Saturday 8th June

Rock Stage

I love the Electric Boys and they’re a superb live act but for reasons I can’t put my finger on, I have missed them the last couple of times they’ve been around my block – and the last time they played SRF – and I have regretted that every time. Their brand of groovy-laden Hard Rock mixed up with twists of both Classic Rock, Funk and Pop – and lately even Soul is perfect for a festival. Add to the fact that it’s the last day of the festival so people are pumped up and ready to rock, they play early afternoon and the sun is up and we all realize that the success is more or less inevitable. As long as the band themselves is on fire. The latter I’m not worried about at all, I have seen Electric Boys on numerous occasions and they’re always on fire. Their biggest issue here is that they have a somewhat short play-time and they have both a big bunch of classics but also brilliant new material from the three albums they have released since their reunion in 2010. A luxurious problem, I know.

They open with their latest album’s leading single and opening track “Hangover In Hannover”, a brave move at a festival where most people wants to hear the classics. But it works and gets people on their toes right away. They follow it with “Suffer”, a song released as a single months before the new album but never ended up on the actual album. It’s a killer track with a killer groove and the crowd seem to dig it even though it looks like most of them don’t know it. Another brave move. “Groovus Maximus”, however, is a bonafide classic that everybody knows and the place starts rocking to the swinging rhythm. It’s impossible to stand still to this one. The same with the instrumental swinger “Swampmotorfrog”, another newie. It’s a bit surprising how well the tune is received when you think about it’s a new one plus an instrumental. But grooves, cold beer and sunshine has always been a working combo.

With a song like “Electrified”, you can do no wrong. The groove is endless, it’s a true classic and a monster of a song – no Electric Boys gig is complete without it. New song “Gone Gone Gone” is one catchy MF, perfect for the stage and works thereafter, “Knee Deep In You” was never a hit but has turned into an Electric Boys classic and it works up the crowd and “You Spark My Heart” is the hit that never was but I’m sure it will be a standard in their set for a long time to come if you look at the crowd’s reaction – people seem to really love it. Since Electric Boys now got two drummers as Niclas Sigevall lives in L.A. and can’t be used for all European gigs, long-time stand-in Jolle Atlagic is now also a permanent member of the band. Sigevall played alone for the first half of the set but then Atlagic was rolled out on the stage behind his kit and the band had two drummers playing for the rest of the gig – and it was amazing how well the two played together.

A striking rocker with an instant groove like “Rags To Riches” comes with a beat that could make a crippled dance like John Travolta gets an even more thunderous rhythm with two drummers and this noon, this track was an absolute winner. “Angel In An Armoured Suit” from the come-back album …And Them Boys Done Swang is another tune that has turned into an E.B.- classic that totally kills live and new track “First The Money Then The Honey” could very well be one in the future. According to the crowd’s reaction, it already is. Fantastic. They close the gig with their trademark number “All Lips n’ Hips” as always and as always, this ultra-groover does its job, kicking as much butt as possible.

The fact that Electric Boys played no less than six new tracks – and by new, I mean songs recorded after their reunion – and still left as winners is impressive. Festival gigs are usually classic only and even though I love when bands present new shit, I too can be a “play the classic, dammit” when I’m at a festival like this. But Electric Boys gets away with it, for some reason their new songs works almost as well as their old classics and much of that must have to do with them having a loyal following that gets into their new records and not just their old stuff. As a live act, Electric Boys are the shit, always have been. They’re tight, extremely groovy and consists of colorful members that knows how to work a stage. Conny Bloom really is an exceptional frontman – and an ace guitarist. I will never miss Electric Boys at a festival again!

Rockklassiker Stage

Success! If there is one word that can describe Tunisian rockers Myrath’s first experience on Swedish soil, it’s that word. Despite the fact that Myrath has been around since 2007 (2005 if you count the days as X-Tazy) and has released five albums including the new one Shehili, I very recently discovered them. I was floored by first listen so this gig was one that I looked forward to the most besides the reunited Easy Action. I had no idea what to expect or how many people that would turn up for the gig, truth be told I thought that the big Rockklassiker tent would be half-full since they’re not that well-known in Sweden. Boy, was I wrong. The tent was so crowded you’d have to get a shoehorn to squeeze another fan in there. I’m sure this must have surprised the band as well. There has also been talk of Myrath having a quite spectacular show as well. More to look forward to.

The fact that I’m really green as a fan of the band makes me not that well-versed when it comes to song-titles, for now, so I won’t be mentioning all the titles played in this review. It was clear from the opening track, “Born To Survive”, that the band was on fire which rubbed off on the crowd – we were right with the band from go. Singer Zaher Zorgati worked the crowd with a natural charisma and smoothed the audience with a “thank you, my friends” in Swedish. “You’ve Lost Yourself” and the new album’s leading single “Dance” brought down a storm and after three songs it stood clear that Myrath could have been given a bigger stage. The members – and especially Zorgati – came off as true professionals that could have taken over any stage at festival, something they actually did later on. The more catchy tunes like the singles like “No Holding Back” from the new album were the ones got the audience going the most but the roar that “Believer”, a single from the last album Legacy, tore down was this evening’s true winner.

