A Canadian Decibel Geek in Sweden-Day #4, June 7th, 2013
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Well, I’m pleased to announce that I survived the night, braving the frigid temperatures of this Scandinavian wonderland in the Decibel Geek Swedish Headquarters (ie: tent)! The overly expensive camping mat that I purchased at the Sweden Rock Supermarket yesterday seems to have done the trick as I awoke quite warm and even rather refreshed after only a few hours of sleep. It was not necessarily my choice to wake so early, but it gets light here in Sweden at somewhere around 3:30am at least, maybe earlier, so I was up and ready to escape the (beginning to take on an odour all it’s own) DBHQ. Here we go with day number three of the Sweden Rock Festival……and it’s a big one today!
Friday June 7th, 2013
7am-Beginning to formulate my routine, learn my way around and just how everything works, I was in the press tent quite early, something around 7am give or take, working on my Festival diary and charging my electronic equipment.
11am-(approx) I texted and met up with Mark Niessenbaum to try and get a better countdown photo for the Monsters Of Rock Cruise that we have both been on two years running. It would be nice to take one with a band, but at least this will be something to post, sporting the MORC colours in Scandinavian Sweden. It’s also the first ever countdown shot for both of us, so that among many, many other things discovered in quick conversation do we have in common.
Audrey Horne (Norway)
12:10pm-it’s off to Audrey Horne and Mark tags along, his agenda being clear for the moment. We made an important pit stop to grab the first frosty beverage of the day, Mark had proclaimed that he would not be drinking today, well, sorry to corrupt you sir…..and he even bought! In line at the bar, bellied up to, if you will, we encountered a Swedish fellow and had a chat for a few minutes. I must say that everyone here is so friendly, most speak very good English and are happy to do so, not looking down on you for not speaking the language as I’ve encountered in some places. He showed us his system for navigating the festival, by pulling out a paper schedule on which he had a highlighted colour system. Four colours from order of importance to see their sets, Audrey Horne was done in green for “must see”. Mark had never heard of them and he watched a bit with me before it was time to attend to pressing business elsewhere. Once Mark moved along, I crept closer to the stage, fairly easy to do at this time of the day with this level of band. They were not high on my list even though I have two of their albums back home, but they were incredibly tight, ripping up the stage in one of the earliest time slots of the day. In my creeping I realised by the pungent odour assailing my nasal passages that I had seemed to have managed to position myself downwind of the aforementioned street urinal and adjacent outhouse! What a stench after the first two days deposits and it’s already been baking in the sun for a few hours, this will just not do at all! The first beer went down so smoothly that it called for another (and a chance to escape the nostril abuse), Mark may take the day off, but today may be my drinking day! I caught two and a half Audrey Horne songs before heading out to DBHQ to drop off my bag and laptop and head to Hardline.
12:30pm-I can clearly hear Treat on the Rock stage from my camp as I drop off my gear and grab a change of shirt. Party All Over, Sole Survivor and Too Hot all sounded pretty good from this distance away as I headed back into the festival grounds, pausing on my way at the newly discovered shower trailer and washrooms. Fifteen minutes later I was at the stage for Treat and caught We Own The Night from the back of the crowd. It was another packed house here near the end of their set and they did sound awesome, too bad I’d missed their show as this would have been a good one for sure. They were ripping through Get You On The Run as I made it over to the Sweden Stage for Hardline.
