Wednesday 7th June

Sweden Stage

Canadian rockers Helix are the band that replaced Y&T when they cancelled. To me, there’s not even a competition between them – Y&T are one of my all time favorite bands and the fact that they cancelled was the biggest bummer of the whole festival. That said, I think Helix were a good choice as a replacement – at least for me. See, even though they played Sweden a few times in the 80’s – and I was a big Helix fan back then, I never got around to see them. I did get my copy of Long Way To Heaven (1985) signed by the band, though. So, this was the first time I got to see them. Today, only singer Brian Vollmer is an original member even though bass player Daryl Gray and drummer Greg Hinz, two members from their most popular line-up when Helix were at the height of their game, have returned. The band kicked off the set with “Long Way To Heaven” and “Wild In The Streets”, both title tracks from 1985 and 1987 respectively – and it’s safe to say the energy was there. “Get Up” from their 2007 album The Power Of Rock ‘n’ Roll and the Get Up! E.P. (2006) is a good, kick-ass rocker, but it looked very much like most of the crowd – including me – didn’t really know the song and the high voltage attack went AWOL for a while.

“Even Jesus (Wasn’t Loved In His Home Town)” from their latest album Bastard Of The Blues (2014) worked a lot better. I have no clue how many of the punters this evening knows about Helix’s newer material but it sure looked like more people knew about this one than the previous song. I love the song and it worked very well live. “The Kids Are All Shakin'” (Long Way From Heaven) is a steady rocker with a catchy refrain that did its job well and the gig was starting to lift again. A Brian Vollmer solo song, “I’m A Live Frankenstein” showed up and I can’t for the world figure out why. Not that the song sucked eggs or anything but I would have preferred a Helix track – an oldie – instead. Same thing with the pointless bass solo. Yes, a bass solo!! Play actual songs instead of pulling stunts like this – nobody cares about solos at a festival! Then a song called “Danger Zone” appeared – apparently a left over from the album Back For Another Taste (1990) that appeared on their 1999 B-Sides album. The song was ok, never heard it before like so many others in the crowd, but it didn’t do anything to lift a concert that started out really good, but dipped pretty fast.

So it was about bloody time that “When The Hammer Falls” from their most successful album Walkin’ The Razor’s Edge (1984) came along and brought the party back on track. It’s a ballsy, rhythmic hard rocker with an instant melody that every Helix fan knows – and it showed, the crowd was back on track. Then Vollmer says that it’s time to play a song they haven’t played live for ages and the hard rock ballad “Never Want To Lose You” from their debut major album No Rest For The Wicked comes along. I have always loved that song and I think they nail it but the crowd really don’t eat it up and it falls kind of flat unfortunately. The next ballad, “Deep Cuts The Knife”, goes down better even though it’s more of a real ballad and less groovy. When the fast rocker “No Rest For The Wicked” punches us in the gut, it feels like Helix will win this over after all. That’s when the play a drum solo and we’re back to square one again. Duh!

But the trio of “Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'”, a kick-ass pop rocker, their first hit “Heavy Metal Love” which is more of a groovy, blues based pop rocker than metal and “Dirty Dog” brings things up again and when it’s time for Helix to bid their farewells, there’s only one song to do it with. Of course, “Rock You”, their biggest hit ever, is that song and with a chorus that screams “Gimme a R. O. C. K. – what you got? ROCK! And what you’re gonna do? ROCK YOU!” for the audience to answer back to, it’s impossible to lose. It’s impossible not to get carried away with the chanting there. Helix comes back for an encore, “Animal House” and I can only state that Helix played a very good concert here even though there were things that they could (should) have made different. Also, the sound wasn’t the best either, but apart from that, it was great to see that Helix still are an electrifying and energetic live act in 2017.