Sweden Rock Festival 2009

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4

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Norje Havsbad, Solvesbörg - June 3-6

The 2009 edition of the Sweden Rock festival, now in its seventeenth year, saw the promoters try a more even-handed approach to the line-up than the previous few years. Instead of spending an enormous amount of money on big-name headliners, leaving less for the rest of the bill, they decided to book more mid-level bands, in terms of commercial success etc. and give the line-up more strength in depth. This saw bands like Twisted Sister and In Flames, who would have been further down the list in previous years, headline, meaning bands of the calibre of ZZ Top, Foreigner, Journey, Dream Theater, Europe and Motörhead could occupy the next tier of spots, and the likes of Rage, The Outlaws, Blackfoot, Forbidden, UFO and similar filled up the bulk of the rest.

In terms of organisation the event hadn't changed much from it's previous winning formula. It remains one of the best organised and run festivals on the European circuit and only tends to be let down by third-party companies. In the case of the 2008 festival the shuttle buses to nearby towns were the worst aspect of the event, run by local companies, they were infrequent, regularly late, and the timetable didn't match the set-end times of the bands. This year's was a marked improvement, with twice as many buses (one per hour) and shorter journey times. They still had the problem with the timetable though, particularly between the Rock Stage headliner and the Festival Stage headliner. Just like last year the last bus before 1am left 15 minutes before the Rock Stage headliner finished, meaning fans couldn't watch the whole set and leave before the main headline band started. They then had to wait until the end of the festival to get the next bus if they did choose to watch the Rock Stage band. This would have been solved by simply moving that inconveniently timed bus half an hour later. One simple adjustment would have made a huge difference.

Otherwise the festival had no major problems from a customer-facing perspective. There were no cancellations, no delayed sets and very few technical problems. The toilet facilities held up well, and after the first day so did the water taps. The only difficulty to contend with was set to be the weather, which was less than stellar compared to previous years.

Day 1

June 3

In line with the festivals new band-booking policy the shorter opening day was surprisingly packed with high-calibre bands, topped by former Iron Maiden singer Blaze Bayley and Uriah Heep above bands like Amon Amarth, Deathstars and Witchcraft, making it the strongest short day since the first one in 2007.

The weather gave a strong indicator of what it was going to be like for the rest of the week. Reasonably warm, with spells of blazing sunshine, interrupted by occasional clouds on a strong wind. Cloud cover would never draw many complaints at Sweden Rock, as the normal climate is one of clear skies and searing heat. But the problem was every cloud, no matter how light and innocuous it looked, carried at least a little rain, and this first presented itself as early as Innocent Rosie's set at around 16:00 and again during Deathstars set an hour or so later.

It never amounted to anything serious however, and didn't disrupt an otherwise excellent warm-up day.

Bands reviewed:
Amon Amarth | Deathstars | Innocent Rosie | Sevendust | Witchcraft


Sweden Stage
Capacity 12,000
16:15 - 17:15

A lacklustre third album from the German glam-industrial outfit, who had previously reached the height of their popularity so far with Termination Bliss, seems to have carried over into their live show.

Far less dynamic than on previous tours the whole band, with the possible exception of enthusiastic newest member Eric Bäckman on guitar, gave a very flat performance and barely managed to get any significent portion of the crowd particularly excited. Sweden Rock is unlikely to be the kind of rock festival to attract a large number of Deathstars fans anyway, so there was always a high chance they'd have their work cut out.

Normally extravagant front-man Andreas Bergh was uncharacteristically subdued while Emil Nödtveidt and Jonas Kangur just wandered around playing their parts without really trying very hard. The pedestrian new songs didn't really help, sounding too much like a by-the-numbers retread of the popular Termination Bliss songs. Mark of The Gun was the only new track to hold its own while the album's title track Night Electric Night, The Fuel Ignites and Blood Stains Blondes all failed to spark much interest.

Similar reports have been issued following shows on their European headlining tour a few months prior as it seems fans are still coming to the shows, but to hear as many songs from the first two albums as possible. It may be that the new ones haven't had long enough to be established yet, and in the case of their Sweden Rock set it may be they felt deflated by the beyond-underwhelming crowd they had to play to, but that would be rather unprofessional if it were the case. Either way their set will not be talked about in years to come as one of Sweden Rock's great performances.

