Sweden Rock Festival Saturday June 6, 2015
Today is also Sweden’s National Day, so there are events flavored as such and the blue and yellow colours of the Swedish flag are everywhere. We left Shawn at home today as he seemed a bit tired and even a little worse for wear and we headed off for the final day at Sweden Rock Festival 2015. The day began for us with The Sirens on the Sweden Stage, a symphonic sounding outfit with female lead vocals. Dammit, we should have brought Shawn afterall as this is right up his alley. There was some time killing as we waited for Hardcore Superstar to begin the day on the Festival Stage.
Hardcore Superstar (Sweden)
Hardcore Superstar was another band that had been high on Laura‘s list and may even have been the deal clincher when I mentioned that they were gracing the stages at Sweden Rock Festival 2015. They were sounding good and certainly quite popular judging by the crowd at the Festival Stage at this early hour of the day. Hardcore Superstar ripped through “Need No Company”, “Last Forever”, “Touch The Sky” before getting to “Last Call For Alcohol”. I was quite surprised that “Last Call For Alcohol” would appear so early in the set, it just seemed like a logical closer to me but what do I know! While I enjoyed what I was hearing from Hardcore I will defer this portion of events once again to Laura, also because I departed early to see what Exciter was all about on the 4 Sound stage.
By the time I got over to 4 Sound stage, the Canadians, Exciter were well into their set. Unfortunately, not long after I arrived there it was looking like it was going to be the end already. After they wrapped up what I believe was titled “Beyond The Gates Of Doom”, there was some sort of technical issue for the guitarist. Not unusual, but it seemed like forever until they got going again, probably about 7 minutes. “I Am The Beast” brought the boys back thunderingly and “Long Live The Loud” was the last for me as I ventured forth to Rock Stage in preparation for Riot V due up in just a couple of minutes.
Riot V (USA)
Riot V was something again high on my target list and it was now time for them on the Rock Stage (my least favorite stage). I arrived about 5 minutes before showtime and was able to get two people back from the barrier on the left side, awesome! This band was also a big draw for The Lionsheart, so check out his in depth spotlight review of this set coming soon to Decibel Geek. I also backed away after awhile, deciding to see who Jerusalem were and their set on the nearby Sweden Stage.
This proved to be a fatal mistake and I did not enjoy the end half followed by the beginning half of the two songs that I lingered for. It seemed to be a lot of progerssive guitar noodling, that quickly killed my enthusiasm. And judging by the sparse (well, maybe not sparse, but certainly the least attendees that I’d seen for this stage so far) crowd in attendance I was not the only one. It was not long at all before I was back where I should have been the whole time, at Riot V! The tasteful tribute to Mark Reale came before “Swords & Tequilla” for what would have been his birthday as singer Todd Michael Hall hoisted a road case stamped with Mark Reale up high.
Ace Frehley (USA)
OK KISS fans, this is our segment of the 2015 Festival! Ace Frehley was about to rock the Festival Stage for just over an hour set. Ecstatic that I was able to get one person back from the barrier on the right side, I was looking forward to this, don’t let me down Ace! I also have plans to try catching Ace in Hamburg, Germany and maybe one other date before his appearance at Hellfest as well! Frehley and his band, Richie Scarlet (guitar), Scot Coogan (drums) and Chris Wyse (bass), flooded the stage ripping right away into the KISS classic from the studio side of Alive II with “Rocket Ride”. The latest album, Space Invader, was the vehicle for “Gimme A Feelin'” which I had the video going for. “Toys” was next, followed by an absolute favorite KISS track for me with “Parasite”. Man, I sure wish KISS would adjust their setlist and slip something like this in somewhere, said every KISS fan everywhere! I attempted to sheild my eyes against the bright sun as best as I could to snap a cell phone shot of Ace ripping on his Les Paul. Hey, why not shoot this pic home for Chris and Aaron to agonise over…lol, sorry buddy, had to! “Love Gun” with Scoty singing was the next selection during which I saw myself appear briefly on the big screen! “Breakout”, sung by Richie Scarlet, was a tribute to the late great Eric Carr and quickly was followed by “Snowblind”. Ace intro’ed the song by saying “I wrote this one about cocaine!”, followed by his rather abnormally high pitched laughter. A little bass solo offered me the chance to relieve my bladder so as not to cause a fight with the gentleman in front of me (when I let it go on him as holding it became severly more and more of a challenge). By the time I was back, the closest facility was literally right there and oddly exhibited no queue, they were just about to set off into “Strange Ways” with Wyse handling the vocal duties. “New York Groove” had what had to be every single person in Sweden singing along while “2 Young 2 Die” took us to what Ace proclaimed his signature song. That signature song, “Shock Me”, came complete with the smoking guitar solo. “Cold Gin”, “Rip It Out” and then “Deuce” were the final songs, finishing a little early even. C’mon Ace squeeze in another, but it wasnt meant to be.
