This was the one we’ve been waiting for. It was just a day under 12 months ago that Venom were announced as the first name out of the hat for Bloodstock Open Air 2016. Seeing them on home (well, almost home) turf was going to be something special, certainly beats the international travel and air miles we’ve racked up seeing the legends at festivals across Europe. Given that they were the first big name announced, it was something of a surprise to see that they were on the main stage in the late afternoon, but what the hell, this was going to be something else.
Yep, Bloodstock was always going to be special. It’s 10 years since the band played the UK and judging by the number of t-shirts in evidence the UK legions weren’t going to miss this opportunity..
Just in case it was another 10 before we got another chance.
As the stage time drew nigh, the chant went up “Venom Venom Venom”, The buzz, the air of expectation, it was a vibe that few bands would match over the whole weekend, and this was before a bulldozer bass riff had been unleashed.
And then the words that hadn’t been heard live in the UK for a decade..
Ladies And Gentlemen.. From the very depths of Hell.. Venom !!!
Cue much going mental. Dante took his pace behind the kit as Rage and Cronos strode onto the stage and the Geordie frontman greeted the rammed crowd with a quick “How you fucking doing Bloodstock ?” before we were off.
The gates of hell opened with Long Haired Punks from the last album, which blasted straight into The Death Of Rock N Roll without drawing breath. The whole set was heavily weighted in favour of the new stuff, and after that taste of what they’ve been up to recently a roar of “Come on, turn it up” heralded the aural onslaught of Bloodlust. Things were kept back in the “classic” days with Welcome To Hell and Countess Bathory keeping the die hard legions happy while giving the neutrals something to nod their heads to.
Cronos was his usual self, menacing, growling but not always able to hide twinkle in his eye as he lapped up the unfettered adulation of the crowd. Although he’s obviously the center of attention guitarist La Rage wasn’t hiding in the shadows, coming front and center to unleash blistering solo after blistering solo while looking like he was having the time of his life.
Venom could have played a greatest hits set and everyone would have been quite happy, but althoug it would have been nice to hear the liked of Die Hard or Buried Alive we had no complaints about them giving a lot of the newer stuff an airing in the unfamiliar environment of mid afternoon sun.
“It’s amazing we haven’t burst into flames”.
Cronos is clearly happy of the latest album and the title track, From The Very Depths, in particular slotted right in alongside the gems from “back in the day”.
Well the album did get an award, as Cronos told us…
Didn’t say what though.
The mix of old and new was typified by following the awesome Rip Ride with Hammerhead before throwing in a couple of highlights from the band’s much overlooked “Original line up reunion-more or less” phase. The Evil One from Cast In Stone and the title track from it’s follow up Resurrection just happen to be two of my particular highlights from a couple of my favourite Venom albums.
In the past Cronos has always had something to say about his perception that promoters have got something against the black metal gods, and here was no exception. Venom’s continental festival appearances use pyro, a lot of pyro, an awful lot of pyro, and he told us he wanted the crowd to experience “The full show, in the fucking dark”. and asking the faithful to pester promoters (not mentioning any, well apart from *Cough* Download *cough*) to get the band booked for more UK festival appearances.
After Cronos’ mini-moan we were back on track with my highlight of the set
“cos its Warhead”.
Not sure those unfamiliar with Venom’s back catalogue knew what to make of that. The bloke beside me went from “what the fuck” to singing along, fist in the air in the space of a couple of minutes. Good job the words aren’t too hard to learn. On stage there were huge smiles all round as Cronos’ bass rumble spread out across the BOA main arena like some malevolent dark cloud.
The main body of the set closed with another new track, Rise before Cronos shouted “good evening” and the band walked off stage (unconvincingly, as we could see them standing behind the Marshall stacks). Still, we all chanted, like you do, and surprise surprise they came back on for an encore.
“We’ve got time for one more. We can’t fucking leave without playing this can we”…
No Cronos, you can’t. Black Metal is a song that gave a name to an entire genre and there was no more fitting way for Venom to sign off after their triumphant comeback to the UK festival scene.
Band of the day ? Well in TeamCB that was a split decision.
But for me.. Hell Yeah !!