Archive for Walton-Upon-Trent

Bloodstock Open Air 2011 [Live Review] Part Two

Posted in Festival, Live with tags , , , , , , , on 26th August 2011 by Hannah

Bands: WASP, Finntroll, Kreator and more
Location: Catton Hall, Walton-Upon-Trent
Date: 12-14th August, 2011

Onto the Ronnie James Dio Stage, then, and the line up for Friday. The first band I saw was Wolf, and just as they were the first time I saw them, they were awesome. They delivered their specific brand of classic, thrash-tinged heavy metal to the assembled crowds with gusto. A special mention must go out to their roadie, who- having hit his head during set up- was the recipient of a special dedication during the track Skull Crushed. They filled their set with both old favourites and new tidbits, hearing Full Moon Possession from their new album Legion of Bastards, as well as premiering a live version of their new track, K141 Cursed. Coroner were as expected; brutal and loud death-tinged thrash metal. I must admit, I am not such a fan of their music, and it seemed a little bland and generic to me. But they put on a good live show, showed a good level of energy, and were excellent for fans of thrash metal. Speaking of thrash, German thrash legends Kreator did not disappoint. They were definitely on form, and gave the Bay Area elite a run for their money. The German giants had the crowds eating out of their hands and absolutely baying for more, and managed to generate the biggest pit of the day so far. Playing a huge range of tunes, Kreator showed that sometimes, the oldest bands know best. What can I say about The Devin Townsend Project, plus a special appearance from Ziltoid the Omniscient? Devin was as bonkers as ever, and shared words of wisdom such as ‘if you aren’t into MMA and you say you are, then my friend, you’re just a poser’ with the enthralled crowd. A trippy guru of progressive craziness, Devin is a proper entertainer who impressed with his cosmic wall of cinematic sound. The man could easily go into business as a stand-up comedian if he ever decides to give up music. He also helped many members of the audience to discover a hidden desire to be a fire engine! Who knew? Friday headliners W.A.S.P. proved they still have it with a set that spanned decades, and provided fuel for every fan of classic metal in the arena. Young and old, male and female; I don’t think there was anyone who didn’t enjoy their set. So what if Blackie Lawless is looking a little bit fatter round the gills these days- his voice and stage presence still exudes that dangerous sex appeal that had parents quaking in their boots in the 80’s. Playing crowd pleasers like Wild Child, and even pulling up an incredibly excited fan to join them in a chorus of I Wanna Be Somebody, W.A.S.P. were the perfect way to round of the first day of the weekend.

Onto Saturday, and Gravedigger were the first band I saw that day. They were awesome, and for such a short set, they played an absolutely packed set list. They really got the crowd going, which is not easy to do at that time of the day, and whilst nursing hangovers to boot. Tarot were excellent. Nightwish veteran and frontman Marco Hietala had the attention of absolutely everyone in the arena, and it wasn’t just because of their music. Keeping the crowd utterly bewildered with comments about BBQs and tractors, as well as encouraging a chant of ‘More Cock’ in honour of sci fi writer Michael Moorcock, Tarot impressed with their particular brand of power metal. Next up was the band that I was personally most excited about of the whole line up. Finntroll were, in a word, incredible. They played a whole range of songs from their entire back catalogue, including from the days without current frontman Vreth, and absolutely treated the crowd with renditions of favourites such as Trollhammaren and Nedgang. The crowd was chanting their name before, during, and after their set, and could not stop screaming for more when their 45 minutes were up. Even though their appearance was fairly toned down, only daubing the snaking, branch-like body paint on themselves, Finntroll were all I had expected and hoped them to be. Plus, Vreth is a very attractive young Scandinavian, and his appearance is only improved by a beard. Enough about that!

