Sweden Rock Festival 2019 - Day 3

The third day of Sweden Rock Festival had KISS headlining, one of the main reasons, Achilles wanted to attend. Dream Theater and Gorgoroth respectively, were some other big names (although the mist that fell made watching them challenging) along with ZZ top and Disturbed. Candlemass reunited with their original singer and also welcomed back their natural leader Leif Edling, who was absent for a long time due to illness. At The Gates were their usual gatecrushing awesome. Jag Panzer were far superior than on their recent Athenian gig. Elsewhere Uli Jon Roth was his usual majestic, Royal Republic were very entertaining and Axel Rudi Pell was paying tribute on the band that main band that would play on Saturday. Old timers Magnum were still rocking and Easy Action (Kee Marcello’s pre-Europe band) offered a rare Mk2 gig of their sophomore effort. All good reasons to want to be there!
Sweden Rock Festival 2019 poster
Following a good night’s sleep and getting some stuff from a local supermarket, we returned for the third time, to the festival grounds, this time, without having to grind through heavy traffic. We did watch the last song of impressive looking all female Suiss metallers, Burning Witches, after an anemic cover of “Holydiver”, who despite having the 80s aesthetic and sound perfectly figured, sounded quite plain, to make some lasting impression. Maybe in the future, who knows. We missed LOK and decided to go and see if the buzz The Night Flight Orchestra had been generating was well deserved. “Speed” did really sound seriously underwhelming compared to the studio renditions of songs and the whole setup, seemed more like a lampooning than a celebration of 80s AOR. That’s in stark contrast to bands like for example Steel Panther, who are also supposed to walk a fine line between tribute and parody, but do so extremely well, live as well as in the studio. Here, the difference between studio and live, was too great to ignore.
 
Next we ventured to the tent to see what ROCKKLASSIKER ALLSTARS was all about, to find an ensemble of musicians consisting of Nina Söderquist (Rhapsody In Rock), Robban Bäck (Mustasch, ex-Sabaton), Jona Tee (H.E.A.T), Sam Söderlindh (Art Nation) and the brothers Bosse and Kebbe Lindmark from Dalton joined by Nicke Borg, along with his Backyard Babies-colleague Johan Blomquist, Rob Marcello of Danger Danger and ultimately Blaze Bayley (ex-Iron Maiden), who even performed “Run to the Hills” a song he mentioned he never originally performed with Maiden, during his tenure with the band) Interesting to say the least. After that interesting diversion and some glorious burger, we headed to the festival stage to watch the long standing Brit rockers, Magnum who despite their advancing years still put on quite a remarkable show, full of great melodies, pomp and circumstance, with Bob Catley’s still glorious voice enchanting us, even under the hot noon sun.
 
Magnum Setlist:
Wild Swan
Sacred Blood, Divine Lies
Lost on the Road to Eternity
Crazy Old Mothers
How Far Jerusalem
All England’s Eyes
Vigilante
Don’t Wake the Lion (Too Old to Die Young)
Sacred Hour
 
Yet another concession had to be made as we had to all but miss the Swedish all female quartet of Thundermother, who might be a bit more geared towards rock and not as polished as say Burning Witches, but definitely sounded more spontaneous, (the one song of theirs we were able to watch).
 
Onwards to the Rock stage, for some Easy Action (Kee Marcello’s other band besides Europe) who came out and really sounded fresh despite all the years that have passed and with a nearly as possible mk2 lineup performing their sophomore album in its entirety. Cool beans!
 
