Friday 9th June

 

KIX
Rock Stage
8/10

American rockers Kix are a band that I have had a very soft spot for since the mid 80’s. Albums such as Blow My Fuse (1988) and Hot Wire (1991) are albums that I treasure dearly and I have a hard time thinking of anything more groovy than the band’s AC/DC goes pop rock’n’roll. And that’s also a fact that makes me wonder why Kix has never been booked for Sweden Rock before. I mean, their music is written for festivals like this. It also happens that Kix has never played Sweden before – at all so come rain or shine, I wouldn’t miss them for the world. Too bad that they played at the same time as another band I would love to have seen, King’s X, but this was a total no-brainer for me. The band still have all the original members – Steve Whitman (vocals), Brian Forsythe and Ronnie Younkins (guitars) and Jimmy Chalfant (drums) – except for the bass spot. Donnie Purnell was the band’s bass player – and ironically – their main song writer – but he has chosen not to participate in Kix any more. The bassist part is now held by one Mark Schenker. But 4 out of 5 is pretty damn good these days, innit?

The band takes the stage with their Bon Scott era AC/DC sound alike song “Girl Money” (Hot Wire). The low down yet groovy verse might not be the ideal opening but the stellar catchiness of the power pop chorus kicks the crowd into motion instantly. Following number “Red Lite, Green Lite, TNT” (Blow My Fuse) is more on the in-your-face kick-ass vein and might have been better as the opening number, but hell who cares. The band grooves, kicks-butt and seems to have the time of their life – and so do we! “No Ring Around Rosie” (Blow My Fuse) is a ballsy sleaze attack with a kicking chorus that’s impossible to stand still to and by now, there’s no doubt in the world that I made the right choice to choose Kix before King’s X. “Midnite Dynamite”, the sleazy ballcrusher of a song that is the title track of their 1985 album is a song that I find only ok on record but grows into a full-on monster live that works splendidly in the sunshine and with a cold beer.

“Cold Shower” from Midnite Dynamite is a song I had completely forgotten about but that won’t happen again. It’s another AC/DC meets pop tune with a chorus made for chanting along with and again, the pure sleaziness rocks the crowd hard. “Love Me With Your Top Down” is taken from their 2014 come back album Rock Your Face Off and even though it seems like not everyone is too familiar with the tune, it sounds exactly like a classic Kix song and it surely grows on the crowd because it’s a knock-out. “Hot Wire” is a fast, angry rocker that comes as close to metal that Kix will ever come, but it’s with all the important catchy melodies and the chorus makes the crowd scream the song’s title out loud. A ballad on a gig with a band that’s mostly known for sleazy hard rock might turn out wrong but “Don’t Close Your Eyes” is Kix’s biggest hit and the tune that almost broke the band huge in the states, so it’s must-play. And they totally nailed it – the whole crowd sang along to the chorus and the hairs were standing on my body – goosebumps!

After that, another one from their come back album called “Wheels In Motion” comes up. Even though it is a good, groovy tune, it’s somewhat forgettable and it shows pretty well that everybody in the crowd isn’t really familiar with it and the gig loses momentum for a while. But “Get It While It’s Hot” (Blow My Fuse) kicks things back into motion. This sleazy, dirty rocker made the crowd rock out like there was no tomorrow and it was clear that it is a well-known and loved tune among Kix fans. A Short (thank God) – and quite unnecessary guitar solo took place before one of the best party rock songs of all time made its appearance – “Cold Blood” – and to say that the crowd went wild might be the understatement of the year. People know and love this song – and I guess it was the one we’ve all been waiting for. The Rock Stage became one big party with everyone going off, jumping up and down and singing along to every word. It’s a mystery that the song didn’t ship Blow My Fuse multi platinum when it came out.

When the band went into “Blow My Fuse” directly after, it was clear that Kix stood as winners this noon. With its ballsy rhythm, sleazy groove and kick-ass chorus, the song kicked all of us right into next week. “She Dropped Me The Bomb” got to finish Kix’s debut at Swedish soil and it did so with all the glory. Afterwards, I was happy and exhausted – and I didn’t regret chosing Kix over King’s X one tiny bit. Kix were even better than I had hoped. Sure, there were some minor sound issues and yes, I did miss a couple of songs – how could they not play “Same Jane” (Hot Wire)? And I had, naïvely maybe, hoped to get to hear “911” (Show Business, 1995) – but those are really no big deals at all. The band themselves seemed to love every second of their gig and Steve Whitman – a somewhat goofy bloke – is a brilliant frontman, full of adrenaline, a great voice and shitloads of humor. I thought his head would be cut in half because of his constant smiling. Also, I was a bit surprised just how large the audience was, I had no idea so many people would turn up – and just how many actually knew all their songs. Please SRF, don’t let this be the first and last time Kix play the festival.

