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
(continued from http://lita77777.posterous.com/my-year-in-rock-retrospect-2012-part-2 )
OZZY & FRIENDS IN DORTMUND, GERMANY
The Ozzy & friends gig in Dormund was a memorable experience for good reasons and bad. I got to know a new friend, Suuded, and we had a great time. Remember a fantastic dinner in a restaurant right behind the Westfalenhalle, but I also remember the sky just opening and it was pissing down all day! We were forced to stand out in the rain by a sadistic power-hungry security person who made sure nobody was under the long roof in front of the entrance (there would have been PLENTY of room there for a lot of people). Anyway, we got in the front row eventually. Both Steel Panther and Ozzy were well worth the wait and the rain!
The story can be found here: http://lita77777.posterous.com/ozzy-sweden-rock-festival-part-1
Photos from that are on my Facebook-page: www.facebook.com/intherearviewmirror
SWEDEN ROCK FESTIVAL….
Only two days later, it was time for the next annual event: Sweden Rock Festival.
This time I was joined by Vera, my Russian colleague that I got to know after bumping into her several times at press conferences at Sweden Rock. She was going to camp with her friends though (wild horses couldn’t get ME to do that camping-thing).
The full story: http://lita77777.posterous.com/sweden-rock-festival-2012-part-2
The next day I ran like crazy to make it to the first signing-session of the day, which was Satchel from Steel Panther. I had found this great tent where musicians hung out and various guitarists were doing signing sessions. But it didn’t seem like it had been widely announced anywhere, so thank god there weren’t those insanely long lines as to the “regular” signings.
When I walked in, it was still Andreas Kisser from Sepultura who was signing. I was first in line for Satchel, and I got my hoodie signed, and some pics. The message he left was of course very “Satchel-style”…! ;)
Vera and I also met a nice dude from Adrenaline Mob’s crew, who invited us to be his guests, so we spent the day hanging backstage and on various stages. That was perfect, if for no other reason than because it was raining all day, and we didn’t have to be out there getting soaked. Watched Ugly Kid Joe, Motorhead and Twisted Sister up on the stage for instance.
Press conferences I didn’t want to miss included Steel Panther and Sebastian Bach – but then I happened to walk in on a few more by coincidence. There is activity 24-7 at Sweden Rock, it’s nearly impossible to try to sum it all up. But check out the pics on the Facebook-page (URL mentioned somewhere above), that will give you a quick tour of what was going on on stage and back-stage at Sweden Rock Festival 2012!
Way too much to mention, I think I kept updating in real-time on Facebook because I wouldn’t have time to write an actual blog. Busy summer! :)
Next up was my other favorite festival: Graspop Metal Meeting in Belgium!
[to be continued….]
Sunday – last day of the festival – started out as a total nightmare. The last thing you want when you’re in a field in the middle of nowhere – is rain! And it was pissing down. Vera didn’t even have a rain poncho or umbrella or anything, so we had to wait until the worst rain passed to we could go and get her a poncho asap. She would have been soaked without it.
And this last day we didn’t get any VIP-treatment, no backstage passes like the day before. Well – I had my press pass, I had that all 3 days, but Vera didn’t so we were out in the rain. I wanted to see Sebastian Bach but as the rain kept getting worse, even I wondered if I really wanted to see that show that bad…
The minute he got on stage, I knew what to do. I didn’t want to watch it. Actually, I was pissed off. No disrespect to Sebastian as an entertainer but the “problem” in this case was that I’ve seen SO many shows with Sebastian since 1989, I lost count already in 1992… He has ALWAYS been this bundle of energy, TNT dynamite on stage – I’ve come to expect that. When it was pissing down like this at Donington 1992 he ran out on stage, slid and fell on his ass – but continued singing! That’s what a true artist does.
But at Graspop he looked like a primadonna who didn’t want to get his hair wet! I’ve NEVER seen Sebastian act like that before. In 23 years this was the first time he had that attitude and I was disappointed.
When he just stood there, doing nothing, looking like he just wanted to go back to the backstage area it felt like it was anything BUT rock’n’roll. And when he stated “Belgium! This SUCKS!” I was even more pissed off because I was thinking to myself, as the water kept running into my eyes and my clothes were about to get soaked even through the rain poncho – “It’s not YOU standing out here getting soaked mothertrucker! I’m not gonna stand here if you’re not going to make it worth the trouble!”
