You Wanted the Sun, You Got the Sun!
This morning I awoke drenched in sweat as the bright sun pounded down on my tent……this is much better than the damp, cold, rainy overcast skies of the past couple of days! After freshening up in the shower trailer (not as fun as it sounds, trust me!), I headed out for a long day of rock with many acts on my “hit list” for today. Once in the festival area I noticed that there seemed to be an issue with the washrooms as all except the large one between the Rockklassiker Stage and 4 Sound Stage were closed down. That one was being policed by two officers controlling the already building line to make use of it. I heard a rumor that it was a water issue and I sure hope they get this fixed soon as the sun was already beating down harshly and concert goers will need a water refilling station. No matter for me at this point of the day, I’ll just hydrate with beer!
Kings of the Sun were the first band of the day and although they were something that I wanted to see, they conflicted with another act that I was looking forward to, Thundermother, starting shortly afterwards. There were quite a few K.O.T.S. shirts around and I was surprised at the following that this Australian band had here in Sweden. With the drummer handling the vocals and proclaiming that Kings of the Sun brought the sun for us, their spirited songs, “Rockpile” and “Switchblade Knife” started off a great day of rock! I would have liked to catch more of their set, but it was off to check about re-filling my water bottle with the sun ravaging me already and then pass by Thundermother for a bit, planning to return to K.O.T.S. later.
The washroom police were still controlling a large line-up so my impatience led me to a Sofiero (beer) beverage instead of water! Thundermother is a band that I had discovered through another Swedish group, Sister Sin. While watching an online concert of Sister Sin, Thundermother was the next band on the stage in the video. This quintet of ladies (and we all know how lady rockers captivate my attention) stormed the Rocklassiker Stage, ripping through “Man With Blues”. Also proclaiming that they brought the sun, it was time for a shot of Fireball to wake them up before “The Dangerous Kind”. Tracks such as “Cheers”, “Thunderous”, “Please Me”, “Rock n Roll Disaster” and “Shoot to Kill” all collected together with more Fireball for a great set that before I knew it was over and I’d not made it back to Kings of the Sun! Must purchase CD immediately (which I somehow failed to do while I was at the Festival)! What a great set from these ladies, definitely a band to watch out for in the future.
Crossing the festival grounds to the Rock Stage with the intention of catching the last half of Talisman I was derailed by the overwhelming need to void my bladder. With every toilet still on lock down and the huge line still policed at the only one that was open I decided to try the VIP/Press area. This one was closed as well, but at least “the trough” was available! I was able to hear some of Talisman from the VIP area as I decided to get in some quick camera/phone charging and they sounded great from way over here! I was able to catch songs like the cover of Seal‘s “Crazy” and “Dangerous”.
Leaving the sanctuary of the VIP and Jagermeister ladies once again, I headed back out to see Jaguar. Formed in the UK in the late 70’s they were a part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement, issuing a couple of albums in the 80’s before they disbanded. Arriving late, they were into “Feel the Heat” with the vocalist down in the photo pit and they were sounding great. “Dutch Connection”, “Axe Crazy” and “Stormchild” were all tunes that I recognized and the final song of “War Machine” was chosen after polling the crowd. I really enjoyed Jaguar and I hope that I’ll be fortunate enough to catch another live experience.
After Jaguar had left the stage I began to make my way over to Sweden Stage in preparations for Q5. This day I had chosen for my attire a white Decibel Geek tee-shirt and on my way over to the next stage I was stopped by a gentleman who said that he loves the podcast, especially Aaron Camaro‘s perfect radio voice and he listens all the time! I should have gotten his name and a photo, but instead thanked him for listening and passed him my card. Cheers to the mystery Swedish Decibel Geek!
Q5 played what I thought was an excellent set although as I had noticed more than once on the Sweden Stage, the guitar especially needed to be much louder. Songs such as “Rock On”, “Pull the Trigger”, “Missing in Action”, “When the Mirror Cracks”, “Ain’t No Way To Treat A Lady”, “Steel The Light” and “Teenage Runaway” filled out the setlist. These guys were excellent and one of the few sets that I was able to catch the full thing of all weekend. If you’ve not heard of Q5, start with their 1984 issue Steel The Light, it’s really all you need!
After spending a few minutes with a friend from the UK and a couple of quick beers in the VIP, it was back out to catch some of The Electric Boys. When Lynch Mob cancelled their appearance the week or so prior to the festival, these guys stepped in to save the day. Not being familiar with their music and not having had any time to research before leaving for this event I was a little lost, but they were quite good. Their music has a decided funk feel to it and really gets your toe tapping. I’m told that frontman Conny Bloom is somewhat of a hero here. I was only able to catch three of their funk-infused songs including “Captain of My Soul” and their hit single “All Lips And Hips” and I’d like to see a full set sometime, but until then it’s CD shopping I go!
The next big event on my list was TNT. I have long enjoyed their music and was thrilled to get the opportunity to see them live on 2013’s Monsters of Rock Cruise. That performance was with Tony Mills handling the vocal duties, but he has since left the band and original vocalist, Tony Harnell has returned. Harnell has a powerful voice and the whole band sounded great for this show celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Intuition album. They played a healthy selection from that release including “Intuition”, “Caught Between the Tigers”, “Forever Shine On”, “End Of the Line” and “Tonight I’m Falling”. They also worked in some other Harnell led material such as “Seven Seas”, “Downhill Racer”, “Northern Lights” and “10,000 Lovers (In One)” but as to be expected no Mills led material was played.
