TONS OF ROCK Featured

Norways biggest hardrock and metal festival!

  By Sophia Kouroumali

 Tons of Rock, tons of metal and tons of things to say.

 Day I

 

Death to All

 I don’t know if the Scream Stage was named after “Scream Bloody Gore” but that’s what I instantly thought and the amount of Death t-shirts around made it feel plausible. If I had to venture a guess, I’d say it was the second most worn band after Maiden. This alone creates a sense of respect and appreciation for one’s fellow festival attendees. Having said that, the turnout was rather disappointing if understandable considering it was 1 o’clock on a Thursday (and in any case we are still talking about a few thousand people watching by the end of the set). This is probably the only scheduling move that made no sense to me. I have zero knowledge of record sales in Norway or Norwegian preferences but I would imagine that the importance of the musicians playing in this band alone would have called for a later slot. Anyhow.
 For those familiar with the story, the lineup and Death’s music you’ll know that there’s not much that could go wrong with this show. These are all exceptional musicians performing metal masterpieces so the only way to not watch in wonder and pleasure is if you have any ethical dilemmas about the actual existence of this band. Can’t say that I don’t often question it myself but having never seen Death when Chuck was alive, I jumped at the chance to do so when they first formed and it was such a great gig that I was ecstatic at the prospect of seeing them again now.
 Unfortunately, I will say that in comparison, their performance at Tons of Rock left some things to be desired. Hoglan was more majestic than ever; his slimmed-down version has not taken anything away from his presence but on the contrary, it has added a really cool rock-star aura to the mix. As far as his drumming goes, I consider it a joke to even comment. The man’s a legend. Steve Di Georgio. Legend number 2. “Yet at the same time”, when I saw him in Athens it was almost transcendental. His sound, performance, words back then, cliched though it may sound, were everything you could have imagined and more. This sunny day in Oslo there was either something missing or it could just be a case of a second time not being a charm…Judging by comments on social media, I’ll readily accept the latter as an explanation but I do feel the need to report it. Regardless, a bad day for DiGeorgio is a day many performers would aspire to. He refers to Chuck throughout the show, explains how they are all performing to keep their friend’s legacy alive and the crowd chants Death and Chuck’s name rhythmically in response. Bobby Koelble was in a beasting mood and really interacted with the crowd, especially those in front of him while Max Phelps remains freakishly close to Chuck in terms of vocal delivery. So what was wrong? Maybe the time, the heat or the sun? The controlled presence of those around me? Who knows…
 Even after exhausting my objectivity and scepticism however, I can say that I saw no other pit so full of joy and metal solidarity in any other band. Plus, let’s face it, who can really outshine a band playing “Overactive Imagination”?


Fixation
“This is not the price for our sins, this is what we've done.”

 Without having heard a single note or done any research, you instantly know that this band cares not just about what they are playing but also about what they are saying. With lyrics (and some vocal lines) reminiscent of Rise Against: “the 1% wants the world to end” and “trust the children of this generation” their crowd sings along but when they play the almost hypnotic “What we have done” you realise that even though not many are in the Vampire tent at the moment, most here are already very familiar with this band. Sound is impeccable as is the performance from a band who stepped in at the (late if not) last minute to fill in for Spiritbox. Communication with the crowd is great and if I am not terribly mistaken, they are the only band who thanked their (?) soundguy. At least that’s what I think their highly-stylized and vocally-gifted singer, Jonas Hansen said when he mentioned a name and the crowd turned to the console and applauded. If not, I apologise for the misinformation. If however it is the case, let us just award some extra points to Fixation for that.
 So, if you like your metalcore but Leprous speaks to your heart, look no further. Should you see them live? Definitely.


Raised Fist
SHC: not what Sweden is best known for but perhaps it should be.

 Baroness are playing on the Scream stage. Not an easy band to go up against, or leave behind in my case but I had high expectations from Raised Fist and boy (or girl) did they deliver!
 Looking at the Vampire stage, my first thought was that Mr. Alexander “Alle” Hagman (please tell me it’s pronounced ale) must really like Henry Rollins. There are many elements that bring Rollins and Black Flag to mind, more in terms of attitude than musical affinity since, in the 30 years they’ve been active, Raised Fist have incorporated elements from oldschool to contemporary hardcore - as well as from genres outside it. Some deviations may be more successful than others but regardless, their performance tonight proves that whatever they play, they do so with conviction (in the Skyclad sense).
 Vampire tent is packed and both performance and sound have this tight, in-your-face edge that I often think only quality hardcore bands can produce. People are headbanging, dancing, groovin’ along, anything but stand still.  The band’s working the crowd effortlessly and when they play “Murder” (“We are Raised Fist and this is how it is!”) everyone goes apeshit and the song ends amidst a massive round of applause. Then something about 93, dedicated their last song to everyone, including the haters: “we believe you can change” and the insanely catchy anthem that is “Friends and Traitors” ends the show. Wow. Just wow.


Fire from the gods
Not everything that glitters is gold but at least it wasn’t tinfoil…

 As I reluctantly leave HMN behind and approach the Vampire tent, I see it is half full (and not half empty). Hardcorish riffs echo and the sight is most promising. Few minutes in I begin to fear that like most things promised, this too may be empty… The frontman is quite commanding but he’s not very in command of his voice. To be fair though, the band has been on tour for a month or two so maybe this has taken its toll while his rapping skill and enunciation almost make up for it. Also, I may have been the only one who minded. The front rows are cheering along having a good time while the well-assimilated Korn influences in the samples and vocal lines work beautifully, making everyone jump along every now and then. Compared to all else today however, this is slightly underwhelming but since the band has been touring with Five Finger Death Punch (as they are both at the same label, Better Noise Music) and has also worked with Korn’s Jonathan Davies, I think Tons of Rock had little say on the matter. In any case, time is now 16:32 and Europe will be on at 16:40 and as I am pondering if I have time for another song, Mr. AJ Channer declares: “Fuck covid, fuck the war and fuck shady politicians” so with these words of wisdom I decide to make my way to the main stage.


 Baroness

 They are introduced with W.A.S.P.’s “F**k like a Beast”. As intriguing/appealing as this choice may have been, I had to leave them behind for a while (I thought) to check out Raised Fist but turns out I was only back in time for the thank yous. Mr. John Baizley is polite and all inclusive as he thanks everyone. “Thank you to the ones who came out for us, the ones that just got to know us and everyone in between'' which just goes to show that this band, besides the fact that it could come with a quality guarantee, exudes an air of consideration and sophistication that goes far beyond their music. Ms Gina Gleason is radiant and sexy in an effortless way, perhaps by the sheer virtue of her guitar playing and of how much she seems to enjoy it. My only minor complaint is that the cameraperson seemed equally fond of both guitar players and, for those of us who had decided to sit on the grass at the back, the band seemed to perform without a bassist and with a guest drummer. (I know some of you may not consider them musicians, but they have feelings too.)
 Baroness’s sound is stellar: warm, enveloping, tight and although characteristically metal, it’s got all the tonalities of a rock/blues band. A beauty in itself. Listening to them perform, I think that this is the perfect example of what artistry, hard work and professionalism produce. The end of their set they say will consist of three songs from their first album but according to the setlist and not my memory, they only played two from the “Red” album and one from the “Blue”. They leave quickly, thanking in a brutal voice but not before plugging Enslaved.


