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Rockfest 2023: The return of the gods

8.-10.6.2023, Lentokentäntie 50, Hyvinkää, Finland

This year Rockfest exuberated a great amount of the coolest rock bands. No doubts why it’s considered the biggest and the coolest rock festival in Finland. The organizers made a tremendous job to satisfy even the most fastidious rock fans.

Plus, this year Rockfest was presenting one significant event, the return of metal gods – Pantera and Mötley Crüe. That’s why they were the 2 most anticipated bands this year.

The majority of metal fans had at least a few opportunities to see Mötley Crüe in their classic lineup. But if we talk about Pantera, not much folks younger than 40 were that fortunate. In fact, during their performance, Phil asked the crowd “How many of you have actually seen Pantera before?” There were hands in the air, but not that many. Then he did the flipside “How many of you came to see Pantera today for the first time?” And then the crowd exploded, too many people were waiting for this special day to see this band for the first time.
Here a clip showing the audience right before the concert:

Pantera is one of the most influential metal bands in the genre’s history; as many people would say, they literally saved the metal scene in the 90s. But after the death of the Abbott brothers (drummer Vinnie Paul and guitarist Dimebag Darrell), the founding members of this band, metal fans lost any hope to see Pantera ever again. But we got lucky, last summer Rex Brown and Phil Anselmo confirmed the reunion in 2023 for Pantera’s first major tour in 22 years, with quite famous metal icons Zakk Wylde and Charlie Benante as fill-ins for Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul.

I’ve seen and talked with many metal fans during these 3 days, but the craziest and the most dedicated were Pantera’s fans. Fights for the spots closer to the stage were insane, I’ve never seen anything like that during the rest of the festival. People really wanted and needed to see their idols, and their incredible Rockfest performance had absolutely blown heads away. A very sweet touch for a tough metal band – they didn’t forget about the founders Dimebag and Vinnie, displaying images and videos of them were constantly on display, also Charlie Benante had their portraits on his drums. At some point it was possible to feel their presence, like they were somewhere near with us.

Another incredible return – Mötley Crüe, the gods of the glam metal scene and one the most beloved bands in the 80s hair metal genre.

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Mötley Crüe are infamous for their crazy energetic shows with fire and other special effects and total dedication to their fans. Well, they didn’t disappoint us this time, in fact it was one of their strongest performances. Naturally many true fans were very upset that their beloved guitar god Mick Mars had announced his retirement from touring and John 5 replaced him in The World Tour with Def Leppard. Indeed, it’s sad, this man is a genius, not much people can play guitar the way he does and struggle with severe pain over decades. But time takes its toll even for the most reckless metal gods. Meanwhile, John 5 surprised us in every possible positive way. I heard people in the crowd were talking that if they wouldn’t know Mick Mars, it feels like John 5 has always been in Mötley Crüe. He fit the band perfectly, despite the fact that many Mötley Crüe fans were skeptical and even refused to go to shows without Mick Mars.

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But all fears and skepticism were in vain, Mötley Crüe delivered an awesome powerful show. It was really easy to feel and understand how long and seriously they were preparing for this tour. Nikki Sixx even got a Finnish flag and brought it on stage during their performance. They missed playing in Finland and Finnish fans really missed seeing their idols.
Another new interesting edition to the band – 2 very talented and beautiful female singers and dancers. Their energetic and bright performance was very memorable. Mötley Crüe had always had great backup singers and dancers, but these 2 young ladies were something special.

Surely there were many other amazing and interested bands this year, some of them are very known and beloved like Def Leppard, Michael Monroe, Ville Valo, Danzing, Rancid. Some of them were very fresh and young like Block of Flats (here our interview), a totally new dish just playing their first rock festival ever.

One thing is for sure, Rockfest 2023 will be hard to forget.

Startphoto: Sander Burmeister
Textphotos: Dmitry Novitskiy
Video: Starla


Starla Larsson

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