|» Väsby Rock Festival 2014||
Väsby Rock Festival 2014
The second edition of Väsby Rock Festival, now expanded to 2 full days on 2 stages. Both stages well sufficient in size and lighting, placed on opposite sides of a football (soccer) field. The turf on this field was nothing but exceptional with grass cut to approximately 1 inch and I was delighted to not having to stand on bumpy areas, muddy grounds or on gravel, like with many other outdoor events.
Located close to the freeway in Upplands Väsby
in the northern suburbs of Stockholm, I finally didn't have to travel
to distant locations to get to a festival with heavy music. Of course
there are different types of festivals in the immediate vicinity of Sweden's
capital as well, but I frankly don't see the Live Nation and such promoters
single day arrangements with acts like Metallica and Iron Maiden as real
festivals in its true meaning.
Reviews and photos by Tobbe
Out of the ashes of Shotgun Messiah or Kingpin, if preferred, vocalist Zinny Zan and drummer Stixx teamed up a few years ago with Danger Danger guitarist Rob Marcello and multi involved musician and bassplayer Chris Laney to celebrate the legacy of Shotgun Messiah's debut of glam rock. This was this very outfit's final gig and before the gig started I definitely thought that they would rise to the occasion once again after having seen them live last year at Skogsröjet festival.
Little did I know. Shotgun certainly came out strong with Squeezin' Teazin', but still it instantly was evident that something was missing early on. The band didn't have the intensity and the flow to play as a solid unit. I later had a few words with Rob about this matter and that they weren't able to perform nearly as good as last year. He told me that this is what happens when you meet up the day before and don't rehearse properly. I'm not sure if that's a fully acceptable excuse for not being on top when people have come out to see what they are expecting to be a terrific moment of music.
Zinny Zan doesn't have the perfect body nowadays and his vocals aren't that fascinating, to express myself with kind words. On the contrary, he makes up for his shortages with a clever stage presence and also some funny shit between the songs, like when he tells us that he's 50 years old and already tired after performing 2 songs. This was absolutely not the way I wanted things to sum up this short reunion period and although this gig by all means wasn't totally poor, I left sort of disappointed, even if a few songs came out stronger than they originally do on the album.
Performance: 4 chalices
Band: At Vance
(sorry, no setlist)
This festival appearance of Norway's Jorn was something I definitely want to forget as soon as possible. I know that this wish is unattainable, because bad things tend to stick within every man's mind for a long time. Jorn Lande tries to sing, as he normally does, with passion, empathy and a facial expression telling me that he's there to rock, but he really doesn't hit it anywhere near big time this night. The music is heavy, but only with a few kick-ass and striking moments. Somewhat different from the original versions on the albums, the way I see it. All songs kind of end up being played in one ongoing tempo, which leads to a quick saturation and it's like listening to many different lyrics with one song backing them up. I'm naturally exaggerating, but you get the point.
After 45 minutes the band leaves the stage for, what we believe, a few
encores to finish the show. Instead of the band's return, in comes the
host Dave Nerge and tells us that the band was disappointed with the crowd
and therefore this was what we got, instead of the full hour, which was
the band's actual playing time according to the schedule. Before the next
show, Pretty Maids 30 minutes later, Nerge has changed his mind and instead
tells us that Lande had problems with his throat and therefore cut the
set short. I find the first version more trustworthy and it's not that
odd that the crowd didn't respond in a perfect way, since it obviously
only mirrored back what was given from the stage floor. This truly felt
as a support act and if this is how you treat your fans, you will never
find a way out of that position.
Performance: 3 chalices
(might be slightly incorrect)
Band: Pretty Maids
Danish outfit Pretty Maids shows longevity and nearly always delivers high-powered and cracking performances and this Friday night gig in Väsby was no exception. This gig held this full day's largest number of attendees and I believe that the crowd got their money's worth. The songs performed are generally great, although there naturally is plenty of room for adjustments to have things the way I personally would want to.