“ a very flat performance ”

Setlist: Night Electric Night / Motherzone / The Greatest Fight On Earth / Mark of The Gun / Tongues / The Fuel Ignites / ?? / Synthetic Generation / Blitzkrieg / Blood Stains Blondes / Cyanide / Death Dies Hard

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Sweden Stage
Capacity 12,000
18:30 - 19:30

After a couple of surprisingly good albums which succeeded in turning the heads of a few who had previously dismissed them, Atlanta's alt-metal favourites took the spot of Disturbed from last year's line-up (although further down the bill). Sweden Rock always tries to cater for as many tastes as possible in rock music, and books at least one alternative band every year.

But just in case anyone in the modest Sweden Stage crowd didn't know who the band were, vocalist Lajon Witherspoon made sure to say "we are Sevendust" at least 30 times during the set, often slowly to make sure it sunk in. This might have been to try to get the crowd interested because the performance was otherwise largely flat.

Lively bassist Vincent Hornsby tried his best to run around and interact with the audience, but he was struggling against the tide as guitarists Clint Lowery and John Connolly did very little while Witherspoon exuded too much arrogance to win anyone over. The set was also poorly chosen. Just two songs from previous album Alpha and even more surprising, just one from new record Chapter VII: Hope And Sorrow, and the set suffered for it with far too many similar tracks back-to-back.

Sevendust don't get the opportunity to tour Europe very often, and so the few fans in the audience understandably enjoyed their set, but everyone else seemed unconvinced. A better selected set might have made the difference, or less pleading for recognition from Witherspoon. It's hard to say.

“ too many similar tracks ”

Setlist: Inside / Alpha / Pieces / Denial / Clueless / Suffocate / Waffle / Praise / Ugly / Black Sabbath jam > Master of Puppets jam > Walk jam > Bitch / Face To Face

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Zeppelin Stage
Capacity 8,000
19:45 - 20:45

Over the course of their three albums to date Witchcraft's '70s styled rock has been making considerable headway outside of Sweden amidst quite a lot of interest in a kind of retro-rock revival, so travelling fans were perhaps more eager to see them than locals.

And so, with a few drops of rain falling from time to time, the band's disappointingly subdued set went out to an equally subdued crowd. Many familiar songs that have been mainstays in the set since the release of The Alchemist in 2008 remained, but not many people in the audience seemed too familiar with most of them, returning little more than polite applause each time.

The band's sound didn't help. They were too heavy and too loud, losing all of the subtlties that are a big part of their music on record. One of the main attractions of a lot of their songs is the interplay between guitars, drums, bass and keyboards and a lot of that was lost under a thick, fuzzy guitar sound that made it hard to distinguish some of the songs, let alone enjoy them. Buried vocals compounded the problem.

Witchcraft seem to suffer from this same problem quite a lot, and being a less than lively band, they don't compensate with a visually entertaining performance. And there shouldn't be any need as they are a true music fan's kind of band, attracting fans who want to stand and watch good musicians play good music. But if they can't hear it properly, there's very little point.

“ losing all of the subtlties that are a big part of their music ”

Setlist: Queen of Bees / No Angel Or Demon / ?? / The Alchemist / Witchcraft / Shyssta Logner / ?? / ?? / ?? / ?? / ?? / If Crimson Was Your Colour

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Day 2

June 4

Day two this year carried with it a lot of the festivals anticipated heavy hitters. The overdue return of ZZ Top to Europe was big news this year, and no other festivals were included in their plans, while shows from Tyketto, Flogging Molly, Dan Baird & Homemade Sin and The Outlaws were also rare and quite a coup for SRF.

The big sets were from bands who tour a little more regularly and have in most cases played SRF before. Hammerfall, Volbeat, Candlemass and Twisted Sister were, along with ZZ Top and Rainbow tribute act Over The Rainbow, expected to be the big crowd-pullers, and that proved to be precisely the case as Thursday sold out first. A few of these bands clashing, particularly Over The Rainbow and Hammerfall, and The Outlaws and Volbeat, caused many fans some problems, but for the most part today was one of the best examples of the SRF organisers' attempts to structure to bill to minimise clashing of similar bands. Doom fans particularly fared well as Grand Magus only had Dan Baird to compete with, and Candlemass played opposite H.E.A.T..

