Sweden Rock Festival 2010


Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4

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Norje Havsbad, Solvesbörg - June 9-12

Widely considered one of the best line-ups in the event's history, the 2010 Sweden Rock Festival had already stunned many regulars with the booking of Aerosmith and Guns N' Roses as the main headliners, far surpassing expectations.

The booking of two such high profile acts led many to assume the money required to secure them would leave the remainder of the line-up shorter on funds than normal and might lead to an overall weaker bill, but that was not to be the case. With a combination of highly astute bookings, including many European exclusives, and a re-structure of the smallest supporting stage, the SRF organisers put together a bill as strong as any previous year.

The one thing they have changed since last year is the format of the event's smallest stage, perviously sponsored by Gibson Guitars but taken over this time by Rockklassiker. In past years this stage had played hosts to smaller bands as simply an alternative stage to the bigger ones. This year they wanted to give it an identity of its own, which apart from some clinics, saw several acts, some who were playing on other stages at other times, some who weren't, playing very special, rare acoustic sets. This proved a very popular, and very successful idea over the course of the week.

The organisers did their usual excellent job with the running order, alternating the main (Festival) stage slots with the two biggest supporting stages (Rock and Sweden), but made a slight mistake in the middle of each day. On the three main days the first, third and last Festival stage slots had direct alternatives playing on the fourth stage, re-christened the Dio Stage for this year, providing anyone who didn't want to watch the main stage acts in those slots with at least one other option. But for the second slot each day it didn't quite work.

At this time it was only possible to catch two partial sets on the Dio Stage as one started before the end of the second Rock/Sweden stage band, and the other ended after the next pair began. So there was no direct alternative to the main stage at this point, especially as the Rockklassiker stage took a 2.5 hour break at that time each day (indeed the Rockklassiker sets clashed one-to-one with the Rock and Sweden stages all day, when it might have been more useful to clash with the main stage), the unsigned stage (NeMIS) took a 1.5 hour break, and the free Alarm stage (located outside of the festival area for anyone to attend) didn't start until 18:00.

These "dream slots", where people had no real alternative option, were enjoyed by Rick Springfield, Winger and Pretty Maids (who replaced the cancelled Ratt).

Besides that very little had changed from the previous winning formula that had consisently made the last three or four festivals each become the franchise's most successful. Indeed for 2010 the organisers had to set a maximum ticket sales limit of 33,000 for the first time in their history after the record 35,000 visitors on one day of the 2009 event proved too many for the preferred environment to be maintained. That preferred environment, far more relaxed and leisurely than most, is one of the key ingredients which make Sweden Rock the most enjoyable open-air festival in Europe every year.


Day 1 - June 9

Michael Monroe | Steelwing | U.D.O.

Steelwing

Dio Stage
Capacity 8,000
19:45 - 20:45
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One of the small crop of rising stars in the revival of '80s traditional heavy metal, Steelwing seem to have either been slightly eclipsed, or perhaps just out-toured by fellow Swedes Enforcer but they should finish on top.

Comfortably better than contenders like White Wizzard, Steelwing have gone on to prove they're a much better live act than Enforcer (whose lacklustre second album Diamonds isn't a patch on Steelwing's debut Lord of The Wasteland), getting far closer to the boldness of obvious heroes Iron Maiden and making sure they throw all the right shapes.

Although obviously not the most original material in history, Steelwing's songs are strong examples of the denim and leather style of 1980s metal icons like Saxon, Maiden and Judas Priest and in Riley they have a bona fide, lively front-man who can wail with the top of the old guard, while he tries his best Bruce Dickinson poses.

Much like Maiden their first crop of songs are fairly silly in terms of lyrics etc., but musically they're as sound as a debut can be, and this should give them a lot of ground on which to build more thoughtful songs on subsequent albums and live shows.

“ denim and leather style of 1980s metal ”

Setlist: Enter The Wasteland / Headhunter / The Nightwatcher / Point of Singularity / The Illusion / Under The Scavenger Sun / Sentinel Hill / Roadkill (...Or Be Killed)

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Michael Monroe

Sweden Stage
Capacity 12,000
21:00 - 22:15

Hanoi Rocks still retain a high level of popularity across most of Scandinavia, particularly their home nation of Finland, and the '80s-rock-crazy Sweden, so touring from their famed front-man always goes down well.

This set on the opening day of SRF was no different, but it did go some way towards highlighting what a lack of servicable solo material the now ridiculous-looking Michael Monroe actually has. For the 75 minutes he played here the majority of the set was drawn from the one album he recorded with Demolition 23., obviously Hanoi Rocks, and some additional covers of bands like The Damned and The Stooges.