Lead vocalist Ronnie Atkins is on top with his energy and he's massively able to keep up the intensity on a high level during almost the entire set, although a few ballads made the pace drop occasionally. His wingers also do the job and complete their duties with style. Guitarist and band veteran Ken Hammer has his cool look and bassplayer Shades grows more and more into the band for every year. I know that I've pointed out Shades' efforts on stage before, but I think that it's worth mentioning this again, since he now is a key factor on the band's performances.
Performance: 7 chalices
Band: Primal Fear
Primal Fear is, according to my own opinion of course, a band that deserves way more attention and respect than what it actually gets. When looking at my personal taste, I can't find one single album that's anywhere close to being bad, or even just decent actually. Naturally each and every record isn't totally awesome, but the band has always held the metal banner high and is always keeping to its potent standards through the entire catalogue.
With its fast heavy metal, which in many people's eyes is frequently mistaken for being genuine power metal, I think that they are capable of delivering great music on the live sets and keep the pace on a massive level. Add that Ralf Scheepers possesses one of metal's finest vocal skills and in terms of that talent also dominates most singers on stage as well. He has an amazing ability to reproduce power and strength out of his voice when necessary and it's nothing but remarkable. I have some objections against his scanty movement pattern though, but it's obviously not simple to push your lungs to a maximum and at the same run around like a wild boar and front the band.
I enjoyed seeing original guitarist Tom Naumann back in the ranks as
a temporary replacement for Magnus Karlsson. Tom perhaps didn't make the
greatest impressions, but it's always fun to see someone who was involved
with the band right from the start. It makes things seem more genuine,
although certainly no shadow should ever fall on Magnus, whose duties
with Primal Fear is stunning. The latter has also been given the go-ahead
from the band to tour less in order to fit his schedule and family life.
All in all, this was a pretty dominating experience, which should have
earned a larger attendance, but I guess people were busy hanging in the
Performance: 7 chalices
Friday's headliners and closing act, Candlemass, had the disadvantage to start the set at midnight, when a lot of people had decided to leave the festival area after a day of heavy music and frankly I should say, that perhaps those people going home don't appreciate Swedish heavy doom music to sum things up to begin with.
Mats Levén is a fabulous singer and his voice was doing great as always. Yet I sometimes sort of miss the contrast that many-times-former singer Messiah Marcolin brought to the live shows with his stirring appearance. The latter was able to bring light and great visual experiences to the shows, even if the music was and still is very dark and immensely heavy and slow. Levén is more a man who relies on his singing abilities only and he doesn't interact with his audience in the same flamboyant way that the monk did. It's an unfavorable position to inherit and a few singers before Levén haven't been close to performing these duties this well.
Neither of Levén's companions on the stage floor, bassplayer and Mr. Candlemass Leif Edling and guitarists Mappe Björkman and Lars Johansson hold the ability to really take things to the limits. I mean, it's nevertheless a good performance, but as you have probably figured out already, I'm looking for more action and achievement to complete the whole enchilada to a level where this band is supposed to be at. It also bummed me out a little that they chose to play a shorter set than on the schedule and finishing things off 20 minutes earlier.
I've seen Candlemass at least twice almost every year since the band's
return in 2002 and although I seem cranky about details above, I still
enjoyed the show, but after seeing them this many times the last decade,
I guess I'm looking for something additional to really fire me up. Frankly,
this unit always perform well and they succeeded on that matter this night
Performance: 6 chalices
Swedish rockers Treat replaced Nubian Rose about 3 months ago and to make things simple, Treat was placed on Nubian Rose's spot at 13.00, resulting in a way too early hour, considering the band's popularity on home turf. Although, out of bad things, good things may appear, and I reckon a lot of people decided to come out to the festival area a little earlier and the size of the crowd was really impressive, when looking at the afternoon gigs the day before. Being Saturday might have weighed in as well, but still this is in mid-July and people take time off their jobs anyway.
Last year there were sources telling that Treat would soon disband again, ending its long awaited return to the scene, but perhaps the band was indecisive and has reconsidered, because they're still a vital live act and the latest album they released is their most stunning ever. The band seems to have a great deal of fun on stage and I believe it's one of the reasons why this gig turns out viable and exciting. Also, for the first ever I think, guitarist Anders Wikström, seemed satisfied with his tunings, as I didn't see him adjust something on his amplifier, not even once.
