Afterparties. Those are more or less mandatory at our cozy little cottage that we’re renting when we’re at Sweden Rock, aka Our Home Away From Home. They have a tendency to happen every night and there are always some suspicious, but often very nice and well-behaved creatures of the night that we manage to pick up on our way home when the last band has played. Now, I always attend those but I often go to bed before morning light, at least half of the times, but this year, I watched my clock turn 5.30 while listening to both music blasting from our stereo and birds singing away outside while the sun rises every damn night. Of course, this year also has a 12 o’clock must see band every day. Luckily enough, I never get hung over, as in sick, at SRF and therefore after a steady breakfast consisting of yoghurt, coffee and sandwiches, I’m fit for fight. Oh yes, almost forgot, a shot of Fernet Branco as well. Those are also mandatory. So how can a band like Madam X be a must see, you might ask. Well, they’re really not, see, I’m not really a fan, but I remember when we wrote 1984 and I dug bands with a strong image, like Mötley Crüe and W.A.S.P. Madam X fitted right in there. So I bought their album after reading about them in our only music magazine OKEJ. Fact is, Madam X got so much coverage in that mag that as a kid, you’d think they were huge when in reality they hardly sold any amounts of records at all. Anywhere. So they split up. I dug their debut and only album We Reserve The Right for about a year until even I had enough and realised that they weren’t that great a band. But this is nostalgia and even though Madam X’s reunion seems a bit odd and unnecessary, to be frank, I really wanted to see and hear what this band looks and sounds like in 2014. The band opened up with “Dirty Girls” and “She’s Hot Tonight” and it was easy to state that the songs had not aged gracefully. Aged gracefully was something lead singer Bret Kaiser had not done either. His tight shirt revealed a beer belly and I’m not sure if he wore a wig or not, but the thing on his head looked more like sleeping skunk than a hairdo. His voice was ok, though, even though he couldn’t reach the high notes he does on the album. “Come One, Come All” still has one of the most ridiculous choruses ever written – cheesy doesn’t even begin to describe it – but there are some groove in the verses and it got the front row going. “We Reserve The Right” and “Stand Up And Fight” are two songs I find ok even to this day and they do work pretty good here as well. One of the best things with this concert was to watch and hear Roxy Petrucci (Vixen) play. The girl is a brilliant drummer and hasn’t lost any of her skills, she’s easily Madam X’s biggest asset. Still, there are no use for drum solos at festivals, no matter how good a drummer you are and this solo should have been left out. Just like her sister Maxine’s guitar solo should have been, that she played right after “Good With Figures”. Maxine Petrucci leaves me baffled. She’s not a bad guitarist, but she’s nothing special either. She plays fast and she’s technical, but so boring. Just like she is on stage. She hardly moves – God forbid her hair should be messed up because of head banging – and her pointless efforts with sticking her tongue out just looks ridiculous. “Metal In My Veins” is the song that has aged the best and a song I never liked before, but here it sounded really good and their new single “Another 80’s Rock Song” wasn’t that bad at all. Best of all, though, was bass maniac Chris “Godzilla” Doliber. The guy is a complete bulldozer on stage and he managed to cut himself so he started to bleed and throw up behind the amps. The guy is also a really good bass player. The last song was, of course, their “hit” “High In High School”. It drew the biggest cheer of the day, but I have always found it somewhat overrated. Madam X drew a pretty big crowd, but most people who attended weren’t fans, if the laughter, shaking heads and comments are anything to go by, which I’m pretty sure they are. People were there only because Madam X happened to be playing, to see the freak show before the freak show is no more. I’m pretty sure that if Madam X would book their own tour, they wouldn’t even sell out the local pizza place. It was fun to watch the band that were all over our one and only magazine back in the 80’s, but I wouldn’t bet on Madam X going anywhere this time either because the fact is that Madam X is known more for the fact that former Skid Row singer Sebastian Bach once replaced Bret kaiser in the band for five minutes, than for their music.
