Andrew Mcneice (MelodicRock website) the man everyone knows in the AOR/Melodic Rock world from down under are the man behind Meldicrockfest festivals. He has had these venues in USA and Australia, but now it was time for Scandinavia and Malmo for the first time. Andrew´s right hand Johan Nylen also known as Dr. AOR was the guy that maybe was the biggest reason this festival was going to happen. May 31 to June 2 was the date for this venue and was hold at Slagthuset Malmo, 3 days with fantastic music, bands and people from all over the world.
So I took the train early on Thursday and 7 hours later I was down in Malmo south of Sweden. I was really looking forward to this event and had high hopes to see many of the newer and some of the classic AOR band. The festival started with an only V.I.P unplugged show with Swedish Bad Habit. I was a bit late for their show and missed almost the whole gig. I did hear the cover of Journey´s Who´s Crying Now and it sounded really good. But the whole band with Hal, Bax Jaime, Patrik and Sven shared the stage and I would have loved to see these guys do an full show. Then I had to go and check in to my hotel room so I missed the two following acts Grand Slam and Colorstone.
Midnite City (++++) from Nottingham UK was up next and with just one album under their belt they pulled out a fantastic show. Their sound reminds very much of Danger Danger and the lead vocalist Rob Wylde (sounds very close to Ted Poley of Danger Danger) owned the stage and sang damn good. They opened up the show with We Belong with big hooks, melodies and layers of keyboard and got the crowd on their wings right away. Ghost Of My Old Friend was another rocker that the crowed loved. One Step Away was the songs that rocked big time with band looking like the had a great time. The big ballad Everything You Meant To Me slowed down the show a bit in a nice way and they ended the show with the party rocker Summer Of Our Lives. A great show from these youngster and they sounded damn tight on stage.
Tracklist: We Belong, Last Beat Of My Heart, Ghost Of My Old Friend, I Just Can´t Take It, Nothing Like Losing You, One Step Away, Think About You, Everything You Meant To Me, Can´t Wait For The Night, Summer Of Our Lives
Grand Design the Swedish rockers with their Def Leppard sound opened their show with Get Up´n Luv Someone and seemed to have fun on stage. But unfortunately the sound was just terrible and Janne Stark´s solo guitar was really low and you could hardly hear him. On their albums they have worked out powerful and impressive harmony and background vocals and it´s hard to pull out that at a live show without help even if the band did background vocals. I think most of the background vocals was on pre-tape to get the close to the album sound. Front man Pelle Saether tried to get the crowed on fire but with the lousy sound it didn´t work all the way in my opinion. I left after 4 songs because of the lousy sound and I couldn´t take it anymore. I´ve seen this band before with much better sound and this band rocks big time but today it didn´t work out for them, too bad.
One Desire (+++++) the finnish AORsters with former Sturm und Drang singer André Linnman returned to Sweden for the 2nd time in a month. These guys knows how to give the crowed a great time. The opened up the show with Hurt, one of the best songs from last year. You just can´t open up a show with a better rocker because this has it all and the crowed went just crazy. Their debut album is filled with just winner and they continued to deliver song after song with the crowd jumping and clapping their hands. Jimmy Westerlund delivered some impressive guitarriffs and sang background vocals in a great way. André sang outstanding and his talk between the songs are with lots of joke´s and he got the crowed smiling throughout the whole show. Love Injection rocked out the place in a brilliant way. The Journey sounding Do You Believe is another song that works live. When the first riffs of Whenever I´m Dreaming shouts out from the speakers the crowed just went nuts and the sing-a-long moments was awesome. With just one album on their sleeves these guys pulled out an impressive show and these guys can go far. Thanks again for the outstanding show.
