TONS OF ROCK 2022 – Ekebergsletta (Oslo, Norway)
June 23-25, 2022
by Jorge Patacas
Since its inception in 2014, Tons of Rock has become one of the most important rock festivals in Norway and nowadays it’s definitely the biggest one in the country when it comes to this genre. Three years have passed since the last edition and this time a total of 52 countries were represented in the audience and a total of 80.000 tickets were sold over the three days. Since the number of people doubled this year, there were some changes in the event area and over 1200 volunteers have worked to make sure everything was in place for an enjoyable experience for everyone.
The festival was sold out, so clearly there was a lot of craving for an open-air summer festival.
DAY 1 – Thursday, June 23rd
The sun was shining in the capital of Norway and long lines of people were formed around noon at the festival entrance. Once inside the area, one could see stalls with a wide variety of food and drinks all around as well as toilets. There was also a tent called Tons of Art where different artists were exhibiting and selling some of their art, while those who wanted to play some games had their needs met on the tent Tons of Arcade.
Official merch from the bands and the festival itself was available as well as records and even more merch from different stores to make sure you find something you like. It’s worth mentioning that there was free water, foldable bottles and sunscreen, basic things necessary when there’s sun and hot weather.
When it comes to the concerts, there were three stages (Main Stage, Scream Stage and Vampire Stage) just as the previous edition, although the Scream Stage was open-air this time instead of being inside a tent, so this time the only one remaining inside the tent was the Vampire.
The Oslo-based act Black Debbath opened the festival at the Main Stage. They have played in every edition and even have a song about the event called appropriately “Tons of Rock”.
These guys have been playing since 1998 and are well-known locally for their performances with lots of politically incorrect humor. This time they even had their own “customer radio” giving messages to the audience before, during and right after their concert. They started with “De Femte Statsmakt” and continued with the aforementioned “Tons of Rock”. “Nei til Runkesti på Ekeberg!” is another funny song and what better place to play it than Ekeberg itself? At this point, people had already filled up the area and were having a lot of fun.
The first band to take the Scream Stage was Death to All, which was formed by ex members of the legendary Death to keep the legacy alive and pay tribute to their friend, the founder Chuck Schuldiner, who sadly passed away on December 13, 2001. The current lineup features Bobbie Koelble on guitars (played on the “Symbolic” album from 1995), Steve DiGiorgio on bass (played on the “Human” and “Individual Thought Patterns” albums in 1991 and 1993 respectively), the amazing Gene Hoglan on drums (played on “Individual…” and “Symbolic” albums) as well as Max Phelps on guitars and vocals playing Schuldiner’s parts, which is not an easy task, but he manages and succeeds in doing so. However, he allows DiGiorgio to be the one talking to the audience between the songs. The show was terrific with unforgettable gems like “Zombie Ritual” from the early days of “Scream Bloody Gore” (1987), the technical “The Philosopher”, “Suicide Machine”, “Spirit Crusher”, “Crystal Mountain” (Yes!) and the end with “Pull the Plug”.
On the Main Stage, the Welsh four-piece Bullet for My Valentine kicked off their show with “Your Betrayal”. Unfortunately, the sound wasn’t the best and the wind affected it depending on where one was standing, but the audience enjoyed themselves with songs like “Waking the Demon” and “4 Words (To Choke Upon)” from their debut album “The Poison” (2005). Towards the end, their hit “Tears Don’t Fall” got the biggest reaction from the audience (I even saw girls crying!) and the last song, the faster “Scream Aim Fire” caused a moshpit.
Many still remember when these guys were the new successful band, but 2022 marks their 24th anniversary, believe it or not!
Also on the Main Stage, but with much better sound, Europe opened their concert with “Walk the Earth” and “Rock the Night” putting the crowd in the pocket from the start.
Although the Swedes are known for their classics of the great decade of the 80s, their new, more mature albums are very worthwhile, influenced by blues and the finest hard rock/heavy metal. But that afternoon they went through their discography and went way back to their second album “Wings of Tomorrow” (1984) playing “Scream of Anger”. There was also stuff from “Out of This World” (1988) with songs like “Sign of the Times” and “Superstitious” featuring a snippet of “Here I Go Again” from Whitesnake after the vocalist Joey Tempest mentioned the tour they’re doing together with the British band. And then more classics were offered: the ballad “Carrie”, “Open Your Heart”, “Cherokee” and the end with their hit “The Final Countdown”.
