Sölvesborg, Sweden, June 9, 2007


(Finally) reunited with original singer Mathias Blad, Falconer were able to gather a respectably-sized crowd of mostly Swedish (it seemed) and quite enthusiastic fans in front of the Zeppelin Stage Saturday morning. Blad has a phenomenal voice, both on CD and live –- but his well-known dislike of playing live was very evident as he froze entirely whenever the spotlight was on him to (try to — sort of) interact with the crowd. Vocally, he more than delivered the goods, though, but much of a showman he isn’t.

Stefan Weinerhall and Jimmy Hedlund, the band’s two guitarists, tried to liven up things a bit, but were not too successful. Luckily, Weinerhall has penned some truly great Folk Metal songs (as he did in his previous band Mithotyn), and “Perjury And Sanctity,” “Mindtraveller,” “The Clarion Call,” and “Enter The Glade” almost made up for the lack of stage artistry … and the gems “Northwind” and “Upon The Grave Of Guilt” actually did. The music saved Falconer this time, but the band has some serious work to do on their stage presence. (Torgeir P. Krokfjord)


Thijs van Leer It’s been a while since Dutch Prog Rock act Focus were actively in charge of things way back in the 70’s, 2007 being the 30th anniversary for their first studio release. As of 2007 Focus’ music is mainly instrumental, the only exception being the occasional yodelling or otherwise eccentric vocal addition from organist/flautist Thijs van Leer, one of two founding members still involved, the other being drummer Pierre van der Linden, who found his way back in 2004. The two remaining members are guitarist Niels van der Steenhoven and Van Leer’s stepson, bassist Bobby Jacobs.

Jacobs was recruited in 2001, while van der Steenhoven joined up in 2006 for the recording of their last studio record, Focus 9. This album was represented at the Rock Stage by “Aya-Yuppie-Hippie-Yee,” but old favorites like “Eruption” and “Sylvia” awoke much nostalgia in the crowd. The band played a very nice gig with great individual performances, and especially van der Steenhoven did a great job echoing Jan Ankerman’s chopping from the early days -– but it was as an ensemble that Focus impressed on the most part. They were clearly enjoying themselves, had good contact with the audience, and played impeccably together, and the mere sight of Thijs van Leer, his huge Hawaiian shirt and his great white sideburns rocking around behind his organ, will never be forgotten. (Carl Engström)


BloodboundBloodbound had just released a new CD, Book Of The Dead, a couple of weeks prior, but choose to mainly perform titles from its last year’s debut Nosferatu instead during its gig at the festival’s last day. Furthermore, Urban Breed, the former Tad Morose vocalist that was the voice on Nosferatu, stepped in for his own replacement, Michael Bormann, who at least for the now has other commitments. This didn’t work as a disadvantage, though, as Breed is a powerhouse of a vocalist, and since Book Of The Dead is essentially very similar in musical direction to its predecessor anyway, his voice lent itself naturally to the new songs that were performed.

Bloodbound as a live act are as they are on record; not unique nor original in any sense whatsoever, but still bloody (no pun intended) good! The band was blessed with a great sound, which showcased the tightness of the very competent musicians as they swept through their set nicely. No vampire-like makeup though — what a bugger! (Patrik Gustavsson)


Known for their huge arrangements, blazing speed, complex song structures, and fantastic melodies, Blind Guardian has always been a band to appreciate on record. They have, however, met some criticism for their live performances with the critics claiming that the band lacks charisma and passion, and that the music is not transferable to the live format. In any case, things worked very well on the Festival Stage this sunny afternoon, with a technically spot-on performance, and a Hansi Kürsch in considerably better shape vocally than in the recent past.

Set highlights were “Into The Storm,” “Welcome To Dying,” “Born In A Mourning Hall,” “The Script For My Requiem,” and the epic “And Then There Were Silence,” and the band sounded very good –- which was fortunate, as the Sweden Rock crowd disappointed greatly in the sing-along parts. This was most evident during “The Bards Song – In The Forest,” and much due to this the magic that could have been never really showed up. This was not the band’s fault, though; blame it on the heat … (Torgeir P. Krokfjord)


Iced Earth was scheduled to play 90 minutes, but for whatever reason the band had understood it’s running time to be under an hour. Seeing as this was the mighty Iced Earth’s first show since the Glorious Burden trek ended some three years ago, the eleven performed songs were, presumably, all the new line-up (including bassist Dennis Hayes, lead guitarist Troy Seele and returning drummer Brett Smedley) had rehearsed. Despite this hiccup, Iced Earth churned out one of this festival’s best sets. Thankfully, sticking to the faster and heavier portion of it’s repertoire meant Tim Owens sang mostly as though he could had been the band’s singer since it’s inception. That’s certainly not in disrespect to ex-vocalist Matt Barlow or any of Iced Earth’s former singers; Owens and Barlow’s voices are just miles apart.

As a frontman, though, Owens might not have the presence Barlow had, but when he nails Metal treats such as “Burning Times,” “Violate,” “Pure Evil,” “The Hunter,” and “Iced Earth,” it doesn’t seem as important. Apart from the new single “10,000 Strong,” forthcoming material was kept under wraps. Still, it’s such a shame they didn’t utilize the scheduled time frame; they could’ve performed the Something Wicked trilogy. Hell, they could’ve cramped in the Gettysburg trilogy even, with the time they had left when they left the stage. Guitarist and mainman Jon Schaffer has since stated the band will make up for it during their next visit. (Patrik Gustavsson)


Motörhead While Sweden Rock Festival offers on its menu many veterans whose perspiration date has long since expired, Lemmy and his Motörhead function more like fine wine. Like fellow British stalwarts Saxon, they have kept an identity, but still have managed to endorse it with vitality, which makes the familiarity always welcome and never drained. Also; Motörhead, unlike many other bands, tend to be at least a little unpredictable with it’s set list. Indeed, opener “Snaggletooth” off of 1984’s collection No Remorse comes as a total surprise. Add to that the old single B-side “Over The Top” and the welcomed addition of “Just Cause You Got The Pöwer” back into the set, you suddenly don’t mind when it’s time for the ever steady “Metropolis,” “Killed By Death,” or even “Ace Of Spades,” while the amusing “Whorehouse Blues” makes a nice change of pace amidst the loudness.

The trio of Lemmy, guitarist Phil Campbell, and drummer Mikkey Dee have played together as a trio for some twelve years straight and are about as tight as a sewn up duck’s arse. However, when old guitarist “Fast” Eddie Clarke joined in on the last four tracks, among these another surprise in the shape of “Motörhead” (the song), you can’t help but smile, and it sounds surprisingly good. Add to Clarke’s appearance with the band, the old bomber is back just like it was on the band’s gig at the festival in 2005, but it is still a most powerful effect that goes well in hand with the band’s powerful music. Hope for a playing time of two hours next time around. Motörhead were the true headliner’s of the last day. (Patrik Gustavsson)

Special Note: All pics by Sue Ashcroft


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