Sweden Rock Festival came and went, and I never really had a chance to blog about it at the time. Somehow things always pile up and you end up with a lot of “back log”. :)
Going back to the first day of the festival – Wednesday, June 3rd
That’s the laid back day of Sweden Rock. Few bands playing, an opportunity to get your pass without standing in line for an hour, to just check out the area, see if anything has changed since the year before. There’s always some little detail that’s different.
But ONE thing is always the same. The pain in the butt crew-parking… EVERY single year I get a message that the pass has been sent by snail mail, but funny enough, those never EVER reach my address. In all those 20-something years that I’ve been going to the festival, the parking hell has always been the same. If the parking pass had actually been posted and arrived at my address before the festival, there would BE no problem. But that would be too easy. :)
I got there, drove to the crew-parking, said that my parking pass was in the accreditation booth. “You need to get your parking permit before you can park!“, they said
So I went to the accreditation-entrance but I wasn’t allowed in there either, because I didn’t have my passes yet. OK, so I couldn’t park without a permit, but I couldn’t get my permit before I had the pass…… *sighhh*. I kept driving back and forth before calling the head of press to explain the situation. It wasn’t easy for him either and this circus went on for more than half an hour. He managed to fix it though – THANK GOD, but what a waste of time. Another good reason to get there on the “slow” day. :)
My plan for the day was to see Magnum and Queensryche. I didn’t try to get in the absolute front for Magnum, cause I’ve seen them so many times before. They have classic, epic songs, just amazing material. The problem though is that Bob Catley, the man with the Voice was struggling to sin those songs. I don’t know if it was just a temporary vocal problem or if it’s permanent, but it sounded so-so….
When Magnum were done, people left the area for beer, food and toilet visits, so I got in the front/middle for Queensryche. I was crazy curious about the new lineup with Todd La Torre. The weather was getting worse, dark clouds, rain was on its way… but there was no way I was moving. As I was standing there, two guys from the stage crew approached me with big smiles. I thought they looked familiar but couldn’t for the life of me figure out why.
– Do you recognize us? said one of the dudes.
I did actually, but didn’t know exactly where from…
– You wrote about us a while ago. We’re from the band Charlie & Fredrik.
BAM! I remembered! These guys were competing in a talent show (Emergenza) in Malmo a while ago and they were by far the best act. Musically, no one else came even close. If it had TRULY been about MUSIC, those guys would have been the given winners. Unfortunately, as the contest was about getting the audience to vote for you, it was almost impossible for a band that was from out of town, to compete with those who brought all their pals from school, work, families and so on…
They came in last and I thought it was absolutely scandalous. But that’s the way it works, it’s not a talent show as much as it is a popularity contest. Anyway, I heard that they had new projects in the making which I was really happy to hear. I do wish them the best, those were talented guys (and girls).
The guy standing right next to me was super excited about everything, it was his first Sweden Rock and he was a big fan of good VOICES. So he was curious to hear what Todd La Torre would bring to the table with Queensryche. He was abit of a sceptic but still had an open mind.
It started raining when it was time for Queensryche to hit the stage, but that pretty much goes with the territory. No festival without rain! :)
And when the band entered the stage…. it was just totally worth the wait AND the rain!
I’ve been a fan of Queensryche since the Rage for Order album. I’ve thought that Geoff Tate was one of the best in the business, and let’s face it: He was! Nothing can take that away from him, he left his mark on Queensryche and dispite all the crap and the whining between him and the rest of the band the past few years, that didn’t do anyone any good, he’s had a long career being on top with that amazing voice.
But – there’s a new kid in town. The last time Queensryche played Sweden Rock festival with Geoff, I couldn’t even stand listening to it. It was horrible. I left after three songs because it was so embarrassing that I just had to go find some other band to watch.
Now they were back with another singer. Would it be like a cheap karaoke-version of Queensryche, would it be a sad reminder of what used to be, or what would the verdict be?
I don’t have to think long or hard to answer that. It was clear from the word go that Queensryche is one of the very few bands in metal that has managed to replace their singer and get away with it. Not only get away with it – but actually WIN doing just that. I can’t think of too many bands that have been as lucky.
Todd is amazing. Nothing short of a-mazing. His voice can do everything Geoff could do – and more. And better. He’s got so much energy on stage, a presence that makes people watch him and follow every move he makes.
There were times when he sang like such a GOD that I just wanted to HUG the guy! Oh my GOD! What a gift – what a TALENT! And to think that he’s actually…. originally….a DRUMMER! Multi-talent, indeed!!
That gig was fantastic. I loved hearing all the classics, all the new songs, hell, I would have been happy hearing Twinkle, twinkle little star, as long as Todd was singing it!
The guy next to me even CRIED to some songs, he was so moved. Yes. Queensryche knew what they were doing when they hired Todd. He’s given them new life – there’s absolutely nothing stopping them now!
Here are a few glimpses from that show! Enjoy – and crank it up!
