I really thought that Crashdiet were done when their third singer Simon Cruz left after two albums with the band. For a long time, there was only quietness in the Diet camp except for guitarist Martin Sweet who formed his own project Sweet Creature. Then bam, a new singer was found a young dude called Gabriel Keyes and a new single – “We Are The Legion” – was released on New Year’s Eve. And the single turned out to be damn good as well. So one of the main reasons, apart from me actually digging this band, was of course to check out Gabriel and see how he sounded live and what kind of frontman he was. It was an early gig, at 12.15, not the ideal situation for a band like Crashdiet, that confides pretty much on a great show. Now they played as one of the first bands of the day with the bright sun high up in the sky, all they had were themselves and their songs. And as I wrote, they had a new singer to present for a large crowd. If that’s not a trial by fire I don’t know what is.
The band kicked off with “Tikket”, “Riot In Everyone” and “So Alive” before they gave us the latest single “We Are The Legion”. Did it sound good? Hell yeah. The band was on fire and determined to make up for last time. Gabriel Keyes then? Well, I’ll get to him in a bit. “Down With The Dust” fell a bit on the way-side and felt a bit obscure, really, but “In The Raw”, my second favorite Diet track ever, kicked our asses so hard none of us could sit for the rest of the day and “Falling Rain” is the hit that never was, a brilliant song that worked like a charm. “It’s A Miracle” is a pop-ballad that worked better than I thought it would and “Cocaine Cowboys” from their most dark and obscure album The Savage Playground was fueled with adrenaline and is perfect for a gig like this – how brilliant. “Miss Pain” that went into “Rebel” were both ok just like “Queen Obscene / 69 Shots” but none of those are any favorites of mine so they were kind of a dip in the show for me. The closing with “Generation Wild” however was glorious. It’s an anthem, their “Rock And Roll All Nite” I guess and it rounded up things brilliantly.
First up – no “Chemical”. No “Chemical”!!! It’s outrageous – at least for me as I think it’s easily the best song they have ever written. I am disappointed that they left that one out. Gabriel Keyes then? well, the guy obviously got a great voice – he’s probably the best singer they have ever had, so no complaints there. But it was pretty clear that he lacked experience as a frontman and that the stage were a bit too big for him. At least at first. In the beginning of the show he seemed very nervous, almost hiding behind his band mates and he was too… careful. But the longer the show went, the more confidence he gained – probably much to the great response he and his band got – and at the second half – or so – of the show, the guy was everywhere and had gone from pretty insecure to fearless. Potential? Yeah, you can say that. I’m pretty sure the guy will be one bad-ass frontman in no time. I don’t know about you but Crashdiet proved that they have a whole helluva lot to bring to the table still.
I dig Steelheart. At least their two first albums. The rest of them, I’m not that sure of and their latest effort Through Worlds Of Stardust was a fairly uneven creation. The last time they played SRF, I thought they sucked. I was so disappointed that I left after three or four songs and I was actually very surprised they were booked again. However, I’m in for giving bands a second shot so there I was strolling away to the Festival Stage to see if they could convince me this time. So the band opened up with two songs from the “Rock Star” soundtrack – “Blood Pollution” and “Livin’ The Life”. Ok? They carried on with “Gimme Gimme”, the weakest track of their self titled 1990 debut. It was first by song # 4 – “Like Never Before” – that they played at song that I recognized or liked. Then a song called “Cabernet” from their third Wait album. I don’t like that album and I don’t like that song. “You Got Me Twisted”, the best song from the new album followed and finally some action. Great song. Then the brilliant power ballad “I’ll Never Let You Go” which was followed by the kicking rocker “Everybody Loves Eileen”. Yes, now we’re talking. So they played “My Dirty Girl”, not the best song of the new album at all. Man…! That’s when we decided to leave. Yes, we missed “She’s Gone” but it didn’t really matter because I was bored by then.
The final judgement of Steelheart’s gig will be this: It wasn’t as bad as the last time they were here but it sure wasn’t great either. The reason is because Steelheart simply play the wrong songs. First of all, Steelheart were never that big in Sweden to begin with and they certainly haven’t become bigger since Miljenko Matijevic resurrected the band in 1996. I get that they want to showcase their new songs, but not one tune from the underrated 1992 album Tangled In Reins? And too few from the debut, the album most people know. No “You Can’t Stop Me Loving You”? The big hit! On the good side, the band seemed to have a good time and Matijevic still got one hell of a set of pipes. They didn’t suck this day but they didn’t convince me either.