Just five of the seventeen songs played were actually Monroe solo originals and they, along with the Demolition 23. songs, were very clearly far less well known amongst the crowd than the Hanoi Rocks songs and the covers. Monroe's high-profile band included Hanoi bassist Sammi Yaffa, The Wildhearts front-man Ginger on guitar, and New York Dolls guitarist Steve Conte, and the SRF audience certainly lapped up all the aging glam on stage.

Monroe's showmanship can't be faulted. Interacting with the crowd while hanging upside down from the rigging at the side of the stage is certainly above and beyond the call of duty and the Finn tried his best to be as lively as possible for the full set; the fans loving every minute. They seem to be able to overlook the weaknesses in Monroe's decidedly average material just to see him sing a few Hanoi songs, which really shows that what they want is Hanoi Rocks to play the festival.

“ lack of servicable solo material ”

Setlist: Nothin's Alright / Motorvatin' / Hammesmith Palais / You're Next / Not Fakin' It / Dysfunctional / Another Night In The Sun / I Wanna Be Loved / The Boulevard of Broken Dreams / Love Song / Machine Gun Etiquette / Motorheaded For A Fall / Back To Mystery City / Malibu Beach Nightmare / Dead,Jail Or Rock 'n' Roll // Ain't Nothin' To Do / 1970 (incl. Radar Love)

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U.D.O.

Sweden Stage
Capacity 12,000
00:00 - 02:00

Following a strong Rock Stage performance in 2008, and now with another new album to promote, former Accept legend Udo Dirkschneider was invited back to headline SRF 2010's opening day, and proved a popular choice.

Making full use of their two-hour time slot and a packed Sweden Stage crowd the band played a set mostly consisting of recent U.D.O. songs (including three from newest album Dominator and two from previous disc Mastercutor) and Accept classics. In fact only four U.D.O. songs were originally recorded earlier than 2002. The Accept songs chosen were the typical selections played on most recent U.D.O. tours, including big hits Balls To The Wall, Fast As A Shark, Princess of The Dawn, Metal Heart and Midnight Mover.

Mastercutor's grooving single The Wrong Side of Midnight has unfortunately been dropped for the current set, but its title track and hard-hitting Vendetta sit perfectly alongside new cuts Dominator, Infected and The Bogeyman. A little like other acts of their age, an U.D.O. set holds no surprises beyond the setlist, and this setlist held none either. The deeper cuts from the U.D.O. albums were almost as predictable as the Accept hits, with Animal House, Holy and I'm A Rebel, saved for the encore, lining up with more recent mainstays like Man And Machine and Thunderball, and most of them were in the 2008 set as well.

At some stage U.D.O. are going to need to change the set, because too many songs are getting recycled and its only on special occasions, like the show used for the Mastercutor Alive album, which yield any surprises. At the moment, some countries are still experiencing U.D.O. shows for the first time in a long time, so like tonight, the this are still getting a strong reception. But they will become tired at some point, and the band need to recognise that.

A strong performance, and a great way to end the first night of the festival - perhaps another reason why so many hits were chosen - but if U.D.O. are to be invited back in two or three years' time, fans may find themselves wanting something different.

“ holds no surprises ”

Setlist: The Bogeyman / Dominator / Independence Day / The Bullet And The Bomb / Flash Rockin' Man / Thunderball / Vendetta / Princess of The Dawn / Midnight Mover / Infected / Man And Machine / Mastercutor / Animal House / Metal Heart // Holy / Balls To The Wall // Balls To The Wall (reprise) / I'm A Rebel / Burning / Fast As A Shark

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Day 2 - June 10

Aerosmith | Evergrey | Jorn | Slayer | Stone Sour

Stone Sour

Rock Stage
Capacity 25,000
12:00 - 13:15
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Every year at Sweden Rock one band is chosen from the "alternative metal" sub-genre, generally assumed to be mostly appealing to younger fans. In 2008 this was Disturbed, Sevendust in 2009, and in 2010 Stone Sour were chosen to fill this role.

The festival seems to be gradually learning its way with these bands. Disturbed on the main stage in 2008 was poorly attended, and Sevendust simply didn't have the same appeal, but by putting Stone Sour on the Rock Stage, albeit very early, they found, for this year at least, the right level to pitch the style. Stone Sour are also more widely appreciated by older fans, considered to have more intelligent, less angsty songs, so the audience size, even at 12pm, was good.

Out of his Slipknot persona Corey Taylor proves to be a very funny, engaging front-man, who succeeded in getting large parts of the crowd to join him in an intentionally silly dance during , and induced several audience participation sing-a-longs for the songs culled from tha band's debut self-titled album, and its follow-up Come What(ever) May, amongst brand new songs from the forthcoming third album Audio Secrecy. The new songs were received well, but obviously none of the fans knew them, which made the reception for tracks like Through Glass (with Taylor on acoustic guitar), Made of Scars and closer 30/30-150 all the louder.

