Steelheart – Rock Stage (2/10)
Back in the early 90’s Steelheart had one hit record. In the U.S. Even back in the day they were nothing special, but their two first albums had their moments. But my guess is that they sold a lot of albums much because lead singer Mike Matijevic’s cool looks. Steelheart then called it quits after the two records, but reunited in the late 90’s with Mateijevic as the only original member. In 2011 they’re not exactly a headlining band and their gig at SRF shows why. Mateijvic of today looks more like a Serbian gangster than a rock singer, his manners are arrogant, cocky and condescending to judge by his stage rap. Musically the band are pretty tight, but oh so boring. Despite some good songs, the gig never lifts and when the newer stuff comes on I get restless and just want to leave. Which I did when Mike announced the drummer’s name and a drum solo came on. I really had no expectations for Steelheart but I got disappointed anyway. Not as bad as Lita Ford a couple of years ago, but still bad enough. And I’m still waiting to hear the first positive reaction to this gig. Nuff Said.
Mr Big – Festival Stage (7/10)
Mr Big are a musicians band. Not like all those prog metal bands such as Dream Theater and stuff, but a band that features extremely talented musicians. Luckily enough Mr Big have always had the songs to go with that, so one hour of guitar masturbation were never the case with these guys. They called it quits in the late 90’s after many a year without success when grunge killed all that was good about rock music. But just like all the other 80’s bands that quit during the hard years they reunited in 2009 with all the original members and earlier this year they released What If…, their comeback album. An album that in my book is their best since the debut. So I really looked forward to their gig at this festival. But it was pretty close to being a disappointment. They sounded a bit stiff at first and Eric Martin’s voice weren’t quite in shape during the first 3 – 4 songs. Maybe he forgot to practice his voice before the show because after the 3-4 songs everything fell into place and the band all of a sudden caught a groove and felt warm and passionate. But those first songs lost them a point here. And even though there were a bit of solo adventures, it never became boring much to the fact that they came in addition to the songs. Besides, watching Billy Sheehan and Paul Gilbert go off never becomes boring – and Pat Torpey, what a drummer. I was also pleased to state that the new songs fit in perfectly besides the older classics. I really hope that this reunion isn’t a one-off, because when Mr Big are good , they are very good. Too bad about the beginning of the show, but I would definitely go see them again.
Stryper – Sweden Stage (8/10)
Stryper is a booking that weas received with mixed reactions. The bands christian image is evidently a bit too much for a lot of people to handle. It’s clear that it’s not cool enough and the band are many times being rejected by rock fans who normally would take to their melodic hard rock that sometimes lies very close to metal. A bit hypocritical because people seldom objects to satanic bands just because of their image. To me, it’s all about religion and no matter what your beliefs are, I rate a band for their music, nothing else. The crowd that took place in front of Sweden Stage this afternoon, were not small but could have been a lot bigger, had it not been because of their religious beliefs. The band reunited in 2005 after a long break and have two great studio albums under their belt and is now touring their newly released cover CD. And the band is a fantastic live act, and as musicians, they are all impressive. Lead Singer / guitarist Michael Sweet is just an astonishing singer with an unbelievable range and guitar player Oz Fox is a true guitar hero. Fox and Sweet’s twin soloing is a joy to hear and drummer Robert Sweet is Mr Tight, playing with both groove and intensity. The whole band, including Tim Gaines on bass are such good singers, it’s ridicolous. The backing vocals are insane. No backing tracks here. Opener , the rather cheesy ”Sing Along Song” is a weird choice, but it works and second song up, the title track from their latest album ”Murder By Pride” is a killer live. For us Stryper fans out there a bunch of classics that were played. ”Loud And Clear”, ”The Rock That Makes Me Roll”, ”More Than A Man”, ”Surrender”, ”Free” and ”The Way” were all played, much to the audience’s joy. But no less than three covers, Ozzy Osbourne’s ”Over The Mountain”, Judas Priest’s ”Breaking The Law” and Black Sabbath’s ”Heaven And Hell” – too many, I think, no matter if your supporting a cover record. The band have way to many great songs and should have concentrated on those instead. The biggest cheer were given to their poppier hit ”Calling On You” and the heavy ”To Hell With The Devil”. To hear a metal crowd at Sweden Rock chant ”To Hell With The Devil” was an experience, no doubt. They finished the gig with… Wait for it… A prayer!!! Now, is that being both true and brave or what? I say respect. A great gig by a great band that deserves a lot more recognition for their music. One of the best gigs at SRF this year. Amen.
