Skogsröjet Festival, Rejmyre, Sweden, 29-30 July 2022

8/10

“Welcome to Sweden’s nicest festival!” The words come from Mike Andersson, singer of TUNGSTEN and are the first I hear after setting foot on Skogsröjet soil. The band has been drafted to the festival at short notice after Gotthard having cancelled. Tungsten does a good job with the young Johansson brothers expressing youthful energy while dad Anders is drumming as the seasoned pro he is. Mike himself seems happy to be on stage, and especially in the higher register he excells.

Next up is JORN, another happy man making jokes inbetween his strong singing. The Norwegian classic rocker mixes solo material with cover versions, among which Uriah Heep’s “Too scared to run” is a nice surprise. ECLIPSE’s set clashes with my dinner (delicious fish & chips from one of the market vendors), but from what I can see, Erik Mårtensson’s melodic rockers land a good report with the crowd. DANKO JONES follows, being the ruff and tuff combo they’re famous for being.

“I don’t know how I ended up on this stage” jokes (?) MICHAEL SCHENKER. The German guitar hero is brimming with happiness as he delivers a classic-packed set from his UFO days as well as his extensive solo catalogue. Schenker’s original plan was to feature vocalist-to-go Ronnie Romero, but instead here’s Robin McAulay and I ain’t complaining. Funny though, that they play very few (if any?) songs from the McAulay/Schenker albums. Anyway, they do perform “Red sky” and a lengthy “Rock bottom”, and that pleases me a lot.

EUROPE have played Skogsröjet before and now they’re back, because of Ace Frehley’s cancelling. Frehley would have been great to see, but I prefer Europe, and I’m certainly not alone in thoroughly enjoying the show. Thoroughly? The band does have its share of struggle. For instance, the opening part of “Firebox” sounds like porridge (a Swedish expression, I know) and for “Sign of the times”, John Norum appears with the wrong guitar (wrong tuning). Still, the veterans brings out a great setlist, relying on 80’s classics but also offering a nice selection of post-reunion tunes. Singer Joey Tempest is in good shape/mood; ending numbers “Cherokee” and “The final countdown” sure have the crowd jumping.

For me, day two starts with GRAVEYARD. This is an orchestra which I’ve never really fallen in love with. Still, there’s no denying the quartet’s skill in delivering heavy blues-based rock music, 70’s style. My friend Per is especially happy to hear his favourite song, “Uncomfortably numb”. MICHAEL MONROE is another matter, altogether. I’ve loved the man, born in Finland as Matti Fagerholm, since the early eighties, and he hasn’t mellowed one bit since those days. Doing splits as a 60-year-old is no bad feat, and when Monroe climbs five meters up the lightning rig, I wonder where he finds his guts and energy. The music is for the most part collected from the great albums released under Monroe’s own name – I’m especially energized to hear “Ballad of the Lower East Side” – but I’ve gotta admit that my heart makes happy leaps, hearing old Hanoi Rocks classics such as “Motorvatin'” and “Malibu Beach nightmare”. Doubtlessly, Monroe is a true rock n roll star.
DORO’s gig is mealtime for yours truly (robust, tasty burger inside the festival’s beer tent). However, I watch enough of the lady’s show to conclude that her voice and stage presence are still up there with the best. DIRKSCHNEIDER, then, is being met with roaring applause, doing a best-of-Accept class. The man’s band is tight and professional, although as one of my friends state, the guitarist ain’t no Wolf Hoffman. THE HELLACOPTERS then bring the dirt to the rock n roll with loads of high-octane music. Apparently, Michael Monroe and bassist Sami Yaffa appear for the Hellacopters’ encores, but at that time I’m already by the other stage, waiting for WASP.
Blackie Lawless and his men unleash by far the loudest gig of the whole festival, then says “goodnight” after just 45 minutes. WASP do re-appear for another round of songs, naturally finishing up with “I wanna be somebody”, but an edgy Blackie insults part of the audience for not being loud enough. To me, the less than great gig’s highlight comes three songs into the set with the band’s glimmering cover version of The Who’s “The real me”.
Conclusion: Skogsröjet probably IS Sweden’s nicest festival. At least the cosiest. A friendly atmosphere with nice staff and zero fighting. One could complain, though, about no breaks between bands. It’s difficult to catch full sets from two gigs played in a row. How about me not reviewing gigs by Gathering of Kings, Nestor, Sister Sin or Bullet? Well, we had a somewhat long journey to/from our sleeping quarters, and driving hours were set democratically!
Footnote: “Skogsröjet” can be translated into “The blast in the woods”.

Skogsröjet Festival, Rejmyre, Sweden, 29-30 July 2022

August 6, 2022

Singer Joey Tempest is in good shape/mood; ending numbers "Cherokee" and "The final countdown" sure have the crowd jumping.

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