Hedvig Mollestad Trio
OMG and/or Honesty is everything…

 I had never heard the name, let alone their music, before seeing it at the festival’s program. Instantly, I googled and semi-instantly it became one of the bands I was most curious about. I made a very conscious choice of not listening to much of their music prior to their performance and to the stage we go.
 Spangly dresses glistening in the distance and a distinctively familiar, warm sound. It feels like.. Rock with all the connotations, expectations and understanding each of us have for it. It’s stripped down to the basics and all of the basics are both in plenty and of the highest quality. The stage is taken up by: three people (two of which are in said dresses) Hedvig Mollestad (guitar, vocals), Ellen Brekken (bass) and Ivar Loe Bjornstad (drums), orange amps and a double bass full of promise for what lies in store.
 Riff after riff, the style varied just enough to keep you constantly engaged. There weren’t too many people but those who were there didn’t take their eyes off the stage. Ms Hedvig Mollestad has a broad smile on her face as she rocks her guitar, getting the crowd to cheer whenever she feels like it while exhibiting true mastery in her instrument without any sign of flamboyance, pretence or need to show off. She moves with ease between Rage Against the Machine riffs and jazz improvisations, speaks in Norwegian so I have no idea what she’s saying but I get some of the titles and I laugh as she says: “Ding Dong, you’re dead” (which sounds nothing like “Surprise, you’re dead” but is still a cool tune). During their set, and perhaps because women’s rights and empowerment are all the rage nowadays, I can’t stop thinking that besides being killer musician’s, both of them can serve as perfect role models for tons of girls (bu dum tss).
 Having said that though, there are very few girls in the crowd, or boys for that matter. In fact, I may be noticeably younger than the average listener in sight- whereas up to this point I was only noticeably shorter. For shame and I do hope this changes in the future, but at the same time it is understandable. With music deeply rooted in jazz/blues. classic rock and rock n’ roll and a no frills attitude, it is not surprising that the newer generations may be completely indifferent or even incapable of relating to their work. In any case, and just so we are perfectly clear this is a band you need to see live not just because their songs often sound very different from their studio versions but also because it is this type of performing that makes concerts a unique experience.
 Hedvig Mollestad Trio, I salute you.


Mastodon
Pure emotion or the exact opposite?

 This is the 4th time I see Mastodon live, the 3rd I hear them live and perhaps the one I was looking forward to the most. Judging from what I experienced, this is probably the one you should also be looking forward to the most. Even, or especially, if you are not a fan.
 As I am making my way to the stage, the band has already started and although I cannot see them their sound is unmistakable and yet.. something is slightly different.
 “Oh, my dear, look what we’ve done here…I’ve turned the grief to medicine, into my mouth will enter…” Yes, I think they did. Healing, spirituality, connection. The people around me are equally absorbed and for those of you familiar with the band, you know that’s not necessarily the case when they perform.
 Although they are generally not the chattiest of bands, and today is no exception, Bren gets the crowd to do his bidding by a railroad of semi-imaginative swear words (“get your motherfucking ++++++ hands in the air”) which to me was a bit like a cold shower after a really emotional performance of “Pain with an Anchor”.
 It is precisely this display of emotion that makes this Mastodon show really stand out. All of them are far more openly emotional, Brann Dailor with his facial expressions and singing, Troy Sanders with his look, gestures and overall presence and Brent Hinds and Bill Kelliher well, with being themselves although there are a few moments, and I may be way off here, where I think some gazes and pick throws to the crowd carry some additional meaning. There’s something distinctly introspective but they are simultaneously so finely timed and in tune with each other that, this quality, is in itself an audiovisual trip. Anyway, what is definitely true is that there are several fans around and the set is going down well with them. Flow’s good and execution is perfect while there is a certain maturity that really sits well with them.
 Gradually, the mood seems to shift and you could even detect mild dionysean undertones. Smiles begin to crack (not in the skye unfortunately), crab (or is it chicken?) walks, chuckles and “Mother Puncher” performed beautifully with its slow, groovy riff taking up the space/time it deserves. “Gobblers of Dregs” comes on, reminding me that I have not noted how differently these prog infusions sound live. It’s not easy to explain but, on record one could argue they have ‘watered down the metalness’ of Mastodon. Live, however, the band’s as heavy as ever while these melodies increase the variety of the set enabling the band to keep the crowd more engaged throughout. That is to say, in a sense they’ve become more listener/radio-friendly without necessarily sacrificing any of their complexity or interest. Special reference needs to be made to Mr. Joao Nogueira not just for some really cool keyboard moments (both on stage and in the album) but also for sporting an iconic look with his white/red logo Mayhem tank and top hat. Dressing for the occasion should never go unnoticed.
 Troy: “It’s not everyday we get to roll into town to open for Iron maiden. Thank you for making a dream come true. From the first record (did he say that?) Leviathan, this is ‘Blood and Thunder’.” And you all know what happened. The only thing you may not know is how quickly they all disappeared from the stage, leaving Brann all alone who I think for a moment was thinking the others were coming back. As did I. But they didn’t… and one wonders if one’s romantic thoughts are only in their own (usually not so romantic) head…

 

Hypocrisy in the Vampire tent: Fitting.
Hypocrisy live: Anytime

 Last band of the night for this stage. Second (?) song in and already the first half of the tent is packed so moving any further to the front seems improbable. Of course the competition for the fans of the more extreme spectrum (and maybe not just for them…) is non-existent since Sum41 are playing on the Scream stage and Maiden won’t be on till 9.
 Hypocrisy look and sound good, although I have to say that in retrospect, out of the three stages I feel the Vampire is lagging just a little bit behind (sound’s slightly more ‘unpredictable’ and not as balanced). It could be a matter of taste. The stage is appropriately “cold” with purple, ice-white and blue tones dominating against the volcanic colours of their Worship backdrop. In noticing this I realise that this is probably the first almost diegetic light design I’ve seen so far and definitely one of the best throughout. Kudos to the lighting engineer.
 At the same time, Hypocrisy’s fashion sense also speaks to my heart as I feel that the metal simplicity of t-shirt and jeans, probably utterly unappealing to a generation that considers Dimmu Borgir classic rock, is becoming extinct. What should be noted however, is that the band is absolutely commanding the stage. Mr Tomas Eloffson is a sight to behold - and not just because of his physical presence - while Mr Peter Tagtgren is highly interpretive in his performance. Whether a lost art or a cult remnant, it soon turns uber-cvlt as he raises his horns every time he says Satan in “Adjusting the Sun”. He speaks to the crowd (obviously I have no idea what about but they respond very well to him) and… “there is no time!”. Majestic and catchy, “Eraser” sounds 10x better live in my opinion and the crowd loves it.
 As time goes by, some have left and it’s easier to move to the front so now I’m just a few rows from the stage. With a high-pitched voice Tagtren shrieks something before he descends into his abysmal register for “Inferior Devoties”. It is a monster of a song, and a pleasure to hear live as you get to experience all its complexity. The whole band starts having moments of inviting the crowd to scream, shout, raise their fists and just like that I realise that although exhausted, I too am dancing along. Towards the end of the show Tagtgren and Eloffson come together to the middle of the stage in a typical singer/guitarist moment until Tagtgren bends in a highly suggestive manner (you should know what I mean) and Eloffson looks at the crowd in fake embarrassment, they all chuckle and I think it’s safe to say that this was one good show!


