The first ever Sweden Rock in 1992 only lasted one day and featured nine relatively unknown bands. Over two decades later and the festival is now opening its gates to 33,000 rock enthusiasts and some of the biggest names in rock including: Status Quo, Judas Priest and Alice Cooper.
This year Sweden Rock boasts another massive line-up bursting with enough legends to keep the ground shaking and the crowd rocking. This year’s headliners include Queen with Adam Lambert, Twisted Sister and Sabaton who are returning for the fifth time.
Sweden’s biggest rock festival may not be until June, but to get you hyped for all the fist pumping and head banging that awaits, we’ve found some of the greatest performances we've witnessed throughout recent years while we have partnered with the festival.
Europe – 2013
2013 marked Europe’s 30th anniversary and where better for the Swedish band to celebrate than with a headline performance at Sweden’s loudest rock festival.
Probably best known for their 1986 glam metal hit, The Final Countdown, Europe burst onto stage and reminded everyone that they were so much more than that one song. The set induced a trip down memory lane with a return to some of their earlier classics such as Paradise Bay, Scream of Anger and their melodic ballad, Carrie.
Europe pulled out all the stops to keep the crowd rocking. John Norum’s awe-inspiring guitar riffs really stood out, matching the effort of studio versions of Rags to Riches and Superstitious. Meanwhile, Joey Tempest proved that although he may not be as young as he once was, he can still deliver an outstanding vocal performance.
The band also ensured that the 30th anniversary was as much about their inspirations as it was about them. The cover of UFO’s Lights Out brought German rock guitarist Michael Schenker (from UFO) and his guitar mastery on stage as he nailed every single guitar flare while Europe paired their unique sound with this classic rock hit. The second cover was the Thin Lizzy classic Jailbreak, which saw Scott Gorham exchanging solos with John Norum in a truly electrifying performance.
Sabaton – 2012
2012 saw Sabaton return for their fourth year at Sweden Rock and metal heads of all ages came to see this metal powerhouse perform. Frontman Joakim Brodén entered the stage and takes a sweeping, long look at the crowd. This is a man who shows his appreciation for all his fans with an energetic performance that has him running and jumping across the entire stage to ensure every single person watching is riled up for a special performance.
The set opened in a way that it only could at Sweden Rock. The national anthem performed with powerful drums and strong metal vocals. The result was a crowd that stood in solidarity, mercilessly rocking out to the some of Sabaton’s biggest hits.
Performances like this prove how worthy Sabaton were of the Best Live Band award from the Metal Hammer Awards in 2012. By the time Primo Victoria’s “through the gates of hell” lyric was uttered, the whole crowd was jumping and banging their heads. The best performances are judged on the crowd and looking at Sabaton’s 2012 audience, the band gave one of the best shows ever seen at Sweden Rock.
Motörhead – 2012
2012 was a great year for Sweden Rock, the line-up represented the entire spectrum of the rock music genre and brought bands from all over the world together to give fans the loudest festival experience so far. Among the line-up were English heavy metal band, Motörhead. The band are internationally renowned as musical geniuses and were regulars to the Rock Stage. Throughout the years they have performed some of their best sets to the wildest metal heads and 2012 was no different for these rock legends.
While some felt that the rock gods should have been made one of the main headliners, Motörhead’s frequent appearances meant they were moved further down the bill. 2012 marked their 8th appearance and at this point they were considered more of a staple part of the Sweden Rock line-up than a headliner, but Lemmy and the rest of the band didn’t let familiarity stop them from proving that they were one of the biggest influences to the rebirth of heavy metal in the 70s and early 80s.
The set did not open softly as Motörhead kick-started things with Damage Control, their 1979 song from the Overkill album. Continuing to fire on all cylinders, the band treated both Motörheadbangers and rock enthusiasts to a familiar yet satisfying playlist that included Metropolis and Going to Brazil.
Throughout the entire set, Motörhead proved their influence on the rock world over the years as Philip Campbell took the guitar and effortlessly delivered each guitar lick while Mikkey Dee on the drums was described by Lemmy as “the best drummer in the world.” This could be fiercely debated but it didn’t matter, during this set he was the king of the world and the drums were his throne.
Towards the end of the set, Ugly Kid Joe singer Whitefield Crane and King Diamond guitarist Andy LaRocque surprised fans by joining in on a momentous rendition of Killed by Death. Motörhead stayed true to their heavy metal ways, closing their set with two classics, Ace of Spades and Overkill.
While Motörhead had graced the festival many times throughout the years, 2012 marks a truly remarkable performance as unbeknownst to the crowd, it would be the last time Lemmy would perform at the festival. To honour one of the wildest men in rock, Sweden Rock have renamed the Rock Stage that they always played to the Lemmy Stage.
The mark that Motörhead left on the festival will be felt forever.
So there are our three all-time favourite shows at Sweden Rock. However there are so many honourable mentions that can’t be forgotten such as Buck Cherry’s thunderous performance from 2011 and Blue Öyster Cult’s second appearance in 2008.
It’s not long until the gates open and thousands of fans will pour into the festival to watch the bands that include, Foreigner, Slayer, The Struts and Lita Ford.
We hope you’re ready to rock.