Rockharz - 2012

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

After the German bid on dance metal, Tanzwut, it was about time for Sweden to get in the ring for the title match, and we had of course sent in our own heavy-weight champion in this class, Pain!

It was soon enough clear to see that Pain was trying to outwit the opponent with a new tactic; new attire had been acquired, as we now saw Peter Tägtgren in a straitjacket instead of his nowadays more common shirt and tie combo. The rest of the band looked more like we are used to, but this is after all Mr. Tägtgren’s project primarily, even though he has kept the same musicians on for quite a while now.
Outfits aside, there were other changes as well in Pain’s game-tactics; most easily seen in a newly revised setlist.
Starting out with Crashed was a surprise to begin with, this was something they, to my knowledge, haven’t done for ten whole years! After this followed a mix of old and new, mostly well-known stuff but also a few more surprises – my personal favourite which I have prayed for in a long time now had finally found its way back into the live-set, and it was beyond pleasing to hear it. I’m talking about Dark Fields Of Pain in case you didn’t know.
The most apparent crowd-pleasers were still Shut Your Mouth, On And On and Same Old Song though; these are tracks which always get the crowd going nuts, and they were therefore well-positioned as the three final tracks of the set, so that the audience not only got to end it on a high-note, but also had plenty of time to burn off any excess energy they might have left.

Not that I’m sure they did though; already in Crashed the crowd-surfing began, and it, as well as other crowd activity, only grew throughout the show! Sure, in the beginning the Germans were mostly about only waving their devil-horns and not much else (apart from the crowd-surfing that is), but soon enough they had gotten a small moshpit going, the amount of people sailing by overhead increased radically, and when the grand finale with the above mentioned trio of songs began, the party reached a climax without comparison from the rest of the show!

Pain was not without faults though; they were, in my taste, rushing the set a bit too much, leaving almost no room between songs for idle chitchat, apart from a half-hearted attempt at the generic “it’s good to be back comment”. It’s understandable that they wanted as much time as possible for songs during their 50 minutes set, but without the comments, you easily lose some of the audience, and Pain had a very large crowd to keep track of!
Also, and this was the most regrettable, the sound was far from satisfactory! Remember me saying that I was glad to hear Dark Fields Of Pain back in the set? Well, the sad part about that is that I didn’t actually recognize this song for what it was until they reached the chorus, and even only then with the aid of Lunah Lauridsen!
It also seemed like bassist Johan Husgafvel was in a bad mood this day; and possibly for a good reason. At least, his bass seemed to be a constant worry for him, and he was seen leaving the stage as several times during the set to get it fixed – finally it looked like they just tried to gaffer tape it together, which in my mind is pretty cool, but I can imagine the hassle this must be for a musician…

All of these problems, and possibly the new overall approach, made for a far more aggressive show than what we are used to from this group. Far gone are the days of happy techno driven metal; this had a much rawer tone and appearance, helped in part along by the fact that the electronic stuff was almost completely drowned out in the mix.
The aggressiveness did become the band though, as soon as I got used to it, and in all fairness the band hadn’t relinquished all of their playfulness either. This part was mainly seen in guitarist Michael Bohlin however, who was most often seen teasing Husgafvel about who should be standing on which side of the stage at what time, but main man Peter didn’t get off the hook either; the usual pushing of him during Shut Your Mouth was present, but Bohlin and Husgafvel did this little trick a bit earlier than usual, clearly catching Tägtgren off guard as he was expecting at a later time.
Drummer David Wallin didn’t want to leave without making himself noticed either, and this he refused to end the final song before he got a satisfactory amount of shouts in his honour, something which took a few tries before we achieved it and got to the last part of the song.

Due to various problems which have already been outlined, it was very hard to get into the show in the beginning, and it wasn’t until about halfway through that the fun really opened up. This was where both audience and band had become warmed enough, and when we reached the end this was every bit as powerful as the top-shows of the past. The crowd looked like it was boiling as people jumped and moved, screamed and moshed, and when Frank Sinatra’s My Way began rolling out of the speakers to mark the end of the show, there wasn’t many a fan that was finished with the band, that I can assure you!
Even though Pain has moved away from the dance-floor and into something more like a sweaty garage of rock in recent years, they still wiped the ring clear of all competition in this reporter’s opinion.


Monkey Business
Dirty Woman
Don’t Care
I’m Going In
Dark Fields Of Pain
The Great Pretender
Same Old Song
On And On
Shut Your Mouth

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