The Melodic Rock genre is a family. In every sense of the word. Events like this just hammer that home. The camaraderie shown to every attendee (fan/band/organizer) is overwhelmingly immense. This particular event, MelodicRock Fest Scandinavia, took place in Malmo, Sweden. While there have been other MelodicRock Fests in the past in U.S.A. and Australia, this was the first in Sweden. The event started and presented by Andrew McNeice of Australia’s Melodic Rock Records saw action in Chicago just 2 weeks prior. This Swedish version was presented by Rock Stage Malmo and Roasting House Recording Studio in conjunction with McNeice. Many attended both events even though they were across the world. This was my first of the MelodicRock Festival series.
Now, many readers may know that Melodic Rock is not my chosen genre of music. Don’t get me wrong, I love many of the bands that fall into this category. But, I just don’t know the details like some of these historian fans. In truth, I enjoy a little more “heavy” in my tunes, a little more punch and definitely fewer keyboards and ballads/slow songs. That said, this may just have damn well been the best festival I’ve ever attended! Not to take away from any of the other worldwide events that I’ve attended over the years, of course. But I was welcomed here with open arms and hearts by many, many of the folks. I knew a few beforehand, but my Facebook friend count has engorged itself over the last couple days. Friends from around the globe such as Israel, Sweden, UK, Canada, Australia, U.S.A., Spain, Norway and many, many more. The kind of friends that you just know will be lifelong as they share in the same love of music. And the bond created here through MelodicRock Fest Scandinavia thanks to organizers Johan Nylen, Micko Twedberg and their team, I feel is rather unbreakable.
We come as strangers, we leave as family.
I’ll not go into detail on every band that played each and every day at MelodicRock Fest Scandinavia. But rather try to give you an overall sense of the MelodicRock Fest Scandinavia experience. If I do that correctly, I’m certain that you’ll be lining up to buy your 2019 ticket, just as I will.
MELODICROCK FEST SCANDINAVIA 2018 – Day #2
Day two started with breakfast at the hotel surrounded by several rock friends. After some lounging and a short walk around town, it was time to get over to Slagthuset for the Boulevard VIP Acoustic. In a chance encounter, I met another Canadian with a similar story to mine. From British Columbia the complete opposite end of Canada as I, he was also attending his sixth straight Sweden Rock Festival.
BOULEVARD (VIP Only)
The second day at The Slaughterhouse (Slagthuset), actually a former slaughterhouse began with fellow Canucks Boulevard. The again acoustic, VIP only set was a lighthearted start to a full day of rock. Boulevard was also scheduled for a full electric set tomorrow on the main stage as well. With their drummer remaining in the hotel room vomiting, there was some impromptu “never throw up” singing in tune with their “Never Give Up” song. The band seemed a little confused without their drummer but delivered one of the most enjoyable sets all weekend. It was relaxed and fun and they interacted and connected with the audience. They even took questions and joked about with the answers. And they took a request when my friend Mike yelled out for the song “Rainy Day In London”. Trouble is they hadn’t played it in awhile and forgot some parts, humorously admitting it too.
THE GRAND MASQUERADE
The Grand Masquerade, our first main stage electric band of day two, almost wasn’t. Scrolling Facebook yesterday, Mike who followed the band saw a post stating that The Grand Masquerade had all of their stage clothes and equipment stolen the night before. Thanks to the other bands and friends, they borrowed some guitars and made the decision to all wear their merch t-shirts on stage. Apparently, they usually have elaborate costumes and masks too. The band played like it was the last thing they had in life. And they were good too, although the vocalist’s voice was a little high pitched for my liking at times. This is a CD I definitely must pick up!
*I also ran into members of the band later in the evening at another bar in town that I ended up at with the Talon guys. They seemed very genuine and nice. Definitely a band to investigate.