Europe

 This is a band that may rely heavily on its past hits but seriously enjoys making new music and promotes it in one of the most respectful ways.
 Mr Joey Tempest, now approaching 60, is the singer all rock bands should hope to have. Communicative, approachable while remaining effortlessly and appropriately both sexy and entertaining. And his voice? Great. Maybe some things were a bit lower, maybe some cheats every now and then but overall you could sing or scream along and admire him just as much as you would have 20-30 or 40 years ago. When “Carrie” comes on, his singing forms a cosy nostalgic cloud connecting us all.
 The band is absolutely killing it but, most importantly, they seem happy. It’s hard to tell if they are simply that good at their job or if they are genuinely loving every moment on stage. What really stands out is how some of their songs shine when you hear them live now through a powerful PA system: “Scream of Anger” is a beast of a song, not least because of Ian Haugland’s insane drumming and John Norum’s solo. The same applies for some of their newer tunes like “Last Look at Eden” whose riff, solo and epic arrangement are truly magnificent and, to people who are not particularly versed in the style or band, it is almost a revelation. Seeing them rocking and listening to their songs the way they are meant to be heard (the term arena rock wasn’t invented for nothing), they just sound too good to be ignored.
 …and as these thoughts form, Mr. Tempest has gotten hold of his acoustic guitar for the quintessentially corny “Open your Heart” moment and although he invites the crowd to “sing it”, I can’t say that many did. Just when I am about to start feeling sorry, he starts talking in Swedish (or it could have been any other Scandinavian-ish language for all I know), refers to their tour (or turrr) with Whitesnake, mentions the bands of yore who rose and conquered together (or did they?) and, having swapped the acoustic for an electric guitar, he tries to “rock [us] just a little more”. People around me are in deep conversation and I am convinced that nothing more’s happening ‘till the “Final Countdown” (no pun intended). “Superstitious” is next but one wonders if anyone's listening until they switch to Whitesnake and "here they go again": winning the crowd back by the minute. Tempest has everyone singing aaahs and oooohs and aaaoooohhs, pats our ego and lo and behold the whole arena is singing a chorus I seriously doubt that half knew to the words three minutes ago. Thoroughly impressed by this masterful move, I bow, sing along and send videos to friends far away as they nail “Cherokee” and “Final Countdown”. Brilliantly played, Sirs.

 

Iron Maiden
Is there anything left unsaid?

 I think nobody really cares - or perhaps shouldn’t really care - about what I or any other have to say about an Iron Maiden show. The only thing one should really ask is: are they still good? And the answer is a big, fat yes.
 Other than that and for what it’s worth, I’ll share with you the thoughts and observations during my first Norwegian experience of Maiden.
- “Doctor, doctor please…” Maiden are always classy.
- Their set is yet again absolutely impressive. It’s like going to an expensive opera performance but you listen to Maiden and see Eddie instead. However, I wonder why all other bands who performed on the main stage today didn’t have a backdrop to visually accompany their performance. .
- Scientists should study Dickinson and give us whatever he’s having: he leaps, he jumps, he sings, he jokes…
- I’m beginning to think samurai buns should become everyone’s go to hairstyle. Then again this man can probably pull off almost everything so…
- Going back to the jokes… some may be better than others: “You gotta love festivals. The sunshine, the wind, the hurricane, the shitty toilets. Honestly, have you seen the writing on the wall…” Oookk…
- “The last three years, I don't know if you know, of everybody's life was fucking shit. But tonight we unite, we're Iron Maiden fans, tonight we're ‘Blood Brothers’.”
- Religious setting and Dickinson dressed as monk in black makes me think that Norway would have been the perfect place to joke about with this. So many possibilities. A lost opportunity.
- “Number of the beast”, with his hair down, fires blazing and “Scream for me Oslo!” No matter how many times you hear it, it’s always epic. A 24-year old (but looking suspiciously younger) security guard who came to the festival to see Iron Maiden “before they die” admitted that he teared up during that song.
- I think the only thing that has any actual value in a Maiden review is an extensive photo story of the fans. Looking around me there are so many faces, moments and looks I would love to capture. Great bands performing in huge festivals bring out a side of people you rarely see otherwise.
- Duel with trooper-clad Eddie is as corny as it is irresistibly enjoyable. When Dickinson brings out the Norwegian flag, the crowd goes wild. Who doesn’t like a bit of national pride?
- “Clansman” is a global crowd pleaser. Apparently everyone loves their revolutionary underdog. They play it magnificently tonight. Freedom is sung loudly by the front rows but nothing back here…
- Trooper vs Samurai backdrop: stunning.
- “Run to the Hills” feels like a proper maiden gig. Everyone is singing even if not as loud as I am used to. Perhaps because of that my ears are focus on the drumming. I had forgotten how incredible they are.
- Second encore: planes and utter adoration.

 

 Day II


CC Cowboys
Observing cultural differences.

 This is a packed show. People of very different ages, sing along to choruses or whole songs. Couples and friends hug, glasses are raised, smiles broaden. The band’s performance is impeccable with some musical mastery slipping through every now and then - I was particularly drawn to the generation next, keyboard player - but their music is something I believe we are all only too familiar with. If you are Greek, think of Pyx Lax, meets Thivaios, meets Papakonstantinou. If you are from anywhere else in the world, I think I can safely assume there is at least one band/artist that has entered the sphere of pop although playing a type of locally-flavoured Springsteen-inspired rock. The sound may additionally display elements (or actual parts) from the wider folk/pop/rock sounds of the States and/or Britain.