For all Taylor's humour the best comedy moment was reserved for the Swedish audience who, when guitarist and Slipknot bandmate Jim Root placed a yellow hard hat he found stage-side on Taylor's head, immediately began chanting "safety first", much to Taylor's amusement.

Of all the perceived "modern" bands to have been booked at Sweden Rock in recent years it's easy to say Stone Sour were the most successful, and could perhaps have even pulled off a main stage slot, or at the very least a Rock Stage slot later in the day. They are certainly worthy of a repeat invite in a couple of years.

“ more intelligent, less angsty songs ”

Setlist: Mission Statement / Reborn / Made of Scars / The Bitter End / Blotter / Your God / Through Glass / Idle Hands / Digital / Get Inside / Hell & Consquences / 30/30-150

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Evergrey

Rockklassiker Stage
Capacity 2,000
15:15 - 16:15

Like Warrior Soul on Wednesday Evergrey were one of the acts playing a special acoustic set in the Rockklassiker tent, and as strong as Warrior Soul's set was, Evergrey's was outstanding.

Singer Tom S. Englund, who normally doubles up on guitar, adopted a traditional front-man's role and delivered a particularly spellbinding vocal performance over a set mostly consisting, naturally, of the band's ballads, with a few heavier songs rearranged for acoustic guitars. Strangely the tent, although obviously small, did not seem as full for this special set as an audience for a full electric set on one of the larger stages would be expected to be; Evergrey being regarded quite highly in their home country.

The band took a little time to get properly tuned, but once Englund walked on stage and began singing As I Lie Here Bleeding it was obvious the set was going to be something special. Allowed to run past their publicised end time of 16:00 by 15 minutes, every song they rolled out was met with rapturous applause from the faithful right up to what everyone expected to be the big finale, A Touch of Blessing, one of the most popular songs acoustic or otherwise.

However, the captivating set culminated in a surprise cover of Iron Maiden's Wasted Years. It took a few seconds for the fans to realise what they were doing, but they instantly joined in from the first sentence of the lyrics. The clever move paid off and made the set all the more memorable than it was already going to be. Evergrey proved one of the festival highlights.

“ something special ”

Setlist: As I Lie Here Bleeding / Torn / Blinded / Words Mean Nothing / I'm Sorry / Broken Wings / Soaked / Recreation Day / A Touch of Blessing / Wasted Years

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Slayer

Festival Stage
Capacity 33,000
20:00 - 21:30

Slayer's position on the bill this year indicated just how strong the overall line-up was, with a band of their calibre playing fourth on their respective day.

The thrash legends' touring had been badly affected by front-man and bassist Tom Araya's continuing back problems, twice forcing the postponment of their headlining European tour, and the first leg of their joint tour with Megadeth in North America. In the end this worked to their benefit as they were able to add several high profile festivals to the rescheduled European tour in the Summer as they set themselves up to stay on the road non-stop from April through to November.

Slayer on stage are a known quantity. They don't make mistakes, their setlist doesn't change throughout a tour, and their movement is limited. Much like English stalwarts Motörhead, everyone knows what to expect and has no quarrel with that. The only point of contention tends to be whether or not the setlist for that particular tour attains the correct balance between new songs and old songs (most thrash fans' blind penchant being for old songs; the older the better). Where Slayer are concerned this definition is most often divided into pre- and post-1994 (when Divine Intervention was released). The current set contains six post and eleven pre, which satisfied most people, but still left some wanting more old material.

Fans of older Slayer found it difficult to engage with the band for the first portion of the set as they played four songs from recent albums back-to-back before the first older song appeared. The enthusiasm from the audience was noticeably low during these four tracks, even though they were performed to the band's usual high standard and are, for the most part, strong songs. The inclusion of tracks like Hell Awaits, Silent Scream and Aggressive Perfector amongst mainstays like Angel of Death, Mandatory Suicide and Raining Blood produced some of the biggest cheers from die-hard fans, but most seemed to only be interested in the big songs. A story that would be replicated across many of the highly-billed bands.

“ a known quantity ”

Setlist: World Painted Blood / Hate Worldwide / Cult / Disciple / War Ensemble / Expendable Youth / Jihad / Beauty Through Order / Seasons In The Abyss > Hell Awaits / Mandatory Suicide > Chemical Warfare > Raining Blood > Aggressive Perfector // South of Heaven / Silent Scream / Angel of Death

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Jorn

Sweden Stage
Capacity 12,000
21:45 - 23:15
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Jorn's slot opposite Danzig on the Rock Stage was quite a prestigious position to be given, playing immediately before the day's headliner Aerosmith, but also condemning in terms of audience numbers.