The weather was still slightly problematic, but no more so than it was on Wednesday, and certainly not as much as it would be on Friday, and a hugely packed Gibson Stage did a superb job of filling in any lulls in activity on the other stages, with bands of almost every sub-genre from death metal to '80s sleaze rock playing throughout the day.

Bands reviewed:
Candlemass | Grand Magus | Rage | Volbeat | ZZ Top


Festival Stage
Capacity 35,000
16:30 - 18:00

Taking the same main stage doom metal slot Trouble took in 2007 and being Swedish, they drew a sizeable crowd for their first show of 2009, and their first time playing songs from new album Death Magic Doom.

The Robert Lowe-fronted line-up of Candlemass has proven to be tighter than any before, and the old songs sound fresher with Lowe's voice. The band, apart from Lowe, don't move around much while playing, and are therefore a little lost on a large stage but the mix of old and new in their set showes undeniable strength in depth in their catalogue of songs.

Their selections for the new setlist from the older albums were perhaps a little predictable (ever since the reunion with Messiah Marcolin in 2002 they've only played songs from the first four albums plus some from new albums recorded this decade), but Dark Are The Veils of Death and Solitude in particular reached their full epic potential, while new songs Hammer of Doom and The Bleeding Baroness (one of the best on the new album), and Emperor of The Void from the previous album held their own amongst such recognised classics.

The sets two most pleasing points were of a different nature, but equally enjoyable. If I Ever Die, the rather mundane and disjointed opener of Death Magic Doom, fared far better in a live setting than it does on record, but the ace was saved for the encore, when the band pulled out a brilliant cover of Rainbow's Kill The King, surprising near enough everyone. Candlemass's set can be counted comfortably amongst the festival's successes.

“ undeniable strength in depth ”

Setlist: Mirror Mirror / Dark Are The Veils of Death / Samarithan / If I Ever Die > Hammer of Doom / At The Gallows End / Emperor of The Void / The Bleeding Baroness / A Sorcerers Pledge // Solitude // Kill The King

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ZZ Top

Festival Stage
Capacity 35,000
20:00 - 21:30

Although probably one of the most predictable bands to play this year's festival, ZZ Top were probably also one of the most welcome, having not toured Europe for several years. Their set, and indeed entire performance, could probably have been scripted by most fans beforehand, and they didn't disappoint with plenty of the hit songs from the '80s albums, a handful of the bluesier '70s tracks and the only song from the heavier bluesy '90s albums they ever play, Pincushion from Antenna (1994).

Disappointingly no new songs were aired from the slowly-forthcoming new album, and no songs from 2003's Mescalero, which was never toured in Europe after its release. The setlist seemed to be intentionally structured, opening with a hit '80s song, the playing a string of '70s songs most fans wanted to hear, and ending with six popular songs a larger number of people would be familiar with. What this indicated is that ZZ Top know exactly what their genuine fans want from them, but still feel the need to satisfy the wider audience.

Now all 60 years old (Billy F. Gibbons is 60 this year) the band still move well, play as well as they ever did, and sound great. They can still deliver the performance everyone expects, and their sporadic studio activity of the last 20 years shows they still have what it takes in the song-writing department. All that's missing is a drastic change of setlist. It's unlikely any genuine fans would mourn the retirement of songs like Legs, Gimme All Your Lovin' and Sharp Dressed Man, even if these were to be replaced by popular but less well known tracks from the same discs like Rough Boy, Give It Up and My Head's In Mississippi.

“ still move well, play as well as they ever did, and sound great ”

Setlist: Got Me Under Pressure / Waitin' For The Bus > Jesus Just Left Chicago / Pincushion / I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide / I Can't Tell My Faith / Cheap Sunglasses / I Need You Tonight / Cat Fish Blues / Foxey Lady / Heard It On The X / Just Got Paid / Gimme All Your Lovin' / Sharp Dressed Man / Legs / Tube Snake Boogie / La Grange / Tush

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Day 3

June 5

The third day carried the most controversy regarding its headliner, with large numbers of regular festival goers unhappy with In Flames being put in such a lofty position. But again, with a band of their stature in a headline slot, extra money was available to fill the rest of the bill with more bands than normal, including coups like Johnny Winter, Eric Sardinas, Demon, Neal Morse and THOR, who all barely played any other festivals this year.

