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Skogsröjet 2015

Skogsröjet festival celebrated its 10th anniversary and also had a record attendance. I wouldn't say it was crowded in any way, because I think that there still was plenty of room in front of the stages. The indisputable metal queen Doro unfortunately missed her flight due to massive traffic jams and therefore had to cancel her appearance and Swedish heavy metallers Bullet were quickly announced as replacements.

|Friday| - |Saturday|

Reviews and photos by Tobbe

Friday - July 31

Band: Electric Boys
Tube Stage 18:00-19:00

(sorry, no setlist)

Band: Hardcore Superstar
Bandit Stage 21:30-22:45

Hardcore Superstar seems to never do a half-assed gig and they are usually delivering what's expected out of them. The attitude of the performance is like dynamite and it's generally a high tempo on stage. This well-greased outfit has played numerous times at this festival though the years and although I haven't personally witnessed each and every one of them, I think that the crowd's response is awesome over and over again and the band is always welcomed back to these grounds with open arms.

The set is like many times before based on the band's self titled 2005 effort, although we only get 5 songs off it tonight. The remaining 8 songs, except Liberation, are picked from the period after that record and 2 songs are played off the band's newest release, HCSS. I guess that the latter possibly just happened to find their way to the set for the sake of it, because they actually are nowhere near good enough to be found among the band's 13 greatest songs.

The lead vocalist, Jocke Berg, seems to never run out of fuel and he's running up and down, forward and back over the stage floor, but still has full control of his actions and knows exactly how to entertain a crowd out on the Swedish countryside. His buddies in the band simply have to follow his lead, stick to their guns and things seem to happen naturally. It's not like they all end up in the shadow of their frontman though, because they interact with the audience in a very pleasing way too and as a unit, Hardcore Superstar yet again comes out as a great live act.

Performance: 7 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 7 chalices of 10
: Lead vocalist Jocke Berg.
: Touch The Sky and Moonshine.

Need No Company
Last Forever
My Good Reputation
Touch The Sky
Last Call For Alcohol
Cry Your Eyes Out
Wild Boys
Don't Mean Shit
Run To Your Mama
We Don't Celebrate Sundays
Above The Law

Band: Skid Row
Tube Stage 22:45-00:00

This was the first time that I watched a Skid Row set since they decided to bring Tony Harnell to the ranks earlier this year. It seems like I've heard bits and pieces of everything from awesome to complete failure and beforehand I therefore had no idea what to expect out of his and the band's performance. I'm the first to admit that it felt a little awkward to see a vocalist that I've seen with TNT a couple of times before now sing for Skid Row instead, but still, if you're open to change, I think that this move might have been crucial for the band's future existence.

In my opinion, Tony definitely did all right, even if his most prolific days of his magnificent run probably are over at this point. His voice occasionally wants to go to places he's comfortable with, but no matter what, he definitely by far manages to come out more valid than what the band's former vocalist Johnny Solinger did in the last few years, when the latter had lost pretty much all of his interest for live performances with Skid Row and that Johnny eventually got booted could hardly have surprised anyone who'd seen his absent actions on stage during his final few tours. The band as a whole still has a good amount of energy on stage and especially on the right wing with guitarist Scotti Hill's appearance. He's always trying hard to communicate with the people up front and also gets much appreciation for doing so.

The songs that they choose to play is more or less a display of the 2 first albums with the addition of a few selected songs from the 2 latest decades. To me personally, who have seen the band perform many times, with different singers, it would perhaps have turned out greater if they had shaken up the setlist a little bit and not have such strong focus on its initial records. At the same time, I'm fully aware of the fact that 90 percent of the crowd would have been extremely disappointed if Skid Row didn't play a set like this. A pretty good show at the end of the day and I believe that this unit at least won't lose any more fans with this lineup, than what they already did by sacking Sebastian Bach in 1996.

Performance: 6 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 6 chalices of 10
: Riot Act
: To always end the sets with Youth Gone Wild is just too predictable.