Nuclear Assault (USA)
Reconnecting with The Lionsheart, we had no pressing stage engaugements so we thought to see what Nuclear Assault was all about. I had checked out a few songs before venturing over here for the festival and while some were decent, they were not really something I was excited about. The live show did not do much to change that, although they sounded true to the records on the song that I was familiar with. “Price Of Freedom”. Their speed/thrash sound was not a favorite for The Lionsheart either and we lingered a little longer than we would have normally since there was nothing else on tap.
Refuge (Rage) (Germany)
After refueling on beer and food, we were in position for Refuge on the 4 Sound Stage. You probably aren’t familiar with Refuge, but it’s actually the original members of German band Rage. They are playing under this new name as a side project since today the band Rage is still active with only the bass player left from the original members. “Firestorm”, followed by “Solitary Man” kicked things off, sounding fantastic! “Nevermore” and “Death In The Afternoon” were next, my head bobbing and fist raised high in the air right next to The Lionsheart who was singing along. “Enough Is Enough”, “Invisible Horizons”, “Light Into Darkness” and “Shame On You” were all served up next. The awesome “Baby I’m Your Nightmare” came before “Don’t Fear The Winter”. Hey buddy, I’m from Canada and I hate the winter…lol. They wrapped things up with “Refuge” in a set that encompassed only the classic Rage songs from this original lineup of the band.
As The Lionsheart ventured off for the Refuge siging session I found Laura once again and headed over to Rock Stage for Extreme. Extreme were a band that was tops for me in my youth, constantly playing the first two albums. I basically hated anything that came after those albums and they certainly had not stood the test of time for me either. I re-warmed up a bit to them during their performances on the Monsters Of Rock Cruise in April, but was still not super excited for this set here. They began with “Decadence Dance” followed by “Li’l Jack Horny”. Feeling the surge of hunger I wandered over and grabbed a slice of not-very-good-at-all-pizza during the next and unfamiliar number. I found the sound to be absolutely awful as well, first time at Sweden Rock I’ve said that! It was way, way too bass heavy distorting everything else. We hung on through “Rest In Peace” and “It (‘s A Monster)” but the bass heavy sound forced us away.
Laura and I decided to check out a band we had never heard of or knew anythying about instead of Extreme, so we headed over to Sweden Stage. Gojira from France was underway as we approached. They were very heavy and generally not what either of us really prefers, but they sounded much better than Extreme! Over to Rockklassiker for Samael resulted in much the same sound as Gojira. We killed some time at a nearby picnic table under a tent, chatting about the whole adventure so far, basically killing time until Judas Priest.
Judas Priest (UK)
It seems to take absolutely forever for night to fall here, which is awesome, often still reasonably light around 9:30/10PM. There was a huge crowd assembled facing the Festival Stage for this main event and we selected a spot further to the back after meeting up again with The Lionsheart. Being that he had not had the chances to see Judas Priest that we had, he was more excited for this event than I. Don’t get me wrong, I love Judas Priest, they’re even in my tattoo. I had already seen them with Steel Panther in Rochester, N.Y. (I think it was) and knew that I would also be catching them in Hamburg, Germany in a few days and then later at Hellfest in France before returning to Canada. The Priest began with “Dragonaut” from the latest effort, Redeemer Of Souls, an album that made a few of our staff’s top ten lists for 2014. “Metal Gods” followed and “Devil’s Child” a favorite for me after that. Rob Halford was still doing a great job on the high notes, maybe not quite what he did in his youth, but certainly very respectable. This was proven once again on the next selection “Victim Of Changes”. I noticed that Rob had small tattoos on his shaven head above each ear. Were they new additions or had I really never noticed them before? “Halls Of Vallhalla” brought us to “Love Bites” afterwhich Laura and I left The Lionsheart as we wandered over to the merchandise booth. Well, I did happen to have some extra Swedish cash lying around! I selected a Wolf t-shirt, being a highlight of the 2015 festival for me, but most everything else I was really interested in was either sold out or the band had left taking their merch with them. A great way to save money waiting until the last day to buy, or I would have ended up owning 5 or 6! The last thing I need are more black heavy metal t-shirts (but I really do need more….lol)!
And so ends another successful year at Sweden Rock Festival, my third one. I’ll definitely be back next year as I just love this festival, from the organised and friendly staff of all aspects, to the bands, to the attendees themselves! On now to spend the next two weeks around Europe, ending at Hellfest in France before returning to Canada.
You can find all of Decibel Geek‘s coverage of the Sweden Rock Festival 2015 by both The Meister & The Lionsheart here: Sweden Rock 2015