I know that many of you haven’t ever heard of The Night Flight Orchestra, but I need to point out that if you haven’t lent this band an ear, it’s time to do so now because their album, Internal Affairs is one of the finest pieces of music that I have the pleasure to own. Everybody should own it. This album is a clear 10/10. That’s why it’s kinda weird that I only gave it a 9/10 when I reviewed it. I guess it grew on me. When you read the names of the guys in the band’s day jobs (Björn Strid – Soilwork, David Andersson – Soilwork/Mean Streak, Sharlee D’Angelo – Arch Enemy/ Spiritual Beggars, Jonas Källsbäck – Mean Streak, Richard Larsson – Von Benzo) it’s easy to be fooled that this side project is another one of those brutal and screaming bands that the members usually belongs to. But nothing could be further from the truth. No, Night Flight Orchestra is a classic rock band and in the their sound you can hear stuff as diverse as 70’s Kiss, 70’s disco, pop, soul, rock ‘n’ roll and melodies that could have come from 70’s detective TV shows like Kojak or Baretta – so very, very, damn cool. Prior to The Night Flight Orchestra being booked to this festival, I had never heard that they played live or toured. I thought this was just a project they did for fun, but since I dig their album so much, this booking was one of the best this year. Of course, they got to play the festival’s smallest stage, but the intimate atmosphere actually made their concert even better. However, I was a bit nervous about how this would sound. Would these guys deliver the goods? Well, you bet your ass they did. It only took a few seconds into the opening song “California Morning” for the groove fest to emerge and that never left. “Montreal Midnight Supply”, “Glowing City Madness”, “Siberian Queen”, “Miami 5:02” were all brilliant and when I had to leave for a quick while to get us some cold ones as the day was hotter than hell, I only could dance myself to the bar. The band themselves were genuinely happy to be at the festival and singer Strid repeatedly told us how grateful he was that we had chosen them over Danger Danger. A bit of a bummer for me as D2 are a band I would have loved to see as well, but the two bands didn’t clash totally, luckily enough for me. I would head over to the Festival Stage to get the last of D2’s set, but this was a band I wouldn’t have missed for the world. “Internal Affairs” and “1998” were swinging with the best of them and I can’t help but be totally impressed by these musicians. Everyone’s in the band are really good musicians, but D’Angelo impressed me the most, he is one brilliant bass player. He would play later on with his melodic death metal outfit Arch Enemy, but here he was the king of groove together with drummer Källsbäck. They finished their way too short set with “West Ruth Ave” and the hair was standing up on my arms. Boy, do I hope that the guys will continue with this project as a real band in the future. If they do, make sure you pick up their record and DO NOT miss this if they play a venue close to you. The best band of the whole festival!
The Night Flight Orchestra’s only album reviewed here:
Damn those band clashes. When Danger Danger last played Sweden Rock in 2004, all I could hear about was what a brilliant gig they played and just how awesome that was, so I was really curious to see and hear what the fuss was about. Of course, D2 would be the victim of the only band clash this festival for me, but since The Night Flight Orchestra has released one of my favourite albums and I wasn’t sure whether NFO would be just a one-off, I had decided to watch their whole set. But luckily enough, I wouldn’t miss the whole D2 set, there would be some 30-40 minutes left for me to watch. Besides, if truth is to be told, I have never been a big Danger Danger-fan. I have a couple of burned CDs by them, but they always hit me as a more glammy, second-rate Bon Jovi and even though the band contains some really good musicians, especially former guitarist Andy Timmons, I have never been interested in the band that much. But while I was at the bar for a couple of cold ones in the middle of NFO’s set, I could hear D2 kicking their opening track “Rock America” into motion and from where I stood, they sounded good. Really good! Dammit!! On our way from the Rockklassiker Stage to D2’s gig I could hear the ending of “Don’t Blame It On Love” and yes, it still sounded really good. To hear lead singer Ted Poley talk about how ridiculed D2 has been for their double-word band name and also the fact that people has made fun of their song titles like “Bang Bang” and “Naughty Naughty” and with his finishing line: “so let’s just have that: fun fun”, that just speaks volumes. The guy has shitloads of distance to everything D2, which is releaving. It was also damn releaving for us to enter the front row just when they was about to start “Bang Bang”. Now, I have always found that song a bit too much on the cheesy side, but this mid day, “Bang Bang” was the best song in the world. It was a sunny day, we had our friends and we had beer and D2 played a monster version of that song and wherever I looked, people were smiling, singing along and having a blast. I will never look at that song the same way again. D2 won me over right there and then. “Beat The Bullet” kept us on our feet, but when Poley announced that “I Still Think About You” was about to get played, I thought it would be a good chance to buy me another beer. Don’t get me wrong, I love power ballads, some of them, but this one’s never been a favourite. On my way to the bar I spotted one huge guy that looked like a biker, one black metal dude all dressed in black with an inverted cross on his shirt and one guy covered in his favorite metal bands pins, badges and patches and they were all singing – no, screaming along to the chorus. On my way back to the stage I was singing it too. It turned into one of those power ballads that I really like after that. “Crazy Nites” and the brilliant “Monkey Business” made us smile, sing, dance and have a damn good time. Also, singer Ted Poley must be one damn happy camper. The smile on the guy’s just wouldn’t leave. He’s a damn great frontman for sure. Also, I have never looked at Poley as a great singer, so he impressed the hell out me here. At 50 years old (he looks at least 10 years younger), he still has his voice intact and this guy just don’t do sour notes. This gig was also the home-coming of Swedish guitarist Rob Marcello (Laney’s Legion, Shotgun). Marcello’s name has been around for some time now, but the first time I heard him play was with Shotgun in September last year and he impressed me a lot. He kept doing that this day as well. The guy is just f**king phenomenal. With a really tight rhythm section in Steve West (drums) and Bruno Ravel (bass), this was tight as hell. The concert ended with their biggest hit “Naughty Naughty” and the crowd went ape. Danger Danger made one of the finest concerts at this festival, but if I shall be honest, I’m really not sure if it was just the band or if it was the atmosphere, the weather, my great mood and the bands happy-go-lucky kind of songs. No matter what, D2 were one helluva surprise. Thumbs up!