Easy Action Setlist:
Code to Your Heart
Partners in Crime
Love Reaction
Talk of the Town
Only You Can teach Me How
Eye for an Eye
Guitar Solo (Kee Marcello)
In the Middle of Nowhere
One in a Million
Rosie
Talk, Talk, Talk
Teachers Do It with Class
Round Round Round
 
When it comes to Swedish bands on Big German labels that almost monopolize festivals one could have done far worse than the very wimpy/campy Royal Republic, who seem like a weird more disco-conscious version, but also more straight-ahead cock rocking version of Detroit’s Electr Six. Lisa Lystam Family Band, is an obvious family affair, we didn’t have a chance to witness at the tent, but we were able to get to the main stage to witness German Axe wizard Axel Rudi Pell, scratching that same Rainbow itch that originally made us wish to be there. Celebrating three decades of existence, their show was up to their high, usual standards, but perhaps this is one of the rare occurrences since 1999, that I’ve been less than amazed by singer Johnny Gioeli, who seemed to be a little under the weather… tired even.
 
Axel Rudi Pell Setlist:
Tape: The Medieval Overture
The Wild and the Young
Wildest Dreams
Voodoo Nights
Only the Strong Will Survive
Mystica
Long Live Rock
The Line
Eternal Prisoner
The Masquerade Ball / Casbah
Rock the Nation
 
Under the circumstances Danish rather cheerful alt rockers Dizzy Mizz Lizzy also got “passed”, although they did seem to attract a pretty healthy number of their compatriots. Swedish stoners The Quill have been through ups and downs and had a few key members leaving and rejoining, but through it all they ‘ve soldiered on. For a career that spans almost thirty years, playing in the tent, seemed a little underwhelming, but I guess they ‘re past the point where they almost seemed to be poised to be the next big thing. Watched a couple of songs, by them and then we quickly went over the opposite side to the Rock stage, where Candlemass (with Leif back in the fold – and sporting a bizarre beard) doomed the fest like they only know how to do, with original singer Johan Längqvist. I must say that I was a little curious as to how Längqvist would handle later day singers’ material, but he did OK, although their set was focused largely on his era. During “Solitude” a dancer with a veil came up and performed an impromptu strip tease, even taking off a wig to reveal she was bald... which was mighty odd, but let it not be said that I did not enjoy their set because of that… just found a little bizarre, that’s all. Another band I’m looking forward to revisit in November when they perform in Athens.
 
Candlemass Setlist:
The Well of Souls
Dark Reflections
Mirror Mirror
Astorolus – The Great Octopus
A Sorcerer's Pledge
Under the Oak
Bewitched
Crystal Ball
Dark are the Veils of Death
 
Encore:
Black Trinity
Solitude
 
Moving towards the entrance/exit and a record shop/tent I got some CDs I’d been eyeing in the past few days and caught a glimpse of Uli Jon Roth, who was excellent as ever. After that Achilles remained glued to the Festival stage for ZZ Top, while I did ping pong a bit between them and America’s pride and glory when it comes to traditional heavy metal, the mighty Jag Panzer on “4Sound Stage”. ZZ were expectedly good, although age seems to be catching up with them (I mean visually – the beards always made em look older), but they did sound a bit more tired than the last time that I saw em, although that must have been some years ago, with Steel Panther in Britain. Jag Panzer on the other hand, who played on a relatively small stage to a relatively small audience, were on phenomenal form, with singer Harry “The Tyrant” Conklin sounding just like he does on the records… and despite having seen them in Athens a few days prior (with terrible sound and Harry suffering a cold at the time), I do not regret missing a few ZZ tunes in exchange for a decent few JP tunes. With my JP itch scratched, I returned for some “Tush” and what not… I’m not looking for much, easy man to please here! Obviously, the above combo meant that Swedish vintage epic rockers Hällas in the tent just got a passing glance.
 
