Friday, 6 August 2010

Live Review: Sonisphere Festival hosts legends of metal

With Rammstein and Iron Maiden as headliners, it was hardly going to be a dull weekend at Knebworth...

Friday

The Saturn stage on Friday is a very European affair. Dutch symphonic metal band Delain provide a rather dull kick off to proceedings. Each song sounds like the one before and front woman Charlotte Wessel’s warbling begins to grate after a while. They sound distinctly unoriginal and judging by the excitement from the male members of the crowd, the attractive lead singer appears to be their only selling point. It’s up to Finland’s Turisas, kitted out in their fur and war paint, to truly get things underway. Their Viking folk metal and lead man Mathias "Warlord" Nyg√•rd’s ramblings about beer get everyone in the party mood. Unfortunately they decide not to play their famous cover of Boney M’s ‘Rasputin’, much to the crowds disappointment, perhaps as an attempt not to become affiliated with only one song. Something which Swedish 80’s metal band Europe know a lot about. However the ‘Final Countdown’ rockers put on a surprisingly good set. It may sound a little old fashioned but their classic rock n’ roll delivered by accomplished musicians is hard not to like. Gary Numan however, is not as easy to warm to. His brooding pouting look gets old quite quickly, as does his music. There is no doubt that he is good at what he does and his electronic sound creates a powerful atmosphere, but it soon becomes clear that many are only there to hear ‘Cars’, which Gary looks a bit pissed about. Alice Cooper puts on an incredible show. The American rock legend brings his Theatre Of Death to end the night in outrageous style. Not only does Alice manage to get away with beginning and ending his set with ‘School’s Out’ but he also ‘dies’ a spectacular four times on stage in a number of inventive ways. As well as being hung, poisoned, impaled and decapitated, he also finds time to strangle a stripper, slice the head off of a baby and share a passionate kiss with a blow up doll. Just another night for Mr Cooper. He drives the crowd wild with all of his classic hits and throwing beads and money into the crowd didn’t hurt either. Unless you got it in the eye of course.


Saturday


Fresh faced newbies Futures deliver a decent set in the Bohemia tent on Saturday afternoon. Their pop punk sound fails to attract much of a crowd, but considering this is technically a metal festival, that’s not much of a surprise. That doesn’t stop lead singer and pretty boy Ant West looking a little disappointed though and one can’t help but wonder if his decision to remove his shirt half way through is a desperate attempt to attract more attention. Nevertheless their upbeat and catchy tunes are sure to bring them success elsewhere. The comic relief of the day comes in the form of crazy haired comedian Tim Minchin. The Aussie’s clever brand of musical humour, as well as the fact that old has-beens Good Charlotte are on main stage, help to pack out the Bohemia tent. Tim performs some of his classic songs along with his brand new and wonderfully explicit Pope Song. Unfortunately he only sticks to the music, with next to nothing in the way of stand-up material but the crowd seem perfectly content to sing along. Back on main stage, Papa Roach deliver some furious rock anthems with a set that is somewhat unremarkable and easily forgettable. Unlike Placebo, who put on a mesmerizing show. The crowd are given a rare treat when the band open with ‘Nancy Boy’, a song that they never usually perform live. Many other of the band’s greatest hits follow although, sadly, ‘Pure Morning’ and ‘For What It’s Worth’ do not appear. Nevertheless, Brian Molko and co are a stunning orchestra of rock to behold. Over at the Bohemia Tent, London punk rockers Gallows put on one their most eventful shows to date. A very appreciative Frank Carter dedicates every single song to someone or other - including a guy in a wheelchair who crowd surfs to the front - and seems genuinely grateful to the fans who have turned up. The tent is not as full as expected but Carter makes the most of the space, prompting a truly enormous circle pit that sees fans run out of one side of the tent and back in the other. Later on Frank also does his trademark crowd surf to the back of the tent. The set is temporarily disrupted by Lee from Trash Talk who steals a guitar from the stage and is chased by security and Carter along the barrier. But all is soon forgiven and Trash Talk and Rolo Tomassi join the band on stage for a furious finale of ‘Orchestra Of Wolves’. Then it’s a sprint across the arena for main stage headliners Rammstein. The controversial German industrial metal band are known for their lavish stage shows, and tonight they certainly don’t disappoint. It is rumoured that they arrived at Knebworth with nine trucks full of pyrotechnics and the chance of any fans down by the barrier leaving with their eyebrows intact is very slim indeed. It is easy to see why this group have become so popular in the UK although it is slightly surreal to see so many English speaking people chanting in German. The finale of controversial single ‘Pussy’ is spectacular, with a foam cannon ‘ejaculating’ over the audience and a snow storm of confetti filling the night’s sky. Keyboard player Christian "Flake" Lorenz, dressed in a sparkly suite, also sets sail across the crowd in a rubber dinghy, which is amusingly hijacked by a sneaky fan. To everyone’s confusion, the band leave the stage for the final time half an hour earlier than expected. Rumors include a misprint in the stage times and a misbehaving fan but one thing is for sure, we all wanted more!


Sunday


Walking towards main stage on Sunday, many festival goers are stopped in their tracks when they hear the Beatles. No, John and George haven’t come back to life, this was The Fab Beatles. A tribute act sharing the same stage as Bring Me The Horizon and Iggy And The Stooges is a little unorthodox, however the sizable crowd have no problem singing along to Hey Jude and prove just how widely popular those Liverpudlians were. Something wonderfully original then erupts on main stage when Skindred bring their refreshing fusion of reggae, metal and punk to Sonisphere. Charismatic front man Benji Webbe’s crazy anecdotes are a little off at times but it’s hard not to warm to that Welsh accent. Pendulum’s set is a little off their usual standard to begin with as the distinctly metal crowd appear not to be fans of the new material. MC Ben Mount even comes across as a little desperate when commanding some movement amongst the fans. However, when the band launch into early hit 'Tarantula', the crowd don’t need telling twice. The old classics receive an explosive reaction and although their pyrotechnic display has nothing on Rammstein’s efforts from the previous night, the circle pits are definitely something to behold. On Saturn Stage Iggy And The Stooges prove they’ve still got it, even inviting fans on stage at the beginning of the set. Iggy’s energetic stage performance also goes some way to explaining how the 63 year old is so fit for his age. Main stage also plays host to some rock music veterans for the Sunday headline slot. Heavy metal legends Iron Maiden transport the enormous crowd into a galaxy far far away with their Final Frontier stage show. Despite the band’s worldwide fame, front man Bruce Dickinson comes across as incredibly down to earth. By Bruce’s own admission, the set mainly consists of the band’s more recent material with disappointingly few of their much loved classics that the less hardcore fans will recognise. However, an appearance from Eddie and Bruce’s relentless cries of ‘Scream for me Knebworth!’ conjure excitement from both young and old and the crowd leave knowing that they have just witnessed something incredibly special.

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