Karlshamm Sweden June 11, 2000, 450 kroner!

by Scott Heller

From Aural Innovations #12 (September 2000)

Primal Fear, Big Elf, Kings X, Running Wild, King Diamond, Frank Marino, John Norum Group plus Brian Robertson, Armored Saint, Lynryd Skynryd

This was the first time I had been to this festival. It is the biggest Heavy Metal festival in Sweden and they bring in a good combination of new, old, and 70s bands as well. I traveled up with my friend Patrik from Helsingborg Sweden by car. It took about 1.5 hours to drive there through the Swedish farm communities on the way west. We left early in order to make sure to catch Frank Marino who was up at 1:30. Gas is really expensive in Sweden. 9.8 Swedish kroner to the liter. We got there in plenty of time to relax and listen to a bit of Primal Fear. They have two big stages and one tent stage and the bands are all staggered so you can catch all of everyone, for the most part. There were a few minor overlaps. Funny how we ended up around some bands like Lotus were standing in front of me during Frank Marino and during Kings X, the whole band Rise and Shine were next to us. 5.15 was near by during Big Elf. 5.15 played the day before, which we did not come for. It had bands like Dio, Yngwie Mamlmsteen, Saxon, Demon, Edguy, Alice Cooper, and Molly Hatchet.

We hung around the stage where Frank Marino was going to play for a while and he was checking out all his gear and waved hello. I got a couple of pics of him and talked with some cool Frank fans, some of which came all the way from Holland, also, one Swede who had gone all the way to Montreal for the June 2nd show and he had the T-shirt and the backstage pass, which worked here as well! Frank started a few minutes late (3 min) and opened with, guess what? You got it, The Answer, the same song he has used for ages. He sounded great. The new backing band was quite good and Frank sound sharp. They immediately went into Midnight Highway. When they stopped, the crowd (maybe 1000 or so watching) gave him a nice applause. You could tell Frank had been practicing the Blues, as Redhouse was really excellent. Next up was Strange Universe and this was totally excellent. I had never seen Frank play this song. Fantastic number. Poppy followed this which is always good but I would much rather hear some numbers from the new CD. We never did in fact, he never even mentioned it. This is where the show really lost it for me. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, with guitar and drum solos, lasted like 20 minutes, all the same stuff. Then Frank closed with a short version of Roadhouse Blues (crowd loved it!). He did not even play a guitar solo. That was it... 73 minutes.

After this we went and got some food and sat in the grass near the 2nd big stage and listened to Kings X. The whole band Rise and Shine were right next to us. I had not ever really listened to much of Kings X. They play a weird twisted kind of pop with a heavy guitar. The guitar player was quite good and did some nice solos but they were always too short. We thought they were pretty ok, but nothing that really grabbed us. They played for about 70 minutes. We missed their last song so we could run over and catch Big Elf, who were playing in the small tent immediately after Kings X. There were not too many people in the tent when we got there and we could have easily heard the last Kings X song. Most of the guys in 5.15 showed up to see Big Elf, as their bass player was playing with them. Big Elf really surprised Patrick and I. Great band. I would describe them as kind of a heavy metal version of Gentle Giant (not so gentle!) with more dark stranger lyrics! Uriah Heep is clearly a big influence on these guys as is Black Sabbath (Sweet Leaf would be their last encore!). They played a mix of songs from both their records. I really liked Psychoneuorpathic Eye! They played 65 minutes with the encores! Life and Death was very cool as well. One of their heaviest numbers. When they finished we went back over to the grass for a drink and to watch the end of Running Wild. They had a big crowd, must have been more than 5000 people, compared to the 500 for Big Elf.

