Friday 11th June

Bigelf
Sweden Stage

Bigelf has been around since the early 90’s, but it’s not before in recent years that they have started to get some recognition and last year’s Prog Nation tour with Dream Theater and Opeth was a big success and made a more mainstream audience open their eyes to the band, now that prog has become pretty big. But that was an indoors tour so it was very interesting to see how their brand of Black Sabbath meets The Beatles rock would go down before a festival audience. The answer to that would be: Very well. Despite having to start playing at 12.15 the band made a very convincing appearance. It was also on a happy note that they drew a pretty big crowd. As a live act, Bigelf is a solid rock and even though frontman / bandleader / main songwriter Damon Fox is stuck between two huge organs and therefore is limited and can’t move much on stage, the band never gets boring to watch, even for a second. The band is tight as hell and the music reaches out to you and takes you on an exciting musical journey, with its heaviness and groove. A great gig by a great band and I dare all music lovers out there to go see them the next time they’re around.

Jon Wilmenius (8/10)

Rick Springfield
Festival Stage

Even though I have always liked Rick Springfield’s music, though not as a huge fan, I never actually saw him as a rocker, but more of a pop artist. So his booking for SRF was to me a bit of a surprise. But if the size of the crowd was anything to go by, he was very longed for. With a new album out, he went to SRF with something to promote and not as a nostalgia act, which too makes for an interesting concert. To say that the gig was good is the understatement of the year. Springfield, now 61 but looks 35, is one hell of a performer, giving the gig 150%. Not only does he have a killer band, sings great and has fantastic songs for a live performance, but on stage he is a raging animal, running around, jumps out in the crowd, runs through the crowd, climbs up at the mixing tent and brings up fans, in this case a kid, on the stage. There is no doubt whatsoever, that this guy really loves what he’s doing. And he makes the crowd love it too. Hits like “Jessie’s Girl” and “Love Somebody” were of course played, as well as some new songs like the killer “Venus In Overdrive”. But the fact that “Souls” wasn’t played is a bit surprising. The performance is very close to a 10/10 review. On the downside; no songs from “Rock Of Life” were played, which in my book is almost sacrilege. However, this was one of the best concerts on the festival this year. More power to Rick Springfield. Oh yeah, almost forgot. He IS a rocker. A great one.

Jon Wilmenius (9/10)

Steel Panther
Friday 11/6

Humour. If you don’t have any of that, then there’s no point in  giving these guys a shot. Oh, that’s right, you need that humour to be very below the belt. According to the huge crowd that visited Sweden Stage there were a whole lot of people with that kind of humour. It was easily the most mixed crowd I had ever seen at a concert in my life. Everything from glam rockers with spikey hair, make up and spandex, through usual hardrockers to goth rockers and black metal people dressed in black with spikes and chains. And they were all laughing. Steel Panther was the perfect thing to liven up a grey and somewhat rainy day. With their brain dead sense of humour, catchy 80’s style popmetal and loving every minute of it – stage act, they gave the crowd 90 minutes of pure fun. For Steel Panther is more than just a rock concert. It’s equal stand up comedy. Their stage rap is just as important as the songs itself. Because these guys, even though loving it to the core, they are taking the piss out of a the whole hair metal thing, all the way through the makeup, wigs, spandex and shitloads of backing tracks. Musically, the guys have a whole bunch of really good songs, that they had ripped off from bands such as Whitesnake, Bon Jovi, Van Halen and Yngwie Malmsteen, they are great performers and fantastic musicians and despite the backing tracks, this is very much live. Not playback, as some people will suggest. And the word after the fest was over,was that a lot of people rated Steel Panther as one of the best gigs at the whole festival –  and I really can’t disagree. This was fun, as in F-U-N and I would love to see them again. Weak hearted and frigid people should not bother, though. Because the jokes are all about sex, drugs, alcohol, weird sex and more sex. Did I say we had fun?

Jon Wilmenius (9/10)

Cinderella
Friday 11/6

Cinderella was, just like Tesla in 2008 and Y&T in 2003, a band that I have always loved but never got to see before their concerts at SRF. And just like with them, my expectations were high because of the band’s talent and musical strength. While both Tesla and Y&T really rose to the occasion I was praying that Cinderella would do just that as well. On paper, Cinderella’s hybrid of rhythm and blues, hard rock with poppy undertones should work extremely well on a festival like this. But knowing the fact that frontman, lead guitarist, songwriter and singer Tom Keifer have had some serious problems with his voice being practically gone for many years, this could end up a disaster just as well as fantastic. When they hit the stage with “Second Wind”, it looked just like we had a disaster on our hands. First of all, the sound was a catastrophe that made Keifer sound like Donald Duck on helium, second “Second Wind” is not a live opener. The fact is, it doesn’t even belong in their set because it is a weak song. Hey guys, you wrote “The More Things Change”, the ultimate opening song!!! But the sound guy worked his ass off and the sound was adjusted throughout the song and by the second track “Somebody Save Me” everything sounded great and we could be happy to report that Keifer’s voice sounded just fine. Except for the mishappenings of the opener (with a song that was a mishappening itself) the only downside to the gig was that only two songs (“Heartbreak Station” and “Shelter Me”) were played from their best album Heartbreak Station, but other than that, I have absolutely nothing to complain about. The guys played a killer gig and grooved so hard that there was no way you could stand still for even a second. Hell, through their 90 minute set they actually managed to play no less than three ballads, “Heartbreak Station”, “Nobodys Fool” and “Don’t Know What You Got”, which is a bit much at a festival, but not even that could slow things down. And with killer grooves like “Push Push”, “Gypsy Road”, “Night Songs” and “Falling Apart At The Seems”, the guys could do no wrong. So I just tip my hat off and say welcome back, guys. Next stop, new album and world tour, please.

Jon Wilmenius (8/10)

Gary Moore
Friday 11/6

When we first got the reports that Gary Moore had abandoned his boring blues journey to start playing the hard rock he used to do so well, it sounded almost that we, the fans had won the Gary Moore lottery. And he would bring that hard rock show to headline SRF. Also, he had brought back his old partner in crime, Neil Carter on keyboards and rhythm guitar, so on paper everything seemed just swell. On the other hand, Moore is guilty of having played the most hated concert in SRF’s history a few years back, when he refused to played even one of his old rock hits, only concentrating on his blues. So, his first hard rock tour since 1989 could end up being either great or really crappy. It was neither. First of all, a pretty overweight Moore took the stage with a somewhat tired version of “Over The Hills And Far Away” and you could spot right away that he had gotten old. The high energy stage presence of before was gone and it made you wonder if he REALLY wanted to do this or if he just had given in to the fans requests. And the “back to the hard rock” thing was a bit exaggerated. No songs from his heavier days of Corridors Of Power or Victims Of The Future were played, which is a huge shame, only concentrating on the hits of his successful Wild Frontier and Run For Cover albums. And of course the blues wasn’t all gone. Both “Still Got The Blues” and “Walking By Myself” were played. Not that strange maybe, as these are both good songs and huge hits. Still, the concert as a whole was a bit tired and for some reason the songs never took off. And how could he NOT play “Wild Frontier”???? For me, this was the only real disappointment of the festival and had it not been for the songs he did play are great songs this gig would only had gotten a 3/10 review.

Jon Wilmenius (5/10)

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