The clear roads on the run down to Bloodstock may have been a bit of a surprise, but not as much as the weather that greeted us when we got to Catton Park’s hallowed turf. Ok, it may have pissed down in the week before the event which made things a bit squelchy underfoot in places but hey, the sun was out the sky was blue and the first few beers were going down nicely.
After collecting our wristbands and passes from the lovely Kirsten in the press office, we set up Camp Blabbath and got set for the delights to come.
Walking into the arena for the first time we all felt that familiar buzz, the excitement of our annual pilgrimage to the UK’s foremost temple of all things Heavy Metal.
Our first port of call is the Serpents Lair Bar where the usual bewildering array of alcohols in on display.. now where to start?
Cider. We’ll start with a cider.
Entering the arena the old familiar layout greeted us, well apart from one shiny new tent in the middle of the field. We’ll no doubt find out what that’s for later.
And no, we’re still not going on the massive Speed XXL spinny fairground thing.
The honour of opening BOA 2017 fell to Ramage Inc, and with a cry of “let’s metal this up” we were off on our annual 4 days of chaos.
With only one stage running, the Sophie tent was literally the only place to be, and the Scottish four-piece got the crowd moving with a performance that belied their lowly position on the bill. They may not be a party band by any stretch of the imagination, but the BOA faithful didnt seem to mind.
Minimum intetaction, maximum attack. Like the man said… “Epic” and by the time they finished with ‘Dont Bring Me Down’ they’d made a lot more friends at BOA.
The odd sight of a chap in full facepaint carrying a massive sword charging through the crowd. A berserker on the rampage? No, just a man who really needed the toilet.
Next up on the opening night party were Gurt who certainly upped the intensity in an increasingly packed tent. Riffs to give the front row knecks an early work out, with the crowd chanting the band’s name between songs. Gareth stalks the stage in a circular motion for most of the set. maybe he’s been on that spinny thing outside. He’s all smiles too…
Nah, you can’t do heavy bluesy sludge with a smile on your face can you? They hand out the punishing riffs to the increasingly excitable crowd.
A song about dinosaurs that probably explained the inflatables, especially the 6 ft tall T-rex one bloke had on a lead. Gurt also win for having the most fans in the crowd with their shirts on from tonights bill.
When a big bloke in a monks cowl screams “Let’s see your horns”, well who are we to argue. Hitherto knew nothing about these guys but after about half a song we were hooked. The Infernal Sea certainly have a striking image, although we doubt we’ll recognise them when they are wandering around the festival later on. Maybe that is the idea… or maybe they are just shy. Nah, doubt it. Blistering black metal for the win.
It’s still not really party music though…
We did feel sorry for our Photographer though. Dark shadows on a dark background with smoke and green flashing strobes. And the blokes with lanterns didn’t really help much. More candle power needed down here guys.
Wandering around the various march booths, there’s a few questionable designs mixed in with the standard official stuff. A Beyonce/Venom t-shirt? Not for us. And an ‘It should have been Lars’ (not Cliff Burton) Metallica t shirt.. possibly not an official one. Poor old Lars does get some stick.
A UK debut next, Wind Rose announced their arrival with a roar, time for some Italian metal in a battle stylee up next. They’re a bit like Turisas (only not as good). Not bad either, to be fair, you know we bloody love Turisas.
At last we have something with a bit of stomp to it. We can call this party music for sure. By now the tent is pretty rammed with increasingly intoxicated punters as the Bloodstock shenanigans get into full swing. Including a bloke in a black cowl struggling to eat a burrito who may (or may not) have been in the previous band. If only he had a lantern.
Did he really say a song was about the Dwarves and the Native Americans? We’ll have to Google that one when we get home. Frontman Francesco is a powerhouse of a frontman as he leads his men into battle on the fields of BOA. His signature move is a good one, as he outstretches his arms and bangs his head. It looks like he’s about to take flight.
Nipping to the toilets, someones wallet came flying out their pocket on the XXL spinny thing.. unexpected financial bonus for the passers by as beer tokens fluttered to earth. We were too slow, dammit.
‘Straight To The Heart’ gets Battle Beast and their headline set underway as, finally, the Thursday night party well and truly had it’s soundtrack. Any doubts about where Battle Beast sit genre-wise were immediately dispelled by the arrival on stage of a key tar. The electro-bounce, power grab vocals are all ridiculously brilliant for a headline set. There’s some great guitar work in what Battle Beast do however, and some extended solos and crunching riffs just about keep everyone happy.
Silly question of the night? “Bloodstock I have a question for you… are you ready to party?” Of course we bloody are!!
Winding up the cheese factor, if it can be wound up any higher than LED shoulder pads! “Ĺighters up” for ‘Far From Heaven’ gets the throngs swaying and belting out the lyrics back at Noora.
What a way to close the stage.
Not had enough yet? Well as we wander back to The Serpents Lair to sample another ale, there’s only Meatloaf on stage in the beer tent.
This could go one of two ways.
Thankfully, he does actually sound like Meatloaf, and he reels out the hits in relentless fashion.
The beer tent erupts into congas and everyone is in fine voice and it seems Meatloaf has pulled something out the bag here. A great send off as we hit the campsite.
Festival visitor checklist..
Bloke in ironic Westlife t-shirt.. check
Bloke dressed as a tube of toothpaste.. check