Sölvesborg, Sweden June 10-12, 2004

by Scott Heller

Uploaded to Aural Innovations: July 2004

Judas Priest, Scorpions, Nightwish, Montrose, Foghat, Aprilwine, Exodus, Hirax, Grand Magus, Pat Travers, UFO, UDO, DAD, Testament, Monster Magnet, Hawkwind and more

I had attended one day of the Sweden Rock Festival back in 2000 but this year it was a line up I could not pass up. It is about a 2 hour drive from Copenhagen and right on the coast of Sweden in a beautiful little town called Sölvesborg. We arrived on Thursday morning about 11 and set up our tents and headed over to the festival. I travelled with my Finnish friends, Janne, Santtu and Ylli from the band Dark Sun (http://hop.to/darksun). The lead singer and front man from 5.15, a cool Finnish band, was doing a gig called The Crazy Led of Mika Jarvinen. The band had a decent crowd watching them as they belted out most of the favourite Led Zeppelin songs that people wanted to hear. This was the Sweden Stage. A good size and excellent sound.

It was a bit cloudy but warm and windy. When the sun came out it was damn hot. We got some food and went to see Astral Doors on the small Spendrups Stage. They are a Swedish band that is highly influenced by the 80’s sound of DIO. Not a bad band. I ran into Katon, the leader of the band Hirax. We hung out in Arizona back in 1986. He actually remembered me from my magazine Metal Madness as we had traded tapes. Now we headed back to the Sweden Stage and saw a few songs of the Haunted, a Swedish death-thrash metal band. It was very loud compared to the other bands we had seen. The crowds were now increasing in size. Some young girls came up and said they liked my beard! Funny. Now we headed back to the Spendrup stage and drank some beers and saw most of Debase, a cool band from Malmö. They reminded me and Santtu a bit of a more doomy Amorphis! I would like to catch this band again sometime.

Now I headed over to wait to see Abramis Brama, an excellent 70’s inspired band. They were still sound checking and performed most of Behind The Walls Of Sleep by Sabbath. Wow. The Swedish band TNT was on the main Rock stage at the same time but I never liked them much. Anyway, Abramis Brama were excellent. They really have a cool Sabbath inspired groovy sound and an excellent singer. The band played for an hour and played some new songs from a CD that will be out soon. Great set.

We finally met up with Kai and Susan, whom we travelled up with and are camping with. They have arrived now to see D.A.D. (Disneyland After Dark) on the rock stage. Santtu and I checked out a couple of songs of the Danish band DAD. I had never really heard them except for a few songs from the mid-80’s. The bass player was dressed up in this crazy Capt. American outfit (see Pic) and they rocked pretty hard. The crowd was big and really into it, which surprised me. They are the only Danish band at the festival out of 60 bands. We only saw 3 songs and then went over to hear Entombed. Wow.. this was really heavy aggressive stuff and tuned down to the max…. After they finish it is back to the Spendrup Stage to catch Memory Garden. I had one of their demos some years back and it was pretty good but I had no idea how they sounded today. They have a really excellent singer but have lost most of the Doomy sound and were much more progressive sounding than before.

Montrose was one of the key bands I was looking forward to seeing. Most people were off to see Helloween on the big Rock stage so the crowd was not that large for Ronnie and the boys. The band had a great sound and was in really good spirits having come all the way from San Francisco! I was surprised that they only played songs from the first record (nearly the whole thing) and Paper Money. A great set of his best material but it would have been cool to hear something new as well. I enjoyed it quite a lot. It was a great band backing him up. Sammy Hagar, the original lead singer, would never perform with the band now. The band played about 1 hour and it left enough time to catch a few songs of Helloween before Judas Priest was to start.