1pm-Hardline was originally scheduled for a 1:30pm start on the Festival stage, but had to be moved around in order to allow enough time to dismantle KISS’ giant spider. Since Witchcraft had cancelled their festival attendance, it freed up the Sweden stage for Hardline to move over there. The keyboardist began the stage presence for Hardline, plinking the keys out there all by himself as the vocals started off stage for Danger Zone from the new record of the same title. The rest of the band attacked the stage to join the keyboardist with a fury and passion. I of course noticed right away the female bass player, not a member of the original band I think, but as you may have discerned from my previous ramblings I have a thing for ladies who play in a band. They ripped right into Takin’ Me Down and they were friggin’ awesome. I have loved the Double Eclipsealbum since its’ release and have been wanting to hear the tunes live. Maybe it’s partly due to the fact that I was on my fourth beer of the day, but they have me singing right along with what little voice still remains after last night’s KISS show. I was right up front for this show, one person back from the stage and I noticed that the security guards had bottles of water and were offering sips from them to those within reach, excellent move wi
th the intense heat of the sun that I could already feel beating down on the back of my neck. The sun here seems to be way more harsh that that of the Caribbean during the Monsters of Rock Cruise. Everything was the next treat and as I turned around I was happy to see that there was a sea of people behind me, although I guess that there are so many people here and so many different styles that it would be hard not to gain a crowd at your show. Again from the new CD Danger Zone we got Fever Dreams and these new tracks fit squarely into the back catalogue, maintaining Hardline’s sound. During the guitar solo the singer, Johnny Gioeli gave some instructions to the sound guy before announcing Josh Ramos on guitar. They powered through into Dr. Love now and again I was mesmerised by the lady of the bass guitar, just something about chicks with instruments. The Ballad In This Moment followed from the 2009 Leaving The End OpenCD. Johnny apologised to the crowd saying that they’d owed Sweden this show since 1992 as the band took a break leaving just Johnny and the keyboardist. This ballad included a short keys solo as Johnny introduced Alessandro Del Vecchio. The rest of the band joined the stage again for The Voices, also from Leaving The End Open. The bassist, Anna Portalupi, had an almost mean/angry expression on her face as she plunked with conviction as Life’s A Bitch came out next. I marvelled at how Johnny’s voice sounded just like the CD and watched the veins popping in his neck as he sang with force and intensity. He was intense and emotional and obviously a great front man, captivating the audience during Weight. I watched the fingers dancing across the bass strings followed by a short guitar and keys solo before they charged into the hit song Hot Cherie and I had the thought that this was certainly one of the best shows here so far. They closed out with Rhythm From A Red Car and I caught the drummer’s name of Mike Terrana as Johnny made the intros and thanked the crowd.
2:10pm-I headed over to catch Greece’s Firewind on the 4Sound stage next. I’d done a bit of research, but only heard a few songs, neither moving me especially. They were into ‘Till The End Of Time as I walked up. The hill was absolutely full of people sitting to watch these guys and I weaved my way through the maze, closer to the front. Losing My Mind was the next cut and they were sounding awesome and very tight as I decided to pay more attention to their music when I got home, but I lost focus on their set as I ran into a gentleman sporting a Helix shirt. I just had to stop and talk to this guy proudly displaying the logo of one of my favourite homeland bands. I gathered that Helix had played here a few years prior and the guy left me with the sentiment “this is the best rock party in the world”.
2:30pm-I passed by the crowd building for Asia with no intention of stopping on my way back to DBHQ for a change of shirt and a quick freshen up. I could clearly hear Firewind absolutely killing a version of Maniac which always makes me think of the movie Tommy Boy.
2:45pm-found me back in the press tent furiously typing away on my keyboard while keeping half an ear on the Doro press conference. It was my first official press conference, so I was not sure what to expect. Doro came in all smiles and took a seat behind the table as the questions began one at a time. Questions followed about choosing her wardrobe on stage, favourite heavy metal t-shirt, what were her favourite newcomer bands (Sister Sin was of course in her answer), plans for her 30th anniversary coming up, feelings on festival vs club shows and the name change from Warlock to Doro, things along those lines. One question that really stuck out for me was “How do you still do it when you are sick, or catch a cold, your voice never seems to change?” This stuck out for me as Wally and I had an interview scheduled with her back in February in Toronto, but she was not feeling well and cancelled. During the show we could both clearly see that she was not feeling well as she kept ducking behind the drum kit which we could see from our vantage point and made heavy use of a box of tissues. Doro gave a more elaborate answer to the question, but summed up that it basically boils down to the fans. She truly does love the fans and that’s what keeps her going through anything. She also enjoys playing more now than she did in the 80’s and without music she would be lost. The pint sized blonde seems to have a very good sense of humour and puts you at ease quickly obviously loving what she does and truly loving the fans. I wish I’d had the foresight to bring my questions prepared for the failed interview in Toronto as I would have been able to ask some good ones I’m sure.
