I didn’t go to Sweden Rock Festival this year, my “home” that I haven’t missed one single time since the mid 90’s, but this year I had to for personal reasons. I had to go to Croatia to take care of a few things that couldn’t be postponed any longer.
So I’m really glad that I’ll get to experience THIS festival, SKOGSRÖJET instead, cause it’s brand new to me.
Some of my favorite artists and bands are on the bill, so it’s like Christmas! I originally only got myself a ticket because they announced YNGWIE, my guitar hero since I was a teenage rocker. He hasn’t played in Sweden since god knows when, so that was a major treat! Then they announced APOLLO – Sweden’s Tony Martin, the man with the massive voice.
Then came all this other stuff, it’s gonna be a party-weekend to remember!
Not only that, but some of these acts bring old friends, Loudness with a long-time friend Anett from the Jon Oliva-days, Apollo from the Firewind and post-Firewind days, Pretty Maids with “little brother” Chris Laney on the keyboards and guitar…
And kickass live acts within their respective fields – THUNDER is an AMAZING band! I first saw them at the Donington Monsters of Rock back in the early 90’s with Iron Maiden, The Almighty, Slayer and W.A.S.P among others. They kicked ass.
Then I made a reaquaintance with them when they played with Whitesnake on their UK tour a few years ago – and then played Sweden Rock Festival. Incredibly solid band, great songs, just a wonderful vibe all the way through. And now they’re back in Sweden – then, if I feel that I STILL haven’t had enough of them, they’ll also be rockin’ the boat at the Monsters of Rock Cruise next year!
[this is from the Whitesnake tour a few years ago]
AMARANTHE kick ass at what they do, they’ve done their own thing from the very start and whether people loved it or hated it, they still carried on with their unique style.
Never mind the fact that all guys go goo-goo-gaa-gaa over Elize, she’s an incredibly talented singer – all three of them are. And there’s fireworks, laser and stuff, enough to feast your ears and eyes. :)
And D-A-D…! There is not a festival, gig, stage, ANYTHING that won’t start rockin’ to the CORE when these guys plug in their guitars and turn everything up to eleven! I love, love, love them to death! It’s genuine, it’s rough, it’s tough, it’s rock’n’roll the way it’s supposed to be, it’s a show, tons of humor and there’s just nothing not to like about these guys, Denmark’s greatest pride and joy!
If you haven’t heard them or seen them, it’s never too late and I can’t imagine anyone not having a fantastic time at their shows! :D
Hardcore Superstar, another one of those solid bands that have so much energy on stage it’s exhausting just watching them. :) It just hit me that a lot of these great acts are all from Gothenburg, Sweden – and Liv Sin is another one to add to that list.
When I first saw Sister Sin, they were opening for some major act, don’t remember who it was, but I remember thinking when I saw that petite, little leather-packaged chick in fishnet stockings: “…probably another one of those wimpy girlie singers that focuses on image and can’t sing for shit“…
Boy did I regret thinking that for even one second! SHE was the real deal – no doubt about it! She had a powerful rock’n’roll voice, like she’s been eating barb wire for breakfast, she was ALL over the fuckin’ place, rockin’ like the 100% pure rock chick that she is!
She’s never disappointed me since – she delivers at every show. Some people were just born to do what they do, and Liv was born to rock the asses of everybody.
And Yngwie – well… he doesn’t need an introduction. Just call him Maestro. :) Nobody comes close, he is simply amazing. Yeah, he’s mister Attitude and all that, but strip away all the bullshit and it comes down to the greatest guitarist I’ve ever heard. There might be others that are technically better, but Yngwie’s got the whole, complete deal – the melodies, she showmanship, the “feel”… It’s a zillion notes per second but it’s not ONLY that, unlike most other shredders. Love the guy. For his playing. I mean listen to this and tell me he’s not fantastic!
Second day – Apollo, Ugly Kid Joe, Pretty Maids, Backyard Babies, Black Star Riders…and old school NWOBHM heroes Saxon. :)
APOLLO – you’ll hear his voice on so many records, he’s one of the most sought-after vocalists in the country and there’s no doubt why. Apart from being an impressive singer, he’s also a super nice guy. This clip is from his days with Evil Masquerade. A favorite of mine. :)
PRETTY MAIDS – been around for ages and they’re only getting better!
What’s not to like?! I can’t wait for this weekend, that’ll be my dose of rock’n’roll for this month! :D
So,,, I ended up in Thessaloniki, Greece last weekend – a last minute spontaneous decision, just because I was lucky enough to come across a cheap ticket and couldn’t think of any reason why I shouldn’t go. :) As I keep telling people – it beats sitting in front of the TV anytime!
Spiritual Beggars is quite honestly a band that I would never have listened to if it hadn’t been for Apollo, whose voice I absolutely love.