ZZ Top Setlist:
Got Me Under Pressure
I Thank You (Sam & Dave cover)
Waitin’ for the Bus
Jesus Just Left Chicago
Gimme All Your Lovin'
Pearl Necklace
I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide
I Gotsta Get Paid
My Head’s in Mississippi
Sixteen Tons (Merle Travis cover)
Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers
Just Got Paid
Sharp Dressed Man
Legs
 
Encore:
La Grange
Tush
Jailhouse Rock (Elvis cover)
 
Jag Panzer Setlist:
Far Beyond All Fear
Chain of Command
Achilles
Licensed to Kill
Harder Than Steel
Black
Iron Eagle
King at a Price
Fire of Our Spirit
The Scarlet Letter
Shadow Thief
Born of the Flame
Warfare
 
I had seen Disturbed (nearly headlining an older edition of SRF – 2008 I think?) and while their performance there did cause some commotion and controversy – their 2019 show seemed to go down like clockwork. Almost a bit too much like clockwork – all very professional – but a little too detached, by the numbers and not as exciting. I am not also the person to be usually distracted by such things, but mr Draiman, tuck in your shirt, look like you give a shit. It’s not your local bar band you’re fronting – no one is particularly thrilled to see your belly hair on pictures. I decided that having wimped out, too much over the course of the past three days, I’d go watch Swedish (surprise – surprise) death metal institution At The Gates, who are closer to my old school tastes. As expected, they delivered and then some.
 
Disturbed Setlist:
Tape: Intro
Are You Ready
Prayer
Liberate
The Vengeful One
The Animal
Stupify
Voices
Land of Confusion (Genesis cover)
Drum Solo
Ten Thousand Fists
The Game
No More
A Reason to Fight
Hold on to Memories
Indestructible
Inside the Fire
 
Encore 1:
The Sound of Silence (Simon & Garfunkel cover)
 
Encore 2:
The Light
Stricken
Down with the Sickness
 
Missed, Witchfynde at the tent, who however had performed in Greece a while back due to the overlapping schedule and got a bite before taking a spot to watch the mighty KISS on the festival stage for presumably – “the last time”, as they’ve announced their farewell tour… (not their first one mind you). They were one of the few bands that required a contract to photograph and even so – they only allowed half the media in the photopit – thus sorry but no photos of KISS. Their show was obviously “phenomenal” and based on a rather nice and balanced hits oriented setlist. Paul Stanley that was seen struggling to hit the notes last year, sounded almost too good to be true, on this run… who knows, who cares, it was entertaining.
 
KISS Setlist:
Tape: Rock and Roll (Led Zeppelin song)
Detroit Rock City
Shout It Out Loud
Deuce
Say Yeah
I Love It Loud
Heaven’s on Fire
War Machine (Gene breathes fire)
Lick It Up
Calling Dr. Love
100,000 Years (with drum solo)
Cold Gin (with Tommy Thayer guitar solo)
God of Thunder (with bass solo)
Psycho Circus
Let Me Go, Rock ‘n’ Roll (with guitar and bass solo)
Love Gun (Paul on stage in crowd)
I Was Made for Lovin’ You (Paul on stage in crowd)
Black Diamond
 
Encore:
Beth (Eric Singer on piano)
Crazy Crazy Nights
Rock and Roll All Nite
Tape: God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll to You II
 
Obviously in watching KISS, we gave the Polish black priest of Batushka (whichever version of the band it might have been) a pass… and with KISS slightly delaying their performance, there was little to no time to get in place for pictures from Dream Theater, who were playing at the same time as Norweigian Blacksters Gorgoroth (so sorry but no pics from them either.) All things considered, DT performed in a foggy dew that made watching them perform their labyrinthine tracks, after 10 + hours of standing on one’s feet, a rather demanding task. Instrumentally they were good, although James Labrie sounded harsh at times. Also, their very last album centric setlist and shorter than announced performance, seemed to piss a lot of people off, with quite a few of them walking away. We did stay until the end of their rather short, seven track setlist, but had a really hard time making it back home in the thick mist, as it took us twice as long to make it back to the parking and twice as much to the cabin, as one could hardly see where the mist ended and the road was… by divine providence, or not, we survived….
 
Dream Theater Setlist:
Tape: Atlas (Instrumental Alt) (Nick Phoenix & Thomas J. Bergersen song)
Untethered Angel
As I Am
Fall Into the Light
Peruvian Skies
The Dance of Eternity
Lie
Pale Blue Dot