[Seriously – what the hell was THIS all about…?]
THESE VIDEOS (each was less than a minute long) WERE REMOVED FROM YOUTUBE BY “GET OFF MY BACH PRODUCTIONS INC” (=Sebastian Bach).
Further comments not necessary…..
So I left. The first time ever that I walked out on a Sebastian Bach or Skid Row show. Later on I heard from somebody who had stayed through the whole thing, that it got better towards the end of the show… Well, too bad my patience or the lack thereof, got the best of me in the rain and the cold. The last thing I need is an artist with a bad attitude.
The Marquee tent was a lot better. I had no idea who was playing in there, I didn’t care. I just wanted to stand somewhere where it wasn’t raining. The only problem was all the SMOKING in there. I felt like I was gonna puke. I get sick from cigarette-smoke, I really can’t handle it, it makes me panic. And people were smoking EVERYWHERE.
I couldn’t hide from it, it was the same outside actually. Every time I wanted to take a deep breath of fresh air, I got a cloud of someone’s SMOKE in my lungs instead, which almost made me faint a few times. Smokers just don’t understand what it’s like to be subjected to their smoke. Some chick at Sweden Rock told me that “this is a festival, we SMOKE here!”. Okay – people pass out in their puke on festivals too, so what’s that got to do with anything?!
So I had my nose stuck in my jacket the whole time, the only way to avoid taking a deep breath of nicotine when I least expect it… Shouldn’t have to be that way. Maybe someday smoking will be a thing of the past.
Jan from JOP showed up, they had just arrived. Had a short chat with him, then he took off to check out the sound board the would be working with. I texted JOP’s former tour manager Anett to ask if she was there cause I knew she was going to the festival. She texted back saying she was up on the stage (Ugly Kid Joe’s stage).
Everybody’s impressed with UKJ – it’s like time stood still with those guys. They are still as cool and as valid as they ever were. There is still the naughty boyishness in them, the middle-finger teenage punkish attitude. They sound great and most of all I’m super impressed by drummer Yael Biz. She is freaking amazing!
Here she is with Alex Skolnick in a different project, she kicks major ass:
Whitfield Crane sounds great still, so all in all it was great seeing them live again. It was raining when they were playing Sweden Rock Festival as well, but at least this time they were in a tent. :)
When they finished their set I RAN out of the tent cause I could hear that EUROPE had started playing. It was still raining but I absolutely wanted to see them. Here is my shaky video of the powerwalk from the tent to the main stage – prepare to get sea sick! ;))
To be honest, I haven’t seeen Europe in many years because I chose NOT to. I remember them from their hayday, from the “hair-days” when they were on top and I didn’t want to ruin my good memories by seeing a bunch of old(er) family-guys with short hair. Just didn’t feel right. However, seeing them at Graspop was different somehow, it was a festival so I decided to go check it out.
Now I regret that I wasted so many opportunities the past few years to go and see them. They REALLY made me proud to be Swedish! There was nothing about them that felt “old” in any way, they are still great on a big stage.
Joey Tempest was strutting – owning that stage. Unlike Sebastian he didn’t give a fuck about the rain. He put on a show like there WAS no rain! And he looked like he loved every second of it!
It sounded great – Europe is a perfect old-school arena-band. They know how to handle a large crowd and a big stage. I’m glad that I went to see them and it was WORTH standing in the rain for! Joey Tempest still knows how to entertain, I’ll be back for more.
[Still kicking butt!]
After their show, I met up with Anett for just a few minutes and took a walk around the area. It was cold and damp so I decided to go back to the tent. Jon Oliva’s Pain was coming up.
Jan was busy working, Hanneke (light-tech) as well but she was so glad to see me, she jumped down to give me a hug. “You are welcome to join me up there if you want“, she said, so when she show was about to begin, I went up there. Hanneke rocks, always happy always up to something, it’s impossible not to like that girl. :)
Saw guitar-tech Fabio on the stage, haven’t seen him in ages, hoped to be able to get together with “the family” later and catch up a little! That didn’t happen though. I don’t know why, but at least I got to hang with the funniest bunch in the backstage bar afterwards – Fabio, Hanneke and Anett. We were laughing and having a great time, always a pleasure to hang out with them! :-D
The Jon Oliva’s Pain show…. Jon lost a lot of weight since I last saw him, he looked good. The new band sounded good but… I’m not sure why the band (or Jon) has chosen to just play songs from one album (Hall of The Mountain King).
