|Sonisphere Festival 2010 - Knebworth House - 30th July-1st August 2010|
|Written by Tazz Stander|
|Wednesday, 11 August 2010 06:00|
With the great weather and music from the previous weekend's High Voltage Festival still leaving a lasting impression on me it was to a field slightly further afield (well up the A1M and left off Junction 7 for Knebworth House actually) that I set sail for this year's sold out Sonisphere Festival. Now extended to three days after last year's inaugural event, what follows is something of a part diary/part review of my Ubersphere weekend.
Arriving on site at Knebworth House with literally half an hour to spare before my interview with Bigelf starts, I hastily pitch my tent in the press area and leg it to the box office to collect my passes.
I arrive in the press area and it's fairly quiet and then my phone rings. Its Bigelf's PR guy wanting to know if we can delay the interview by 20 minutes, well, technically yes, I can, but then it would mean I'm bang in the middle of Gary Numan's interview. After last weekend's events we at Uber Rock have already come to the conclusion that the world is definitely not a big and strong enough place for 2 of me. Then my phone rings again and its Numan's press guy saying he's available immediately. Another hasty phone call and I'm whisked into a corner to huddle up close in the heat to a very quietly spoken Gary.
One done, umpteen more to go, I meet up with Damon Fox of Bigelf under a tree and we spend far longer than our 10 minutes allotted time but no one seems to mind, least of all the outspoken hilarious front man or indeed I.
Friday night interviews over, I'm on my way to the arena for festival sustenance and a bit of loud Rock 'n' Roll music when I bump into the Europe boys and have a quick catch-up with them. The main Apollo stage isn't open today so it makes for easier and less clashes with only Saturn, Bohemia, Jagermeister and Strongbow stages vying for everyone's attention. The first band I actually get to see then is Little London over on the Jager stage and they do a fine job to warm me up on an already steaming evening. A bit rough around the edges maybe, even for their 2nd run at Sonisphere, but given time, these lads will be on bigger stages. Unsurprisingly they have drawn a very big crowd and noticeably, they have a lot of fans singing along to their tunes.
I unfortunately miss most of Turisas on the Saturn stage being mesmerised by the both the Nikki Sixx-alike guitarist from Little London and the lure of filling my empty belly with some much needed food. But by then I am watching Europe literally blow Sonisphere into another dimension. Amusingly enough, after every song, the ever-growing crowd sings the intro bit of 'The Final Countdown'. Joey Tempest is a master at working an audience, and both he and his band have no problems in commanding everyone's attention through an incredible set interspersed with tracks from all the decades of the bands history, before finally closing off with 'The Final Countdown'. I think Europe definitely set the tone for the whole weekend and after this set everyone seemed to start bouncing and not stop.
Thankfully right next door is the Bohemia Stage where hard and dirty rockers, Black Spiders are tearing new entrances into the tent! They are definitely 'that band that plays every gig and festival in the UK' and it's totally visible as to why. These boys make it their business to rock every last living soul, within the tent and also outside. Stupidly, right after they end, I decide that the very posh toilets in the press area need to be visited along with a stop in the beer garden... I say stupidly as I couldn't get back into the Bohemia tent to watch Sylosis. The security literally letting 1 out and 1 in by the time I get back there so I missed the visual element but they certainly seemed to 'thrash' ten colours of shit out of a white tent ... but gutted I missed them.
So, what better festival warm up band can you think of other than Alice Cooper? Actually, during his set, I could have thought of many, including Europe. Fair enough, many musicians in the past have taken their cues from Alice, and as theatrical as his stage show is, it's getting a bit old hat if you ask me. It was a good show though, and the music was great, but I did get bored quickly and I end up sitting down and chatting towards the end of his set. My Friday night finishes off in the "disco" where I literally laughed my proverbial white ass off to some of the sights that set forth, this only help multiply the madness of the Rock Royalty legends. Fighting my way through clouds of dust, I head off to my tent for a rough night's sleep and thoughts of the very busy Saturday ahead.