Finally, we come to Sunday, and Celtic metallers Primordial delivered a set that pleased the crowd from start to finish. Playing that special brand of Celtic inspired folk metal, Primordial delivered a fantastically put together set that was altogether too short. A shame, as they were definitely on form. Hammerfall delighted the crowd with their ever-so-slightly-cheesy power metal- but to be honest, that’s all part of their charm. Frontman Joachim’s voice filled the arena with it’s powerful tones, and charmed the crowd through a selection from their entire history. From early track Hammerfall, to recent hits such as Blood Bound and Hearts on Fire, they did not disappoint, and managed to get almost everyone singing or dancing along to their fist-pumping metal. Legends of death metal Morbid Angel, surely amongst the names that drew the record number of people to Catton Hall, delivered a rattlingly brutal set of ‘extreme music for extreme people’, generating wave after wave of crazed crowd surfers, and sparking mosh pits that were actually quite shocking in their brutality, rivalling the record set by Kreator on Friday. The crowd that filled the arena was buzzing and feeding off the energy that the veterans gave out, and they definitely satiated the appetites of all those who had come seeking their brand of spine-shattering music. Sunday headliners, festival closers, and living legends, the behemoths of rock and roll that are Motorhead, were the perfect way to end the weekend. Lemmy, nearly unintelligable in his slurring Stoke drawl, delivered classic songs from all over his career in his trademark gravelly snarl, planting himself in front of his microphone with his bass guitar in hand and his cowboy hat firmly jammed onto his head. Fans from seven years old to seventy rocked out to timeless classics, including the obvious Killed By Death and Ace of Spades, and there wasn’t a head that hadn’t banged, or horns that hadn’t been raised, throughout the entire crowd. Pure adrenaline fuelling hard rock and roll, that only Motorhead can deliver. Raise your bottles of Jack and salute the Sex Legend himself, Lemmy Kilmister.

Bloodstock 2011. Three days. Four stages. Over 10,900 metal fans. An incredible weekend full of incredible performances. Same time next year?

Hannah ‘Hammi’ O’Flanagan

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Bloodstock Open Air 2011 [Live Review] Part One

Posted in Live with tags , , , , , , on 26th August 2011 by Hannah

Bands: WASP, Finntroll, Kreator and more
Location: Catton Hall, Walton-Upon-Trent
Date: 12-14th August, 2011

Bloodstock Open Air 2011. A whole weekend (and a bit) dedicated to metal, metal, mud, booze and a bit more metal. A weekend full of dodgy food, over-priced but somehow incredibly delicious beer, and bands at every corner. Bloodstock provides the metal connoisseur with three stages chock-full of music to tickle all fancies; from unsigned but ridiculously talented bands at the New Blood stage, the headliners of tomorrow at the Sophie Lancaster stage, and the big names that draw the crowds on the Ronnie James Dio stage. Plus, as an added bonus, Bloodstock provides a temporary home for the Jaeger-truck and its’ low key acoustic stage, with a limited number of bands performing pared down, unplugged sets for the passing crowds. As I spent most of the weekend ducking and diving between bands I wanted to see on each of the stages, as well as gleefully making my way through security at the VIP section to conduct interviews, my experience of the festival was unlike the experience I had the previous times I had been. In some ways, I regret not enjoying the weekend like that sooner! Rather than stand around all day, trying to get a great spot by the barrier, watching bands I don’t particularly like on the Dio stage, I flitted from stage to stage and discovered a number of bands that I would have been oblivious to before. There’s something to be said about taking the time to go and check out the smaller stages; one of the highlights of my weekend took place in the Sophie stage, but I shall come to that in due course!

