet The Blue Sky.”
16:30 - 18:00 // Y&T // Festival Stage
I got down to this stage early and parked myself front and centre. I’ve been a huge fan of this band since 1981 and I usually put Earthshaker on my all time top ten list.
I loved every minute of this set. They came on stage and ripped into “Meanstreak” and I was stunned that all around me everyone was going nuts. The press corp. (who were allowed out into the space between the stage and the fans) were taking as many pictures of the audience as they were of the band. (Okay, I exaggerate just a little bit here.) Dave Meniketti was in good form. Every member of the band looked excited and amazed at the reception they were getting. “Rescue Me” was played early on as was “Hurricane.” “Black Tiger” and “Forever” were two more highlights. The sun was shining and Dave decided to break away from the set list and do “Summertime Girls.” A fun sing along was held during “Hell Or High Water.” This was one of the high points of the festival for me.
18:15 - 19:30 // WISHBONE ASH // Sweden Stage
18: 15 - 19:30 // BLIND GUARDIAN // Rock Stage
I was fairly drained after the Y&T set. I needed a rest. So I settled up on the hill about forty metres from the Festival Stage and watched a little of the Wishbone Ash set. They play good duel lead guitar classic rock songs that sound like you must have heard them before but for some reason haven’t. They’ve been at it since the 60’s and were putting on a well-received set. One of the songs they played at the beginning was “Phoenix.” It wasn’t long before I was restless, and needed a walk. I made the excuse of hunger -- everyone gets hungry, no? And figured it was time for the moose stir fry and a chance to check out Blind Guardian. I watched for about thirty minutes as I also did some people watching (and beverage drinking).
I cannot really describe Blind Guardian. I don’t really know much about them but as a band they were fast, musically very tight, and the vocals were pretty dramatic. They were extremely popular and the sea of people in front of kept their arms waving and flags flying high. By the time I got back to my friends over at the Sweden Stage, Wishbone Ash were finishing up. I asked if they had played “Blowing Free,” and everyone said “No!” Less than a minute later the band were back on stage playing their best known song.
19:45 - 21:45 // YES // Festival Stage
This wasn’t all that bad. There was a time when I was really into them. Cool album covers and long jamming songs with bizarre lyrical themes. They managed to include “Long Distance Runaround,” “Heart of the Sunrise” and “Roundabout” from my favorite album by them -- Fragile. I was well back from the stage, actually enjoying the chance to sit down. Then I decided to rest all the way back on my elbows. Uh oh, now I’m lying on my back and I can’t keep my eyes open. Not sure how much I missed but I really have a tough decision to make. I have to choose between Uriah Heep and Anthrax for 22:00. (More sarcasm, sorry!)
22:00 - 23:30 // ANTHRAX // Sweden Stage
This was the business. This would be my second dose of Anthrax; but my first with John Bush holding onto the microphone. This was a full-throttle go-for-the-throat performance. Very much similar to the sets I’ve seen posted from their mainland USA performances. Three tracks from the new album plus “Black Dahlia,” “Only,” and “Inside” showed the strengths of this current version of the band. “Antisocial,” and “Got The Time,” “Madhouse” and “NFL” were among the highlights from the other era of the band. It looked to me like the band were truly stunned by the reception they were getting. I truly think that they wanted to keep on playing, but there was a very definite time limit and they did the fan choice for the final song -- just like on the other posted Anthrax shows. If you haven’t read them, then it goes like this: The audience choose between Scott Ian playing the intro to “I Am The Law” or Charlie Benante pounding the start to “Indians.” I thought they should have played them both but “Indians” was the clear winner. (Would it be too cheesy of me to say: and so were Anthrax?)
23:30 - 23:45 // TWISTED SISTER // Festival Stage
And this was it. The Grand Finale. The one they had all been waiting for. Well, personally I had kind of a bemused interest. I hope I don’t upset anyone by saying that even though (back in the day) I liked quite a lot of their music, I still see Twisted Sister as kind of a “cartoon” heavy metal / hard rock band. I have tons of respect for Dee Snider -- standing up to the PMRC, sticking to his guns with the whole “glam” image. However, I really felt that there was only so far they could go before a lack of musical ambition would catch up with them. Personally, I lost touch with the band and was looking forward to this show in a nostalgic kind of way. It was a lot of fun. A total greatest hits experience. The rain was a nuisance. Dee called “Mother Nature” a cunt. Not quite sure if the Swedes in attendance understood but everything the band did that night was lapped up and enjoyed despite the rain. Dee had some problems at the start with his microphone. He announced that despite the warm-up gigs in Korea, this was their first official reunion show as Twisted Sister. Every original band member was with them that night. Unfortunately, the rain persisted. There were many who were exhausted, who left early because of the rain, and Dee praised the ones who had stayed. A fitting time to play “SMF.” Not quite sure of the songs that finished the set -- I, at that point was amazed I was still able to maintain an upright position. But the fireworks show at the conclusion was the best I had seen at an open-air concert since “Donnington ’88.”
Back to the present:
Wednesday, 11 June 2003
Four days of work beside my desk has now become five. I’ve got to get it all done before Saturday. (Imola, Zagreb, Zlin & Roskilde... heh, heh, heh, heh, heh!)