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LIVE! – Sonisphere Festival

July 21, 2011 by  

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LIVE! – Sonisphere Festival

EVENT: Sonisphere Festival
LINE UP: Metallica, Biffy Clyro, Slipknot
VENUE, TOWN: Knebworth Park, Knebworth
DATE: 8th July 2011
RATING: 5/5

FIVE WORD REVIEW: The UK’s best alternative festival.

MAIN REVIEW: Friday

There are no illusions that the almighty Big Four is the main attraction of today’s card. If people don’t believe so, all they need to do is take a cursory glance at their surroundings, where they will see more Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax and Metallica t-shirts than what is seen in any of the Wayne’s World films.

Anthrax are the first of the legendary metal coalition to take to the stage, delivering enough “woahs” and rip-roaring riffs to convince the crowd that they have actually been transported to the eighties. ‘Anti-Social’ and ‘Caught In A Mosh’ act as the highlights of an instrumentally tight set that sees frontman Joey Belladonna traverse every inch of the gargantuan main stage.

Moments after Anthrax’s energetic display, Megadeth’s backdrop descends, ensuing a wall of noise from thousands of thrash loyalists. Once Dave Mustaine walks into view, the volume soars louder and ticket holders are treated to a breathtaking exhibition of musicianship.

Unlike Anthrax, Megadeth won’t attempt showmanship or even crowd interaction but, with tracks such as ‘Peace Sells’ and ‘Symphony Of Destruction’, they undoubtedly deliver a awe-inspiring exhibition of how to play guitars, leaving budding rockstars in a state of hypnosis.

An Olympian sprint is necessary in order to catch Protest The Hero’s set before the Red Bull Bedroom Jam stage fills to capacity. Nonetheless, the Canadian metal experimentalists vindicate my decision within seconds of the thunderously catchy ‘C’est Le Vie’.
Even without axeman Tim Millar, the group incite mayhem and illustrate exactly why they are one of the most innovative bands in the modern metal circuit.

Despite alcoholism, a tempestuous feature film and even a Napster lawsuit, Metallica remain as a metal institution in the year 2011, but do they raise their game in the presence of their iconic peers?

The answer is a resounding yes!

Loading their set with thrash anthems such as ‘Blackened’, ‘Battery’ and ‘Creeping Death’, it’s ostensible that the titans have mostly overlooked their divisive post-2000 material in favour of reminding 80,000 metalheads why they’re the most influential force in their field.

Their set doesn’t pass without some niggles, as Lars Ulrich sporadically fails to keep up with his bandmates. Still, it’s merely a trivial fault and one that is compensated for at least twelve times in the duration of Metallica’s time on stage.

Saturday

Architects are at the stage of their career where they need to capitalise on opportunities such as today’s main stage slot, and they warm to the expansive live environment in style. The Brighton group’s more melodic numbers fit in successfully with their rambunctious ‘Hollow Crown’ tracks, eventuating in an impressive start to the day.

Gallows’ set today has an added significance, as the impending departure of Frank Carter was only publically announced yesterday. As a result, many watchers are left in shock when Carter reiterates his decision. Subsequently, it also leads to a more impassioned display that includes the largest circle pit of the entire weekend as well as an unforgettably emotional rendition of ‘Orchestra Of Wolves’ .

It is questionable whether Kids In Glass Houses’ saccharine pop-rock would be welcomed at a metal-orientated festival. Thus, it’s a testament to the Welshmen that they battle cynics and the rain to complete an entertaining showing, ending with an infectious performance of ‘Matters At All’ that justifies their booking.

A time machine now takes us back to the year 2000, as Sum 41 emerge on the rain-drenched Saturn Stage. The early millennium is perceived by many as a golden-era of alternative music, which explains why Deryck Whibley and company draw the largest crowd of the day for their stage.

Disappointingly, the crowd’s enthusiasm is not repaid by the pop-punkers, who stumble through a dreary, error-laden set that even ‘In Too Deep’ and ‘Fat Lip’ cannot galvanise.

All Time Low are arguably the modern-day equivalent of their predecessors on today’s stage, but their infuriatingly poppy new songs make Sum 41 appear like comparative math-core specialists.
‘Jasey Rae’ and ‘Six Feet Under The Stars’ almost salvage some credibility from their outing; it is just a shame that they arrive at the time when the damage has already been inflicted.

After such a pedestrian display and an unwelcome run of showers, only an outfit of irrefutable quality could reinvigorate the day. Luckily, Weezer do just that and more.

Last year’s fabled Leeds and Reading performances were met with universal praise and expectations are high, so what do the legendary alternative rockers do? They open with three tracks from the historic Blue Album.

The unpredictable actions of Rivers Cuomo mean that all eyes are magnetised to him at all times. If he isn’t climbing the stage, he’s premiering impromptu tracks that are inspired by the site’s takeaway stalls.

More importantly, all the hits are present. ‘Surf Wax America’ and ‘My Name Is Jonas’ more than appease the band’s core fanbase, while mainstream singles such as ‘Hash Pipe’ and ‘Beverly Hills’ cultivate a crescendo of noise from the field’s occupants.

Weezer’s magnificence gives Biffy Clyro a lot to live up to, particularly as the announcement of their headlining slot was derided in some quarters.

In general, their set is more than admirable and their fans are clearly enthralled. Despite this, while ‘Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies’ and ‘That Golden Rule’ sound colossal, the show simply never matches the magnitude of Metallica’s.

‘Mountains’ closes their Apollo Stage performance, which is sure to leave Biffy Clyro fans adulated but is unlikely to convert the unconverted.

Sunday

Sunday opens with radiant sunshine that the Australians in Parkway Drive truly revel in, as they deliver their high-octane metalcore to a buoyant crowd of supporters.

Sceptics are quick to level their disapproval of the metalcore genre, though Parkway Drive are definitively the masters of their art. ‘Deliver Me’ boasts enough riffs to start a mosh pit in a retirement home, whereas ‘Home Is For The Heartless’ offers sing-alongs that are seldom witnessed with such catchiness and conviction.

Shortly after, the site is brought to silence for two minutes to commemorate the untimely passing of Slipknot’s bassist Paul Gray. It is honoured with due affection, with dozens of signs and t-shirts held in the air, demonstrating the tight-knit and respectful atmosphere that is shared at this musically diverse festival.

Mastodon are one of the most venerated purveyors of metal. Over a number of releases, they’ve amassed a back catalogue showing unbelievable consistency and their inventive sound translates impeccably to the Apollo Stage.

‘Iron Tusk’, ‘March Of The Fire Ants’ and ‘Crack The Skye’ exemplify the eclecticism of the Georgians, whose penchant for experimentation is unmatched by any other band on this weekend’s bill.

The group’s wide-ranging and instrumentally adept showing gives people the choice to stand still and watch the performance unfold as a spectacle of immense musicianship, or to launch into the chaotic pit. Tremendous.

Offering a similar level of proficiency, Cancer Bats follow by tearing apart the Bohemia Stage with their boisterous hardcore. In Liam Cornier, the Canadians possess one of the liveliest singers in the world, who leads the tent into anarchy with ‘Sorceress’, ‘Smiling Politely’ and the classic ‘Hail Destroyer’.

Much akin to Sum 41, Limp Bizkit only have nostalgia to thank for their high placing on today’s card. Irrespective of this, Fred Durst is clearly aware of this fact and allows audience members to select their setlist. Predictably, this means that ‘My Generation’, ‘Break Stuff’ and ‘My Way’ elicit mass rapping and fist-pumping as thousands of watchers revisit their youth. Sure, Limp Bizkit are a guilty pleasure, but they’re definitely entertaining.

Due to the aggrandizing number of people walking towards the Apollo Stage for Slipknot, Four Year Strong are left with a modest crowd in the Bohemia tent, promising a rare chance to see the bearded pop-punkers in an intimate atmosphere.

Initially, sound problems ruin the clarity of ‘On A Saturday’ and ‘What The Hell Is A Giggawatt?’, albeit these flaws are quickly eliminated before ‘Wasting Time (Eternal Summer)’ sends people away to Slipknot’s set in raptures.

A five minute dash to the Apollo Stage ensures that Slipknot’s opening salvo of ‘(sic)’ and ‘Eyeless’ is not missed.

The circumstances surrounding the Iowan’s current tour have been widely documented but, on the evidence of tonight’s display, Paul Gray’s unfortunate death has served to boost their on-stage emotion tenfold.

Corey Taylor speaks to the crowd in several interludes, emphasising that “tonight is about positivity” and it’s a true sentiment that is supported by the group’s exemplary and cathartic show.

Slipknot’s landmark self-titled record is well represented,while ‘Duality’, ‘Before I Forget’ and ‘Psychosocial’ inspire pure pandemonium. Unlike other groups from their era, Slipknot have riden the wave of nu-metal and survived, courtesy of one thing: the quality of their music.

As the chorus of ‘Surfacing’ echoes across Knebworth, It is unclear whether tonight is Slipknot’s final show. If it is, it’s a wonderful way to wave goodbye.

LINK: http://uk.sonispherefestivals.com/

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