The reason for this one-off gig was to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the album Organized Crime, to many Treat’s finest moment. I’m bound to agree on that – at least it’s their finest moment on their first round as a band, a round that ended in 1993. It’s puzzling why that album didn’t make Treat superstars back in 1989. To 1989 standards, it had everything – the sound, the songs, brilliant musicians, the looks. Why that album didn’t break the band big is anyone’s guess and to me it’s a mystery. So when Treat throws a party this evening – the first time with their old-new bass player Nalle Påhlsson who left the band in 2012 and has now returned to replace his replacement Pontus Egberg who left the band earlier this year – it’s with focus on Organized Crime. As a fan, I was excited as there are many songs on that record I have never heard live. Sadly enough, for different reasons I missed openers Art Nation. A bummer because I really like that band.
However, the first part of the show was based on new material. For many reunited bands, something like that is unthinkable but since Treat refuses to go the nostalgia route, always moving forward, releasing new albums, they have gotten a second chance and the new stuff is totally embraced by their audience. They open with “Skies Of Mongolia”, a song usually saved for the encore. I have never thought of the song as an opener but it turns out it’s perfect as such. Everybody – more or less – knows the tune. It’s a fat, rhythmic rocker that gets the crowd going in no-time. The slower paced, darker and heavy rocker “Ghost Of Graceland” continues the show and already by then it stood clear that Treat would rule this night. “Papertiger”, the hit that never was but should have been, might have been released in 2010 but is as much a classic as their classic classics, so to speak. It always draws a cheer and gets everyone going. What an amazing opening.
What struck me quickly though, was that guitarist Anders Wikström’s guitar was very low in the mix, something that annoyed me some. The solos came out louder but the rhythm-guitar was hardly audible at times. Well, those things are usually corrected throughout the gig so it was just wait and see. The upbeat and brilliantly catchy “Inferno” followed before it was time for a couple of Tunguska tracks. “Best Of Enemies” is a punchy rocker with a chorus to die for. It was the first time I heard it live and I’m happy to say the tune was spot-on. Same with “Riptide”. With it’s beefy groove, crunchy riffing and striking melodies, it felt like it was written for the stage. Brilliant. The half-ballad “We Own The Night” has never been a big favorite of mine, something I seem to be alone in thinking. Still, people love the track and it works very well live. The last tune before Organized Crime time was the uptempo Melodic Rock belter “Roar”. Just like it’s pal “Papertiger”, it’s a modern Treat classic that has to be played. Awesome!
They kick off with the album’s opener, Treat’s own “Still Of The Night”, “Ready For The Taking”. The heavy groove and Zep-influenced riffing with a headbang-friendly beat makes the tune a total winner live. I always loved the song and it’s strange that it never became a hit back in the day. The happy-go-lucky “Party All Over” is another obvious live-track that’s self-evident as soon as Treat hits the stage – anytime, anywhere. It goes without saying that the song brought the party atmosphere up to yet another level. But Patrik Appelgren, where did the keyboard part in the chorus go? It should be there and I missed it. “Hunger” is a brilliant song that I always thought should have been a single back in the day. A stompy rhythm and a massive refrain makes the song a winner and I can’t think of one reason why this one’s never played live. It’s a live-killer and by the reaction this night, the fans dig the tune big-time.
The same with “Home Is Where The Heart Is”. It’s a straight-forward rock-groover, pretty raunchy and in-your-face with hooky melodies everywhere. It worked like charm this night, sing-along-friendly as it is. “Mr Heartache” is faster in pace and mixes Classic Rock with Treat’s brand of Melodic Rock. The big chorus and the bouncy beat makes it a live-winner that could make a paralytic get up and dance. More awesome catchiness comes along when “Gimme One More Night” is up. Mid-paced, crunchy with hooks enough to sell in both verse and chorus, the tune is probably my favorite on Organized Crime – and Treat delivered a killer version this night. “Fatal Smile” is one of the more obscure tracks on the record (you can actually sing the chorus of Europe’s “The Final Countdown” to the chorus here) but with a galloping rhythm, a striking main melody and a refrain that sticks from go, it hits home. Seems like the song isn’t that obscure after all.
Everybody knows “Get You On The Run”. Even non-fans knows it. It was a hit already back in 1985 when it was first released as a single, taken from their debut Scratch And Bite but it was given a new shot on Organized Crime. A re-worked version with slightly different lyrics was supposed to give them a hit abroad since it was only a hit in Sweden in 1985. That didn’t happen, unfortunately. I prefer the Organized Crime version but no matter which version is your favorite, no Treat gig is complete without it and this uptempo ballad always gets the crowd going and this evening was no exception. But the biggest song from the record must be “Conspiracy”, an uptempo melodic Hard Rock tune with more hooks than a fisherman’s hat, a refrain that’s catchy as hell without being sugary at all and as the icing on the cake, Anders Wikström’s genius solo. It’s another tune played at every Treat-gig – and rightfully so. Awesome tune. And that was it from Organized Crime.
As an encore we got the latest album’s leading single, the half-ballad “Build The Love”. That song was the only setback this night. For me, that is. The crowd seemed to dig it but to me the tune is underwhelming. I could think of 20 songs I had preferred to hear. But the band performed it slightly heavier than on the record which made it better. And it’s not like it ruined my party. The gig ended with “World Of Promises”, the only track older than 30 years this night. This is Treat’s “Rock And Roll All Nite”, the song that ends every set and as always, the crowd goes completely bananas over it. The uptempo rock-groove, the party-outlook and the sing-along refrain of sing-along refrains makes the tune a perfect set-ender. Bang boom!
Some questions did pop up in my head. What happened to Wikström’s guitar? It was so low in the mix throughout the whole gig and I kinda missed the crunch. Why was the ballad “Stay Away” and “Keep Your Hands To Yourself” left out? They are on the album that was celebrated. I’m not overly fond of “Stay Away” but the rowdy boogie-grooved rocker “Keep Your Hands To Yourself” would have been great. Why was the keyboard-part in “Party All Over”‘s chorus removed? I don’t have any other questions….
Here’s the deal, Treat are an amazing live-act – they have always been one – and they never play a bad gig. They’re all stellar musicians – Wikström is probably the most underrated guitarist Sweden has ever brought to the world, technical, melodic, emotional, sparse when needed, great precision and tone – and without putting Pontus Egberg down, the guy’s a fantastic bassist, it’s nice to have Påhlsson back in the band. There really is something special with the rhythm section of him and drummer Jamie Borger, there’s some major chemistry going on between them. Borger is also a world-class drummer, always impressive to watch and a showman. Also, as a 60+ year old, Robert Ernlund sings with more conviction and authority than in his younger days. As a frontman, he’s always been flawless and that remains to this day. Thanks for the party, guys – I had a fabulous time.
1. Skies Of Mongolia
2. Ghost Of Graceland
5. Best Of Enemies
7. We Own The Night
9. Ready For The Taking
10. Party All Over
12. Home Is Where The Heart Is
13. Mr Heartache
14. Gimme One More Night
15. Fatal Smile
16. Get You On The Run
18. Build The Love
19. World Of Promises