Thursday, June 8th
In his second stint with the band, the 2011-edition of Sweden Rock Festival was one of Matt Barlows last performances as Iced Earths singer. Six years later, the Iced Earth line-up counts only veteran Jon Schaffer and drummer Brent Smedley from the 2011-line-up, and with the band’s third singer Stu Block they took the stage early in the afternoon on Thursday. And let it be clear, Stu Block does not match either Matt Barlow (Iced Earth singer from 1994-2003 and again from 2007-2011 nor Tim ”Ripper” Owens 2003-2007). Nevertheless, the Iced Earth-machine fired on (almost) all cylinders delivering classics like ”The Hunter” and ”Vengeance Is Mine” off The Dark Saga and ”Burning Times” and ”Watching Over Me” from Something Wicked This Way Comes through to ”Seven Headed Whore” from their current album Incorruptible in front of a great crowd. A career-spending set indeed, even though Stu Block does not do the old material 100% justice, Iced Earth is still one great power metal band who certainly has a future.
Doro Pesch’s Warlock
Just after Iced Earth’s set, it was truly a trip down memory lane when we got to go 30 years back to Warlock’s final album ”Triumph And Agony”. Billed as Doro Pesch’s Warlock, the exclusive Sweden Rock Festival-performance included Doro’s current solo band with special guest Tommy Bolan who was a part of Warlock’s 1987 line-up. And since Warlock really don’t have a classic line-up, it was the songs that was important during the 75 minute long set. Doro, now aged 53, does indeed both sound and look the same – and she did a fantastic job recreating Warlock’s finest hour. The Sweden Rock-set included the ”Triumph And Agony” album in full, although not in sequence. A strong crowd got to hear songs never played on the original ”Triumph And Agony Tour” of 1987 (they played both Gothenburg and Stockholm that year, supporting Dio) including ”Kiss Of Death” and ”Make Time For Love” alongside classics like ”When East Meets West”, ”I Rule The Ruins” and of course ”All We Are”. It was 1987 all over again through 10 songs who has aged well, before Doro and the rest of the gang headed back even further, giving the crowd great versions of ”Earthshaker Rock” and ”True As Steel” as well.
Billed as the ”Aero-Vederci, Baby!”, this year’s Aerosmith-visit was marked as their goodbye-show when they headlined Sweden Rock for the third time (the two first was in 2007 and 2010). And we really should not believe it before we see it, us being fooled by both Scorpions and Judas Priest in recent years saying goodbye when making a comeback just after. But, should this be it for the notorious and legendary Boston-band, they are leaving us on a good note. Starting with two up-tempo rockers like ”Let The Music Do The Talking” and ”Young Lust”, the Aerosmith-machine led by the toxic twins Steven Tyler (who’s actually turns 70 next year) and Joe Perry was in good shape. They took us from the 70’s through the 80’s and into the 90’s in their almost two hour long set, including everything from ”Dream On” and ”Mama Kin” from the debut album, ”Sweet Emotion” and ”Walk This Way”, to ”Dude (Looks Like A Lady”, ”Love In An Elevator” and ”Rag Doll” to ”Livin’ On The Edge” and the blistering ballads ”Cryin’” and ”I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing”. Thinking that Steven Tyler is pushing 70 is really making no sense at all, and even in they hit a few bumps along the way, Aerosmith’s proposed goodbye to Sweden and Europe a general smelled of triumph long way.
Friday, June 9th
Talking about age. Even though King’s X debut album Out Of The Silent Planet came out ”only” 29 years ago, Doug Pinnick is actually 66 years old. And that’s quite something, even by Sweden Rock Festivals standards. In their first Sweden Rock-visit since year 2000, the power trio of Pinnick alongside Jerry Gaskill and Ty Gabor is still a explosive little unit. Delivering songs from their whole career was a thrill to watch at this year’s Sweden Rock Festival, including their regular opener ”Groove Machine” through classic gems like the beautiful ballad ”Flies And Blue Skies”, ”Lost In Germany”, ”Over My Head” and the set-closer ”Dogman”. The Sweden-gig was their first for a little while, creating some havoc and laughs at the beginning of ”Go Tell Somebody”, but all-in-all their 75 minutes in the afternoon sun at this year’s Sweden Rock Festival was a blast from the 90’s which turned out something close to magnificent.
