Again it’s cold!!! I wake up to a decided chill in the air, very glad that I bought the camping mat last night! The skies are cloudy and threatening rain again, Sweden where is the hot sunny weather that you provided me last year? This is worse than Canada at the moment! After some Decibel Geek work while lounging in my tent, it’s time to head out a little before noon to Red Dragon Cartel’s set. A breakfast beer along the way? Why not?
|Darren James Smith-photo by Meister|
Opening with “Ultimate Sin”, I marveled at how well Darren James Smith’s voice still sounded after the fairly heavy touring that Red Dragon Cartel has been doing of late. It was after that opening song, however, that the issues began! Jake E. Lee was plagued with amp issues, not being able complete “Deceived”, the second song. Replacing the amp they wrapped up “Deceived”and went into “War Machine”, which they could not get through either, the amp blowing again. The Badlands song “High Wire”went through with no issues, but the follow up of “Shine On” was another matter. Jake was rocking so hard that he blew three amps Darren proclaimed as Jake bowed in apology to the audience! Finally things seemed good through the rest of the set which included “Shout It Out”, “Rumblin’ Train”, “Sun Red Sun”, “Feeder” and “Bark at the Moon”. I wonder what are the chances that Jake and Ozzy are sharing a drink backstage and reminiscing about other times?
|Ronnie Atkins-photo by Meister|
Denmark’s Pretty Maids were on deck next and were awesome in my first time seeing them. This is a band that will doubtfully ever come to Canada and one that hasn’t really broken over here which is a shame. They are a great unit of melodic rock and their 2013 release, Motherland, made my list of the top albums of the year. “The Mother of All Lies” from that same album got the show under way, which was quickly followed by “Nuclear Boomerang”. With little to no talking, they whipped through a good mix of their back catalog with songs such as “Red, Hot & Heavy”, “My Soul to Take”, “I See Ghosts”, “Yellow Rain” and “Little Drops of Heaven” among others. They slid a little snippet of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall” into the mix as well and they were always calling and motioning for the audience to get their hands in the air. Before they rolled into one song, singer Ronnie Atkins claimed that HammerFall had stolen this one from them and tonight they were stealing it back, but I was unfamiliar with the song. “Future World” wrapped things up and the comical Monty Python ditty “Sit On My Face” played as they took their final bows on what was a truly magical performance.
|VA!?-photo by The Meister|
featuring a covered VIP bar/lounge area, food stands and lots of other VIP extras. They have “The Jagermeister Girls”……do I need to see any more concerts today? After not enough time, I packed up the charger and it’s cumbersome international power converter and headed out with the intention of hitting Robin Beck and Roxie 77, both of which were well into their set by this time. On my way by I passed The Rockklassiker Stage as an all female trio began their set. Their first song, which may have been called “Get Excited” drew me in, that and we all know how I love ladies in bands! Calling themselves VA!?, which I later learned means “what” in Swedish, the punk infused music was very catchy and I lingered for a good portion of their set. Songs like “Crush”, “Kiss This Bitch”, “I Wanna Be Your Captai
n” and a cover of “Helter Skelter” all delighted the crowd around me. But unfortunately the rain came again and much harder this round, making it time to hit DBHQ to collect my over priced Sweden Rock Festival garbage bag looking rain poncho!
|Black Stone Cherry-photo by Meister|
Black Stone Cherry was just taking stage as I slipped back into the grounds via the north entrance on the left hand side of the Festival Stage. Not being overly familiar with their music, but do enjoy what I’ve heard, I lingered for the first four or five songs before the need to drain my bladder and refill my stomach arose. A little wander took me past the sound check for The Men They Couldn’t Hang on Sweden Stage, the sound check for Tesla on the Rock Stage and a little of the Turisas set, which was not my flavor of music, before finding my self back at Black Stone Cherry during “Rocky Mountain Way”. “White Trash Millionaire” and “Blame it On the Boom Boom” delighted the crowd and ended their set.
|Tesla on stage at Sweden Rock-photo by Meister|
The Rockklassiker Stage for Eyes Wide Open was my next stop, which didn’t last too long being a little too screamy for my real liking. Solstafir over on 4 Sound was next for a song, but again was not really in my realm of listening spectrum, so Tesla it is! I had thought to check out some bands I’d never heard in hopes of a great discovery such as VA!?, but alas it was not to be for The Meister. Tesla, however, won out hands down and they began another excellent performance with “I Wanna Live”. “Hang Tough”, “Heaven’s Trail”, “Mama’s Fool”, “Into the Now”, “MP3” and “The Way it Is” all pleased my eardrums, the latter song I heard as I made my way again to the VIP area.
|Myles Kennedy of Alter Bridge-by Meister|
After meeting a friendly Swede and enjoying a nice chat about the differences in our countries and hockey (Sundin, Lundquist and Salming) it was time to catch Alter Bridge. I’m not opposed to what I’ve heard from their catalog, but not overly thrilled by it either. A little too alternative/modern, whatever you want to call it for my specific tastes although I do like Myles Kennedy, the vocalist. Kennedy was excellent when I saw him with Slash and he even sounds a little like Axl Rose on those Guns ‘n’ Roses classics. After the fourth song I decided to hit up power metalers, Masterplan. I’m sure Alter Bridge will play in Canada sometime, just as I’m sure that Masterplan will never play Canada!
