3.6.2022 Rockfest – Day 2 @ Hyvinkään Lentokenttä, Hyvinkää

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It seems the biggest and harshest parts of the coronavirus pandemic are behind us at last, which means that festival season will go forward in Finland. The first festival we attended this summer was Rockfest at the Hyvinkää Airport, featuring fantastic headliners like NIGHTWISH, SCORPIONS, and none other than the legendary IRON MAIDEN to cap off the weekend. The second day was June 3rd, 2022, with SCORPIONS in the headlining slot.

We are definitely getting old, to be so exhausted already on the second day of a festival, but the cold and rain really does sap one’s energy. Fortunately, though there was still a fair bit of wind, the rain did ease off, allowing some breathing room for people to take it easy on the second day.

Some of the more interesting bands were starting earlier on, so we tried our hardest to gather ourselves in time to arrive for SILVER BULLET, though we did have high hopes of seeing BRITISH LION‘s set as well. Thankfully, we did make it to the last bits of the latter’s show. BRITISH LION is perhaps most known as the side-project of legendary IRON MAIDEN bass player Steve Harris. It was weird seeing Harris play in a setting other than MAIDEN, yet, it doesn’t matter what music he’s playing, it’s always fascinating to see him play bass. The hard rock tones of the band were a good way of kicking off the main stage early on in the day and we were glad to have caught them.

Moments later, the audience had the choice again between BOKASSA and SILVER BULLET. Finland knows BOKASSA from when they opened up for METALLICA some years ago. The trio plays a blend of hardcore punk with stoner rock and in general, have a lot of humor and energy on stage. They’re one of the few bands that knows how to fill up a stage, despite being a trio, making it very entertaining to watch them even if you don’t know their music very well. Along with the stage dynamics, the band tends to do funny speeches in between, and in this case, after some songs, they joked that Finland is the country of licorice and alcoholism and, thankfully, Finnish people took it gracefully.

Those who weren’t interested in punk spirit, but rather wanted to see power metal, could opt for SILVER BULLET at the indoor stage. Sadly, BOKASSA is a rather loud band and the wind didn’t do SILVER BULLET any favors, as their music blended in with BOKASSA‘s in every corner of the tent – maybe the organization should re-think the location of the tent stage, since most of the bands playing there were playing at the same time as the artists on the second stage, which happened to be right next to the tent stage. This aside, SILVER BULLET recently welcomed a new singer into their midst, but we haven’t had the chance to see them since last year’s Saarihelvetti. The band also opted for a new stage look, with sleek uniforms in velvet red/brown, lifting the band up to the next visual level. Singer Bruno Proveschi is a really great addition to the band, looking very comfortable on stage and he has great charisma in general. The band played a lot of songs off both “Screamworks” and “Mooncult” and even surprised the audience with a new song. We were glad, however, that they played incredible songs like “Witches Hammer” (which featured the appearance of a heavy metal priest who would shout along with the chorus and re-joined the audience after his guest appearance), “Eternity In Hell,” and also the HEVISAURUS-vibed “Forever Lost.” There’s always a party guaranteed with these guys!

We haven’t checked out KILLING JOKE before, so we were surprised to see that the stage was adorned by a completely different set of musicians than we thought; judging by the name, we had expected an emo band, but we were pleasantly surprised to see a good old English rock band with a little bit of a punk edge to it. The music ranged from somewhat melodic to pure thrash, so needless to say, we were impressed by the energy and a little bit caught off guard.

Next up was MOON SHOT, who were playing at the same time as LÄHIÖBOTOX at the tent stage. While there was some deeply intriguing bass coming out of the tent stage, we opted for the former since we had seen LÄHIÖBOTOX already quite recently when they opened for NIGHTWISH. MOON SHOT are still fairly new on the scene and are perhaps most well known for being the new band of CHILDREN OF BODOM‘s bassist, Henkka T. Blacksmith, so there is a natural curiosity to see what he’s doing these days. Well, he looks about the same as ever, decked out in black, though his hair is shorter than it once was. The band had pretty good energy and fortunately, the sound quality was quite nicely balanced – it seems the secondary stage was having better luck than the main stage. They spoke about how it’s been 2 years since they’ve been playing live and their happiness to be back on stage, letting us hear familiar tracks like “Big Bang,” “Confession,” and “Blood Looks Cool,” and while their brand of melodic rock isn’t necessarily for us personally, it did work pretty nicely in a festival setting.