Somewhere during TNT, as hard as it was, I slipped away to support fellow Canadians, thrash metal band, Annihilator. I figured that I’d have a better chance of seeing them in Canada, but wanted to get at least a little of the set as it would be my first experience. The Canadian flag posted on the drum kit was a nice touch and the first thing that I noticed approaching during “Reduced To Ash”. Some goofing around and the lick to “Chicken & Corn” brought us to “Alison Hell” during which there was a slight tech issue halting the performance and again prompting “Chicken & Corn”. “W.T.Y.D.” followed the resumption of “Alison Hell” and I made my way back to TNT.
Next up was Kamelot, a symphonic metal outfit with dual vocalists, male and female, but about half a song was too much for me. It had already been a long day of rock with the harsh Swedish sun bearing down on me and I had to retreat and rest.
My next event after meeting people in the VIP/Press area was Heaven’s Basement. Unfortunately, I was extremely late, getting caught up in conversation with a newly made friend and only made the last two songs of the set. I had seen Heaven’s Basement before when they opened for Buckcherry here in Toronto and that night the singer was sick. I don’t just mean not feeling well so he gave a weak performance, he was actually puking into a steel pail on stage! He announced that all he could see across the way (Kamelot) was dragons and fire before starting into “Reign On My Parade”. This hardly seemed like the same guy that was filling the bucket on stage in Toronto as he was bashing his head off the cymbals and had the crowd jumping, in fact, the most “into it” I’d seen yet from a crowd! The awesome “Executioner’s Day” wrapped things up.
Wasting no time I headed over to Rock Stage for W.A.S.P., something I was looking forward to. As the floodlights swirled around the stage a recorded intro of a medley of W.A.S.P. songs played. Tons of fireball pyro was expended during the opening track, “On Your Knees”. “The Torture Never Stops” followed and I noticed the saw blades on Blackie Lawless‘ arms. The backdrop curtain, depicting a saw blade proclaiming 32 years of W.A.S.P. dropped away revealing a Headless Children backdrop for “The Real Me”. “L.O.V.E. Machine”, “Crazy”, “Wildchild”, “Sleeping In The Fire”, “Forever Free” and “I Wanna Be Somebody”, including some audience participation, all came before a rather boring collection of songs thanks to The Crimson Idol album. The best effort from that release in my opinion, “Chainsaw Charlie (Murders In The New Morgue)” led us into “Heaven’s Hung In Black” and from there the closer of “Blind In Texas”. At the end of “Blind In Texas”, the PA totally cut out during the last few seconds of the song leaving the band looking like they were miming. A great show, glad I finally saw W.A.S.P.!
Now over to Festival Stage for Black Sabbath! “War Pigs” led the charge and I was amazed at just how good they all sounded especially Ozzy‘s voice. “Into The Void” and “Snowblind” followed and while I’m a fan (not rabid fan mind you) and appreciate what this band has done for metal I find the songs too long and drawn out instrumentally for my real liking, especially after such a long day in the sun which was finally retreating. “Age of Reason” and “Black Sabbath” came next and Ozzy‘s random “cuckooing” in between songs peppered the set. The dismal gloomy, depressing feeling of the music overtook me and it was time to rest my feet once again, hearing “N.I.B.”, “Fairies Wear Boots”, “Rat Salad” and “Iron Man” from the sanctuary of the VIP/Press area as I charged my gear and had a beer once again. I made it back out for the ending selections of “God Is Dead?”, “Children of the Grave” and of course “Paranoid”.
Now something more “up my alley” was about to happen, but was also disappointing at the same time. I have never seen Megadeth, succeeding in missing them every single time in Toronto and thought this would finally be my chance. Not to be as they had cancelled their appearance, and understandably so, a couple of weeks before due to a death in one of the band’s family. German power metaller and former Accept frontman U.D.O. stepped in to fill the void which was fine by me, but I still miss out on a Megadeth show! The stout singer’s gruff, gravelly vocals led his band through a huge set that had to be over two hours runtime. After an intro of The Beastie Boys‘ “Fight For Your Right” the incredibly tight band ripped through a set starting off like this: “Steelhammer”, “King of Mean”, “Future Land”, “Cry of a Nation”, “Stranger”, “They Want War” and “Animal House”.
I thought I’d better go and quickly check out Death SS for a few minutes when the U.D.O. guitar solo cropped up. I’d checked out some of their compositions prior to arriving here in Sweden, but I was unfamiliar with this song. It didn’t really matter as I barely heard it anyway, my concentration was on the basically nude young lady on stage. For the next song, which I was also unfamiliar with, she returned dressed in white. I didn’t dislike their industrial flavored brand of metal but with not knowing the material well enough I headed back over to U.D.O.
“Never Cross My Way”, “Stay True”, “No Limits” and “Metal Machine” greeted my return and welcomed me back wonderfully. I noticed John Nyman, guitarist for Y&T checking out the Sweden Rock merchandise at the Sweden Rock Shop booth which I was standing near, away from the crowd to enjoy U.D.O. “Go Back To Hell”, “Timebomb” and “Metal Heart” came before Udo asked the crowd “you want some more of this old shit?”. He obliged the crowd finishing up with the three punch hit of Accept classics “Balls to the Wall”, “I’m A Rebel” and “Fast As A Shark”. What an awesome show from a great performer with his distinctive throaty growl laid over some great power metal. Sad to have missed my best so far chance at Megadeth, but thrilled that Udo Dirkschneider and his band were able to rock me like this!
Time for sleeping!