Three days of metal at Knebworth
Day One – Friday 30th July –
Delain rock out and Alice Cooper takes us to his theatre of death
First of all – I’d planned for Sonisphere the weekend before. I’d sewed three patches on a new black denim jacket Korpiklaani, Ensiferum and Finntroll, non of who were playing but my new denim rocked. Until I put it on, damn, no inside pocket, how hadn’t I noticed this design flaw when I’d purchased it. Grrr. An inside pocket is a must, wallet, camera, they all have to go somewhere so my new denim wouldn’t be making it to the festival this weekend, instead my old denim with Immortal patch on the back.
For Day One we were driving. We ended up in the back entrance near the rock royalty camping and walked the long walk, which was pretty much right round the circumference of the Sonisphere field to the arena entrance (I checked with security if there was anyway we could just get through the fence, they said no, d’oh, the lack of a door should have told me that and I didn’t have a ladder). Past the assortment of metal shirts of past tours and makeshift wheelbarrows of tents and beer we made our way to the single entrance to the arena where the fairground was already thumping.
Day one was Rocky Horror – so lots of fancy dress – corsets, frank n furter and both men and women in lingerie. Mix that with vikings in warpaint, Alice Cooper clones, short skirted nurses. There’s a record attempt tonight at the most people to do “The Timewarp”, so some of the best costumes end up on stage whilst we all timewarp from the grass. Was it a record, no idea how they could have counted everyone, there must have been several thousand engaging in the jump to the left and then to the right maneuver.
Delain from the Netherlands were the first band on stage to an amazing reception. It was just gone 5pm and everyone was pretty hungry for some live music by now. We were surrounded by some kids, and I guessed they were pretty excited from their furious headbanging and mini-moshing, I thinks they’d better pace themselves or they will be pretty stiff before Anthrax even hit the stage tomorrow. For an opening band they were awesome, kicking off their set with Indivia and playing awesome tracks such as The Gathering and April Rain they were met with a familiarity that would rarely meet an opening band. They’d timed it well with the UK release of Lucidity the week before so we were able to hear their original album before the set. I hope they return to the UK soon! I also use the opportunity to take a few snaps with my camera, some of the ones I took of the bands will be here and the others on my flickr page.
Following Delain, from Finland this time, TURISAS. One of the bands that I was really looking forward to and from the number of people with latex swords and covered head to toe in red and black viking war paint surrounding us I wasn’t the only one. I tried to explain Turisas, imagine an epic battle film soundtrack and mix it with viking metal and an accordion, I think that pretty much sums it up. Turisas saw the first circle mosh pits of the weekend, keen to remain standing for the rest of the weekend I edged to the side to just enjoy the music and stage show. What a performance, and anthem for battle!
The moshing and headbanging we’ve seen for Turisas and Delian surely can’t be sustained for Europe can they – the crowd is looking a bit thinner than it did for Turisas. And then the start and the place is once again frenzied madness. Europe are a band that get better and rockier with age – sure Rock the Night is a great thumping anthem, Superstitious brings back awesome late eighties memories. Joey seemed chuffed with the reaction and said they were “5 lucky punks from the suburbs of Stockholm”. The moment that keyboard riff’s for their final song kicked in the place was mad – but tonight they proved there is more to their act than the final countdown.
Following Europe was Gary Numan – I can’t say the industrial electro rock is really my sort of thing but we sat on the grass and enjoyed watching his dark electrical rock set.
The final act of the night was Alice Cooper – and with bells ringing School was out for summer. Alice’s Theatre of Death set (we’d seen him play an almost identical show in Wolverhampton last year) see him killed in numerous ways whilst pumping out classic after classic. But not all the songs that sound classic are so classic – “dirty diamonds” released only a few years ago sounds just as well classic as Elected or billion dollar babies. A full macabre show with hangings, the having his head chopped off, being spike in an iron maiden with blood spraying out, lots of blood! There’s a story in there somewhere, but I was happy enough with just enjoying the music rather than trying to puzzle it out! Poison got the biggest cheer of the night, I wish he’d play material from his “raise your fist and yell” metal record, one day that will be regarded as a classic I keep telling myself.
Day Two – Saturday 31st July
Great sets from Anthrax and Lacuna Coil but Norway’s Audrey Horne rule
Day Two, this time on the train visiting the festival by myself and I join the pretty much empty queue at Stevenage station and the shuttle bus rolls in. Kids are excited, and nothing is more exciting than a bus so the screaming starts and a bottle of jack Daniels is passed round. Whisky. At just gone 10 in the morning.
First act of the Day, Family Force 5. I went up to the barriers that were probably 50m away from the stage to see what everyone was up against them for. Ah – they’re waiting for them to be released. I was to the left and on the right hand side they’d started to take them down already on the right. And then people are running from the right hand side. So the left breaks free, the barriers are shifted and their is a mini stampede to the stage, “No go back” shout security waving their arms, but it falls on deaf ears. I stroll down to the stage with the Ramstein faithful (yep, they will be here for the next 11 hours to see their flame throwing heroes).
When I’d set off from Cambridge it had been raining, proper raining, so I had my small black hooded coat today. Knebworth however was sunshine, burning sunshine so handing from the hood on my head my coat became a cloak to prevent sun burn. Uncool but better than a sunburnt neck.