 

THE DEAD DAISIES
4 Sound Stage
8/10

This is a band that I have wanted to catch live for a couple of years now. I became a big fan of the band by the release of their 2015 album Revolucion even though I liked their self-titled debut from 2013. But it was with their amazingly brilliant album Make Some Noise (2016) that I realized that the Daisies would probably be around for the long run, it was the album that made the band go from a project to a band for real. So the booking of The Dead Daisies was one this year’s finest to me – and one of the most anticipating as well. I have also been a big fan of singer John Corabi since his days in The Scream – not to mention the fact that I adore the Mötley Crüe album from 1994 that he fronted. So I wasn’t about to miss one second from the band – that features Corabi, guitarist David Lowry and Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake, Dio, Revolution Saints, Lion, Bad Moon Rising), bassist Marco Mendoza (Black Star Riders, Whitesnake, Thin Lizzy, Blue Murder) and drummer Brian Tichy (S.U.N., Whitesnake, Sweet & Lynch, Pride And Glory) at their debut gig in Sweden.

They kicked off with the latest album’s opening track, the AC/DC laden “Long Way To Go” and it got a great reaction from the crowd right away. I’m not surprised as it is not only a great song but it comes with a swagger and a groove that is really hard to resist – especially for a crowd that’s in a party mood – rock ‘n’ roll, beer and sunny weather sure is a killer combo. “Mexico”, one of my favorite songs from Revolucion is next and by the looks of things, I’m not the only one who loves the tune. Corabi is in a good mood and he sings the song away and it hits right where it should. How brilliant. “Make Some Noise”, the band’s mix of Queen’s “We Will Rock You”, Warrant’s “Cherry Pie” and Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” is perfect as a live track and it’s not the hardest thing in the world to make a fun-loving festival crowd chant along to it – and boy did we chant. What a great song – and what a great crowd.

Next up is a cover – the first of many – of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Fortunate Son”. It lies on their latest album so it’s not strange at all that they play it and I believe they make a damn good version of the tune. I like the original too, but the Daisies’ version are better – and live it works like a charm. Doug Aldrich gets to do a guitar solo – totally pointless as it takes up space from one more song – before we get “The Last Time I Saw The Sun”, an ironic title since the sun is high in the sky, throwing rays of warmth upon us. The tune goes down brilliantly and the audience is with the band all the way here. Then they serve us another cover, “Join Together” by The Who. It’s also on Make Some Noise and since the tune is so damn sing-along friendly with a chanting chorus, it really hits home with the crowd and in unison, we sing back the chorus to the band. “With You And I” from Revolucion and “Mainline” from the new album follows and both goes down real well with the punters and it feels like the Daisies do have a great deal of fans in Sweden – people really know their original songs which makes for a great party this sunny noon.

The band finishes their gig with three more covers out of which The Beatles’ “Helter Skelter” is first. I’m not sure why they decided on playing it since it’s not on any studio albums. However, it is on the Daisies’ new live disc Live & Louder and Corabi used to play it with Mötley Crüe, but I had preferred another original instead. That said, the band does a brilliant version of it and it sure gets the rock party going. Next up is Deep Purple’s “Highway Star”, which is even more confusing. It doesn’t appear on any Daisies release and the band plays enough covers as it is, so why this one? But again, it’s a true rock classic and people are enjoying it, so what do I know? I admit I enjoyed the tune as well even though an original Daisies tune would have been my personal choice. The gig ends with The Sensational Alex Harvey Band’s phenomenal “Midnight Moses” from Revolucion, a favorite of mine that I’m happy they played. The Daisies makes it their own and it’s a brilliant choice for a show closer.

Just like the Kix gig, I was a bit surprised just how many people that showed up to catch The Dead Daisies this sunny day – and it looked like many knew their songs as well, not just the most obvious cover choices. And yes, speaking of the covers, half the set list were made up of cover tunes which is a bit too much, in my opinion. At least two – plus the guitar solo – could have been skipped. Because The Dead Daisies do have a whole lot of awesome original tunes and for me, songs like “Song And A Prayer” and “All The Same” are tunes that would have gone down really well this day – of that, I am sure. But the Dead Daisies proved that they are an amazingly good live act and not only because they’re all stellar musicians but also because they are all frontmen. To watch Corabi, Aldrich and Mendoza rock out is a joy and even Tichy is a showman that’s impossible to miss. Lowry holds himself in the background more without being invisible or going Bill Wyman on us. If they play your town, go and see them – you won’t be disappointed!

