Festival Review: Sonisphere 2014

By Fraser Bryce

Iron-Maiden-15Is there anything better than a music festival? A whole weekend surrounded by music, people and incredible amounts of alcohol. The Sonisphere festival at Knebworth House is no different, except that it’s smaller, more pleasant and more bohemian than the other rock festivals our country has to offer. For those reasons alone, it’s probably one of the best. It’s a rare privilege to be able to walk away from a music festival with sunburn and no food-poisoning. Don’t get me wrong, the hangovers are apocalyptic, but it’s nice not to worry about cold weather and dodgy food made of ambiguous meat.

But what of the bands, I hear you cry. Well, the Sonisphere line-up is the most schizophrenic line-up I’ve ever witnessed. No one has ever uttered the sentence “I might not go and see Chaz and Dave after Babymetal finish, I really want to get a good spot for Anthrax” before, and never will again. But that’s a genuine dilemma I had. So, for the rest of this article, I’ll pick the three best bands from each day and talk about them a little bit, which will hopefully give you an idea of the ridiculous weekend I had. On Friday, we had Band of Skulls treating us to their fantastic blend of Led Zeppelin and The White Stripes, playing a short but sweet set under the baking midday sun. Following this, I was lucky enough to get into one of the tents to witness thrash metal legends Anthrax tearing through their Among The Living album in full. The deeper cuts like ‘One World’ seem to go over the crowd’s heads, but classics like ‘Indians’ and ‘I Am The Law’ incite absolute bedlam. The highlight of the Friday, not surprisingly are headliners the Prodigy, who deliver their rock/dance/dubstep/house hits to a crowd who lap up every single minute. They also air a lot of new material, which sounds absolutely wicked, so you can look forward to that.

On Saturday morning, J-pop/death metal group Babymetal blast away everyone’s hangovers with a brilliantly bonkers set. On the smaller stage, power pop merchants Eureka Machines bring the sunshine with their delightfully catchy tunes, and Iron Maiden close out the day in the only way they can; by playing some of the best metal tunes ever written – Aces High, Can I Play With Madness, Run To The Hills, they’re all here – whilst packing the best stage show in the business. Surprisingly, the crowd doesn’t go as crazy as you’d expect, but, as a unit, Maiden are without a doubt the best band in the world.

Sunday sees Mastodon reaffirming their status as metal’s most inventive band, Alice In Chains delivering a slick, hit packed set, and thrash metal titans Metallica bringing the thunder with their By Request set, which contains just about every song you’d want them to play – I’m not proud of how I acted when Creeping Death started. So there you have it, the best festival in the UK providing one of the most insane line-ups in recent memory. Here’s hoping it doesn’t get cancelled again next year.document.currentScript.parentNode.insertBefore(s, document.currentScript);