Californian legends Metallica close an impressive debut weekend

Sonisphere 2009 review

published: Wed 5th Aug 2009


Saturday 1st to Sunday 2nd August 2009
Knebworth House, Hertfordshire, SG1 2AX, England MAP
£132.50 for both days, £157.50 with camping; parking £10, day tix £67.50
daily capacity: 60000
last updated: Thu 30th Jul 2009

Sunday promises to be a hell of a day by anyone's standards, and LA sleazemonkeys Buckcherry kick things off nicely as fan favourites like 'Crazy Bitch' provide the perfect antidote to a sea of sore heads and dodgy stomachs. Paradise Lost bring things back into gloomier territories on the second stage before Killing Joke add their usual touch of deranged debauchery to proceedings with a set that is criminally short at 30 minutes. Jaz Coleman might not be quite the imposing force he once was, but he still knows how to own a crowd with alarming ease.

Lamb Of God
Saxon suffer from a sound fuck-up that means the first half of 'Battalions Of Steel' is without drums. Such things can easily put off lesser frontman, but our Biff is an old pro at this game, and the performance soon picks up and rocks out. Lamb Of God suffer no such setbacks; destroying the main stage and just about anyone within ten miles of it with a barrage of unearthly chuggery. Anthems like 'Redneck' and 'Walk With Me In Hell' are well on the way to classic status, and even if Randy Blythe firmly blows the lid off the worst-kept secret in festival history by announcing the imminent arrival of Machine Head, the sight of him bounding around the stage like Scooby Doo's Shaggy on crack is still great fun.

Machine Head
Prog metal behemoths Mastodon have been known to struggle in outside surroundings, so it's a welcome relief to see them slay the second stage crowd with an excellent run through their imposing arsenal of tunes. Picking select morsels from both this year's mind-blowing 'Crack The Skye' album and older delights, the hairy heroes are a perfect warm-up for Machine Head, who take to their 'surprise' slot in furious fashion with a bullock-burstingly awesome rendition of 'Imperium'. Hearing 50,000-odd metalheads chanting "Fuck Limp Bizkit" is a highlight of the weekend, and although Flynn's ego threatens to get in the way as he boasts of Sonisphere "begging" the boys to get back on the bill, his crowd-baiting abilities are second to none this weekend.

Limp Bizkit
Pop-rock festival faves Feeder have probably had better-suited crowds, but with the likes of 'Buck Rogers' and 'Just A Day' in their back pocket they can't fail to strike a chord with their increasingly tipsy audience, and the Newport veterans manage to avoid falling flat. And on that note, when did Limp Bizkit's Wes Borland decide on today's particular attire? 'Rollin'', 'Take A Look Around' and 'Break Stuff' might whip the crowd into a nostalgic frenzy, but that doesn't mean our Wesley can get away with looking like a failed afterthought from Marilyn Manson's 'Mechanical Animals' era. Sort it out man.

Alice In Chains
A new Alice In Chains album is certainly worth getting flustered about, and if the live airings of new tracks 'Check My Brain' and 'A Looking In View' are anything to go by, it's going to be pretty damn swish. William DuVal has firmly established himself as an able frontman, and he carries classics like 'Them Bones' and 'Rooster' with effortless swagger.

In stark contrast, Trent Reznor appears so wrapped up in his songs that he's assumingly failed to notice that Nine Inch Nails play a set that goes down like a poo in a sandwich. He's always been his own man (even if he's looking more like Henry Rollins these days), but to play your final UK show with a setlist bulging with lesser-known slow numbers and lacking 'The Hand That Feeds', 'March Of The Pigs' and 'Head Like A Hole' is a tad baffling to say the least.

Love or hate them, Avenged Sevenfold rarely fail to make an impression, and they bring the second stage to a close in emphatic fashion. Pulling out older numbers such as the excellent 'Chapter Four' is an easy way to win over any cynics, though it can't possibly compare to the sound of Metallica airing timeless classics like 'Fade To Black' and 'Hit The Lights'.

As reliably brilliant as ever (dodgy drumming and some pretty cheesy lines from James Hetfield aside), the Californian legends bring their usual fanfare of riffs, solos and pyrotechnics to rabid praise, and a 60,000-strong birthday choir singing to Hetfield is a thoroughly lovely way to finish off what has been an equally impressive debut weekend. If Sonisphere can continue to bring in bands of Metallica's stature in forthcoming years, Download might just have something to feel nervous about.

around the festival site (1)

review by: Merlin Alderslade

photos by: Sarah Collie

Saturday 1st to Sunday 2nd August 2009
Knebworth House, Hertfordshire, SG1 2AX, England MAP
£132.50 for both days, £157.50 with camping; parking £10, day tix £67.50
daily capacity: 60000
last updated: Thu 30th Jul 2009

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