It makes sense for one to start off at the New Blood Stage, and work my way up to Ronnie James Dio. The first band I saw on the New Blood Stage was Primital, and what a good find they were. Primital filled the stage with an awesome amount of energy, and they really played well to the crowds. For such a small band, they had managed to pull in quite a number of people, and I think this is testament to the accessible, catchy and melodic metal they were playing. I found myself drawing comparisons with both 36 Crazyfists and fellow Bloodstock artists Wolf; they had good, thrashy riffs and melodic hooks throughout their entire set. My next foray into the New Blood world was with Rannoch, the progressive death metallers from the West Midlands. They were impressively technical, as each of their songs was comprised of neatly harmonised guitar lines and several changes in pace, which helped to keep what can occasionally drag on interesting. Vocalist/guitarist Ian cut an impressive figure onstage, filling the tent with his strong, brutal vocals and fronting a band that were well put together and very successful in delivery; although their set was far too short to gauge the fullness of their range, beyond generic technical death metal. Another of my surprise finds was Haerken, the medieval band hailing from Birmingham. I had seen the members of Haerken, dressed in full Medieval gear, handing out flyers throughout the weekend, and I was glad to say that they were more than just their gimmick. Prithee, their music doth enchant the mightiest of the warriors of Bloodstock of Olde, for they hath procured a crowd most worthy of the noblest bands. Their sound was melodic death metal, and they coupled this with their neatly put together Olde English aesthetic. It must be noted; they managed to draw a significant number of people into the tent and away from mainstagers Therion. Their songs proved that they have the talent and the substance to go with their image, and their short but sweet set proved that they are most definitely in danger of becoming a tour-de-force of the metal world. One last point- any band that comes armed with a plethora of inflateable swords and throws said weaponry into the crowd, in order to spark a war between ‘The Normans’ and ‘The Saxons’ will always be a hit with a Bloodstock crowd! Next up were Sheffield’s Northern Oak; and I must say, with a little more experience under their belts, they will be a blackened folk force to be reckoned with. After their slightly shambolic- but nevertheless entertaining and enjoyable- set on the Jaeger stage the day before, I was looking forward to seeing them in their proper environment. I wasn’t disappointed. They have a great energy live, with each member bringing their own eccentricity into the mix- from bassist Richard bouncing around the stage like a whirling dervish of unending energy, to flautist Caitie ethereally standing in front of the crowds, flute in hand and adding that special edge that sets them apart. Their music was at once both moshable and jiggable, and with a little superficial polishing, they will be great. Last but not least was Sanguine, with a unique sound that is truly all their own. The word unique gets thrown around alot; indeed, it seems to be a bit of a buzzword sometimes, but it is definitely one way in which to describe this band. Frontwoman Tarin commands a voice that is both banshee-like and beautiful, switching effortlessly from clean vocals to a haunting scream throughout song after song. Their sound was at times reminiscent of Tool-ish prog, other times reminiscent of classic metal, and other times even punky and violent. They have a groove and an attitude coupled with a spleen shaking metal sensibility, and an incredibly polished live act to go with it. From the moment the sirens started blaring as Tarin waved a Union Jack upon the darkened stage, to the end of fantastically irreverent song ‘Bangkok Nights’, Sanguine delivered a fantastic set. Their short time on the New Blood stage was not enough.

I only really managed to catch one band on the Jaegermeister stage, apart from Northern Oak’s extra set. Obsessive Compulsive, a Manchester-based band that scream high-energy, managed to tone their set down enough to deliver an accomplished and impressive acoustic set. It takes a special kind of talent to fill such a small stage with so much energy and- as singer Kelii put it- to ‘balls it up’ with such gusto. They drew a significant number of people in, to crowd under the awning of the Jaeger truck and listen intently to their well put-together set. We were treated to songs that Obsessive Compulsive would not normally be able to play live, and to raw, toned-down versions of others. A personal highlight for me was the song The Decay of Hope. Kelii’s impressive voice held an incredible raw passion and emotion that made the song both brutal and moving. An excellent band, with an impressive stage presence.

My one experience of the Sophie Lancaster Stage has to be one of the highlights of the weekend, period. Evil Scarecrow. To try and put into words how brilliantly entertaining and- to be frank- fucking awesome their set was seems almost impossible. But try I shall. They were a rare entity- a comedy band with both the wit and the slick showmanship, not to mention pure, epic talent, to back up their intense metal sound. Perfectly put-together, their stage show was full of nuances and choreographed moves that showed they were taking not taking themselves seriously, very seriously indeed. From goose-stepping during their opener, to running through the crowd and launching onto the bar to deliver an epic solo (that nearly eclipsed the four-note solo from earlier in the set, but not quite), they knew what they were doing, and they did it well. When they called for claws to be raised during Vampire Trousers, even toddlers complied. From breaking a Guiness World Record during the genius Robotatron, to covering motherfucking Thunder Cats, there wasn’t a low point during their set. Finishing with an almighty cover of Europe’s The Final Countdown, complete with singalong from the crowd, Evil Scarecrow were amazing. Enough said.

Hannah ‘Hammi’ O’Flanagan