Although quite different in style, both Jorn and Danzig appeal to melodic metal fans and aren't the stark contrast that say, Behemoth's slot opposite Gary Moore was. Given that choice, the scarcity of a Danzig live appearance, and his relative age compared to Jorn's, was probably going to swing most fans towards the American. And this showed in the admirable, but limited audience Jorn had.

Nevertheless, the expert Norwegian front-man had no problems generating enthusiasm from the crowd, making sure there was no doubt he's still one of the best vocalists around. Guitarists Tor Erik Myhre and Tore Moren (either side of an outstanding Tungur Knivar), and drummer Willy Bendiksen were all given solo spots, which is always risky during a festival appearance, but none seemed to cause attention to wane too drastically.

Given the approaching July release of Jorn's new album Dio, an album of covers of Ronnie James Dio-sung songs, and his new single Song For Ronnie James, the general lack of Dio covers in the set was disappointing. Especially to not even include the new single, in favour of sticking with the set he was playing at the end of 2009.

Jorn were typically excellent, but given the setting, forthcoming album, and recent events, a lot of the crowd were disappointed not to hear more Dio-related covers to make the set special. Particularly the Scandinavian fans, who had all likely seen Jorn play this set already as he's been using it for so long now.

“ no problems generating enthusiasm from the crowd ”

Setlist: Road To The Cross / Shadow People / Below / We Brought The Angels Down / Stormcrow / Spirit Black / Inner Road / Man of The Dark / Blacksong / Tore Moren Guitar solo / Tungur Knivar / Tor Erik Myhre Guitar solo / Rock And Roll Angel / Drum solo / Soul of The Wind / Are You Ready To Rock? / War of The World/Man On The Silver Mountain

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Aerosmith

Festival Stage
Capacity 33,000
23:30-01:00

The first of the major headliners to perform, Aerosmith already had a memorable and very successful Sweden Rock show in the recent memory of regular attendees after they headlined the 2007 festival, but their return carried with it a certain amount of doubt.

Media sources from America had spent most of the year by this point speculating over strained relationships within Aerosmith and the announcement of a short European tour (ten festival headlines and incredibly over-priced arena shows) came as a surprise to most rock fans, the band assuring everyone things were fine and naming their Cocked, Locked And Ready To Rock tour accordingly.

But though things seemed well on the surface, those who witnessed the spark of their 2007 shows can't have failed to notice its absence this time. Operating almost entirely on auto-pilot, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, the rest if the band relegated to the background more than ever these days, threw all the right shapes and said all the right things with perfect, well-rehearsed timing. Where their previous appearance had felt like a good, old fashioned rock 'n' roll show, this felt more like the kind of choreographed display pop acts are known to produce.

The setlist also hadn't changed much since the '07 tour and therefore felt as flat as the performance, with the obligatory stale hits broken up by fewer back catalogue gems than hoped for. The absence of the acoustic section of the previous set which yielded excellent renditions of Season of Wither and Hangman Jury did leave room for both '70s rarities Kings And Queens and Lord of The Thighs where previous shows on the tour in South America had only included one or the other, and the inclusion of Walkin' The Dog third song in was a genuine surprise, but beyond those things ran by the numbers.

Even blues standards Stop Messin' Around with Perry on vocals and Baby Please Don't Go were in again instead of any of the other tracks which could have been taken from blues album Honkin' On Bobo. As uninspiring as the performance and set were, even an Aerosmith show on automatic, like ZZ Top last year, is a good one, and fans still left happy to see their idols perhaps for the last time.

“ choreographed display ”

Setlist: Love In An Elevator / Back In The Saddle / Walkin' The Dog / Falling In Love (Is Hard On The Knees) / Livin' On The Edge / Jaded / Kings And Queens / Cryin' / Drum Solo / Lord Of The Thighs / Guitar solo / Stop Messin' Around / I Don't Want To Miss A Thing / Sweet Emotion / Baby Please Don't Go / Draw The Line // Dream On / Walk This Way / Toys In The Attic

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Day 3 - June 11

Bigelf | Cinderella | High On Fire | Mustasch | Rick Springfield

Bigelf

Sweden Stage
Capacity 12,000
12:15 - 13:15
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Bigelf's rise to recognition in Europe started just after the release of their most recent album Cheat The Gallows when Dream Theater selected them for one of the opening slots on their Progressive Nation tour, but in Sweden the band were already a known quantity.

Half of the band is Finnish, and most of their recording has been done in Sweden, released on a Swedish label. Sweden is in fact one of the few European countries where Bigelf's previous three albums are commercially available (although they are set for re-release in the UK through Powerage Records this year), and they have played Sweden Rock Festival once before. This recognition was evident in the modest, but enthusiastic crowd.

