Two friends and me started our way to Sölvesborg. First by car from Helsinki to Turku and from there on a ferry overnight to Stockholm. We were somewhat anxious how this was going to turn out - and I was very, very anxious to see the new line-up of Dio. This would be Craig Goldie's first show in Dio for over 11 years!
We arrived to Stockholm at 6.30am and started our 600 kilometre trip down to Sölvesborg. We hoped to get there to get to see the first bands playing early in the afternoon. We almost made it - we missed the first band as we had to put up our tent first.
After seven hours of driving we were somewhere near by the festival site. A little bit driving around the Sölvesborg area we found our way to the festival office. My friends were from one cable TV station in Finland (OUBS) and they got their media passes from the office. I was supposed to have my Dio guest pass waiting at the office too, but I was told that they were going to get it in an hour - Dio hadn't arrived to Sweden yet.
No problem, we decided to go to put up our tent then. We did that and I returned back to the office. Still no sign of the pass. After talking a little while, the lady behind the desk believed I was legit and gave me a pass - a big thank-you and hug for her from me!
Okay, next thing I noticed was Hammerfall playing at the main stage. I arrived in the middle of their set, but the last half of the set was quite OK. As with most of the other bands, I wasn't too familiar with their material, so I didn't know what to expect. People seemed to like them a lot - after all, they're a Swedish band.
After wandering around a while and getting one Dio 12" single I was missing (there were a couple of very good heavy metal collector shops in the festival area!) I ended up listening to an old band called Canned Heat. They weren't a heavy metal band at all, more like bluesy rock, but I thought they were rather good. It turned out that I had heard some of their songs on a radio and liked them, but I hadn't had any idea those songs were made by Canned Heat.
Back to the heavier stuff - Mercyful Fate featuring King Diamond hit the main stage next. I had heard a lot of King Diamond before, but this was the first time I saw the man on stage. I have to say that I wasn't too impressed with them - somehow I had a feeling I was watching a bad Alice Cooper clone with a high voice. Most of the audience seemed to like them, though.
Time for a dinner - so we went to our tent to eat something while Michael Schenker Group was playing. By the time we got to the festival ground again Manowar was about to start their set. Judging by the T-shirts and flags in the air, most of the people were there to see Manowar even though Scorpions were billed as the main band for Friday.
I have to say that Manowar sounded great. They had occasional sound problems, but they played tight set and the audience went absolutely nuts during it. Manowar clearly stole the show on Friday. They were filming the show for a forthcoming video release - to make the video more special they got someone from the audience to play guitar on stage, as well as a girl to show her breasts to the 13000 strong audience.
The down points of Manowar's show was the relatively long pause between songs when they were searching for the "new guitarist" from the audience, as well as some of the traditional heavy metal clichés - including driving four Harley-Davidsons' on stage.
Right after Manowar, Motörhead started to make some noise on the smaller stage. This was my third Motörhead gig and I had a feeling that it was the third similar Motörhead show in a row - if you can call a row three shows in a time span of 11 years. For the Motörhead fans the show seemed to be a dream come true, though. I've probably never seen as many bikers at any show than what there were to see Motörhead!
Fifteen minutes after Motörhead ended their set, Scorpions came on the main stage. The Scorps looked pretty strange in short hair - the last time I had seen them was ten years before on the Savage Amusement tour.
I managed to watch Scorpions for about an hour before I had to go to sleep. My sleepiness didn't have anything to do with Scorpions, I loved their show a lot, but I simply was too tired to stay up - 7 hours of driving had taken its toll. I headed to tent in the rain - it had started to rain already in the afternoon.
We woke up in the morning, ate some breakfast and decided to head to downtown Karlshamn (a little bit bigger town near Sölvesborg) and ended up going to the hotel where all the bands were staying. We had some morning tea and met Klaus Meine and Rudolf Schenker of Scorpions.
After sitting in the lobby for a short while we spotted Dio's tour manager Roger Summers. Roger came to talk for a while before starting to work with the management tasks - one would never ever believe how much work tour manager has to do! I met also Dio's drum tech Scott - it was good to see him again, I've never seen him with a sad face.
Time passed and soon it was the time to get back to the festival site. Several Dio fans from the Internet were going to meet there at 2pm and I wanted to be there too.
