I stood on the brow of the hill looking down on what looked like the best and the worst humanity had to offer and still the hordes came, filling the plain below as far as the eye could see. The sun was relentless in it’s fiery assault on the unprotected masses and yet we were still hours away from the final confrontation!
Dramatic I know but this was the scene that greeted me as I looked down towards main stage shortly before Soundgarden were due on and it was a truly epic sight as the multitude of metal fans began to gather not just for the pre-show entertainment from Chris Cornell and his cohorts but were staking their claims for the best possible spot along with 100 000 other devotees to make sure they were in position for the main attraction – SABBATH!!!!!
But I get ahead of myself, the weekend began in completely different circumstances with rain, mud, delays, traffic jams, bands being pulled etc etc. The main problem being I think, that a lot of people decided to leave it till the last minute to turn up, whereas normally the camping crowd would have been there one or two days earlier and certainly a few of my friends who had paid for camping had decided not to and commuted each day.
Eventually though, things slowly sorted themselves out, the festival was delayed by two hours with Rise to Remain and Cancer Bats having their sets pulled, although Cancer Bats did get to play a late night set later on. Other bands such as Impaled Existence had to play much shortened sets, but the main issue was the mud! Although the rain eased off during Friday, the damaged had been done and everywhere you went was like trying to walk through chocolate mousse. Europe were probably the biggest casualty with three members being delayed by Heathrow having problems then getting stuck in traffic resulting in their set being pulled. They have apologised publicly and have already confirmed they will be back next year
My day went reasonably well, despite the delay getting in, I hooked up with Midlands Rocks Editor, Peter Keevil and sorted out our plan of action for the weekend. I got interviews with The Safety Fire, Soil and Dino from Fear Factory and caught snippets of Fear Factory, NOFX, Breed77, Lawnmower Deth, Soil, Axewound, and Slash so an eventful first day
Day two started off with a bit of a panic, traffic again was heavy and I needed to be in press by 12.15 for an interview with Steel Panther, as it was they were running late anyway and their press was cut short so didn’t get to chat to any of them. I did get to chat to local boy’s No Americana though, along with Justin from Killswitch Engage, Turbonegro, and Richie Faulkner (Judas Priest). Bands I managed to catch live were Turbonegro, Skindred, Trivium, Tenacious D, and of course the mighty Metallica!
By the Sabbath day the mud was pretty much dried out in most places and the sun was threatening to come out. We got there early with no traffic issues and dashed straight to the Zippo Encore stage to catch one of the most entertaining bands of the weekend, Black Spiders. Always good and it was great to see such a large crowd for them despite it being a pre-noon set. Today was a day when I was hoping to watch a few more bands in full and only had a couple of interviews scheduled. William Control was late, so didn’t get him, got a few words with Gus G of Firewind but Emmure were also running late, they were en route from a festival on the continent so I had time to chill and catch up with a few people, nice to see a couple of Midlands Rocks contributors doing well, Gobbi was there shooting for Terrorizer and Carla Mundy was also doing her stuff for Rocksound. As always an old friend and early stalwart of MR, Red was there shooting for Powerplay. Bumped into Harry ‘H’ Paterson and international writer and prolific blogger Joe Daly. Time for more bands though and today I caught a great acoustic set from Voodoo Johnson, another local band Strangle Kojak, snippets of Heavens Basement, Lamb of God and Ugly Kid Joe, Shinedowns set was damn fine and it was at this point I realised I was slowly but surely burning!! Yep the sun had been out for a couple of hours now and I failed to slap on the cream, so I headed back to the sanctuary of the press area to get some respite from the heat!
It was at this point where I stood at the top of the hill and was inspired to write the opening paragraph for this piece, it was probably sunstroke!
Back in the cool safety of the press area I rehydrated myself with a nice cool beer and was introduced to Skarlett Riot by my good friend Don Jackson-Wyatt, so got a few words with them about their Download experience and their forthcoming tour including a date at The Roadhouse in Brum and last but not least I managed to grab an interview with the guys from Emmure who had made it just in time to set up for the set earlier.
I then chilled out to the soulful sound of Chris Cornell before the highlight of the weekend for many people, the return of Sabbath (well three quarters anyway).
An eventful festival, typically British if you ask me, four seasons in one weekend with the majority of the people there braving the elements to enjoy another legendary line-up.
Over the next few days we will have more in depth reviews from a number of the MR team that were there plus look out for the audio interviews from myself and Peter on the Midlands Rocks Radio page that will be appearing over the next couple of days