Sweden Rock 2019

5-8 June 2019
I keep wondering every year. Which bands are still out there that could have the mass required to headline a festival the size and prestige of Sweden Rock? Every time, the organisers of Sweden Rock surprise me by setting up a top-notch program, where you are always wondering which band to drop in order to take a rest, drink a beer, or fulfill basic biological needs, such as visit the Volvo tent, test an Indian Motorcycle, or taste the highlight of the year, Casey’s vinegar fish and chips. Not surprising, the Festival was once more sold-out. Thirty five thousand people, 2000 more than last year, had swarmed Norje this year to participate in Sweden Rock Festival. Besides, it is more than a music festival; but a tradition that most visitors observe respectfully.
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Maybe it was these 2000 extra or there were any subtle but significant modifications in the space arrangements, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that the area was overcrowded; especially between the Rock and Festival stages. Nevertheless, the editors of Rockpages.gr were moving continuously from one stage to another, and here is what they made out of it.
Rockpages.gr mission: Sakis Nikas, Jan Muschiol, George Anasontzis
SwedenRock2019 4 004 Demon
Sakis Nikas: The first band that I saw upon my arrival in Sweden Rock. The played all the hits from the first couple of albums. Dave Hill appeared on stage with…pagan priest’s clothes and mask. Timeless.
George Anasontzis: And considering it was an early evening show on the first “half” day of the Festival, they had quite a crowd.
Gathering of Kings
SwedenRock2019 4 045 GoK
Sakis Nikas: Live debut from this new Swedish supergroup. All the singers were present. A really good show that will be released on DVD.
George Anasontzis: A great show. With so many singers, the 4Sound stage was too small for them… Practically, it is as we say, they change the singers like shirts.
SwedenRock2019 4 013 Krisiun
Jan Muschiol: On Wednesday the first band for me to see on SRF 2019 was Krisiun on the Rockklassiker stage. The Brazilian Death Metaller were a nice kick-off for the rest of the festival. The crowd was enjoying the concert with a small moshpit in front of the stage almost over the whole 45 min. In the end the band played a tribute to Lemmy and Motörhead (Ace of Spades).
Joe Lynn Turner
SwedenRock2019 4 064 JLT
Sakis Nikas: I was expecting the worse and I got the best. Turner was exceptional and played all the known tracks by Rainbow, Purple and Malmsteen. Dynazty was his backing band…easily, the highlight of the first day.
George Anasontzis: I wasn’t expecting the worse, but I was indeed extremely satisfied with the performance of Joe Lynn Turner and his backing band. To the point that I was afraid I wont have the same feeling after Rainbow’s show, a couple days later. And a more than fair headliner for the first day.
Death Angel
SwedenRock2019 4 095 DeathAngel
Sakis Nikas: This band can never let you down. With a new album on their luggage they had absolutely no problem winning over the Swedish fans.
Jan Muschiol: Later on Wednesday there was Death Angel on the 4Sound stage, who found their way after nine years back to SRF. People couldn’t await to see the Thrash legends from the San Francisco bay area and constantly shouted the band’s name.  This probably also motivated the band to start 5 min earlier than scheduled.  The concert itself was fantastic. The band fully enjoyed their almost groovy Thrash Metal and played new stuff from the latest album (Humanicide) as well as the old stuff, which was surely more welcome by the crowd.
Skid Row
SwedenRock2019 4 126 SkidRow
Sakis Nikas: Another band that I didn’t expect to be that good. Despite Snake’s absence, they played almost exclusively songs from the first couple of records. Wise choice.
George Anasontzis: An unexpectedly good finish for the day. The fact that it was only the first day and everyone was still “rested” did not contribute at all to us staying in front of the crowded Sweden stage until the last second.

