Rockklassiker Stage, Sweden Rock Festival, Friday June 5th
One of the artists that I had really looked forward to seeing was German melodic metal veterans, Mad Max. As far as I know they have never ever played in Sweden before and the band has been releasing albums since 1982 (although on hiatus between 1988 and 1998) so it is still a rare gig. Having read interviews by the band, I knew they were going to focus on their 1980´s material to support their upcoming best-of album. If you leave the first album out (with original vocalist Andreas Baesler) there is still three excellent albums to choose songs from. They have been given a great time to play at 19.45 in the evening but at the smaller Rockklassiker stage. The band had just lost long time bass player Roland Bergmann and just replaced him with former Evidence One/Frontline bassist Thomas “Hutch” Bauer. I arrive early and find the tent almost empty, but it keeps filling up until they hit the stage to my favourite song “Burning The Stage”, the opening track on 1987´s Night Of Passion. It gets me in the right mood right away and I start toe tapping and headbanging in an instant. Michael Voss‘ voice sounds excellent and the band seems to enjoy themselves. What surprises me is that Michael Voss provides all guitar solos and Jürgen Breforth provides the rhythm guitar. I did not know Michael was such a great guitar slinger. We head back to 1985’s Stormchild for the second track and one of my favourite Mad Max tracks with “Heroes Die Lonely” which is a mid-tempo rocker. More people keep coming in and discovering what is going on at the Rockklassiker stage as Mad Max plunge into another classic cut from the Night Of Passion album called “Wait For The Night” which is a faster paced song. It starts off with a great riff and Voss really shines on this song, providing a stellar vocal performance. The pace is kept up by former Jaded Heart drummer Axel Kruse and new member Thomas Bauer seems to really enjoy it onstage.
We then go all the way back to 1984 and Voss announces the opening track on Rollin´ Thunder and they kick off “Fly Fly Away”. It´s a heavy, grooving track that fits the live environment perfectly and it gets a great response from the audience on this evening. A great pick as it is one of the stronger songs on that particular album. This is the first time I have seen the band live and I can´t help wondering what it would have been like attending a concert in the 1980´s. The band really rip it up on stage and the songs sound like they came right out of the time machine. We get a guitar solo from Michael Voss before we continue on with the title track from the same album – “Rollin´Thunder”. With two guitars, the riffing sounds really heavy and it is impossible not to bang your head. When the chorus comes up all you can do is raise your fist in the air and shout it out. I can also see that I am not alone. One of the highlights of the show. Time for another upbeat song with a lot of energy and another title track – “Night Of Passion”. Michael has us eating out of his hand by now and they throw riffs and solos around like it was child´s play.
After that treat it is time to slow things down a bit for the only ballad of the show off Rollin´Thunder (the closing track in fact) – a song called “Thoughts Of A Dying Man”. In my opinion, it is a great song and a nice pick and you can clearly hear Voss‘ strong voice on this cut. The lighters and phones are up! I never loose one bit of concentration during the gig and all my focus are on the stage (and writing setlist in my phone!). “OK guys, we have to play all the opening tracks on the three classic albums” they seem to reason and off we go into “Never Say Never” the opening track on Stormchild. It is a melodic rock song with a chorus that is easy to sing along to and sing is what we do! The Meister does not seem as inspired as I feel but what the heck this is a unique moment. I am completely convinced they will close with a track from Night Of Passion but they surprise us all as Michael declares this is the last song and that they have to make room for Tony Carey on stage. Mad Max close with the super fast title track “Stormchild” and it concludes the task of playing all title tracks as well…
This was one of the best shows I have seen at Sweden Rock and also in general. Michael Voss‘ voice sounds incredibly strong, and the band play as a tight-knit unit. I do not know if it was a wise move to leave all the new material out of the show. Opposite many other cult and classic metal acts, Mad Max has prolific and excellent new material to choose from. This is a band that has put out seven albums and one EP since 1999 and is by no means a nostalgic act. I think the show would have benefited if a couple of new tracks would have been added to the mix. Still, this was a fantastic show and I am sure they gained a lot of new fans on this night. I start searching for any T-shirt with Mad Max on it, but there is none to be found. Rating 9/10 geeks.
You can find all of Decibel Geek‘s coverage of the Sweden Rock Festival 2015 by both The Lionsheart & The Meister here: Sweden Rock 2015