Jinjer

 “We are on tour to spread awareness. We want to thank you and all the civilized world for the support. Our beautiful country. Fuck (the something) regime! Fuck war!” Applause, cheers, roars. It’s instantly evident - and unsurprising - the crowd is 100% against the war.
 The band is slaying for the most part. I only thought that the new songs sounded, understandably, less tight and the voice was higher in the mix than I would have liked. This didn’t do Ms Tatiana Shmailyuk any favours when she reached for those higher notes but it did allow her to scare the living bejeezus out of everyone when she roared.
 There is something compelling about their performance I find, but the crowd doesn’t seem to agree. Though they cheer them on constantly and every reference to the war brings fervent reactions, already by the third song plenty are leaving. However, it makes very little difference to the overall effect as new people keep coming in. The tent is constantly packed with many watching from the sides as well. I got the impression that most came to support the Ukrainian band and not Jinjer. Regardless, it is certain they made a lot of new fans through this performance and also raised considerable awareness which means their government definitely made a wise decision sending them on tour as official Ambassadors.
 “As our country’s being occupied, a lot of (...?) have been bombed and we want to say that we want to have our ‘Home Back’!” If hell hath no fury for a woman scorned, you can imagine what this fury looked like… Warm applause yet the subsequent “Pisces” (which in my opinion was better live than studio) finds even more people leaving but those who remain are probably true fans as they join in on the singing: “Scale armour blaze, virgin innocence”.


Accept

 Tons of Rock and myself saw Iron Maiden the night before in a production that Broadway would envy. Accept were playing in the middle of the day, in a stage less than half the size, wearing one set of black clothes each and a simple, albeit (too) mean (to die) backdrop. Crowd reaction? The same. Number of people who attended the festival to see them? Definitely not the same. “Metal heart”? Metal Gods? Establishing divine status is a nasty business but in my eyes (and ears) at least, Accept’s performance is a seminar in what heavy metal is about and Tons of Rock is loving it. The nature and history of their songs, this perfect balance between classical and modern sound, the band’s (calculated?) rawness has everyone enthralled. Some are holding their hands up (think football games), others are working on their choreographic response to the lyrics while a large number remains still. A mystery that at first made me think it was perhaps an indication of lukewarm sentiments but the amount of clapping and sigingalong that ensued, proved the exact opposite. And how could it be otherwise with such an anthemic setlist. “Balls to the Wall”, “Princess of the Dawn”, “Restle(eee)ss”, it makes you feel like you’re at a party at a friend’s house (only your friend is Mark Tornillo who, in his shrill voice and distinctive moves, is trying to get you absolutely hammered). Pure, epic, metal fun and comradery.


Gaahls Wyrd
When in Norway act like… some of the Norwegians.

 At first, the sounds coming from the Scream stage were less than welcoming. Perhaps, this is why most around me remained firmly lain on the grass and only a few had already gone to the front. Goth-like vocals, slightly off and not much else happening, just your everyday black metal band. Of course, time may have played a part in the limited participation.This stage may require some kind of shade for next year since watching a show here, at 15:00 under the sun is barely tolerable - which made Gaahl’s dedication to his image even more admirable (moral objections aside). I really can’t imagine what performing in tight black jeans, jumper (?), mjolnir, and leather jacket must have felt like. However, and there is seriously no pun intended, as he warms up, his voice begins to show a rather unexpected (for us the uninitiated) complexity and range. A most pleasant aural surprise which lends itself perfectly to a music that may be firmly rooted in black metal tradition, but also features a rock/metal rendering of folk elements.
 The select few at the front are primarily knowledgeable fans of the band, and/or the man, as demonstrated by their solemn, slow banging of the head and equally slow rising of hands in response to Gaahl’s blessing devil’s horns. There’s something to be said about his theatricality; though vocally he can become over-dramatic, he balances it out through very simple, if contrived, gestures and presence. Mannerisms such as the shaking hand or grasping his head/covering his ear before some of his shrill cries together with the band’s stellar skills create a wyrd (I couldn’t resist) show which is somewhere between an old school metal gig and an avant-garde-ish theatrical performance. Ironically enough however, instead of finding similarities with other black metal bands, on more than one occasion throughout their set I thought of Saviour Machine’s, Eric Clayton. A case of Yin Yang perhaps?
 Halfway through the show and beyond, more people have gathered and much like myself, everyone seems engaged. Still, the turnout is smaller than I would have anticipated given the critical acclaim their last album had received. Could it be a case of having too much of something? Perhaps but seeing the difference in numbers between Jinjer’s shady (literally) performance and this, I’d say time and sun may have been the decisive factors in this one. Shame really, for this was not bad at all.

 

Dark Funeral vs Steel Panther: Sophie’s choice
Were there other people who wanted to see both bands equally? Please, if you are reading this do not treat it as a rhetorical question and tell me.

 ”Sometimes the backdoor is the only way in” though so… three high kicks later and I could barely remember that Dark Funeral were playing. What a show!
 First things, first though. The turnout is more than ok for this time but what is more noticeable is how denser the front lines get with every passing song. I don’t know any Steel Panther fans and I am definitely among those who have their qualms about the consequences of blatantly sexist references and utter lack of political correctness butt (#sorrynotsorry) these guys are HILARIOUS.
 Is their humour brilliant? Not always, it gets tiring, predictable and everything in between but at the same time, this is not standup comedy. You are also watching a cool glam band. Michael Starr is as charismatic a frontman as the best of his ‘serious’ glam rivals, his singing is excellent and his communication with the crowd is superb. What is more, you get a second amazing frontman in the guise of a skilled guitarist. Satchel delivers one line after the other with conviction and style and has the whole arena roaring (well, for Scandinavian standards) with laughter one minute and merrily jumping about with his tunes the next. Their sound is awesome and they use every trick in the book: divide the crowd in two and have one side shout out fuck yeah/ metal rules while the other half shouts pussy rules. Mature, I know but let’s be honest, sometimes maturity needs to give way to comedy. At least that’s what I tell my more sceptical self who pops its head every now and then, when things become just a little bit too much… “You know our drummer can do a great impression of the drummer from Def Leppard: inserts hand in tank top and plays with one hand… “And do you know what the drummer from Def Leppard and Satchel (or was it Starr?) have in common? They both love ‘Asian Hookers’!” Young, hot Asian girl comes on stage, dressed provocatively, dances accordingly with Starr who at the end calls her back and has the crowd applaud her, the Asian hooker.
 Just when I begin to overthink the whole thing and decide to take my leave, “Crazy Train” comes on and Starr’s transformation into Ozzy is uncanny while the toy bat has me and plenty around me in tears! “Everybody make some noise through the guitar solo!” The lines just kept coming. I tried to leave too many times but it was too damn hard. It’s not just that the band is an absolute delight, it’s the surrounding vibe as well. Everywhere you looked you just saw happy faces, relaxed and thoroughly entertained. That is no small feat.


Backstreet Girls validate the statement “girls do it better”.

