Sweden Rock Festival 2015 – Thursday, June 4, 2015
Here we are for the first full day of the 2015 Sweden Rock Festival. Yesterday was an awesome start to everything for Laura and myself and late last night The Lionsheart arrived and was situated at Innergardens BnB when we returned from concerting. Decibel Geek staff writer Shawn “Animalize” Irwin was originally wavering on making the trek over with us, but he agonizingly chose not to come in the end. Well, what kind of friends would we be if we let that fatal error in judgement pass without ridicule? The Lionsheart, before leaving his home, 12 driving hours north, had printed a photo of Shawn from his Facebook page. In some small way, Shawn is now with us at Sweden Rock 2015 and will be making appearances from time to time throughout the festival. And so Thursday began at the festival with a quick stop at the Battle Cry Records tent (CD shopping…of which I managed to restrain myself to only one-Crystal Ball CD to be exact).
The Lionsheart knows Andreas of Battle Cry so they chat for a bit as I pop outside to the Sweden Stage to check out Delain (a favourite of Shawn‘s but not really my style). That being said I can certainly groove to the music, but it’s the high pitched vocals indigenous to the symphonic metal style that I can’t grasp. In any case, if Shawn was actually here he would be glued to the stage, I’m sure! Holding up Shawn‘s printed photo (notice The Rockpile tee), The Lionsheart snapped a shot of Shawn and The Meister at Delain! Take that “mister I’m not coming”!
From there we moved on after a few songs as I took The Lionsheart and showed him where the VIP/press area was located. As we had come in through different entrances this morning, we had lost Laura already. Well, since we’re here in this excellent VIP section, again this year presented by Jagermeister, we better have the first beer of the day (the Jager girls behind the bar make it hard to order a beer as I can barely even speak English to women that beautiful)! The area is set up a little differently than last year and the section in the middle that housed some tables and most importantly charging plugs was not here. We can always use the press tent to charge, but honestly, good luck getting a spot there! Shawn, who does not drink alcohol, made an appearance with a beer, shame on you sir! As we enjoyed the first beer of the day and chatted, catching up since Firefest: The Final Fling in October (where Shawn and I met The Lionsheart), I spotted a young lady with a Canadian flag on her bag/purse and so I must say hello. Turns out that she is Swedish not Canadian, but spent a year and a half living in Toronto previously and is hoping to return September/October of this year. Here’s my card, find me on Facebook and I’m happy to help and advise anything you need.
Off to the Rockklassiker Stage for Deception, another band unfamiliar even to The Lionsheart. This is the stage for the NEMIS bands (New Music in Sweden) and I’ve discovered and seen some great ones on here during my two previous years. Deception were very heavy and not super special or overly drawing for either of us. That’s the beauty of Sweden Rock, there’s something for everyone and if you don’t like the band on stage, you simply move to the next stage. And that’s what we did.
Steve ‘n’ Seagulls (Finland) / Spike’s Freehouse (UK)
Steve ‘n’ Seagulls on the 4 Sound Stage was also not for us with the cello and banjo. Spike’s Freehouse was underway on the Festival Stage, but not being a particular Quireboys fan, I was not entranced by this either. Basically, for me, they were a lot like Quireboys with a 70’s rock vibe. Back to the VIP for more beer and killing some time on this gorgeous day in Sweden before the heavily anticipated Steve Grimmet’s Grim Reaper.
Browsing Collection (Sweden)
Heading out on the hunt for food we first passed by Rockklassiker again since it’s on the way….and why wouldn’t we check out a band whenever we can? Browsing Collection were on stage, already well into their set as we approached. NEMIS strikes again! The all-female band were ripping through some good riffs and I was already intrigued right away. Out came the video camera for the next song, what might have been called “The Story Never Ends”, after which The Lionsheart translated “they want us to bang our heads”. He also said that they announced that their CD had been released two days ago and was being sold off to the side by someone’s mother. Unfortunately, it was now their last song, but you can be damn sure The Meister was right over afterwards for the CD purchase! I’ll be giving it a listen when I get back to Canada, hopefully before if I can find a CD player, but also watch for a review of it to follow. Awesome set ladies (well, the three songs I heard anyway), thank you Browsing Collection and thank you NEMIS!
Steve Grimmet’s Grim Reaper (UK)
Steve Grimmet’s Grim Reaper was the next target, a band I’ve listened to for a long time and a show I was pumped to see. But not nearly as pumped as The Lionsheart. He describes Steve Grimmet as his childhood hero. We were right on the barrier on the left side and preparing for the show as I met my friend and fellow KiLLeR DWaRfS fan from last year as well as a UK cruise friend. For a more comprehensive report of the Grim Reaper set see The Lionsheart‘s special spotlight review coming soon, but I can say that this show alone may just have been worth the trip to Sweden Rock 2015!
The Lionsheart ventured off for the Grim Reaper signing session and I found Laura. Turns out she had also been at Grim Reaper on the barrier on the right side! I was so happy to hear from her that she was having a fantastic day already. We caught Airbourne next on the Rock Stage. Having seen these boys about a year ago in Toronto I knew we were in for a good show, but I had plans to leave early for something I’d never see in Canada on another stage. The Aussie, AC/DC influenced, band ripped through “Ready To Rock”, “Too Much, Too Young, Too Fast” and “Chewin’ The Fat”, during which Joel crushed a beer can, full, by smashing it against his head several times, something I saw in Toronto as well. I was tapped on the shoulder by a young lady who requested a photo of my full sleeve tattoo, something not uncommon. She got right down with her face in there as her friend snapped the shot, cheers! “Blonde, Bad and Beautiful” was followed by “Girls in Black” during which Joel left the stage and climbed up the rigging/scaffolding on the left side and I mean fairly high up as well! Once there, he played a few chords of the song before climbing down, bet the insurance company loves that move! “Cheap Wine and Cheaper Women” Served as the last for us as Laura and I made our way over to the 4 Sound Stage for Battle Beast.
