Sonisphere becomes a temple of love!

Sonisphere 2011 review

published: Thu 14th Jul 2011

The Sisters Of Mercy (1)

Friday 8th to Sunday 10th July 2011
Knebworth House, Hertfordshire, SG1 2AX, England MAP
£170 with camping or £145 without camping
daily capacity: 60000
last updated: Fri 1st Jul 2011

Saturday, or day two, once again started late for me, more free spirits to start the day courtesy of our camp neighbours. With hair of the dog switched on, and the weather looking decidedly more dicey I eventually risk hell on earth (the toilets) and meander into the arena in time to miss Sylosis. Richard Cheese & Lounge Against The Machine is terrific though on the now in use Saturn Stage. We help him croon through NIN's 'Closer', Bizkit's 'Nookie', AC/DC's 'You Shook Me All Night Long', Slipknot's 'People = Shit', Metallica's 'Enter Sandman', and many more, with him giving the crowd, and the security a ribbing, before closing with 'My Neck, My Back' and there's a fit of giggles.

I meander over to Bohemia to escape the heat, and watch, what is for me the find of the weekend, Hollywood's Vintage Trouble. Wow, what a polished outfit, all right this is blues and soul, and so should be out of place here amongst the hair and the leather. But the suited guitarist Nalle Colt has a sureness and a confidence in his guitar playing that demolishes any complaints about the music. By the time even snappier suited singer Ty Taylor grooves spinning onto the stage and opens his mouth we know we're in for a treat. He has a voice that instantly conjures comparisons with Otis (Redding) or James (Brown) in their pomp, and the feeling when watching them must be something akin to watching The Stones for the first time in the early Sixties. It's just fantastic!

Back at the Saturn Stage lead singer Frank Carter announced he was leaving Gallows topically saying we could read all about it after the News Of world hacked his phone. After this, one of their largest outdoor appearances, it showed that perhaps it is the right time to call it a day. Gallows gigs have always been about intimacy, and today's show felt a bit disconnected from the throng, with Frank trying damn hard to bridge to the sweaty throng, but it just wasn't as epic as their indoor performances have been. It was still more energetic than half the acts on today!

Cherri Bomb
I left it until the right time to get around to watching the main stage, arriving just as The Cavalera Conspiracy absolute lay waste to the place. The skies look dodgy and there's the smell of rain in the air, so I head for cover before the end, and reach all girl group Cherri Bomb and the shelter of the big blue Bohemia tent just as they're covering Foo's 'The Pretender', and the heavens open.

I bide my time, hey the tent has a bar, and we can smoke leaning out of the edges. There's a big gap in the programme deliberately to see how long it takes me to get bored and leave. I have a low boredom threshold, and hang out long enough to miss both Kids in Glass Houses and Bad Religion. Eventually I end up moving to the Red Bull Stage (more cover) to watch the well hyped, fliers everywhere, The Hype Theory - who provide barely entertaining, and after saying they were at Download, I decide to leave to watch Sum 41, and stand there for what seems like forever waiting for their hit, entertained instead by the crowd's antics around us.

around the festival site
After an abridged cover of both 'tallica's 'Master of Puppets', and 'Enter Sandman' we're all livened up for what turns out was two hits 'Fat Lip', and 'In Too Deep'. Lead singer Deryck wibbles, "They want us to stop now, but we're not gonna!" before launching into 'Still Waiting' it takes him a while to realise they've turned the PA off, but hats off to drummer Steve Jocz, I can still hear him hitting his skins (with the set list on) as I reach a good vantage point for You Me At Six. As usual they try to martial angry circle pits and fail, and Josh Franceschi sounds a bit pissed off/frustrated by the lack of numbers, despite the girls flashing their tits in an attempt to cheer him up.