Tracklist: Hurt, Turn Back Time, Apologize, Love Injection, This Is Where The Heart Break Begins, Do You Believe, Whenever I´m Dreaming, Buried Alive
Melodicrockfest All Star Band (+++) with a nice line-up of well-known musicians. Herman Furin (Work Of Art), Andreas Passmark (Royal Hunt and WET), Jona Tee (H.E.A.T), John Parker (Talon), Philip Lindstrand (Find Me, Cruzh), Ludvig Turner (Reach) and Jim Jidhed (Alien) did a OK show. The set-list where put together by Dr. AOR (Johan Nylen) where he had chosen out some of his favourite AOR-songs from the past. Ludvig and Philip shared the vocals on most of the songs and I must say that Ludvig Turner is a stunning vocalist and should be on a bigger stage. Philip did nice work aswell. Jim Jidhed came up at the end of the show and sang Missing You (John Waite), Glorious (from his latest soloalbum) and Only One Woman were he stood alone on stage with just a guitar. Jim has one of Sweden´s best voice´s for sure, man how good this man can sing. There are no words what a singer he is. They opened up the show with Giant´s I´m A Believer that was nice to hear but did not really reach the highest level, nice start though. Then they delivered AOR hits after each other and I think it worked out nice and the crowed knew most of the songs and could sing-a-long to their own favourite´s. The song I think was the one that stood out most was the version of Signal´s Does It Feel Like Love were Ludvig Turner did a really great vocal performance. Otherwise I think these shows with cover version is a bit boring even if it´s great songs and players. But the most important thing is that the crowed got entertained.
Tracklist: I´m A Beliver (Giant), Burning Heart (Survivor), Separate Ways (Journey), Dreams (Van Halen), Does It Feel Like Love (Signal), You Wouldn´t Know Love (Michael Bolton), Missing You (John Waite), Glorious (Jim Jidhed), Only One Woman (Alien), Satisfied (Richard Marx), Staright To Your Heart (Bad English)
Treat (+++++) was the last band out of the first day and it was well crowed. The opened up with Ghost Of Graceland that rocked big time and the they had hold of the crowed. Singer Robban Ernlund sings superb and his wingman Anders Wikström pulled out the best of his guitar and showed what an excellent guitar player he is. It´s great to hear Patrik Apelgren gets so much room with his keyboards and gives the band a great sound. The rhythm section with former The Poodles bass player Pontus Engberg and the hard hitting Jamie Borger behind the drums. What drummer, it´s just a joy to see him play. Treat had the best sound of the evening.
They played from many of their albums and the highlights were Nonstop Madness, We Own The Night, Get You On The Run (with some sing-a-long), Conspiracy, Skies Of Mongolia and World Of Promises. They also did a fantastic medley from Dreamhunter album that was impressive and we got to hear almost the whole album and the arrangement was just brilliant. It was a great way to end the first day were Treat delivered an outstanding set-list and showed that we still can count on them.
Tracklist: Ghost Of Graceland, Better The Devil You Know, Nonstop Madness, Ready For The Taking, Papertiger, We Own The Night, Love Stroke, Dreamhunter medley (Soul Survivor, You’re the One I Want, Take Me On Your Wings, Best Of Me, Dancing On The Edge, Outlaw), ? (missed this one), Get You On The Run, Conspiracy, Skies Of Mongolia, World Of Promises
Boulevard (++++) opened up the second day of the festival with an exclusive V.I.P only unplugged show. First time in Sweden and that was one of the reasons I wanted to visit this festival. 4 of the members from the classic AOR album Into The Street (1990) was still in the band. David Forbes (vocals), Mark Holden (saxphone), Andrew Johns (keyboards) and Randall Stoll (drums). Ok, Randall Stoll was not at the unplugged gig because he was ill that morning. The gig was not really an unplugged show because they used electric guitar, bass and keyboard. I think it just gave them a better sound and it didn´t mind me at all. David Forbes has a fantastic voice and sounded just awesome. It looked like the guys had the best of times on stage and talked to the crowed and enjoyed the whole show. I think the crowed had a blast on this show and great to hear the sing-a-long on Dream On. The set-list was nothing to complain on and my favourite songs were Life Is A Beautiful Thing, Crazy Life, Dream On and Rainy Day In London. Great start of the second day and now I was looking forward to their show next day.
Tracklist: Far From Over, Life Is A Beautiful Thinkg, Crazy Life, Dream On, What I´d Give, Rainy Day In London, Laugh Or Cry, Never Give Up
The Grand Masquerade (+++) is one of the many new Swedish AOR acts that are up and coming. These guys have released a 5-track EP and one brand new song so I was looking forward to see and hear how these guys would sound live. But unfortunately for them they had their gears stolen the day before and lost almost everything. So they got to borrow all the instruments for their show. So with that in mind I think these guys showed how talented they are and pulled out a nice show. Yet again the sound was not perfect and took away little from the show. They also have two lead vocalists and they did both a good performance. Best song was These Days Are Gone and the new one The Chosen Ones that shows that this is a band to look out for.