Set List: Rock the Nation, Good Rockin Tonight, One thing on my Mind, Spaceage Sacrifice, I’ve got the Fire, The Dreamer, I don’t want it>drum solo, Rock Candy, Space Station #5, Bad Motor Scooter

The crowd was huge and Judas Priest had a massive stage set up with wraps and lifters and huge stacks of amps. We found a cool place on the left side. The band opened with Hellion-Electric Eye and the crowd went mad. Halford spent most of this song and a lot of the concert up on the left side riser so we had a great view of him. He sounded great but his range is a bit limited compared to the last time I saw him with Judas Priest in 1982 on the Screaming For Vengence tour. The band sounded great as did the sound and the band played a fair share of songs from the 70’s like The Ripper, Victim Of Changes, Beyond The Realms Of Death, United, Hell Bent For Leather and an acoustic version of Diamonds And Rust. We also got the hits from the 80’s like Painkiller and Turbo Lover (shit song!). Damn good set. Yes... the Priest is back, but will they produce a cool record in November??? That is the question… Now we headed back to the camp site. End of Day 1.

Set List: Hellion / Electric Eye / Metal Gods / Heading Out To The Highway / The Ripper / Touch Of Evil / The Sentinel / Turbo Lover / Victim Of Changes / Diamonds & Rust / Breaking The Law / Beyond The Realms / The Green Manalishi (With The Two Pronged Crown) / Painkiller / Hell Bent For Leather / Living After Midnight / United / You Got Another Thing Coming

I hardly slept at all but at least was able to rest my feet. I was sitting and enjoying the warm weather with Kai but now it was starting to rain a bit. The sky was full of ominous clouds that could pour out rain anytime. I wore my boots and my Hawkwind t-shirt and was ready to go. Coney Hatch was finishing their last song, American Woman, by the Guess Who, when we arrived. I headed straight over to the Festival stage to catch Y&T, a band I last saw in 1987 headlining with Ace Frehley. The band is celebrating their 30th year now and are quite psyched. They had played here last year and were invited back again. They even played a song from their first record 25hrs a Day but focused mostly on the hits and songs one would expect them to play. They were good but a bit too predictable for me. The highlight for me was the excellent guitar playing during the blues song, I believe In You. We also heard Lipstick and Leather, Meanstreak, Forever, etc.

Set List: From The Moon (recorded) / Open Fire / Lipstick & Leather / Eyes Of A Stranger / Dirty Girl / Mean Streak / I'll Cry For You / 25 Hours A Day / Wild If I Wanna / I Make Believe / Hurricane / Summertime Girls / Black Tiger / I Believe In You / Rescue Me / From The Moon / Forever

I was really looking forward to Grand Magus on the Spendrup stage and they did not disappoint. A very small crowd ready for some heavy doom! The lead singer-guitarist now sings in Spiritual Beggars. They were really good and heavy and took me back to the days of Doom and bands like Candlemass and Solitude Aeternus. Great stuff. The band even played a cover of Bathory. Quorthon, the leader of Bathory had recently died. Short set of only 40 minutes but great stuff.

I headed over to the Festival Stage to see if I could run into my friends in Monster Magnet. The others went over to see Opeth. Pat Travers was playing on the Rock Stage and that was excellent. I found Tim Cronin and was able to go back stage and say hello to some of the guys. I ran into Jim, the new bass player and we headed over to see Pat Travers. Ed was already over there. Pat was really rocking and played a cool set with stuff like Stevie, Whipping Post, Makin’ Music, Snortin’ Whiskey, and a great new blues number called The Pain.

Hawkwind were now doing a soundcheck and it was really looking like it was going to rain. I met up with Santtu, Ylli and Janne and we stood right in the center about 10 meters back from the stage. Hawkwind were about to start and it really started to rain like hell. Really hard. The band were just laughing a bit but said they needed to start and they open with Assault and Battery>The Golden Void. Dave is having some trouble with his guitar but gets it sorted out after a few minutes. Guitar is mixed too low but other than that the sound is great. It is a huge stage but they all stand quite close together in the middle. The band is only a 3 piece now and all the synthesizer stuff is pre-recorded, except a tiny bit that Alan plays on a few pieces. I can’t really see how big the crowd is watching them. After a pretty cool new instrumental called Out Here We Are, they played Sword Of The East with a long ending. Now was the surprise. Dave and Phil from Monster Magnet joined Hawkwind for a jamming version of The Right Stuff. You could just see that this was a real HIGH for Dave, a huge fan of Hawkwind’s 70’s output. Great stuff. Next up was Psychedelic Warlords and Janne, Ylli and Santtu went wild! Wings was a bit of a surprise. Alan’s voice used to be so good but now he sounds just awful after singing Motorhead covers for a few years. A new song sung by Richard, the drummer, Angelia Android as performed. A nearly totally electronic song. Strange choice for a festival scene. The band played a cool version of Spirit Of The Age, which has been re-recorded and will be released as a single on August 27th to prepare us for the new CD called Take Me To Your Leader, out in September. Assassins Of Allah closed the great set. The band performed two encores, the first being Brainbox Pollution. Wow... this sounded really great on the big stage. They closed with Ejection. Great to see the band is still performing, having fun and doing a good job!