Why did I try going to watch TesseracT? (Coz they rock!) The tent was obviously too full to let anyone in, and I listen outside and get soaked. I ditch my plan to watch The Crave outdoors on the Jager stage or Weezer and instead hole up to listen to a rather good Innerpartysystem. Ginger (The Wildhearts) is on next, and I get ready with a Jagerbomb and the face painted one is thoroughly fantastic. No idea who was in the band but they rocked, and so did we to 'Suckerpunch', 'I Wanna Go Where The People Go', '29x The Pain', 'Vanilla Radio', 'Mazel Tov Cocktail', 'TV Tan', 'My Baby Is A Headfuck', and a great cover of 'The Revolution Will Be Televised'.

Black Spiders
To get to Rival Sons I have to pass a rare show by The Mars Volta who sound thoroughly disjointed and disconnected and as good as ever. Californians Rival Sons provide classic sun shot blues and aptly the weather begins to improve. I stay to watch Saint Jude fronted by Lynne Jackaman and it's an accomplished introduction of '70s inspired blues rock. I'm drawn away to watch headliners Biffy Clyro for the third time in three weeks. The quartet nail their position on the bill before I head back to the Jager truck to raise my middle finger and holler, "Fuck you Black Spiders!" and enjoy a fantastic set from a band who surely are destined to headline main stages some time in the future.

After the various closures of tents throughout the day, I made sure I got in nice and early for the first festival appearance in 20 years of The Sisters of Mercy, I wasn't getting stuck outside in the rain for what would be the moment of my festival weekend. Turns out, inside we got pretty wet from the condensed sweat dripping off the ceiling. But what a set, from opener 'Afterhours' where we could not see a thing thanks to the wall of trademark smoke I knew it would be a good evening. There's a glimpse of the band and a hint of Eldritch for 'Ribbons' and 'Train/Detonation Boulevard' and by 'Crash and Burn' we could see Chris Catalyst and Ben Christo. There's something wrong with the speed they play 'A Rock and a Hard Place' at and at times it's a struggle to catch Eldritch's vocals. By 'Amphetamine Logic' it's clear that he appears to be dressed in rave gear, wearing a neon yellow/green shirt with a dayglo orange collar as the UV lights fire up.

It's clear there sound is somewhere forward of Vision Thing these days, and new song 'Arms' seems really hard to pick out. I'm wondering if the gig's going pear shaped when 'Dominion' collapses into 'Mother Russia' and puts us right back on track. The sound fades down, curfew perhaps?, for 'Summer', and the lyrics are heard to pick out for 'More' and by 'Will I Dream?' I'm smoking a fag at the back, having tried to locate the best place to hear the show. The sound comes back for 'Alice' which has some added guitar work thrown in.

The Sisters Of Mercy (1)
The band or my mind appear to be mutating the songs more and more now, stretching them further into a new soundscape. 'Anaconda' sounds almost unrecognisable. But suddenly it all falls back into place as the first warped burst of 'Lucretia' echoes through the tent. Suddenly there's a guy standing above the crowd, in what looks like some form of tribute, as Eldritch growls, " I hear the roar of a big machine, two worlds and in between, hot metal and methedrine" and the whole place is moving. 'Vision Thing' keeps up that momentum, then they go surf rock with what I thought was a Hanoi Rocks or Anthrax song 'Pipeline' but it turns out it was a 1963 hit for The Chantays.

The set finishes with a glorious 'Temple of Love'. I turn to the guy next to me and ask, "Is that it?" But there was to be more, as the house lights hadn't come up yet. They return for 'Something Fast', an energetic 'First & Last & Always', and the anthemic 'This Corrosion'. What a fantastic performance! One I'm not likely to ever forget, and we mooch around the Soni Radio Airstream getting our breath back before wandering to bed.

around the festival site (2)
review by: Scott Williams

photos by: Danielle Millea / Karen Williams / Zelah Williams

Friday 8th to Sunday 10th July 2011
Knebworth House, Hertfordshire, SG1 2AX, England MAP
£170 with camping or £145 without camping
daily capacity: 60000
last updated: Fri 1st Jul 2011

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