Bloodstock: Friday August 7, 2015, Part I

Metal concerts aren’t just simply concerts, they are pieces of history. I said that about many of the concerts that appeared in “Rock and Roll Children” and it applies today as much as it did back in the 80s. On August 7, literally less than 24 hours before the time I am writing this now, another chapter in heavy metal history was carved in stone. History was again made at Bloodstock.

Having never driven to the festival on a Friday morning, I was concerned about getting caught in Birmingham rush hour traffic. I have been caught in it in the past and it’s not fun. Furthermore, I’ve never driven through the British city of Tamworth on a weekday morning, so I had no idea what to expect. The in flight entertainment provided by Axel Rudi Pell’s “The Masquerade Ball” and “A Real Live One” by Iron Maiden did a great job in taking the edge off my anxieties. It also helped that my worries were for naught as I cruised around Birmingham and straight through Tamworth with little bother.

Arriving earlier than expected, my stepson and I had to wait to be let into the complex as they had no one to take the one day ticket but fortunately, the wait was only a few minutes. It was the same with access to the Ronnie James Dio stage. Once we were let in, we went to the main stage. Not much seemed to be happening, so like two years prior, we went to the New Blood Stage in the hopes that I might discover another Black Emerald. However, people seemed to be blundering about with no sign of any band taking the stage. Suddenly, a riff from a guitar coming from the Ronnie James Dio Stage sent us back there. Things were looking serious so we found a place near the stage and eagerly awaited Nuclear Assault to emerge. After nearly half an hour of waiting and listening to lots of sound checks, Nuclear Assault’s bassist, Dan Lilker, came out on stage and explained that the band’s gear had gotten tied up at the airport. He further explained that they had left Frankfurt on six hours prior so the band was feeling “a bit bushed.” I’m nuot sure if he convinced the crowd but he left to let the crew sort out the sound checks.

Dan Lilker talking to the crowd

Dan Lilker talking to the crowd

When Nuclear Assault finally came out on stage, they put to rest any question by me or anyone else in the audience over the wisdom of the promoters to put such an iconic band as the very first act of a three day festival. The answer came straight away. Normally, the very first act on any day at Bloodstock plays to about fifty people and in some cases, that band is very gracious in thanking those fifty people for turning up to see them. Not the case with Nuclear Assault. A brief glance over my shoulder saw that there was a very large crowd and they were lapping up everything the band on stage threw out. I now see the move of putting Nuclear Assault first was genius. Their hardcore thrash pummeled the Bloodstock crowd into submission. What songs they played have kind of slipped my ageing mind although I do remember the classic “Critical Mass” being played and they played “Died in Your Arms” from the new EP. Mental note to buy it. Nuclear Assault succeeded in setting the bar for the rest of the day and my stepson was converted.

Nuclear Assault  in full assault

Nuclear Assault in full assault

 

And again

And again

When you are at a festival for three days, when a band leaves the main stage, you usually head for the bar. When you are only there for one day, you try to fit as much in as possible. So not even taking a second to catch our breath after being battered by Nuclear Assault, we headed over to the Sophie Lancaster stage to see what was there. What we saw was quite unique, a drum and bass act. You are now probably thinking ‘what in Sam hell is a drum and bass act doing at a metal festival?’ Well, they were a drum and bass act because they had a drummer and a bass player and boy the bass player could shred. In fact, I’ve never seen anyone shred a bass quite like it and it worked along with his heavy metal vocals. So, you have to give Oaf credit where credit is due. They rocked without having a guitar player. I did manage to catch the drummer a few hours later, you couldn’t miss him, he was dress in very bright colours, and compliment him on how good Oaf was. I just hope that the band forgives my unsteady hand when taking the photos.

Oaf, This one was the better of the two I took

Oaf, This one was the better of the two I took

When Oaf finished their highly amusing set, we headed back to the Ronnie James Dio stage to get ready for Armoured Saint. However, Raging Speedhorn hadn’t finished making their mark on history for the day. If Oaf hadn’t have been so entertaining, I would have seen more of Raging Speedhorn. I was fortunate enough to catch the last few songs and I did like the two lead vocalists trading off vocals they way dual lead guitarists trade solos. What I did hear did arouse my interest in them in the future.

