in Söderhamn, Sweden, July 18, 2008

Day 1 of 2, Friday July 18th

The first year for the Rock Weekend Festival turned out to be pretty successful. With a good amount of advertising and a wide selection of bands on offer, it would have been strange otherwise. Add to that a location located more within the middle of the country, with several larger cities and towns within a few miles range. The crowd for this debut year estimates to some 5,000 which isn’t bad at all for a first year. The aforementioned wide array of bands, while exclusive to Hard Rock and Metal of a festival located in Sweden, the inevitable comparison to Sweden Rock isn’t far off.


Third album will probably once and for all demonstrate whether Bloodbound will prove strong enough to remain for the long game, or something of a novelty act tide over by the sands of time. Certainly the debut Nosferatu impressed, but it’s sophomore Book of the Dead was merely mediocre, so strike three shall see whether the fellows, playing quite locally for this night as it happens, are bound for longevity or not. For now, they’re still very good as a live act. Former Tad Morose howler Urban Breed, who just recently was confirmed to sing for Danish Metallers Pyramaze as well, impresses as usual, with his majestic vocals in the Bruce Dickinson school, soaring through the PA.

Though you’ve got to question what’s up with his onstage behaviour at times (such as partly talking English for what is presumed to be a pretty much entirely Swedish/Scandinavian audience), but it’s just his own quirky sense of humour at work. Material from Book of the Dead gets more airing than the gig at last year’s Sweden Rock when the CD was brand new, but of the songs lifted from it, only “Tempter” can match the memorable stance of the likes of “Metal Monster”, “Desdemonamedia” and the title track of the debut.


Reduced to a one-guitar band, only guitarist Alex Hellid and, if you want to call him a vocalist – LG Petrov, remains from Entombed’s early days now. Still though, Entombed is one of those bands undeterred to change for trends within the industry. Rather they themselves set the trend back in the day and have evolved to be likened to a stray less dog that’s owned by nobody and shits where it wants to. They influenced a whole generation of Death Metal bands 15-20 years ago, and although they never made it as big as many would’ve thought back then, they’re still going strong, which is once again evident on this particular gig.

Petrov, seemingly jolly as always, notes that no-one in the audience has a beer (he probably wasn’t looking hard enough) and offers one gent down the front his. Oh, the music? Well, even the influential early Entombed stuff such as “Demon”, “Stranger Eons”, with its chugginess that’s reminiscent of Black Sabbath classic “Children of the Grave”, and “Left Hand Path” is hard to make out in the fuzzy sound scape that tends to make out the live experience of these hellhounds, but the band is an entertaining watch as always, none the least because of Petrov.


Early Iron Maiden vocalist Paul Di’Anno must be mighty bored of singing the old tunes he recorded with said group. At least he gives that impression as he does just about everything to screw up the original vocal melodies of those tunes for many a Metal heads’ beloved songs. It’s not the voice itself that is the problem; Di’Anno makes sure to still nail the high notes in “Remember Tomorrow” to prove that. No, rather more often than not he rushes the words, changing melodies to the point of non-recognition… had it not been for his band performing the songs accordingly.

Particularly where the verses are concerned, and adding pointless growls to the mix. The result, of course, can only be a mess. The only saving moments are the few which are not Maiden songs in fact; “The Beast Arises” and “Marshall Lockjaw” from the great Murder One release by the now defunct Killers, Di’Anno’s 90’s band, and “Children of Madness” from the ridiculously underrated Battlezone days, are the only songs which do not end up total embarrassments. It’s a shame Di’Anno seemingly gave up on trying to create a name for him past Maiden because some of his post-Maiden albums were very good. Even that was a really long time ago now though, and he can’t even bother doing the Maiden songs justice anymore in any case. Being Di’Anno, he probably does it just to piss people off.