Set List: Assault and Battery>Golden Void>Where are you now?, Out here we are, Sword of the east, The Right Stuff (w/Monster Magnet members), Psychedelic Warlords, Wings, Angela Android, Spirit of the Age, Assassins of Allah, Brainbox Pollution, Ejection

I went and hung out with Monster Magnet. Phil had been seeing Slade before joining Hawkwind and said that they were surprisingly good and the crowd was really into it and singing all the songs. Testament were playing now and I heard a few songs. I had a nice chat with Dave backstage about politics, being on stage with the Stooges at Donnington, unreleased material from Monster Magnet, etc. All the band was in a great mood. I let them be for 20 minutes before their set and got a good place right in the center about 15 meters from the stage. A big crowd had gathered now and the band was ready to rock. They opened with Atomic Clock from Powertrip and into Dopes To Infinity. It was great to see a different set opener from just 3 months ago. The band had a great sound and intensity and really rocked with tons of ripping solos and spaced out music. The band played a lot from the new CD, included was On The Verge, UnBroken, Monolithic, Supercruel and Radiation Day. The oldies were great to hear with Dinosaur Vacuum being dedicated to Dave Brock and Hawkwind, who were standing on the stage watching the band. Elephant Bell had been reworked and I had never heard them play that before. The band closed the main set with Space Lord Motherfucker and came back for a nearly 20 minute version of Spine Of God, complete with the smashing of two guitars and lighting one on fire. The crowd loved it. Great set.

Set List: Atomic Clock, Dopes to Infinity, Supercruel, On the Verge, Powertrip, Melt, Elephant Bell, Dinosaur Vaccum>Brainstorm>Dinosaur Vacuum, Unbroken, Zodiac Lung, Radiation Day>Monolithic, Negasonic Teenage Warhead, Spacelord, Spine of God

I headed backstage again to congratulate them and saw the guys in the Scorpions. I took one picture of them in their transport van. Ed and I had a couple of beers and headed over to catch UFO with the new guys Vinnie Moore and Jason Bonham. UFO rocked! They played all the classics including Rock Bottom, Doctor Doctor, Lights Out, Love to Love, Too Hot to Handle, Mother Mary, Let it Roll and two new songs. I went back with Ed and said goodbye to the guys and went off to see Exodus and met up with Janne again. He was very happy as he had never seen Hawkwind, one of his all time favourite bands. Exodus... wow... Back to the bay area thrash of the 80s. They were not quite like the old days. The encore was Dirty Deeds Done Dirty Cheap by AC/DC.

Now was the Scorpions. Last time I saw the Scorpions was on the Blackout tour in 1982. I saw them three times. I love the bands albums from the 70’s but totally lost track of them in the 80s when they went completely commercial. The band played quite a heavy rocking set with only one Uli Roth era song, We’ll Burn The Sky. Klaus Meine still has an amazing voice though. Nearly untouched by time. They played Blackout, Coast To Coast, and Klaus played rhythm guitar, Lovedrive, The Zoo. I was glad that they did not play a huge set of ballads. A great rocking set of numbers with a few ballads. I was surprised how much I enjoyed them having low expectations. Nice concert and way to end the Saturday night!