Tracklist: Let It Burn, I Get This Feeling, The Chosen One, These Days Are Gone, By My Side, Say You´re Mine, ? (missed the titel)
Talon, Degreed and Edens Curse was three bands I skipped. I have seen them both before and Talon has never been a band that I got into. Sounded OK in the background but I don´t think they have the material that will grab my attention, too much hardrock with a touch of metal. Degreed is a great live band and has done good albums and I´ve seen them couple of times. Edens Curse is not my cup of tea either so went out for some food.
Crazy Lixx (++++) from Malmö was next up and taking the stage and the crowed under their wings. They delivered a great set with their sleazy hardrock with touches of AOR and huge hooklines. Lead vocalist Danny Rexon is a great frontman and he can really sing live. Rest of the band sounded very tight and seemed to have a great time on stage. When the first riffs of Wild Child can be heard through the speakers the crowed gets wild and the show was on roll. The mixed songs from Ruff Justice, Crazy Lixx and New Religion with great result. With a short playtime it´s hard to get every song that the fans want but I missed Heroes Are Forever otherwise the set-list was really good. Best songs of the show was XIII, Children Of The Cross, Blame It On Love and Walk The Wire. Seen these guys couple of time now and they always delivers a great show and so was the case tonight. Thumps up.
Setlist: Wild Child, Hell Rising Woman, XIII, Children Of The Cross, Rock And A Hard Place, Blame It On Love, Walk The Wire, Killer,, 21´Til I Die
Kee Marcello Band (++) most known for he´s work with Europe or like Kee said the E band. With a solo album released in 2016 called Scaling Up I thought he would play biggest part from that and mixed with some songs from his previous soloalbums and mixed with couple of other things. Kee sings OK nothing more. He can surely play guitars and delivers great riffs and solos through the set. Most of the songs are from the time he was in Europe and I think the crowed liked the versions were they could sing-a-long with a beer in their hand, but personally I didn´t think it sounded that good. He did a nice version of Easy Actions Talk Of The Town and was the best in the set together with Don´t Miss You Much. In the other hand I think it´s strange that he played Carrie and Final Countdown because he never played on that album. Even if the crowed seemed to enjoy them I think it killed my attention. Got a coverband feeling right away. Sorry Kee but you should have played your own stuff instead.
Tracklist: Let The Good Time Rock, Scaling Up, More Than Meets The Eys, Fix Me, Don´t Miss You Much, Girl From Lebanon, Carrie, Talk Of The Town, Superstitious, Final Countdown
FM (+++++) the mighty FM rounded off the second day of this great festival and how they did it. I´ve seen FM many times and they have never let me down. Tonight they seemed too been in a good mood and so was the crowed. Black Magic from the latest album Atomic Generation opened up the show in a great way. Steve Overland delivered once again some outstanding vocal performance and damn how good this man can sing. Next up was the stunning air-keyboard song I Belong To The Night, this is pure AOR-heaven. Then the classic AOR-songs followed each other in a fantastic way. The AOR by numbers Let Love Be The Leader was followed by Someday and like Steve said it has been an wanted song from the fans that the band should play it live. So now the fans got what they wanted, AOR by numbers. Great to hear the brilliant Over You with a touch of Foreigner from the Metropolis album. Then the band surprised me in a good way when they played The Dream That Died and Does It Feel Like Love. I just stood with a big smile on my face. We also got to hear the awesome Bad Luck with huge sing-a-long in the pre-chorus followed by Tough It Out and they boys had the whole crowed in their hands and FM had maybe the biggest crowed under the festival and they had a blast right now. Then to spice it up little more they delivered That Girl and Other Side Of The Midnight, you don´t get more AOR than this on a festival. After that the band left the stage and just Steve and Jem return to do an outstanding version of Story Of My Life. If that wasn´t enough they rounded off the show with Burning My Heart Down and damn what a way to end a show. It´s a joy to see Jim Kirkpatrick play his guitar and he has a great sound that has lifted up FM´s sound even more. The rhythm section with Pete Jupp and Merv Goldsworthy is damn tight. This will be hard to beat as the best act on this festival. FM did an absolutely fantastic show and proved that they still are on the best AOR live acts at the moment. They know what the fans wants.