Six guys arrived to the meeting - Egon Lundberg and Mårten Jacobsson from the WeRock! mailing list and a bunch of guys from IRC's #dio channel. It was good to meet them, it is always nice to have faces connected to the e-mail addresses or IRC nick names ;)
Time to move on.. After spending a little time with Egon and Mårten, I went to see another old band, Budgie. They played at the main stage and I'd believe only a handful of the audience had heard their music before that show.. They played a lot of their old songs, but also some newer material. Good show.
After Budgie Gamma Ray played their set at the smaller stage. Very tight set, good in every respect except the singer had some problems with his voice - which he apologized several times during the show. After their show I met Richard from Norway - I had met him previously on Dio shows in Oslo and also in Karlstad, Sweden. I met also a huge Deep Purple fan Daniel Bengtsson at backstage too - we had wanted to see each other already for years, but better too late than never ;)
Captain Beyond was the next band I saw. I didn't know they still existed, but apparently they did. Those a couple of songs I recognized were great, otherwise I didn't quite manage to "get hold of them".
After Captain Beyond had finished their set, I rushed to the backstage to wait Dio to arrive. It took a little while, but eventually they appeared. Almost right after they arrived, they held a press conference --- they had to move the press conference from the normal press tent to outdoors at the backstage because there were so many reporters that they couldn't fit in the press tent!
While Ronnie was being interviewed, I met the other Dio members - it was so great to see them again! The last time I saw them wasn't too long ago - it happened in Moscow, Russia after their gig there in March 1999. It felt so good to hug Ronnie again (no, I'm not a gay, neither is Ronnie, it was more a hug of friendship).
I met Craig Goldie for the first time in my life. He was really really really nice - he also remembered me from the Dio chat at Dio's official web site. Even though he hadn't been in Dio since 1988, at least to an outside he felt very homely already. I asked him how he got to back in Dio again - he told me he had had a dream where he was late from the stage at a Dio gig. The next morning he had got a call from Wendy who asked if he'd be interested in teaming up with Dio again.
Larry was there too, joking with me about some of my mistakes in the past concerning the Russian tour and the bass player there - I had thought that Bob Daisley was going to do the Russian shows, but it was Larry, not Bob --- The Russian promotors advertised the shows with Bob on bass instead of Larry.
I talked with them until their set was about to start at the main stage. I missed Udo playing at the smaller stage, and even though I like his stuff, I rather spent the time with Ronnie & the guys.
As I was far too late to get to my favorite spot at Dio gigs - the front row center - I asked Roger if I could watch the show from the side of the stage behind the speaker pile. Roger agreed, so I get to watch one of the best Dio shows I had ever seen from quite a good location. If you read this, Roger, thank you very much!
The set began with the familiar Intro tape which transformed into Evilution. It was quite strange to hear someone else than Tracy to play the song, but Craig did a very good job with it. Craig had some problems with his guitar between the intro and Evilution, but it was quickly solved by the guitar tech Dee.
After Evilution, Dio went through three classic Dio songs - Straight Through The Heart, Don't Talk To Strangers and Holy Diver. The audience went completely nuts when Holy Diver started - and especially when Ronnie got a Holy Diver banner from someone one in the audience. I don't think there's anything better - including sex - than to see Dio playing in front of 17500 people!
After Holy Diver, Simon played a drum solo which transformed to Black Sabbath classic Heaven And Hell. Heaven And Hell was absolutely great, and I'm sure everyone in the audience agrees with this. One could hear that when Ronnie let the audience sing "It goes on and on and on, it's Heaven And Hell!" Too bad the night is so bright up here in the north, the red light trick with Ronnie during Heaven And Hell is really something to see!
Heaven And Hell was followed by another Sabbath tune, Mob Rules. Everyone between the mixing tower and the stage were jumping up and down to the rhythm of the song. I had tried to stay still there behind the speakers, but either during Heaven And Hell or Mob Rules I noticed I was jumping and throwing my fist (or the evil eye sign) in the air too.
After Mob Rules the first surprise song came - Rock 'N' Roll Children! It had been quite many years since Dio played anything from Sacred Heart... Rock 'N' Roll Children sounded just like from Sacred Heart tour, except that it was played in full in one piece and not as a medley.
