One last well timed train-bus combo brings me to the warm and sunny festival area, much earlier than desired but the next train would have been too late though, hence I ended up watching the Sheffield metallers Bring Me The Horizon. I don't know how young the tattooed boys performing a fast and aggressive metalcore are, but they mainly all looked under or around 20. The main vocalist was in charge for the screams, while his band mates gave the needed support with growlings in the death metal influenced melodies that brought them the Kerrang! award for Best British Newcomer. We got to see the naked ass of one of the guitarists (I think), plus another guitarist (or maybe the same, didn't quite remember the face of the one who turned his back on us) ended up playing the last song on the sound tower. Despite the very full of energy performance, I am not convinced to listen to them again, but live I'd happily watch the show again.
Afterwards, the problems started on the Blue stage. In Flames were delayed for quite a while and when they came on stage, the vocalist Anders Fridén apologised and explained they have faced some sound problems. Which were quite obvious considering the fact that all we could hear were the drums and a bit of a guitar, while the other guys were jumping on stage and doing their show, yet without any sound to come out of the mics and instruments. Guess I experienced my first half mute metal concert. The crowd would no longer have the horns up, but rather thumbs down and time out signs. I was expecting the band to explode and to kick everything on stage, but instead the singer calmly said we should hear the sound in his earphones that sound perfectly and no matter the sings the crowd makes, he'll go on singing as usual and then he retreated to be with his little Alias. He admitted it was the weirdest gig ever for him. Big applauses for the optimism and keeping the good mood. I later on heard the same problems repeated for Motörhead, a show that I did not attend.
Instead I relocated to the Red stage to catch Alter Bridge, whom I heard a bit before and sounded like cool melodic heavy metal and about whom I knew it was formed by ex Creed members. With a vocalist like Myles Kennedy, whose voice I adore, it was a very relaxing concert with skillful guitar solos (and I think I saw really often guitar changes) and young audience who did a lot of screaming, especially when hits like Metalingus were performed. Plus Myles Kennedy is really brilliant at hitting the right notes and keeping them for as long as needed.
I remained at the Red stage after hearing how worried a fellow photographer was that she thought she had missed Pendulum, therefore I thought it might be good to catch them. Well, not the worst idea ever, but maybe the weirdest experience at the festival. After Sisters of Mercy anyway. There was a bunch of 6 guys on stage who gathered very crazy yelling fans in front, but who started playing the kind of electronic rock that I hardly come to enjoy. They probably had original songs, but they all sounded like a remix of something else with that amount of effects. It was great fun to watch and challenging to photograph as each of them was full of life, especially the singer who was in a different corner every 10 seconds making lots of dance moves with his hands. The security hardly had time to pick few crowdsurfers as another series would land in. I left after the three songs during which we were allowed to photograph since my feet insisted I should be sitting in the near future else they go on strike.
Despite the technical difficulties and delays on the Blue stage, everything was in place by 10PM when Iron Maiden had to start its show. It was a big stream of people flowing from the camping and the party areas, hence it was getting difficult to make my way to the backstage area by the stage. A stage as lit as a christmas tree, on which the 6 piece British heavy metal band formed back in 75 has delivered a show up to the expectations one would have from a headliner with such experience and fame. British flags, Eddies in various sizes and on various canvas, a new setlist with fewer hits than during their previous tour, the tens of thousands in the crowd singing along the choruses, plenty of moments when the three guitars had the main role and did amazing accurate duos or single solos, Bruce's speeches between songs expressing noble ideas about peace and brotherhood and respect, his incredible voice if you consider he probably runs half a marathon during the 2 hours concert (it must be the rumored rollerskating before the concert), the good old Maiden drum rhythms...these are some few aspects I can use to make a picture of the concert. I could fill few pages I guess since it's hard to resume the grandiosity of what happened on stage.
After the grandiosity ended we were treated with a beautiful fireworks show somewhere behind the Red stage. Stage at which the crowd gathered to watch the last headliner, System of a Down. A bit of a pity with the timing of the two last bands, but I can completely understand it is not possible to have a stage ready for another big show, straight after Maiden. I was really thrilled to get to see SOAD live, even if I don't know all of their albums, but the old ones I know seem like insane stuff to play live. Insane it was. Serj Tankian did the perfect Scatman impersonation for the fast parts of the songs, while on slow ones his voice and especially the vibrations in the voice sounded amazing. He's not running nor jumping all the time, yet he uses the nice Balkan like melodies to do a lot of dance moves and he always sustains the verses with certain looks and hand gestures. A lot of these I also noticed at the guitarist Daron Malakian who does a lot of the backing vocals. Another concert with great light show, matching the speed of music and intensifying its fast moments. As for the crowd, there was an insane level of dancing, especially jumping, and singing despite the amount of dust raised by the movement. I watched the last part from very far away as I did not want to run to the bus together with that crowd, yet, even at that distance, everyone would sing and dance. As a personal opinion this and Flogging Molly were the best live experiences of Nova Rock 2011.
With thanks to everyone involved in organising these 3 days of good music and to everyone who participated and brought along the good mood, I bid you farewell and look forward for the lineup for upcoming years.