1983 was the year I became a Y&T fan. I had just seen the video for their then brand new single “Mean Streak” and I was completely floored. The album with the same title was bought the next day and the day after that, their previous albums Earthshaker and Black Tiger stood proud in my collection. I bought evrery album after that and every year I hoped that Y&T would come to my little country and play. They got real close when Monsters Of Rock decided to tour Europe in 1984, but Sweden wouldn’t take all bands, of f**king course and brought only Mötley Crüe, Van Halen and AC/DC. Y&T, Ozzy Osbourne and Gary Moore were left behind, thank you very damn much! It would take me until 2003 before I got to seem them live for the first time and it was at Sweden Rock. Me and my friends had talked about going to SRF for a couple of years by then, but we never got around to it. When Y&T were booked, there was no way in hell that I would stay home, so we collected a big gang of friends and went and I have been going to SRF ever since. That 2003 gig was one of the best concerts of my life and I was at the front, jumping up and down and going all teenager again. Funny enough, that concert and the fantastic reception the band got was the sole reason that Y&T decided to get back together again for real, because the band was on a long hiatus before that. They came back to SRF the next year and they have been playing Sweden every year since that. The last time they played SRF was in 2009. Now they’re back and I am just damn happy that they are because if there is one predictable thing with Y&T, it’s that is that they always puts on a brilliant gig. They are never even just good, they are always awesome and things hasn’t changed this year either. The opening with “Mean Streak” and “Don’t Stop Runnin'” was just mind-blowing. I had goosebumps from the first chord. To play the ballad “Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark” as song number three at a festival is a bold move, but Y&T gets away with it. Dave Meniketti – the only original member of the band – has an impressive stage presence, even though he can’t really move that much as he is the lead guitarist and the lead singer. Having reached the golden age of 60, he still has a brilliant voice with a great range and his playing is just amazing – heart, soul and a bit of technique as well. He is one of my favourite singers and guitar players out there. “Hang ’em High” is a forgotten pearl and usually not in the set so that was really cool to hear again and “Midnight In Tokyo” and “Black Tiger”, well, you just can’t go wrong with those classics. “Winds Of Change” is a classic ballad and a nice little breather before “new” song “I’m Coming Home” kicks our asses. The song is “Forever”‘s kid brother and therefore it works real well despite the fact that most people might not be familiar with it. Same goes for “I Want Your Money”, one of the last songs that bass player Philip Kennemore wrote before he passed away. His replacement Brad Lang had some major shoes to fill there, but he has proven to be a very good choice. This gig was Lang’s first with Y&T at SRF and it was easy to tell that he had a great time up there. “Contagious” is always a great tune at Y&T’s gigs and the instrumental “I’ll Cry For You” is just so damn beautiful. It’s a joy to watch and listen when Dave Meniketti squeezes his guitar to that song. “Rescue Me” is probably Y&T’s most popular song – and one of their best – and no Y&T show is complete without it and “Summertime Girls” from their most scolded album Down For The Count has turned into a Y&T live killer. The song has some major poppy undertones and many a fan has criticized it for being an ungraceful attempt to score a chart hit back in the day, but I guess the tables has turned. I have always loved the song, though. Y&T ended their show on a high with “Forever”, another song a Y&T gig can’t be without and they leave us happy but exhausted. Very close to a 10/10, but I have one complaint: “I Believe In You”! That song is a must and they could easily have left out “I Want Your Money” or “Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark” instead without anyone having a say about it. Besides that, this gig was one of the best and as Y&T are one of the best live bands out there playing today. I wouldn’t mind if they could be SRF’s house band. I would welcome them with open arms every year!
Y&T Facemelter review here: