Norway has been the hosting ground for a high number of festivals these last 5 years, and we constantly hear about festivals closing their chapter of existence, giving way for others to try and do better. Indeed, not many succeed in surviving financially; Norway's still a country of 4.8 millions inhabitants.
NRF, formerly known as Kvinesdal Rock Festival, given its location in the godforsaken dale of Kvinesdal, was going to be all but unpopular, yet it didn't have the ambition to sweep the metal audience its way, or did it? Anyway, the crew managed, by treading carefully, to expand the little bikers' rock festival, making it available for the whole world to attend, thus the name change. They were granted by an awesome response on their first year as KRF in 2006. Only three years later, the festival shows a solid and experienced face that managed to book Manowar, W.A.S.P., Testament, U.D.O., Doro, Nightwish, Holy Hell, Arch Enemy on the same bill. From 5.000 sold tickets the first year, the number of entrances sold this July was 35.000! Congratulations on a GRAND work!
We thank Kvinesdal for the great organisation of the camp. Many sceptics have changed their mind. The camping spots were of a good dimension, and the addressing system (ex.: "camp BM24") made it easy to find party tents. As a negative critique, we'd just like to mention the powerful water hoses! Please, Kvinesdal, this isn't Southern Europe; water sprayed directly all over people doesn't mend thirst!
When it comes to the validation of the tickets to the concerts and to the camp, well, what about a computer that makes it possible to look up quickly people's names through a list of several thousands? Could have avoided a lot of stress and queuing time.
Otherwise, we hope you'll keep up, while bearing in mind that limitation of the ambition can prevent overpopulation in order to keep the convivial spirit of this wonderful rock festival.
For professional pictures, I recommend you go to the following address: www.norwayrock.no , section Bildegalleri on the top menu.
Thursday, July 9th 2009
Having reached the right end of the queue of the year, we make for the camping lot we've been assigned, setting up the tent in full haste in the rain. While we do so, we catch a glimpse of Zerozonic on the stage; the sounds emanating from the same direction put me in the right mood right away, with its Pantera-inspired sound and the covers of old school Metallica riffs. The members, be it due to their long live experience or not, excel at dealing with their audience. An act stupid to miss.
I had seen them before, and found it boring after the while I, as many others, spent praising Angela.
Tonight's Arch Enemy shows a new face, more active towards the audience, and with an extended musicality.
Rating: 80 / 100
is time for break to greet the members of the party tent. It is difficult to stay away from what's happening on stage, as Sonata Arctica delivers a show most fullfilling. The traditional power-metal they were known for has given place to a more melodic side.
It is for sure that Sonata Arctica is able to offer thewir audience an enormous specter of sounds and food for the soul and the heart.
Rating: 86 / 100
When In Flames come onstage, the alcohol levels are high. I don't expect to hear more than at last year's muddy sound at Hove; soon I am proven wrong, as if Come Clarity had been an incantation, In Flames's sound tonight is clear as a unicorn's tear, hehe. The band that made me shiver in 1996 is back at last, in best solid and energetic style. I think In Flames are one of few bands who can never disapppoint live.
They give all.
Rating: 88 / 100
Drawing a censoring line over the party that follows the musical events that evening brings us to Friday morning, the day over all days for most of the festival goers this year.
Friday, July 10th 2009
At 10 O'clock we hear it, Armageddon, World War III, a bomb? Nah...Manowar's merely blowing their speakers. It's a fine way to wake up, yes it is, and get filled with expectations.
The day won't start before a dose of Satyricon. I have checked out the band yearly the past three years but today's show's in best Satyricon fashion: a demonic intro, extremely metallic, great sound that lets each stroke ring, guitarist and keyboardist casting manes like Medusa around synchronically. A stylish presence, an ounce clinical, symbolised by the character of Satyr, reflected if not wise. Satyricon's great performance benefits of a 1000 people's choir on Black Crow on a Tomb Stone and a grandiose, though not unexpected, Mother North.
Rating: 90 / 100
Testament take the warmed-up crowd with storm and one wishes they never stopped playing. The band, unfortunately only granted one hour of playing time, are efficient to the bone and entertain admirably. This is perfect festival music!
Rating: 89 / 100
W.A.S.P. was supposed to be a peak for me, and after the previous acts, they will have to work hard to make me raise an eyebrow.
With W.A.S.P., one knows what one gets; I find the band a bit flat today, which in W.A.S.P.'s context means little. I have to admit I get weak when Blackie makes his speech about fame killing so-called stars and encourages us to worship the artist's work and not the artist in persona.
Followed by an intense "The Idol", this makes the day for many of us in the audience.
Rating: 77 / 100
Let's pass elegantly over Holy Hell's scary means and reserve ourselves for the pretty ladies still to come on Saturday.
Manowar is the main attraction for most people at this year's NRF. Although living at a certain distance from the band, it is obvious why people feel attracted to them. I enjoy being of the party and let myself easily get engaged in the band's act. The set was too short! We need more! Fortunately, it sounded like Manowar had more or less concluded acontract to come back to Kvinesdal next year...we might get the rest of the set with the old hits (Blow your Speakers, Carry on, Black Wind, Fire and Steel, aso). I find the show much more tamed than I expected. Suppose one has to experience and all-Manowar concert to get enough music, as one third of the show is taken by guitar competition and display of "the most beautiful girls in...Norway" in this case.
Nah, this is probably not the last time I see Manowar; as I don't indulge in the backstage part I could never know how much strength Manowar can display when they need to impress, which also means that I, as many others, I have to do with the onstage performance, where I, next time, expect true Fire and Steel!
Rating: 70 / 100
Saturday, July 11th 2009
True to tradition, Saturday begins with a bath in the river. From there one can here the day's first band playing: Sister Sin. Just the perfect soundtrack to wake up and get in the rock mood; the Swedish band fronted by a lady covers Motley Crue's Wild Side, and some other old favourites. Great party music, perfect choice of the crew for a beginning of the day at the festival!
U.D.O. turns up to be the next stop, and is the festival's nicest surprise! A Udo smiling from ear to ear is the cherry on the cake, as people who know Udo as a live character know that it isn't a common sight. Concentrating on Accept, I feel like groing straight back home and grab my guitar...at the hour of writing, well, I am getting close to finding the time to do it :)
Rating: 90 / 100
Doro has been the incrediby rocking lady with a less interesting musical history for my part. I'm not _the_ fan of basic heavy metal. Kvinesdal's show makes me forget all of it. Doro really has to be hear live more than on record.
Definitely one of the best acts at this year's Kvinesdal Festival. Doro's humble attitude, typically womanly, needs not to be so reserved; at the same time, this is what makes Doro: a rock artist deeply dedicated and driven by her fans, so that one can wonder who came first, Doro or the fans.
Rating: 85 / 100
Finland's most successful band has got the task of ending the festival and make it one to remember. As good Finns, they work hard to make it happen. Knowing she doesn't possess her predecessor's range, the new great lady fronting the band, Anette, finds a way that fits her voice, and she does it elegantly, with a confidence that boasts from the inside and out, thus keeping away from shame and ridiculous attempts to embody Tarja's shadow. A role model for ladies in metal. While we're at personal characteristics, I'd like to mention the lead guitarist and his humouristic ways, musicality and skills, on whose he can rest and grow. The show is long and varied, a great spectacle.
Rating: 85 / 100
The festival is over, leaving 3 days hardly less than perfect behind us.