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Gig Reviews...Bloodstock (August 13-August 15)

Catton Hall,Derbyshire, 13-15 August 2010

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Sunday 15 August

Review and photos by Sonia Waterfield

A gruelling journey to metal mecca, self induced tinnitus, and that fucking rock karaoke, it was all in a day's work for GRTR!'s Sonia Waterfield...

Friday August 13

After a long hard slog through dire traffic and a gruelling 4 hour drive from Wales, I eventually saw the golden sign which was leading to Metal Heaven, as in one of the UK's biggest open air festivals Bloodstock.

Under a cloudy and dreary sky, which was filled with razor edged screams and thundering riffs, I wandered into the main arena to notice that since 2008 it had grown noticeably.

With the Sophie Lancaster stage not only bigger but in a red marquee, this was the first to grace the ears, hailing new and upcoming artists.

Venturing further past the bizarre fairground blaring out a mixture of pop music; yes, I did say pop, and the vast array of food and clothing stalls, you finally get to the main stage in all its metal glory.

When I say metal, I mean the silver covering that is wrapped around the parcel of the huge stage reflecting the last rays of the waning sun.

Meshuggah, photo by Sonia Waterman

First to grace the stage was Meshuggah, this coincidentally reminds me of their performance which was full of chugging riffs, screaming vocals and full on attack.

What a way to be welcomed. Their hour long slot was greeted by tanked up fans raising their fists in homage and in their already inebriated state - some more than others - either just lost in the music or just plain lost.

With a hard act to follow, Opeth strolled on to their intro which raised voices and much celebration from their awaiting audience and then proceeded with their epic set full of 12 minute songs.

Opeth, photo by Sonia Waterman

Synthesiser melodies provided by the keyboards, combined with a theatrical aura brought a slight calm that washed over us, that was until the deep, dark riffs from the twin guitars sliced through the atmosphere and filled it with energy, re-purposed by the audience, who by now were blazing.

During this set, I decided to take a wander to explore the rest of the festival area whilst the mob were otherwise engaged  to see a true view of what was to offer.

Whilst doing so, I ended up back in the Sophie Lancaster stage, as that was the only area where music was blaring out, only to find there was a group of rather strange looking people.

Grouped up in the centre of the stage, as if they were having a school photo taken, what I can only guess was a mixture of genders sporting Halloween facemasks and much more. The intrigue soon dissipated as I was to find that this was all in the name of Rock Karaoke.

As there didn't seem to be much interest at this time, even though the compere was doing his utmost to drag and encourage people to get on stage, I wandered back to see Opeth who were still in full swing.

The set ended to much applause and raucousness before a straggling crowd disappeared into the blackness of the night. And so did I, ready for the next day of self-torture.

Not that this was the end of the aural blitzing, as from the confines of my tent, I could hear the likes of Pantera 'Walk', Slipknot and more accompanied by the roars and screams which scored the air well into the early morning.  It was the Rock Karaoke and the DJ's were in full swing.

Leave's Eyes, photo by Sonia Waterman

Saturday August 14

Clambering out of the tent at 8 am and straight into a swamped out field - a result from the previous night's downpour - the eager metal heads were already meandering around aimlessly looking for either food or beer.

The first act to 'entertain' with their female operatic vocalist and gruffly toned male vocalist was Leaves Eyes.

In the vein of Nightwish and Sonata Artica, this was certainly a wakeup call.  Not sure if my brain was engaged enough to actually take it all in, however there was a small gathering at the barriers already rearing to rock.

Evile, photo by Sonia Waterman

As their set ended, the gathering dispersed to find sustenance before 'local heroes' Evile raged the stage. The youngsters gave a fully blown energetic performance, which was great to see as it was not so long ago they had unfortunately lost their previous bassist.

The weather had turned but this certainly did not dampen the enthusiasm from the crowd or the band that were thoroughly enjoying themselves with smiles in between tracks.

Onslaught, photo by Sonia Waterman

After a near-enough 14 year break, it was great to see the return of Bristol based thrashers Onslaught, who have come back with vengeance.

Currently in the studio working on their new album, this was another band who certainly seemed to not only be at ease but happy to be back.

With plenty of guttural roars emerging from the on looking crowd who by now had grown to a swathing mass, it was easy to see why the band are back on track, with no loss of support.

During the changeover, with a spare bit of time, I ventured to see what was happening in the Unsigned Tent, only to spy a young Lithurgy going full on to a decent sized crowd.

The surprising thing to me was the addition of a saxophone being sported by the vocalist. To my amazement, they actually made this work. What a great performance and I'm definitely interested to see how they progress in the future.

After a quick time check, I legged it back to the Main Stage for the commencement of Edguy.

Bloodstock had the privilege of being able to announce this was the band's only UK Festival appearance this year.

With the addition of Helloween's own Markus Gropoff, who was standing in for their normal bassist due to the birth of his child. This was not a set I wanted to miss.