For a progressive band Bigelf aren't changing their set much, playing most of the same songs aired on the Progressive Nation tour in November 2009, and subsequent headlining tour in January 2010, but their unique sound, and Damon Fox's dual-organ and vocal performance, and comedic nature, is still enough to please fans at the moment, especially with an appreciable lack of shows prior to 2009. They chose well, playing the songs with the biggest riffs and heaviest rock elements, like Madhatter abd Blackball, but off-setting these with occasional mellow prog meandingings like Disappear.

By sticking to songs primarily from the Hex and Cheat The Gallows albums the set was a little lacking in the doom-meets-prog sound that initially got the band noticed with the Closer To Doom album, but those albums have also been their most successful, so it's hard to argue against that decision for the moment. As much as progressive music often suffers in a festival environment Bigelf's energetic performance (and shorter songs) never bores, and provided they start to change the set around a little, there's no reason why that won't continue. They did more than enough here to be invited back to SRF.

“ unique sound ”

Setlist: The Evils of Rock 'n' Roll / Neuropsychopathic Eye / Pain Killers / Madhatter / Blackball / Disappear / Hydra / Money Machine

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High On Fire

Sweden Stage
Capacity 12,000
15:00 - 16:15
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Some sub-genres of rock and metal are often only represented by one or two bands at Sweden Rock, and these are normally the more extreme styles. High On Fire's bludgeoning stoner metal with Matt Pike's harsh vocals were the only examples of such a style at the 2010 offering.

Consistently on the rise with each album their most recent, Snakes For The Divine became their best selling so far, even though the songs themselves were a little less original than they had managed on Blessed Black Wings and Death Is This Communion, some even saying Pike had run out of riffs. Either way, they have seen more European touring on the back of the new album than they have before, and although never likely to be one of the biggest crowd-pullers at SRF, they saw a hardcore following crash the rail and induced audience headbanging matched only by Slayer.

The problem for everyone else is that the subtlties of High On Fire's music do not translate well to the live setting. Their relentless riffs can be mesmerising on CD, but put them on an open-air stage where dynamics can be lost as easily as hearing in the front row, and what they produce verges on the monotonous. While not entirely their fault, they didn't help themselves by selecting some of their least varied songs, which admittedly are amongst their most popular given the success of the new album.

Sadly High On Fire's set did them very few favours with anyone apart from those already converted. And not for the want of trying. With their own headlining club shows to their own fans, or on a bill of similar bands, they are likely to see the same success their albums have garnered. SRF may just have been the wrong arena.

“ verges on the monotonous ”

Setlist: Frost Hammer / Devilution / How Dark We Pray / Hung, Drawn & Quartered / Rumors of War / Blood From Zion / Fire, Blood And Plague / Fireface / Cometh Down Hessian / Snakes For The Divine / Fury Whip

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Rick Springfield


buy

Festival Stage
Capacity 33,000
16:30 - 18:00
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Rick Springfield was 2010's surprise comeback act. He was to be one of two, but Aldo Nova cancelled. Although Springfield has been recording since 1999, after a ten-year absence from music, his European touring has been limited at best.

AOR is probably the most popular sub-genre of rock and metal music with the Sweden Rock faithful, particularly with the Swedish themselves, and Springfield's long-awaited return, and European festival exclusive performance, was a highly event. The fans turned out in large numbers and picking out all of his biggest '80s hits to air alongside tracks from his newest CD Venus In Overdrive, which saw widespread European release over a year after its US street date, and a stormed cover of Robert Johnson's Crossroad Blues, pleased everyone.

But more than that, his performance was so full of energy and vigour, he easily won over countless more spectators who had come to the Festival Stage either to see what the fuss was about, or because Springfield merely had the luck to occupy the only unopposed slot on the main stage. Whatever the reason, no one left disappointed. Taking the engaging front-man role beyond what he needed to, given that he was already doing a superb job from the stage and proving to any doubters that he is as good a guitarist and showman as he is the perceived '80s pretty-boy pop star, Springfield made his way out into the crowd during mega-hit Human Touch, sans guitar, in order to climb the sound/lighting tower and try to sing from there. That the microphone didn't work (or wasn't on) when he got there didn't really matter.

This was after getting a young boy from the front-row on stage to lead an audience participation chorus of Don't Talk To Strangers. Even though he left the stage 15 minutes before the end of his scheduled timeslot, Springfield was the hit of the festival, delivering the most energetic performance on any stage, and probably drawing the biggest crowd of any act on the supporting bill after the headliners.

“ full of energy and vigour ”

Setlist: Mr. PC / I've Done Everything For You / Affair of The Heart / Living In Oz / What's Victoria's Secret? / Celebrate Youth / Venus In Overdrive / I'll Miss That Someday / Love Is Alright Tonite / Cross Road Blues / Don't Talk To Strangers / Love Somebody / Human Touch / Jessie's Girl // Wild Thing / Kristina

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Cinderella

Festival Stage
Capacity 33,000
20:00 - 21:30
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Of all the bands on the 2010 bill, and in several other recent years, Cinderella were probably the most requested band from the Sweden Rock faithful, and regular North American tours with no European dates consistently disappointed fans.