The day also presented some of the week's best performances. Reports suggested Foreigner surprised a lot of people with the quality of their set, Johnny Winter stunned everyone with his guitar prowess despite the rain, Motörhead delivered as they always do and UFO and Kamelot battled out the same time-slot to equally rapturous crowds, also in the rain.

Unfortunately all of those great bands clashed with others, and choices today were difficult. As well as clashing with each other, Kamelot and UFO were also on at the same time as Enforcer, and overlapped Demon by fifteen minutes, who also clashed by half an hour with Lita Ford. Johnny Winter and Motörhead shared the same slot, as did Foreigner and Eric Sardinas.

With so many good bands the festival's usual policy of trying to only clash bands with different groups of fans didn't quite come off today. But at least with such a strong line-up, everyone would have a busy day, even if it meant missing a few others.

Bands reviewed:
Demon | Enforcer | Eric Sardinas | Jon Oliva's Pain | Voivod

Jon Oliva's Pain

Festival Stage
Capacity 35,000
13:30 - 14:45

High-profile shows for Jon Oliva and company are rare, and in recognition of that fact he always tries to put together a special set to mark the occasion, like he did for his one and only (to date) UK appearance at ProgPower II in 2006 when he played the entire Streets album by Savatage.

His sets do tend to be very Savatage-heavy in their composition (no bad thing, most would say), which either indicates a lack of faith in his new material or, more likely, an understanding that the bulk of his fan base come from his days with his former band. But the most genuine Savatage fans would probably rather Oliva played his own material, as Circle II Circle (featuring former 'tage vocalist Zak Stevens) play theirs, and the surviving members finally got together for the reunion they've long hinted at but never followed through on.

And so, in a twelve song set, only two Jon Oliva's Pain songs were actually played, and neither of them came from the latest CD, although admittedly the only track from latest album Global Warning which could have enhanced the set is Master. The remaining ten tracks were from the Savatage catalogue, some of which were expected (Hall of The Mountain King, Gutter Ballet) and some were not. In particular Of Rage And War, this set's "something special", which Jon has not played live since before his brother and Savatage guitarist Criss died in 1993.

Other tracks, like Tonight He Grins Again, Believe, Chance and City Beneath The Surface are far from ever-present in Jon's sets, and every one was greeted with rapturous applause. Jon's band were as tight as could be, trying their best to make up for their leader's limited movement (Jon injured his knee falling from his bus just before the ProgPower II gig and has walked with a cane ever since) and Jon's voice was on top form. Friday's performance of the day.

“ very Savatage-heavy ”

Setlist: City Beneath The Surface / Sirens / Through Eyes of The King / Of Rage And War / Chance / Maniacal Renderings / Tonight He Grins Again / Gutter Ballet / The Hounds > Believe / Jesus Saves / Hall of The Mountain King

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Sweden Stage
Capacity 12,000
15:00 - 16:15

To support their new album, not released at the time, Voivod were hitting several major festivals for their first European dates since 2000 and their first Swedish show since 1999.

Again with original bassist Jean-Yves Thériault in place of Jason Newsted and Dan Mongrain replacing deceased guitarist Denis D'Amour their tour cycle is in support of new album Infini, noted for using D'Amour's final guitar parts recorded at his home on a laptop. The album hadn't actually been released yet, so only one new song was included (Treasure Chase) in an otherwise entirely predictable set of their best-known tracks.

This meant (disappointingly) nothing from D'Amour's real last album (he died during its recording and left instructions with the band as to how he wanted the riffs he'd recorded used for the complete songs) Katorz, nothing from the albums recorded without Denis Bélanger on vocals, second album Rrröööaaarrr, The Outer Limits or reunion album Voivod; half of their studio output.

What remained were the popular cuts from the popular albums, opening with the almost-incoherent thrash of their eponymous song from debut album War And Pain through to perennial set-closing Pink Floyd cover Astronomy Domine. Although a band revered for their innovating, their most popular songs are strikingly similar, and that doesn't normally make for a particularly engaging live set, but while Bélanger is a strange front man, singing most of the songs with a kind of nonchalance like the vocals weren't that important, they were somehow still entertaining.