Raging Speedhorn

Raging Speedhorn

Armoured Saint was the only band on the day who I had seen previously. That was back in 1986 and I partied a little too much before the show to fully appreciate them. This time was different. When they came onto the stage, I was ready and so was the crowd and so was Armoured Saint. From the moment they got onto the stage, they set out to dominate. The first song got my attention but the second one was their old faithful classic, “March of the Saint.” A few songs down the line, they premiered their new song, “Mess,” which only had me making mental notes to buy their new album. A veteran of thirty years of shows, vocalist John Bush worked the Bloodstock fans very well. Even going out to the sides of the stage to encourage audience participation. For me though, the big story was the guitar work of Phil Sandoval. He just shredded the whole set and it left me asking myself, ‘why hasn’t anyone taken notice of him before?’ Just when things were winding down, Armoured Saint pulled one more surprise when they brought out Sandoval’s young son to play with them on stage. He looked about five or six but he did genuinely play the song the band was playing, excellent. When they did finish, (they weren’t on stage long enough) I was pleased to have converted my stepson to another great band from my era.

Armoured Saint establishing their dominance

Armoured Saint establishing their dominance

John Bull singing to the crowd

John Bull singing to the crowd

Phil Sandoval shredding away

Phil Sandoval shredding away

Armoured Saint with their newest young member

Armoured Saint with their newest young member

After a morning and part of the afternoon of headbanging away to the likes of Nuclear Assault and Armoured Saint as well as being entertained by Oaf and Raging Speedhorn, we decided to go for lunch. Upon our return, we heard some very good metal sounds erupting from the Sophie Lancaster stage, so we had to check it out. Those responsible for that sound were called Re-Animator. We literally caught the last song of their set but it was a good song played well. Therefore, I decided it was worth taking their picture and putting it here.

Re-Animator

Re-Animator

Once Re-Animator had cleared the stage, we decided to head back to the Ronnie James Dio stage. Shortly after, Norwegian prog metallers Enslaved ascended the stage. I had listened to a couple of songs in You tube in the days before the festival but hadn’t formed an opinion of them one way or the other. At first, I wasn’t so sure about them, especially when the lead singer made an awful joke. However, about fifteen minutes in, they were starting to grow on me. However, my stepson wasn’t impressed and asked if we could go back to the Sophie Lancaster tent. He stated that Enslaved were sending him to sleep and I wanted to avoid the situation of two years ago when we had to leave before the end, so we left.

Enslaved

Enslaved

Maybe Teal was guided by some heavy metal light because when we returned to the Sophie Lancaster tent, a better band called Neobliviscaris was on stage. These guys were unique in a couple of ways. Many bands have either a left handed guitarist or bassist. Neobliviscaris had both. Furthermore, they had a violinist in the band. The only bands where that has worked have been the Charlie Daniels Band, Jefferson Starship on their first two albums and most notably Kansas. I have to say, this was the second surprise of the day arising from the Sophie Lancaster stage. The violinist played a solo with guitar back up and he complimented the band very well. We were both impressed.

Neobliviscaris

Neobliviscaris

When Neobliviscaris left the stage, it was announced that the next band would be Fire Red Empress. My stepson’s eyes lit up immediately. He has been following this band on line and so we had to see them. I had converted him to two bands so far this day so it was his turn to convert me. I had never heard of this band before so like Leaves Eyes in 2010 and Black Emerald in 2013, Fire Red Empress won my award for band I had never heard of who impressed the hell out of me. All of their songs were in excess of five minutes but with the musicianship they displayed, it was worth it. It was straightforward metal, I think the best comparison, actually I can’t think of anyone to compare them to, they were phenomenal. I hope all of you will keep your metal radar out for this band in the future.

Fire Red Empress entertaining the crowd

Fire Red Empress entertaining the crowd

And again

And again

As it’s late, I have decided to bring the post to a close and save the top three bands for next time. Sorry, if you’re disappointed but I think all would agree that the likes of Overkill, Sabaton and Trivium should possibly have a separate post where I can write with a clear mind.

Next post: Part 2

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 Responses to “Bloodstock: Friday August 7, 2015, Part I”

  1. Great to hear you enjoyed Fire Red Empress. Come see them again Sat 26th Sept at O2 Academy Bham

    Like

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