The anticipation at the front of the festival stage was evident, despite the less-than-enjoyable weather, and the response to the band taking the stage was one of the loudest of the festival. Cinderella's response however lacked the same energy and passion.

The set itself lacked the bluesy groove which made Cinderella stand out from the other late '80s hard rock bands on the LA scene at the time, mostly due to far too few songs being selected from widly-acknowledged career highlight album Long Cold Winter. What they did play was still popular, and there were no real concerns over Tom Keifer's voice, which has been an issue on previous tours, but following Rick Springfield's astonishing performance their show felt very flat and unadventurous.

Jeff LaBar remained the most ethusiastic member throughout, but Keifer's occasional wandering to the front of the stage to join in seemed half-hearted, puncuated by token efforts to talk to the crowd. Nevertheless, fans' concert desire was satiated, temporarily at least, so the anticipation for a new album now begins.

“ felt very flat and unadventurous ”

Setlist: Second Wind / Push Push / Somebody Save Me / The Last Mile / Night Songs / Bad Seamstress Blues/Fallin' Apart At The Seams / Heartbreak Station / Coming Home / Shelter Me / Nobody's Fool / Gypsy Road // Don't Know What You Got (Till It's Gone) / Shake Me

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Mustasch

Sweden Stage
Capacity 12,000
21:45 - 23:15

For many the lower profile headliner today (Gary Moore) meant either Mustasch or Billy Idol were their headline act, and its hard to believe Billy Idol, even with all of his experience, could have been any better than Mustasch.

In as a last minute replacement for Mastodon, who were forced to cancel due to guitarist Bill Kelliher's health problems, Mustasch didn't have time to ready the pyro-fuelled stage show that was such a success at Sweden Rock 2008, but brought just the same levels of energy that performance exhibited to close the Sweden Stage.

Mustasch's new self-titled album has provided them with more concert-ready choruses than any of their previous records, and they've wasted no time dropping five of the new songs straight into their regular set. All of the new songs are proving very popular and the band's combination of rousing choruses and heavy, muscular riffs were an instant hit again at the end of the day which would end up having had the best weather of the festival. Their combination of heaviness with a melodic rock sensibility ensured the crowd was more or less equally full of metal fans and rock fans enjoying the set as much as each other.

Having already played his own acoustic set the earlier in the day, Electric Boys guitarist Conny Bloom joined the band for 6:36, the Swedish fans, with whom Electric Boys have always been very popular, wholeheartedly approving, before the set closed with Black City and ever-popular single I Hunt Alone.

For a short-notice appearance Mustasch pulled off a superb set packed sing-a-long opportunities for an enthusiastic crowd, presumably with no punk sensibilities and no interest in the arguably higher profile Rock Stage headliner Billy Idol. With their popularity increasing in recent years, this performance can be considered nothing short of a success.

“ rousing choruses and heavy, muscular riffs ”

Setlist: Deep In The Woods / Mine / Damn It's Dark / Lonely / The Audience Is Listening / Tritonus (Prelude) > Heresy Blasphemy / Parasite / Down In Black / Monday Warrior / Double Nature / Bring Me Everyone / Falling Down // Accident Black Spot / 6:36 (with Conny Bloom) / Black City / I Hunt Alone

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Day 4 - June 12

Anvil | Fates Warning | Guns N' Roses | Opeth | Unisonic | W.A.S.P. | Winger

Fates Warning

Festival Stage
Capacity 33,000
13:30 - 14:45
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As has been the story for a number of years now, Fates Warning's touring activity worldwide was very limited in 2010, with only eight shows to celebrate the anniversary of the Parallels album booked.

For the short tour, promoting the new three-disc re-release of the album, the line-up of the band which recorded Parallels reunited for the first time since 1994 and the band committed to playing the whole album from start to finish. Strangely in doing so this time they dropped the album's closer, The Road Goes On Forever, from the set, going straight from it's predecessor Don't follow Me into Face The Fear from Inside Out.

Fates Warning have clearly become used to playing on small stages. Just like Impellitteri last year they remained almost entirely confined to the square area in the middle of the stage formed by the drum riser and the monitors, and just as Impellitteri had to rely on front-man Rob Rock to be the sole visual attraction on stage, only singer Ray Alder really moved around for Fates, occasionally venturing onto the protruding part of the stage at the front, and sometimes the sides - but never very far. Guitarist Frank Aresti and bassist Joe DiBiase never left the comfort of their monitors, and Jim Matheos simply walked around within a small square around his own monitors.

