Sonisphere Festival is probably the most important Metal/Rock Festival in Europe despite only being in its third year.
When I was asked to review the event I thought it was going to be a piece of cake, I love almost all the bands on the bill so my work was easy. I have to say though, that as I am writing right now, I find it more difficult than expected. I will just make it simple and direct, but I think it is extremely important to thank all the people at the Noise Cartel for being always there and helpful to all of us, reviewers and photographers.
Friday 8th July 2011
When arriving at the Festival’s site you soon understand the shear enormity of the place. In front of you stands the entrance and on both sides are what seems to be an endless sea of tents. To reach the top of the hill, where the stages are located, you have to walk through them along a path. In every corner you see band flags, t-shirts, people singing and drinking. Everyone is in the right mode despite the threatening weather.
Once inside the main area, you can’t help wondering ‘how it will be this evening when Metallica will perform?’. The main stage, called Apollo, is majestically facing the whole area. On the opposite side there is the second stage, called Saturn. There are other 3 stages, on site, Bohemia, Jagermeister and RedBull.
The first band to play, what it is going to be three days of Rock, is ‘The Japanese Voyeurs’ on the Bohemia Stage. 15Mins later on the opposite side ‘Diamond Head’ are officially opening the main stage. Finally there is a break in the rain which is a welcome relief and everyone is gearing up for the Big Four; Anthrax, Megadeth, Slayer and Metallica. These bands are all legends and is a 60,000 strong crowd who have come here for that exact reason. People are singing along, head banging and moshing not caring about anything except having a rocking good time. James Hetfiled and co. made it through a long setlist, finishing with Enter Sandman and a spectacular fireworks display lighting the skies above Knebworth.
During the encore Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax and Diamond Head join Metallica on stage to perform Am I Evil (Diamond Head’s song). These bands are the living proof of what heavy metal is all about, they are the godfathers of the genre but know how to keep it fresh and new.
Saturday is a slightly different story. The bands playing are more mainstream and less Metal but still much appreciated by the crowd. Sylosis are the first band on the Apollo at around 11a.m., despite being very early in the morning their performance is the right wake up call. On the Saturn stage, Richard Cheese is entertaining everyone with his swing. On the notes of his remake of “People=S**t!” from Slipknot, he shows everyone how a classic Metal song can be transform in a lounge/swing piece.
The sun is still shining, ‘Architects’ are delivering an amazing set while on the opposite stage ‘Gallows’ perform for what is said to be their last time together. Frank Carter, singer of the band has confirmed his intention to leave the band earlier in the morning.
Half way through the set of Kids in Glass Houses, a powerful downpour hammers the arena. Ponchos and umbrellas are out again during what it was meant to be a partially sunny Saturday.
All afternoon the weather changes as regularly as the weather. The highlight of the afternoon is provided by ‘The Mars Volta’. Their music is well received by the audience and despite the “weird” antics of the singer, who threw a metal barrier off stage, their music has definitely hit the right spot.
The headliner for today is the Scottish trio, ‘Biffy Clyro’. It is definitely not easy for them, being in the middle of this 3 days Festival: following Metallica and the Big Four on Friday night and preluding Slipknot on Sunday. It’s a tough competition, if you look at it this way. I have to admit that I doubted their presence at the Festival at first; however after the amazing 2 hour show they put together I have to stand corrected. They start with “The Captain” and an explosion of confetti covering the first 4 rows of the audience. The whole show is exceptional and it is evident now that Biffy Clyro really know how to rock any kind of crowd.
Sunday will be remembered as Slipknot day. After the loss of Paul Gray, the future of the band was uncertain for everyone. Fans were prepared to accept the end of the band, however, surprisingly, they decided to join the Sonisphere bill and to make it a tribute to Paul.
Fans for all over the world gathered today to pay their tribute to the band and to Paul. The day starts with a very shy sun, definitely better than the rain of last night.
You can feel the tension and anticipation for the show tonight and possibly even more so for the 2 minutes silence that the entire Festival will share at 2p.m.
Without a doubt, one of the best bands to grace the Saturn Stage it is ‘Black Tide’. This 4 piece band is quiet young but the heavy metal coming out from their instruments is truly powerful.
2p.m. creeps into a very sunny Knebworth afternoon and the entire arena falls into a deep silence. The deafening silence of 60,000 people only disturbed by the gentle hum of the generators. The respect and the love from all the participants feels thick and tangible. At the end of the 2 minutes a roar slowly rises coming from the crowd and stirs you into uncontrollable excitement. It confirms that today is a celebration of Paul’s life and achievements. This is probably the highlight of the day.
Limp Bizkit also victims of the rain, nonetheless their show brings everyone in the arena to jump up and to move frantically to their rhymes. When Fred Durst asks the crowd, what kind of “stuff” they want them to play, it is clear that the old tunes wins over the new ones.
We are now approaching the end of these 3 days Festival at Knebworth and the excitement from the crowd is stronger than the rain. Slipknot take to the stage at around 9:00p.m.
On Corey Taylor’s words “This is not a night for negativity, it’s a night for positivity. It’s a celebration”, the band delivers an amazing performance. The raw energy and that maniac powerful anger that is the basis of their music ripples through the crowd and all that’s left to do is jump, scream and mosh.
A very touching moment is when Gray’s suit and bass took centre stage for some band photos.
For now Sonisphere is officially over, or better yet, it is only over till next year!