 All my life I’d only known of Backstreet Boys. However, 9 years before they were formed, in 1984, two brothers were starting a band that was to introduce many Norwegians to punk rock or at least that’s what I imagine happened judging from the tent full of people while Accept, of all bands, was playing on the Scream stage. I had been so intrigued by their story and music, that with a heavy (and not metal) heart, I left Accept and entered the Vampire realm to see them and it was packed. They ticked all the boxes; appropriate outfits, punk rock attitude, nice rock n’ roll riffs and the crowd was seemingly having a great time. I wasn’t feeling it much but for no apparent reason. In any case, I caved in and went back to watch Accept. Also, something tells me I wasn’t the only one… When they finished however, Backstreet Girls were still playing. So, obviously, I returned. Half the crowd had drifted away, many watching lazily, but happily, from the sides. The band was still going strong, completely undeterred by the fact; a testament to both their professionalism and commitment.
 Overall, it’d be great to see them again especially in a punkier context and watch their entire set and I will definitely spend some time trying to find an English version of their documentary. There was something very genuine about this band, a fact that I think comes through from their fans' reactions who kept calling for them for a good 1-2’ after they’d left the stage. It may not sound like much depending on where you’re from, but at Tons of Rock most fans tend to leave as soon as the set ends. Very few stick around for memorabilia or shout for more so that small but devoted number of individuals really stood out.


Darkness

 70s logo, psychedelic at times, proggy at others but constantly pure rock n roll with a frontman that’ll make your day. With such a performance, it’s no wonder they exceeded 1 million sales in the UK already from their debut album back in 2003. Mr. Justin Hawkins is out of this world. He’s everywhere, singing his guts out - his falsetto will bring tears to your eyes while having an absolute blast! Headstand in front of the drums in leopard briefs... precious!
 And the whole band is constantly just killing it while every now and then something utterly ridiculous happens or is said. Unlike Steel Panther this is an amazing band that is also funny rather than the other way around but you cannot help but make a connection and just like that: “We're going to play our most popular song. (...) In the spirit of solidarity and collaboration” and Steel Panther’s Satchel appear: “We were scheduled to jam with Sepultura but we said fuck that, we're jamming with the Darkness." Just the thought of Steel Panther playing Chaos A.D. made me chuckle - but also think I’d pay good money to see.
 The songs are so groovy with so many amazing parts in each one, that they keep the crowd constantly engaged. Most are moving along to the groove, others stare intently but I’d say overall the majority is very present (in the non-meditative sense of the word). There’s something about how they use their vocal lines against the riffs that’s quite distinct - though maybe rooted in Hawkins’ love of Brian May and Queen; their overall performance owes quite a bit to the burlesque side of the latter and his presence does have more than traces of Mercury. But even so, they have their own flavour of over the top that would require a very extensive analysis to describe and even so, it wouldn’t do it justice. They may fool around a lot but they are also exceptionally skilled musicians (epic solo on the shoulders of a roadie or security guy), and the more their set progresses, the more I believe they sound a thousand times better live or perhaps now that they’ve matured anyway. Not everyone becomes better with time but in Darkness’ case, with the exception of some major changes in appearance, I’d say that the years - and struggles - have only added a most appealing zest and depth to their performance which ended with the words: “I wish you many days, years, decades, centuries, lives and afterlives of happiness.”


Bring Me The Horizon
and/or the moon on a stick…

 The biggest part of the arena from the middle and back is taken up by people sitting or lying on the grass even though Bring Me the Horizon are not an easy band to chill to by any standards. And they don’t like what they see either: “Come on, I know you’re sleepy, so am I.” A few minutes later something along the lines of: “seriously Oslo, we were in Hungary yesterday and they were insane, you need to wake up… “I wanna see every mother…lover from the front row all the way to the back…”. The visuals on the screen grab my attention. It’s not that they are beautiful as they are… effective. Loud, big and intricate, they draw you in, if not by any other virtue, then definitely by confusion as you try to understand whether their role is decorative, complementary to the performance or if it is the main attraction.
 “Parasite Eve”… By this point, I have moved a lot closer leaving a lot of sitted people behind but also joined by many who have also succumbed to the spectacle. The song’s evocative intro resounds, followed by a hip-hop (trap-ish?) verse that makes you feel like you’re at the wrong gig and then chorus: with the appropriate bang and all the visuals you could ever ask for in a show, it’s got the whole arena by the b..s. At just under 5’, it’s got so many changes that it could have easily gone very wrong in a host of ways but its dance/electro sensibility ties all the pieces together creating what is ultimately a “hard” club hit. For the purists out there, make no mistake, you will hate it but if you have ears, your body will naturally move to it. As is happening everywhere around me with deviations only in intensity. And from then on, it didn’t stop. In fact, the dancier parts of the songs are the ones that went down the best with the crowds. At the same time, girls in costumes come out dancing, sometimes Sykes joins in the choreography. Karaoke-style lyrics appear on the screens and suddenly I realise that something Japanese this way comes. It is after all a huge market that may have lusted after the West in the past, but it was bound to affect it in return. An interesting notion…
 "If you want to ascend with us, don't take your eyes off the red dot." Optical illusions enter the mix and though I didn’t know it then, I think this is where I started feeling we were at a children’s party or a cruise ship and someone was showing us how to participate in the entertainment planned out for us. "This earthly body is temporary, that much we know and if you ask me there's so much more to this life... (...) It's very important for us that you be yourselves and do what you want to do. You’re beautiful. You know that? You’re beautiful. I wouldn't change a fijin fig (pretty sure that’s not what he said but perhaps he should have) on you. You know I'd ‘DiE4u’”. And a pop song begins. Nobody minds - but me who is still to discover the song it reminds me of, maybe it was something by Avril Lavigne? Or some summer hit or another anyway. With the exception of the screamo vocals in some of the choruses, lest we forget this is a rock band.
 Start of the gig, we were a disappointment and every mofo needed to wake up. Now we are beautiful (unique snowflakes) and an utterly mental bunch…(which, let’s be honest, they were not). Hmm… Self-contradictions abound as a rule but this is slightly too much I think. I watch him perform and I think how charismatic he is, managing to shine through a tight band, rich samples, dancers, gigantic screens and complex visuals but at the same time, “Land of Confusion” keeps spinning in my head…
 At times, I wonder if Mr. Oliver Sykes is consciously channelling past rock icons, he gives out a Phil Lynott vibe, Mercury moves and a cleaner version of Sid. Regardless of taste, there is no denying this is one consummate frontman. At this stage (and from it) he can have the crowd do pretty much anything he wants. Well, a part of it but he acts as he controls the lot. Fake it, till you make it? He calls for the fans to come join him on the stage - which of course is never going to happen - so he gets off, people jump through the barrier, take selfies, hug as he runs up and down with a bunch of security people around him. Nice but everybody’s cool is either indicative of Scandinavia’s civility or of the lack of any actual edge. Either way, I’d like to see how that would go down in Brazil…
 Next up, getting people on other people’s shoulders. Because they are so beautiful: “You're so beautiful, I don't want to ask you for more because you've been so nice but.. it would mean the world to us.” You don’t get amazing videos, photos or viewer experiences if you don’t work it. Spontaneity may well be overrated anyway. “Cross my heart and hope to die” (no, Carcass did not magically appear though I did summon them) and let metalheads make fun of Ed Sheeran (or Savage Garden anyone?) because pop sucks… “Make some noise if you feel the fucking love.”
 “Playing after Dimmu Borgir, we were worried but this went down well.” Address the local hero, but also rise above them. “Ukraine, if there's something you can do, then fucking do it. (...) But, nobody stand still. If you stand still, I hate you."
 As the show is coming to an end Sykes says “ok, this is the oldest trick in the world that I know." When I learned this trick from Slipknot, there had been blood on the floor when we left. Now most of the arena is kneeling down and I am curious to see how this will play out. Happily they bend down, happily they bounce back up on cue. It’s a lovely sight that left everyone rejuvenated and ready to move on. Refused once released “The shape of punk to come”. Impressive though it may be, I am inwardly praying this is not the shape of gigs to come. In any case and all objections aside, Bring Me the Horizon are pushing the envelope towards whatever direction, end and for whatever reason they deem fit. You may love it or hate it but you gotta respect the work, vision and courage it takes to do it. If Maiden put on a theatrical performance last night, these guys turned Blade Runner into a gig and Tons of Rock just scored another golden star.