Family Force 5 from the deep south hit the stage with what was somewhere between the scissor sisters, pop punk and hard rock. Entertaining to start the day but Lacuna Coil up next were the act I was keen to see and one of the acts I was most looking forward to seeing. Drummer Cristiano Mozzati is the first to walk out onto the stage followed by the two guitarists and bassist Marco Coti Zelati and the music starts. Kicking off with Survive (I think that was the first track?) at barely gone mid day it seemed very early to see such a high calibre band so early in the day, and the size of the crowd was massive. As a band they are tight and rock hard but it’s the dual vocals from Cristina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro that really make Lacuna Coil rock – the female vocals with the more gruff stuff from Andrea. I look forward to their UK return in October!
Last year Anthrax played Sonisphere with John Bush on vocal – definitely the greatest Thrax vocalist, and as good as Joey is, and even with the fact that most of us got hooked on thrax whilst they were fronted by Joey he always seemed like second best. Until today, when we are delivered a performance that leaves me thinking “welcome back Joey, can’t wait for the new album”. Kicking off with Caught in a Mosh with the likes of Got The Time & Metal Thrashing Mad, Joey was on fire running from the furthest points of the stage and back again, they even added a cover of Heaven and Hell as a tribute to Dio. In my opinion the finest of the big four, Anthrax’s sound today is massive, Scott Ian’s back and forth unique stomping and Frankie Bello’s bass grooves – all adding up to a fab thrax show. I hope it’s not enough year before they return to the our shores. Seeing Joey running across the stage in full indian headress is probably the most priceless image of the festival.
After thrax I head back down to the Apollo stage, there is a massive queue and on enquiring who it is for I’m told Rammstein are doing a signing. But signing now is Lacuna Coil – so I use the opportunity to shake their hands a take a few snaps and tell them that they rock. They know that of course, I’ve hardly told them something new.
Audrey Horne I’d heard before but never seen live. A trip to Norway a couple of years ago had inspired me to buy “Le Fol”, today they were at the Jagameister stage, one of the three small ones at the festival where you could buy cool jager for 3 pounds a shot. What better than to chill out in the afternoon than with some Norwegian hard rock from Norway’s finest. I didn’t at this stage expect to see the greatest performance of the festival. The swagger delivered me on stage reminded me of the first time I saw Velvet Revolver at Hammersmith on the first UK tour. After Sonisphere I went on to purchase their third (and self titled) album – definitely one of the best albums i’ve heard this year, check it out!
Day Three – Sunday 1st August
Brian Posehn makes us all laugh whilst Slayer deliver a great set
Day three and the shuttle bus driver from Stevenage has it sussed. He’s playing loud iron maiden, and everyone is sitting quietly on the bus enjoying some loud Maiden whilst discussing how awesome Anthrax and rammstein were yesterday.
I wander round a fair bit on Sunday morning in search of some good music. I’d been introduced to the term “Screamo” the week before – and I think I can see where it’s come from, kids just screaming into the microphone. Rise to Remain in the Bohemia tent had drawn quite a crowd so I checked them out. Gutsy and growling vocals with a mix of classic and thrash metal and a young persons swirling pit erupts. From the smaller bands at the festival these guys have possibly one of the coolest shirts around and that will probably help them go far. Meanwhile the Fab Beatles are love me do’ing it up on the Apollo stage and Skindred are preparing to entertain on the Saturn stage. Skindred have always put in a great live performance, especially with Benji’s between song banter. There was also the “blaars of glory” outsuide playing xylophone style versions of metal classics.
Not having heard of Dir En Grey, I wandered down to the Saturn stage to check them out. All the way from Japan, angry metal somewhere between thrash and death, the headbanging from the young ladies in front of me was impressively coordinated. I make a note to check them out a bit more, but Slayer were due due soon on the Apollo stage and I fancied being up near the front so I didn’t stay for the entire set.
Over at the Apollo stage, it was getting filled up with many Slayer shirts on display. Plastic bottles were flying from the left to the right hand side, but it’s all fairly harmless as they are mostly empty, throwing a banana skin however is just minging. Fittingly the sky was going darker and spots of rain started to fall – not blood though – just rain. To the unique haunting riff from South of Heaven they take the stage and the massive circle pits start. Slayer are a band that you cannot listen to without headbanging – the finest sheer evil metal, can you get more metal than Slayer? The reception they had could have given them the headline slot which makes the stage time of just 45 minutes all to short, Mandatory Suicide, Angel of Death, Raining Blood the classics were mixed in with three from the recent world painted blood album. On Sunday Slayer could do no wrong, we wanted metal and they delivered, the circle pit was the largest I’d seen all weekend.
Final act for my highlights on Sunday is Brian Posehn. Sonisphere has added comedy to this years bill and a rare chance to see this comic genius from the states, both of his albums have been on my ipod so it was great to hear his hilarious routine live, with references to WASP, iTunes and his thoughts on home protection I can’t say much about the routine without spoiling some of his jokes, go and check him out for yourself.
And so, I walk back down the festival road to catch the bus. Sonisphere 2010 was great, band of the festival I think would be Audrey Horne, but it would be close with the performances from Anthrax, Lacuna Coil, Delain and Europe. I hope there’s another next year!
Some short clips of bands I caught on my camera!Audrey Horne – http://www.audreyhornemusic.com/
Delain – http://site.delain.nl/
Lacuna Coil – http://www.lacunacoil.it/
Anthrax – http://anthrax.com/NFWS/
Europe – http://www.europetheband.com/
Brian Poshen – http://www.brianposehn.com/