This is one review I never thought I’d be writing. I have known about Destruction for most of my adult life but I have heard very little of their music. When this German Thrash Metal trio started playing in the mid 80’s, I hated Thrash. I hated everything that was harder, faster and heavier than Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Accept and so it would continue until the mid 90’s or so. And I’m still quite dubious when it comes to old 80’s Thrash bands so it’s safe to say that I’m clueless to Destruction and what they’re about. Song titles? Forget it, I’m totally oblivious to what songs they were playing this evening. In fact, I shouldn’t even be writing this – and I wouldn’t have done so if they had sucked. They didn’t suck. Actually, they were great. First up, they are way more melodic and even catchy than I thought or remembered they were. Second, the guys may be old but they still have shitloads of energy to bring to the table. They’re hard, rough, aggressive and furious but at the same time, they know how to write songs, songs that stick, songs that works from the stage, songs that are contagious enough for a guy like me to stay on for almost the whole gig. Why I even went there? Well, because a friend of mine was on my case, telling me over and over again that I should go and at least check out the odd song or two. He talked me into it and I gave him the benefit of a doubt. This was the biggest – and only actually – surprise of the festival for me. Yes, Björn, Destruction are a really good band. Must check them out properly.
It’s been a couple of years of ups and downs for Judas Priest lately. First they released a new album, Firepower, that turned out to be a big success and the best album they have released since Defenders Of The Faith in 1984. And at the same time, guitarist Glenn Tipton revealed that he had Parkinson’s Disease. He was diagnosed with it years ago but now it had taken its toll – he could no longer tour. Priest said that their co-producer Andy Sneap would take his place on the stage but that Tipton was still a member of the band and would still participate in future song writing and recordings and maybe, if he had the strength, he would guest on some of the gigs, something we all hoped would happen this night. So in the wake of their best albums in decades, Priest would once again headline SRF, something I looked forward to. But I wondered how it would look. Richie Faulkner is now a full member of the band, fully accepted by the fans as K.K. Downing’s replacement – he have indeed been a vitamin injection to the band. But no Tipton? Would that work? Wouldn’t it look to weird? We were about to see.
The band took the stage all guns blazing with “Firepower”, a total knock-out of a song. It was clear that most of the fans knew it and it set the standard for the rest of the show. Classics like “Grinder”, “Sinner” and “The Ripper” made us all happy as kids in a candy store and they followed that with their single “Lightning Strike” and it was there and then it was clear just how well the new stuff stands to the oldies in the set. “Bloodstone” and “Saints In Hell” are both unexpected titles to hear in the set but was anyone disappointed by those songs? I think not. Turbo might be one of the most discussed albums in Priest’s career but its title track “Turbo Lover” is today seen as a Priest classic and no live set would be complete without it. It’s also way heavier live than on record. Awesome! “Tyrant” is one heavy beast, perfect in the set and “Night Comes Down” is a dark, slow and heavy moment – and a favorite of mine. And it sounded brilliant. “Freewheel Burning” is fast and furious – and awesome and “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin'” is Judas Priest’s let’s-get-the-crowd-to-sing song. It always works and even though I’m not really that fond of it, it always works great live – it must be in the set. “Hell Bent For Leather” kicked our butts before the band closed the set with another must – the band’s take on Speed Metal, “Painkiller”. Magnificent ending!
Of course an encore is expected. One of my fave songs from the new album, “Rising From Ruins”, is the first encore and it sounds amazing. Maybe this too is a future Priest classic and a must for every live show. Let’s hope so. And when it’s time for “Metal Gods” it finally happens – Rob Halford introduces Glenn Tipton and SRF goes totally mental. It was easy to see on the big screens that Glenn was very touched by the reaction. He stayed on for the rest of the encore – “Breaking The Law” and “Living After Midnight” – and even though it was clear to see that he struggled with his guitar parts, he sounded great which was a joy to see. Priest came, saw and rocked the hell out of us. What a great gig. How about Sneap then? Well, he stayed true to the melodies and Tipton’s style so sound wise he did a very good job. But I must admit it looked weird to see him in Tipton’s place at first. But like everything else, you get used to it and after a while I didn’t even think about it – much to the fact that Priest sounded so awesome. This really was the perfect way to end this festival.