Sölvesborg, Sweden, June 7, 2008



TriumphWell, at long last, Lizzy freakin’ Borden made it to Swedish soil! About damn time! Front man and namesake had promised a worthwhile show prior, and that’s what the audience got as Lizzy continually changed from portraying one demonic character to the other, switching masks for what seemed to be almost every song, in addition to his makeup. Indeed, the band’s new image looks cool rather than the dated Shock-Rock of the 80’s. The music, however, has not dated negatively at all. Reportedly, Lizzy had problems hearing himself through the monitors during the duration of the performance, which, although this led to an off-key performance at times, the voice itself proved to have endured well over the years as well. For persevering arguably the hottest weather during the entire festival, the audience were in for a real treat as they got a fair share of American Metal, indeed. “There Will Be Blood” opened fittingly, and, although the latest album Appointment With Death may not be nearly as good as the comeback Deal With the Devil, songs lifted from it sat alongside the likes of “We’ve Got the Power”, “Rod of Iron” and “Me Against the World” just fine in the live setting. The questionable inclusion of dull covers “Born to be Wild” and “Long Live Rock N Roll” were the only, albeit slight, downsides to an excellent performance that was part of added exposure in Europe for the band which went on to perform at Bang Your Head and now are confirmed headliner’s for Keep It True XII next year. (Patrik Gustavsson)


H.E.A.T. have been the hyped Swedish newcomers this spring it seems. Whether it’s questionable if they cater to anyone else than AOR-mid 80’s style connoisseurs on CD, live they come into their own a tad more. Even the extremely bad taste in stage wear brings you back 20+ years, whether it’s the black and white stripe pants of the bassist, or the horrendously out of date boots the guitarist wears. Anyway, that’s enough fashion talk; that the exposure have born fruit is apparent as the Gibson tent is full of enthusiasts of all ages for the band, of whom plenty already seem familiar with the songs’ choruses. It’s contradicting watching an energetic group of 20-something year olds performing this kind of music many would call dated. “Straight For Your Heart”, “I Think You’re Lying” and especially “Feel The Heat” have their moments, though. (Patrik Gustavsson)


TriumphFor many the peak of the festival, Canadian outfit Triumph, proclaimed this year that they would stage a famed reunion at Sweden Rock before their full scale world tour in 2009 leading a number of aging Prog enthusiasts to dust off the old caps, tattered vests and worn out shirts to gather in front of the Festival Stage a fine Saturday evening. Starting off in the footprints of Prog leviathans and countrymen Rush and Saga with an enjoyable opening video, Triumph looked as able as ever, with the superbly adept Rik Emmett in front of what has to be the world’s largest power trio. “When The Lights Go Down”, “Lay It On The Line”, “Allied Forces”, “Never Surrender” and to some extent “I Live For The Weekend” confirms the band’s position as one of the most proficient in the Rock genre, with Emmett’s lovely voice crowning the work. Bassist Mike Levine and drummer Gil Moore both performing skillfully, Triumph provides a nice musical contrast to the otherwise hard-hitting Sweden Rock clientèle and after an impressive “Blinding Light Show”, “Rocky Mountain Way” and the crowd’s favorite “Magic Power”, this reviewer sadly had to leave the arena in order to pull the prank of the century on Poison’s Bret Michaels – which would have worked like a charm, had it not been for a paranoid security guard. Maybe next year. (Eirik P. Krokfjord)


AvantasiaWhen he finally decided to take Avantasia to the stage Tobias Sammet faced some pretty huge expectations. Who would take part, who would play, how would the storyline be presented? The answer to the first question is a pretty convincing one at least; Jørn Lande, Andre Matos, Bob Catley, Amanda Sommerville, and Kai Hansen made for a solid cast, with Lande doing an excellent interpretation of David DeFeis’ lines in ”Serpents Of Paradise”, and Kai Hansen, of course dressed up with top hat and walking stick, taking on Alice Cooper’s classic performance in ”The Toy Master”. Actually the only disappointment was Matos who, for some mysterious reason, could only be heard when singing in the lower registers. His incredible performance on his last solo album would indeed indicate the opposite, but standing there, watching how his microphone seemed to break down each time he faced a challenging line, several conspiracy theories mind. Still, though, this did not ruin what simply was a breath-taking show. ”Shelter From The Rain” and ”Reach Out For The Light”, where Matos was supposed to sing Michi Kiske’s parts, obviously didn’t come out as great as they indeed could, but ”Avantasia”, ”Farewell”, ”Sign Of The Cross”, the aforementioned ”The Toy Master”, and the openers ”Twisted Mind” and ”The Scarecrow” all sounded bloody incredible. Oliver ”the best backing vocalist on the planet” Hartmann, surprised everyone by playing Sascha Paeth’s ass off on guitar, and Miro Rodenberg, Felix Bohnke og Robert Hunecke all did very well (except for Rodenberg for some reason almost managed to screw up the intro melody on ”The Scarecrow”). Avantasia’s second ever live performance was not a perfect one, but not bloody far from it. Absolutely Fabulous, is probably a good way to put it. (Torgeir P. Krokfjord)


PoisonThere is no denying Poison’s stature in their homeland; they have certainly appeared high on the bill on several package tours overseas in recent years. Their popularity in Sweden however, may be another matter altogether, especially given their modest profile in this part of the world; a gig supporting Whitesnake in Stockholm as part of the Monsters of Rock back in 1990 being their only visit prior. The choice of Poison as headliner, even as an exclusive, seems even more questionable as the group never received nearly the sing-along admiration as those in attendance for Def Leppard, or the jam packed crowd that had gathered for the Priest. This, even though Poison concentrated heavily on it’s debut, with songs that should be well-known even for non die-hards, kicking off the proceedings in an energetic fashion with “Look What the Cat Dragged In”. As the likes of “I Want Action” and “Cry Tough” would follow, the response remained lukewarm despite front man Bret Michaels’ efforts trying to spark a flame amongst a crowd that, if anything, only seemed to become thinner as Poison moved on with their set. The inclusion of solo stints is death for any band, especially when you’re the last night’s headliner, and the solo spots of guitarist CC DeVille and drummer Rikki Rockett respectively sealed the band’s fate as all too many obviously preferred to head for their tents instead. (Patrik Gustavsson)

PoisonSummary : Sweden Rock Festival is one big party. The general atmosphere is friendly, even peaceful and the organization excellent. Unfortunately it’s a very expensive festival; add to that the camping and parking which only adds gruesomely to the expense. It’s four days (six for some) of adapting by turning into a beer drinking animal, with further enjoyment, apart from the bands present, strolling through CD & Vinyl stands, eyeing scantily clad women and trying to ignore the male counterparts (some actually wear bra’s and stockings), and talking to people who just about all seem too relaxed. It’s quite the surreal experience and nothing like the ordinary day to day life. When it’s over you feel happy, yet sad because of it. Even more so, you know it’s been a good few days, when you’re knackered, shitty, and sore, enduring a headache on top of it. See you next year! (Patrik Gustavsson)


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