[From Saturday’s show…. How could anyone not love that voice? :)]
Thessaloniki almost feels like home now, I love the city and the people. I know my way around the city center now too, so it’s great. A taxi driver, sent by the hotel, picked me up at the airport, holding a sign with my name on it, taking me through the busy streets of “Thessaloniki by night” – which was very busy even at that late hour. I landed at eleven in the evening and there were people, cars and music everywhere!
The happy driver explained that the people of Greece love to go out and meet friends in cafes and bars. No doubt. :)
Hotel Astoria was great the last time I stayed there for the Firewind 10th Anniversary shows in December, but THIS time….not as much.
THIS time it was only slightly better than a park bench.
It probably would have been more quiet in a PARK. My room was facing a dirty back yard where a night-club’s loud “oomphhh-oompphh“-music was keeping me awake till 6 in the morning. Then when they closed and it finally got quiet, the cleaning ladies started making a lot of noise outside, banging with the doors, brooms, vacuum-cleaners and yelling to eachother across the hall! So much for a good nights sleep.
Oh yeah, and there were mosquitos everywhere too, buzzing in my ear, making sure I would get no sleep whatsoever that night. No extra pillows, no extra towels, no soap in the dispenser, the fan in the bathroom sounded like an airplane at takeoff, no air conditioning (only heating, which was definitely NOT needed) and barely any power outlets for my laptop and cellphones. It’s safe to say that it was the worst room I’ve had in Greece, ever (except that place in Athens that had PLASTIC sheets, lol!).
They are usually very high standard, even at budget hotels. But at least the staff was super nice and very kind and friendly, so no complaints there. I guess I could have asked for a different room, but I had already made myself at home, hung my clothes in the closet and all that, I just didn’t feel like packing again and moving to another room so…. Whatever. It was close to the venue, that’s the most important thing.
Went for a stroll downtown on Saturday morning, sunny beautiful day – it’s such a beautiful city, I love the vibe. This is my 4th time there in two years, I’m beginning to feel right at home. ;) Ended up at Starbucks for the sole reason that there’s Wi-Fi there…
When I got back to the hotel, I met Elias, who’s a Greek promotor that I met when I did the video interview with Gus G last summer. Nice to see a familiar face, just greeted him and continued on my way.
About two hours before the Beggars were due on stage that evening, I met Apollo outside the 8Ball Club. The band was going to get some dinner. I was invited to join but declined. Food – that’s “band time“. :)
Doors opened shortly after that and I told the guy at the door that I was supposed to be on the guest list, He just gave me a look and without a word kind of waved as a sign that I guess meant “yeah whatever, get in“. Then as I had passed him, he went: “Daniela – yes?!”
Well… yes. :)
The opening band wasn’t bad at all, no idea who they were, but they sounded good. A female singer with a very powerful and strong voice.
Minutes before Spiritual Beggars went onstage, Panagiotis walked in – the guy who runs Metalpaths and who was my “stand-in camera guy” for the Gus G interview at Mylos. He’s a huge fan of SB so he looked very excited and full of anticipation. Nice to see another familiar face!
And one of Firewind’s techs was there as well, he came over with a happy face to say hello. I asked if he was a Spiritual Beggars fan, but much like me, he was just there because of Apollo.
See, this is one of the reasons I love to travel – anywhere I go in the world, I will probably meet somebody I know, it’s a great feeling.
Very high energy, ballsy, in your face rock’n’roll, it’s labeled “stoner rock” – call it whatever you want, it’s just good old back to the roots rock!
Seeing Apollo with this new outfit is very cool. Now he’s the guy in denim and the “Jesus Christ Superstar“-screams that resembles Ian Gillan more than Tony Martin on stage. This just fits him to a T, I thoroughly enjoy watching him do his thing with Spiritual Beggars.
Michael Amott is the cool guitar hero, you instantly see people gravitating towards his side of the stage with their mobile cameras and fists up in the air.
This whole “all star band” is simply impressive. It’s on a high musical level, yet it’s not about showing off by bombarding the crowd with a shitload of solos every two minutes, it’s enough that people already know what these guys are capable of. They’ve seen and heard them do it with all their other bands and projects.
After the show, I went outside to get some fresh air (they still SMOKE indoors in Greece, it’s a bit of a shock to a Swede where it’s not allowed to smoke in public places) and was talking with Panagiotis. A guy walked over and said:
– Excuse me, I have to ask – are you from Sweden?
– Yes, I am.
– And you’re a journalist, right…? Is your name Daniela?
– I know who you are. You have a great voice, I’ve heard your song on YouTube. Very good!
