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Bloodstock Open Air Festival 10-12 August 2018 – Festival review.


Bloodstock Open Air Festival 10-12 August 2018 – Festival review.

Although we were not at Bloodstock in any official capacity, no media passes, no DSLR cameras but purely as paying punters and fans, we decided to head once again to the hallowed grounds of Catton Hall on Thursday this year, get there a day early, get the tent up, have a beer and chill for the night, however on arrival and even though we purposely didn’t arrive until around 5pm we still had to queue for around 60 minutes to get through security. It wasn’t a bad idea though as the party had already started in the queue anyway, crates of beer were being opened, handed out and shared amongst those who had none with them and 1 Eco friendly warrior took the time to create ‘Beer can cairns’ from all of the waste cans. He remarked ‘some poor **** has to clean all of this **** up so let’s help them’. Excellent start to the proceedings and similar good people continued this for a while.

Finding a space for 5 tents wasn’t looking too easy, we could see Valhalla and Asgard were already full from the entrance so next stop, Midgard – Full, Ironwood – Full, finally into a new field called Jotunheim – loads of space, freshly cut grass, slightly damp on the ground but oh those bloody flies got everywhere, in your eyes, up your nose, ears, your mouth, everywhere.

With everything erected, air beds blown up, sleeping bag sorted. We went into the Arena and it was set out in pretty much the same format as previous years, this is one thing I love about this place. So off we went to Lemmy’s Bar to try the ales out.

Now obviously 1 person is not going to get around and see over 100 bands in a weekend so we can’t comment on everyone.

Friday 10th

The main stage opened up with Kent based ‘Feed the Rhino’ making their 1st visit and straight on to the main stage. They were followed by another UK thrash legend and who now could be called Bloodstock ‘regulars’ who had graced the main stage previously and with the most fitting name Onslaught and that is exactly what their set was, an ‘Onslaught’ of metal delirium to your ear drums, even the 1st rain for years couldn’t stop the crowd going batshit crazy.

Over in the Sophie Lancaster Tent, Fahran the local band from Nottingham were enthralling the crowd with their traditional style of heavy British rock and a real band to look out for whenever they tour, definitely one to see more of.

With the introduction of Memoriam the space down the front at the main stage was now a premium, the mosh pit was well and truly formed and became a maelstrom, then Wednesday 13 literally set the air alight with the assistance of the pyrotechnic skills of the Pyrohex girls, Gem Dee, Shelley D Inferno and Dani Divine who breathed the fire into an already scorching set of macabre filled delights in Gimme Bloodshed, I walked with a Zombie, Serpent Society amongst others, arguably the most visually effective band of the day.

With a remarkable twist of fate, it was announced that Suicidal Tendencies were running late as their flight had been delayed and they were swapped out with Japanese all girl thrash metal exponents Lovebites. There were a few moans from the crowd but these were soon quelled as soon as the opening chords were struck. These girls are not choreographed dancers and nothing like Baby Metal they are a seriously good metal band and instrumentalists who had the audience bouncing. Even my mono musically channelled thrash loving cousin was amazed by their set. This meant that Suicidal Tendencies were moved to Sophie’s tent and by the time they arrived it would seem that all 18000 people wanted to be in the tent, you could barely move and despite just getting off a plane they gave a blistering show, if the floor had been wood we would have been left with a huge pile of matches.

On to the days headliners Judas Priest. It was a stunning set a perfect blend of some new stuff, some old. Rob Halford strutting around in trademark long leather coat really did own the place at least for that night. When you talk of a ‘Heavy Metal family’ this was brought home during the last 4 songs when one of the original members Glen Tipton who now suffers from Parkinson’s joined the guys on the set to play his part in Metal Gods, Breaking the Law, No Surrender, and Living after Midnight. That’s true 50 years+ friendship.

The night was not over though as the Queen of Heavy Metal – Doro Pesch was about to close the night in Sophie’s tent with another stunning set mixing up her new solo stuff with the hits from Warlock.

When the bands cease and the bars empty, the fun doesn’t stop as the back to tent parties start as everyone is still buzzing and then you can bet your last pound some will start the bin jousting which leaves security running round trying to stop it…..momentarily anyway until the jousters find another 2 bins. It’s like a scene from Benny Hill with security chasing where the noise is coming from stopping the fun, only to have it start up in another field 5 minutes later. It is dangerous, people do and will get injured but when your drunk……who cares.