“ entirely predictable set ”

Setlist: Voivod / Panorama / The Unknown Knows / Ravenous Medicine / Overreaction / Tribal Convictions / Treasure Chase / Global Warming / Tornado / The Prow / Brain Scan / Nothingface / Nuclear War / Astronomy Domine

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Zeppelin Stage
Capacity 8,000
17:30 - 18:30

Demon's sporadic activity of the last few years continued with more occasional live appearances this Summer, but still no new material. Their appearance at Sweden Rock was expected though, after they played the Sweden Rock Cruise at the end of 2008.

Their performance, and the majority of their set, was business as usual, with vocalist Dave Hill and guitarist Ray Walmsley providing most of the visual entertainment ahead of a subdued Dave Cotterill on guitar and bassist Andy Dale. Still with no new material since 2005's brilliant Better The Devil You Know (which they don't play any songs from anymore, likewise 2001's Spaced Out Monkey) the setlist draws from their most successful albums Night of The Demon, The Plague, The Unexpected Guest and Taking The World By Storm.

In fact the set has barely changed since 2007, with just Life On The Wire from Breakout being drafted in to replace Rememberance Day (A Song For Peace) from Taking The World By Storm. This means that a total of six of the band's eleven albums are completely omitted from the current live show. And it's not as if these albums are weak either. Blow Out, Heart of Our Time and Spaced Out Monkey in particularly are excellent albums, but are no doubt less familiar to all the fans who forgot Demon even existed after the split in the early '90s.

As always their performance was excellent and hopefully these greatest hits shows over the last two or three years are doing enough to get Demon back on rock fan's radar so they can start varying the set a little more, otherwise these songs are in serious danger of getting stale.

“ setlist draws from their most successful albums ”

Setlist: Night of The Demon / Blackheath / Blues Skies In Red Square > Commercial Dynamite > Blues Skies In Red Square / Wonderland / The Spell / Life On The Wire / Sign of A Madman / Don't Break The Circle // One Helluva Night

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Eric Sardinas

Gibson Stage
Capacity 2,000
20:15 - 21:30

Eric Sardinas certainly had one large piece of luck working in his favour to combat the initial bad luck he had being given a slot on the festival's smallest stage, clashing with Foreigner. Like Enforcer he was on while the weather was at it's worst.

The heavy rain which started during Enforcer's set continued through Eric's and into Johnny Winter's, but like Enforcer Eric found more people coming in seeking shelter than he could have otherwise expected to attend his set had the weather been fine. And, even more so than Enforcer, he delivered a performance so full of energy that everyone paid attention.

Largely unfamiliar to most people in the small Gibson tent it wouldn't have really mattered what Eric played, but as he had his new band Big Motor with him, he pulled several songs from their new eponymous album amongst a few from his other solo albums and a rousing cover of Roadhouse Blues, dedicated to the late Jeff Healey. The set highlight was the brilliant As The Crow Flies from the new album, and by the end it's hard to imagine it to be possible to create that same energy on record.

Like a blues version of Ted Nugent Sardinas filled the gaps between songs with improvised guitar solos on his various resonator guitars and stage banter; ceaselessly moving, playing and talking and providing a constant centre of attention for the full 45 minutes. Sardinas was probably the most natural and compelling performer of the festival.

“ so full of energy ”

Setlist: Worried Mind Blues / ?? / I Can't Be Satisfied / Down To Whiskey / This Time / ?? / Ride / As The Crow Flies // Roadhouse Blues

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Day 4

June 6

The final day of SRF '09 boasted probably the most anticipated line-up of the week. Big names at the top in Heaven & Hell, Dream Theater, Journey, Immortal and Europe, the reformation of Electric Boys, the debut solo show from Tim "Ripper" Owens and his all-star band, and rare appearances by Helstar, Blackfoot, Forbidden, reformed line-ups of Tank and Riot, and Impellitteri gave the closing day a lot of exclusives and sets of high interest.

The story of the festival in terms of setlists had been of bands struggling to strike the right balance between playing an interesting set for their fans, and playing all the most well-known of their songs for the festival crowd. More often than not they went too far towards the hits, playing highly predictable sets (Voivod, Demon, ZZ Top), while a few (Jon Oliva's Pain, Candlemass, Grand Magus) did a better job. Today would strike a similar contrast, with Blackfoot on the one hand, and Dream Theater on the other, while Ripper Owens went perhaps a little too far the other way, with too many unfamiliar songs.

