Monday, 18 July 2011

Festival Review: Sonisphere 2011: Day 3 Gone but not forgotten...

Day 3:

Today was always going to be one of mixed emotions. On the one hand, it’s the last day of the festival and there are some kick ass bands to look forward to. On the other though, there is the sadness that someone who should be here left this mortal coil far too early; and his absence resonates throughout the festival. Paul Gray was one of the founding members of Slipknot and as such has had a massive influence on the band’s sound and ideals. It was clear to see at the press conference just how much Paul was missed within the band, not just as a musician but as a person, a friend and a ‘brother’. Today we honour the memory of Paul Gray, and celebrate his works through a historic performance by the remaining 8 members of Slipknot.

But before that can begin, we head over to the main stage to see Johnny Cash type rockers Volbeat. Sod Cornflakes, they are the perfect way to start the day! Front man Michael Poulsen is charming and endearing, drawing a sizable crowd despite their early slot. I then decide, for reasons even i cannot fathom, to head over and see Black Tide. After being bored for ten minutes i turn round and head back to the Apollo stage to get a good spot for Arch Enemy. Being one of the few women in metal to have mastered guttural vocals (without sounding ridiculous) makes Angela Gossow a force to be reckoned with. Strong on and offstage, Angela is a formidable front woman; coupled with the thundering rifts of Michael Amott Arch Enemy pull off another brutal assault.

At 2pm comes a genuinely beautiful moment. 80,000 people are united in silence, remembering Slipknot’s departed bassist. His achingly empty suit and mask, along with his bass, are brought to the stage; making us feel as though he is, somehow, still with us. After those sombre moments, we head to the Saturn stage to see In Flames. Having only been recruited to the In Flames fan club recently, i had no idea what to expect. Attracting the biggest crowd of the weekend on the Saturn stage, In Flames do not disappoint and i go away being even more of a fan.

Mastodon are a band who rarely disappoint live, and today is no exception. Thundering through old favourites like ‘March of the Fire Ants’ to newer offerings such as ‘Crack the Skye’, Mastodon leave us hungry for more! Being a Motorhead virgin, you can understand my childlike excitement as Lemmy and co took to the stage. Despite being in his twilight years, Lemmy shows no signs of slowing down – thankfully. Seeing Limp Bizkit after Opeth is bizarre; one the one hand there’s Swedish death/prog metal at its finest. One the other, it’s a nu-metal American party band. The former are on top form, and latter wearing thin after 10 minutes. Still, Bill Bailey up next and it seems as though the entire festival has turned out to see the ‘wizard in a call centre’ perform a ‘metal-ed up’ version of his set. The highlight of the set has to be the circle pit erupting during ‘Bleed on your Panini’ – a tribute to emo. Bill looks completely at home, and that is in no small part due to the fact that Bill is amongst his fellow metalheads. The ecstatic crowd will be talking about the Rammstein vs Hokey Cokey for years to come!

All of us tonight feel as though we’re about to go down in history. Many feel as though this is going to be the beginning of the end for Slipknot that they are going to hang up their masks and give up. Given the circumstances i wouldn’t be surprised if they did. However, tonight isn’t about negativity. As Corey Taylor puts it “it’s a celebration”! And boy do Slipknot know how to celebrate! Airing some of their oldest and rarest songs, Slipknot have the crowd in the palm of their hands. This is no more apparent that when Corey Taylor is able to get 80,000 people to get down on their knees and then “JUMP THE FUCK UP”. Pauls suit and mask are brought on again after their encore of ‘People=Shit’ and the chants of “Paul Gray” echo round Knebworth for the final time. And, all too soon, Sonisphere 2011 comes to an end. As we all pack up and head home on Monday, we know we’ve witnessed some unique, unforgettable and record braking experiences over the past three days. Roll on 2012!

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