it's the fans that make or break bands

Sonisphere Festival 2011

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Friday afternoon at Sonisphere I walked into the arena to Diamond Head playing Am I Evil. It would be much later that evening that Brian Tatler, Diamond Head guitarist and co-writer of Am I Evil, would join the Big 4 on stage for the ultimate climax of a day. To have Anthrax, Megadeth, Slayer and Metallica playing together at the same festival is mind blowing enough, but to have the Big 4 on stage at the same time playing Am I Evil, was out of this world!

The theme of any metal festival or gig are the size of the circle pits and The Wall of Death, so it was appropriate that Anthrax started off their set with Caught In a Mosh. Slayer and Metallica were amazing on the big stage, but nestled in-between them and playing on the much smaller Jägermeister stage, were one of my favourites of the weekend, The Defiled. They were brilliant at Soni last year, and having seen them live several times indoors, I really enjoyed seeing them outdoors this year. The gentle downhill slope to the Jägermeister stage ensured a perfect view of band and they looked great on stage.

Saturday morning was the first time that I actually enjoyed seeing Sylosis live. I love their music, but usually find them quite bland live. Watching them on the large stage, close to the front with a cup of coffee, I couldn’t think of a better way to wake up on a Saturday morning after a fantastic Friday line-up. Richard Cheese was a funny follow up to Sylosis, but the crowd loved him and he made everyone cheer when he tried to get the security guards to do a step and kick line dance. Gallows followed with the biggest mosh pit I saw that weekend. I watched a bit of Cavalera Conspiracy who were great, but I wanted to see Panic Cell play their last gig. There was a lot of Jäger drinking on stage, which reminded me of the first time I saw them, where bottles of Jäger were being passed around the audience and saying No to a swig from the bottle wasn’t an option. It was therefore fitting that their last gig was on the Jäger stage and they did the Jäger proud!

The Bohemia stage proved to be very popular and I missed out on Steve-O and Gojira on the Saturday. I therefore made sure that I got to the Bohemia tent in good time to get in for The Sisters of Mercy. They opened spectacularly with smoke machines that filled the tent with a hazy mist, and the purple and red lights lent an eerie gothic atmosphere. Playing all the favourites, Dominion, Lucrecia My Reflection and Temple of Love, this was the highlight of my Saturday. The Sisters of Mercy were every bit as good as I had imagined they would be and my most surreal moment.

I missed Howard Mark’s Sunday Sermon, so it was Black Tide that started my Sunday off with a hot intro by their drummer. Guitarist Austin Diaz pulls some pretty amazing moves with his axe. Sunday got more powerful with Feed The Rhino who were insane both on the stage, or off the stage with lead singer Lee Tobin crowd surfing. The powerful performances continued with Parkway Drive who were immense. Guitarist Luke Kilpatrick played despite having a broken leg. Him playing in a wheelchair on stage just added to the craziness. As crazy antics go, the frontman for Airbourne climbed several metres to the top of the stage and continued performing. My Sunday then ‘quietened down’ with Motorhead and Anterior. I got rained out during Bill Bailey so went back to my tent drenched and cold, and listened to Slipknot in a tent behind the arena.

Highlights of the weekend:

The Big 4 doing Am I Evil, The Defiled (full set), Feed The Rhino (full set), The Sister’s of Mercy.
Soni Lows: Not being able to get in to the Bohemia tent to see Gojira or Cancer Bats.

Festival organisers don’t seem to realise just how popular Cancer Bats are – please please Mr Sonsiphere can you put them on the Saturn stage next year!

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