Review : Bloodstock Open Air 2013 Saturday

BOA 2013 Saturday started with the slightly surreal occurrence of someone walking round the media campsite at half 8 shouting Good Morning to everyone. She sounded way to bright and breezey, and had most of the reluctantly awake campers looking for something to throw…

So far the festival had more than lived up to the expectations we had built up, and looking at the line up for Saturday things were only going to get better… If only the rain keeps it’s distance.

SBeholder Live at Bloodstock Open Air 2013tormbringer open up Saturday’s proceedings with some heavy riffing and just a touch of Freddie Mercury. A reasonable crowd get dragged in by their pretty standard metal plod which has the occasional moment of brilliance but a bit too much of the other.

Beholder are no strangers to the Bloodstock weekend and they fly the flag for British heavy metal with pride as they stomp through their no-nonsense show. Frontman, Simon Hall, gets the whole crowd to give the streaming camera’s the middle finger as he rubbishes politicians, bankers, celebrities and religious leaders alike before ‘Liar’. There’s real bile in Beholders material and it translates into great music. ‘The Awakening’, ‘Splinter’ and everything they play goes down with the force of a concrete slab.

3 Inches Of Blood Live at Bloodstock Open Air 20133 Inches Of Blood have been visiting our shores for 10 years according to Cam Pipes. It’s an anniversary they’re here to celebrate by playing tracks off of their latest and greatest album to date. ‘Long Live Heavy Metal’ has given birth to awesome tracks such as ‘Leather Lord’ and ‘Metal Woman’, which both get an airing today. We also get ‘Deadly Sinners’ and as we’re on the RJD Stage it’d be rude not to have a clap along to a bit of ‘Heaven and Hell’. Cam Pipes is the only one to come close to King Diamond on the falsetto scale this weekend. Here’s to another 10 years from Canada’s long time trad-metallers.

A quick visit to the Sophie stage next, for an all too brief encounter with more traditionally rooted metal, this time from Holland’s Vanderbuyst before it’s time to pick a spot at the main stage for one of the most talked about (well, by CB editor Iain anyway) sets of the weekend.

It may be only 2 o’clock in the afternoon but it doesn’t surprise too many people when Hell put on the biggest show of the festival so far. Making King Diamond’s stage props look more like a cheap Albert Square dummy; Hell put more theatre into their set than the rest of the festival put together. Frontman David Bower needs little in the way of props to be the ultimate entertainer but just in case, you get the stilt walking, fire shooting pitchfork, blood, fireworks and his generally insane style of preaching to his “congregation”.

Hell Live at Bloodstock Open Air 2013

It really is a spectacle to view but it would be nothing without the music to back it up. Thankfully it does, with ‘The Oppressors’ and ‘On Earth as it is in Hell’ impressing as usual.

Gojira Live at Bloodstock Open Air 2013Due to a careless airline fumble, Gojira arrive a little more stripped back than usual, They play it “Rock and Roll” rather than their usual stage set that consists of the big tree and “Naked Girls” apparently…not seen that Gojira show before! Having Randy Blythe is just as good though. The lack of visuals take away nothing from the awesome power their music however and may have just made it all the better. By the time they crank out the awesome ‘L’Enfant Sauvage’ they are just about on their way to being the band of the weekend. It’s amazing what a bit of chaos can add to a show.

Photo by Rob Woodhouse
Photo by Rob Woodhouse

Also suffering from missing gear are Sabaton. They have no six-pack vests and within the first song they suffer from the dreaded technical issues. Joakim takes the time to share his polite note that he received reminding him not to swear; not easy when you have limited English. Also, he manages to borrow a Sabaton vest from a crowd member, and from there we have a show on our hands. Great music and a fair amount of laughs make it a brilliant show.  The crowd return every “woah-wo-wo” and there’s even a chant of “IKEA-IKEA” at one point. Only at a Sabaton show…

Photo by Rob Woodhouse
Photo by Rob Woodhouse

The travelling rock opera that is Avantasia has been one of the most anticipated shows of the festival.  When Tobias Sammet’s ensemble appear on the Bloodstock stage – and UK soil for the first time – there are plenty of fans gathered to bask in the power metal glory. Tobias has a tremendous voice alone but this show is about bringing out everyone involved. Up they pop, one after the other, including Helloween’s Michael Kiske, Mr Big’s Eric Martin and Magnum’s Bob Catley with his tambourine. Most effective however is the addition of the power house that is Ronnie Atkins on tracks like ‘The Scarecrow’. Tobias and Ronnie seem to have the best chemistry and their voices complement each other remarkably, making their duets the highlight of the whole show.  During the last throws, ‘Heaven and Hell’ gets another airing before ‘Sign of the Cross’, complete with all vocalists, marks the end of the show and the Avantasia world tour.

The introduction of the ‘Big’ American headliners to Bloodstock is something that is necessary as it grows; there will however always be a few at the back reminiscing about how good Edguy were as headliners or shouting to get Dimmu Borgir back. If last year’s instalment of Machine Head at the top of the list hardly set the world alight then Lamb Of God is a different matter. People have voted with their feet and the crowd to see Randy Blythe’s return to the UK is massive. The Bloodstock patrons are interested in this one whether they profess to be Lamb Of God fans or not.

Lamb Of God Live at Bloodstock Open Air 2013

Opening up with a chunky trio of ‘Desolation’, ‘Ghost Walking’ and the classic ‘Walk with me in Hell’; Lamb Of God seem unstoppable. That’s until the barrier breaks and halts proceedings for a while.  They resume and soon pick up speed again but as with many of the less theatrical bands out there, they think nothing of long pauses and silences between songs while they get ready for the next track. That can get a bit frustrating during a big headline show but it’s appreciated that Lamb Of God aren’t here to woo you with impressive stage sets or dramatics.

A relentless array of powerful metal tunes is what Lamb Of God do deliver. A short reference to Randy’s “Legal Issues” and some quick name changing antics do little to distract from a great set; including the huge ‘Now You’ve Got Something to Die For’, a fan pleasing ‘11th Hour’ and the consistent highlight and closer of ‘Black Label’.

Chair Surfer at Bloodstock Open Air 2013Lamb Of God are worthy headliners and have no doubt converted a few of those nay-sayers.

There is often talk of the “community” or “family” atmosphere at Bloodstock Open Air, and for everyone who saw it one of the enduring memories of 2013 will be the amazing sight of someone crowdsurfing during the Lamb Of God set. Nothing unusual there I hear you say ?? Well, maybe not, apart from the fact that this chap was in a wheelchair.

Now there’s something you don’t see every day…