By Rich “The Meister” Dillon

I, The Meister, have recently returned to Canada after my trek to Scandinavian Sweden for my second Sweden Rock Festival. Holding firm to the belief that we here in North America just don’t know how to put on a festival like the Europeans I had always wanted the experience of one of those huge events. Last year I chose The Sweden Rock Festival as my target based on the incredible line up of bands. The roster in 2014 was not quite as much to my liking, but falling in love with the whole experience from 2013 I was off again!

Sweden Rock 2014


The festival that started as a single day, nine band event in 1992, now boasts well over 80 acts on five stages spread over four days, takes place just outside of the small city of Solvesborg in the south of Sweden. The closest airport is that ofCopenhagen, Denmark and then travel by train to Solvesborg where a festival bus will happily (for a fee) take you to the grounds. There are several hotel options in and around the area with shuttle buses (again for a fee) running at regular intervals to and from the site, or for those more rustic in nature there’s the option of camping on the grounds. The grounds, as you can imagine, cover quite an expansive area, but it’s fairly easy to navigate your way around once you get the layout down. Everything seems incredibly well run by the staff, and two years in a row has been one of the highlights of my summer.

There are simply too many bands to cover each and every performer that I saw some of, but I’ll just stick to what some of the highlights for me were at 2014’s event. While the headliners were excellent, putting on captivating shows it was the lesser known bands and those that will probably never make it to North American soil that impressed me the most.Sweden Rock 2014 Grounds

While Madam X is a US formed group, they have not been around together since issuing their one and only release back in 1984. With the harsh Swedish sun beating down on my poor bald melon the band, comprised of all original members recently reunited, rocked the crowd during their noon set. The stunning Petrucci sisters account for half of the membership featuring Roxy (Vixen) on drums and Maxine (Maxine) on guitRoxy Petrucci-Madam Xar while Bret Kaiser handles vocals and Chris “Godzilla” Doliber wields his bass guitar. The budget must have been fairly high for Madam X as an immeasurable number of souvenirs went into the crowd such as buttons, picks, drumsticks and even a guitar! That’s right, a guitar! One of Godzilla’s broken bass guitars was passed out, but it was not long before he was destroying another as bits and pieces flew all over the stage, the results of his overhead smashing. One could presume that the smashing was due to anger at the bass guitar for previously drawing blood as he had smashed it against his forehead repeatedly only minutes earlier. What a spectacle and a great show all around…….they DO deserve the right!Ronnie Atkins-Pretty Maids

Denmark’s Pretty Maids have been issuing stellar melodic rock albums since 1984, but they’ve achieved little recognition or following over this side of the pond. Vocalist Ronnie Atkins led the band through a set spanning their 14 album catalog and sounded great doing it. “Mother of All Lies”, “Red, Hot & Heavy”, “My Soul to Take”, “I See Ghosts”, “Little Drops of Heaven” and “Future World” all peppered the setlist among others. It blows my mind that they’re not a household name here, and it was finally great to see this band in a live setting, if you’re into guitar rock with melodic vocal harmonies….check out some Pretty Maids, trust me!

Masterplan, featuring former Helloween axe slinger Roland Grapow, served up a delicious slice of power metal. They were a band that I knew a little about, mainly the newest effort, Novum Initium, prior to this event. I had not delved deep into their offerings, but I surely will be after this presentation! They included material from all four Masterplan albums and the band joining Grapow were Rick Altzi (vocals), Martin Marthus Skaroupka (drums), Axel Mackenrott (keyboards) and Jari Kainulainen (Bass). I wish I could have seen a longer set and they had not overlapped with two other bands but even with this I eked out 6 songs including “Black Night of Magic”, “Keep Your Dream Alive”, “Crimson Rider” and “Crystal Night”.

Sweden’s ThundClare Cunningham-Thundermotherermother is a quintet of attractive ladies producing some excellent punk infused rock and roll. I first became aware of the band through viewing a You-Tube concert of Sweden’s Sister Sin for which Thundermother were the band directly following. The girls ripped through a spirited set including familiar songs such as “Cheers” (before which started the Fireball shots which would continue throughout), “Rock n Roll Disaster”, “Shoot To Kill”, “The Dangerous Kind” and “Please Me”. Even though I passed by the merchandise booth many, many times each time coveting a Thundermother tee-shirt and CD, I failed to make the purchase before it was too late, I’m sure I can find something online!

Vdelli, a boogie/blues rock/power trio out of Perth, Australia, commented that it took them two days to get here! That’s a hell of a way for one show, but I’m glad that they did. They were the very first band on any stage of the 2014 festival and treated the crowd to their blues charged, riff laden fare including their recently released first ever video “Change the View”. Other material included such titles as “Loose Ends”, “Never Going Back”, “Time For A New Town” and the final song of “Don’t Bring Me Down”, which saw guitarist/vocalist and namesake Michael Vdelli breaking all his guitar strings!

Having a healthy appreciation for the Swedish music scene, I made sure to check out some bands presented by NEMIS (New Music In Sweden). The organization dedicated to promoting new music in Sweden showcased some great acts and I discovered three great new bands to keep an eye on, but I’m sure there are tons more to find.

Sweden’s Ammotrack has a couple of releases under their belt and their straight ahead no nonsense hard rock is exactly what I love. The whole band was tight with a strong vocalist, and they expended a lot of energy on stage during their set. “S.H.O.U.T.”, “Raise Your Hands”, “Fastlane”, “Hitman” and “Living Like An Angel” were but a few of the great songs I was treated to. This band is high on my radar and while I’m sure I won’t be seeing them in Canada anytime soon (a real shame), hopefully I can satisfy myself with the purchase of their CD’s.Beast

During a random wander, my actual destination forgotten, I passed by and became instantly drawn in by Beast’s set. They were a female fronted outfit and had a punk/thrash/Iron Maiden feel to the music if that makes any sense to you. Beast began to draw a crowd before they were through the first song of the set, and I could tell that I was not the only one loving it. Unfortunately, Rob Zombie was due on stage and as much as it hurt to pull myself away he is high on my “bucket list”. I left Beast after only three songs, but they made a lasting impression, and I’ll definitely be acquiring recorded material if it exists.

VA!? were another NEMIIda Svensson-VA!?S band and their all female membership initially drew my attention, having a heavy fascination (some may say issues) with ladies rocking in bands. Spirited, punk infused songs like “Kiss This Bitch”, “Crush”, “I Wanna Be Your Captain” and a cover of “Helter Skelter” filled the high energy set. These ladies rock, but the rain had started again and when it increased its intensity it was sadly time to retreat for my rain gear. I later learned that “VA” means “what” in Swedish and they are yet another band whose music I’ll be searching out.

Some other notable performances at 2014 Sweden Rock Festival I was able to catch were presented by TNT (with Tony Harnell back on vocals), Y&T, Q5, Jaguar, U.D.O. (who replaced Megadeth on short notice when they cancelled due to a death in a member’s family), W.A.S.P., Alice Cooper, Red Dragon Cartel, Danger Danger and Heaven’s Basement. There were, of course, many more great acts, but these were my top favorites of the four day epic event…….I can’t wait till next year!



Chemeister logoers from Sweden,
The Meister


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