When the band closed with the atmospheric and somewhat progressive “Shehili”, I must say I was absolutely stunned. As for the show, the band had brought with them a belly-dancer, a big throne and a magician, to add more Oriental mysticism to the gig and it worked splendidly. Another proof of Myrath’s success was when one of SRF’s promotors stated that SRF had never seen such a major success by an unknown band ever and therefore they were offered to play the Rock Stage when it was clear that Behemoth had been stranded at an airport in Frankfurt and wouldn’t be able to play. I would have moved my ass over there if I had got that info earlier on. Myrath were awesome and I hope they come back on their own later on – not a chance I’d miss them. And neither should you. A top three at this year’s festival!

Festival Stage

The fact that Ritchie Blackmore now has put together yet another version of Rainbow is a bit bittersweet, to be honest. Firstly, I’m not sure just how into it he really is. He has said so many times since leaving Deep Purple how sick he is of playing Rock and I have a feeling it’s something he feels he must do before it’s too late, not that he necessarily wants to do it. Secondly, with no new music out, wouldn’t it have been cool if he’d just reunited with some classic Rainbow members instead of a completely new band. I know that’s not Richie’s way but since he’s obviously not about to do this full-time, then why not? Another issue was just how good this would sound. Blackmore hasn’t played Rock in a long while even tough he did some occasional gigs last year. Besides, he’s getting older and when it comes to The Man In Black, expectations are naturally set high.

The Man In Black, right? Well, not anymore. When Rainbow opened with “Spotlight Kid”, Blackmore came out on stage wearing his usual Robin Hood wardrobe he’s been wearing when he plays with Blackmore’s Night. It’s hard not smirk about that. Blackmore himself looks either bored or angry and the fact that photographers are only allowed during the first three songs makes Blackmore standing far back on stage during those songs and after the third song he moves forward. Typical Blackmore manners. “Spotlight Kid” is a great song but the band isn’t exactly on fire which rubs off on the 30 000 something crowd. But it gets better when “I Surrender” kicks off. The song is a crowd-pleaser and it works. But “Mistreated” brings back the subdued atmosphere even though new singer Ronnie Romero sings the living daylight out of the song. Man, “Mistreated” is an awesome song and should bring the roof down, if there had been one.

“Man On The Silver Mountain” with a snippet of “Woman From Tokyo” inserted gets things going again but neither the mighty “Perfect Strangers” or “Black Night” manages to bring the spirit up further. They’re by no means bad but I lack balls and attitude here. And the instrumental “Difficult To Cure”, Blackmore’s take on Beethoven’s 9th symphony, falls flat much because of Ritchie’s sloppy and nonchalant playing. I think back to the first night when Dynazty’s Love Magnusson completely nailed the tune with Joe Lynn Turner. But then something happens. The pop-rocker “All Night Long” start to shoot off some sparks and both band and crowd gets going and Blackmore even smiles – more than once. “Stargazer” is a masterpiece and is a must, of course, and the band makes sure it strikes where it should – easily the best song and performance of this gig.

The spark turns into fire with the two closing tracks “Long Live Rock’n’Roll” and “Burn” and I feel that the concert ends where it should have begun – with a band having fun and going for it. Of course (well with Blackmore nothing is sure) we get an encore and a monkey could have figured out which song that would be in two seconds. “Smoke On The Water”. Yawn! Yes, they do it well, they actually seem to have fun doing it and yes, the crowd, who became much thinner after only a few songs, dug it big time. And yes, I know it’s a must-play. But personally, I have never been that big on the song and by now I’m so tired of the tune, I never want to hear it again ever. I left for the VIP area when the opening riff came through the speakers.

While it was great to see and hear Blackmore play Rock again and parts of the show was really damn good, there were a few downers as well. A bit too many, actually. Firstly, his new band is somewhat anonymous. Romero is an amazing singer and does a good job fronting the band and keyboard-player Jens Johansson (Stratovarious, Yngwie Malmsteen) is probably the best keysman you can find today. But his Blackmore’s Night pals, bassist Bob Novueau and drummer David Keith hardly made a big impression. Of course, Ritchie brought his wife Candice Night as a background singer. Also, since this is billed as Rainbow, it is Rainbow songs I want to hear but tonight five out of thirteen songs were Deep Purple songs. I understand that Blackmore wants to do some Purple when he’s out rocking since he’s not in Purple anymore but I still feel cheated on a whole bunch of Rainbow tunes. The feeling afterwards stays bittersweet even though I’m glad that I got to see Blackmore one last time. Because I don’t think he’ll do that much more Rainbow after this.

Photo: Hanna Henriksson (Myrath), Jompa (Electric Boys, Rainbow)