Despite the passage of time and his vocal changes, the charismatic frontman still has a great voice. That was even more noticeable when he sang a capella.
Tempest mentioned the Norwegians in the band: Ian Haugland on drums and the ever-outstanding John Norum on guitars, getting an expected standing ovation.
As we approached the Scream Stage, Baroness was starting their powerful show with “Take My Bones Away”. These Americans have a great stage presence, with excellent synchronized riffs by vocalist/rhythm guitarist John Baizley and lead guitarist Gina Gleason that delighted the ears of many.
One of their well-known songs, “Shock Me”, caused fervent applause from the audience. “Chlorine & Wine” followed. The end was marked by “The Birthing” and “Isak”, two songs from their debut “The Red Album” (2007).
One detail that caught the attention of those of us who come from South America was seeing the drummer’s hat with the logo of River Plate, the Argentine football team, which makes sense since he is actually from Argentina, but has been living in the US for many years.
Three years after their last performance at Oslo Spektrum together with local band Kvelertak, Mastodon returned to Norway.
Contrary to most bands, the Americans opted for a set focused on their latest album “Hushed and Grim” (2021), playing only six songs from their previous efforts without many of their singles, so it was a set mostly for those who are loyal fans of the band and not so much for the curious.
However, the closing came with the classic “Blood and Thunder” and its monstrous riffs, which the audience received with great enthusiasm.
One of the most anticipated bands was the Swedish death metallers Hypocrisy with their leader and songwriter Peter Tägtgren on guitars and vocals, but without their drummer Horgh (Immortal) who left the band earlier this year, so Henrik Axelsson (The Crown) is the one playing drums now.
They opened their show with “Worship” from their acclaimed latest album of the same name, and continued with “Fire in the Sky” taken from that album called “Into the Abyss” released in 2000 to an excellent response from the audience. Other songs that were part of the set and were very well received were their classic “Eraser” and the single “Chemical Whore” from the new album.
It was already 21:00 and despite the fact that there was still daylight (it does not get dark until almost midnight during the Norwegian summer), the most anticipated band of the day would come on stage, the legendary Iron Maiden.
The iconic British outfit is just amazing. Many bands at this point of their careers are no longer the same, something begins to fail, etc., but in their case one would hardly notice the passing of years just by listening to them.
Bruce Dickinson is still moving on stage as usual, and the production of the show is truly spectacular. Each song is represented in some way, either with a different stage prop or some special theatrical element.
The ever-present mascot Eddie appeared early on as a samurai on the song “Senjutsu” that opens their latest album of the same name. This one was followed by “Stratego” and the single “The Writing on the Wall” that works like a new anthem live with the entire audience singing the chorus.
After these new songs, the scenery changed completely and they continued with “Revelations” and the emotive and uniting “Blood Brothers”. The entire crowd sang the epic chorus of this great song from “Brave New World”, the album that marked Dickinson’s return to the band in the year 2000.
Then came the first of the Blaze Bayley-era tracks with “Sign of the Cross” from the “X Factor” album (1996), followed by the classic “Flight of Icarus” from “Piece of Mind” (1983), where the vocalist started running around the stage with flamethrowers, one in each hand.
Then he would appear with a mask and a flashlight while the first notes of “Fear of the Dark” were played and the audience erupted in excitement. And there was more to come. “Hallowed be thy Name” was next and then “The Number of the Beast” and “Iron Maiden” from the self-titled debut album from 1980 that had Paul Di’Anno as vocalist.
The first encore consisted of “The Trooper” where Eddie came out again, this time for a sword fight with Dickinson, “The Clansman” (second song from the Bayley-era) and “Run to the Hills”.
When the show had already run for almost two hours and some people were leaving, a war plane appeared on stage while the intro of the “Aces High” videoclip was displayed on the large screen. Then they attacked one last time with the classic from 1984 before saying goodbye and promising to return. Let’s hope it happens soon!
DAY 2 – Friday, June 24th
Friday afternoon was very sunny and hot, so we were lucky that Jinjer was performing at the Vampire Stage. This was one of the few times where the tent got very crowded and this makes sense since the ukrainians have a loyal fanbase that has been constantly growing along all these years.
The vocalist Tatiana Shmailyuk is very energetic on stage. She easily masters the balance between clean and harsh vocals, and knows how to manage the crowd making them part of the show, as the rest of the band showcase their technical skills. “Pisces” (probably their most popular song at this point) and “Teacher, Teacher” were some of the highlights on their concert at Tons of Rock.
On the same stage but with less audience, it was time for some Swedish black metal in the form of Dark Funeral. Guided by lead guitarist and songwriter Lord Ahriman, who is now the only remaining member of the original lineup, the band started their set with “Unchain My Soul” engaging the audience instantly. Then they played a mix of their newer and old stuff as well. “Open the Gates” from their very first EP “Dark Funeral” is worth mentioning as well as their most recent “Nail Them To The Cross” from “Where Shadows Forever Reign” (2016).
At the same time, the american comedy metal band Steel Panther was playing at the Main Stage, so we arrived when they were doing the hilarious Ozzy Osbourne impersonation while playing a cover of his trademark song “Crazy Train”.
This combo works like a mix of stand up comedy/music band live. They’re a parody of the 80’s Glam Metal that became really popular at the time, but with very obscene lyrics, constantly making jokes when talking to the crowd in between the songs. Some people were laughing hard and having a great time while the sun was still shining, while others thought it was too gross.
One girl from the audience went on stage by the band’s request and they played the ballad “Weenie Ride”. As soon as they finished, this time seventeen girls appeared on stage and then of course it was time for their song “17 Girls in a Row” with a previous warning to the husbands/boyfriends that they would have a bad time that evening because of the party they were going to throw backstage. As you can see, all the clichés of the 80’s glam were parodied, but what’s important to state here is that they’re actually good musicians and their songs are catchy as hell. “Community Property”, “Death to All but Metal” and “Gloryhole” were the ones they chose for the last part of their set.
Moving to the Scream Stage, the German heavy metal legends Accept were about to start. Their current lineup is Mark Tornillo on vocals, Wolf Hoffmann, Uwe Lulis and Philip Shouse on guitars, Martin Motnik on bass and Christopher Williams on drums.
They started with two new songs, “Zombie Apocalypse” and “Overnight Sensation” taken from their latest album “Too Mean to Die” (2021), and then it was past and present anthems one after another. “Restless and Wild”, “Princess of the Dawn”, “Fast as a Shark”, “Metal Heart” (yes, these four in a row, no room for stopping the headbanging). But that was not the end. The next one was “Teutonic Terror” which came out on the “Blood of the Nations” album from 2010, first one with Mark Tornillo on vocals, and it’s already a classic these days. But their all-time thunderous anthem “Balls to the Wall” was the one the band chose to finish their concert. As usual, they were like a machine perfectly working. They never disappoint!
Right next, Dimmu Borgir took the Main Stage playing for people of all ages. Yes, even many kids with their parents were watching not only this but many of the bands of the festival. They will probably never forget this experience.
The Norwegians played few songs including “Gateways” which had Agnete Kjølsrud from Djerv as guest vocalist just like in the studio album. Other songs that stood out were “Vredesbyrd”, “Progenies of the Great Apocalypse” and the last one “Mourning Palace”, the classic from their great album, “Enthrone Darkness Triumphant” (1997).
Swedish rockers The Hellacopters, fronted by the guitarist/vocalist Nicke Andersson (Lucifer, ex Entombed), were next at the Scream Stage. The band played some songs from their new album “Eyes of Oblivion” (2022) such as “So Sorry I Could Die” and “Reap a Hurricane”, which had a good response from the audience, but the highlights were undoubtedly “By the Grace of God” and “I’m in the Band”.
Musically very far from their deathcore roots, today Bring Me The Horizon is an extremely successful band among the younger crowd with catchy songs, a mix between metalcore, pop and even some hip hop, and a lot of use of Oli Sykes’ clean vocals besides the screams. The British outfit went through their catalog from the last decade onwards playing some of their most popular songs such as “Can You Feel My Heart”, “Drown”, “Follow You”, “Throne” and the fan favorite “Shadow Moses”. There were also many from their most recent album “Post Human: Survival Horror” (2022) and one of their latest singles “DiE4u” (2021). On stage, the band includes large screens with images and two dancers to complement their show, while Sykes commands the audience by making them jump, dance and do circle pits.
On the Vampire Stage, once again packed, “Policia” by the legenary Brazilian band Titas could be heard from the PA system, and everything was ready for Sepultura to take the stage. Seconds later they appeared, but without Andreas Kisser on guitar, which immediately drew attention. After an amazing start with “Arise” and “Territory”, vocalist Derrick Green explained the situation about the guitarist who had to return to Brazil due to a family emergency. In fact this was their second show without Kisser on the six strings, being temporarily replaced by fellow Brazilian Jean Patton from the band Project46, who fulfilled his role perfectly. Eloy Casagrande, who recently had to undergo surgery, stood out once again with a brilliant job on the drums in a set that included songs like “Means to an End” from their most recent album “Quadra” (2020), “Kairos”, “Cut-Throat” from “Roots” (1996), “Convicted in Life” and timeless classics with lyrics more relevant than ever these days such as “Propaganda”, “Slave New World” and “Refuse/Resist”. With “Troops of Doom” started one of the biggest moshpits seen on this edition of the festival. Towards the end they played “Ratamahatta” and the inevitable “Roots Bloody Roots” where the crowd went crazy.
Personally, I have seen Sepultura many times before, but this was the first time I saw them in Norway, and it was clear to me that Scandinavians love them. The energy right there was amazing and somehow unique.
The headliners of the day were the Nu Metal pioneers Korn who are currently touring with Ra Diaz (Suicidal Tendencies) as bass player replacing Fieldy since he is taking a break.
Personally I thought they were going to open the show with a recent song, but instead they decided to start with “Here to Stay” from the “Untouchables” album (2002), and then “Got The Life” and “Falling Away From Me”. They conquered the audience immediately. Then there was time for a couple of songs from their new album “Requiem” (2022) in the form of “Start the Healing” and “Worst is on Its Way”. But mostly it was an old school setlist. The vocalist Jonathan Davis came out with the bagpipe for “Shoots and Ladders” from their self-titled debut album (1994) and growled one of the verses making it sound heavier than the original version, then they threw in a bit of Metallica’s “One”. They did the same by throwing a bit of Queen’s “We Will Rock You” during “Coming Undone”. And then we got more old stuff. “Somebody Someone”, “Freak On A Leash”, a medley with “It’s On!”, “Trash”, “Did My Time” and “Twist” and the amazing encore with “Clown”, “A.D.I.D.A.S.” and “Blind”, the song that started it all as Davis mentioned with the unforgettable war cry “Are you ready!?”. That marked the beginning of a new scene/movement back in the day and the song became a trademark of the Nu Metal genre, and it totally works live. That’s how the second day ended. Some people went to the nighttime pubs afterwards, others went to the official after party with tribute bands at Vulkan Arena and for others it was time to sleep and recharge some energy for the next day.
DAY 3 – Saturday, June 25th
By the time we entered Ekebergsletta the last day, the Norwegian black metal band Kampfar was starting their concert at the Scream Stage. The band was formed in 1994 and has slowly built a local and worldwide fanbase since then. Dolk is a really good frontman with plenty of energy and his vocals can be aggressive yet melodic at the same time. It was a bit strange to see them playing at the light of the day, but that’s how it is in festivals, and of course people enjoyed it anyway. As for the songs, “Urkraft” and “Til Helvete” stood out, but the setlist was solid in general.
Turbonegro was next on the Main Stage. A lot of people were there including fans that are part of the Turbojugend (fan club) to have fun singing songs from all eras of the Norwegian band.
They started with “The Age of Pamparius” and immediately everybody started singing along. The memory of the late Hank von Hell (ex vocalist) came to my mind while listening to some of the older songs, but the current vocalist Tony Sylvester does a great job as frontman anyway. The rest of the lineup in make up and denim as usual consists of Euroboy and Rune on guitars, Happy-Tom on bass, Haakon-Marius on keyboards and Tommy on drums.
Ekebergsletta turned into a big party at this point with the audience singing along every song: “Hurry Up & Die”, “Get It On”, “City of Satan” with its super catchy chorus, the party anthem “All My Friends Are Dead” and “I Got Erection”.
Time to check out the dutch outfit Within Temptation at the same stage. Fronted by Sharon den Adel, the band managed to captivate the crowd with songs from different periods of their career. The first thing one could notice is that even though they started 26 years ago, den Adel still preserves the same voice as back in the day and the rest of the band sounds tight.
The most recent material definitely sounds more modern with the introduction of many electronic beats such as in “The Reckoning”, but there was something for the old school fans as well. We got to hear “Stand My Ground” and the classic “Ice Queen” which always works excellent live.
But then it was time to listen to some Norwegian black metal by the former Immortal vocalist, Abbath.
There have been some issues with his live performances in the past, but now he seems to be in a better place and everything went fine, fortunately. He was in really good humor as usual and delighted us with intense riffs the whole show.
The first part consisted of songs of his current solo career like “Acid Haze” and “Dream Cull” from his third and last album to date, “Dread Reaver”, while part of the audience started a moshpit that lasted the whole show, even more when they played Immortal songs like “One By One” and “Withstand the Fall of Time”, and also “Warriors” from his project I from 2006.
Time to move back to the Main Stage where the absolute legends Deep Purple were going to give people what they want: a great performance full of classics.
Seeing Ian Gillan (vocals), Ian Paice (drums) and Roger Glover (bass) touring after more than 50 years is simply amazing.
They’re currently touring with Simon McBride on guitars replacing Steve Morse who is taking care of his wife on her battle with cancer, and of course Don Airey on keyboards who has been a permanent member since 2002.
The band went on stage with Gustav Holst’s “Mars, the Bringer of War” and opened with “Highway Star”, which also opens their masterpiece “Machine Head” (1972). They continued with “Pictures of Home”, “No Need to Shout”, “Uncommon Man” dedicated to their former keyboard player Jon Lord who passed away in 2012, “Lazy”, the ballad “When A Blind Man Cries”, and a keyboard solo where Airey threw in Mozart’s “Rondo Alla Turca” followed by “In The Hall of the Mountain King” from the Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg to the delight of the crowd. “Perfect Strangers” was another highlight just like “Space Truckin'” and “Smoke on the Water”, an anthem for the band and music in general.
The encore consisted of “Hush”, a bass solo by Glover and “Black Night” with its memorable riff that everybody sang along to.
After Deep Purple finished their show, Opeth played at the Scream Stage at the same time as Paradise Lost at the Vampire Stage. These things happen a lot in festivals, unfortunately, and one must choose. But the British five-piece was going to play their masterpiece “Draconian Times” (1995) in its entirety and this definitely doesn’t happen everyday. This album is really important on their career, since they were exploring new musical horizons at the time and had a better production in comparison to their early doom/death efforts.
Depending on where one was standing the sound was decent or not, but personally, I found a good spot close enough to the stage and could enjoy a solid performance where the single “The Last Time” naturally had a slightly better response, but every song had the crowd’s attention on them. The vocalist Nick Holmes has a very typical British humor and mentioned that they could see Opeth for free from the stage, since it was located in front of the Scream Stage (at a distance, of course). If you see they’re going to play this set in your country, don’t miss the opportunity to check them out!
Right next on the Main Stage, the Norwegian national anthem “Ja, vi elsker dette landet” was coming out from the PA system and the crowd was singing the words. This was the intro to the Five Finger Death Punch show, the band chosen to close the 7th edition of Tons of Rock.
Immediately the combo appeared on stage with their vocalist Ivan Moody wearing a t-shirt of the Norwegian football national team and began with “Inside Out” from their album “F8” (2020). The first sing-along tunes came early on in the form of “Wash It All Away” and “Jekyll and Hyde” with their fans known as Knuckleheads going crazy in front of the stage.
After many words of gratitude to the audience, they kept going with their cover of “Bad Company” from the band of the same name. Other highlights were “Wrong Side of Heaven” and “Burn MF” where Helge and Patrick from the Norwegian and German fan clubs respectively, got on stage to sing the song with the band and encourage the crowd to sing while there were some pyros used as well.
Towards the end of the show, Moody gave a baseball bat to a lady who was in front row. It was the same lady who went on stage with them in one of their shows in Norway a few years ago. Then the vocalist gave another bat to a little kid who was in the front row on the other side of the stage.
The encore was “Under and Over It” and “The Bleeding” putting an end to a long-awaited three-day party that met the expectations.
Last but not least, congrats to the organization for the logistics to make sure everything worked from first to last minute which resulted in yet another successful edition of Tons of Rock.