Setlist: (not in correct order)
18 And Life
Big Guns
Makin' A Mess
Slave To The Grind
Monkey Business
In A Darkened Room
Riot Act
Psycho Therapy
Thick Is The Skin
Let's Go
Youth Gone Wild

To the top

Saturday - August 01

Band: Bloodbound
Bandit Stage 16:30-17:30

(sorry, no setlist)

Band: U.D.O.
Tube Stage 19:30-20:45

Udo Dirkschneider and his U.D.O. has toured Sweden numerous times before and they visit this place so often that wherever you live in the Southern and most populated third of the country, you rarely have more than a one-hour drive to at least one or two gigs each and every year. Okay, I might exaggerate this a little bit, but when looking at how many times I've seen this group perform in the last decade, I think that the latest lineup changes with the guitarists were necessary. The previous axemen, Igor Gianola and Stefan Kaufmann, were in the end so completely uncommitted to the task that the gigs became really boring experiences to the concert goers and I personally don't know if I still would have been following this unit if the swaps hadn't been made.

As the band now comprises one of heavy metal's absolute happiest men on stage, Kasperi Heikkinen, who also gets some assistance from his Russian companion Andrey Smirnov, it's really a different and more vivid performance that's offered to the crowd. The band has suddenly turned somewhat into a force to be reckoned with again and the addition of 2 additional members, Udo's son Sven on drums and Harrison Young on keyboards, has further contributed to the band's renewal. I'm still not really sure or convinced what the latter one's role is in a metal unit like this, but he's at least rocking all right. This rejuvenation of the band has indeed made the veterans, Udo himself and bass player Fitty Wienhold, step up to their game as well.

The band has, besides from a couple of songs in the finale, stopped playing a lot of Accept songs during the sets, which to me also makes it more purposeful and earnest and shows that the band is definitely capable of standing strong with its own material. The everyday fans certainly come down to first and foremost see the classic Accept songs and especially the hits of course, but there are a lot of us who prefer the U.D.O. songs instead, simply because we haven't seen them live so frequently as we have with the 80's songs.

Still I think that they a little too much focus on the 2 latest releases and a set with songs off their entire catalogue would have been more suitable. It's surely a double-edged sword and no matter which way you put all these matters, someone is always gonna complain, but I'm confident that Udo in the end is doing his best to carefully please his fans.

Performance: 6 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 7 chalices of 10
: The guitarist Kasperi Heikkinen.
: The songs Decadent and Pain.

Blitz Of Lightning
King Of Mean
Black Widow
Never Cross My Way
They Want War
Animal House
Metal Machine
Metal Heart
Fast As A Shark
Balls To The Wall

Band: Dream Theater
Bandit Stage 20:45-22:15

The undisputed kings of progressive heavy metal, Dream Theater, are sometimes criticized for not having a singer who is capable of keeping up with the band's mighty skills. I think that James Labrie's vocal performance absolutely could have come out greater than what it did, but he's definitely doing okay on stage and it's indeed not a calamitous experience I witness on this Saturday night. At the same time, people hardly go to a Dream Theater concert for primary its well-performed vocals, because just to watch the guys play the actual music is utterly beyond the ordinary.

Dream Theater is during 2015 celebrating 30 years of the band's existence and is therefore playing one song off each of its albums. With mere a 90 minute show, LaBrie told us that they had to condense the songs to be able to play every song in the set, but I didn't find this matter noticeably important and most of the performed material didn't suffer and was fine anyway. With a set like this, people naturally question which songs to play and I guess most people in the crowd would have chosen a different set if they were in charge.

When you visit a show with this unit, you more or less know in advance what you're going to get, since there's always plenty of showing-off, in a great way though, and the men with the strings and keys are nothing but fascinating at what they do and their abilities cannot be questioned. All this skilled playing makes the guys look down a little too often on their instruments and some of the heavy metal concert feeling is naturally lost because of this.

The band is undoubtedly no masters of the art of interacting with an audience and the visual experience is like expected not very exciting and this show is basically a matter of listening, more than a matter of seeing and rocking out to the songs.

Performance: 6 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 7 chalices of 10
: The Spirit Carries On and Wither.
: The overall performance is too dry.

