Sonisphere 2014 Day - 2 Review - Knebworth UK
Live Review

Sonisphere 2014 Day – 2 Review – Knebworth UK

After Friday’s glorious sunshine, Saturday started in a more typical fashion for a British festival being soothingly gray and wet. The theme for the day was clear though. After Friday’s Prodigy headliner causing roughly the same amount of head scratching as Metallica’s at Glastonbury, Saturday would bring back Iron Maiden to the stage and at least all would end well.

Saturday also brought the return of the Saturn stage and therefore the regular walks from one stage to the next to catch the action. The early bands of the day brought a lot of variation in sounds from the opening progressive metal of Tesseract, followed by the pirate themed power metal from Alestorm which finally should have at least woken the crowd up.

Babymetal were the next band on the main stage making their UK debut. This odd combination of Japanese pop music sung by three teenage girls and technical melodic metal seemed to go down well with the crowd if for nothing but the oddness of the sight. Babymetal must be the first metal group to have been put together by a talent agency in a girl/boy band style and what is worse, the very impressive sounding back-up band apparently only ‘mime’ playing their instruments on stage, though I didn’t get close enough to confirm this myself.

Chas & Dave then brought their East End pub music to the Saturn stage for some light relief or at least a lunch break where needed. The light mood was quickly lifted by the serious though theatrical Swedish band following on the main stage, Ghost. This heavy metal band are known for their satanic themes and eccentric stage presence. As typical for the group, they were fully dressed up in hooded robes and the singer appearing as what can be best described as an undead pope. Ghost were clearly a band that was on the ‘to see’ list of many of the festival goers as it had a very nice crowd and got a good response.

The Winery Dogs offered a more classier sound that belied the ‘super-group’ status of the band made up of Richie Kotzen (Poison, Mr. Big etc.), Mike Portnoy (Dream Theatre) and Billy Sheehan (Steve Vai, David Lee Roth, Mr. Big etc.). The band played a great mix of classic sounding rock combined with obvious technical ability leading to memorable guitar solos, bass lines and drumming.

Anthrax then followed on the main stage for the second night in a row playing a very steady gig of the calibre they are known for. There were horns a-plenty from the audience and it was nice to see Scott Ian back in the line up after he missed the Big Four night three years ago.

Carcass was the next band on and they certainly brought a new speed to proceedings showing none of the age of the band. Their set was made up mostly of their 2013 album Surgical Steel which showed the band was definitely back from the dead and on good form.

Frank Turner was the probably the biggest oddity of the day (you expect something like Chas & Dave to pop up every year). An acoustic guitar at a metal festival not playing an intro to a Metallica song certainly seems out of place but somehow the general feeling among the audience still was that he somehow pulled it off with just enough anthemic songs to get the crowd on side.

Hundred Reasons finally got to do their one-off ten year anniversary performance of ‘Ideas Above Our Station’ at Sonisphere two years late after the ill fated 2012 festival was cancelled. This was followed by a World War I air show featuring not only classic planes but also Bruce Dickinson flying one of them. Luckily by this time the sun was back out and the audience got a bit of a rest from the usual running even though the action on the sky was confusing to follow to say the least.

Deftones were the next band on the main stage and brought in their alternative metal with superb energy, albeit in a slightly unpolished way. Slayer, the headliners on the second stage on the other hand produced the exact opposite as could be expected, playing a flawless Slayer set but with very little audience participation or movement as dictated by the sheer speed and technicality of their music. Yet both bands gathered massive audiences who seemed to enjoy the bands a great deal. Slayer definitely pulling the largest crowd of the weekend at the Saturn Stage.

The final act of the night Iron Maiden was due to finish off their two year long ‘Maiden England’ Tour. This was to be the retrospective of their 1988-1989 Seventh Son of a Seventh Son Tour from which the concert video ‘Maiden England’ had been released.

The set list was slightly mixed up from the original by replacing some of the more forgotten Seventh Son songs with mainly older songs. Only Fear of the Dark was played from a later album therefore pretty much keeping with the theme of a late eighties show.

The crowd as expected was made up of tens of thousands of Iron Maiden shirts and got what they came for. An evening of classic Maiden hits sprinkled with a few rarities from the album such as Moonchild and Seventh Son of a Seventh Son giving something new to see for those who have watched the band several times.

The stage presence, energy, audience participation and general entertainment of the band and Bruce Dickinson in particular was as immaculate as ever and showed the younger pretenders once more why Iron Maiden is one of the all time best large arena bands.

And so the second night of the festival came to an end with ‘good night from Iron Maiden, from Eddie and from the Boys’ with the jubilant audience singing and dancing to Monty Python’s ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’. The Sisters of Mercy were still performing at the Bohemia Stage repeating their late night slot from 2011 but attempting to gain entry to the tent by that point was optimistic to say the least, so the various bars of the arena offered a nice alternative for the weary legs. In all, the second day had delivered on its promise and offered a wide variety of Metal styles and sounds to sample. With the Sunday line-up still to look forward to, Saturday had definitely brought the festival back on track.

Venue: Knebworth UK
Support Band: Slayer

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