3:15pm-I’ve been relaxing in the press tent and the VIP bar trying to get up the gumption to get my ass over to Newsted or even Asia (ugh), I’m missing live music right now and that’s not cool. As I drained the last drops of my Sofiero beer I noticed that the guys from Corroded were hanging out all wearing biker vests with Corroded Sweden on the back. I would have liked to see even a part of their set last night and I enjoy the CD’s of theirs that I was able to find before leaving Toronto, but KISS tired me out and I didn’t make the Corroded set.
3:35pm-I finally made it over to the Sweden stage for Newsted, by way of the Doro stage set-up on the Festivel stage and Asia pumping out tunes from the Rock stage for the huge crowd they had gathered. I’m not stopping unless I hear <
b>Heat of the Moment and even then…..I was able to catch Long Time Dead and Good To Be King from Newsted’s set, before moving forward angling for food and towards the Festival stage for a good vantage point for Doro due on at 4:30pm. I noticed quite a crowd building for Axxis on the 4Sound stage and they
are also a band that I wanted to check out, knowing a few songs, but was not prepared to sacrifice Doro for them. This was the start of the big run now for concerts for me today, so I’d better fuel up with water and food as from here it is Doro on Festival stage to UFO on the Rock stage to Krokus on Festival to Saxon on Rock stage all back to back and four of my all time favourite bands, all appearing in my “in progress” sleeve tattoo. After that if there’s any gas left in the tank it’s Europe on the festival stage.
4:05pm-I have sought out a decent location up front to the left side of the massive Festival stage for Doro’s show and I can clearly hear and even see on the big projection screen Asia on the Rock stage as they finished up with Sole Survivor and Heat Of The Moment. Twenty minutes later the crowd began to tighten up around me and I could feel the effects of the harsh sun beating down on the back of my neck along with the lack of sleep as I almost passed out, catching my self awake during mid fall and was able to straighten up.
4:30pm-with the sun moving behind the trees I was out of it’s direct path as Doro and her band charged the stage with I Rule The Ruins. Burning The Witches came next as the pint sized
blond asked us if we like some old school metal. It is easy to see, especially when she’s up on stage that she really does not just love this, but lives and breathes it. She hit us next with Rock Till Deathfrom her latest release Raise Your Fist. Doro may be short in stature but she’s definitely a tower of metal power at the same time with her voice sounding strong and clear. I had only seen Doro the one time before in Torontoalthough I have been a fan since 1987’s Triumph & Agony record and it was great to hear some different songs in the set list here as they rolled into Night Of The Warlock. Normally I prefer a club show where I can get right up front and lean on the stage for the show, but somehow Doro Pesch seems to have a magical ability to make this huge festival show intimate as well. With her hands high in the air proudly
displaying the “horns”, bassist Nick Douglas joined her on the protruding centre platform or catwalk, plunking on his bass for Night Of The Warlock’s chorus. Doro then called for the audience to bang our heads like crazy as they jumped into the Warlock classic Metal Racer. Amazing Guitarist Luca Princiotta took the catwalk for Metal Racer’s guitar solo. Doro informed the audience that she will always remember her first time in Sweden for this tour with Judas Priest in 1986 as they blasted through the title track to True As Steel. It’s almost emotional to watch her on stage interacting with the crowd and the conviction in her voice as Raise Your Fist came next. For her second tour of Sweden
with the great Ronnie James Dio, Sweden will always remain deep inside her heart as it was time for the tender ballad Fur Immer from the Triumph & Agonyrecord. Hero was next and is her tribute to the late, great Ronnie James Dio from the latest Raise Your Fistalbum. Doro Pesch led her band next through their Judas Priest cover of Breaking The Law and then she took a moment to introduce the next track. At the meet & greet session she had met a group of people from South America and they had requested to hear Revenge. The staple All We Are was next and I can remember playing the Triumph & Agony album for my German language class, they hated me…lol. I started to retreat from the crowd, in dangerous need of more water again to beat the sweltering heat and make my way over to the Rock Stage to get a good position for UFO. As I quenched my monstrous thirst and made my way over there I could hear Doro finishing up with a triple shot including Earthshaker Rock, Burn It Up and Metal Tango.
