GOTTHARD – Rock Stage (7/10)
Things hasn’t been easy for Gotthard lately. A couple of years ago, their beloved lead singer Steve Lee died in a motorcycle accident and since he was extremely important for Gotthard’s sound, nobody knew whether the band would would continue or not. But they found a new singer in Nic Maeder and they recently released a new album called Firebirth. Maeder proved to be a brilliant replacement to Lee, at least on record. His voice is similar, but he still has his own touch, so he is not a clone by any means.
This tour is Maeder’s trial by fire. Will he be able to cut it as a frontman as well? And will the audience accept him?
Their first appearance on Swedish soil with Maeder would turn out to be not an easy one, because, hey this is Sweden and it just had to rain at least one day at a festival. Unfortunately for Gotthard, it rained almost all of the Friday. Fortunately for them though, was that it had stopped pouring down. Still, it was wet and cold enough for the atmosphere to be somewhat distant. It’s not that fun to watch a band while it’s raining and of course that rubs off on both band and audience. Still, the guys were kicking it all the way, but the response from the cold punters were for natural reasons a bit off. But, I must give it to the band, they were trying hard and they played a very good gig. Maeder also proving that he is a great frontman that managed to fill Lee’s shoes, maybe not all the way through, but enough to show everyone that Gotthard are here to stay.
The band went through ”Remember It’s Me” from the new album, but the album is a bit too new and I don’t think even half of the audience had even heard it. Still, it worked surprisingly well. But best response did the old stuff get. Of course. ”Anytime, Anywhere” and ”Lift U Up” got the crowd going wild. Gotthard had a tough task getting a rainy crowd going, but in the end, they did a very good job. However, I am pretty sure that my ratings would be at least one more star, had the weather been better. Damn the rain!
MOTÖRHEAD – Rock Stage Friday (6/10)
You really can’t go wrong with Motörhead. They never play a bad gig and always deliver the goods. I have seen them on several occasions as they are more or less the Sweden Rock house band. They play the festival every second year and they have never made me disappointed. And they didn’t this year either. However, for some reason they weren’t as good as I am used to. For the first time ever, Lemmy seemed a bit tired. I mean the guy turn 67 in December so he has every right to be, especially when you consider the life he has lead, and still leads. But I’m not that used to see him act that way. That said, he delivered during the songs, for the most. Still, Motörhead is the perfect band for a festival.
They have shit loads of classic rock songs that could make a paralysed person get up and kick ass and even if you’re not a fan, there will always be a bunch of songs that you know. They were lucky as well because when they went on, the rain had stopped falling and the sun broke through the clouds. Party time! They had also made some changes in their set list as well. Unusual numbers like ”The One To Sing The Blues” and ”Just Cos You Got The Power” were mixed with classics such as ”Bomber”, which of course featured the plane in the their light rig that came down, ”Overkill”, ”Iron Fist” and ”Killed By Death” that featured Andy LaRoque (King Diamond) on guitar and Whitfield Crane (Ugly Kid Joe) on guest vocals. And I really love ”Going To Brazil” from my favourite album 1916. And yes, no Motörhead concert is complete without ”Ace Of Spades”. You might have heard that one a million times, but it still works so extremely well in a live environment. I would rate this as a good gig and it is always great to see Motörhead, but I have seen them better.
TWISTED SISTER – Festival Stage (8/10)
This is the third time Twisted Sister played Sweden Rock. The first time they played, back in 2003, they were recently reunited and sounded thereafter. They were un-tight and felt badly rehearsed. But it was fun to watch them as I had never seen them before, but to say that they were great would be a lie. Next time, in 2009, I got bored after four songs and left. So my expectations weren’t exactly mountain high. But to my surprise, it was a relaxed, well rehearsed and tight band that took the stage and this time. There were nothing more than the band playing their songs. No make up, no wigs, no huge show except for a little bit of fire, just a rock band having fun. Dee Snider, now in his mid fifties is still fit as hell and still has a killer voice with a broader range than many might think. As a frontman, the guy is a genius. It’s very rare that you see somebody holding the audience in the palm of the hand the way Snider does. Sölvesborg should be lucky that he didn’t ask for a metal revolution or something because my guess is that the whole place would lie in ruins after that. The other guys are what they have always been. Pretty mediocre musicians.
The biggest surprise there must be drummer A.J. Pero, who usually is Lars Ulrich un-tight, this night kept a steady beat, and to see bass player Mark Mendoza assault his bass is always a treat. But the guitar players are a mystery, especially Eddie Ojeda. When you have been playing for at least 40 years there is no excuse for sounding like a beginner. Jay Jay French isn’t as bad, but not any good either. Enough of that, Twisted Sister have never been about virtuosity, they’re about rocking – Hard.
Tonight their setlist made an old fan like me happy. I got into the band years before they made it big so to hear a lot of their oldies made me happy. To hear killers like ”What You Don’t Know”, ”The Kids Are Back”, ”Sin After Sin” and ”You Can’t Stop Rock’n’Roll” really made my night. Although I had hoped for ”Shoot ’em Down”, their best song ever. And I loved that they brought ”Wake Up (The Sleeping Giant)” from their underrated album Love Is For Suckers back to life. Of course the hits had to be played. ”I Wanna Rock”, ”We’re Not Gonna Take It” and ”The Price” might make you wanna puke because they have been played to death, but no Twisted Sister gig is complete without them. And tonight it was great to hear them.
I don’t know how this band managed to sound so good all of a sudden, but it looked like it was a relief for the band to skip all the theatrical stuff and just go out there and rock. A really good way to end an otherwise dull day.