Blaze Bayley
SwedenRock2019 3 009 Blade
Sakis Nikas: An honest performance with songs cued from the two Maiden albums that Blaze sang on. A good show despite the very early time (12:15)
George Anasontzis: It was nice to see Blaze in such a lively and vibrant performance and on such a large stage. It was nothing compared the small derelict club I had the chance to see him a few years ago. Besides, he appears to be in an awesome form. He also participated in a couple more shows in one of the partners tent, so there was no way to miss him, even if you wanted to.
SwedenRock2019 3 027 Powerwolf

Sakis Nikas: There’s quite some buzz about Powerwolf and judging by their show in Sweden Rock quite rightfully so. I am not a fan of their music but their show was impressive; the fans loved it and that’s what counts really.
Jan Muschiol: I can still remember my first Powerwolf concert on Wacken Open Air in 2008, where they were playing just on a very small stage. It is amazing how this band developed over the last years. They have a respectable international fan base and are playing on the big stages of major festivals. However, on SRF there were many Powerwolf virgins, so the frontman Attila Dorn had to give some singing lessons to the crowd. All in all a nice concert, although I would have liked to hear some more songs from the first albums.
SwedenRock2019 3 076 Krokus
Sakis Nikas: One of the main reasons for choosing Sweden Rock this year. With the classic line-up and playing songs mainly “Metal Rendez-Vous” and “Headhunter”, Krokus didn’t let anyone down on their farewell performance. Personally, I would have loved to listen to songs from my beloved 1984-1988 (and what about “Tokyo Nights” and “Screaming in the night”)…but, what can you do?
George Anasontzis: When Marc Storace tells you that this is officially the last tour, your brain translates it as “We’ll be back!” But still, they are not KISS, so it might be the last time we see them live and with the classic line-up. As ever, it’s a band that has fun on stage and you can feel it in the crowd as well. If only the kick drum was not so loud…
Sir Reg
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Jan Muschiol: A nice interlude on Thursday was Sir Reg, who played classic Irish Folk Punk Rock with mandolin and fiddle. The fiddler Karin Ullvin gave everything on her Irish colored instrument (orange bow, white strings and green fiddle) and danced over the whole stage. However, only a few were infected to dance in front of the stage, which was probably due to the hot weather.
Arch Enemy
SwedenRock2019 3 086 ArchEnemy
Jan Muschiol: Arch Enemy was amazing as always. I’ve seen them so many times now and not a single show was bad. The setlist was a best of through all times with my personal all time favorite songs Nemesis and Dead Eyes See No Future.
Amon Amarth
SwedenRock2019 3 103 AmonAmarth
Sakis Nikas: I managed to catch 3-4 songs from Amon Amarth. Impressive stage set and a storming show all in all. Again, not a fan but a huge admirer of their professional approach in the business.
Jan Muschiol: Late afternoon we got hammered by Amon Amarth. They really kicked ass. The crowd was already grilled by the sun but the band decided that was not enough and roasted us with a great pyro show. Nevertheless the people were definitively enjoying the concert and started mosh pits, a mini wall of death and the typical Amon Amarth rowing pits.
Tenacious D
SwedenRock2019 3 127 TenaciousD

Sakis Nikas: Jack Black on stage and the Swedish singing along to almost every lyric of the songs. A cool picture, ain’t it? One of those live concerts that I am sure we won’t see in Greece.
Jan Muschiol: Tenacious D was my most awaited concert on SRF2019, because I hadn’t had the chance to see one of their concerts until now. I have to say it was amazing as expected. Most of the people could sing a long their songs (including me). Not surprisingly the show was almost like in a theatre with actors playing a musical. The highlight was the acknowledging of all kinds of people like in a movie (incl. the light showmaster with a light show solo) and Jack Black singing an ABBA cover song (Take A Chance On Me), which was the first song he could remember as a six-year old.
George Anasontzis: Maybe they didn’t have the huge phoenix ejaculating at the end of the show, but at least they had the theatrical games on stage that we all love with Tenacious D: The fight with the devil, the manipulation of the roadies, and the very characteristic grimaces of Jack Black. A magnificent show overall, with an amazing crowd singing along all – ALL – the songs, old and new! We are the D, we are the D, we are the D, we are the D!
Def Leppard
SwedenRock2019 3 139 DefLeppard
Sakis Nikas: By all means, the best band of the 4-day live extravaganza. Crystal clear sound, flawless performance, impressive show and a perfect set list: “Let It Go”, “Switch 625” & “Foolin’”…what more could we ask for? Maybe…“Rock Brigade”…just saying!
George Anasontzis: What if I watched them live at the same stage a few years back? I would watch them again next year if possible! Perfect sound, authentic connection with the audience, fantastic set-list. And a reminder how important friendship is.
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Jan Muschiol: In parallel to Def Leppard there was Scarlet, which I decided to see as well – luckily. First surprise when I arrived in the tent: It was pretty crowded although one of the headliners was playing. And second surprise: this concert was unexpectedly great. I haven’t heard of Scarlet before and didn’t know what to expect. How to describe it? Take a bit of an Alice Cooper show, Rage Against the Machine or Clawfinger music and spice it up with Rammstein lyrics (in English of course). Then you have an idea of what this concert was alike. The frontlady (name unknown) was accompanied by their gang consisting of background dancers, a background singer and some more show elements as well as gangster musicians. I hope we will hear more of this amazing band in the future and they will play more international shows. (It was a bit difficult to find out more. I suggest to visit https://www.scarlethunts.com/.)
SwedenRock2019 3 188 Slayer
Sakis Nikas: I got to see half an hour of Slayer due to the fact that they were on stage at the same time as FM. They were really tight and put on a better show than the last time that I saw them 9 years ago.
Jan Muschiol: In the night from Thursday to Friday Slayer played their last show in Sweden on their Final Campaign tour. To sum it up: Slayer as we know them with a pyro show even better than in the afternoon at Amon Amarth. Noteworthy: The frontman Tom Araya even interacted with the audience a little bit. His last words after the concert were: “I’ll miss you guys a whole fucking lot”.
SwedenRock2019 3 170 FM