Tracklist: Black Magic, I Belong To The Night, Life Is A Highway, Let Love Be The Leader, Someday, Killed By Love, Over You, The Dream That Died, Does It Feel Like Love, Closer To Heaven, Bad Luck, Tough It Out, That Girl, Other Side Of The Midnight, Story Of My Life, Burning My Heart Down
Jim Jidhed (++++) started the last festival day with an unplugged VIP only show. Jim is most known for this work with the band Alien and has also couple of solo albums under his resumé. Jim has a voice to die for and damn how good this man can sing. He opens up with the classic Alien song Go Easy and delivers a stunning version together with the band. After that they deliver a classic after another and the people in there are in for a treat. Don´t Lose Any Sleep in another highlight of the show and together with Now We Cry and Someday from the Full Circle album the ones that saved my day. Then the band left the stage and left Jim alone with a guitar. So last song was Only One Woman and yet again Jim showed what a vocalist he is and the crowed sang along with him, great way to round off the show. Thumps up.
Tracklist: Go Easy, Don´t Lose Any Sleep, Now We Cry, Two Cold Hearts, Glorious, Someday, All I Want Is You, Only One Woman
Next up was Rian but I had to talk to some people so I missed their show but heard it in the background and it sounded good.
Creye (++++) then new Swedish Aor-sensation was up next. Just released a 3-track EP with Alexander Strandell (Art Nation) on vocals and one single. But did not stop them and they delivered an impressive show. They have recorded their debut album that will be released through Frontiers Records later this year. On that record they have Robin Jidhed (yes it´s the son of Aliens Jim Jidhed) on vocals and I was looking forward to hear him. But he was not able to do this show for some reason and the main man and guitarist Andreas Gullstrand had found a new vocals sensation in Alex Kvarnestig for this show. We´re has this guy been hiding, because he had a fantastic voice that fit perfect to Creye´s sound. They opened up with the brand new song Holding On that showed that this is a band to look out for, great song. They played the songs from their EP with Straight To The Top as the one that stood out most together with the fantastic cover of Robert Tepper´s No Easy Way Out. The song´s that will be on the fourth-coming album sounded promising and it will be an album to look out for every AOR-fan. Wait til´ you hear Different State Of Mind and Heart´s On Fire that are two awesome AOR songs with strong melodies, hooklines and catchy choruses. Creye was the biggest surprise for me over this weekend.
Tracklist (some of the titles can be wrong): Holding On, Never Too Late, Different State Of Mind, By My Side, Hearts On Fire, I´ll Be There, Straight To The Top, All We Need Is Faith, No Easy Way Out
After the show with Creye it was time for some food and I missed Pretty Wild.
So the only female fronted band on this festival was Swedish Alyson Avenue (++++) with former Nightwish singer Anette Olzon. They played songs from both their two first albums and Anette sang just outstanding and keyboard player Niclas Olsson delivered some stunning keyboards and loved the sound. Fans of this band got what they wanted and that was great songs and a band that seemed to have a great time on stage and they sounded great. You couldn´t believe that they had not played together for some time. Opener Tonight Is All You Get set the standard for this show. Perfect Love was another winner in their set and the chorus hooked up the crowed right away and Anette sang with such power and feeling, got goosebumps. More candy for AOR-lovers was One Desperate Love, Can I Be Wrong and the wonderful ballad All This Time. The ended the show with one of the bonus-tracks from Omega II album called Another Night. This is fantastic up-tempo AOR-rocker with layers of keyboards and Niclas manage do deliver those live with class. Finally I got see this band live and they did not disappoint, just the opposite and hopefully we get to hear a new album in the near future. Thanks for the stunning show.
Tracklist: Tonight Is All You Get, Free Like The Wind, Perfect Love, Lost & Lonely, One Desperate Heart, I Have Been Waiting, Can I Be Wrong, All This Time, Without Your Love, Another Night
Boulevard (+++++) from Canada was the band everyone talked about before the show and how these guys delivered. Canadians know how to put out a fantastic show and they are full-time professionals. Drummer Randall Stoll that food poisoning the day before was back in action and the band was in full strength. Those that were at the VIP gig with Boulevard had heard singer David Forbes sing outstanding and so was the case tonight as well. It just gave me goosebumps when he started to sing on the first song Out Of The Blue from the latest album. With 3 albums to choose songs from they manage to do a superb set-list. Dream On, Crazy Life, Lead Me On and Talk To Me is pure AOR magic and I think the crowed that was really big gave the band their love. One of last years best songs Life Is A Beautiful Thing worked great and this is a monster song with a stunning chorus. It´s not many bands that can mix both saxophone and keyboards and make it sound this good as Boulevard. Both Mark Holden (saxophone) and Andrew Johns (keyboards) got much room on the stage and I liked it and it sounded awesome. The band also showed how to sing harmonies and background vocals with class. Just another fantastic show on this festival and a life time memory for sure. Canada rules.