Alder is a fantastic singer, but he is not the most visually compelling front-man, and with the guitarists never coming forward to play their solos in full view of the audience, the whole set lacked energy. The bands fans were happy with the set, not really noticeably missing The Road Goes On Forever, and as Parallels includes a lot of their most popular songs, and the second section of the set, picking hits from other albums, accounted for many of the rest, those familiar with them were able to sing along for the full 75 minutes. Many others walked away, it has to be said.

“ used to playing on small stages ”

Setlist: Leave The Past Behind / Life In Still Water / Eye To Eye / The Eleventh Hour / Point of View / We Only Say Goodbye / Don't Follow Me / Face The Fear / One / A Pleasant Shade of Grey Part 3 / Another Perfect Day / Through Different Eyes / Monument

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Unisonic

Rock Stage
Capacity 25,000
15:00 - 16:15
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One of Sweden Rock's major coups of 2010 was the booking of Unisonic, the band which heralds the long awaited return of original Helloween vocalist Michael Kiske to the world of heavy metal after a long time turning his back on the genre.

Unisonic, also featuring Pink Cream 69's multi-tasking bassist Dennis Ward, had planned to have their debut album ready for a Spring release before their Summer tour dates, but had at the time of rehearsals for the tour only completed one song. They therefore planned to comprise their set almost entirely of songs from the hard rock albums Kiske, Ward and guitarist Kostas Zafiriou recorded togther with Place Vendôme.

Sweden Rock was only their second ever show after a warm-up gig in Germany and unfortunately it was delayed by nearly an hour and cut to only 50 minutes in length because the Rock Stage sound tower collapsed in strong winds. The SRF crew worked feverishly to make it safe again, leaving the upper section off, and Unisonic eventually took the stage to resounding applause.

Kiske immediately showed that despite such a long time out he still possesses one of the finest voices in rock, and the new band made the Place Vendôme material sound harder and heavier live than on the records, without losing any of the melody which made the albums so popular. Amongst several cuts from both albums they also revealed the one completed brand new Unisonic song, Souls Alive, which is what anyone could rightly expect from a band involving Kiske and Ward: melodic, fast, traditional metal with plenty of opportunity for Michael to show what he can do.

The biggest crowd response was reserved for the end of the set, when Kiske made the dreams of the Helloween fans come true by pulling out Kids of The Century and A Little Time (complete with a breathtaking snippet of Judas Priest's Victim of Changes) to close to rapturous cheersfrom the modest group who stuck around after the delays and didn't abandon to Epica or Praying Mantis's superb-sounding acoustic set.

For their shortened time Unisonic were excellent, and Kiske seemed to genuinly enjoy being back in the front-man role. Perhaps a second invite next year to play a full-length set with more new songs once the album is released could be a possibility.

“ one of the finest voices in rock ”

Setlist: Cross The Line / I'll Be Gone / Set Me Free / Souls Alive / Sign of The Times / Streets of Fire / The Setting Sun / My Guardian Angel / Kids of The Century / A Little Time (incl. Victim of Changes)

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Opeth

Rock Stage
Capacity 25,000
18:15 - 19:45
Photo Gallery

SRF like to have one or two high profile Swedish bands around the top of the Rock Stage and main Festival Stage bills as promoting home-grown rock and metal is one of the major aims of the event, as well as to bring top international acts to the country.

Opeth were invited to be one of the highest ranking national acts this year, appearing just before three of the event's biggest draws, W.A.S.P, Bachman & Turner, and Guns N' Roses, and chose a varied set of some of their most popular songs, with one new track from Watershed; their standarad festival setlist for 2010.

Although many hoped for a stripped-down version of their 'Evolution XX' setlist, played at just six shows Worldwide in the Spring, their chosen festival setlist was most just the "hits". Disappointingly predictable for long-time fans, in fact, and of very little interest to anyone else. Sadly for Opeth on a festival bill where acts are mostly chosen for their live vibrancy and energy, their melancholic death/doom, musically outstanding though it is, doesn't fit very well. They have a substantial following, so there were plenty of Opeth fans in attendance, but besides them very few other listeners were drawn in.

The two kinds of bands which can very often struggle for crowd numbers at Sweden Rock are progressive bands and death metal bands, purely because the majority of the audience the festival attracts, and the overall mood of the festival, doesn't suit those styles. Opeth, being both of these things, certainly found it tough to spark interest, despite a typically faultless performance which the Opeth fans enjoyed from start to finish, but even then the oft-anticipated setlist surprises which Opeth fans love were absent.

“ disappointingly predictable ”

Setlist: Windowpane / The Grand Conjuration / The Lotus Eater / The Drapery Falls / Advent / Demon of The Fall / Deliverance / Blackwater Park

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W.A.S.P.