Treat's gigs has started to get a little repetitive and even if we're
presented great moments of music during this set, pretty much the same
songs run through all the shows they play. Lead vocalist, Robert Ernlund,
once again mentioned that they had put together a medley to be able to
play more songs during the 45 minutes of playing time. C'mon, it's getting
trite, because the same story has been told for years now. It was indeed
a good show nevertheless, no question about it and yet again I come out
as an old hag with my words, but change is due.
Performance: 6 chalices
With TNT reunited with lead vocalist Tony Harnell and them also being out on the Intuition 25th Anniversary Tour, naturally celebrating that album, which was released in 1989, all things ought to be a free ride to destined success. To have Tony back where he belongs is requisite for the band's long-term survival and I know all, and I mean all, one hundred percent, of TNT's followers agree. Things didn't however start out well. After a short intro, Ronni Le Tekrø's gear decided to break down and we had a 7-8 minute time-out while 2 guys were working their asses off to get things back on track again.
Ronni's facial expressions are something out of the ordinary. He twists and turns his face while he plays his guitar with divine inspiration. Tony fulfills his duties with much brilliance and I really can't figure out why the 2 female singers were backing him up on the high notes as much as they did. He definitely would have achieved most things by himself. This is where the fun part ends though, because things eventually didn't come out as great as expected.
A band with such many great songs and so much talent and experience should
be able to deliver a greater performance. Someone with insight should
ask them to have a look in detail at their list of songs. Many of the
songs are basically awesome, but still they have a great number of songs
that they could have picked instead. I mean, Invisible Noise, She Needs
Me and especially Northern Lights and perhaps 2 more should be nowhere
near a TNT set. I left a little disappointed, because this was something
I had looked forward to for a long time. Remember, the actual performance
wasn't bad, but the choice of setlist was, since it really took the edge
of the gig and I think that's important to point out, to rule out a possible
Performance: 5 chalices
Finally Europe was back on stage in Upplands Väsby, where it all began a long time ago. The band hadn't played a show in their old neighborhood in over 3 decades and the crowd looked excited and partially armed to their teeth for the very first time this weekend. It really was this certain gig that many people had come out for and I bet the band had twice the audience compared to any other act.
The band played for over 2 hours and it was a great show. My expectations told me, after seeing them live at Sweden Rock last year, that this gig could turn out pretty lame, but it truly didn't. Lead vocalist, Joey Tempest, is definitely a frontman with true experience and he shows great stage presence as well, which is necessary to keep up the balance, since his wingers don't come even close to his charisma and will to entertain. A few guest appearances took place. Guitarist John Norum's sister Tone performed a duet with Joey on Rock The Night and Eric Rivers of H.E.A.T played additional guitars on the song Wings Of Tomorrow.
The songs off the two first albums were by far the best tonight, since
the band somehow was able to recreate the rawness and the youthfulness
in the music. The crowd seemed to become a little rigid to the songs released
after the band's comeback, but personally I often prefer newer songs in
the set, since I haven't heard or seem them as many times. The new songs
might not always be as equally good as the old material, but to me that's
a no brainer. In the end, Europe was a suitable headliner for Väsby
Rock Festival and I will check them out again when they come to town.
Performance: 7 chalices
The closing words
I have no specific numbers, but I would say that around 3000 people were present when Europe played and all from 1000 to 1500 when the other bigger acts were on stage. A lot of the visitors hung out in the bar areas, although you were able to have your beers at all areas, which is not always the case at festivals due to shitty Swedish politics. There were almost no lines to food and drinks and an assumption would be that many locals came solely for Europe and therefore had other things to do when bands of no concern to them were on stage.
The weather turned out pretty great in the end.
It was sunny or partly cloudy most of the time, but we had a very light
shower at early afternoon Saturday and a heavier one later that day, but
at that point I was safe under the roof to the grandstand. The sound from
the stages could have been way better, but when putting that aside, I
think that the organizers did a terrific job overall. Väsby Rock
is indeed a nice little festival where I met a lot of friends and I will
most definitely visit this event next year as well.