For very many people, 2010 Sonisphere is synonymous with “The Big Four” – the 4 most famous thrash bands together in the same festival – which made it the biggest attraction of this metal summer. But few may know that Sonisphere is held just for the second time ever, that it’s the only European itinerant festival, and what sets it apart it is a core group of bands touring together through different countries. Other bands are added, depending on their respective tour dates. We often find the same bands performing during the same year in different festivals. Well, with Sonisphere, we have them under the same festival brand in various locations. Smart marketing idea, right? Last year core group was composed of: Metallica (actually the first who supported the concept), Down, Lamb of God, Machine Head, Mastodon. And it took place in: Holland, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Finland (one day festival each) and UK (two days and four stages).
This year the festival shifted towards Eastern Europe: one day festival in Poland, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Greece and Sweden, two days in Spain, Bulgaria and Finland, three days in Romania, Turkey and United Kingdom – 11 countries in total.
But “The Big Four” are not a constant of Sonisphere 2010. Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax have been together only in 7 countries: Poland, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania and Turkey. And just only once all together on the same stage in Bulgaria, where the festival DVD was filmed and the show was broadcast the same evening in over 800 cinemas around the world (I need to say broadcast and not transmitted live, as announced).
The festival reaches Romania during the week-end of 25-27 June, at the same time with the one in Turkey. The programme announced a line-up of 15 bands, despite the cancellation of Heaven and Hell and Mastodon, but with the Big Four, to the delight of an entire country. Still, the big names didn’t stop there: Rammstein was to perform for the first time in Romania. And the first day was supposed to have Manowar as headliners.
DAY 1 AND SOME DISAPPOINTMENTS
I flew to Bucharest on Thursday and couldn’t wait to get to the festival on Friday, dying of curiosity to see the festival venue. I was a little bit worried about it, wondering if it was the right one for the biggest Romanian festival ever. It was not an airport as in Poland (how cool must it have been to hear Hangar 18 there..), nor a stadium as in Sofia, but an open air space, in an exhibition area, on cement ground. The festival map seemed to favour the tickets of Golden Circle category, in front of the stage. The Normal Circle (the other category offer) had a strange L shape and the VIP tribunes seemed kind of far from the action. In the end, it was ok to watch the show from any location.
“Hello Bucharest!” were the opening words of the festival, by the singer of Orphaned Land. The Israeli band came to play in Bucharest after their participation in Sonisphere Istanbul was cancelled. In the context of worsening relations between Turkey and Israel, the security company declared itself unable to provide their safety in Turkey. Many people came especially for them, despite the early hour (they started at 3.15pm). But those who hadn’t known them before were also conquered by their strange sense of humour, good progressive metal with powerful oriental influences and the curiosity they raised. The frontman showing a long white shirt, long hair and biblical pose, resembled Jesus Christ but repeatedly warned: “I’m Not Jesus Christ, I’m Kobi from Israel”. For all 45 minutes of show, the audience was very responsive to this unusual metal, raised hands in the air and jumped around. I liked their consistent sound even if the mixture may seem strange for an European but, for example, when you heard a strong oriental track intro and the vocal saying “Are you ready to jump?” you immediately felt the metal riffs coming your way.
They were followed by Paradise Lost, a band which played several times before in Romania. Although they were still highly awaited, the expectations were maybe too great. The sound was bad, I don’t understand why they didn’t do sound check before. Their show was also only 45 minutes and they’ve chosen to sing a lot from the albums released after 2000, without interacting with the public more than was necessary. “Say Just Words“ ended the show but everybody felt it was insufficient.
Volbeat was the third band of day one. This band is described everywhere as a fusion of early rock, heavy metal and rockabilly, being inspired by Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley .. What impression can you make out this description if you’ve never listened to them? I didn’t bother much to check them before and I must say these Danish guys sound extremely good live! Maybe they are somehow a metal band for beer and fun, but they had a powerful and solid performance which managed to heat up the public even from the start. Unlike at Paradise Lost’s concert, the sound was good and they left a good impression. They will surely gather a lot public next time.
At 7:15 p.m. Manowar began their one hour show. I will never understand this move of the organisers… Manowar were the ones who sold most of the tickets of day one, due to their extensive promotion as headliners. But 2 days before the festival, ACCEPT became headliners, without any explanation to the ticket buyers. Despite this incident, which clearly upset them and the fans, the concert was really a blast. Manowar are one strong group which plays regardless of conditions. They behaved professionally, doing their job very well: the public had a hell of a time, spoilt all over the place even granted with a Romanian speech, which, in the context of the Manowar stage-set, containing phrases like “We are here in the Carpathian-Danubian-Pontic space” or “firmly standing in front of invaders “or “standing in the fight for heavy metal” and spoken with a grave accent, seemed taken out of an old movie in Wallachian dialect, which sounded very cool. They also had a “Dio Moment” and sang Heaven and Hell (along with the audience). Instead of outburst, they just asked “How many of you are here for Manowar?” and the public raised their hands almost in unanimity. They disclosed that the organizers did not allow them to sell their Dio tribute CD in the festival. So they decided to “just give the CDs away.” A big A for their performance, attitude, professionalism!
ACCEPT is clearly a band for the connaisseurs … I didn’t know their music and when I checked them on wikipedia and saw they are a monument of heavy metal, I gave up any further research. But I must say they did a show for 2 hours with such passion and enthusiasm that it became contagious from the first sounds. They went through all possible types of heavy metal: they now sounded like Scorpions, then like Judas Priest, sometimes as Maiden and even like Motӧrhead at a certain point. They captured everyone’s attention there with class. Their extensive experience and know-how was proved also by an instrumental moment when they virtuously passed from Ravel to Grieg and Tchaikovsky. Brilliant! Accept is a heavy metal German machine. People went home happy after first day of the festival, although it was the only day when it rained a bit.
Setlists for day one:
1. The Rise Of Denial 2. Pity The Sadness 3. Erased 4. I Remain 5. As I Die 6. The Enemy 7. One Second 8. Requiem 9. Frailty 10. Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us 11. Say Just Words
1. The Human Instrument 2. Radio Girl 3. Sad Man’s Tongue 4. Hallelujah Goat 5. Mary Ann’s Place 6. I Only Want to Be With You (Dusty Springfield cover) 7. Boa 8. Pool of Booze, Booze, Booza 9. A New Day 10. Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood 11. A Warrior’s Call 12. The Garden’s Tale 13. Still Counting
1. Manowar 2. Call to Arms 3. Kings of Metal 4. Hand of Doom 5. Warriors of the World United 6. Heaven and Hell (Black Sabbath cover) 7. House of Death 8. Thunder in the Sky 9. Black Wind, Fire and Steel
1. Metal Heart 2. Midnight Mover 3. Living For Tonite 4. Restless And Wild 5. Son Of A Bitch 6. Losers And Winners 7. London Leatherboys 8. The Abyss 9. Run If You Can 10. Teutonic Terror 11. Breaker 12. Bulletproof 13. Neon Nights 14. Guitar Solo 15. Up To The Limit 16. Bass Solo 17. Demon’s Night 18. Turn Me On 19. Monsterman 20. Burning 21. Princess Of The Dawn 22. I’m A Rebel 23. Fast As A Shark 24. Balls To The Wall