And now for my band of the weekend, Talon. Having followed Talon since first seeing them a couple of years back now and their latest CD, Fourplay, entering my top ten of the year in 2016, this was the set I was waiting for. A bit more in the hard rock vein than some of the bands here, Talon went down really well with the crowd. The sound was still a bit funky, especially down front but the boys soldiered through with a great show including “Holly Would”, “Set Me Free”, “Spun”, and “Raise ’em High” all from Fourplay. Curiously “Sin City Sister” was missing but “Raise ’em High” had the whole audience singing along. Guitarists Jim Kee and Kory Voxen traded licks and bassist Phil Keller was all over the stage as usual while John Parker drove the band from behind the kit. Vocalist Michael O’Mara led the way, blazed the trail in another fantastic set from the, I think, only American band here.
The Talon camp probably had the most fun off stage as well. All weekend long, members could be seen in the crowd and around the Slagthuset. After the set today several Talon guys ended up hanging around the table near the back bar where I was with some friends. I probably have not laughed so hard in such a long time. The sheer comedy supplied by Michael O’mara alone held several of us captivated for hours.
Unfortunately both Degreed and Eden’s Curse became casualties today. It was certainly not planned this way, but I got lost enjoying the time with Talon and friends. I did catch a little here and there of both sets but my focus on them was limited. A bit of a fail on my part as Eden’s Curse was a band I had really wanted to see as well.
Crazy Lixx were a band that I really wanted to see and so I dragged myself away from the fun of friends and headed down front. Their near implosion with losing both guitarists, one the main songwriter, in 2016 was almost Crazy Lixx‘s demise. But they soldiered forward with a fantastic new album in 2017, Ruff Justice. I’d caught them last year at Hair Metal Heaven in Hull UK and was suitably impressed. And they were on my radar again to see them at Sweden Rock next week. Today, beginning the set with “Wild Child” followed by “Hell Raising Women” and “XIII” was an absolute killer three-pack. I love the Friday the 13th mask shtick as well worn during “XIII”, the theme song for the Friday the 13th video game. Fantastic show by a great band. Looking forward to their set next week as well.
I rather enjoyed Kee Marcello‘s 2016 release, Scaling Up. It was great to hear four selections from it this evening during my first experience with Marcello. Those Scaling Up inclusions were the title track, “Fix Me”, “Don’t Miss You Much” and “Black Hole Star”. He took some time between songs to chat to the audience, announcing that he had just been inducted into the Swedish Music Hall Of Fame with Europe. Of course being the former Europe guitarist, we were bound to get some classic tracks in the set. Among them were the hits “Superstitious”, “Carrie”, and of course, “The Final Countdown”. Overall an enjoyable set, but perhaps a little too much stage banter for my liking.
FM is a band that I should like more than I do. The audience for FM readily disagreed with me however as they loudly and enthusiastically applauded the band. They are iconic in this genre and Steve Overland has a magical velvety smooth vocal delivery. Some of the songs hit home with me famously, while others simply bounce off and get lost. Songs such as “Black Magic”, the lead off to 2018’s Atomic Generation resonate well. Certainly FM have their rabid fans and were extremely professional on stage. It was awesome watching one of my friends totally “lost” in the music. Great to see him having such a fabulous time with a band he’s a massive fan of.
At some point during FM, I was led astray and out of Slagthuset. Ending up at another bar in town with friends and members of both Talon and The Grand Masquerade. Beers flowed freely. There was impromptu karaoke of Bon Jovi songs as we all sat on the small patio. Great times, excellent people!
MELODICROCK FEST SCANDINAVIA 2018 – Final Thoughts
Watch for day one already posted and day three coming soon to Decibel Geek!
Thanks once again to MelodicRock Fest Scandinavia organizers Johan Nylen, Micko Twedberg, and their entire team. Thanks to all the bands for not only delivering great shows, but most of them mingled about the crowd after meeting and greeting fans (none more than Talon though, I suspect). And the attendees. Wow, I love you all so much, friends new and old, you are what keeps me alive! All in all a fantastic event that I am more than looking forward to next year. Maybe I’ll either arrive a day or two early to be able to experience the city of Malmo a little more. No matter how you slice it, if there is another event in 2019 (and all indicators point to such), this Canadian will be there for the family reunion! Join me!