Rock Stage
Capacity 25,000
21:45 - 23:15

W.A.S.P.'s return to Sweden Rock has been one of the most demanded in recent years with a high degree of popularity in Sweden and they delivered a performance which proved exactly why.

But for all the good parts of their performance, W.A.S.P. failed to deliver what they had promised for this tour. From the day they were confirmed for Sweden Rock (and other European festivals around the same time), Lawless had said the band would play a special set comprised entirely of the first two albums (W.A.S.P and The Last Command) and although there are songs on the first one he refuses to ever play again because of his rediscovery of religion, like Animal (Fuck Like A Beast), many fans who still consider those two albums to be the height of the band's career were excited at the prospect of some of the album cuts that have either never been played, or haven't been part of the set since the mid-1980s.

Instead Lawless couldn't resist no only including two tracks from newest album Babylon (making the excuse that they were playing them in Sweden because the album had been such a hit there - something he no doubt said at every stop of the tour) but also two tracks from fifth album The Crimson Idol, often cited as their best and most successful record to date.

The remaining ten tracks were taken from the first two albums, but most of them are ever-presents in the standard W.A.S.P. setlist anyway. All this really left that was at all fresh or rare was The Last Command and The Torture Never Stops. Widowmaker's return to the set was its first appearance since 2004, but when there are things like Jack Action, Fistful of Diamonds, Tormentor and Show No Mercy that are genuinly rare, its value was somewhat diminished.

So not at all what it should have been, but a more than pleasing show which sent everyone away more or less happy, particularly those who planned to avoid the Guns N' Roses finalé.

“ value was somewhat diminished ”

Setlist: On Your Knees/The Torture Never Stops / L.O.V.E. Machine / Wild Child / The Last Command / Crazy / Hellion / Widowmaker > Sleeping (In The Fire) / Chainsaw Charlie (Murders In The New Morgue) / Babylon's Burning / The Idol / I Wanna Be Somebody / Blind In Texas

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Guns N' Roses

Festival Stage
Capacity 33,000
00:15-02:30

Axl Rose looks destined never to overcome the persistent and oft-repeated complaints that surround Guns N' Roses and it regularly means people with a chance to see the band are unable to view them objectively.

The two main gripes, setting aside clouded views on comeback album Chinese Democracy, tend to be the unpredictability of their on-stage start time, and the state of Axl's voice. Some things are undeniable. Axl voice isn't what it once was. And the band do take the stage late on regular occasion, apparently waiting for Rose to arrive. But with a few notable exceptions, no one who's been singing for over 20 years sounds the same as they used to, and Axl's voice is still more than up to the task.

The lateness is a genuine problem, and shows a distinct lack of respect for the band's fans, despite the thin "if you come to a Guns N' Roses show, you have to expect him to be late" excuse for not getting upset when the inevitable delays occur; on this occasion the wait was 45 minutes.

After a shaky start on Chinese Democracy, where the band didn't quite sound co-ordinated and Axl's voice cracked frequently, the more familiar opener of Welcome To The Jungle properly kicked off the set as the problems of the first song were immediately rectified. From then on the band were on fine form, using every inch of the huge stage as every line-up of GN'R always has. Rose himself for the most part sounded far better than he did in 2006, which at the time was a vast improvement on the 2002 tour, and newest member DJ Ashba on guitar has dropped straight into the band like he's always been there.

Apart from the mammoth sets delivered in Japan earlier in the year, where three hours became the standard minimum set length, the setlist has come under a little criticism for not being changed often enough, and this is justified. On the 2006 tour the setlist changed in part almost nightly, with different back catalogue tracks dropping in and out of the show, but on this tour the set has remained mostly unchanged every night, and this is a touch disappointing.

Nevertheless, Axl has rightly not shyed away from playing Chinese Democracy tracks alongside tracks mostly taken from debut album Appetite For Destruction and although the Use Your Illusion albums are a little overlooked, the standard set is a strong one and this band is still a better line-up than any which have gone before. In context, GN'R are still a huge deal.

“ more than up to the task ”

Setlist: Chinese Democracy / Welcome To The Jungle / It's So Easy / Mr. Brownstone / Sorry / Richard Fortus guitar solo / Live And Let Die / This I Love / Rocket Queen / Dizzy Reed piano solo / Street of Dreams / You Could Be Mine / DJ Ashba guitar solo / Sweet Child O' Mine / November Rain / Bumblefoot guitar solo / Knockin' On Heaven's Door / Nightrain // Madagascar / Better / Paradise City

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Written by Andy Lye
More: 2010, Black Metal, Doom Metal, Festivals, Hard/Heavy Rock, Heavy Metal, Progressive, Rock, Southern, Stoner, Thrash Metal, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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