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How did I survive Sonisphere, UK 2010?

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Our British correspondent (yea, we got one of those) Nina Saeidi attended Sonisphere UK last weekend, and it took her a few days to recover from her massive hangover before she could write up this report…

The first weekend of August saw the grounds of the more than respectable gem of Britishness that is Knebworth House turn into a tent strewn campsite ridden with disorderly metalheads and empty cans of lager. With a line up that boasted Iron Maiden, Rammstein and Alice Cooper, the beer soaked soil of Knebworth became significantly holier as the weekend progressed. There are few places where one can swig fresh Jagermeister whilst watching people injure themselves in a mighty Slayer pit before being chased around by a sadomasochistic cross dresser on stilts.

Day 1:

The Knebworthian population of corseted manvestites  and latex clad chicks rocketed due to a Rocky Horror Show themed fancy dress in aid of a world record attempt for most people ever doing the Time Warp. Alternative fetish magazine Bizzare, did well in instigating an evening of horrors, freaks and highly entertaining niche acts which were almost as good as Alice Cooper's titillating show where he's  beheaded, incarcerated and drugged whilst singing timeless classics which are sung back at full force.

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Band's that stood out included British electro phenomenon and father of the sound of Nine Inch Nails, Gary Numan as well as doom laden, jazz infused disco extraordinaries Chrome Hoof, known for performing in their trademark druidic mirror ball robes.

Day 2:

Sabaton provided a fitting war-based power metal start to the day, stirring the crowd with a classic set, yet adding a cheeky twist to Metal Machine which morphed into Metal Crüe in honour of the hotly anticipated supporting headliners Mötley Crüe which was an apt boobfest as the arena was subjected to the earthly delights of Nikki Sixx and co.

Fear Factory heavily disappointed with some incredibly shoddy vocals by Burton C Bell, so much so that after five minutes of out of tune warbling, a significant chunk of the crowd dissipated to other less agonizing acts.

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Anthrax proved to be significantly less agonizing with current singer Joey Belladonna, who topped last year's performance with John Bush on the second stage after a last minute change to the line up. Evile proved to be a festival highlight by converting a slice of Sonisphere to their face crushing brand of thrash metal.  Apocalyptica pulled of an amazing sound with their cello based metalling, yet did not amuse the crowd with a weak vocalist who appeared during I'm Not Jesus, leaving many wondering why the presence of Corey Taylor and Christina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil seemed not to have affected Apocalyptica's choice of singer…

Rammstein managed to steal Sonisphere, set it on fire several times in increasingly imaginative ways and then douse it in foamy semen from a giant cock cannon. Literally. With a stage set that involved burning stuntmen, a fire breathing Lindeman and crystal clear sound, a high standard of musicianship and fuel consumption is set by the German pyromaniacs who managed to crowdsurf in a rubber dingy boat and get 55,000 people screaming the lyrics to Pussy.

Day 3:

Amid random shouts of "Slayaaarrgh" and drunken interpretations of Run to the Hills, there was an palpable buzz of excitement to see Iron Maiden being Iron Maiden within a matter of hours.  In the meantime people simply satisfied themselves with such legends as Alice In Chains, who provided a perfect performance, Them Bones and Rooster being particular favorites.

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Spectacular masters of dance-inducing reggae influenced metal, Skindred massively increased their steadily growing fanbase whilst wearing shiny silver suits and initiating a right vs left audience member sing a long standoff before starting several circle pits. However, titans of thrash, Slayer had bigger, faster and significantly more dangerous pits replacing the usual girls providing traditional flashes of full frontal nudity on the LED screens monitoring crowd activity either side of the stage. Despite providing a crowd pleasing performance, Tom Araya's voice is clearly not what it once was, the absence of his powerful scream heralding "Angel of Death" being a saddening reminder.

A similar story was told by The Cult,  summed up perfectly by an out of breath Ian Astbury calling the crowd lightweights in the light of a mere four days of debauched camping. On the other hand, a voice that has by no means deteriorated over the years was showcased in a most entertaining fashion by Iggy Pop and the Stooges who lived up to their energetic persona's. Iggy even inviting several fans onto the stage to accompany him.

Underground sludgy Georgian phenomenon Kylesa wowed those squeezed into the Red Bull tent with an intensely atmospheric set which had mouths hanging open at the complexity of sound produced by the two drummers and mad vocals of the gorgeous Laura Pleasants. Turbowolf also stood out among those not so high on the bill, toting some great Sabbath influenced tunes and a quirky look befitting of their name.

A slightly controversial addition to the bill, Pendulum were saved by being the specially chosen guests of Iron Maiden and did not fail in their task of warming up the crowd as many a middle aged balding Maiden fan responded to club hits such as Blood Sugar and Tarantula in the form of crazed dancing and horn throwing.

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It needs not be said that Iron Maiden delivered a show of shows. Bruce Dickinson's "Scream for me Knebworth" greeted with the usual ocean of noise, adulation and airborne beer.  The set consisted of a voyage through Maiden's prolific 15 album career, beginning with Wickerman and including a heartfelt tribute to the late Ronnie James Dio in the form of Blood Brothers that left many with a knot in their throats, Maiden did more than prove their worth and status as one of the greatest heavy metal bands the world has produced. El Dorado was the only Final Frontier number to be played, leaving the crowd feeling teased yet pleased. The appearance of a giant robotic Eddie wielding a guitar during the number Iron Maiden goes down a treat and the encore, comprising of Number of the Beast, Hallowed be Thy Name and Running Free, were all sung throughout the campsite at full volume until the early hours of the morning. A bloody good end to a bloody good festival.

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