He smiled, shook my hand, said it was nice to meet me and left. It was explained to me later, that he was from a band called Redrum. I got a link to their video and hey – this wasn’t bad either! :) Check it out:
Panagiotis had to leave. I stayed out in the fresh air, Apollo would be out soon. He came out eventually and we all went to the hotel to hang in the lobby for a little while, with his very sweet cousin and her husband/boyfriend/friend (shame on me who didn’t pick up on the relationship, but very nice people! :D).
While the other guys in the band went back to the club to have a few free “band-drinks”, Apollo decided to just chill and hang out instead, they had an early wakeup call the next morning.
I think we were all pretty beat, I was for sure after not having slept at all the night before, so I couldn’t wait to get some sleep. Called it a night maybe around 1 am or something, was nice to see Apollo, meet some friendly people and just chat for a bit.
The next day I went to the airport WAY too early and ended up absolutely hating Istanbul airport where I had a stopover for a few hours. What a drag.
But – in the end, I’d do it all over again! :)
NEXT adventure……FIREWIND IN AUSTRALIA!
Drove up to Halmstad yesterday – which is a little less than two hours from Malmo where I live, to see ex-Firewind singer Apollo Papathanasio do a one-off gig with his very first band CRAZE. A kind of reunion type of thing.
He had mentioned it on the phone a few days ago, otherwise I wouldn’t have known about it as it wasn’t a gig that’s been largely advertised, especially not outside of Halmstad.
The venue was pretty cool, it was an old shed that hosted a fairly big stage (for that type of venue at least), and quite a lot of room for the bar and the crowd as the two “rooms” were separated. Great place.
When Apollo walked in, he was immediately surrounded by friends and fans. I finally got a chance to “dig through” the crowd of people to say hi, and he was truly glad to see me. Only had time to chat for a minute or two, before the first band was due on stage.
When Apollo said that it was a band of “young guys” I thought he meant guys in their 20’s. Instead, what entered the stage was…. 3 KIDS! :) I’m not kidding, three boys in their early teens (I heard they were around 14). And the little dudes freaking KILLED it! Wow, I was sincerely impressed.
They played like they had been in the business for 30 years! There was the unmistakeable youthful passion, but they also had the elements of an established, experienced band, which is a rare combo.
Usually when you see young bands, they are simply ripping off their idols, and not doing it very well either. THESE guys let their influences shine through clearly, while at the same time, they weren’t copycats, they were doing their own thing with a refreshing sense of confidence without any arrogance.
How they managed to achieve that unusual balance at their very early age, I have no idea, but I do hope they get a break and get more gigs or maybe even a record deal. If any unsigned band that I’ve seen lately deserves it, these young boys sure as hell do!
I didn’t take pics and I didn’t film it, unfortunately, I wish I had. That’s what you get when you expect nothing and you get absolutely blown away! Oh yeah, they were called PARADISE CRUE. Probably a name you should remember. :)
[Found somebody else’s video of the guys on YouTube, from some band contest that they won]
After the “little dudes” it was time for CRAZE to hit the stage.
I had no idea what to expect. Had only heard two songs from a vinyl single that my friend Janne Stark (fellow journalist, guitarist and author of the Encyclopedia of Swedish rock) played for me last time I was there. I knew it was 80’s type of rock but that’s about it.
And considering that Apollo admitted they hadn’t had lots of time to rehearse, it could turn out to be pretty much anything, so I was simply curious!
The first great surprise was that Apollo was playing the guitar as well this time! Awesome! And, he wasn’t standing in the middle, where I would have expected a lead singer to be – he was on the left side of the stage.
When they started playing, I just SMILED. Not because it was Dream Theater-perfect, a few minor mishaps but it was also what gave this gig a charm and honesty. Perfection is not always so charming, this shows that even super-experienced musicians are human, like the rest of us, haha! :)
I loved the songs – I adore Apollo’s voice. I have since the first time I heard him, I’m a total sucker for those Tony Martin type o voices, very masculine, dark and edgy – true rock’n’roll.
Great harmonies, and most of all, there was no question that the band was having fun on stage, as well as the crowd. The energy in the room was just so positive, it went straight to your heart! :) That’s what it should feel like when you go to a show.
YES, I filmed it. :) But out of respect for Apollo, I won’t publish any of it without his consent. So, I hope he will give his blessing and you’ll hopefully get to enjoy it soon enough. :)
But for now, just a little AUDIO-clip from one of the songs. Please be aware that I was standing so close to the stage that the sound is basically from the stage monitors. So, if something sounds like crap, it’s not the band, it’s the position of the camera/microphone. They finished their set with a cover of KISS “Love Gun” – love it! :))
I’m more than happy that I went to Halmstad yesterday, I loved the show. Apollo is a great artist, with some frontmen you just can’t go wrong. :)