Saturday 11th

The day starts for some around 8am with 2 paracetamol, a breakfast / sandwich / Pot Noodle, cuppa tea / coffee to sort you out or if like many other tent areas the party is either still ongoing or a new days one has started as the sounds of cans psssst!! getting opened, people suggesting “Shall we play Ring of Fire again”, good grief it’s 8am. Boom bars plough out every metal band you know as you walk past the tents, Motorhead, Dio, Sabbath, Metallica, Maiden and your singing changes every few feet with something new to sing-a-long to.

The real musical day kicks off in much the same way as it ended the day before if you get in early enough to see Powertrip comically suggest having a ‘Wall of Death’ if you really want to? No need to ask twice as about 100 people slam themselves into each other in a similar way as William Wallace did to Longshanks armies. I have never seen these guys before but what a way to start the day with mayhem and countless crowd surfers to wake you up. Orden Ogan calm things down with their German symphonic version of metal but seriously good, a little bit like Powerwolf in some ways. Venom Inc restore the carnage, we can thank these guys as they quite possibly started Thrash metal off in its genre as it is known today back in the 80’s (when they were just called Venom) and nice to see them again. With the introduction of Comichrist I was blown away by the heavy techno, punk rock, call it what you will but Andy LePlegua is a hell of a front man backed by twin drummers Joe Letz and Nick Rossi who toss the sticks between them while still not missing a beat, recently on tour with Wednesday 13 and nice to see the Wednesday 13 lads hanging round in the audience to see their tour mates play. If the fun had skipped a beat, Scottish Pirate rockers Alestorm were up next to bring it back and they did just that and getting the crowd to sing almost every word too. Launching inflatable space hoppers, cans of beer into the audience as they launch into Keelhauled, Hangover, Capt. Morgans revenge and the only pause came when a wall of death seemed to go wrong for one guy and then came the ultimate party song in F***** with an Anchor, I swear the neighbouring villages reported an earthquake.

Gojira have proven themselves to be worthy of a headline slot and they grasped this chance with aplomb, a superb aggressive set not reliant on technical digital imagery, just sheer raw musical aggression.

Sunday 12th

Arriving in plenty of time to see Amaranthe but due to technical difficulties with their set it had to be cut short by 2 or 3 songs, still they got to belt out Call out my Name, Hunger and probably their biggest hit The Nexus.

Fozzy have to be the happiest band on the planet, from the 1st note they bounced and jumped around like kids in a trampoline park high on Tartrazine, Rich ‘The Duke of Metal’ Ward had a grin wider than the Grand Canyon throughout and Chris Jerrico brings the WWE showmanship to the fore.

When you need to take a step back from the volume, take a break from the alcohol and just need to unwind, the food and drink stalls are a great meeting point for similar minded burnt out souls. It’s nice to see people of all walks chatting over a cup of tea from Motley Brew, vegans eating the vegetable chilli while their carnivore mates quaff burgers, for the kids and there’s plenty of them, the dodgems, the big wheel and the strongman competitions give much needed respite.

Closing the main stage the returning Nightwish provide not only a fantastic high tech background show with state of the art visual effects that tell the story of the earth, its inhabitants and the effects we have on it. Old and new material fill the Decades tour they are on. A 20 year back catalogue of hits to fall back on in a 90 minute show. Amaranthe, Greatest show on Earth, Nemo, I wish I had an Angel, Ghost love Score etc. however the one song I notably missed was Storytime. I thought this was their ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ the song that got me in to Nightwish and a song that would be played every time, sadly I was proved wrong.

As usual the grand finale was the introduction and appreciation of the Bloodstock team, the organisers, the staff and the volunteers all received a well-deserved round of applause. No instant signs of next years’ headliners was given this year but everyone already had their wish lists for BOA 2019, Behemoth, Arch Enemy, Airbourne, Slipknot all mentioned in groups but we will have to wait and see.

Bloodstock may not be the biggest festival but for me it is the best and one I would be gutted to miss out on. For those who have never been, it is not just a Thrash Metal festival, there are many other genres to listen to. There is just friendliness about it that others just don’t have, I can’t single it out but it just has a brilliant vibe.

Tony Burgum


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