RATT
Rock Stage
7/10

The last time I saw Ratt at Sweden Rock, I was very disappointed. I had never seen the band’s original line-up before and even though Robbin Crosby isn’t with us anymore, this was the closest thing I would get. Stephen Pearcy (vocals), Warren De Martini (guitars), Juan Croucier (bass) and Bobby Blotzer (drums) were joined by John Corabi on rhythm guitar and since I’ve been a fan – well, at least of their three first albums – for a long, long time, I had looked forward to that gig tremendously. But Ratt failed to deliver that day. First of all, they started with a bunch of half obscure songs from their debut E.P. – nothing wrong with those songs but they aren’t exactly hits – but what was worse, the band sounded out of time and unrehearsed. In all honesty, it was drummer Blotzer who couldn’t keep time at all, speeding up and slowing down his rhythm all the time. Weird as I always thought that Blotzer was a really good drummer. It would take them half their set to get things in order but by then it was too late.

With Blotzer gone – replaced by Jimmy DeGrasso (Black Star Riders, Y&T, White Lion, Suicidal Tendencies, Megadeth) – and ex- Quiet Riot guitarist Carlos Cavazo taking Corabi’s place it was time for revenge for the band. Opening up with “Wanted Man” (Out Of The Cellar, 1984), it was clear that Ratt would make sure that everyone was with them from go – and everybody was. “I’m Insane” from the same album is a bit more obscure, but it’s a fast, ass kicking rocker and everybody knew that one as well and by the end of “Dangerous But Worth The Risk” (Invasion Of Your Privacy, 1985), there was no doubt that Ratt would let this gig slip out of their hands – and the big crowd was with them all the way. “Walkin’ The Dog”, the Rufus Thomas cover they recorded for their debut E.P. is not an obvious choice to play live, but they made it work. Still, I got the feeling that not everyone agreed on the song being a great choice to play – and I might have been one of them.

Reach For The Sky (1988) might not be Ratt’s most loved album and I think the album is good rather than great, but it still contains some really good songs and “Way Cool Jr” is one of them. The band played it with groove and fire and it got a great reaction from the crowd. “You Think You’re Tough” is my all time favorite Ratt song and I’m glad that they included it in the set this night – especially when you consider the fact that they didn’t make it work the last time they played SRF. It sounded awesome this evening and I couldn’t have enjoyed myself more. “In Your Direction”, however, should have been left at home. It’s one of the weaker tracks from Out Of The Cellar and maybe it was just me, but I sure felt that it got a colder reaction from the punters than the previous songs. “Lovin’ You’s A Dirty Job” from the very underrated 1990 album Detonator got a big welcome from the crowd – and it should. It’s a great song with a big groove and Ratt nailed it this evening.

Groove is also the word for the brilliant “Slip Of The Lip” (Dancing Undercover, 1986) with all the right elements to make a crowd rock out and Ratt did just that – rocked out with the crowd! “Nobody Rides For Free”, however, is a bagatelle and there’s a reason for why the song was only released on their compilation album Ratt & Roll 81 – 91 (1991) – it’s a leftover and why on earth they decided to bring it along this evening is a mystery. That said, it was a perfect moment to head to the bar for some refreshments.  “Lack Of Communication”, on the other hand, is an awesome rocker and it brings things back on track again. The Invasion Of Your Privacy hit duo “Lay It Down” and “You’re In Love” brings down the biggest cheer of the evening and the songs are such classics that you can’t go wrong with them – and Ratt totally blew me away with them. “Body Talk” is another fast, groovy and ballsy rocker that is more or less a must-play for the band these days – and again, they kicked down the walls.

Two Out Of The Cellar killers ended the set – first “Back For More” and then, of course, “Round And Round”. The first sounded better than I have ever heard it before and the crowd was there for the ride and when the opening riff for the latter took off, the whole place exploded and it felt like we were back in the 80’s again. And then – goodnight. For the most, Ratt played a really good gig – they sounded fresh, fit and tight and even tough Pearcy’s voice sure have seen better days, it sounded a lot better than I had expected. That said, the guy was hardly Pavarotti to begin with. But he has a personal voice and he’s a fantastic frontman and a true rock star. DeGrasso has also brought in new life into the band and gone is Blotzer’s sloppy, untight playing and Warren De Martini is still an amazing – and underrated – guitarist. Carlos Cavazo does his job well and feels like a natural choice for the band and even though Juan Croucier’s stage moves looks kinda funny today – let’s face it, the guy is hardly as fit as he was back in the day – he’s entertaining and a tight bass player. When it comes to the set list, well, there are a few songs that should never have left home and there were a few missed – “Dance”, “Givin’ Yourself Away”, “You Should Know By Now” to mention a few, but for the biggest part, Ratt were convincing and proved that the there’s still life within the band.