Tracklist: Out Of The Blue, ?, Dream On, Crazy Life, What I´d Give, Lead Me On, ?, Life Is A Beautiful Thing, Talk To Me, Come Together, Never Give Up
Stage Dolls (+++++) from Norway was up next and they we´re around 20 minutes late. It´s not often Stage Dolls has played in Sweden even that we are neighbours. Even if they had their hey-dayz in the late 80s and early 90s they have stuck around and toured a lot in Norway. Now it was time for Sweden to get some Stage Dolls rock and one of the bands together with Boulevard I just couldn´t miss. The band with Torstein Flakne (vocals, guitars), Terje Storil (bass), Morten Skogstad (drums) and I did not get the keyboardplayers name did a fantastic show. Torstein has still left his raspy voice and sang brilliant tonight and showed us that he´s a terrific guitar player as well. The set-list was very good with couple of odd choices in my mind but the crowed seem to like it. Except a short version of 24/7 I missed more songs from the great Get A Life album. But I know it´s hard to please everyone and otherwise it was a good choices of songs. Love Cries came as the second song and the crowed went crazy, what a huge song this is. Stage Dolls best song in my opinion. They did a nice medley with couple of songs. Sorry (Is All I Can Say) went home for the fans and was amazing and so was Hard To Say Goodbye. The end of the show was just awesome with Wings Of Steel, Love Don´t Bother Me, Still In Love and Soldier´s Gun. It was worth the wait to see these Norwegian AOR-rockers and they pulled out an outstanding show that I think the crowed can agree with me.
Tracklist: Left Foot Boogie, Love Cries, Highway Of Life, Hey Rock n Roll, Medely (24/7, Stand By You, Money, Dig, ?), Sorry (Is All I Can Say), Commandos, Taillights, Hard To Say Goodbye, Wings Of Steel, Love Don´t Bother Me, Still In Love, Soldier´s Gun
Dare (++++) was the last band out and rounded off this fantastic festival. With their latest released Sacred Ground (2016) that was a good album and the re-recorded debut album Out Of The Silence coming out in July to promote. So everything was open for a stunning show. The start was little up and down for my taste with maybe to many mid-tempo songs even if many of them are really good ones. But personally I would have liked more rockier songs inbetween the slower one. Darreen has an amazing voice and gives the songs extra life and Vinny Burns gets to shine out on the rockier songs. They started with Sea Of Roses and it did work fine with for crowed. Then they played 6 songs from Sacred Ground and I´ll Hear You Pray and Days Of Summer (best song from the album) stood out most of them. The second half of the show is pure magic and it started with Emerald followed by Wings Of Fire and We Don´t Need A Reason and the crowed was singing along and it was awesome. If that wasn´t enough they continued to deliver classic after classic. Abandon was followed by Into The Fire, The Raindance, King Of Spades and Return The Heart and I was yet again just smiling because this was pure AOR-heaven and damn how good they sounded now, amazing. They ended the show with Beneath The Shining Water and I think the crowed was pleased. It was damn hot in there at this moment and the crowed wanted the band to come back on stage but now the festival was over.
Tracklist: Sea Of Roses, Home, Until, I´ll Hear You Pray, Days Of Summer, On My Own, Every Time We Say Goodbye, Belief, Silent Thunder, ?, Emerald, Wings Of Fire, We Don´t Need A Reason, Abandon, Into The Fire, The Raindance, King Of Spades, Return The Heart, Beneath The Shining Water
Now the first Melodicrock Fest Scandinavia was over for this time and I hope this is a festival that will return next year. Sure there´s some small things to improve til´next time. The location was very good with good space to buy beer or get food and it was close to the city and train station. One thing that they must get better next time is the sound because it was really bad on couple of shows and unlucky for those bands that did not have the best sound quality. Johan “Dr. AOR” Nylen has done a fantastic work to get a real AOR-festival to Sweden and he must be proud of what he has manage to do with help from others.
My first time in Malmö was 3-days filled with fantastic music and people and I would gladly return next year as well.