My Sunday began with a jaunt to the water point. On my travels I was approached by two young men wearing g-strings and corsets, who drunkenly informed me that Karnivool were about to play on the main stage, and that they were "the best band in the world." Well, who was I to argue with two vagrants with such impeccable dress sense and the ability to maintain some level of awareness at 11am after two solid days of alcohol consumption? So off I went to see Karnivool. Surprisingly, they were in fact not the best band in the world. But they were actually pretty decent, and their blend of metal, alternative rock, and pop-inspired choruses went down very well.
A short visit to the Jagermeister stage unveiled another new band, who, although I had no idea who they were, proved good enough for me to avidly watch the end of their set. A Google search upon returning home revealed that the band was Slam Cartel. The London six piece put on a great show despite the somewhat sleepy audience they drew, and if it weren't for the unpredictable nature of the music industry at the moment I'd be inclined to say they're 'one to watch' for the future.
Last year, Sonisphere organisers took something of a wild card as they booked an ABBA tribute band for the Sunday. While perhaps not as crazy as that selection, this year they presented us with a Beatles tribute band. The Fab Beatles, as they are known, took to the Saturn Stage in the early afternoon. Taking a surprising route away from the super-huge hits, they played a lot of early Beatles material, and amusingly ended their set with a short rendition of "Run To The Hills." Overall, an enjoyable diversion from the rest of Sunday's heavier acts.
So I ended up back at the main stage in time for Slayer. Aaaah, Slayer. What more needs to be said? Anyone who's seen Slayer live before knows what to expect, and if you don't, then I can tell you - immenseness. Pure. Raw. Metal. Immenseness.
And on to what was my ultimate favourite moment of the whole weekend: California-based pop-punk band Army of Freshmen. Having been fortunate enough to see these guys before, I dragged some friends along with me to see them at Sonisphere. Within 30 seconds of the band emphatically throwing themselves onto the stage, one of my friends turned to me and screamed "I love them already!" - a sentiment clearly echoed by everyone else in the crowd. Their unique blend of pop, punk, rock, synths and a little rap took the Red Bull stage by storm, and they inspired the crowd with so much energy and enthusiasm that everyone was leaping in the air to the raucous sound of the riffs, driving drum beats and soaring harmonies. You know when you're in the presence of understated greatness, and judging by the smiles and cheered vitality pouring from the faces of the crowd after Army of Freshmen's set, they all knew it too. A great performance from a phenomenal live band.
It seemed that most of Army of Freshmen's crowd migrated to the main stage afterward to see British/Australian band Pendulum. With their rock flavoured drum and bass, they commanded the arena with a sense of authority and sophistication reminiscent of bands who have been performing for decades. They were joined by In Flames vocalist Anders Fridén, who had flown over specially to perform "Self Versus Self", from Pendulum's recent album Immersion, as the track was written and recorded collaboratively between them and In Flames. A firm favourite on the festival circuit, Pendulum are always impeccable. Sonisphere saw a brilliant presentation from a truly idiosyncratic band who never fail to bring a big wad of awesome on stage with them and repeatedly hit the crowd over their collective head with it.
Which brings us to the big finale. IRON-FRICKIN-MAIDEN, PEOPLE. Although there's been something of a controversy regarding Iron Maiden's setlist for this performance, there can be no arguments that in terms of skill and panache, it was an irreproachably brilliant performance. While the bulk of the set was more recent material, they played an encore of "The Number of the Beast", "Hallowed Be Thy Name" and "Running Free". Sometimes when a band gets supremely hyped up, it's difficult for them to live up to expectation. Well, Iron Maiden know how to set a bar, then smash it down before raising it about six hundred and sixty six feet higher. And what's more, they looked like they were genuinely enjoying themselves. In comparison with Saturday's headliner Rammstein, who undoubtedly did put on a good performance, Iron Maiden just brought a certain je ne sais quois to the whole affair. With a twinkle in their eyes and pure rock in their hearts, they absolutely nailed it.
Many thanks go to all the staff at the Sonisphere Festival and The Noise Cartel.[ END ]