Sonisphere 2011 – review and pictures

Posted on 11 July 2011
By Lara Cullen & Tina Bass
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Tens of thousands of Rock ‘n Metal music fans descended upon Knebworth this weekend for 2011’s UK leg of the touring Sonisphere Festival.

Boasting arguably its most impressive line-up yet, regular Purple Revolver readers will know we had high hopes for this year’s festival and we’re pleased to report it didn’t fake us out.

Sonisphere manages to be massively popular yet still retain a sense of intimacy and an authentic Rock vibe bereft of many bigger, more commercial festivals. The effortless flit between stages and the infamous ‘no clashes between the two main stages’ motto explain why it appeals to such a diverse crowd.

As well as bringing us the first time that Metal’s Big 4 have appeared together in the UK, this year’s Sonisphere also made internet history with the live streaming of some of the performances which saw nearly a million people tuning into the webcast.

Hosting the elite of the Metal scene, Friday’s focus was the main stage. Brit Metal outfit Diamond Head kicked things off followed by the mighty Anthrax, Megadeth and Slayer. The crowds were perfectly riled up by the time headliners Metallica took to the stage.

They stormed through a fantastically tight set which came to a climax as they welcomed the other Big 4 members onto the stage, driving the crowd insane. Moments of such colossal and epic proportions happen rarely and everyone in attendance savoured this incredible improvised encore.

Saturday’s acts were more mainstream than Sonisphere is known for and saw Biffy Clyro take the headline slot ahead of bands like Weezer, All Time Low and You Me At Six. They played brilliantly with a fancy stage set and pyrotechnics galore.

Their set-list was a great choice that spanned their back-catalogue and the fans that were there received them well. Those metal devotees that preferred their music heavier opted for Watain and Black Spiders resulting in overcrowding in both the Bohemia and Redbull tents but a good time was had by all.

By Sunday Sonisphere was back to its Metal best with Slipknot holding the top slot. At 2pm ahead of In Flames, the entire festival site stopped and held a two minute silence in memory of Slipknot’s bassist Paul Gray. It was a truly beautiful moment.

All that was to be heard in the arena was the steady hum of a few generators as the gathered crowd raised horns to the sky.

That evening, Slipknot did Paul Gray proud as they played their first UK gig since his death. The stage was full with their usual rising and rotating drum-kits alongside Gray’s boiler-suit which stood proud amongst the band as a mark of respect and remembrance.

Corey Taylor told us “This is not a night for negativity, it’s a night for positivity. It’s a celebration.” They put in one hell of a performance and rocked harder than ever. They closed their set with an incredibly poignant moment as Gray’s suit and bass took centre stage for some band photos.

It was clearly a highly emotional gig for the band as the light’s dimmed and chants of ‘Paul Gray’ flowed over the crowd.

The weekend was full to the brim with fantastic performances. Weezer played a great set that featured plenty of crowd favourites like Beverly Hills, Island In The Sun, Hash Pipe and Buddy Holly.

They even threw in a cover of Wheatus’ Teenage Dirtbag and Rivers Cuomo sent the crowd into a frenzy when he dashed about in the photo pit and climbed onto the barriers.

Fred Durst was on form with Limp Bizkit as he asked the crowd to choose the songs they played which created a setlist packed with wall to wall hits. Even the hardest metalheads couldn’t fail to get dragged into the Limp Bizkit frenzy that took hold.

Other notable acts included Richard Cheese and his backing band who delighted the masses early Saturday morning with his swing/jazz style covers in what was a highly entertaining performance.

Comedian Bill Bailey had the crowd in stitches with the likes of his West Country style Lady Gaga and Rammstein re-invention of Scarborough Fair as he played to the ‘largest audience of a comedy gig in the world ever’.

Theatrical metal-heads The Defiled put on a fabulously energetic performance on the Jagermeister stage on Friday night. Their keyboardist was particularly entertaining throwing his keyboard stand around with impressive 360 flips.

Reformed House Of Pain were celebrating their 20th anniversary with a set on Sunday morning. They pulled in a huge crowd, many of whom were waiting for the finale of Jump Around which got everyone bouncing.

Possibly the most outstanding new band and definitely the most stylish were LA blues-rockers Vintage Trouble. They played a sensational set in the Bohemia tent. Front-man Ty Taylor has an incredibly soulful voice and teamed with his suave moves on stage their performances are full of life. These guys are definitely ones to watch.

Sonisphere 2011 UK made for an incredible weekend. The whole atmosphere was relaxed and friendly and we’re already looking forward with eager anticipation to what next year’s will bring.

Sonisphere UK 2012 will take place at Knebworth on July 6th-8th and a limited number of early bird tickets will be on sale from 9am Wednesday July 13th. Get yours from www.sonispherefestivals.com