The festival set, like the festival bill, is a complicated puzzle to put together to please everyone, and is probably impossible. Everyone is going to miss a song left out, just like everyone will find two bands they like will be playing at the same time. Ripper and Tank, and Blackfoot and Riot were a big problem today in the latter situation, as were Immortal, Europe and Helstar all sharing a time slot. The problems are inevitable and everyone just has to make the best of it. The good thing is, with so many good bands, clashes aren't the end of the World.

Bands reviewed:
Blackfoot | Dream Theater | Forbidden | Impellitteri | Tim "Ripper" Owens

Tim "Ripper" Owens

Rock Stage
Capacity 25,000
12:00 - 13:15

For Tim Owens this year's Sweden Rock represented his second visit in three years (the first being with Iced Earth in 2007) and his debut solo concert featuring an all-star band supporting his new album Play My Game.

The band consisted of Simon Wright (drums, Dio), David Ellefson (bass, ex-Megadeth/F5), John Comprix (guitar, Beyond Fear) and Chris Caffery (guitar, ex-Savatage), all of which appeared on the album on some of the songs. Wright was the most heavily involved, appearing on seven songs, while Comprix played on six and Ellefson and Caffery one each, although Elefsson also plays in metal covers band HAIL! with Owens.

Aside from one or two moments of uncertainty the band were well rehearsed and powered through the set with a healthy mix of effort and jam-room fun. Ripper himself was absolutely flawless, much more sure of himself and his songs than he was two years ago with Iced Earth, and much more at ease it seemed with his band mates; clearly a collection of friends he personally wanted to play with.

The set perhaps fell flat for many not because any part of the band's performance was lacking, but purely because most fans had not yet heard the new album, and they played nine of its twelve tracks in a set comprising just fourteen songs in total. Particularly during seven back-to-back new songs in the middle of the set the audience's attention was noticeably waning. The set also skipped the two albums Ripper recorded with Iced Earth, and most disappointingly of all the Heart of A Killer album by Winters Bane and some of the other tracks from the two Priest albums. His Beyond Fear selection (Scream Machine) was also a bit too obvious.

In fact, instead of tracks from these albums, he actually played two Priest tracks he didn't originally sing. He could be forgiven for including The Ripper. His now-famous nickname was gained after singing that song at his audition for Priest, but playing their version of Fleetwood Mac's The Green Manalishi (With The Two-Pronged Crown) was perhaps a little too far. But his new songs are as strong live as they are on the incredible CD and their quality overcame much of the indifference some felt towards songs they were unfamiliar with, even if the biggest cheers of the set were reserved for the Priest songs.

“ Ripper himself was absolutely flawless ”

Setlist: Believe / Starting Over / The Ripper / Scream Machine / Burn In Hell / Save Me / The Shadows Are Alive / Death Race / To Live Again / The World Is Blind / Play My Game / It Is Me / One On One > Chris Caffery solo > David Ellefson solo > Simon Wright solo > One On One / The Green Manalishi (With The Two-Pronged Crown)

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Festival Stage
Capacity 35,000
13:30 - 14:45

Chris Impellitteri set himself up for a big year with his first album since 2004, working with popular vocalist Rob Rock for the first time since 2000 and playing the first show since the '90s at Sweden Rock.

The new album, Wicked Maiden, has proven very popular with fans and critics alike so far, and the band clearly have a lot of faith in it as well, playing four tracks in a set only comprising thirteen songs in total, surprisingly also including Hurricane from the non-Rock-fronted Pedal To The Metal album, which Rock handled superbly, as he did the whole set. In fact Rock accounted for Impellitteri's entire performance and remained the only focal point from start to finish.

And all of Rock's showmanship highlighted just how much Chris Impellitteri seemed unsure of how to perform on a stage bigger than a club as he only once ventured from behind his monitors, never making it to the front of the stage. For a guitarist who's reputation for blinding speed and riveting histrionics he basically failed to entertain, sitting at the back of the stage just playing his parts and avoiding the limelight, which really isn't good enough when it's your name the band carries.

Luckily, Rob Rock more or less saved the day, along with an well-chosen set which both highlighted the quality of the new material, and gave fans some rare tracks from the back catalogue, including two from the long out-of-print Impellitteri EP. But without Rock, there's a very real danger the set would have been one of the least entertaining of the festival.