A couple of years ago, MEGADETH were not in top shape, and right after that, Dave Mustaine announced that he had cancer, but thankfully, he recovered, and ever since he’s a different man. He smiles, the seemingly has fun performing, and even his voice has never been so good. Furthermore, due to a scandal last year, David “Junior” Ellefson was kicked out of the band, now officially replaced by James LoMenzo. Of course, MEGADETH fans know him from his time in the band between 2006–2010. It seems the band chemistry is working well, as everyone looked enthusiastic and the performance was quite strong. Mustaine and fellow guitarist Kiko Loureiro were shredding like maniacs, while former SOILWORK drummer, Belgian Dirk Verbeuren, seems to have found his place in the band as well.

The stage set-up, with a wall of Marshall amps, looked pretty slick, and the band immediately started with some classic bangers, like “Hangar 18” and “Dread and the Fugitive Mind,” also including hits like “Angry Again,” “Peace Sells,” “Symphony of Destruction,” and they finished the set with “Holy Wars… the Punishment Due” as an encore. The set, overall, was a strong mix of familiar classics and a few new songs, like “Dystopia” off the album of the same name. Unfortunately, they didn’t play anything off their upcoming release, “The Sick, The Dying… And the Dead!,” but that just means we hopefully have more shows to check out from them soon!

The day began to slowly wind down with HEAVEN SHALL BURN, though they can hardly be considered a wind-down band. Interestingly, vocalist Marcus Bischoff was the first on stage, not the last, dressed in a bright red shirt, looking around to see what the crowd was like perhaps. This show was part of their Neuland Exkursion 2022 Tour, and of note, the guitarist excitedly welcomed Finland into NATO, which was a bit funny considering Finland hasn’t been accepted yet. The band put on a pretty strong performance, including one of the friendliest pits we’ve ever seen, full of audience members skipping happily and prancing about arm-in-arm as they went in circles.

The headliner of the evening was the German hard rock act, SCORPIONS, who have recently released their new album, “Rock Believer.” It’s been a few years since we saw the band on their supposed Farewell Tour. Thankfully, the band didn’t lie when they said the best is yet to come and it seems that they changed their minds, because they’re back on stage again with a new tour and stage production. The set started out with a new song, “Gas in the Tank.” The production looked really great with a big screen behind the band, showing different kinds of visuals that suited the themes of the music. There was also a catwalk for the event, where the guitarists would often rock out and move their hips to and fro. “The Zoo” came quite early on in the set and formed an early highlight.

“Seventh Sun” and “Peacemaker” were new tracks that fit very well into the setlist. Admittedly, we were not super familiar with the new album, having only spun it a few times, but judging by this performance, SCORPIONS is one of the very few classic hard rock acts that have always kept their identity intact. In fact, vocalist Klaus Meine is still singing as always, hitting all the right notes. After “Peacemaker,” the setlist took a different turn with classic after classic: “Send Me an Angel” was as beautiful as ever and “Wind of Change” got different lyrics to support the Ukrainians in their fight for freedom. Thankfully, the new lyrics were presented on the screen so that we could sing along loudly as well. After “Tease Me Please Me,” the title track of their new album followed, which turned out to be another great song to sing excitedly to. Then, the band had planned a moment for Klaus Meine to take a break with a bass solo, followed immediately by a rather fantastic drum solo. Drummer Mikkey Dee is always a pleasure to watch on stage and while the general drum solo can be a tad repetitive and often boring, Dee made sure to entertain to audience and tease them up until the bitter end of his solo.

After that, the party erupted with “Blackout,” our personal highlight of the show, along with “Big City Nights,” which rounded out the set pretty nicely. The band, of course, came back on demand with some encores, opting for the melancholic “Still Loving You,” which was a nice little break from the intensity of the classic SCORPIONS‘ songs. The night ended with the typical “Rock You Like a Hurricane,” which after all these years is still the best and only option to successfully end a show with a bang!

Written by Bear W. & Laureline T.
Photos by Laureline T.