Söderhamn, Sweden, July 19, 2008

Day 2 of 2, Saturday July 19th


Lion’s Share took a break from recording its new album by playing Rock Weekend, and had to do so in front of a rain soaked few. This band never seems to get a decent break for whatever reason; they certainly have a good enough set of strong songs in their arsenal, and last year’s Emotional Coma was a great comeback record after a six year silence where new recordings are concerned. The few people that had bothered to gather though, got treated to a couple of songs from the anticipated follow-up. These songs, “Heavy Cross to Bare” and “Judas Must Die,” show great promise in that a worthy successor is to be expected.

There seems to be an anti-attitude amongst many people towards this band in its home country, for reasons unknown, but good on Lion’s Share for soldiering on with showed enthusiasm anyway, despite the crap weather and poor turnout for their set. With Patrik Johansson (Astral Doors) on board, they have secured one of Sweden’s best current singers in any case, and his characteristic voice blends in perfectly with the darker, more sinister direction which Lion’s Share is clearly taking its music.


Fittingly enough, the sun breaks through the mold just as H.E.A.T. are about to go on stage. Not an awful band by any means, but what initial appeal they offer just wears off quick for whatever reason; feels like less interior than exterior, with a great deal of fluff in-between. Maybe it’s because only bits, not the whole, of the songs stays with you enough for this kind of music, coupled with the fact they dress like Hysteria-era Def Leppard. Unlike the latter, it’s hard to imagine their songs being a mainstay for years to come, and where the classic AOR genre they try to emulate is concerned, they aren’t exactly better than the likes of FM or Skagarack either.

Unfortunately for H.E.A.T., they end up coming across a bit on the caricature side of things all together. Even though the glory days of AOR are gone, there just doesn’t seem to be much use of the band in this day and age, but lots of people would seem to disagree, although the reception never reaches the heights it did during their gig at Sweden Rock the month before; perhaps it’s that mentioned lack of interior that causes this. The band has to invite famous actor Peter Stormare out on stage even to conjure up anything that starts to resemble meaning of their moniker.


Firewind is always Firewind, whatever the line-up is. Guitarist wonder Gus G (real name Kostas Karamitroudis) and Co., since a couple of albums back includes vocalist Apollo Papathanasio who speaks fluent Swedish (with a Gothenburg accent to boot) as stage banter much to the joy of the, again, rain enduring, punters present, as well as former Metallium/brief Helloween drummer Mark Cross. So far the only album that really showcased Firewind as a clear, above average, Melodic Metal band is Forged by Fire, but it is poorly represented here, with only “Tyranny” thrown in towards the end.

Otherwise, earlier works such as “Between Heaven & Hell” “ I Am The Power” and more recent “Falling to Pieces” blends just a bit too well; music that is competent for it’s genre but bordering on faceless all the same. Gus is a very classy shredder though, and his willingness to interact and give space with fellow guitarist/keyboardist Bob Katsionis in instrumental acrobatics further enhances this notion, rather than going off on his own tangent mercilessly. Firewind made for good spirits despite the bad weather.


Whenever you just think of today’s Thin Lizzy, it’s easy to dismiss them as an unnecessary nostalgia act. In fact, a nostalgia act is precisely what they are. Unnecessary, however they are not. When you do get too see them, you realize the concept of pure nostalgia is not always a bad thing, but can be the exact opposite. For how can any old Rocker’s heart not melt, how can one not surrender, for the insane song writing legacy genius Phil Lynott left behind? The opening couple with “Jailbreak” and the fantastic “Waiting for an Alibi” are effective enough to lower anyone’s supposed defense.

From there on, of course, the attack of great Rock music only continues, as the likes of “Are You Ready”, “Massacre” and “Emerald” are unleashed and performed faultlessly by the Sykes (vocals/guitar)/Gorham (guitar)/Aldridge (drums)/Mendoza (bass) line-up. Some thirty five years after its inception, ”Still In Love with You” remains one of the greatest love ballads ever written. Besides the standard “Boys are Back in Town”, as the rain had stopped again, the not so expected treats “Southbound” and “Sha-La-La” are let out to dry as well.

There may be no future for Thin Lizzy as far as creating new music goes, but few artists can match their display of a back catalogue of so many timeless songs..


For a man that gained much, lost the plot, resurrecting some of the success, Vincent Furnier often gives a modest impression; a man that has seen and survived it all and being thankful for his second chance. Thus for someone who wasn’t around to watch his shows in the seventies it’s hard to see his famous alter ego Alice Cooper as scary in any sense whatsoever. That said the man knows the value of a show and to captive an audience. Here and there, the show does drag, and when it doesn’t, if anything, it’s more theatrics than straight out bloody. Whether it’s ballet dancers being tossed around by Cooper (actually the man’s own daughter in real life – Calico Cooper), the man carrying around a dead girl dolly, while tongue firmly in cheek, singing “she’s cool in bed” or paramedics carrying around a lifeless patient; it’s good fun alright. The same thing can be said for his killing off a baby routine, only to be put in a straight jacket during “I Love the Dead”. No chopped off head this time however – Alice is being hanged instead.

Where the songs are concerned, it’s mostly the expected, with early hits such as “No More Mr Nice Guy” and “I’m Eighteen” actually opening the show, and more recent hymns “Feed My Frankenstein” and “Lost in America” added for good measure. The only thing good that ever came out of the mega hit “Poison” however was the accompanying video that featured female nipples let out free in the open (if you were ever lucky enough to catch the X-rated version, that is). It’s understandable how this poppy poo of a song caught mainstream attention, but plain funny seeing thousands of supposedly tough Rockers sing along to it. Oh well! “Elected” on the other hand brings back a much greater era for the man, certainly classic Cooper at his best, while politicians fist fight on stage accordingly. What a sight to see!

In this millennium, which so far has seen a very active Alice Cooper, the man certainly shows no sign of slowing down just yet. That is good, for this cynical world needs a traditional, yet in his own way, always vital artist such as Alice Cooper, for further rejoicing and old-fashioned entertainment.

The Rock Weekend festival is located at the Kilafors mansion by a lake. Sounds dreamy, and it is! Shame about the rain that saturated the second day. The enthusiastic interest for a major Hard Rock and Heavy Metal festival in Sweden apart from Sweden Rock was strong enough for the organizers of Rock Weekend to already promise a scheduled return for the event in 2009. It’s going to be interesting watching the festival evolve for sure!

Special thanks to Erika Wallberg for additional photos (Thin Lizzy & Alice Cooper)


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