After Rock 'N' Roll Children came Stargazer. I cannot express my feelings in words about Stargazer, the song is so touching that I'm out of words with it. Listen to the song, listen what it says, you know what I mean.
Stargazer transformed to Craig's guitar solo - quite different than what he did back in 1987-1988. No wonder, over ten years had passed since those days ;). From the guitar solo they went to Mistreated for some ten or twenty seconds and returned back to Stargazer to end the song.
"Wayne, would you rev up that motorbike...." said Ronnie and so the song I Speed At Night started. After that came another great surprise - I really hadn't expected to hear this: King Of Rock And Roll! It was the first time since November 11th, 1986 when this song had been played live! The audience went crazy with this song too, I wasn't the only one who was surprised to hear it.
The basic set ended with the same song Dio has ended the set for a while now - The Last In Line. It is a good song to play in the end of the show, a beautiful way to end it - and to make the audience scream for more! Of all the Dio shows I've seen this audience yelled "Dio! Dio! Dio!" the loudest.
Of course an encore followed. They started the encore with Neon Knights and Rainbow In The Dark, then continued to Rainbow classics Man On The Silver Mountain and Long Live Rock 'N' Roll. The audience sung Long Live Rock 'N' Roll so loud that you probably could hear it halfway to Stockholm ;). The second audience shot in the pictures (see below) was taken during this song.
After Long Live Rock 'N' Roll ended, the host of the festival ran on stage to announce the next bands on the other stage. The audience continued booing at him and screaming for more Dio, but unfortunately the organizers didn't let them to do one more song - they wanted to do We Rock to end the show with it, but it'd have gone a couple of minutes over their time slot so they couldn't do it.
Just like Manowar did on Friday, Dio clearly stole the show on Saturday. By the time Deep Purple came on stage, there weren't anywhere near as many people as there were during Dio's gig.
After Dio guys went backstage to take a little rest, I followed them there. I meet a couple of Dio fans from the net there as well, as well as some Deep Purple guys and of course Dio fellows.
I talked a lot with Wendy about various things related to Dio. Wendy told that the second Hear 'N Aid project is in the works, this time to make money for the Children Of The Night organization. Dio has helped them already earlier on - also the WeRock mailing list members donated some money for them a while ago.
I talked with the Dio people until it was Deep Purple's time to hit the stage. Dio was about to leave right there and then - they had to drive to Copenhagen that night before 6am. I hugged them & said my goodbyes until the next show somewhere some day...
I went on the side of the stage to watch the Deep Purple's show from there, missing the first song or two from the beginning. After a minute the Dio people came there to watch the show too - Ronnie wanted to see them playing too. They were there for a couple of songs, but then had to leave to make it in time to Copenhagen.
I loved Deep Purple's show quite a lot too - it was my second Purple show ever. Their set list was very solid and went through very smoothly. The only thing I missed was the audience participation - as Ronnie always interacts with the audience, it wasn't like that with Deep Purple. Don't get me wrong, they definitely didn't ignore the audience, they just did the show differently. It was a shame that halfway through their set it started to rain again, it seemed to cause quite many people to leave early.
After Purple ended their show, I headed towards our tent. We had decided to sleep a couple of hours and then start our trip back to Stockholm and from there to Helsinki on a ferry.
We woke up at 5am when some idiot walked around the backstage camping area yelling "Hello! Hello!" and throwing small juice cartons to the tents as commercial samples... Not exactly the best marketing ploy, I'd say, at least I wouldn't like to be waked up at 5am without a good reason ;)
We packed our stuff and drove to Stockholm, spent a day there and then went to the ferry. All of us looked just like we'd been at a rock festival for three days without a shower - hey, that's us! We had dreamed about getting to a hot sauna on the ferry, but our dreams didn't come true as the damn sauna was under reconstruction. Oh well, we had to settle with a shower and then 12 hours of continuous sleep until Helsinki.
So, another dream-come-true trip, this show was definitely among the best couple of Dio shows I've ever seen. Craig fit in the band really well - but don't get me wrong, I really loved Tracy's playing too and I'd have loved to see him on stage too. This band was really tight, and you could see that the audience loved them too! Dio rules!
Pictures from the show
This page is maintained by Tapio Keihänen,
The page has been updated on 21.06.1999
URL: http://www.dio.net/tour/reviews/990612_TapioKeihanen.html, the front page http://www.dio.net/.