6:10pm-Fellow cruiser Mark had secured an area right in front of the stage for UFO. Like myself, he had seen them aboard ship on the inaugural voyage of the Monsters Of Rock Cruise, but unlike me
he had made friends with the bass player Rob De Luca and I was hopeful that I would get to meet the boys later on over a beer or two.&n
bsp; They opened up with Lights Out and were sounding great just like they did on the cruise, the only other time that I’ve been able to see them live. Mechanix, while they don’t prefer it, is my favourite UFO recording and also one of the first rock albums, I’d ever purchased, so if they actually play something from it tonight, I may lose my mind! Mother Mary was the next treat before Phil apologised for his lack of Swedish and his rambling accent and they ripped into Fight Night from the latest release Seven Deadly following right up with Wonderlandfrom the same record. It’s great to see that this band, with a couple of member changes such as Rob De Luca on bass and the addition of Vinnie Moore on guitar are not only still pumping out great music, but some of the best of their career with the
last two albums, The Visitor and Seven Deadly. Cherry from 1978’s Obsessionrecord was next followed by one of vocalist Phil Mogg’s possibly patented, tell-tale rambling monologues which are actually quite funny, this one having to do with proclaiming that Vinnie was cheap! Let It Roll was followed by another pause for Phil to address the crowd “Skol” (or cheers) he said as he took a swig of a Sofiero beer “Hey this stuff is 5.2%” he proclaimed as he announced Burn Your House Down. After the song Phil pointed out into the crowd back a bit on the right side and said “to the two ladies in pink who came in part way through the last song….very distracting”! What a good time for Only You Can Rock Meand watching Phil, you could see the emotion on his face and the squinty eyes as he gave everything he had into singing these classic UFO tracks. Love To Love was next and is often mis-titled as Misty, Green and Blue to those that don’t know the band overly well. “How long have we got?”, Phil asked someone off stage.
“Twelve minutes, well that’s one of Vinnie’s solos alone!” he proclaimed as they rolled into Rock Bottom. During which Vinnie did indeed enter into a lengthy solo for which Phil kept pushing him back out onto the short catwalk as he tried to retreat. I shouldn’t say it was a solo as the rest of the band still played along as well, making it a melodic enjoyment for the audience. Doctor, Doctor and Shoot Shoot came next as I checked the time and decided to head back over to the Festival stage for Krokus, whom I’d never had the chance to see live. As I wandered away I heard Phil thank Sweden Rock Festival for having them and for the generous gifts back stage. Knowing that Michael Schenker was here in the park, slated for a guest spot with Europe later that night, I was hoping to see him join former band mates on stage, but knew that I was dreaming.
7:30pm-time to stop for a refreshing adult beverage now that the blisteringly evil sun has retreated and my danger of passing out from heat exhaustion passed. I stopped at the beer tent between the Rock stage and the Festival stage, listening to the tail end of UFO’s show. This time I noticed something rather cool behind the bar area. Behind the servers in the background there were a few workers opening the plastic beer bottles making it easier and faster to serve when the order was placed at the counter. The cool thing was that they had a, for lack of a better description, mass bottle opener. The case of brown plastic bottles was on a flat open tray verses the closed case that we often see here in North America and the flat was slid into the machine. There was a plate on top of the simple machine and a handle on the right side. Once the case of beer was in, the handle is pulled down, lowering the plate over the tops of the bottles. Obviously the plate had clasps or something on the underside that corresponded with the bottles as when the handle was raised, bringing the plate along with it, the little metal caps were neatly popped off all bottles. Cool.
7:45pm-I secured, once again, a spot close up front to the left side of the long catwalk protruding from the main stage. This festival is great and I’m surprised how close I can get (barring the photo and security pits of course) to most of the performances. I have been waiting to see Krokus for many, many years. I first was introduced to them through the compilation cassette White Hot that included Midnite Maniac among other songs from great bands that I was introduced to via that cassette that circled around our group. From there I started to collect the records, back when there were records, although vinyl is making a comeback I notice recently. While I settled in up front I couldn’t help but overhear the conversation from some of those around me. I gathered that a lot of them were from a Europe fan club or forum or something along those lines. Some had travelled a ways I’m sure for this show and they were marking their territory up front, prepared to wait through Krokus until 11:30pm to be front row for Europe, now that’s some dedication, (not as much as me though I’m sure …lol), but Europe? What am I missing here? I didn’t think they had a following anywhere any more, but then again I guess they are from Sweden and have released some good albums of late.