Battle Beast (Finland)
The only place to really experience a concert is the front of the stage for me, especially a band I look forward to seeing, so Laura and I split up as she sat on the hill and I ventured down front. “Far Far Away” led the charge from this female fronted Finnish outfit. “I Want The World…and Everything In It”, the awesome “Out On The Streets” and “Let It Roar” all followed before I decided to move back with Laura and a better vantage point to capture some videos, but I couldn’t find her. “Madness” became the first victim of my video skills which Battle Beast followed up with a part of a song sung in their native Finnish language. “Black Ninja” was also videoed and “Unholy Savior” was the next selection. It was pretty cool to hear what I’m sure was the Star Wars “Death March” by the keyboardist for a little between songs. “Iron Hand” and “Touch In The Night” came next and the crowd all had their hands in the air as they had done for a good portion of the set. Noora Louhimo‘s powerful and piercing vocals were lent to “Enter the Metal World”, one of my favorite Battle Beast compositions, and things wrapped up with “Out of Control”. OK, maybe this one’s my fave!
Wandering past Toto was enough for me, unfortunately it wasn’t the “Africa” or “Rosanna” songs at the time. Meeting The Lionsheart once again, all ecstatic with his Grim Reaper signing, we grabbed a burger and a beer before Hammerfall.
The Lionsheart tells me that it is Hammerfall to be credited for the resurgence of power metal in Sweden in the late 90’s early 2000’s, something that started out as a hobby for the band. “Hector’s Hymn” started things off, quickly trailed by “Any Means Necessary”. I then took video for “Renegade” which preceded “B.Y.H. (Bang Your Head)” and “Blood Bound” from Chapter V: Unbent, Unbowed, Unbroken at which point we felt that we should let Shawn out to see some Hammerfall since he’s a fan. “Heeding The Call” brought us to “Let the Hammer Fall” featuring a war hammer shaped guitar. “Live Life Loud” was excellent, fist high in the air singing along, but the lengthy instrumental that followed began to loose me. So tired, I was struggling to stay awake even in the middle of the show, felt like a touch of narcolepsy! Maybe just getting old? “Threshold” brought us to “Last Man Standing” and the band introductions. The name Pontus Norgren struck a chord and The Lionsheart reminded me he was a previous member of The Poodles. A flurry of thank-you’s brought about “Hammerfall” before the band left the stage. Returning for a triple shot encore they served up (what setlist.fm reports as) “Templars Of Steel” and “Bushido”, before “Hearts on Fire” drew their portion of Sweden Rock 2015 to a close.
About face now for Def Leppard on the main Festival Stage. The Lionsheart and I were able to fairly easily inch quite close (about 15 people back) for this event. Laura, however, I have no idea where she was and the damn WiFi is a little spotty here so I can’t contact her even. I do hope she’s OK, but that’s another great thing about Sweden Rock is the safety. Everyone is so very friendly, English speaking and pleasant it’s incredible. The rock community unites the world over and the crowd here seems to encompass all ages from children to 60 plus, fantastic! The only observation I have made is the amount of overdrinking I’ve seen and I don’t just mean from the 20 somethings! It’s very common to see 40-year-olds and up stumbling, puking or completely passed out!
Def Leppard (UK)
“Rock! Rock! (Till You Drop)” started things off after the intro for the iconic British band. “Animal”, “Let It Go” and “Foolin” all followed in this very loud guitar-in-the-forefront show! Just as I was elated with these first few tracks they killed it for me by visiting Euphoria for “Promises” and “Paper Sun”. Why would you bother with this crap (well it’s sure better than I could write mind you) when you’re the creators of one of the greatest albums ever, High ‘n’ Dry, which largely seems to get ignored, aside from “Let It Go”? Off to Hysteria for “Love Bites” and “Armageddon It”, before “Rock On”, another non-fave for me. Being the ballad lover that I am “Two Steps Behind” was fantastic to hear (sarcasm mode off), but the boys picked it up again with “Rocket” and another High ‘n’ Dry track in “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak”. “Hysteria”, “Let’s Get Rocked” and “Pour Some Sugar On Me” all filled out the setlist before they departed the Festival Stage for a brief respite while the Swedish (and international) attendees roared with their appreciation. It was great to see Vivian Campbell, as Joe Elliot introduced, “healthy and happy” and I was completely unaware of just how ripped Phil Collen is. He gave me shivers watching him running around the stage sans shirt, but his washboard stomach really showed that he keeps himself in good condition. The Brits returned to deliver a Pyromania double shot with “Rock Of Ages” and “Photograph” to finally wrap things up. Fantastic performance guys, I just really wish that selections from High ‘n’ Dry would grace the setlist a little more, in fact just play the whole thing and then a few choice cuts from Pyromania and Hysteria and that would be great with me.
You can find all of Decibel Geek‘s coverage of the Sweden Rock Festival 2015 by both The Meister & The Lionsheart here: Sweden Rock 2015