Friday 8th of July – Thrax, Megadeth and Diamond Head
Sonisphere 2011 – and I find myself back in the queue for buses at Stevenage station amongst the metal masses. The queue is big, and despite there being several buses packing the fans up and whisking them away to the festival as quickly as possible the waiting time is around an hour. But spirits are good – music is playing from out loud from smartphones, and there is a collection of metal shirts from gigs gone by. There are loads of bands playing Sonisphere so I’ve only written about a few that I wanted to write about.
The one thing Friday could have done with is some earlier bands – but what a band to kick a festival off with at 3pm, Diamond Head.. They rocked, the Prince, Helpless, Am I Evil, Metallica may have boosted the audience for these songs but it’s great to hear them from Brian Tatler’s band, superb.
Anthrax followed – three years at Knebworth park now – for three years just seeing one band listed on the bill has made me want to attend. Thrax. And today its a limited edition thrax with Andreas Kisser replacing Scott Ian whilst Scott takes time out with his new arrival. What a great version of thrax to see – when else would you get to see Thrax with Andreas playing some Sepultura!
This was a great performance, being a Bush era fan for years I never thought I’d see them as such an awesome band again with Joey up front. Fight Em is the new track, Only is the Bush era track, Madhouse is as classic as ever.
Next up Megadeth, and Dave Elfeson is back , Dave Mustaine with a cool flying V double neck and they pound through the classics, Wake up Dead, Holy Wars, Symphony of Destruction, In my Darkest Hour, a Toute le Monde. One song I’ve always wanted to see Megadeth play live is Mary Jane, we didn’t get it and I didn’t expect to, it didn’t matter as they rocked. And we get a new song from their next album, I miss the title but I think it was Public Enemies.
After being down the front of this huge crowd for three awesome bands I went to get some space rather than hanging around for Slayer, something was happening at the Jagermeister stage so that was my next chosen destination, Black Breath were about to hit the stage. A great thing about Sonisphere is that you can walk into unexpected gems, last year it was Audrey Horne, this year Black Breath. Very heavy metal from Seattle, singer Nate McAdams pointed out “you’re all here and you could be watching Slayer, but we thank you for being here”. Awesome.
I went for a wander after Black Breath’s all too short 30 minute set was over, time for an ice cream.
Have you ever experienced the power of Slayer from 500m? Ever heard the Raining Blood riff thudding across a field? I hadn’t, wow that band are powerful, it’s even more haunting from a distance than close up. I continue to wander round the tends but I don’t get into all of the music here, lots do.
Saturday 9th July – Duxford instead
Saturday I missed, I fancied going to the Duxford Air Show for a different form of loud heavy metal! That was followed by an evening at our villages Feast event listening to a cover band. I missed the Black Spiders but High Voltage in two weeks.
Sunday 10th July – Arch Enemy and Motorhead
Back to Stevenage station for the bus queue. There was a smell in the air as I got off the coach at Knebworth, a smell familiar to those who live near fields that have natural products spread on them, the smell of a festival 3 days mature.
First up, I want to see Arch Enemy but before them Volbeat take to the stage. Who? Volbeat – lucky find number two at the festival. Punk meets Almighty meets Motorhead – these guys as main stage openers were an awesome start to the day. We even get blasts of Slayer and Motorhead during their set. I didn’t expect much, I was wrong, they rocked.
The crowd thickened for Arch Enemy, were they too low on the bill? In their Khaos Legions leathers that rock the main stage and makes the mosh pits that I avoid swirl. Angela Gossow prowling round the stage, we hear that they’ve had no sleep since playing Sonisphere Sweden yesterday, but the show is still high energy.
Michael Amott shreds away, guitarists in the crowd watching in awe . Genuinely intense, awesome.
After this there weren’t many bands I had on my list for a couple of hours so I joined the queue at the Arch Enemy signing tent, did I need them to write their names down for me? Probably not, but I had time so why not, and it was cool to shake their hands.
Next up I find myself in the Bohemia tent for some comedy which was brilliant – no idea who the comedian was (thought that Justice was Tallica’s last decent album), it left time for a slice of Pizza before the most exciting new band from down under were about to come on.
Airborne leapt onto the Apollo stage as if they’d just been let loose – running across the stage like animals just released from a cage. If they were a band to play songs with the riff’age and charisma of ACDC without being ACDC it’s airbourne. Rock’n’roll swagger and riff’s a plenty, the crowd this was pretty thick.
The final act I was really looking forward to seeing – Motorhead. Lemmy came onto the stage and had the sad announcement that Wurzel had died this weekend. If there was one band member I’d have liked to have seen join a band it would be Wurzel rejoining Motorhead – when i got into Motorhead (mid eighties) he was their axe man alongside Phil, he was the first rock star guitarist I’d seen live (with Motorhead at the Corn Exchange). There was an initial gasp and a massive cheer when Lemmy dedicated the set to him.
Motorhead as ever were perfect, fantastic lyrics and solid rock’n’roll tunes, in a hour long set we get all the classics and the best, One night stand, Going to brazil, and the awesome Get Back In Line from their last album. For Killed By Death they are joined by fire breathing dancers – very rock. Motorhead are loud perfection.
My feet hurt by this point – I’d been up on them most of the weekend. After Motorhead’s performance nothing could top that, my Sonisphere was done, I was happy. Will I be back next year – well, I’ll look for decent bands on he lineup, but 3 ourt of 3 Sonisphere’s have been great so far.
Arch Enemy: http://www.archenemy.net/
Diamond Head: http://www.diamond-head.net/
Duxford War Museum: http://www.iwm.org.uk/duxford