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Day 4 @ Sweden Rock Festival Norje Havsbad, Solvesborg (SWE)

DAY 4
in Saturday, 7 June 2008 at Sweden Rock Festival Norje Havsbad
by Erika Wallberg

Day 4
Need I say it wasn't as fun to get up, get dressed and start all over again on Saturday? But STORMWARRIOR with KAI HANSEN was a good wake up call. How can this fail? Not in this world. STORMWARRIOR's latest release Heading Northe is one hell of a Metal album and to add Kai to that… Well, it wasn't bad in any way but it still wasn't as good as it has been. Perhaps, I wasn't the only one running off to the bar a little too many times on Friday night? Or was it just too early for Metal? Anyway, it didn't feel as energetic and powerful as STORMWARRIOR can be and not even brining out Kai on stage boosted the energy that much. But of course, it's always great to wipe away the hangover with some HELLOWEEN classics. I can't deny how much this band has meant to me over the years and I still feel the same way hearing Ride The Sky, Victim Of Fate, Heavy Metal Is The Law  as I did when I was 13, I still love them!

Saturday was actually a lot calmer than the other days. Not as much running forward and back and quite a lot of free time waiting for the next event. But then, when the bands actually played everything collided. STORMWARRIOR and LIZZY BORDEN, I wanted to see both. The same with RATT and HENSLEY_LAWTON & LIVE FIRE and a little later TRIUMPH on at the same time as PRIMORDIAL. That's really bad planning from the festival if I can say something about it.


Have a sit! The guy running the press tent offers Eric Bloom a chair and looks a little surprised when he says no. Eric just took the microphone and slowly starts walking on and off behind the table. Of course we would like to do a new BLUE OYSTER CULT album, if the right offer comes along but as how the situation looks today in the business there's no one who wants to do it with us. With 30-something years in the business I must say I admire Eric's patience, calm and above all, charm. He answered all questions with thought, and he waited for them to come out from very nervous reporters. Even the ones strolling in the middle of it all, a bit sloshed and asking the same questions already been handled.
Later I was stunned. Everything looked so easy but I guess with +30 years of practicing you know your thing. Then it got even more impressive, when a band have done it for that amount of time and still do it with a lot of passion. You know Eric said, we have our set that we play. We have to! If I go and see THE WHO for example, I would wanna hear Substitute and Won't Get Fooled Again, I expect that. It's the same for us, people expect us to play certain songs. So that's what we do and no I never get tired of playing Don't Fear The Reaper.

Out of Astronomy and Then Came The Last Days Of May they chose the latter one for the festival. Buck Dharma stepped to the front and just blinded us all with his guitar playing. Damn, there's difference between bands and bands when the play in more loose forms. It was so good and beautiful it was hard to breathe. There was a huge variation of people looking at the gig but at this point everyone was like a child at Christmas. A few seconds later the tank that empties the portable toilets parked besides the stage and its crew start to do their work; the smell was terrible. Necessary of course but why THAT time? Sort of the same feeling as at 'Rockborgen' in Fagersta 2 decades earlier, puke! But a little thing like that couldn't affect a concert as good as that. Do you hear something coming? Of course we did and we knew what it was! Godzilla! This band was a monster in every single way, virtuosity, songwriting, creativeness and last but absolutely not least, humor! Awesome! Absolutely one of the best performances at the festival.

Then my plan was to see RATT in prior of KEN HENSLEY mostly because it felt like I'll have more chances to see Mr. Hensley. This was the hardest choice to make on the whole festival and RATT started off really good. The sound was fine, stages how energetic. Cool outfits and all that. Above that, Warren DeMartini is a great guitar player and I was really looking forward to seeing him play but after 20 minutes all I wanted was to sit down in the shade, or just go somewhere else. Said and done, off to Sweden Stage I went.

I got there in time for the second half of July Morning and I realized, this were where I should have been all the time. KEN HENSLEY, JOHN LAWTON & LIVE FIRE keeps serving URIAH HEEP classics and not that I mind, I love the songs but I do think it's a little sad that a legend like Ken needs to play these songs. He still is an awesome songwriter. Just listen to songs as Last Dance and We're On Our Way, are absolutely as good as HEEP.  After Easy Living and the introduction of the band I thought it only took one beat at the bass drum before the audience knew what was coming and the chorus from Lady In Black just grew stronger and stronger. Of course, it's catchy and easy to sing but Ken still looked surprised by the response and tried to talk it all away, saying something about not playing that song. Yeah right! A song doesn't get simpler than Lady In Black, the base is just 2 chords but it grooves, it has rhythm, dynamics and a really great melody and it sure as hell stirs up feelings. Ken, John and the rest of the guys left the stage and the audience screamed for an encore. This bad ass biker-dude right next to me wiped the tears from his eyes and mumbles something like If they play Rain, I'm going to die Lucky enough they 'only; played Gypsy… And even if a lot of people said that Ratt was the best band on the festival I know HENSLEY_LAWTON & LIVE FIRE did a lot more for me.


