Not being as young and spry as we used to be, we arose a bit later on Saturday, June 10, 2017, the final day of Sweden Rock. No one seemed overly interested in hotel breakfast (although massive amounts of coffee were put away). Slowly dragging our asses out of the room and to the car, you’d think we were all a hundred years old.
We arrived late on this final day of Sweden Rock Festival 2017. The Electric Boys, who we’d all seen before, were near the end of their stage time as we got through the gates shortly ahead of 1PM. Stopping off for a chat and, of course, some CD perusal, at our friends in the Battlecry Records tent, we started our day. What’s better for breakfast than a kebap? Well, probably a lot of things…perhaps breaking my Casey’s Fish & Chips parade was unwise.
THUNDER (Festival Stage 1:15PM)
Thunder had been our initial target for the day and we succeeded in getting there in time. I chuckled as a recorded intro of the AC/DC classic “Thunderstruck” emanated from the stage PA. I don’t know why particularly, but I found it humorous that Thunder used “Thunderstruck”. Fitting, but funny. This was more for the other guys, especially Ron, a massive Thunder fan. I hung closer to the back side of the fairly sizeable audience trying unsuccessfully to handle my extremely messy kebap. They launched with “Wonder Days” from the 2015 issued album and moved into “The Enemy Inside” off the latest, Rip It Up. Jumping back to ’94’s Behind Closed Doors for “River of Pain” ahead of the Wonder Days cut “Resurrection Day”, I had the feeling this was not a “hits” gig.
Disposing of the kebap wrapper after attempting to smear the evidence off my shirt, I wandered away to refill my water. Passing by the Rockklasiker tent as Motvind began, I lingered to hear a bit of their decent sounding hard rock. Returning to Thunder, having missed only “Higher Ground” I would later find out. I moved on during “In Another Life”.
I had my targets set towards Corroded at the same time on another stage. On the 4Sound Stage, Corroded had the exact set time as Thunder. Something that rarely happens at Sweden Rock Festival with bands on my hit list. I discovered Corroded thanks to my very first Sweden Rock adventure and loved their modern hard rocking sound. These are the things I love Sweden Rock for, the undiscovered country. Bands I’ll probably never see in Toronto.
At the completion of Corroded, I shifted next door to the Sweden Stage. Not familiar with Sator, but I might as well check them out! The band’s first song exhibited a very 70s hard rock vibe and had my foot tapping. Unfortunately, the next composition lacked the punch of the opener and I decided to take my leave.
Back to the VIP retreat with a couple of the guys, a few beers and some good music themed conversation passed the time. Last year Shawn really enjoyed the Sweden Rock Symphony Orchestra and knowing that Tarja (ex-Nightwish) was joining them on stage this year, he caught some of that prior to Lionheart.
LIONHEART (Rockklasiker 4:30PM)
Lionheart promised to be a real highlight for Shawn, Mikael and I due to that first album Hot Tonight being an absolute classic! Arriving shortly before liftoff, I was crushed to see that the Rockklasiker tent was sadly empty. The melodic rockers blasted into “Give Me the Light” followed by “Hot Tonight”. The sound was fantastic and they looked truly happy to be up on stage. And we were truly happy to be in the crowd! Flawlessly delivering “Wait for the Night”, “Die for Love” and “Prisoner” all ahead of “Angels with Dirty Faces”. I think he said, “Angels with Dirty Faces” drew inspiration from James Cameron movies?
A good mix of new and classic, “Dangerous Game” was a real oldie, the beginning of Lionheart came the information. At the outset of “30 Years”, I realized that the vocalist now fronting Lionheart was Lee Small. Small was familiar to me formerly of the band Shy. Next up Lionheart gave us the McAuley Schenker Group classic “Anytime” before injecting a bombastic thunder into “Towers of Silver”. Another cover, “Don’t Pay the Ferryman” brought us to the closing number “Heartbeat Radio”. What an excellent gig! We all already purchased the Lionheart Promo CD from the merch booth and now excited for the full album.