8pm-A recorded intro let us know that Krokus and the “Long Noses” would soon take the stage and we were not wrong as the band came out first, vocalist Marc Storace (pronounced Stor-ah-chay) following shortly after. Marc was dressed in a rail road cap pulled rather low, hiding his face, perhaps the sun was getting him too. They opened up with Hallelujah Rock N’ Roll from the newest release Dirty Dynamite. Another cut from that record which continues what started on Hoodoowith the return of most of the original line-up and long time band members Fernando Von Arb, Chris Von Rohr, Marc Storace, Mark Kohler and Mandy Meyer with Go Baby Go.&
nbsp; Marc took a moment here to address the audience proclaiming this a “great night for Krok and Roll”. The 80’s classic and personal favourite of mine Long Stick Goes Boom was next on the roster and I was impressed at how good they sounded. Sometimes when you see a band that you’ve looked forward to for 25 years it can be a disappointment because it’s hyped up too much in your own mind, at least I’ve done that to myself before, but my fears and worries were put to rest by the third track when I realised that they were in top form. They ripped into another new song, Better Than Sex after the classic and then followed it up with Winning Man. I was elated to hear Winning Man as the album that it appears on, Heart Attack, is one of my favourites, although I would have rather heard Everybody Rocks or Wild Love from it. I should mention that the Heart Attack version is a re-recording of the original that made it’s debut on Hardware six years earlier. Marc announced that this time that they were here in Swedenthey had brought all the original members along (which I already knew) with the addition of Flavio Mezzodi situated behind the kit. The next song was Dog Song during which someone tossed a pair of funky oversize joke glasses up onto the stage and Marc picked them up and studied them. For a minute I thought he might even put them on until I noticed that the arm was broken and he placed them back on the drum riser. Fire was followed by the Guess Who cover of American Woman. Krokus has a penchant for including cover songs on their albums such as American Woman, Sweet’s (who was also at Sweden Rock) Ballroom Blitz, Bachman Turner Overdrive’s Stayed Awake All Night and Alice Cooper’s School’s Out among others. The newest Dirty Dynamite release is no exception containing a very different version of the Beatles Help. The awesome Screaming In The Night was the next treat to a huge Krokus fan like myself, “Let’s take a trip to Tokyo”, Marc invited us now as they chugged through Tokyo Nights. Two old school Krokus classics were up next in Easy Rocker and Bedside Radio before Marc told the audience that the next song was about Vietnam veterans as chopper (helicopter) sounds began to bleed through the speakers for Heatstrokes. The Swiss boys left the stage now, but I expected an encore for sure and surely hoped for one anyway. They did not let me down and were back after a few moments to rip through Hoodoo Woman as Marc made full use of the stage. Eat the Rich was next and quelled my fears that we may not hear it and now it was just Headhunter to go that I really wanted to hear. I knew that I wouldn’t hear anything from the Hellraiser (and too bad because it’s a great CD as well) album as Marc was the only original member of the band at the time that it was recorded. Disappointingly they didn’t play Headhunter, but instead closed up with another cover song, this time it was Bob Dylan’s Mighty Quinn and then they were off stage leaving me loving my first Krokus experience, living up to my expectations and certainly hungry for more.
