DAY 3 AND THE UNMIXABLE MIX
The second Romanian band present in Sonisphere was the alternative metal band Luna Amara –“Bitter Moon” as Pascal Bruckner’s novel – opening the last day of festival. Even if I might understand why they didn’t open the previous day, I am still sorry they haven’t. Why? Simply because they are a band with attitude. A very socially engaged one, with a complex message ranging from emotional to political. A band for which success never came easy because they are not inclined to compromise their music or message. A band which struggled for 5 years to release the first album. A band who’s now very popular in Romania, has 3 albums and another one coming out in autumn. A band who evolved but never forgot where they started. They dedicated the concert to their fans without whom they would have never been there on that stage, as they said.
After an alternative metal band we move to a totally different style – Anathema. Who started in force with … Kashmir! I must say it was the best cover I have ever heard. Led Zeppelin is my favourite band and for me any alteration brought to their music is difficult to digest. But what I heard was not Led Zeppelin nor Anathema. It was the powerful flavour of that song. Otherwise, the concert was strange as if they were there to have fun between the songs. After A Natural Disaster, a slow and sensible tune where they had a female singer as guest they asked the public if they know the score for England football match. Funny guys, maybe a little bit too relaxed (so was the sound, not very powerful).
Setlist:1. Kashmir (Led Zeppelin cover) 2. Deep 3. Closer 4. Lost Control 5. Empty 6. A Natural Disaster 7. Fragile Dreams
Stone Sour were a second good new discovery of the festival for the Romanians. Just like Volbeat they managed to get the public on their side even if they were quite unknown there. I wrote about Stone Sour before and I must say now I am totally convinced about Corey Taylor’s ability to conquer any public. Less talkative then in Brussels but with the same strength and self confidence, so suitable for the metal they play. There is something about this guy, a charisma that makes everybody succumb to his charm, play along and have a good time. So, after the relaxed time during Anathema, we were quite busy jumping on Stone Sour.
Setlist: 1. Mission Statement 2. Reborn 3. Made Of Scars 4. The Bitter End 5. Your God 6. Through Glass 7. Digital 8. Get Inside 9. Hell & Consequences 10. 30/30-150
We left aside the alternative metal only to get prepared for some really high quality grunge with Alice in Chains. If someone told me that I am allowed to see only one band of the line-up, I would have chosen AIC without a doubt. Mayve there were not many people there especially for them, but those were very dedicated. I saw people crying, people who could not believe their eyes, people with stupid smiles on their faces… For anyone who lived its teen years in the 90s, it was an honour to be there in front of them, to watch a concert with a very good sound, very important for such music, to see a Cantrell standing cool with his guitar, a Mike Inez whispering softly on his bass. All perfected by Kinney’s drums and a vocal which mix Lenny Kravitz’s look with Layne Staley voice in a warm attitude. It was difficult not to sing along “So I made a big mistake / try to see it once my way”, or not to get overwhelmed by all possible memories when hearing Man in a Box. The setlist was amazing, predominantly with songs from Dirt (yes, Would and Rooster were there also), only one track from Alice in Chains, Again, and some songs from the new album which were not in the least disappointing. I could have gone home after this concert with no regrets whatsoever.
Setlist: 1. Them Bones 2. Dam That River 3. Rain When I Die 4. Check My Brain 5. It Ain’t Like That 6. We Die Young 7. Acid Bubble 8. Lesson Learned 9. Angry Chair10. Man in the Box 11. Again 12. Would? 13. Rooster
And we reached the last band of the festival, Rammstein. A real industrial plant mechanism these German guys, for the first time in Romania. I don’t know about others, but for me it was quite difficult to jump from AIC to ze Germans, even after a long pause, dedicated to set up the stage for the huge pyrotechnics show we were all about to witness. I saw many youtubes and filmings from this tour, but nothing compared to what I experienced there live. I had to leave the crowd at some point due to an acute feeling of claustrophobia but I could feel the heat of the flames coming from the stage even in the last row of my ticket area. Fire was the main theme of this show: the firecrackers were everywhere, the music was laud, exact and strong, the set was fucking amazing, furnaces and cracks in the background wall, rocket shots from and towards the stage, they wore gas masks which were spitting flames during Feuer frei! The show had that dark, sick and violent Rammstein signature, they even staged setting a man on fire during Benzine. There were some cannons there and we were all wondering what are they going to do with them till Lindemann pointed them to the public and shot! Flakes were blasted everywhere…
The best moment of the show was when, Doktor Lorenz, the keyboard man, took a journey on a boat, surfing over the public. He surfed, grabbed a Romanian flag and went back on stage. I totally lost the instinct to shoot a picture… I love this guy, he’s so crazy. He did half of the concert running on a fitness band.
The sound was crystal clear. Many Romanians sang along, especially on Du Hast and Ich Will, although German is a difficult language for us. What can I say, overall, this was the big attraction of the festival.
It is incredible how this festival could pull together so many styles: trash, doom, progressive, rockabilly, alternative metal, grunge, power metal and there was still room for one more, industrial. It was the biggest festival Romania had so far and it will be difficult to challenge this in the future.
What I liked most of all was the crowd’s attitude and enthusiasm. It was the first time I didn’t feel like in an old eastern European country. Everybody was smiling, no unnecessary aggressive behaviour, drunk pushing came with excuses, the mosh pits were “professional”, violent but with complicity, the bodyguards were helpful and understanding.
There were several things that gave a certain Romania flavour to this festival, but never put a negative stamp on it. The Bucharest / Budapest confusion made us smile with courtesy. First time this happened in 1990 to Michael Jackson but what really hurt our feeling was the one made in 1995 by Iron Maiden. Many others did it afterwards like Morcheeba in 2007 or Lenny Kravitz in 2008. Manowar took advantage of it in conquering the public and they always specify“I said Bucharest not Budapest, right?” But this time, damned it happened to Hetfield, although Metallica was for the third time in Romania.
I heard two time Heaven and Hell during this festival, once with Manowar and once with Anthrax, and I must say I was touched each time. RIP Dio!
The festival facilities were good. Of course, there are never enough toilets and there could have been more trash bins. Despite that, the place was kept clean. Beer was good! Tuborg sponsored the festival getting their name on it, in return. In the beginning it was simply called “Rock the city – Sonisphere” but it later became Tuborg Green festival, presented by Sonisphere “” I think nobody gave a damn about this as long as there was no water in the beer. Beer went well with food even if there was no much variety: only the Romanian traditional grilled pieces of spicy mince meat (“mici”) and barbecue.
The big strategic mistake in my opinion was the festival layout. The tickets in front of the stage were the most expensive ones (except for the VIP tickets). I don’t think the price should be the criteria for choosing who’s getting most contact with the bands, as the band-public feedback is decisive in a live show. On stadiums, anyone can afford this position. Anyone who’s ready to come early enough and fight for a front place. For the whole festival, fans were split into 2 categories by a fence . Purchase power made the selection, no wonder most bands were not called back for an encore.
Nevertheless, they promised they’d be back. We just have to wait and see them when they do.