The live moral of Helloween has been on an up rise ever since the addition of former Freedom Call guitarist Sascha Gerstner into the ranks some six years ago, with the band displaying a obvious sense of joy of performing, that had been lacking for a few tours prior. This tendency continues, if tonight’s gig is anything to go by, as the whole band are on top of their game, all smiles, relaxed and generally having a good time. Where the set list is concerned, Helloween’s 2008 summer dates further proves this could well be a tour to reinforce the classic status of its Keeper of the Seven Keys Part I & II albums, rather than heavily supporting the most recent Gambling With the Devil, for it is from the former the majority of tonight’s songs are lifted from. Thus, it serves as something of a disappointment for the supporters of current- era vocalist Andi Deris.

Nevertheless, no matter how many high quality Metal albums the ‘Weenies produces, the first two Keeper works remain their most well-known. Therefore it makes sense for the band to unleash a healthy deal of this material on the festival goers, of which it is to be assumed a rather large part is not die-hard followers of Helloween anyway. Yet, of the five or so thousand strong crowd, most seemed attracted to Helloween on this Friday evening, as the opening of “Halloween” charges the crowd and the likes of “March of Time”, “Eagle Fly Free” and “A Tale That Wasn’t Right” of course further keep up the enthusiasm.

Deris notes that the warm reception for the band made the long trip to the festival worth it! More recent goodies “As Long As I Fall”, “Bells of the Seven Hell’s”, “If I Could Fly” manages to sneak in amongst the nostalgia trip. The thankful return of “Sole Survivor” from the group’s 1994 comeback Master of the Rings remains in the set from Helloween’s Scandinavian round of dates last winter, while the likes of “We Burn” and “Paint a New World” has been omitted since the start of a tour that follows’ the release of an album that in general seems to be the band’s most well received since 1996’s The Time of the Oath, yet very few songs are lifted from it!

Otherwise, the Deris-era is represented by a medley during the encore, before the band returns to days long gone by with “Future World” and “I Want Out”. Here’s hoping Helloween brings back more material from the last, very impressive 14 years worth of output, and give the old Keeper a rest for the most part, on their next tour.


Because of the sudden passing of guitarist John Norum’s former wife, Michelle Meldrum, it had been speculated whether Europe would cancel their planned summer shows. When yours truly briefly chatted with drummer Ian Haugland, he mentioned Europe had indeed never canceled shows before, and hated doing so. True to this, only one gig canceled so far for Europe this summer. Still, maybe it’s because of the circumstances, or other factors, but there’s very little genuine fiery enthusiasm shown from the band on this night, albeit front man Joey Tempest does a good job trying to make some festivities of the band’s gig, and Haugland marks a steady beating throughout.

The band sounds good – great in fact; this is a very talented bunch after all. Norum, introduced by Tempest as a “guitar hero” (indeed!), impresses as always where his playing is concerned, but gives an otherwise somewhat absent impression. Bassist John Leven is the ever ominous one in the band, whereas Mic Michaelli contrary to most key instrumentalists, is as worthy as the other members and placed out-front, albeit sideways, on the actual visual stage – not an all too common placement for keyboardists. Musically, there is not too much to complain about here; Europe’s fairly broad musical scope gets represented with the likes of “Ready or Not”, “Superstitious”, “Start From the Dark” and “Girl From Lebanon” too mention a few, while the earlier material such as “Seven Doors Hotel” showcased times of a heavier, hungry band, and “Scream of Anger”, remains possibly the best song they ever wrote; aggressive with Tempest’s melodic voice making a nice contrast on top.

“Danger on the Track” and “Sign of the Times”, though not quite as well-known as the likes of “Rock the Night” and “Final Countdown”, still displays Europe’s knack for catchiness just as well as said tracks. That they decide to butcher the ballad “Carrie” by performing it half acoustic and with alternate vocal melodies is a mystery. Sure the original was ultra cheesy, but at least effective for the airwaves, whereas this take on it was mostly non-effective.

Apart from that, yeah, Europe did their job sufficiently, but along the way they somehow forgot to have fun.


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