False Awakening Suite (Intro)
Metropolis - Part I "The Miracle And The Sleeper"
Caught In A Web
A Change Of Seasons: II. Innocence
Burning My Soul
The Spirit Carries On
About To Crash
As I Am
Panic Attack
Constant Motion
Bridges In The Sky
Behind The Veil

Band: Queensrÿche
Tube Stage 22:15-23:30

Queensrÿche performed a set filled with songs from the beginning of the band's career up to the 1990 album Empire and I believe nobody had expected anything significantly different really. This is what they've been doing during the last few years and most people on the grounds only know these songs, so I guess it's all for the good in the end, even if I personally would have wanted to hear a couple of songs off Todd La Torre's first record with the band, the 2013 self titled effort. For the record, the band in fact played a new song as well, called Arrow Of Time, which is taken from its forthcoming album Condition Hüman.

This gig could have been a fabulous one if the sound quality would have been all right through the entire set and if the band had chosen to play the 75 minutes it was given, instead of the 60 minutes now performed. During the first half of the set, the vocals of La Torre were not loud enough, Michael Wilton's guitar was occasionally absent and Eddie Jackson's bass guitar was definitely too loud and I must say that all this together was rather annoying, because it absolutely ruined part of the show.

Once the settings were corrected and the problems were gone, it was nothing but an amazing experience to watch this revitalized band who at this point seems to have left all its past issues with its former vocalist Geoff Tate behind. La Torre is really giving all these old songs and classics well deserved justice. He is able to perform them in a way that his predecessor is nowhere near of doing today, but it certainly must take its toll on his voice too, because it seems like he is indeed stretching his vocal cords to the limit and I wonder for how long he will be able to give the audience such great power on stage.

Performance: 7 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 3 chalices of 10
: The second half of the set.
: The sound was really poor during the first half of the set.

The Whisper
En Force
The Needle Lies
NM 156
Arrow Of Time
Jet City Woman
Eyes Of A Stranger
Queen Of The Reich
Take Hold Of The Flame

Band: Saxon
Bandit Stage 23:30-01:00

Saxon seems to never disappoint a crowd. They are total professionals and although a minimum of the band's performance is noticeably staged beforehand, except for the setlist of course, they really know how to please their fans every damn night. When approaching midnight, it was starting to get a little chilly on the festival area, but this was truly not an issue for the guys on stage, or perhaps it was a triggering factor for the veterans, in order for them to work even harder to last the full 90 minutes?

A festival gig with Saxon usually means them playing a set with mainly songs from the 80's and this night's set was no exception to that well-proven method. It obviously goes hand in hand with what the crowd wants to hear and even if I, as usual, want to have more fresh material in the list of songs, I can't blame the band for giving people their money's worth. All songs in the set, but 2, Sacrifice and the brand new track Battering Ram, are from 1990 or older and I have definitely seen those songs live numerous times before.

Bass player Nibbs Carter was headbanging more than ever and I wonder how much more of this tough treatment his neck can take before it breaks. Biff Byford never cease to amaze and this 64-year-old still shows quite a spectacular range and stamina in his voice. I wouldn't say that it's utterly awesome, but it's one thing to do it in the studio and a different situation when being on stage. You can definitely see that he is slowly aging though, but still he entertains the crowd in the most pleasing way and it seems like there's no end in sight for the band, even if they started this whole thing about 40 years ago.

Performance: 7 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 8 chalices of 10
: And The Bands Played On and The Eagle Has Landed.
: Too many old songs in the set.

Motorcycle Man
Power And The Glory
Rock 'N' Roll Gipsy
Battering Ram
Heavy Metal Thunder
Solid Ball Of Rock
20,000 Ft
Dallas 1 P.M.
And The Bands Played On
The Eagle Has Landed
747 (Strangers In The Night)
Princess Of The Night
Wheels Of Steel
Denim And Leather

To the top

The closing words

I wish that the organizers could find a way to upgrade the second stage to something more valid. It's not small, but basically it is indeed quite a greater experience to watch bands on the main stage than on the second stage. A couple of bands have a similar audience in size and therefore the visual experience is somewhat lost when the stage floor is about 3 feet lower on the second stage.

I can without a doubt say that most things on this festival are much to my liking though. It's indeed a nice little festival in the middle of nowhere and with kind of small means they have definitely been able to get a great lineup for this year's event. I'm very positive to returning for 2016's edition as well and if the lineup is as good as this year, I will be there for sure.

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