During part of Running Wild I went over to the stage where Armored Saint were soundchecking and got their attention and spoke a little with Joey Vera, who remembered me. None of the rest of the guys seem to or care. They really rocked hard, just like in the old days. There was a real hardcore of 50 or so who were really into them and maybe 500-1000 watching total. Not a very big crowd. The sound was very loud, on the point of distorted and they guy never really got Phil's guitar up in the mix very well, while Jeff sounded excellent. Two great guitar players. The whole band sounds like they never missed a day together, despite it being 8 years since the last tour! John Bush's voice was the same but a bit more harsh and you could tell it had damaged his voice a bit to sing in the style he uses in Anthrax.

The band opened with Chemical Euphoria. The set would most heavily feature material from Symbol of Salvation. The band next rocked with Nervous Man and Long before I Die, both from Delirious Nomad. Two new numbers followed, After me the Flood and another one, but I did not know the title. Both were quite good numbers but not as strong as anything they played in their short set. Next up were three from SOS, Book of Blood (fucking great song!), Symbol of Salvation and Tribal Dance. The band closed with a medley from the first record and John pointed out my March of the Saint T-shirt. Can U Deliver, March and Madhouse. The band would not come back for an encore, even though they had more than 30 minutes more they could have played. We were quite disappointed but you could tell the band were also surprised, perhaps at the small crowd and only few hundred really into their Smoking set. But they could have played longer. I spoke to Joey after the show and he said to meet up with him for a drink 30 minutes after they played and I did but he never showed. I did talk to Jeff and Phil briefly!

Now, we went back to the lawn for a drink and to watch King Diamond from a distance. His crowd was huge and was building. He would have more than 10,000 watching him play. I was very surprised how incredible the KING was. The stage show was impressive, the song selection excellent and the crowd totally into it. I did not record him but we really enjoyed him a lot. I did go close and take a few pictures. I will have to go see him next time he comes. It was a great show. He played for 75 or 80 minutes.

The sun was going down at this time (9:30) and it was getting a little cool, so Patrik ran back to the car to get our pants. He just made it back in time for us to get a dead center place to see the John Norum Group. He is a great guitar player. He would play a 40 minute set of his songs, which are all kind of melodic speed metal type songs, then Brian Robertson would come out and they played 30 minutes of Thin Lizzy songs. John also had a female guitar player who jammed on one song with them. She was quite good once she got her shit together. All the guests had a lot of trouble, especially Brian. John had the home crowd who were really into it. Since Thin Lizzy had cancelled, there was quite a big crowd here to watch these guys play. They would play all heavy Lizzy songs except for Still in Love with you. Robertson really played great guitar on this song. Warrior, Are you Ready?, Suicide, Massacre and Emerald were all played. Pretty cool.

Finally, it was time for our day to end and Lynryd Skynryd to play. They started 5 minutes after John Norum finished. We missed recording the last Lizzy number in order to get a good place at the big stage for LS. There were not that many people left to see LS as it was getting cold, but it was 4000 or so, I would guess. The sound was fantastic and the band sounded really great, 10 times better than when I had seen them in 1994. The band opened with What's your Name?. Rick Medlocke was having the most fun of any of the guys I think and the old Outlaws guitar player he played really hot guitar! Next up were two new songs, Edge of Forever and Preachin' Man, both were excellent songs… I was surprised, I know a little and Simple Man followed, then was the highlight of the show. A medley of great old numbers, Down South Jukin, Needle and the Spoon, Whiskey Rock a Roller, Down to the Swamp, Ballad of Curtis Loew and Workin' Man. Killer.

The band were really in a jamming mood now and it also was starting to rain when they started into T for Texas. This was the guitar highlight of the day, as these three guys really went for it. That Smell was excellent and the crowd dug this song. Gimmie Three Steps and Call me the Breeze were also great. I was surprised at how much I was getting into the band but they sounded great and it reminded me of my days of when I would listen to a lot of southern rock, though I was never that into Skynryd! They closed with Sweet Home Alabama and Freebird. A short set of 100 minutes, considering ZZ TOP was suppose to headline and that then left LS 2.5 hours to play since ZZ cancelled. We were exhausted after this day and had to drive back to Helsingborg. We got to Patriks apt about 3:15 am! Phew. What a day of rock!!!!!!

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