Sakis Nikas: Guarantee! Overland’s voice is the same all those years and the band played only the hits. I just hoped that the crowd would be more expressive and into the show. Maybe it had to do with the fact that they were on stage at midnight after Leppard’s set.
The Night Flight Orchestra
SwedenRock2019 2 026 NFO
Sakis Nikas: My God…what a show! The band’s disco rock sound proved to be the ideal soundtrack to this festival with the crowd dancing along and the…champagne flowing constantly on stage. A perfect party atmosphere!
George Anasontzis: Imagine the fun in a night flight, where you are constantly served alcohol while uptempo dancing rock music is playing live. Apart from the fact that it was midday, that’s how the NFO’s show was, with alcohol pouring on (and off) stage and a crazy party in the moshpit.
SwedenRock2019 2 030 Magnum
Sakis Nikas: Slightly better than the last time that I saw them but again Catley’s voice was not at its best. Maybe the sun, the high temperature, and midday’s humidity didn’t help so much.
George Anasontzis: It was a great opportunity to see Bob Catley live with Magnum (the last time being with Avantasia). A hard working band, Magnum filled the Festival stage area with the harmonic melodies of Tony Clarkin and the characteristic voice of Catley. It would fit better the show to be under the starry sky and silver moon, but we had to cope with the scorching (yes, in Sweden) sun.
Royal Republic
SwedenRock2019 2 063 RR
Jan Muschiol: My Friday started with a bit more mainstream rock from Royal Republic. While having some lunch I constantly wanted to dance because of the band’s music. People sitting on the hill even got up to dance (including me), when Full Steam Space Machine was on. In the end the band played a Metallica cover (Battery), because Metallica will never play on SRF. Next time they come they promised to play another cover song: Hammersmashed Face from Cannibal Corpse.
George Anasontzis: Royal Republic was one of the (personal) surprises of the festival. It is exactly what I like about festivals. You are at the record store tent, and suddenly some awesome music starts coming from the adjacent stage. You come out with surprise and you see these red-clad sharp-dressed men pouring the stage with energy. These guys just got one more fan (at least).
Axel Rudi Pell
SwedenRock2019 2 077 ARP
Sakis Nikas: I was eagerly waiting for this concert, as I haven’t seen Pell in the past. However, he faced too many technical problems with the sound and the guitar tone. Gioeli’s voice was great but Rondinelli was going through the motions behind the drums. I expected more…
Jan Muschiol: The guitar veteran Axel Rudi Pell and his band had some technical issues throughout the concert. Although the band did play well the audience was not freaking out completely.
George Anasontzis: The show was as I expected (except the technical problems of course). Gioeli being the main driver with his passionate performance, Rondinelli making drumming look so easy (which obviously is for him), and Pell showing off the well-documented guitar work with stereotypical German composure. Maybe the audience had the standard afternoon relaxing attitude, but that’s not uncommon in festivals.
SwedenRock2019 2 110 Candlemass
Jan Muschiol: The Friday afternoon’s highlight was definitively the doom metal legend Candlemass. Their setlist contained best of old songs as well as new stuff from the latest album The Door to Doom. The current vocalist Johan Längqvist (the best they had, if you ask me) was performing amazingly. During one of the last songs he was accompanied by a nice burlesque dancer.
Uli Jon Roth
SwedenRock2019 2 099 UJR