 

SCORPIONS
Festival Stage
4/10

It was a long time ago since the Scorpions were a huge draw as a live act, a live act that one just can’t miss. I remember seeing them at the Monsters Of Rock festival in 1986 and they totally blew me away – Scorpions in the 80’s were the shit! I didn’t see them again until 2004 when the played SRF on their Unbreakable tour and I wasn’t overly impressed with what I saw then. But when they came back in 2007 and brought with them their original guitar player Uli Jon Roth to guest on a few songs, it looked like the band had gotten a breath of new life and they felt very alive and vital and in their luggage they had a brand new album, Humanity: Hour One, their best album since Savage Amusement in 1988. Another great album followed in 2010 called Sting In The Tail and all of a sudden there was hope for ze Germans. But since then a bunch of things have happened. In 2015 they released an underwhelming album called Return To Forever and then they fired drummer James Kottak (ex Kingdom Come, Warrant) because of his drinking problems. The only good thing about that was that they recruited Mikkey Dee (ex King Diamond, Don Dokken, Motörhead), a beast of drummer and a percussion entertainer. So I wasn’t sure about the SRF booking this year – would they still be a convincing live act or do they have their best years behind them?

Well, first of all they started with a new song, “Going Out With A Bang”, and the question is how many in the crowd had any idea of what song they played. C’mon guys, it’s a festival and since most of Scorpions fans today are fans of the golden years, hadn’t it been smarter to kick off with a classic? Needless to say, that opening didn’t work all that well. “Make It Real” from Animal Magnetism (1980) fared lots better and I love the tune. But. There was something missing. Where was the bite? The attack? The spark? The same thing happened with “Bad Boys Running Wild” (Love At First Sting, 1984) – a song that normally grabs you by the throat and never lets go. For me it was just a shrug of the shoulder. “The Zoo” (Animal Magnetism) is one of my all time favorite Scorps tunes, a song that usually grooves like crazy. But tonight, it was good but nothing more. The instrumental “Coast To Coast” (Lovedrive, 1979) is a really good song and it was the best song so far. Surprising and interesting that an instrumental worked better than the previous played classics.

A Scorpions 70’s medley with the songs “Top Of The Bill” (In Trance, 1975), “Steamrock Fever” (Taken By Force, 1977), “Speedy’s Coming” (Fly To The Rainbow, 1974) and “Catch Your Train” (Virgin Killer, 1976) worked as a charm and maybe, more 70’s stuff is the way to go for Scorpions. But “We Built This House”, a regular pop song from the latest album brought me back to the ground again – how dull. They followed that with a Matthias Jabs solo thing called “Delicate Dance”, a piece that went completely nowhere and only made me wonder what was up next. I’ll tell you what was up next – a ballad medley. Yes, “Always Somewhere” (Lovedrive) is a great ballad but “Eye Of The Storm” (Return To Forever) and “Send Me An Angel” (Crazy World, 1990) sure aren’t and the whole thing just turned into a big yawn. So how do we shake things up again then? The answer: Another ballad. Hello “Wind Of Change” (Crazy World). Yes, I know it was a huge hit for the band and that they must play it, but I hate the song – always have, always will and after a soft solo spot and a ballad medley, that song sure wasn’t the medicine.

So it was time to rock out and do some rocking then. “Rock ‘n’ Roll Band” from the latest album kicks in – and I couldn’t care less. This was getting unbearable so thank God for “Can’t Get Enough” (Blackout, 1982) – at least some high voltage, aggressive hard rock – and they did do a really good version of it. Then Mikkey Dee is introduced as the new Scorps guy and as a tribute to Lemmy, Dee’s late boss, they decide to play a cover of Motörhead’s “Overkill”. Nice gesture, but it falls flat. Firstly, the guitars more or less disappears from the song for a (too long) while, making the song sound like a bad rehearsal and secondly, Klaus Meine’s voice on top of that song sounds just wrong. Then Mikkey gets to do a drum solo. No matter how entertaining Mikkey Dee is, drum solos are just plain boring and this is where I decide to take my leave and head back to the VIP area for a drink instead.

This meant that I missed “Blackout”, “Big City Nights”, “Coming Home”, “Still Loving You” and “Rock You Like A Hurricane” but it didn’t matter, the show had been over for me for a while by then. The fact that Scorpions are out on their farewell tour feels like a logical step after watching them this night. There was no spark, no passion and everything and everyone – except Mikkey Dee – just felt tired and old and there are little remains of the band that used to kick ass hard, the band is more or less a shadow of its former self. Compared to Aerosmith, it’s like night and day. Maybe it’s time for Scorpions to just say goodbye and let the band rest in peace.

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