Rob Zombie – Festival Stage (9/10)
Ever since I got Rob Zombie’s debut Hellbilly DeLuxe in the late 90’s I have wanted to see him live. That CD knocked me off my rockers and I’ve been a fan since. So this booking was the highlight of the whole festival for me. My only issue was the time. Rob Zombie at 8 o’clock? When the it’s still light? This means he wouldn’t be able to use all of his light show that is so important for his show. Bummer, but there was nothing to do about it. So, I headed from the Stryper gig to the Rob Zombie show. How is that for a contrast? What surprised me when I got to the festival stage was that it was pretty easy to get a good spot almost in the front row just 5 minutes before showtime. I thought that there would be lots and lots more people there than it was. On the other hand more and more people were showing up during the show so I guess there were a big amount of people there in the end. Zombie and the rest of his monsters took the stage 5 minutes late and burst right into ”Superbeast”. The sound was good and the band sounded really tight. Zombie’s groovy music makes it impossible to stand still to on record and live we had both the grooves and Rob dancing around like a maniac, doing everything to encourage the audience to go as wild as possible. I’m not sure how it looked behind me but where I stood nobody stood still – not for a second. Songs like ”Dragula”, ”Living Dead Girl” and ”Mars Needs Women” were like a fist in the gut and there was no way you could stop moving. So what about the light show? Well, yes, it was missed but the music and the band were so strong in itself that Zombie easily made one of the best performances of the whole festival. Looking back, he should have hade the headline spot instead of Whitesnake. My wish is that Rob Zombie will return to Swedish shores for an indoor gig. If not, I’m very happy to have been here this evening.
Whitesnake – Festival (4/10)
This is the third time in not many years Whitesnake plays Sweden Rock and their second time headlining and they have failed to impress me both times before this. The condition for them to headline this year was to bring along some guests on stage, who were, of course held a secret until they were being announced on stage to build up some kind of interest. More of that later. The band have just released a new album that was surprisingly good that showed Coverdale’s voice in better shape than in a very long time. So hopes that he could deliver live were a bit higher this time. And yes, partly he did. His voice is still a shadow of it former self and he had lots of help from his band, but the crow like cawing of before was gone. And they opened up great, with a newer song ”Best Years” from their 2008 Bad To Be Good album. ”Give Me All Your Love” and ”Love Ain’t No Stranger” were excellent and it still sends shivers down my spine to hear the crowd help out with ”Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City”. So far, all is well, but, and it is a big BUT, they manage to kill the whole thing. Why? The naswer is: Guitar solos. To have the normally great Reb Beach and the dull Doug Aldrich masturbate on their instruments for 20 minutes is below all criticism and when the band comes back to play the mediocre ”My Wicked Ways” and then leave for a 10 minute drum solo from Brian Tichy makes you wanna beat them up. Yes, they’re all great musicians, but we all know that already. Play songs for Christ’s sake. The gig died then and there and when Cov introduced old member Bernie Marsden, who btw was extremely overweight and hadn’t played these songs for a long time, you were hoping for something cool. What did we get? ”Here I Go Again”. The US popmetal version. I don’t know wether to laugh or cry. ”Is This Love” follows, still with Marsden, who gets to stand way back with Cov not even giving him the time of day. Then introducing the next guest. Adrian Vandenberg. Wow, how exciting… He’s there for ”Still Of The Night”, in the background, playing rhythm and looking like he’s wondering what the fuck he’s doing there. He wasn’t alone on that. Then goodnight. One hour and 35 minutes. That’s too cheap considering 30 minutes were solos. Makes me wanna remove on point, but the strong opening saves that. This could have been Whitesnake’s way back, but all they did was to piss people off. Me, who has always loved the band, hopes this was the last we saw of them at Sweden Rock. Here’s a middle finger for ya!