Sakis Nikas: I got to see only “In Trance”, “Speedy’s Comin’” and “Pictured Life”. As always, Uli was on top form and the backing band was really great, I must say.
George Anasontzis: Despite what I expected, this was a very cool performance! The German was communicating well with the audience, and him and the whole band was coordinating very nicely! I regretted I didn’t stay the whole time, but I wanted a good spot for ZZ Top.
ZZ Top
SwedenRock2019 2 120 ZZTop
Sakis Nikas: An OK performance by ZZ Top. They played the classic hits but they left me under the impression that something held them back. Even Frank Beard seemed exhausted and the band left quite abruptly.
Jan Muschiol: My first time ZZ Top and to be honest I didn’t expect too much with respect to show elements (apart from the beards). And that’s exactly what I got. So expectations met. I liked the concert and to hear the well-known songs live.
George Anasontzis: I have to be honest. I had an awesome time the last time I saw ZZ Top, maybe ten years ago. And now I really wanted to have the same… I cannot say that the band was any different though. The songs were probably more or less the same, Hill and Gibbons were never doing any stage strolling anyway, Beard didn’t miss a beat, and people around me seemed to enjoy. So what was my problem? Maybe the Festival stage was too large for them, they were a little too much to the back of the stage, they had barely any communication with the audience (apart from their songs of course), and at the end they left in a hurry… Still, of course I don’t regret watching them live and I really hope to get the chance to see them again.
Jag Panzer
Sakis Nikas: They played the best cuts from the mighty “Ample Destruction” album but the Swdish crowd was not supportive at all. I totally undertand why Panzer prefer to play in such places as Greece.
SwedenRock2019 2 162 Disturbed

Sakis Nikas: The fans gathered from early on for Disturbed. The American outfit had absolutely no problem of making the whole place jumping up and down with their songs. I loved the cover version of Genesis’ “Land of Confusion”.
At the Gates
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Jan Muschiol: Unfortunately, not too many found their way to At The Gates on late Friday afternoon, which was good for me so I could have a nice place to enjoy the concert relaxed almost in front of the stage. The guys from Gothenburg gave a really nice concert, during which I and the people around me could do a lot of headbanging.
SwedenRock2019 2 168 Witchfynde

Sakis Nikas: One of my favorite bands that I had the luck to see in Greece only a few days ago. Their occult NWOBHM went over well in Sweden but not as great as Greece. It’s a matter of temperament, I guess…
George Anasontzis: I saw Witchfynde on my way to find a nice spot for the KISS show. Although the Brits were playing in the small covered Rokklassiker stage, and the audience was sparse, they gave a show of very high quality. Expected from these NWBHM veterans.
SwedenRock2019 2 215 KISS
Sakis Nikas: I had to see KISS on their farewell tour. I know that they are not what they used to be but they remain my favorite band. Paul was again below par and the vocals were pre-recorded but Gene was a monster! He saved the day…definitely! I must add that this was the best stage set and show that I have ever seen from KISS throughout all these years.
Jan Muschiol: What to say about a Kiss show? This was only the second one I ever have seen and it was of course amazing. Although the voice of Paul Stanley is not the best anymore people were enjoying every single bit of the concert with laser light show and fireworks.
George Anasontzis: Although it felt a kind of a repetition of the farewell show a few years ago, and Paul Stanley was screaming continuously like someone was stepping on his ankle, it was fun. Great songs, including Crazy Nights, fireworks from Thayer’s guitar, blood from Gene Simmons’ mouth, Singer in the air, Stanley flying foxing, and closing with Beth, balloons…
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Jan Muschiol: Although Kiss was playing in parallel I wanted to see Batushka from Poland playing Black Metal accompanied with an orthodox black mass. As already the day before, the tent was surprisingly crowded and people couldn’t await the band to start. The show started in time with lighting the candles, which took already ten minutes. Due to the huge amount of things on the stage, you could hardly see the band. Only the priest vocalist was visible, which was probably on purpose. Also the sound was not totally perfect. Anyway it was a nice concert with a unique show.
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Jan Muschiol: The Frida