Sonisphere 2014 – Day 1 Review - Knebworth UK
Live Review

Sonisphere 2014 – Day 1 Review – Knebworth UK

Sonisphere is back baby! It came as somewhat of a crushing disappointment two years ago when what was meant to be Sonisphere’s fourth year at Knebworth was suddenly cancelled after a gestation period that saw the likes of Kiss, Queen and Faith No More get named as headliners for 2012.

2013 didn’t herald any news of a return – despite the name of the festival still going strong across Europe. So it was frankly a relief when the festival for announced to return to Knebworth for summer 2014. And to boot – they bagged the return of two of the biggest name acts in Rock’s long history. Iron Maiden and Metallica.

Like the 2010 and 2011 years – this would be a two and a half day festival – starting on Friday 4th July.  Iron Maiden would then headline the Saturday and Metallica closing the Sunday night with their Metallica by Request set. But for the Friday here the main Apollo Stage would be headlined by the Prodigy.

As usual Team Glasswerk got up on site the Thursday before to pitch the tents and check the site out. Luckily the Guest/Press campsite has moved to right behind the Apollo Stage and was larger than previous years making for a more comfortable camping experience.

Thursday evening’s entertainment included the usual funfair, silent disco and Bohemia gent activities. Bohemia was the place to be a there were various DJs, Karaoke, live music and a Kerrang! Party.

Friday saw the bulk of campers arrive and also the start of the main acts. Jagermeister once again returned as a main sponsor and hosted their own tent, and just down the hill from here was the Satellite tent for some of the lesser known acts. Both drew their own crowd however as the music played was definitely alternative to what was going on outside.

The Bohemia tent packed in various acts from the likes of Atari Teenage Riot, Electric Wizard and even Anthrax who played the first of two shows this weekend. Friday for them was purely to play From Among the Living. Joey Belladonna leading the band with his usual flair, leaping and bounding and generally getting the crowd going.  Anthrax have become a staple of Sonisphere, Knebworth as they have been in attendance now all of the years – and as we already say, this year they played twice.

The Saturn stage outside was closed for the evening – again as is normal for the festival. One day the festival may stretch the three whole days using all of the stages, but at least the one outdoor stage they used for opening night was indeed the main Apollo.

The seven acts that played were a bit of a mixed bag. The Defiled got the hour of opening the festival, and while they didn’t drop the ball, they weren’t the festival’s strongest opener they have ever had. There would be more from them on the final night though with their Nirvana Defiled set in the Bohemia tent.

Anti-Flag tried to make more of a game of it, but it was third act Gary Numan that really added a bit of personality to the festival. His industrial set may have only been 45 minutes but, like in the festival’s second year, he set the men apart from the boys. In fairness many people will still know Numan for his song Cars (which of course he played) but there is no underestimating the work he has produced in the last decade.

Band of Skulls mixed it up with some older school sounding rock. Perhaps a bit more modern fashionable with their retro sound they were decent enough addition to the bill, if a bit surprising to have them higher up than other names on the bill – but then judging by their performance they didn’t disappoint.

HIM on the other hand were right where they needed to be. Right before the big boys took over, and to keep all the teenage girls happy. The band seemed to breeze effortlessly through their set, which was perhaps what the problem was. There was very little charm or passion in the play.

Limp Bizkit soon sorted that out with Fred Durst’s return again to Sonisphere for his hour set – busting through the majority of the old popular material – but really stealing the limelight for the opening night. If anything can be said about the set it’s that Durst and co probably should have bagged the main headline (If Linkin Park can headline (see 2009’s first Sonisphere) then surely Limp Bizkit should have been given a shot). But apparently all anyone wants to hear at the end of a rock and metal festival opening night is rave music – so The Prodigy we got.

We haven’t seen such an overblown, bloated and headache inducing set in a while. The Prodigy managed it though with far too much time spent calling out to the crowd in the opening tracks to ever get into the groove of their admittedly memorable tunes. It was noise and light for the sake of it in the end, and is perhaps an example, of why it belongs at a different sort of party.

And that was it for day one. In reality a real mix bag. There were bands that were familiar to the festival who pretty much all earned their keep. The newer names offered a selection, but all in all with such a mixed selection you will in the end get mixed reviews, so not entirely the festival’s strongest year so far, and most definitely not their strongest opening night (That prize still goes to the Big Four back in 2012). But Sonisphere is undoubtedly back and we hope here to stay as there is much to enjoy about the festival.

The time of year is well chosen for the weather (Even if it did clash with two other big UK festivals), the catering improved each year as does the space and comfort levels, and the crowd is generous and plentiful without ever being a squash. Fingers crossed with their return and the success of it that they come back next year.

Venue: Knebworth UK
Support Band: Gary Numan, Band of Skulls, HIM, Limp Bizkit, The Defiled

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