Korn

 Five years since they last played Oslo they say, two records in the meantime. “Would you like to hear some new songs?” Judging by the screams of the youngest around me, yeah, they do oddly enough however, we wouldn’t get to hear many despite the fact that both albums have been grossly underpromoted due to the pandemic restrictions. Is this choice somehow affected by Mr. Arvizu’s time off from the band and his temporary replacement by Suicidal Tendencie’s bassist, Mr. Roberto "Ra" Diaz?
 "Come on! Scream ‘cause it feels good!" Davis cries and then… giggles? Do my eyes deceive me? They started off with “Here to Stay” which instantly indicated that plenty were most familiar with their oeuvre. The sound is slightly off putting, especially compared to the sonic perfection that came before it. The dry, characteristic bass is there, everything’s balanced enough but it’s lower than expected and somehow weak.
 As the show carries on, I can’t stop thinking that I love this older Davis. He seems somehow liberated, or to be more accurate he seems like he doesn't give a single fuck. Not that he was ever the crowd pleasing type probably but there is something about the way he’s interacting with the crowd that is so natural and… simple. Whether it is the result of getting rid of some of his personal demons as he has confessed in interviews from around the time “The Nothing” was released or a matter of reaching that point in his career where he can effortlessly perform while being himself, only he could tell. His movements are less agitated and that signifying convulsive movement has almost disappeared. On the other hand, he can perhaps go after Glen Benton’s job ‘cause some of these new brutal vocals of his… phew… they truly are brutal. Overall, it’s a good time to see Davis.
 Newer songs enter the set and when “Worst is on its Way” comes on the sound is over pumped. Davis’s scatting vocals get the crowd warmed up again but it is when “Coming undone/We will rock you” ends that they have completely taken the audience on board. “Freak on a leash” and youths are running to reach the front and join the action. One hour in, they thank us and wish us goodnight and many in fact leave. When the encore begins however, you see plenty turning around and the sound is stellar while I realise yet again how ideal is a song like “A.D.I.D.A.S” for a drunken crowd about to hit the bars.
 “We chose this as our last song ‘cause this started it all.” Half of us are making our way to the exit though, for fear of the queue and the bus is a thing... Even so, it sounds so good that both myself and others often stop and look back on the stage. Even at the exit. Looking back at a stage where there is only a band performing… look at that ;)

 

Day III and last

 

Wig Wam

 First band to perform on the main stage, my expectations were rather high but, not really met… Well executed, nice vibes but the vocals sounded a bit strained. Don't get me wrong, Mr. Age Sten Nilsen was still mostly nailing it, and his job was not an easy one, but those high notes… Well, they are a bitch (and who needs them anyway). Very different in appearance from his Eurovision days, now sporting something closer to the “Never Say Die” pirate-meet-glam-rocker look, he is oozing sweetness. Not exactly what a rockstar wants to hear but it’s true. On the other hand, Mr. Flash on the bass looks, moves and grooves that part to perfection!
 People around me are lazily enjoying themselves, they know most songs and sing along but also not spending too much energy showing it. Truth be told, the terrible events of the night before have had their effect on everyone. It’s not openly discussed but somehow you know everyone’s thinking it. And surely enough, a few minutes later, approximately halfway through the set, Age addresses the crowd in Norwegian to request a minute of silence and it is observed by all. Everything stops. I have never been in a situation like this before and the only thing I can say is that there is something incredibly powerful in a minute of consciously kept silence. At the end, I see people who’ve teared up and one who is accepting some kind of comforting wish from his friends… makes me think one of his loved ones may be injured. Such madness and yet, life carries on. Rainbow flags were everywhere in Oslo before and also appearing on the festival screens regularly. Today they are constantly displayed and have taken on an extra meaning.
 A few words are spoken and the show is back on track. I am slightly numb and so are some around me but the majority seems more enthusiastic than before. As if they needed to have their grief expressed and now they want to celebrate almost in spite of it. “Do u really? Do u really wanna taste it?” And it is moments like these my friends that separate the boys from the men in a crowd. A most excellent Sir next to me begins (beer-) belly dancing rather suggestively towards his friend, interpreting the song for the rest of us in case we were wondering what it was and then lifts him up on his shoulders. Many others follow that example and I am beaming with pride for being amongst such glorious humans. Fires mark the epic ending of the song.


Nestor,
“I’ve gotta fever and the only prescription is…”

 It’s like being in a time capsule and we are in the 80s. The outfits, together with the lights and the fact we are in a closed space have transformed the tent into a disco. A most fitting environment to celebrate Pride Day, I think. Don’t know if this was a deliberate move on the organisers’ part but it works brilliantly. This is quality party music but perhaps most importantly, this is quality music by quality musicians. Vocals are beautiful.
 And everything is just right: lames, chiffons (80s fabrics, boys), pearls, synths, melodies, showoff solos… This is the real deal! Not too many of us are here but I can safely say their music’s appealing to all. Song after song, you realise the artistry behind these songs. It’s very easy to slip in a loophole but Nestor’s songs are both beautiful and intelligent; steeped in aor/hr but equally informed by the finest elements of 80s pop and all things prog/rock from the 70s on - it came as no surprise to read they’d started jamming as a Yes, Genesis band or that they were influenced by Queensryche.
 And yet… If anything's missing is a bit more charisma or interaction with the crowd. Not that they're lacking touch with their audience but something’s not working as well as it should. At one point he’s obviously joking about something, but nobody around me is laughing. Awkward. Still it’s possibly the only thing they need to work on. Ultra-generic ballad ensues and I am cursing all my positive comments so far until a female singer steps on stage and when those two voices come together, magic again! It is at moments like this that you appreciate what skill has to offer, the most boring forms come to life. The studio version of “Tomorrow” is sung together with Samantha Fox. I rest my case.
 “Perfect 10”, people clap, cheer but don't really sing along. 15 times into the chorus and guess what? The majority is, and to really set this party off, the keyboard player breaks out the… cowbell.


