Sonisphere Knebworth 2014 Friday Review

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Sonisphere Knebworth 2014 Latest Poster With Dream Theater

It may have been three long years since Sonisphere last graced these shores, but as we arrive at Knebworth its hard to believe we ever left. The cosy set up is the same, the sense of camaraderie is the same, the weather…well the weather is absolutely beautiful. All that was left was to get on with seeing and hearing some bands….

LostAlone (7) are like marmite, you either love them or you hate them. A reflection of this is the fact that the tent is half full. It doesn’t take long for Steven to launch himself in to the crowd , leaping over the barrier (much to the surprise of the security guards). Playing a mixture of hits from their latest offering The Shapes Of Screams including “The Bells The Bells” and “G.U.I.L.T.Y.” as well as older hits “Visuviuus”. The set today may not be witnessed by many but those in attendance love the Weezer-esq harmonies and intricate guitar work. Ever the diligent front man Steven has plenty of banter with crowd. Producing an interesting guitar with two heads and what looks like a lack of strings, Steven openly begs any guitar fans to come and have a chat with him during Iron Maiden. LostAlone leave the stage to lots of clapping, but we can’t help but mourn for the noticeable omissions from the set, particularly ‘Love Will Eat You Alive’.

Centiment (4) are made up of members of the band InMe, who had huge success in the 90’s with their album Overgrown Eden. Centiment see’s brothers Dave and Greg team up with touring guitarist (and ex InMe) guitarist Gaz Marlow let out a heavier side of their music. Playing so early in the Jagermeister stage is a sign of a band maturing from more than just a side project. They drew a great crowd but failed to live up to the hype I had seen around them in the weeks leading up to the festival. Dave McPherson (front man) didn’t rest for a minute with blinding vocals, Greg and Gaz provided blisteringly technical guitar work that InMe fans have heard done so well on recent albums. Great start for the band but cant help but feel with the reunions of hundred reasons and nu metallers like Limp Bizkit on the festivals lineup they should have returned as InMe to show people who may not have heard their new stuff just how much they have progressed as a band.

The Defiled (8) come on stage with more than a bang. Their new video ‘Infection’ bellows forth, and just when we think its over a lego Knebworth appears on stage and we are treated to an extended intro. As the lego figures make their way to the main stage at Sonisphere we can’t help but think how in fucking credible it is to see The Defiled make it to the main stage. The Londoners then proceed to rip apart the main stage with anthems such as ‘As I Drown’ and a very humble thanks from Stitch before the aptly titled ‘No Place Like Home’. Boardmaster Avd and bassist Vinny lead the mosh from the front as they jump from speakers and in to the crowd. In fact there is a very un rock and roll moment when Vinny comes down and plays from the crowd before smashing his bass, only to discover there is not a replacement available. After please from Stitch to “Return his pack please” the band carry on regardless. Its amazing how The Defiled can carry themselves on a big stage, and give us a show including a crucifixion and plague victim bird ladies. The stage is actually shaking with the power of the metal, with drummer Needles giving it his all. Charismatic as they come, he jumps and moshes without missing a beat. Closing with ‘Call To Arms’ we are left full of anticipation for things to come from this home grown talent.

The Defiled performing at Sonisphere Knebworth 2014 on the Apollo Stage
The Defiled tearing up the Apollo Stage

Malefice (6) are an amazing band that feels like they have matured so well in recent years that they deserve a second stage slot – at least. But this year they are back in the Jagermeister stage with a full crowd packing it out. Maybe they’re tied down by their sponsorship from Jagermeister but it feels like its holding the band back. They got the crowd moving, and for me I saw the first decent-sized moshpit of the day. Malefice also graced the crowd with their brand new song Forsaken, taken of their as yet untitled album. Forsaken sounded fierce and a strong return for the band that should see them move substantially up the line-up next year (we hope!).

Malefice performing at Sonisphere Knebworth 2014. Credit to the Malefice Facebook page.
Malefice in the Jager stage. Photo credit to the Malefice Facebook page.

TRC (8) are, as usual, fantastic. Dual frontmen Chris and Anthony whipping the crowd into a frenzy with some of the best banter of the weekend. Even going so far as to get a sizeable circlepit going during ‘We Bring War’ and, proving once and for all that hardcore kids can indeed circle pit.

Next, it’s over to Bohemia to catch Devil You Know (6) who never really feel much more than a sum of their individual parts. Debut album, ‘The Beauty of Destruction’ is competent enough so it’s a shame that it feels like most of the people packed into Bohemia are there to see Howard Jones; even down to the “Howard” chants that punctuate the gap between each song.

Max Raptor (9) on the satellite stage are excellent as always. Songs like ‘England Breathes,’ ‘Obey the Whips,’ and, of course, ‘The King is Dead’ are straight up modern rock ragers while new song ‘Continents’ sees its live debut under a year since some of the same songs being sung back so loudly were being played for the very first time at ‘Redfest’.