We were actually asked if we wanted to headline Rik said, but we thought we'd rather do a Rock show than bring all our toys for the headline show. But now when we got here… It really would have been fun to bring our toys. This was TRIUMPH's first gig in 20 years and I really thought that would be a little bigger than this.

I absolutely thought the press-tent would be packed and questions would be hailing over them. Nope, again the tent was quite empty and quiet. Oh well, they'll get their revenge on stage instead then? TRIUMPH have been discussed frequently on the 'Sweden Rock' forum but somehow the supporters did not manage to convince the ones not aware of TRIUMPH's greatness to go and see them.


None the less, TRIUMPH sounded amazing. The sound was crisp and clear and on stage there was musicianship beyond impressive. Everything was worked out in detail and they seemed to have a lot of fun. It was clear, it was these old guys that ruled the festival this year. The only thing I can think of that decreased the grade for me was that the first two songs felt a little too soft. I would have liked the set more. if they've kicked it off with something more rocky as Allied Forces or Rock 'n' Roll Machine. And unfortunately the lights in The Blinding Light Show got a little bit lost in the daylight but it was a great song anyway and felt surprisingly right even if it's high time for party. I'm a little disappointed with myself that I wasn't more enthusiastic to see TRIUMPH, I should have been more open minded; I should have prepared better before the festival. I should have tried harder to ignore the bore I felt when seeing RIK EMMETT solo at 'Bang Your Head' 2 years ago. I love the albums, so I should have been able to really enjoy this concert too.

Still I wonder how Rik and his allies really felt. The crowd this evening was far from as big as back in the days and they must have had some expectations on this, or at least small hope of what was going to happen, even if they denied that at the press conference.

Would AVANTASIA flip or flop? I really wanted to like Tobias Sammet but neither AVANTASIA nor EDGUY appeal to me very much. Still, I support him 100%, just because he seems to be a really cool guy. Ok that EDGUY can deliver time and time again but to do the same thing with a massive project as AVANTASIA is different. For a start, the sound was really bad and if this hadn't been sorted out it would have been cold turkey of it all. Some really disturbing sounds keep cracking out of the speakers and the sound guy had problems to set sound to the right microphone, especially Andre Matos for some reason. Andre himself though shall have kudos for the new outfit for every song he appeared in. Else I think Jorn Lande took home the show. His voice suites these big songs perfectly, just enough passion, deep and soul to do them justice. Unfortunately, Tobias sounded mostly whiney next to him. Guess it would have been more even between Bob Catley and Jorn if Bob had gotten a little more space though.


But the Rock Stage was absolutely too small for this band, first the stage. It wasn't enough room for all to move around freely and then the crowd, the area was completely packed, all the way over to Festival Stage and that made it really hard to get a decent view of what's going on. I missed every detail of what was going on stage. To see would have made it even greater, just by listening I got new energy and felt completely satisfied afterwards.

Kai sneaked out on stage for the first encore, The Toy Master and now I even got goosebumps. (keep in mind that I'm not that fond of AVANTASIA to start with) Farewell with blond bombshell Amanda Somerville felt like a really worthy ending of this festival, nice with all sing-a-long chorus lines so I was actually a little surprised when we got Sign Of The Cross afterwards too featuring everyone.
Flip or Flop then? Flip absolutely!

Five Festival days is over and I feel pretty stuffed with great music. Again I've had a great time, seen some really great concerts and have had a good time with cool friends. The bad things about the festival this year was that it was a little too crowded. Record in ticket sales, 33.200 people but the area wasn't bigger than last year and that meant a packed camp site and queues to everything. Waiting in line for the toilets for more than 30 minutes every time is not acceptable. And of course me, not getting a real photo pass. But still the good things take overhand. Back at the tent we just take it easy and try to sum up everything, taking the last chance to share a beer and to get away from POISON. From where we were siting it actually didn't sound as bad as everyone said.

The Faroe-people's part of the camp looked like a battlefield. I'm a bit surprised that they've crashed their part of the camp but ours is still standing since it was the same spot on the camp site. During the last night, when we've decided to get some sleep before driving the long way back home next day they started one hell of a party and messed things up a little more. I didn't really mind that but why the hell did they scream on the top of their voices all the time? Packing up the next day, the worst screamer has passed out in his chair and we took the opportunity for revenge. His friends did actually help out to make him a toilet-paper-mummy.

Would I do it all over again? Hell yeah!

(Photos by Swedish Erika)

STORMWARRIOR

KEN HENSLEY

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