One great thing (and as a result, a pleasant surprise for my friend Laura who joined my SRF crusade in 2015) is the amount and cleanliness of washrooms. And man, did I have to pee! After the waves of relief flooded over me, it was time to pass by Dare on the Festival Stage. Not part of the original lineup, Dare stepped in on short notice as a replacement for Kansas who backed out due to travel concerns. Not being particularly familiar with their output and basically a little burnt out on the melodic rock bands recently, Dare seemed a bit flaccid. I lingered around the fringes, enjoying a beer and trying to curb my Casey’s Fish & Chips addiction.
Then something super cool happened. Sporting my war vest (sleeveless jean jacket of embroidered patches) with a full-size Diemonds back patch, drew the attention of a fan. Turns out that Mikael was aboard the KISS Kruise the year Diemonds played that voyage. He became a great fan there and was shocked to see my back patch. Even more so to find that I was from Toronto myself and friends with the band! We chatted, had a beer, exchanged Facebook contacts and of course took some photos to show our Diemonds love to the group’s fan page. So cool to find my little local band with fans in Sweden!
Basically, I lost track of time in and around this portion of the day. Against my better judgment (long story of Luftgitarr competition two years ago), I was trying to work my way over there to Rockklasiker tent. It was all in attempt to meet up with the Kings of the Sun guitarists Shar Roxxon and Rowie Riot. And I did, and track of time got worse! I smelled trouble as soon as I saw Rowie carrying a full bottle of wine with him. More bottles were harmed in the next short while. We chatted, we laughed, we drank, Rowie and I did an interview that will never see the light of day, we cried, Rowie threw me to the ground. It was such a great time, so glad to meet these crazy Australians in person!
ARTCH (Rockklasiker 7:45PM)
Another discovery for me thanks to their announcement at Sweden Rock was Artch. Never hearing of them, it was the buzz prior to the festival created by friends Anders and Decibel Geek Mikael that got me intrigued. That and everywhere we drove Mikael played an Artch CD in the car. It was also the only one he had in there I think. Starting their set just like their debut full-length, the recorded intro of “Conversio Prelude” ushered in “Another Return to Churchill”. I really loved Artch’s heavy, progressive tinted sound as they continued with the debut album in “Metal Life”, “Shoot to Kill”, “Loaded”, and “Where I Go”.
Time for the sophomore release to enjoy a day in the spotlight with “When Angels Cry” and “Paradox”. After another debut album cut with “The Promised Land” there were two songs that I didn’t recognize, although I was a little distracted by this time as I met up with Swiss friends again. Wrapping up a great set with“Burn Down the Bridges”, Artch was finished and it was time to haul ass quickly over to Saxon.
SAXON (Rock Stage 8:45PM)
I’ve endured some folks complaining and saying that Saxon always plays the same songs in concert. They’re not wrong, but I don’t care. Those songs are awesome and Saxon is one of my all time forever favorite bands. Their band logo even appears in my full sleeve tattoo. I can never see Saxon enough. Never hear their songs enough. And so for this set near the end of the final day of Sweden Rock 2017, I was not a journalist. I put away my phone. There were no photos taken, no notes typed into a memo. I simply closed my eyes and let one of my favorite bands carry me away.
Final Thoughts on Sweden Rock Festival 2017 Day Four
After the high of Saxon, Treat could not compare in my ears and instead I spent my time wandering the festival grounds. Checking out songs here and there of Treat and making new friends throughout the festival grounds. Many shocked that I come over every year from Toronto. I love Sweden Rock. It’s about the music, but so much more as well. I can’t imagine a June without being at Sweden Rock Festival.
And now…who’s coming with me in 2018?
Shawn “Animalize” Irwin’s Photo Galleries
Without a proper photo pass for Sweden Rock Festival, Shawn did his best to capture shots from the gigs that he could. Here are the links to those photo galleries from Day four that he was able to shoot. Thunder Photo Gallery / Tarja with Sweden Rock Symphony Orchestra / Lionheart Photo Gallery / Artch Photo Gallery / Decibel Geek Fun Gallery