“ Rock accounted for Impellitteri's entire performance ”

Setlist: The King Is Rising / Speed Demon / Countdown To The Revolution / Garden of Eden / Wicked Maiden / Wonderful Life / Father Forgive Them / Last of A Dying Breed / Hurricane / Victim of The System / Lost In The Rain / Burning / Warrior

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Sweden Stage
Capacity 12,000
15:00 - 16:15

Another of this year's rare performances saw southern rock veterans Blackfoot bring their greatest hits set to Sweden Rock for the third time, having previously played the festival in 1994 and 2005.

The current line-up still includes original members Greg T. Walker on bass and Charlie Hargrett on guiter, plus long-time front-man and guitarist Bobby Barth and drummer Scott Craig, a line-up which, apart from changing drummers a few times following the death of Jackson Spires, has been together for a few years now, but still hasn't written any new material. In fact, Blackfoot haven't released a studio album since 1994. The set was therefore quite a predictable one, mostly still following the tracklist of the audaciously titled 2007 live album Train Train: Southern Rock's Best Live with a few changes.

Like Witchcraft on Wednesday Blackfoot tried too hard to "rock", and played too loudly as a consequence. Their southern rock style contains a lot of subtle playing, as well as the big riffs, and the subtlties were lost in the wall of sound, along with Barth's vocals from time to time. The set composition still favours the Strikes album, with as many as six of the nine tracks being played, and only Fox Chase representing 1980's Tomcattin' album and Good Morning appearing from Marauder. Of course the crowd were waiting patiently for the big closing pair of Highway Song (Blackfoot's Free Bird) and Train Train, but the set's special inclusion was a track called Born To Lose, which was written in 1985 by Barth, Walker and Spires, but never recorded or played live until this tour.

Blackfoot still now how to put on a good southern rock show, with the more mobile Hargrett pulling most of the shapes while Walker stands out of the way, but at the very least the set needs shaking up, and in truth they need to write some new songs.

“ subtlties were lost in the wall of soun ”

Setlist: Good Morning / Wishing Well / Morning Dew / I Got A Line On You / Bobby Barth slide solo / Baby Blue / Drum solo / Great Spirit / Fox Chase / Left Turn On A Red Light / Born To Lose > Rollin' And Tumblin' / Fly Away / Highway Song / Train Train

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Dream Theater

Festival Stage
Capacity 35,000
20:00 - 21:30

Dream Theater were touring ahead of their new album Black Clouds & Silver Linings which meant they were largely free from the setlist limitations a new album usually imposes.

Their new setlist, which varied less often throughout than normal, showcased just one track from the forthcoming album, devoting the rest of the time to several old and highly requested tracks they've not aired for some time, including ever-popular Awake material Caught In A Web, Erotomania and Voices.

Something was a little flat about the performance this time; somehow lacking in urgency. Vocalist James LaBrie is spending lower and lower proportions of the set actually on stage as the band play up to their increasing reputation for long periods of stellar musicianship, which they did well despite a mid-set drop-out of the PA system, but when on stage he's sounding in better vocal shape than on the Chaos In Motion tour of 2007.

2003's Train of Thought was disappointingly skipped, and only Solitary Shell came from 2002's Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, but the focus was on the return of the older material, and probably some of their best loved songs, including the single Hollow Years from Falling Into Infinity.

The new set was a welcome one for older fans of the band, while still including plenty of new tracks, but it would rarely change over the course of their short European tour, which is uncharacteristic of a band who normally play wildly different sets every night. Progressive music can often struggle at a festival where fans are constantly moving between bands, wanting sets of high intensity, but Dream Theater chose their songs well and were probably the most watched band of the day up to that point. It's just a shame they were a little lacking in energy.

“ long periods of stellar musicianship ”

Setlist: In The Presence of Enemies Pt. 1 / Beyond This Life / A Rite of Passage / Hollow Years / Caught In A Web / Erotomania / Voices / Solitary Shell / Constant Motion / Metropolis

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Written by Andy Lye
More: 2009, Alternative, Doom Metal, Festivals, Hard/Heavy Rock, Heavy Metal, Power Metal, Progressive, Southern, Thrash Metal, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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A yearly calendar of the concerts and festivals Jukebox:Metal plan to attend and/or review. Updated regularly with new shows and review/setlist links. Click here.


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