Personally, I think it’s a step back, because this band has created some great music under the name Jon Oliva’s Pain since 2005 and I missed hearing those songs. Going back to the Savatage years feels unnecessary and wasn’t my cup of tea at all. Maybe it pleases the hardcore Savatage-fans but evenso they must have followed Jon’s work the past few years and learned to appreciate what he does now, so I don’t know who this was for, really.
But that’s only my personal opinion, it has nothing to do with the execution of the songs or the quality of the musicians. That is, as always, top-notch.
A bit sad and disappointed that I didn’t get to meet Jon this time. Maybe some other time.
Instead, I went to check out the merch, it had stopped raining. Met up with Vera, grabbed a bite and got ready to see Motorhead. But by the time they went onstage, it was raining again. I went to the VIP-bar and for the first time noticed that they had direct streaming of the show on the TV:s back there. Couldn’t be more perfect! I was under a roof and I could still watch the show! :)
What can I say about Lemmy…? Not too many surprises there. He is cool. He is very cool. He sounds like Lemmy and he gives the crowd what they want. Motorhead is a sure thing. You always know that they’re gonna deliver and WHAT they’re gonna deliver.
After Motorhead, I met up with Anett, Hanneke and Fabio in the backstage bar and nobody was particularly eager to see Guns n’Roses. First of all, we all expected them to be late as fuck, as usual. Then – we expected them to suck, like they have the past few years. Everyone I talked to that day hadn’t planned on seeing GnR. “Maybe the first two songs or something…” – that was the general attitude. Nobody had high hopes for Axl & co.
No wonder, he’s screwed up so badly so many times that people just got tired of it. You can’t act any way you want nowadays because there’s always gonna be some other band that will steal your fans. Not even if you’re Axl Rose, will you get away with just anything.
We were just taking it easy back there when suddenly we heard this BANG and music from the stage. We all stood there with puzzled faces. “They started – already???” It was 20 minutes too early..???
I went out there to check if it was indeed GnR or something else. It WAS Guns…! They had opened with Chinese Democracy. I still didn’t think that they would deliver anything that would be worth staying for, so I stood there, far away from the stage with no intention of moving closer. I was sceptical.
The set continued with Welcome To The Jungle. At this point I was beginning to realize that Axl sounded freaking GREAT. He looked a lot better than the last time too – he lost weight and was actually MOVING on stage. Whooah!
A few songs later I was hooked. This was a different Axl than I remembered, and definitely a different Axl than I expected! It was as if he was pissed off at the criticism and had something to prove.
So you think I’m fat?
You think I can’t sing anymore?
You think I can’t deliver the goods?
WELL – TAKE THIS MOTHERFUCKERS!!!
He was on a mission and I was blown away! I’ve never even been a GnR-fan ever. Never in a million years did I think that Axl Rose, of all people, would get my attention and even have me contemplating to miss the early flight home…!
We had to leave but first Vera wanted to see “just one more song“. And then I ended up thinking the same “just ONE more song…”. And Anett, who was supposed to go with us so we could drive her to her hotel, didn’t want to leave at all..! She said she would grab a shuttle or something – at the time nobody cared HOW they would get back to their hotels or airports, it was just a show that you didn’t want to walk out from…!
It dawned on me, for the first time ever, why Guns n’Roses once became the biggest rock band in the world. THIS was the reason. Axl had a fantastic evening – he created magic!
I read a review in Metal Hammer UK that said he “had the passion of a dead sheep” at some other gig, and I had to wonder if this show at Graspop was just ONE great show that we would see in years…? Cause if the band would continue to sound like THAT and Axl continue to sing flawless – and communicate with the crowd – I would GLADLY travel to see GnR again.
But I guess you never know with that man. I’m glad and feel privileged that we got to witness a great GnR show that actually made people STAY and enjoy the show! I dragged Vera away from there somewhere after “Civil War” cause we HAD to beat the crowds and get out of there before all those thousands of people started heading for the exit.
We could hear Knockin’ on Heavens Door, Whole Lotta Rosie and Patience as we were walking to the parking lot.
The PERFECT ending to a PERFECT festival.
THE GRASPOP BLOGS:
Next up – Bang Your Head festival in Germany……….!