We had a family BBQ celebrating our 25th on Saturday - it was brilliant fun. We set up my PA in the garden and had various music blaring out throughout the day. The morning was very wet and it looked like it might be a flop but as people arrived about noon it stopped and I lit the BBQ and put out the garden chairs... in the end sun shone at times a very small shower wasn't enough to deter us and we had a great day.
Sunday though was up early to head to the Sunday of the Sonisphere festival for see Iron Maiden!
We got there about 9am and got parked up easily - great car park marshaling. Enough to get you in the right bit but not that officious "you need to move 2 inches or I'll punch you" type you sometimes get.
We found a great tea stall - mug of tea, 2 rich teas and 2 chocolate digestives for £2! Bargain - nice tea too. We noted the camping looked less chaotic than when we camped last year and better spaced out, better shower block provision and better security. Top marks as they have learnt well. The show area was less constricted between the two main stages as well which was one point we didn't like last year.
Okay to the music! Karnivool kicked off - very good atmospheric progressive metal I thought - must check them out. (Side note just loaded up their latest into Spotify to double check my assumptions).
CKY kicked off the second stage. A band I'm not familiar with... old fashioned USA rock n roll band. Not that impressed... CKY OK I suppose.
Back to the main stage for Madina Lake - not a bad performance. I've heard some of their stuff. They were appearing as a three piece as their bass player Matthew Leone who is seriously ill following a horrible assault earlier in the year. The performance was energetic and clearly a tribute to him - I wish him well in his recovery and hope the guy who injured him has a long long time to reconsider his actions. Overall musically though I prefer Incubus in this kind of genre personally.
Dir En Grey were a Japanese act I'd not seen before... I'll avoid again! Sorry lads the guitar playing and overall music wasn't bad but the vocals were just - weird! What was the 3 mins advent garde screaming and coughing on the table all about? Odd!
Skindred blew the main stage away. They are a fantastic live act with a unique sound blending heavy rock/metal with Benji's Jamaican roots. The whole crowd warmed to them.
Slayer. I'll admit these are out at the end of thrash metal that's not my cup of tea I'm more into Metallica and Megadeth than these guys. However with seeing them we've now seen all big four of the thrash metal bands as we saw Anthrax here last year. So whilst not my cup of tea I was throughly impressed with the speed they play - the drummer is amazing frankly and the sound is well managed so it doesn't descend into a mush that it could at this speed.
We ducked on Bring Me The Horizon - too much shouting for me :-) Anyway we needed time to get something to eat! So to Alice In Chains. Just brilliant - to me by far the best sound of the day just an epic tone from Jerry and the boys and the vocals were spot on. Last year I remember thinking these guys one of the highlights off the second stage this year on the main stage I think they were even better.
The Cult were on the second stage and just brilliant - a band that really are too underated in their home land - how come they were never as huge as Guns N Roses is a bit beyond me. Billy Duffy may be a little more "weathered" these days and Ian Astbury a little larger but still a class act. She sells Sanctuary is still one of the greatest riffs ever written isn't it?
We had planned to see Funeral for a Friend in the tent and so set off there. Not disappointed - only thing was having to leave before the end of their set to get to a reasonable position in the crowd prior to the main act. Their set was energetic, good sound for in the tent and given there were obvious feedback issues on the sound check it was well done.
So Iron Maiden - as ever effortless brilliant. They never disappoint in terms of the show and the playing. My son had predicted a "classic set", I'd predicted they'd play a bunch of new stuff off the forthcoming Final Frontier release given it was billed as a show on the Final Frontier tour. We were both wrong! :-) They played a set almost exclusively of material off the last three releases - i.e. those since Bruce Dickenson and Adrian Smith rejoined and they returned to center of the metal scene after some time on the fringes without the classic front man. I know some people are complaining on forums that it wasn't a classic set and they missed things like The Trooper and Run to the Hills off - but the last time they toured in support of a new album (A Matter of Life and Death) they played that entire release beginning to end and only a few "classics" at the end of the set. To be fair the two tours either side of that have been firstly a "everything off the first four albums" and then a revival of the famous "Powerslave" tour including getting the set out of storage! So those that have wanted classic Maiden have had your chances over the last 5 years or so. Whatever - my view... Brilliant. The new material is as good as they've ever produced and "No More Lies", "These Colours Don't Run" and others are as classic as "The Trooper" and "Run to the Hills" anyway.
We left throughly pleased. We had a result in the car park as a nice hi vis jacketed marshal kindly showed us a quick route out the car park that was just on the verge of descending into that anarchy with 150 cars all trying to get through one gate at the same time. We dropped out the back straight onto the A1M northbound and a quick U turn at the next junction had us laughing as we sailed past a completely gummed up looking carp park exit and on our way home. So exactly 2 hours after Maiden left the stage we were back home - result! :-)