Max Raptor performing at Sonisphere Knebworth 2014 Photo by Daniel Ackerley
Max Raptor owning the Satellite Stage. Photo by Daniel Ackerley.

The Bohemia tent was packed out for the appearance of ex-Jackass star Bam Margera‘s chaotic band Fuckface Unstoppable (6). An audience at least as drunk as those on stage (at teatime!) roared along with songs such as “Bend My Dick” and “Little Dick” that made Fred Durst seem like a rocket scientist. There was a brief respite for a tribute to Ryan Dunn, Bam’s Jackass co-star who tragically died in a car accident. The retard-ness was resumed with a cover of Turbonegro’s “All My Friends Are Dead”. The crowd loved it, we didn’t mind it. Each to their own!

Atari Teenage Riot (7) proved more than a warm-up for those waiting to see The Prodigy. They blasted Bohemia with massive enthusiasm. Mastermind Alec Empire left his decks to take the mic himself, MC-ing like a pro. It may have seemed an odd booking and slot for ATR, but by the end of the set that included “Activate!” and “Blood In My Eyes” they proved heavy comes in many different forms.

At this point Team Rock Sins split, both physically and musically. Half of us headed to the Bohemia to catch a special set from thrash lords Anthrax, while the other half headed to the Apollo for a nu-metal party with Limp Bizkit. As you will see, everyone was pleased with their choices!

Anthrax (10) doing ‘Among the Living’ in full was always going to be special. But noone could have seen it being THIS good though. An already crowded space was beyond full for the special set by Anthrax. Security had to literally wrestle with punters trying to squeeze in and souvenir T-shirts had sold out across the festival site before the gig. A very regrettable clash with Limp Bizkit on MainStage may have left the more ‘casual’ Anthrax fans watching Fred Durst and co but there are more than enough diehards who know every single word of every single song and aren’t afraid to show it. Anthrax themselves are the consummate performers whipping the crowd into a frenzy and even stopping ‘Indians’ midway through to make the already sizeable circle pit larger. The legendary thrashers roared through the entire “Among The Living” album, saving the utterly outrageous Judge Dredd anthem “I Am The Law” ’til last. The band were genuinely loving it and frontman Joey Belladonna leapt around like an excitable kid despite being well into middle-age. Absolutely amazing. This is by far the set of the day.

Having seen Limp Bizkit (10) live once already this year and (to be honest) not been overly impressed with them, we are nervous as we make our way to the main stage. However we are in for a shock as three beautiful ladies walk on stage, invited personally by Fred Durst himself. The Lounge Kittens give us a beautiful introduction to the band, with their take on “Rollin” before Limp Bizkit take over. Generally we aren’t in favour of bands opening a set with their “biggest” tracks, but after an entrance like that it would have been hard for Limp Bizkit to go wrong. Continuing the party with “Faith”, “Hog Dog” and “My Generation”; this is truly a Greatest Hits set and omits the recent spate of covers that Durst et all have taken to including in their set (okay okay so we know that ‘Faith’ is a cover, but its a classic cover, right? RIGHT?). “Golden Cobra’ falls a bit flat but this is more than made up for by “Nookie” and “final” track “Take A Look Around” (okay so remember when we said the covers were omitted from the set, well they did crack out a version of “Killing In The Name”, but we’re going to gloss over it). Ever one to please the crowd, although the band are officially out of time, Wes Borland refuses to go without giving us what we want, and defies the schedule by blasting out the opening riffs of ‘Break Stuff’. Accepting the inevitable, the rest of the band join in and Limp Bizkit go out with a bang. Well done!

Limp Bizkit guitarist Wes Borland performing at Sonisphere Knebworth 2014 on the Apollo Stage
Wes Borland decided to keep things traditionally low-key at Knebworth

While most people were about to get shaken by The Prodigy, a decent number stayed in the tent for Dorset doomsters Electric Wizard (7). After a Spinal Tap-esque delay they played a short set of very heavy, very stoned anthems. Needless to say the air was thick with a certain kind of smoke and folk were not so much partying as swaying to the grind.

The Prodigy (9) can always be relied on to be great live and they don’t fail to deliver today, managing to sound heavier than ever. Having proved they can headline a major rock festival at Download tonight feels much more like a “standard” Prodigy set with the band, if not going through the motions, definitely not injecting any feel of ceremony into proceedings. Not that this is a significant negative, because tracks like Omen, Firestarter and opener Breathe still detonate like thunder. (sorrynotsorry)

And so we headed back to camp feeling more than a little satisfied. As you can see, Limp Bizkit and Anthrax share the “Band Of The Day Award”. After much debate over one or twenty pints,  neither side would back down from declaring their respective choice the best thing they had seen all day. Banging!

 

Reviewed by: Lisa Fox, Neil Skoglund, James Halsted and Nicholas Holmes