PHOTOS FROM THE QUEENSRYCHE SHOW:
At Manchester airport, got here way too early because the cellphone clock somehow changed BACK to Swedish time (WTF???!) so now I’ve got some time to kill.
I will write more about my journey when I get home, with this limited internet time you get at airports, it feels like you have to hurrrryyy to get anything done.
But to just say something about last night’s concert…. GOD how it was worth coming here!! I didn’t have any expecations at all, cause like I said before, Queensryche were terrible at Sweden Rock, Judas Priest sucked big time at Sweden Rock and Graspop in Belgium. They got their energy back in Thessaloniki, Greece, but I didn’t dare to hope that they would KEEP that energy throughout the rest of the tour.
[Queensryche last night at Manchester Apollo]
So I went there yesterday thinking “…what the hell… It’s better than staying at home watching TV…”. But then Queensryche did their thing and although they’ve never really been an entertaining live band, at least they didn’t suck. It sounded good, and Geoff Tate was in a much better vocal shape than he was at Sweden Rock – thank god. Technically, they have always been impressive, so I’m not surprised about that, but all in all, I was pleasently surprised.
Then – PRIEST time…..
All I can say is that they blew me away. Holy shit. I guess that FESTIVALS are not their thing. When it was THEIR stage, THEIR show – they certainly knew how to work it!
I realized that I’d been smiling the whole time, when my facial muscles began to ache! Crazy! :)) But I was enjoying it 100%.
Rob sounded way better than he did at the earlier shows – and not only that, he was in a fantastic mood, was smiling, communicating with the crowd – it was just such a pleasure to see! Same thing goes for the rest of the band.
Glenn was jumping around, smiling, just simply having fun and it was so evident. Scott also. I was zooming in on him to take a photo, and just when I saw him perfectly through my lens, he did this funny gesture to let me know that he had seen me and I started laughing so much that I forgot to take the damn picture! He just looked so funny in that particular moment, then when he saw me laugh, he started laughing too. :)
[Ha! Looks like I did take a pic of Scott after all, without realizing it, must have been his first attempt to get me to realize that he saw my “paparazzi”-ing…!]
I think maybe this was the perfect venue for Priest. It was just the right size and close enough to the crowd to create that exchange of energy that makes a good show. When the band and their crowd actually get to interact, when they SEE eachother – not just from FAR away from a huge festival stage. This was totally different.
For the first time this summer, it actually looked like the band was enjoying playing together and they just loved being at Manchester Apollo. I haven’t felt that at ALL at the other shows.
Well, so much more to be said, but I’ll leave it at that for now and continue when I get home. And I got to meet one of those guys who’s been reading my stuff for YEARS, cool to meet in person as well! :) Well,,, as usual: I’ll be back!
Off to Manchester (UK) tomorrow for more Judas Priest. Queensryche opening. I can only hope that Priest will be anywhere NEAR the shape they were in the last time I saw them in Thessaloniki, Greece.
Or that the horribly embarrassing performance by Queensryche at Sweden Rock Festival was just a temporary thing. It was so bad, that I couldn’t even watch it, I had to leave.
So, a few questionmarks still, but this will be the first REAL Priest-show (for me) this year, that isn’t just a summer-festival appearance, so I’m sure it will be a different experience. We’ll see.
Regardless the concerts, I still love the travelling. It’s like a drug, I get so restless and low when I have to stay home for too long doing nothing. I need the atmosphere of an airport – which is what I think of as the only free zone where all people are the same. No racism belongs there because we are all either visitors or we are about to become visitors somewhere. I absolutely love seeing all these different kinds of people from all corners of the world, all in that one spot called an “airport”. It’s like a mini-version of our planet right there.
I love the takeoffs, when the plane starts to speed and you’re being pushed back in your seat right before it goes up in the sky and you can look out the window at what you’re leaving, for however long… It’s a kick.
It’s just that whole sense of freedom, that the whole world is…available. It’s there, just waiting to be explored. I might not get to see all the “touristy” things of every city. Sometimes all I get to see is pretty much the same as the bands: Airport. Hotel. Venue.
But if I choose to go one day earlier, at least I get to see something more than that. I love anything that’s OLD, I’m a history freak. But even if I don’t get to see that either, I’m happy just to be able to walk around feeling the vibe of a city.
Last month I went to Munich (Germany), Luxembourg and Belgium. This month I visited Greece and London/Knebworth and now Manchester is up next. Next month it will be Gdansk in Poland and Skanderborg in Denmark. September Southampton, Manchester and Glasgow over in the UK, then Split in Croatia. And October Tampa (St Pete) Florida (USA), Atlanta and NYC.
After that, I haven’t made any plans. I wonder if I will even be able to just stay home and do nothing. Once you start living like this, it’s very hard to stop.It wasn’t in the stars for me to make it with my own music, so I’m not out there touring with my own band – which is what I would have loved to do more than anything.
But I can still be out there seeing the world, feeling the energy of a crowd by being a part of it. When it comes down to it, it’s all about the love of music. That’s all it is. Music is my greatest love and it always will be.
And life is good. :-D