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3-6 June 2009 Solvesberg (Day 3)

GRTR's Ian Pollard first visit to Sweden Rock was back in 2002 and he's been a regular visitor ever since. He has witnessed first hand the growth of one of the main festival events in the rock calendar. He braved the vagaries of the Swedish summer to report on four days of beer and bands...

Sweden Rock Festival

Day 3 is heavily overcast, and rain / hail accompany breakfast. It is Mrs. P's birthday today - a special one ending in a "0" - so she is encouraged to wear a badge proclaiming the fact to the world. With the strong possibility of bumping in to drunken Scandinavians along the way, such a badge could result in some interesting encounters : (it did, and much fun was had).

Jon Oliva, photo Ian Pollard
Photo by Ian Pollard. Photo Gallery

Ex-Savatage front man Jon Oliva with his band Pain gets our first attention of the day. Somewhat similar in style to his previous band, but a touch more melodic, they are pleasantly surprising. Songs from latest album 'Global Warning' sound as good as, if not better than the Savatage songs (with the exception of "Hall of the Mountain King" of course, which is superb). No room in the set for anything from Jon's other little project, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, unfortunately - but a very good start to the day.

Marillion, photo Ian Pollard
Photo by Ian Pollard. Photo Gallery

Marillion are up next, but I only get a brief look as they clash with a band I haven't seen before (whereas Steve Hogarth and co. have featured heavily in the last few years viewing). What I do see is exactly what you would expect - high quality, well crafted prog from 5 very talented musicians.

Amberian Dawn, photo Ian Pollard
Photo by Ian Pollard. Photo Gallery

The band that drags me away is Amberian Dawn, heirs apparent to the Finnish operatic metal crown (vacated by Nightwish with the loss of Tarja). The jury is still out on their ascension though, as while they undoubtedly have the skill and song writing ability there was something missing from this performance.

Heidi Parviainen has the voice of an angel, but I am not convinced she has the power to front a metal band, or that she can change away from the purely operatic singing style. To be fair, the relatively weak PA system in the Gibson tent may have contributed to this. Halfway through their set, the tent filled up to capacity… the rain had returned!

Lia Ford, photo Ian Pollard
Photo by Ian Pollard. Photo Gallery

The bands are coming thick and fast now, so it is a quick stop at the Festival stage to check on Lita Ford. She is looking good and in good voice, although the overall sound could probably have used another guitar up there. I had to leave before she got to the climax of the set, so don't know if Runaways classic "Cherry Bomb" got an airing.

Demon, photo Ian Pollard
Photo by Ian Pollard. Photo Gallery

A NWOBHM stalwart grace the Zeppelin stage next. Demon open the set with two of their best songs, "Night of the Demon" and "Blackheath". Always an entertaining act, and happily free of any of the technical glitches that have so often marred previous performances I have witnessed. Dave Hill is in fine form and leads the line well, and all 6 members seem to be genuinely enjoying themselves on stage. The fans present are definitely enjoying themselves, despite the rain. Unfortunately I have to leave before the end, and therefore miss the excellent "Don't Break The Circle".

Kamelot, photo Ian Pollard
Photo by Ian Pollard. Photo Gallery

The hardest decision of the week comes next as UFO and Kamelot are playing at exactly the same time. As Kamelot gigs are less prevalent in the UK, I choose them and am rewarded with a spectacular show. Flames leap up from at least 8 locations around the stage throughout. Roy Khan continues to improve every time I see him (and he was damn good the first time). His vocal control is superb, and he is very well complemented by his band colleagues who seem happy to let him dominate the stage - and why not?

The rain gets heavier as the set goes on, and by the time the highlight "March of Mephisto" is aired for the encore (accompanied by yet more flames), Roy must be soaked to the skin. He does not have the luxury of donning waterproofs as many of the crowd has, so full credit is due for the fact he still delivers 100% in awful conditions.

Foreigner, photo Ian Pollard
Photo by Ian Pollard. Photo Gallery

Amazingly, the rain ceases just before Foreigner take to the stage - for only their second ever appearance in Sweden. Mick Jones and friends run through a set full of classics, with Kelly Hansen handling vocal duties very well indeed. The appropriate (in the circumstances) "Cold As Ice" is just a taster for what is to follow.

With Jeff Pilson providing some very energetic bass playing, and obviously enjoying his new home, the hits flow… "Urgent", "Hot Blooded", "Jukebox Hero" (including an expertly done segue into a verse / chorus of "Whole Lotta Love" in the middle), to name but a few. Inevitably, "I Want To Know What Love Is" makes an encore appearance with much swaying to and fro amongst the crowd.

Motorhead, photo Ian Pollard
Photo by Ian Pollard. Photo Gallery

Regular SRF performers Motorhead return next, along with the rain. Once again, they have the "Bomber" lighting rig with them - still a spectacular sight after all these years. Like the rig, Lemmy doesn't change much either - he's still his usual gruff self on stage, full of energy (and JD by the end of the set). You know exactly what to expect from Motorhead, and from opener "Iron Fist" through to "Ace Of Spades" they deliver.

In Flames, photo Ian Pollard
Photo by Ian Pollard. Photo Gallery

Headlining for the day is Sweden's own big metal act - In Flames. This is my first encounter with them, and they certainly put on a spectacular show full of explosions and effects. Clearly very popular with the home crowd, but not really my style of music. The cold and damp wins and drives me back towards the campsite… to a cold and damp tent and sleeping bag, for a cold and damp night. Hopefully tomorrow will be better.

Review and photos by Ian Pollard
© 2009 Ian Pollard/GRTR! All rights reserved.

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