Having had huge amounts of fun at the Rock/Metal festivals this year, I thought I'd head off out to Sweden for the Getaway Rock Fest.
Combining my wanderlust for new places and with the Getaway hosting a storming line up including Death Angel, Agnostic Front, COC, Alice Cooper, The Darkness, Ghost and Opeth, I thought it would be a cracking way for my first visit to Sweden and nope, I wasn't wrong!
A short hop over via plane and very punctual train and I'm soon in Gavle, a very quiet little Swedish town on the east coast, pretty in parts but very industrial in others and the venue for this festival was in the latter of these. A seemingly rather odd place to have it bearing in mind there is no grass here, just stones, gravel and tarmac but nestled in between some old roundhouses is the Getaway, for this weekend a haven for all things loud, rocking and Metal!
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Evergrey kicked off the main stage on Thursday, closely followed by the fabulous Death Angel. Having had a decade break, these guys got back together in 2001 and have literally ripped up the road ever since. As brutal, tight and punishing as ever, the simply stormed through their set, Mark Osgueda, now sporting some exceptionally long dreadlocks, is simply a brilliantly fierce frontman with a voice that can rattle mountains.
Corrosion of Conformity were next up and in cracking fine voice too. Playing their uniquely metal blend of doom, thrash and hardcore, they stomped through the likes of Rat City, Holier and the classic Vote with a Bullet, finishing a great set with crowd favourite Technocracy.
Now for Turisas. I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this bunch of face painted Finns playing their folk Metal or Battle Metal as they like to call it, but the crowd loved them and they're certainly entertaining. Barking mad some may call them, but at least they're not boring with wild vocalist Mathias 'Warlord' Nygard, female accordionist and electric violin player (who's the spitting image of Martin Walkyier funnily enough!) all adding to the mayhem. Their rip roaringly insane version of Boney M's 'Rasputin' will stick in my head for years, and they finished with a flourish to 'Battle'. Love them or not, they're certainly fun!
Monster Magnet took things down a notch and returned us all to a bit more sanity with their riff riddled stoner rock and it was then chance to take five and grab a few, ok a lot of beers with old friends COC before we all headed down to the huge queue (I kid you not) to get into the small third stage, hosting the bizarrely wonderful Ghost.
I don't know who did the stage scheduling here, but Ghost could have easily headlined the whole night, rather than being shoved into a tiny 3rd stage. We fortunately managed to get in before they had to shut the doors (thanks in part to COC's behemoth friend/roadie John who managed to part the crowds like the red seas!) and it was totally worth the hassle.
Ghost have been described as a bastard child of Mercyful Fate and Blue Oyster Cult but comparisons to these luminaries still don't really do this band justice. Consisting of Papa Emeritus – the one in the skull mask and Cardinal suit and the 'Nameless Ghouls' - two guitarists, bassist, drummer and Keyboardist all in seriously sinister black masks and robes, Ghost are simply immense and boy can that Cardinal sing, what an amazing voice.
'Death Knell' was fantastic and their armageddon version of the Beatles 'Here Comes The Sun' is just out of this world. They take one of the chirpiest pop hits and drag it twisting and writhing downwards into one the most desperately haunting, melancholic songs I've heard in years. Outstanding. Love, love, love the Ghost.
After such an amazing performance, it was a tough ask for Doctor Midnight and the Mercy Cult to impress and they really did fall a little flat for me so it was back to the beers and then the main man, Alice Cooper was up.
What an amazing bloke he is too. I have absolutely no idea where he gets all his energy from but from the second they start, this ageless man and his band simply rock the house down! Aided by some seriously fierce guitarists and the rather awesome Chuck Garrick on bass, they smashed and blitzed their way through a set of classic Alice tracks, 'Hey Stupid', 'Be My Frankenstein', 'No More Mr Nice Guy' and new single 'Bite your face Off' amongst others, but for me, the monster 'Elected' was one of the highlights of the night.
Alice, screaming and pacing the stage with venom, got the crowd in a total frenzy and I swear there wasn't a single soul in the whole place who wasn't raising their fists and singing/shouting 'Elected' along with him!
Absolutely as brilliant as he's ever been, it was simply the best end to a fantastic day, and finally time for a slightly drunken stagger back to the hotel to rest the liver, recouperate and get ready to do it all again on the Friday!