With the return of singer Mike Howe, who recorded three albums with Metal Church from 1989-1993, today’s line-up of Metal Church is considered as a comeback. And alongside Metal Church’ veteran guitarist Kurdt Vanderhoof it really is, even though the two of them wasn’t in the line-up at the same time, considering Kurdt Vanderhoof left Metal Church in 1986 and came back in 1995. Old details aside, the 2017-edition of Metal Church is a good one, and Mike Howe also proved himself as a great front man from the second they hit it off with ”Fake Healer” off Blessed In Disguise and ”In Mourning” from The Human Factor before hitting the pre-1989-material with ”Start The Fire”. And Howe has some difficulties in singing David Wayne’s Metal Church-material (their singer from 1984-1986), also including ”When The Children Pray”. He also struggled with the pitch on ”No Tomorrow” off last year’s comeback-album XI. Nevertheless, with new drummer Stet Howland (W.A.S.P.s drummer from 1991-2005) and Mike Howe back in the ranks, Metal Church is still alive and well. Especially if Howe’s challenging vocals also was a one time thing at Sweden Rock Festival 2017.
Ratt delivered a great set at Sweden Rock Festival in 2007 before cancelling their performance at both Sweden Rock Festival and Norway Rock Festival in the year of 2010. And after another round of line-up drama (including Stephen Pearcy leaving for the 2nd time in 2014 and the whole Bobby Blotzer’s Ratt nonsense which leaves him out of the real Ratt and so on), their 2017 line-up consists of original Ratters Stephen Pearcy (vocals), Warren DeMartini (guitar) and Juan Croucier (bass) along with Carlos Cavazo (guitar (ex-Quiet Riot)) and Jimmy De Grasso (drums, ex-Megadeth, Alice Cooper, Black Star Riders, Y&T, David Lee Roth, Ministry, Lita Ford to, believe it or not, name a few references). All the drama and turmoil aside, Ratt through one hell of a party on their exclusive trip to Europe in 2017. Starting off with ”Wanted Man”, it was pure 80’s all the way, including ”You’re In Love”, ”Body Talk”, ”Lack Of Communication”, ”Slip Of The Lip” and ”Lay It Down” before closing the deal with ”Back For More” and ”Round And Round”. And they are indeed back for more, and after seeing this great set at Sweden Rock Festival 2017 – why the hell not!?
The German legends of Scorpions has had their struggles at Sweden Rock throughout the years, and 10 years after their last visit (their not-so-successful gig in 2007), they were back for this year’s big rock event in the south of Sweden. Led by the fronting trio of Klaus Meine (69), Rudolf Schenker (68) and Matthias Jabs (61), their set started out acceptable with ”Going Out With A Bang”, ”Make It Real”, ”Bad Boys Running Wild”, ”The Zoo” and ”Coast To Coast”. Then it was full-stop with an old medley of obscure songs from the mid 70’s, some new mediocre stuff like ”We Built This House” from their new album from 2015 before lashing into a three-song ballad-medley only to head back to the main stage to play even one more ballad, the awful ”Wind Of Change” (yeah, big hit of course, but come on…). Welcoming Mikkey Dee (ex-Motorhead) into the line-up, they also tried to do a tribute to Lemmy by doing ”Overkill”, but either Schenker nor Jabs didn’t seem to remember that one, so that came to a complete embarrassment. Even though they picked up speed again with ”Blackout” and ”Big City Nights” before their encore of ”Coming Home”, ”Still Loving You” and the set-closer ”Rock You Like A Hurricane” they didn’t exactly rock us like a hurricane through their fourth Sweden Rock-set in their career (1999,2004, 2007 and now 2017). A great band with a great catalog came to Sweden with a wonderful stage production, only to disappoint big time, unfortunately.