Bloodstock Open Air - Saturday
14 August 2010
Catton Hall, Derbyshire
Saturday dawned with a realisation that the kick off time was half an hour earlier than 2009.So forgoing breakfast, I with a small but hardened crowd of prog metal enthusiasts, assembled at the Ronnie James Dio stage at the ungodly hour of 10.30am.However, the effort was well rewarded by a very impressive set from Andromeda.Kicking off with two songs from their debut album, Martin Hedin’s initially overbearing keyboards were soon balanced into a very good sound mix.Shaven headed frontman David Fremberg informed us this was the band’s first time in England.A small problem with Thomas Lejon’s kit gave Fremberg chance to comically ask Johan Reinholdz how he was finding England, to which the guitarist replied in a dead pan voice “Really nice”.While sounding less than enthusiastic, the guitarist's playing was certainly up to par.The band’s most familiar song Periscope brought the short set to a close with Fremberg announcing it as “The last song for tonight, today or this morning …I don’t know!”.
The Words Unspoken / In The Deepest Of Waters / Mirages / Inner Circle / Periscope
The symphonic metal of Leaves’ Eyes kicked in, Liv Kristine walked on and swished her skirt at the crowd, hit the first high piercing note of the set and it was time for my breakfast.I’m afraid they’re not me cup of tea at all and I’ll leave it at that.
Njord / My Destiny / Emerald Isle / Take The Devil In Me / Froya's Theme
I’m assuming there was some kind of intro tape failure, as Evile’s Matt Drake simply strode onto the stage, crooned “Intro” in a comical tenor style voice and Infected Nation commenced.Unfortunately so did the rain, though it didn’t seem to dampen the spirits of the pit.A chant of “Mike” broke out mid set, in recognition of the band’s late bass player Mike Alexander.Drake acknowledged that returning to Bloodstock was an emotional event for the band and asked two things.Firstly, that we keep people that we have lost in our head and heart and secondly, to enjoy your life.The circumstances seemed to provide for a more reflective than explosive set.However, the mood was lightened when Drake introduced Joel Graham, who got a very warm response and impressed with some flanged bass work during Metamorphosis.Enter The Grave closed what felt like a difficult but solid set.
Infected Nation / We Who Are About to Die / Thrasher / Metamorphosis / Enter the Grave
Armed with a fantastic sound, Onslaught were on fire this early afternoon.Since their reformation, the Bristolians now seemed to have settled with a steady line up and have got stronger and stronger as a live unit.There seems a British propensity to put our own thrash bands behind their American or German counterparts, but Onslaught have the ability to stand toe-to-toe and proved it today.The set flip-flopped seamlessly between songs from latest album Killing Peace and classic The Force with the 21 year age gap unnoticeable.How vocalist Sy Keeler got kicked out between those albums for being considered not up to scratch is more and more of a mystery.Keeler commanded today and used his full range to impressive effect.Rick Rubin look-alike Andy Rossier-Davies impressed with his lead work and it will be intriguing to hear him deliver his own leads on the band’s forthcoming album.Keeler announced that in fact Onslaught were heading off to Denmark the very next day to record that record.The band’s signature song from their punkier debut disc wrapped up the set of the day for me.
Killing Peace / Let there Be Death / Destroyer of Worlds / Metal Forces / Fight with the Beast / Planting Seeds of Hate / Burn / Onslaught (Power from Hell)
It’s a sign of the growth of Bloodstock that Edguy actually headlined here four years ago, on a day which also featured Metal Church, Atheist, Nocturnal Rites, Rage and Pyramaze.Tobias Sammet noted they didn’t have much time today, but still managed to squeeze in a lot of his usual comic banter.As soon as Dead Or Rock started however, my attention was drawn to a familiar looking bass player.Sammet confirmed that Tobias Exxel was absent due to the birth of his child and standing in was none other than Helloween’s Markus Grosskopf.Grosskopf clearly loved his stint with his fellow German friends and beamed from ear to ear throughout the set.Edguy’s set was well chosen and even takes us back to Vain Glory Opera.For Tears Of A Mandrake, Sammet gages the crowd’s reaction by using his mic as a cock, which rose the more the crowd cheered.His cheekiest comment however was an assertion he wouldn’t mention the football, followed by, “We started the war, but you missed the quarter finals!”Based on a few friends who prefer heavier stuff, my impression was a number of people weren’t expecting much from Edguy, but their fun sing-along songs and Sammet’s presence meant that as they wrapped up with King Of Fools and the sun came out, there’s was a definite feel good factor at BOA.