Orbit Culture

 As they play I realise that one of the reasons I liked them so much was that they have a lot of Ministry elements besides the obvious Slipknot influence. At the same time, there’s a lot of Hetfield (or Matt Drake?) in there. At the same time, you will know they are Swedish with tribute paid to all the greats and I think it’s safe to say we all love Gojira.
 The metalheads here today, however, seem to really love their dubstep and Orbit Culture brings it to the mix. Together with their sing along parts, this is what the crowd reacts to the most.
 Mr. Christopher Wallerstedt has some beasting moments with his cymbals even if I think the sound is not doing him any favours. Halfway through the set while I am wondering if Mr. Niklas Karlsson is very reserved or if this is his style of performing, I realise that he’s screaming his throat out to be heard… odd. The closer you move to the stage the better though plus, it gave me the chance to be extra close to the one of the very few instances of crowd surfing. Kudos sir. The pit that forms is also not without its merit as it is one of the weirdest ones I’ve seen: a dancy-jumpy semi-rotating pit. Nice. Compared to most bands, when the show ends quite a few stay behind cheering and posing for the band's pic. Later, I bump into the band at the merch stand where they happily chat and pose for a photo with their fans.
 Overall, I am still dying to see them live again as I feel there’s plenty more to expect from them.


Turbonegro
A band built for festivals

 Their performance was simply exemplary. Seriously, if I was them, I’d host a seminar for other bands.
 Third day in, most people are slightly tired but content. There’s this nice, chilled, let’s all busk in the sun atmosphere and in the midst of that, a band that looks like they’ve just stepped out of the The Blue Oyster Bar appears on stage. However, their styling and presence leans more to the subversive than the comic, there’s a Basquiat quality to their work. Within seconds, they have almost everyone’s attention. The busking continues but is now accompanied by mild motion, quite a bit of clapping and a lot of laughter.
 I don’t know if you agree, but to me, joking with a straight face is irresistibly funny and Turbonegro are the masters of that. “Get it on” begins, crowd goes mad and Happy-Tom’s solemn face when he sings “I love it” is simply precious. “City of Satan” dampens the mood - not for those in the front, their excitement was unyielding- in spite of its clap along potential.
 A video of the band from days of yore is playing in the screens and “All my friends are dead” comes on and we are now officially at a punk gig with everyone shouting ‘Oi’ and ‘Oh’. Amazing move by the band who got the crowd going even before they’d started playing the song.
 “I saw your school reports, you're all morons. But that's OK cause so am I. You are among friends.(...) We’ve been contacted by the school board and you can see this as your ‘Special education.’” Ok, so maybe they’re not ready for a sitcom hit but their lines work just fine in this setting. It’s the middle of the day but it feels like a pretty nice Friday night. Guitar riff teases the crowd and The Duke asks the crowd: “Shall we play this one ladies and gentlemen?” They're already singing the melody. "I see our reputation precedes us". Just in front of me a super cute couple of women in summer dresses and faded cherry blossom tattoos are dancing with their hands in the air singing: “I got erection!” Beautiful.


Bokassa

 Beastie Boys medley from the speakers and all three musicians appear on stage in plain but telling attire: moustachioed drummer in Rainbow t-shirt, bassist in appropriate stoner cap and finally, friendly singer/guitarist with enough tattoos and hairstyling to be just the right amount of scruffy. Overall, a promising first impression which is significantly heightened by their killer Star Wars- Female- Pizza-Eating Power- Anarchy backdrop (if you know the artist, please inform me).
 People are slowly gathering, there’s a good turnout but you would have expected more and the band has already started playing when I realise I am not really listening… But why? Their sound, energy and music is great. In the sense that most quality stoner/rock trios are; tight, groovy, with moments that make your neck move and all that but so far nothing I haven't heard before. It’s lovely to listen to, well-executed, no frills... Punk - pop rock choruses, some heavy riffs here and there, bit of southern sound, anthemic drum parts, a few solos which I wasn’t a fan of, there’s a bit of everything but… There’s Rise Against, Offspring, AntiFlag and something very reminiscent of Spiritual Beggars (- the 70s) and.. heavy metal. Is it an interesting mix? Yes, and at times it’s really good. Is it fresh? Hmmm… I find it hard to answer. On the top of my head, I cannot think of a band playing like that but I can think of plenty whose parts I hear here.
 “Hereticules” comes on and is well received, people clap along, one of those nice, thick downtempo riffs comes on and we all headbang accordingly singing “I’ll fuckin’ show ‘em” and in a sense they do, both on stage and in their videos [which you should really watch, they’re hilarious while demonstrating the breadth of this drummer’s metal education].
 Mr. Jorn Kaarstad has this pleasant, let’s-hang aura about him and when he addresses the audience, they laugh. Me, I only got something about Pepsi Max and Vanilla…so, yeah, can’t tell you just how funny he is. Judging from the mobility of the people around me though, I’d say that even so, it’s not enough to keep them entirely satisfied. They’re appreciative as always and you get the occasional surge of raised hands but the next minute, they move away.
The sun is merciful today and a pleasant breeze is blowing. Perfect conditions and Bokassa’s enjoyable set ends with “Five Finger Fuckhead”. A most relatable song, to which the audience is invited to partake by shouting “all filler-no killer”.
 Neither beer drinkers, nor hell raisers or pretty boys. Only very likeably human.
 Would I watch them again, sure. Would I mind terribly if I didn’t though? I think not.


Deep Purple
…bow your head.

