KNEBWORTH PARK ENGLAND
(SUNDAY 2ND AUGUST 2009)
This inaugural touring festival stopped off at the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Sweden & Finland before finishing it's European tour at the famous Knebworth Park England. With such legendary performances by Led Zeppelin, Queen & Pink Floyd embedded in the soil it was time for the likes of Metallica, Machine Head & Alice In Chains to have their names engraved in the tablets of Knebworth rock history.
A two day affair I chose to attend the Sunday where Metallica were to headline. Kicking off the day with their brand of sleazy tattooed rock BUCKCHRRY took to the stage at 11:15 and it was obvious things were not right. Suffering from flu Josh Todds voice was struggling, however redemption came from a courageous performance which included fan favourite 'Crazy Bitch' . With two stages and staggered performances it was then a quick walk over to the second stage to see Bradford doomsters PARADISE LOST. Suffering from a dreadful mix they powered through a 30min set which included 'Hallowed Land & Say Just Words', lets hope they use a different soundman on their upcoming U.K tour.
Back to the Main Stage it was the turn of industrial innovators KILLING JOKE, coming across with a tired performance they seemed to go down well with the midday crowd.
Enjoying a resurgence in popularity SAXON were here to show the new kids how rock should be played. The stage presents of Biff Byford and bassist Nibbs Carter ensured a performance of top drawer quality which included '747 Strangers In The Night' & 'Denim & Leather'. With the omission of 'Wheels Of Steel' I was willing to forgive that simply due to the limited stage time.
Philadelphia thrashers LAMB OF GOD ripped the Main Stage a new one with a killer, energetic brain pummelling. While guitarist Mark Morton was on maternity leave it was up to UNEARTH man Buz McGrath to take the helm, thrashing out classics like 'Red Neck , Walk With Me In Hell' and a couple of new ones from their latest opus 'Wrath' appreciation was showed by the ferocity of the circle pits and included singer Randy Blythe stalking the stage like a lion looking for his next prey. Lets hope they come back to these shores soon.
MASTODON on the other hand are becoming old hats at this festival game, kicking off with 'Oblivion' from their excellent 'Crack The Skye' it was one of few words from the mic, instead letting the music speak for them. 'March Of The Fire Ants' was the closing number, however the promised acoustic performance of THIN LIZZY classic 'Emerald' with 'Scott Gorham' failed to materialise…ho hum?
Controversy is never far away from Bay Area bruisers MACHINE HEAD. Having pulled out at the eleventh hour due to a disagreement with promoters over the inclusion of LIMP BIZKIT above them on the bill it was one of the worse kept secrets that they would perform billed as 'Special Guests'. Greeted to the stage with the chant of 'FUCK LIMP BIZKIT' by 50,000 people it was obvious Rob Flynn was going to enjoy this….A LOT. The success can be interoperated by the 21, yes that's right 21 circle pits which broke out to the chugs of 'Halo & Imperium' forcing all band members to don shit eating grins, a great success with all in attendance.
Over at the Bohemia stage SLIPKNOTS CORY TAYLOR ripped the tent a new exit even though he was armed with nothing more than an acoustic guitar. 'Bother' and STONE SOUR'S ' Through Glass' were greeted with all the energy of a SLIPKNOT set, is there no stopping this hugely talented individual?
Not bothering with the dreadful LIMP BIZKIT I opted to use the time topping up on overpriced cider, a wise decision I think.
Anticipation was at fever point for the newly revamped ALICE IN CHAINS. In William DuVall they have found an excellent replacement for the deceased Layne Stanley who spookily resembles the aforementioned in tone and stage presents. A set list that included non other than 5 tracks from their greatest album to date 'Dirt', the highlight being set closer 'Rooster' and the excellent 'Dam That River' . This band owned Knebworth, and was worth the entrance fee alone. Jerry Cantrells harmonised vocals complemented DuValls with ease and his blistering solo's ripped through the English countryside like a hurricane.
Billed as their final performance NINE INCH NAILS should have well, nailed it really. Unfortunately due to reasons only known to Trent Reznor instead of the conquering curtain call we got a lacklustre damp, subdued performance. Choosing to omit 'Head Like A Hole and March Of The pigs' was a decision I feel they will come to regret and a set with the pace of a snail crawling uphill carrying a heavy shell was a big mistake, time for some more bar action!
The Four Metal Horsemen that is collectively METALLICA take to the stage with deafening applause. The great thing about METALLICA live is that you get a different set each time. 'Blackened' began proceedings that would pave the way for the next 2 hours. Classic after METALLICA classic, 'Fade To Black, Master Of Puppets, One' and a sprinkling of new ones which included 'Cyanide' permeated into Knebworths soil and through the Sunday night air. Finishing off with encores of the QUEEN classic 'Stone Cold Crazy' and the ever present 'Seek & Destroy' these guys are like a fine wine and just get better with age. A pieing of James Hetfield to celebrate his birthday ensured that it was a night to remember for all in attendance. Is SONISPHERE the European OZZFEST? Only time will tell, judging by my hangover and empty wallet it was a great success, better save for next year.