Waking up in a campsite full of other people, you expect to hear many voices at once but these voices and conversations weren't going anywhere in a hurry. Unzipping my tent, I see what can only be described as queue longer than any gyro queue than you will find at the job centre in Hackney. Ah!!!!! It's because we have hot showers in our camp, and bingo first person I lay eyes on is Bigelf's tour manager so we have a good half an hour chat whilst she queues and I try and get dressed tent style. Yep, there you have it, I'm a dirty rocker to the core and didn't have a shower.
Breakfast consists of some over-priced fried shit in a carton box and then my work begins. I'm running through rock stars quicker than Pamela Des Barres here talking, taking photos, and sitting in press conferences. It's all becoming a bit of a blur whilst fighting TV camera's, cables, beers and press agents looking very flustered. When suddenly I get my first break and head out to the arena to catch the mighty Anthrax, this time with Joey Belladonna taking on vocal duties. Opening with 'Caught in a Mosh' they treat us to a 'greatest hits' set and Scott Ian is skip dancing around the stage like a crazed man with coals in his boots. Straight into 'Got The Time' and 'Antisocial' I become aware that this set is for the long term Anthrax fans, perfectly executed. They, like many bands over the past few weeks, play 'Heaven and Hell' as a tribute to Dio - very fitting to say the least.
Foul-mouthed Coby Dick aka Jacoby Shaddix brings the audience to a deafening howl when Papa Roach takes to the stage and prompting the first boob flash of the day. 'Getting Away With Murder' and 'To Be Loved' was a brilliant way to get rid of any over served Sonisbeers from the precious night. Shaddix having no problem in leading his warriors onstage ends their highly energetic set with the old school bangers, 'Between Angels and Insects' and 'Last Resort'.
I hurry my ass back to the press area for my next round of prying with none other than one of my favourite bands, Skunk Anansie who I can't wait to see play in about an hour's time. I'm actually clock watching instead of rock star watching as CKY have just turned up on site and decided that they would like to get as much of their press done today instead of tomorrow as planned... yes, but not if I miss SA I tell the band, but they assure me they will be faster than a "wanking 12 year old"... great, I think!
The crowd at the Saturn stage are literally bouncing before Skunk Anansie even hit the stage. Skin comes bouncing on (yes, it does seem like someone should have said, "Bounce for me Sonisphere" round about now) with a shiny black hood over her head and it's full throttle forward for this group of original recently reformed bad ass mothers. Opening with 'Yes, It's Fucking Political', it's great to see the band exactly like they were 10 years ago when they headlined Glastonbury in front of 85 000 people. Playing the back catalogue of their hits, they throw in a new track called 'My Ugly Boy'. It fits perfectly between 'Twisted' and 'Weak' and the crowd rocked harder than ever to something that was distinctly Skunk, yet with a newer take on who they are as musicians. Jesus may have walked on water... but Skin walks on shoulders! She came down off the stage 3 times and walked across her fans shoulders, owning Sonisphere with her eyes and her voice. This was to be the best performance by any band at Sonisphere for me this year by a long shot.
Motley Crue didn't get the curtain drop that they wanted because the stage crew couldn't get the curtain rigged up properly. None the less, the LA bad boys take to the stage and the crowd was absolutely fucking deafening, to the point where I even put my fingers into my ears to try and block out the deafening roar. If only it had stayed that way though, as what an international disaster they were, and this from one of my favourite bands in the world. Vince Neil is renowned for not singing all the words live, but this time around they should have left everything on backing track as he really did a piss poor job with the bits that he did actually manage to sing. Sadly the PA cutting out and the terribly miss timed explosions and fire burning on stage further hindered their poor performance instead of enhancing it. I was however somewhat amused that one of the fires burnt the most part of their set and nobody seemed to worry about the continuous fire! Tommy was unusually quiet and withdrawn and Mick Mars was really battling to stand upright during their set due to his back problems, he was however as great as always. Nikki was Nikki and even with a few bum notes, he's always good to look at. Surprisingly enough, there were no tracks off 'Saints Of Los Angeles'... Very disappointed I drag my feet through the dust to watch the mighty German fuehrers, Rammstein.
Sonisphere definitely acquired the "festival of the year" tag with the bands they secured this time around, and considering it's still in its infant years, but securing the ultimate headliners and Kiss's own pronounced ultimate festival headliner, Rammstein was a major coup for the festival. I was ready for whatever the theatrical masters were ready to fire in my face... well that is what I thought anyway. "Ach mein gott", its Rammstein and they are on fire! There is so much going on that it's visibly impossible to focus on any one thing. Between the heat of the pyro and the thick heavy guitars that are at times so over-stimulating you simply forget where you are. Especially as the crowd don't really sing along to words they don't know, it's surreal that the crowd is silent mostly except for massive cheers when flames come out of the band's faces or asses, or both at the same time. The highlight for me definitely was 'fanboy' invading the stage and getting set alight and the bouncers pulling him off stage and throwing water on him. They had me convinced that it was just a normal fan to the point that my uber fantastic best friend is still taking the piss out of my schoolgirl error and sheer disbelief!
A shower and an early night is what are called for after a day of immense pleasure with the sights lined up for tomorrow being just as great.
Sunday morning starts off with far too many lattes, and I'm ready to take on the dust and anything that is ready to be blasted my way. First up then is CKY who end up with such a shitty sound on the Saturn stage that at times it was impossible to hear what they are singing about. Chad however made up for this with a few epic stage jumps and then mid-set insisted that the sound tower play 'Womaniser' from Britney Spears. He then invited the crowd to tell him to "fuck off" which they did, before one reveller hurled a can of cider at him, which he caught and downed before heading straight into '96 Quite Bitter Beings'. Despite their atrocious sound, (which it seems was a running theme on this stage), you can't help but think that CKY absolutely nailed it.
I head over to the Apollo stage to catch the voice of the valleys - the uber fantastic Skindred. Wearing silver 'space' jackets, Benji Webbe has at least 40 000 people bouncing, hopping and getting all Jamaican'ed up as only he can. The progress in this band from last year's Sonisphere is such that it's going to take a lot of rocking and a lot of hard work from the bands that follow them on this stage to even come close to what they achieve. Great set from these great guys, they owned my 'Roots, Rock, Riot' ass in that field today. Well-done Boyos! Alice in Chains are as laid back as a stoned hippy on a Sunday afternoon. 'Angry Chair' opens things up nicely and William DuVall is everything and more that a band wants from a front man. He swaggers like a bonafide star before heading straight into 'Man In The Box'. If you weren't already an AIC fan, between Cantrell and DuVall and their set's first 10 minutes, you were one now. 'Check My Brain', off their latest album is colossal and nearly steals the show for them. AIC are back and stronger than ever!
If Motley Crue were an international disaster last night then The Cult are a national one today. Sadly, another one of my all time favourite bands renders themselves useless and Sir Ian Astbury is packing more pounds than is probably good for any rock frontman. He's literally breathless after the opening lines of 'Lil' Devil' and I so wanted them to be good, their music sounded great, that is whilst the PA was working and their songs are amazing "feel good festival songs" but I felt Ian really let himself down vocally here today. It doesn't really matter that they played all the hits, this was an opportunity to steal the festival and it was missed...by a long shot.
With the daunting prospect of the inevitable long queues to get out of Knebworth House and an early start for me the next day this is unfortunately where Sonisphere ended for me. It was great while it lasted, it was fun being in a field with some incredible bands and a sold out crowd but it was definitely not over rated getting home, having a nice shower and giving my pillows a decent bit of head. Thanks also to Adam and Lucy of The Noise Cartel for pulling punches for the press when we needed things sorted out for us... these guys make festival work fun.
Now all you guys have to do is keep tuned in over the next few days as Uber Rock brings you the next series of "Ten Minutes with Tazz" interviews, this time from Sonisphere Festival 2010.
Photo Kudos to PG Brunelli