Not only am I a great fan of both bands, I wanted to know how the addition of Markus would change the performance.

Full of chirpiness, the band came bouncing on to the stage and cracked into their first track which got everyone wiggling and rocking.

Little Tobi's voice was amazing, whilst the rest of the band powered through behind. The energy was truly electric and so was the atmosphere that was being emanated from stage to audience.

Ending with their anthem from Tinnitus Sanctus 'King Of Fools' the band were nearly drowned out during the chorus from the raucous singing coming from the fans. This to me was definitely the best performance of the day. Biased? Probably…but I wasn't the only person to say this.

Everyone was happy, until a voice boomed through the Tannoy telling all the adoring flag wavers to dismantle flags as they were no longer allowed in crowd much the annoyance and grievance of fans.

Obituary, photo by Sonia Waterman

My ears had just returned to normal after the previous musical obliterations, and then the glorious thundering riffs and ripping vocals from Obituary boomed from the stage. Oooh ... I'm sure I felt my head split… This was pure heavy thrash. The lead singer ran around the stage like a mental head whilst the others stood statuesque dealing their pummelling tunes.

I'm not sure If I am cut out for this full metal onslaught as by now the tinnitus had started to set in, as much as I was loving the atmosphere that was emanating from the whole place, I needed to find something a little tamer, so headed to see Croydon boys Mordecai who were going strong in the Sophie Lancaster tent.

Giving a solid performance, it was a shame they had to compete with the main stage band.  I was happy to see a good group of supporters and interested parties and just wished that the guys could have had a better chance to grab more of the limelight as they are a good band.

Devin Townsend, photo by Sonia Waterman

Now, back to the main stage under the rays of a glorious sun, where Devin Townsend and his project were already wandering around. I had heard his name before, but couldn't recollect from where. After enquiring, I was told he was renowned for being part of Strapping Young Lads. This still didn't ring a bell, so was left intrigued.

Due to some technical difficulties with the main vocal microphone, poor Devin was left standing in front of 5000 eager fans. For most musicians, this would be an intimidating moment, but not to Devin. Showing his zany personality, he actually went into comedy mode, entertaining us with air guitar, poses, crazy faces and generally having a laugh with the crowd which he thoroughly enjoyed and if he ever decides to leave the music business, cabaret would certainly be an option.

Devin Townsend, photo by Sonia Waterman

The performance and interaction with the crowd alone was amusing and would have satisfied us as it was. Luckily for the band the problem was fixed and Devin went straight into it with full steam. His unique vocals, switched from being soothing and melodious to razor sharp and grinding is certainly something to check out.

It was then it clicked: 'Sex & Religion'. No, not a new found fad for me, it is the title track of an early Steve Vai album. Devin had been the vocalist.

I was now settled in thought and got into the full swing of the performance, which was one of the craziest I have seen. Not because of any weird and wonderful additions or outfits, just because of the stances, facial expressions and song content including the last track, taken from his album which details an alien travelling from outer space, visiting earth to find ... wait for it  ... the perfect cup of coffee!? He seriously deserved the appreciation he received and has certainly gained a new admirer in me.

A downpour decided to ensue much to the joy of the fans who decided they would have a go at mud wrestling. With much encouragement at what I first thought was going to be a mosh pit forming, bodies started to slip and slide. Jeers and cheers rose as the forms got more and more covered.

Fear Factory, photo by Sonia Waterman

Fear Factory. The name alone suggests strength, power and brutality and that's exactly what we got next. As Burton, Dino and Co thundered onto the stage with the title track 'Mechanize', you certainly knew that you were in for a hammering.

Even though I have been a long time follower of the band, this was the first time I had seen them live. Expecting a ruthless attack, I wasn't disappointed. Vicious riffs and Burton's distinctive voice boomed out to the mass that were already in full swing, viciously head banging and roaring out every word.

The next assault was followed by a further two new tracks from their latest offering Mechanize. The poor souls who had not been privy to the new album were taken by complete surprise. The rest of the set was a mix from their notorious album Demanufacture and a couple from Digimortal which went down well with the crowd.

Children Of Bodom, photo by Sonia Waterman

The night ended on a, well, ferocious note with Children Of Bodom. Any hope of a 'quiet' night was doomed. Loud.  Really loud is the most I can say. The fans came here for a full attack of Thrash; well if they hadn't had their fill by now, this would do it. Angry, raging & rampaging – need I say more? The night sky was filled with pure angst and metal wrath rising from the mass that filled the festival field.

My tinnitus was in full attack by now, to the point where the band had left the stage and I hadn't noticed, the noise of pure Thrash still ringing strongly around my head.

In my daze, I decided that to walk to the refuge of the tent. The rain, which had decided to make reappearance, was doing a grand job of turning the field back into a mud bath. This did not discourage the majority who were tanked up and ready for more. The Sophie Lancaster tent once again filled for the next bout of Rock Karaoke...


Review and photos by Sonia Waterfield


Sunday 15 August

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