 Do you know what is a beautiful thing to do before you die? Sit on a grass on a warm afternoon and listen to legends play a song as tribute to Jon Lord.
 From the get go, with “Highway Star”, you know this show will be exciting. Even if you are not a fan, every passing moment has some aural treat in store: a melody, a bridge, a tiny bit of improvisation/deviation from studio versions, the riffs and of course, those lord-have-mercy keyboards. To put it simply, Deep Purple’s songs are so rich that when you get to hear them performed live by musicians of such skill, talent, experience and…life, the result is sheer magic. I had written perfection instead of magic but decided against it since, it isn’t. There are many flaws to be found, with the most notable being Gillan’s voice. It’s definitely not what it used to be but he makes up for it by being one of the most open and charming frontmen I’ve come across. There are plenty of lessons to be learned by his presence and communication with the crowd; he’s humble without losing the air of a rock star and immediate without implying there’s no distance between you. Everyone kinda gives you that feeling. We are not brothers, nor fans to whom they owe everything, nor strangers; we are people at their show who may be some or none of the above. He always speaks with the same calm tone in between songs, like giving a lecture at a university or doing a voice over at a documentary. “When a Blind Man Cries”: “There are people who have nothing, what you may call disadvantaged, and they are (...) whereas us, who have well… a lot more whine, bitch about everything. This is a song about them, not us.”
 Whether the us means them or them and us, nobody can tell. I sure hope it’s the latter but it would impress me just as much if it was the first. Scripted? Quite possibly, but it’s definitely not contrived, out of place or in any way, untrue. Their whole approach demonstrates a level of respect towards their fans which is rather inspiring. At approximately 1:15’ they perform 13 songs and they mess around with all of them while you hear cheers from people which make you feel you’re at a jazz club and not a rock festival. And then you get the ultimate paradox: crowds getting excited over a keyboard solo! And as if that wasn’t unbelievable enough, the same happened again on the drum solo! Of course, when you get a solo by a man whose resume is so extensive that he doesn’t even remember composing the keyboards for “Touch of Evil” and manages to seamlessly blend together Mozart, Star Wars and everything in between in his solo well, yes, a keyboard solo becomes exciting. And then you have Ian Paice… We all know he’s a great drummer. And we are all wrong. The man is a sensational drummer. Plus, to this day I thought that Mr. Gene Hoglan is the coolest/most majestic drummer to behold (and don’t get me wrong, he is) but he has been joined by Mr Paice who also brings his very own flavour of cuteness to the mix. In short and appropriating a word Mr. Gillan used to describe the Norwegian crowd: the band is “unreal”.
 Mr. Roger Glover, at 76 and who knows how many shows in, is playing with a vitality and enjoyment that many 20year olds cannot muster. He’s smiling for most of the show, groovin’ the living beat out of most songs and his solo? I would like to record and play it every time a bassist decides to kill a listener’s ability to take pleasure in the instrument by showing us how fast his/her fingers can move. Or as I jotted down there and then: this is not a solo, it’s a secure man’s demonstration of what a bass does; the breadth of its sounds and the movements they make you do. The sound is rich, warm and clear. Absolutely Sexy. Finally, Mr. Simon Mc Bride… To be honest, I feel that after everyone’s glorious review this will feel like he wasn’t up to par when in fact, it is almost the opposite. If for no other reason, then for the impressive fact that I don’t think anyone in the crowd thought, at any point throughout this show, that oh, well this young man is not enough. And please, take a minute to think about that. You are playing some of the most recognisable guitar parts in the history of rock music. “Smoke on the Water”, anyone? I don’t think I saw more phones raised in Tons of Rock. It’s not something the fans there did all that much (god bless them) but for this song, you bet! However, it was probably during “Hush” that he shined for me. There was a level of articulation and elegance that was simply extraordinary!
 Throughout their show I kept thinking of jazz gigs, especially during their more improvisational parts as there was the same type of cerebral satisfaction and fun but the vibe, that I don’t think can be described as anything else but… Purple. It is clear that they are in a league of their own, a difference easily seen by how most bands all these days were asking/making/calling fans to participate. Deep Purple play a lead and the crowd instantly sings along. And smiles. Lots and lots of smiles as people slowly start to make their way to what I can only assume was a wager between the organisers: Opeth VS Paradise Lost.


Opeth
vs festivals…

 Unsurprisingly, their set started with the intro from “In Cauda Venenum” and continued with the Swedish version of (the Conception-esque) “Heart in Hand” aka “Hjartat vet vad handen gor” (= The heart knows what the hand is doing according to Google Translate). With Deep Purple having finished just a few minutes ago, it is hard not to fall into comparisons but it’s also hard not to acknowledge how nicely they go together. There’s also something very liberating I find in listening to music in a language you don’t understand. Of course, for the majority here, it is the exact opposite but I am not sure if that has any real effect on them. Those singing now, are also singing later on so I think it’s more a matter of connection to the band than the language. The digital backdrop is showing some flames which change into red dots falling down, like a fiery rain, later on. Perhaps it’s a conceptual thing that my ignorance does not allow me to grasp but visually, I have to say I expected something of a higher aesthetic value from an intellectual band like Opeth. Anyway, his clear voice is great and his brutal singing in “Ghost of Perdition” is superb but at the same time, I cannot help but smile just a little bit at the sight. Somehow it seems at odds now. Ah, but such a good song.
 Contrary to what I would have guessed, the crowd reacts to the heavier riffs with more enthusiasm. I wonder if this is always the case or if they missed their metal after an hour of Deep Purple. Song ends and there’s an intimacy between band and people very few managed to create. Mr Akerfeldt is probably making equally provocative jokes in Swedish as much as he does in English, but obviously (and sadly) they are lost on me. He may have commented on lack of imagination in naming the festival…? Crowd is less than I would have anticipated, of course, Paradise Lost are playing at the same time and, with only Five Finger Death Punch remaining, plenty are exhausted or having a look around for the last time.


Paradise Lost
One man’s fun is another’s hell

 They recently gave a killer show in Athens according to everyone I know so I dropped by the Vampire to see.
 Reaching to the middle front was way easier than I had thought. At that time Holmes was joking about watching Opeth for free and saying they had arranged to wave at each other but not coordinating well. Lukewarm reactions. Not great and it made me sad so I got a beer (my first and only) and sat on the grass just outside to give it another chance. Holmes is not having his best day I would say, the band is ace. “Thank you very much, thank you indeed. Are you happy? Are you drunk? Are you suntanned? This is the ‘Hands of Reason’”. No. I'm going to have to return to Opeth. Sad times. For me though, not for anyone else necessarily.


 Five Finger Death Punch
In my face…

 Norwegian National Anthem comes on. Mr. Ivan Moody storms out wearing a Norwegian flag mask... Well the colours are loud but hey, they suit him. His voice however is neither loud nor exactly where it should be most of the time… He moves amazingly though.
 Band's killing it. “I'm only going to say it once [short pause] there's too much chaos [short pause] in the world today [short pause] but tonight we're not going to talk about that. Instead, tonight we're going to ‘Wash it all away’.”
 Needless to say, they have their very own crowd who are vocal and evidently having the time of their lives. It comes as no surprise then when two special guests are invited on stage: the German Knuckleheads and Norwegian Knuckleheads. Their two greatest fan bases because as Mr Ivan says, they want us to know how much they love and respect and appreciate their fans. Burn mfker/burn for waaay too long so feeling like my brain was getting burnt, I took my leave and decided to say goodbye to the two things I would definitely miss more; beautiful Ekebergsletta and stunning Norwegian sky.


Tons of Rock, it has been an absolute pleasure.

https://www.tonsofrock.no/

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