9:45pm- found me back across the field at the Rock stage for Saxon. Man, I’m starting to wear a path here! After a rather long recorded intro, the Barnsley boys stormed the stage, wasting no time and blasting into Sacrifice, the title cut from their latest CD. With the smoke machine billowing out it’s product and the coloured floodlights flashing on and off in time to the music they roared into Wheels of Terror, also from the Sacrifice record. From there it was back to the fan favourite classics with The Power & The Glory followed by Heavy Metal Thunder. This was my fourth time seeing Saxon, who are one of my favourite bands and their logo appears in my “in progress” sleeve tattoo as well. This was, however, the first time seeing them on a larger stage with the first being a club show in Toronto and then the two performances aboard The Monsters of Rock Cruise last year and they just seem to get better and better. Back to the Sacrifice CD for Made In Belfast, a great song and these new tracks fit very well into the set mixed with the classics and the crowd cheered them on at every step of the way. While I was checking in at the airport to begin this journey here to Sweden I had my headphones on and it was rather fitting that as I waited in line the song playing was Standing In A Que also from the Sacrifice record! Someone from the crowd tossed a shirt up on to the stage and vocalist Biff Byford picked it up, displaying it for the crowd. He then hung it off of Nigel’s drum kit, showing the Saxon 1 that was printed on the back. Biff then addressed the
crowd, “Do you want to hear Crusader, And The Bands Played On or Motorcycle Man?” he asked. With Crusader receiving the loudest cheers it was the chosen victim, although the responses to each title all sounded pretty much the same to me. Paul’s guitar emitted no sound as he started to play, so Biff took a minute to entertain the audience while they worked furiously behind the scenes to correct the
problem. Biff requested some red wine from off stage and offered us a cheers as he raised his glass. With Paul’s guitar issues rectified, they launched into Crusader, the backdrop flag behind the stage changing to reflect the horse and rider waving the British flag. The lighting banks mixed in between the amplifiers were flashing their white lights in the shape of a cross through out the song. I guess And The Bands Played On received the second loudest response earlier because it was the next choice before I’ve Got To Rock (To Stay Alive) from 2007’s Inner Sanctum record. During I’ve Got To Rock another shirt made it’s way onto the stage, this one saying “Biff for president” underneath a cartoon caricature of him. “The Swedes, the Vikings,” Biff called out next recognising the Swedish heritage. “It’s time for the Saxons to meet the Vikings.” He stated, “This one features Nigel back there.” as they ripped into Conquistador, which I certainly didn’t expect to hear live. Nigel pounded furiously on his kit, thundering into a drum solo complete with raised drum kit and I wished that Dwain Miller, Keel’s drummer were here to see this, knowing how much he’s a Nigel Glockler fan. The lighting banks in between the amps now flashed Nigel’s name through out the solo. Solid Ball of Rock was next and is one of my top ten Saxon tracks, can’t explain why, just love it. During the song Biff filmed us a bit for a podcast and the horse and rider banner dropped revealing a giant eagle in lights, a Saxon trademark. Another cut from Sacrifice was next with Stand Up and Fight after which the eagle lowered showing off a red coloured banner with the Saxon logo for Dallas 1pm. The eagle rose again for 747 (Strangers In The Night) and remained throughout Strong Arm Of The Law. During Strong Arm of the Law Biff received shirts #3 and #4 as the amp lighting banks flashed the chorus chant of “Stop, get out.” Wheels of Steel followed and during the track Biff took a moment to thank the audiences of the world as “Sacrifice is the best selling Saxon album in a long while.” After a really short break Biff again took the microphone proclaiming that they had “time for one more, well maybe two small ones.” as they finished up with the staples of Denim & Leather and the awesome Princess of the Night. An excellent Saxon performance by all with some surprising songs in the roster, but I noticed that there was no representation from the previous release Call to Arms.
11:20pm-with only about ten minutes to get back across the way for Europe’s performance back on the Festival stage I stopped by the Sweden Rock Shop to purchase a t-shirt. Mostly because I wanted the shirt with all the bands listed on it to commemorate my adventure, but also because it was friggin’ freezing again and I was shivering like crazy!
11:30pm-I was shuffling closer to the Festival stage for Europe, hanging back near the information booth. There was a huge crowd here, and again I ask who knew that Europe was this popular? They opened up with Riches to Rags followed by Firebox and Not Supposed to Sing The Blues all from the latest release Bag of Bones. The sound was a little flat and with not knowing the music all that well, I was fast losing interest in Europe. I wormed closer, but the crowd was one of the tightest I’d seen yet. The sound improved as I got closer, but I also grew more tired after seeing four of my favourite bands in a row. I listened to Scream of Anger and Superstitious before I made my way to the press area to work on my daily diary from several days ago…..it’s hard to keep up….lol. I could hear them quite clearly from the press tent, but didn’t really recognise any songs and subsequently tuned out shortly after. I worked for a bit and then grew tired and decided to turn in for the night. I, of course, had forgotten that Michael Schenker was going to be making a guest appearance with Europeand I completely missed it! I still would have liked to see him on stage for UFO given the co-incidence that they were playing the same day.
*****All photography (except the banner and logo at the top of the page) taken by The Meister on location in Sweden, June 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th, 2013.*****
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