New Generation / Love Em Or Leave Em / Bad Boys Running Wild / We’ll Burn The Sky / The Zoo / Deep & Dark / Coast To Coast / Lovedrive / Through My Eyes / Remember The Good Times / Tease Me Please Me / Blackout / Blood Too Hot / Big City Nights / Still Loving You / Rock You Like A Hurricane / Hit Between The Eyes / When The Smoke Is Going Down

Ok... Day 3 and ready to rock again! We arrived in time to catch a lot of Rudi Axel Pell’s set. I was amazed at the huge crowd. I had never heard the guy. I think he is the German equivalent to Yngwie. It was very fast paced progressive metal stuff with ripping guitar solos and keyboards. Most all the songs sounded the same but the crowd seem to know a lot and love it. A true heavy metal crowd. I was now off to see April Wine, a band I last saw back in 1982 when Uriah Heep opened for them. They had a few hits in the early 80’s with I Like To Rock and Sign Of The Gypsy Queen. It turns out they are actually one of the oldest bands on the festival dating back to 1971! Damn... they were really good. They played a few old songs from the mid-70s that I did not know and even jammed a bit. A fucking great version of 21st Century Schizoid Man by King Crimson. She’s A Roller, Before The Dawn and All Over Now went down well with the small crowd. It was probably the fewest people I had seen watching a band on the Rock stage.

Next up was Heart on the Festival Stage. I really liked the band in the 70s but never got to see them perform. Sort of a female Led Zeppelin. Classic heavy guitar riffs, melodic songs and great vocals. The band had some fresh blood but Ann and Nancy Wilson were still the heart and soul of the band. Ann was quite huge but still had an amazing voice. They opened up with Kick It Out and Crazy On You. Next up was Papa Was A Rolling Stone into Straight On. Wow. The band played a couple of new songs and they were damn heavy and quite excellent. They also played Love Alive, Dog And Butterfly, These Dreams, Barracuda and closed the show with Rock And Roll and Misty Mountain Hop, both by Led Zeppelin. Damn excellent. Phew...

Now another blast from the past, Foghat. I also had seen them play back in 1982 on the Tight Shoes tour. They were quite awful and were blown away by Danny Joe Brown and the Rods. I should say I saw them in 1980 and they were awesome! Anyway, Lonesome Dave passed on a few years ago but the band is kept alive with fresh blood and they were excellent and really rocked. The opened with Home In My Hand. The new lead-slide guitar player was excellent. He also plays in Molly Hatchet. Driven Wheel and Stone Blue had the small crowd going as well. April Wine and Foghat had never played in Sweden and only the over 40’s probably even remember them so it does not surprise me that much not to see many young people here. Anyway, the band played some killer blues with Robert Johnsons Sweet Home Chicago and I Just Want To Make Love To You. They closed with their classic Slow Ride. Great set.

Set List: Home in my Hand, Driven Wheel, Self Medicated, Stone Blue, I’m a Rock and Roller, Sweet Home Chicago, Fool for the City, Jam, I just want to make love to You, Slow Ride

I went to get some food and the sky was darkening a lot now. Nightwish were soon to start and it was not looking good. I ran over and caught the last 5 songs of Hirax on the Spendrups stage and they had a small crowd but they were really into it and the band ripped it up, but clearly Katon as the main man... Wow... I got some great pics of the band! Nightwish had a great stage set up with a huge backdrop of the cover of their latest CD. The lighting was excellent and sound as well. I don’t know their music that well but it is a operatic gothic metal. Quite heavy at times but also quite melodic and mostly fast paced. After about 20 minutes it started to rain like hell for Nightwish. The people were running for cover, for which there was only the beer tent and it was soon packed to the gills. Most had to just get soaked. I stayed and watched the whole set and my boots, bottom of my pants and arms of my jacket were soaked after the rain stopped, even though I had a plastic rain jacket. Ugh. Cool band. I would prefer to see them in a club. We did not stay to see Europe but we read that they had a huge crowd and played well and people loved them. Awesome festival. I hope to come back again next year and if you are a fan of classic hard rock and heavy metal, this is the place.

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