• Sonisphere 2011: Part 1
After such a full on opening day, it was somewhat inevitable that Saturday would struggle to compete in terms of grandeur and spectacle. The Cavelera Conspiracy initially keep things on a primeval level as they trot out a few original numbers interspersed with some old Nailbomb and Sepultura songs but things gradually take a turn for the worse. Kids In Glasshouses are horrifically lightweight and Sum 41 might be great with a crowd, but are musically bereft of ideas.
“Hilarious” misogyny faces Lauren Harris’ pedestrian Six Hour Sundown as the crowd chants for her to strip while All You Miss then keep things highbrow by requesting scissoring and boobiesgiving the day a disappointing edge. However, Gallows and Bad Religion keep the punk flag flying in brutal and cerebral fashion (it’s always a pleasure to hear 21st Century (Digital Boy) and show the lightweights and idiots how it’s really done.
Weezer take to the stage in the face of condemnation with some audience members literally screaming that they shouldn’t be at the festival. They spend the first few songs expertly taking the piss covering Teenage Dirtbag and then singing “you came to see a rock concert what is this shitsome guy singing a song called Knebworth” before segueing into Island In The Sun. Then they up the ante and roar through a classic Weezer set. A note perfect cover of Paranoid Android is a definite highlight and by the time they hit Buddy Holly, everyone is back onside.
Biffy Clyro face a similar problem, with everyone criticising their place at the top of the bill, but pull off a majestic set to justify their place alongside Metallica and Slipknot as festival headliners.
By Sunday, festival fatigue is normally setting in, but with Slipknot headlining, even the downpours that have blighted the festival don’t manage to dampen the spirit. Volbeat kick the day into life and compound many a hangover with their curious Elvis meets Metallica hybrid, while Arch Enemy‘s melodic Death Metal is stunning; not least for the hellish rumbling that vocalist Angela Gossow rips from her vocal chords. There’s surely a priest on standby at the edge of the stage.
At 2pm there’s a two minute mark of respect for Slipknot’s Paul Gray which is respected by almost every member of the 60,000 audience as the main arena falls silent. Those with an eye on the outside world find time to spare a thought for Motörhead‘s Wurzel who died on Saturday of a heart attack.
Mastodon are the first real highlight of the day, seemingly louder than everything that’s gone before. They rumble gloriously through their heavy concept, bottom heavy songs, crushing the ear drums of anyone stupid enough to stand in front of the bass bins and delighting everyone else with the intricacies of Bladecatcher Crack The Skye and the full on thunder of Crystal Skull. Stunning.
Lemmy makes the announcement about Wurzel’s passing as Motörhead take to the stage, before delivering the immortal words “we are Motörhead and we play Rock and fuckin’ Roll”. What follows is a impeccably tight set, with Killed By Death, Ace Of Spades and Overkill providing an earth shattering conclusion.
In the face of the driving rain Bill Bailey attempts to raise the spirits with his well worn comedy/music amalgam but today is all about Slipknot who are playing their first UK set since the death of Paul Gray. This is a celebration of a band who kept Metal vital over the last few years. The classics are all present, from the opening lurch of (sic) to Wait And Bleed and The Heretic Anthem. When they wrap things up with Surfacing and Till I Die they bring out Gray’s boiler suit and bass rig and place it at the front of the stage a huge 2 displayed on the backdrop. When Joey Jordison embraces the suit, in front of the adoring crowd, it’s an emotionally loaded moment and at odds with some of the chest beating idiocy to be found on Saturday.
This year’s Sonisphere might have been a bit of a washout weather wise, and there were a few let downs to be had on Saturday and the problems with capacity in the Bohemia tent for the mighty Gojira amongst others, but for the most part this was a classic weekend, and a reminder that Metal will never die, even if those who play it fall by the wayside.
• Sonisphere 2011: Part 1