For the eighth year in a row, Skogsröjet Festival was held the last weekend in July in Rejmyre, Sweden. Since I missed out on Sweden Rock this summer I was extra happy that I got the chance to still attend Skogsröjet, seeing how great it was last year. Here are some of the highlights of this year’s festival.
Last time I saw Crucified Barbara was when they opened for Crashdïet at Whisky A Go-Go in L.A. and that time they were amazing. But I also had the disappointment I felt after seeing them last summer at Sweden Rock in mind, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect this time, at Skogsröjet. Luckily I didn’t have to worry at all. They start off with ”The Crucifier” from their last album The Midnight Chase, this festival is kicking off for real. Mia Coldheart’s voice is just as good live as it is on record and the only thing I have to complain about when the show’s over is that I wished it had been longer.
Later that evening it’s time for Shotgun. It’s been 25 years since Shotgun Messiah released their debut album and original members Zinny Zan and Stixx thought this was something to celebrate. Therefore they’re now out touring with Chris Laney and Ron Marcello under the name Shotgun. And when the band hit the stage they make sure that nobody misses out on the celebration! Their energy is amazing and the crowd are with them from the start. Happiest out of everyone is probably Zinny Zan himself. It’s obvious how much he loves being back on stage, singing the same songs from when he was on top of his career. His voice is still great and we get to hear all of Shotgun Messiah’s classic hits. It might not be the best show during the festival, but the crowd atmosphere doesn’t get better than this.
Last one out during the first day is Lita Ford. I’ve been dying to see Lita for several years – and apparently I have to wait just a bit longer. When she finally go on stage she’s almost an hour late and the audience is starting to be a bit impatient. Her first song doesn’t manage to change that, but after that both Lita and the crowd start to warm up. When she then tells the story about how she ran into Lemmy and got stuck at his house for three days but how they at least manage to write a song together and she kicks off the very much Motörhead inspired ”Can’t Catch Me,” I’m reminded of why I’ve been dying to see her for so many years. She also throws two of The Runaways songs in her setlist, ”Cherry Bomb” and ”Black Leather” and I’m sold. So when she finishes of with ”Kiss Me Deadly” I can almost go as far as saying it’s a magical night. Again, probably not the best show during the festival but possibly the one that meant the most to me.
The second day starts off pretty peacefully with Elevener, an AOR band from Gothenburg. If you’re into stuff like Journey and Toto, you should check them out. Their drummer, talented Anton Roos, also plays drums in a hard rock band called Saffire. They released their debut album From Ashes To Fire in May this year and even though this has nothing to do with Skogsröjet, I feel the need to point out that Saffire is definitely worth checking out.
Later in the afternoon it’s time for Crazy Lixx and there’s absolutely nothing peaceful about them. They’re kicking off with ”Young Blood” and giving 200 percent, which makes it a show that not only sounds great but also is great fun to look at. Singer Danny Rexon and bass player Jens Sjöholm are tied for being the most frantic about getting the crowd going. Guitarists Edd Liam and Andy Dawson got one podium on each side of the stage and take turns on jumping up and down from there. The only one who doesn’t seem to have as much fun as the rest is drummer Joél Cirera. He had the same stoneface during the entire set. But it doesn’t matter if he woke up on the wrong side of the bed or is thinking of something else, Crazy Lixx are putting on a great show. After the sing along to ”Heroes Are Forever” and especially to ”21 ’Til I Die,” there’s not much left to wish for.
Sister Sin are playing their second show during this festival. They finished off the first night, but today they’re filling in for Witchcraft who had to cancel on a very short notice. And as always, Sister Sin are awesome. Last year I said they’re a band you should definitely see live and it’s still just as true. Liv Jagrell is not only a great frontwoman, her voice is just amazing.
Someone else who also has an amazing voice is Erik Grönwall, the singer in H.E.A.T. Unfortunately it takes some time for people to notice, since his mic isn’t working when the band hits the stage in the afternoon. A moment of confusion occurs when the crowd are unable to hear his welcoming phrase and the first few lines of their opening song, which funny enough happens to be ”Breaking The Silence.” But once the sound technician got the mic under control again, H.E.A.T. sure knows what they’re doing. It doesn’t show that they’re filling in on the very last minute, because Crashdïet had to cancel. It barely shows that this is one of their first concerts without Dave Dalone on guitar. Eric Rivers handles being the solo guitarist very well, with great help from Jona Tee on his keyboard. And while I’m not usually a fan of H.E.A.T. it’s hard to argue with a band that has Eric Grönwall as a frontman. He’s so energetic just watching him exhausts me. But not once does this show off on his vocal performance. As I said, an amazing voice. The whole band has great energy and if this is the beginning for them as a quintet and they’re already this comfortable, it’s gonna be really interesting to see what the future holds.
When the evening comes it’s time for Faster Pussycat. They were supposed to play at Skogsröjet last year but had to cancel. Now they’re finally here and this is also their last show on their Europe tour, which means my expectations are high. And as soon as they go out on stage, it’s obvious that Faster Pussycat has a routine. No surprises there, seeing how long they’ve been doing this. But routine isn’t always a good thing, especially not live. Taime Downe seems more interested in smoking his cigarette than singing, which isn’t really helping his performance. Guitarists Xristian Simon and Ace von Johnson are trying the best they can to get the show going but it’s not exciting enough and parts of the crowd decide to leave as the show goes on. The highlight is ”House of Pain” when Taime Downe actually makes an effort and sits down on the edge of the stage while conducting the sing along and shows how good both he and Faster Pussycat can be – as long as they want to.
Last, but definitely not least, is the festival headliner Twisted Sister. And even though I’ve been saying some of the other bands had good energy, it’s nothing compared with Twisted Sister. Or should I maybe say Dee Snider. He may be closer to his 60’s but still does it better than any 20-something-year-old. His voice is just as good as it was 30 years ago. He gets everyone to jump when they sing the word ”rock” in the sing along to ”I Wanna Rock.” He runs around like a crazy person, he jumps up and down, he crawls across the stage. Only time he actually stops is when he’s complaining about the stage being too small – he wants even more space. It might not be as good as when they played at Sweden Rock last year but it’s still hard to say anything bad about Twisted Sister. And when they finish with ”S.M.F.” as the last extra number, I can think of any better end to this festival.
Twisted Sister – ”I Wanna Rock” Live at Skogsröjet: