So on Saturday I was most fortunate to attend the second day of the Sonisphere festival. I’d only known I was going since the day before and ended up on Anthrax’s guest list but in my opinion the second day had the most enticing line-up of bands. What I thought I’d do is talk through the bands I saw and how good there were. Some were great, some not so and one performance will remain in my memory forever. So without further ado, let’s crack on…
Lacuna Coil were the first band I saw on the day and incidentally were the first band on the main stages that I’d heard of up until then. Cristina Scabbia and co delivered a steady set their best known songs and a few from their new album ‘Shallow Life’. It was decent enough but ultimately uninspiring. They’re not exactly the type of band to get a crowd going and their music is bland at best. There’s two things I’ve never quite understood about Lacuna Coil… Firstly, why they have Signor. Growly Irritateimus as their secondary singer and secondly how on earth did they get as big as they are? I certainly wouldn’t pay a large amount of money to see these guys… not even for the beautiful Cristina…
Next up was Katatonia on one of the smaller stages. I own their album ‘Night is the New Day’ but I have to admit I haven’t listened to it for months. Despite not being the most commercial of metal bands, these guys have an amazing live sound that really captures the essence of their studio recordings. In the midst of aggressive rock bands, crazy fans and bass frequencies charging through your skull, there was something refreshingly calm about their performance – you could almost sit back and let their sound wash over you. That’s not to say these guys aren’t heavy – they really are – and they’re very, very good indeed.
Papa ‘Same-old’ Roach. Alongside Motley Crue this was the band that I really wasn’t that bothered about seeing. I saw these guys for a couple of songs but was a bit turned off them when Jacoby Shaddix (singer) starting laying into ‘Shitney Spears’ and ‘Justin-f**king-Beiber’. It was a tad unnecessary and a bit embarrassing that a band of their fame has to resort to those sort of tactics to get a crowd to warm to them. Just shut up and sing, dick. Still it can’t all be bad, we were treated to the first of many girls exposing their chests to cameras which were projected to the screens at the sides of the stage.
I hadn’t seen or heard this band before but a good friend wanted to see them and his taste in music is impeccable (with the exception of Mudvayne) so I gladly departed Papa Roach to check them out. These guys are from Norway and there were inevitably some Norwegian flags being waved around amongst the relatively small crowd that had assembled to see them. Their sound is hard rock with a lot of tasty guitar harmonies thrown in. I’d say this was the musical discovery of Sonisphere for me with their ballsy and genuinely entertaining performance. I have their new self-titled album blasting on Spotify right now and I really suggest you do the same. Fantastic band.
Back to the main stage and next up was Apocalyptica. The Finnish cello players started out as a Metallica tribute band whose first album was all covers played on four Cellos. Since then they’ve done good collaborating with the singers from Lacuna Coil, Three Days Grace, Rammstein and others. I had high expectations of them and I was really interested in how they would carry it off. The highlight of their performance was Metallica’s ‘Fight Fire with Fire’ which was delivered with virtuosic precision – I didn’t really head bang to them though, I just stood and marveled at something completely different at a festival of this kind. The first of their collaborative songs was then played, their new single ‘End of Me’ which features reformed band Bush’s singer Gavin Rossdale. Some old blonde guy came out and delivered the vocals which were quite average and generally lacking power. Later in their set they played ‘I’m not Jesus’ which when announced brought an air of anticipation in the crowd that Corey Taylor would join them on stage – sadly not – it was a case of ‘return of that old guy’. I enjoyed their set overall but given that Cristina Scabbia, Corey Taylor and Till Lindemann were all performing that day it was a bit disappointing that none of them made an appearance.
After a short break I checked out Skunk Anansie. Earlier that day I met the guitarist Ace who was a very down to earth guy and said that he’d previously toured with Rammstein so it’s not the first time these bands have played together! I’ve not seen this lot live before but they did a good set albeit missing out some of their bigger songs like ‘Hedonism’. Skin (singer) performed with a great deal of energy and a good measure of humour too and they were very entertaining. There was a decent mix of old and new songs with ‘Because of You’ and the new single ‘My Ugly Boy’, a song that shows despite a long absence, Skunk Anansie are back in the big time. Their new album ‘Wanderlustre’ is out in September.
On one of the smaller stages Corey Taylor came out on his own and performed an acoustic mix of covers and originals including ‘Tiny Dancer’, ‘Polly’, ‘Snuff’ and ‘Bother’. I’m not sure this was what some of the crowd were expecting as a noticeable amount of people started leaving, however there was a clear contingent of loyal fans chanting ‘Cor-ree’ at every opportunity. I don’t think many people could have got away with performing an acoustic set at Sonisphere, but such is Taylor’s reputation and his damn fine singing voice it actually made for a very pleasing experience. It would have been nice to hear ‘Through Glass’ by Stone Sour though…
Listen to Stone Sour’s album ‘Come What[ever] May’ on Spotify
Get Stone Sour’s album ‘Come What(Ever) May’ from Amazon
Listen to Slipknot’s album ‘All Hope is Gone’ on Spotify
Get Slipknot’s album ‘All Hope Is Gone’ from Amazon
Okay dinner time. Didn’t really catch much of Motley Crue as I’m not their biggest fan and I was hungry. Tried one of Sonisphere’s doughnuts and it was very pleasing on the taste buds. As you can tell from the photo I was at a safe distance but the ridiculously huge bass drum still stood out like a sore thumb. By this point many were itching to get ready for Rammstein so many were already heading to the other stage. I felt a bit sorry for Motley Crue as it wasn’t exactly an ideal time for any band to play. They did play ‘Dr. Feelgood’ though…
I’ll start by saying I’ve never seen Rammstein live before. I own a few albums including their newest addition ‘Liebe ist fur Alle Da’ so I know exactly what they’re about or at least I thought I did. The band kicked off with the new song ‘Rammstein’ whilst the biggest German flag I’ve ever seen was being hauled down from the stage. They completely blew the crowd away with a range of new songs off the album such as ‘Waidmanns Heil’ and ‘Fruhling in Paris’ whilst doing fan favourites such as ‘Ich Will’, ‘Sonne’, ‘Du Hast’ and ‘Feuer Frei’.
I was amazed at how many in the crowd could sing along to the songs – and I’m pretty sure they’re not all German. Till Lindemann got up to his usual antics of ‘killing’ a fan with a flame-thrower and squirting foam at the crowd whilst sitting atop a canon during the song ‘Pussy’. Flames were everywhere to be seen during their set with pyrotechnics and fireworks in serious quantity.
There were also some funny moments during the set when during the song ‘Haifisch’ Christian Lorenz (Keyboard) crowd-surfed in a black rubber dingy. They extended the song to accommodate his return trip to the stage which included a cheeky fan climbing in the dingy holding up a Union Jack flag…
Half way through the set they took a bow and left the stage. Nothing happened for about 3 or 4 minutes as the crowd demanded more and more before they finally returned to the stage to play the second half of their set. There’s actually very little said by the band during the performance just a polite ‘Thank you very much’ at the end of the set. This isn’t exactly noticeable though when you’ve just experienced an amazing concert. Rammstein left the stage once again and this time it was for good leaving the fans completely blown away. I’ve never seen a show like it and I doubt I’ll see such a performance from another band ever again. This was a show I’ll remember forever.
All in all, it was an amazing day and I’ll certainly try and go back next year. Some say this year’s line-up wasn’t as strong as last years, but I really enjoyed the mixture that the day provided. Thousands and thousands of cool heavy metal fans attended that day and only one person was very uncool. This guy…