Dead Or Rock / Speedhoven / Tears Of A Mandrake / Vain Glory Opera / Lavatory Love Machine / Superheroes / King of Fools
I still can’t fathom why Obituary have headed into fantasy album artwork and the Darkest Day backdrop of a dragon being slain felt very misleading as the trademark basic death metal of Redneck Stomp kicked in.The band assembled for this instrumental opener with singer(?) John Tardy joining them as they moved into On The Floor.Today’s setlist touched on all eight albums with the exception of World Demise.Not much has changed in Obituary’s style over the year’s and if you didn’t know them you’d be hard picked to guess which year each of the songs from that 20 year period came from.Much like the music, an Obituary live performance is rarely surprising, as the band get down to hitting their groove with little time for show.Actually lead guitarist Ralph Santolla looked somewhat bored, but aside from his flashy solos much of the riffing must feel pretty basic to the ex-Death guitarist.Bøddel was back to being plain old Frank Watkins today and in contrast to yesterday’s mobile performance with Gorgoroth, he takes his position back near his amp and barely moves.This is not to say Obituary weren’t good, they were just predictable and the atmosphere felt a bit flat after the exuberance of Edguy.
Redneck Stomp / On The Floor / List of Dead / Blood to Give / Chopped in Half / Turned Inside Out / Threatening Skies / The End Complete / Slow Death / Evil Ways / Slowly We Rot
I’d really high hopes for Amorphis today.Their debut UK show in London last October was one of the best gigs I saw in 2009.So it was crushingly disappointing to find Amorphis opening with Silver Bride and Sky Is Mine with the worse sound we’d heard all day.Where you wanted the sound to envelop you, it limped out in a non-cohesive fashion.Frontman Tomi Joutsen, with his strange steam-punk microphone, led from the front swinging his long dreads around to Against Windows, as the rest of the band remained fairly static as the sun started to make its presence felt.The guitar lines of The Castway started to cut through well and things finally seemed on track with the emotional From the Heaven of My Heart.I very much enjoyed Amorphis’ set, but not as much as I expected to.Perhaps noting the heavier nature of the bill, they seemed pulled towards the Elegy and Tales From Thousand Lakes albums, with some glaring omissions as a result – nothing from Silent Waters!I look forward to catching them in October, indoors where they can stretch out more.
Silver Bride / Sky Is Mine / Against Windows / The Castaway / From the Heaven of My Heart / House Of Sleep / Black Winter Day / My Kantele
If Amorphis had a hard time technically, it was nothing compared to Devin Townsend.With an increasing sense of desperation amongst the roadies on stage, Townsend headed out for a chat with the crowd which ended up being as equally entertaining as the set.Issues were occurring with the backing tracks and as they were tested over the PA, Townsend joked “It’s all live!”.As the tapes continued to be played he then decided to entertain us with some interpretive dance, followed by some air guitar.Townsend informed us that due to the issues we were going to have to hear the actually click tracks over the PA, with the backing tracks.What could have been an incredibly embarrassing moment, was turned around by his sense of humour which won over the crowd.As a result, we were left with a much shortened but hugely enjoyable set.During Supercrush!, Townsend took the time to get the crowd swaying their arms along before comically putting us down with a quip of “That’s so gay!”.All too soon Ziltoid was demanding the finest earth coffee and we were attacked with just By Your Command from that album.An immense Life from the Ocean Machine album closed out the set, leaving all wanting more.
Devin Townsend setlist:
Addicted! / Supercrush! / Kingdom / Deadhead / Truth/Om / By Your Command / Life
For me, the best of the day was now behind me.I’ve always found Fear Factory cold live, though I suppose that’s part of the aim of their mechanized metal.Mechanize and Shock were razor sharp starts to the set.Gene “The Machine” Hoglan sounded exactly like his nickname, as he seemingly effortlessly drilled away at the beats whilst twirling his drum sticks.Due to the band’s major soap opera, this was of course a different line up to the one I’d seen at Wacken a good few years ago.Although it did seem Burton C Bell’s heart was more in it today than the final days with Christian Wolbers and Raymond Herrera.Returning guitarist Dino Cazares took the time to introduce Edgecrusher, though it was the tracks from Demanufacture that of course got the best audience response.To tell the truth my attention wandered greatly during Fear Factory’s set, though this is highly down to my own apathy with them.
Fear Factory setlist:
Mechanize / Shock / Edgecrusher / Smasher/Devourer / Acres Of Skin / Linchpin / Powershifter / Fear Campaign / Martyr / Demanufacture / Self Bias Resistor / Zero Signal / Hunter/Killer (HK) / Replica
Speaking of apathy, I’d expressed that in my review when I saw Children Of Bodom last year and I really wasn’t expecting to see them again before a new album comes out.I’d mentioned to a friend that we should do a count of how many times Alexi Laiho said “F**k”, through the set, though we dropped that immediately as the intro tape of said expletive started.For me, Children Of Bodom’s record output has steadily declined and their live performances have become sloppier.With this in mind it took about two songs to decide food and an early night were a better option.Having said that, Johan stuck around for the set and as someone who doesn’t quite share my level of apathy he told me he thought it was a pretty good show from them.
Children Of Bodom setlist:
Follow The Reaper / Hate Crew Deathroll / Needled 24/7 / Every Time I Die / Living Dead Beat / Sixpounder / Blooddrunk / In Your Face / Angels Don't Kill / Kissing The Shadows / Hate Me! / Silent Night, Bodom Night / Downfall