A Day Ticket to Sonisphere 2009

Sonisphere Festival

Arriving at Stevenage station on a hot Saturday morning I follow the other assorted metal shirts up the stairs, and then down the stairs to join the queue for the shuttle bus to Sonisphere – totally excited at the prospect of seeing Anthrax perform once again with John Bush.

Once on the shuttle bus the  monster growls start and windows start getting banged on, very different from the bus I’d used earlier today to get to Cambridge Station.  It falls into a competition of who can growl the deepest and most demonic- the Goonies esque “Hey you guys” booming up from the lower deck topped the on bus entertainment.

So, here we are, at Sonisphere, and it’s raining.  It’s a big field, lots of stalls and Soil have just kicked off on the main stage, wow they rock, how have I missed them on my radar before?  But it’s raining and I’m getting wet so walking past the merch stalls I see an Anthrax baseball hat – that will do I thinks to keep my head dry – so queueing up for a fair while I ask if I can get one to be told that they can’t sell me one as they don’t know how much they are.  D’oh – never mind a poncho will do the trick and be the essential fashion item of the day.

The first of the lineup I’d like to see is Alien Ant Farm – I only know them from their MJ cover version that is always playing on the rock videos programmes on telly.  Now, for the main stage I’d expect to be a fair distance back, but no, they haven’t got as much as a golden circle as a small barrier with no restricted access – even so there’s hardly anyone here.  And then Soil finished and everyone starts to wander up the hill – within minutes the place is packed and Alien Ant Farm are on – this idea of not having to wait around for a set change and a band to come on is most cool.

A bit lost for what to do next a band called “Taking Back Sunday” have a huge crowd building up to see them so I figure they must be cool.  Well, the crowd loved them but they weren’t my thing so shuffled my way back out in search of some water.  And a disposable camera for just £5 – the prospect of getting my digital camera either soaked in the rain or bashed in a mosh didn’t appeal too much but at least I’d have some  snaps from the day.

Bjorn Again live at Sonisphere

And then to the second stage – Bjorn Again – not the most obvious of choices for a metal festival you’d think – but what can be better as a break from all that aggression.  Bjorn Again in black costume take to the stage to a man after midnight.  The sun is shinning and everyone is happy – even more so when they announce that as tribute to their friends Metallica (who apparently invited them to the festival) they are going to rock out with Enter Sandman.  And rock out they do – complete with a mini mosh pit – where else could you see something like this happening.

here’s a great video of them I found on Youtube –

Keen to get a good space for Anthrax I don’t stay till the end of their set – which is a shame as they were probably one of the finest act on today’s bill, but walking up the hill and seeing the sea of heads smiling was cool.

Back at the main stage there are some kids playing Guitar hero on the stage, three chaps and a girl singing – presumably winners from the guitar hero booth, the game is showed on the big screen so you can see how they do, they get bottled and boo’ed at moments but still carry on, so full credit to them.  Imagine having to play a computer game front of 50,000 metalheads waiting to see Anthrax, how would you do!

Anthrax live at Sonisphere

Anthrax live at Sonisphere

The last time I saw the mighty Anthrax with John Bush was at the Astoria in London many years ago – they’d just put out the great WCFYA and followed it with the better of two evils and then they did the reunion with Bellandona.  Having John Bush return for a one off show at Sonisphere, well, I’m sure I’m not the only one hoping that it becomes a more permanent arrangement.  Opening with What Doesn’t Die and arriving at a swirling mosh pit for Caught in a Mosh.  Security are kept busy with many crowd surfers  going over the barrier hands up celebrating.  Hearing Bush sing the likes of Only, Safe Home and Room for One More – songs which I wasn’t sure I’d ever hear live again was tops – and hearing thousands singing along to Bring the Noise – bass how low can you go.  The mosh for Bring the Noise is in the pictures below –

Anthrax crowd

Anthrax crowd

So that was Anthrax, that was the reason I’d come and they’d rocked.  But it was only just gone 4 in the afternoon.  Not sure what to do next I got a drink and layed down on the grass to do the geek thing and update twitter with a text from my retro phone.  Bizarrely I then found that a girl was lying next to me whilst her boyfriend took a picture, she then said thanks and walked off.

here’s a vid from Youtube –

Next I wandered into the Bohemia tent to watch a band finish and the tent empty – well, I guess they were good whoever they were.  So, it’s stall time, and a stall has some ridiculously cheap Satryicon and Enslaved shirts, so I take one of each and then wonder if it was such a good idea having to walk round the festival with a plastic bag.

Sonisphere crowd

Sonisphere crowd

Now it’s time to find a decent beer.  Larger is available at £3.60 a pint from the festival bars but there must be somewhere selling a real ale.  Jager, Cider or Carlsberg seem to be the only options available, oh well, Carlsberg it is.

After mindlessly walking around the Jager and Bohemia tents again in search for music something loud is happening on the second stage – it’s Airborne, and they could just be the future of rock and roll flying across the stage like a young ACDC but as cool as they are the rain is starting to fall – and fall heavy.  Which probably adds to the band in the Bohemia tents popularity.

As the dark clouds surround Knebworth it seems appropriate that those who created the whole scene are about to take to the main stage – Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler with Heaven and Hell.  The gargoyles stand high over their stage and a massive cheer erupts to Ronnie James Dio coming out and straight into Mob Rules.

After Heaven and Hell I’m done, the rain has well and truly fallen so it’s a long walk back to the shuttle bus to get back to the station.  My trousers I thought were stormproof , I guess not.  It would have been nice to stick around for Thunder’s final ever performance but not if I wanted to get home on the same day.  Sonisphere was a great festival with a relaxed and cheerful atmosphere and very little waiting around for anything other than a shuttle bus.  Hopefully I’ll be on the train to stevenage again next year – and maybe thrax will be back with Bush?


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