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Sonisphere 2014 - Sunday | FESTIVALPHOTO

Sonisphere 2014 - Sunday



Gojira were first up on main stage, but started 40 minutes late - the reason being that the stage was still being finished until seconds before they came on stage. Metallica's stage set and runway had been under construction from the moment that Maiden's set was driven away at 2am, but took a long time to finish hence the delay. Sadly this meant they clashed with dripback, so I watched a couple of songs of Gojira - a great heavy way to start the day and a good way to get mosh pits going early on, before I headed over to see Dripback on the Jagermeister stage.

I caught the last couple of songs by Dripback. The London hardcore band are heavier than a lot of the bands I tend to watch (in general I'm not a big fan of hardcore) but are just so good live that they're always worth watching. It's always a full on high energy set, and todays set ended with the last song being sung from the pit as their singer jumped off the stage to get up close and personal with the fans.

The Devin Townsend Project are another band that always deliver great entertainment - Devin is half genius musician and half clown as he is so good at entertaining the crowd between songs. During the set he announced a date at the Royal Albert Hall for April next year - now that should be a gig worth attending.

If there's one thing you can predict it's an Airbourne show - there will be beer drunk on stage, and Joel will attempt to find somewhere to climb, so despite the best efforts of the crew to block him from getting up there, Joel was soon climbing the stage and paused most of the way up to carry on playing his guitar. It's the sort of thing fans love and health and safety people hate. It's a great set, full of energy and power - so like most airbourne gigs then. A tribute to Rik Mayall was a nice touch too.

Reel big fish suffered a technical problem during their set as the PA cut out mid song, leaving the fans unable to hear anything other than faint noise from the on stage monitors. Unfortunately the band didn't realise and none of the crew bothered to tell them (not very impressive), so they played a song and a half giving it everything and wondering why the fans were booing and looking puzzled, until the PA was finally fixed and the crowd let out a huge cheer mid song. It was only after their set that they learnt that they'd lost sound for a song and a half.

Mastodon were next up. Good musically but not exactly a great live band - there was no talking to the crowd or acknowledging their presence, and just felt like they were treating it as a rehearsal rather than a proper live show.

Dropkick murphys were excellent on the Saturn stage. I suspect many people here were only familiar with one or two songs, such as "Shipping up to Boston", but one thing was certain, it didn't take the band long to win over the whole crowd. Their Irish rock sounded fantastic and led to a steady stream of crowd surfers that kept the security guys busy.

Therapy? were headlining the Bohemia stage, with tonights set being their "Infernal love" album in its entirety. I caught the first few songs of their excellent set before I had to head off to meet friends to see the main stage headliners. I'd love to have stayed longer but that's the downside of festivals - you can't watch everyone you want to see.

Dream theater headlined the Saturn stage. I'm still not convinced a festival is the best place to see them - at their own gigs they seem so much better, but festival sets are a good way for people to give them a listen and decide if they want to see one of their gigs.

There had been criticism of Metallica's "By request" setlist before the set with people moaning it was a standard "greatest hits" type set, but there's a reason people voted for those songs - they're the most popular (and in general, best) songs, so once the show started any criticism was abandoned and people just enjoyed one hell of a performance. There were only two things wrong - someone needs to superglue Lars to his stool so he doesnt keep getting up desperately trying to get attention, and video flames at the start of "Fuel" just aren't as good as real flame jets would have been. Apart from that it was one hell of a show - so may classic songs and plenty of people in the crowd singing along or headbanging. Metallica may play festivals most years but this shows that people aren't bored of seeing them and they know how to entertain a festival crowd. In my opinion tey beat The Prodigy and Iron Maiden for the title of best headliner of the weekend.


Master of Puppets
Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
Ride the Lightning
The Unforgiven
Lords of Summer
Sad But True
Fade to Black
Creeping Death
For Whom the Bell Tolls
Nothing Else Matters
Enter Sandman
Whiskey in the Jar
...And Justice for All
Seek & Destroy

So, overall how did I enjoy it? Well there were some great bands on the bill, and the arena is more compact than download but there are some real issues.
The overpriced food and drink is a big problem.
The tents are poorly laid out with just a couple of small entrances meaning a crush there and thats why the tents were regularly closed to people entering. At Download they have most of the walls removed so people can enter at any point and spread out better and I've nver seen crushing or congestion there.
Disabled facilities are poor. The viewing platform for main stage is ok - except that people are expected to use that same platform for the second stage which is a long way off, so a crap view and poor sound. With the late running on sunday then it became even worse as bands on the main (Apollo) stage drowned out bands on the second (Saturn) stage as they overlapped. Add in the fact that not all the tents had disabled platforms and Sonisphere really do need to try a lot harder.
Security were a joke. On friday I didnt see a single person getting their bag checked as they went from Rock Royalty to the arena, and it was very hit and miss the rest of the weekend - still it did help people take their own drinks into the arena to avoid the rip off prices.


Writer: Anthony May
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