|Roland Grapow and Masterplan-photo by Meister|
I got over to the 4 Sound Stage in time for “Spirit Never Die”. This is power metal at it’s finest I proclaimed inside my head! There was no English talking as they stalled for a little sound issue with the bass guitar and it sounded Swedish, interesting, I thought they were German. Maybe that’s only guitarist Roland Grapow, but no matter the vocalists strong and powerful voice carried the lyrics to my ears very successfully. One thing that was evident throughout the show was the obvious fun that the band was having together with their banter (I think I got the gist of what they were teasing each other about on several occasions) and playful attitudes. At one point Roland and vocalist Rick Altzi (who I later learned is actually Swedish) mocked each other, having fun as singer explained some Swedish words to the former Helloween axe slinger. “Lost and Gone”, “Black Night of Magic”, “Crimson Rider”, “Back for My Life”, “Time to Be King”, “Keep Your Dream Alive” and “Crystal Night” (an Anti-Nazism song) all came together collectively for one of the best performances so far even though I left before the end.
|Beast-photo by The Meister|
After passing back by Alter Bridge in time to catch the last two songs from their roster, “Rise Today” and “Isolation”, I checked out Beast on Rockklassiker Stage. NEMIS (New Music In Sweden) is an organization to promote new music and presents a lot of the great bands that I’ve seen on this stage last year and this year. Beast were a female fronted outfit that I’d not heard of prior to right now.
There were very few audience here for them, but once they started playing their opening song the crowd drew in. For me, I do certainly have a fascination (and some may say problem) for females in bands, but aside from that the music was quite good having a punk/thrash/Maiden feel to it if that combo makes any sense. It hurt to have to leave this stage, but Rob Zombie is a big bucket-lister of mine having succeeded in missing him every time in Toronto! I will definitely be contacting Beast in search of their recorded music once back home in Canada!
|Rob Zombie-photo by Meister|
“Meet the Creeper” led the Zombie stage show, quickly followed up by “Superbeast”, but I thought that the sound was a little flat overall. “Scum of the Earth” and “Living Dead Girl” came next but my interest started to wane even though there was lots and lots of stage movement. My problem was coming from the synthesized sounds, the exact ones from the recordings and it just didn’t sound “all that live” to me. I stuck around for “Dead City Radio and the New Gods of Supertown” and the following drum solo, which also had accompanying synthesizer sounds making me wonder just what was real and what recorded during this performance. But the crowd was loving it, so probably it’s just a funny idea that I got in my head!
|Uriah Heep-photo by The Meister|
forthcoming album on Frontiers Records and I was back over to Rob Zombie.
Zombie and his band were ripping through a cover of Diamond Head’s “Am I Evil?” by the time I returned. Rob wrapped himself in a Swedish flag for “Thunderkiss ’65” during which he sent a shout out to the dressing room over there, playing a snippet of “School’s Out” (“playing the whole thing would just be rude”, he told us) before closing out the White Zombie track. He shut things down with the smash “Dragula” as I headed over to catch some of Ammotrack.
|Ammotrack-photo by The Meister|
Ammotrack is a band that I had discovered in some quick research in preparation for Sweden Rock 2014 and really liked them right away. They did not disappoint in the live setting with a high energy set, every song was filled with pep and the whole band was rocking. The vocalist possessed a good strong voice and my hands were quickly in the air for this band. At one point they also tossed some CD’s/cassettes into the crowd, I was not lucky enough to snag one, but I will be searching out their full albums! Their set included songs such as “Raise Your Hands”, “Hitman”, “Living Like An Angel”, “Fastlane” and “S.H.O.U.T.” among others, the titles of which I was unable to catch.
|Alice Cooper-photo by Meister|
Alice Cooper was the headliner for the evening and it had already been a really long day of rock. The Alice Cooper stage show is something in itself to see even though it has changed over the years. I’m sure there’s not much to be said about Alice Cooper that hasn’t already been said, but he was my very first concert. New Year’s Eve 1989 on the Trash tour he stopped in Toronto and I was there for the event, one that started my concert addiction. For this full length Alice Cooper show he took us on a ride of the highlights throughout his entire career. Songs like “Billion Dollar Babies” saw Alice wielding a sword around that released cash into the crowd while he carried around a huge coffee mug for “Caffeine”. Necklaces went into the audience during “Dirty Diamonds” and a huge Frankenstein appeared on stage during “Feed My Frankenstein”. While dressed in a straight jacket for “The Ballad of Dwight Fry” a huge guillotine chopped off Alice’s head which was paraded around during “I Love the Dead” immediately afterwards. Other songs appearing in the set that started off with “The Underture” were, “Hello Hooray”, “No More Mr. Nice Guy”, “Under My Wheels”, “I’ll Bite Your Face Off”, “Department of Youth”, “Hey Stoopid”, “Go to Hell” and “He’s
|Alice Cooper-photo by Meister|
Back (The Man Behind The Mask)”. The “Coop” also did a little covers section including The Doors’ “Break On Through (to the Other Side)”, The Beatles’ “Revolution”, Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady” and The Who’s “My Generation” before the closers of “I’m Eighteen” and “Poison”. An encore of “School’s Out” (including Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In the Wall, Pt.2”) featuring guest Rob Zombie had me wondering if Zombie’s earlier shout out had just been a little prelude. The “Gruesome Twosome” both stabbed at the balloons littering the stage with large swords and gave each other a large hug before everyone took the final bow.
Somewhere during the Alice set I departed to investigate
Sparzanza on the 4 Sound Stage as I knew they’ll not be in Canada anytime soon. I was able to catch two songs as the singer, dressed in a shirt and tie was shrouded in dry ice smoke. I enjoyed the music, a little more industrial perhaps, but good none the less and worth checking into further, but “The King”, Alice Cooper, won out and I was back at his set before too long.
And thus completes the second day of live music and my adventures at 2014’s Sweden Rock Festival……..until tomorrow.
Cheers from Sweden,