And onto the final day. Despite an early first act, I decided to scarper into Stevenage on the free bus for a McDonalds‘ breakfast. I got back in plenty of time for Henry Rollins “stand up” routine which was simply staggering. From a metal/punk singer to a one-man troublemaking human rights machine, the guy has been to so many places and done so many things that it’s hard not to be in awe of him.
Without doubt a highlight of the weekend and he didn’t even sing any songs.
Another large gap ensued where I just chilled at the tent and worked through my book. Despite the cloud it was still warm and I actually nodded off for an hour, waking with a start and realising I had only thirty minutes to get somewhere near the front of the stage for the mighty Slayer! I ambled like hell…
It was obvious from the size of the crowd that this was a huge draw for an enormous number of people. Frankly, I’m surprised Tom Araya and company were so far down the bill and given only 45 minutes but such is the state of affairs with large festivals. They didn’t mess around and launched through a brutal set including Reign in Blood, South of Heaven, Mandatory Suicide, Dead Skin Mask, War Ensemble, and of course Angel of Death.
Thankfully, my aging and aching frame was then granted a further rest (and time to head through to the train station for a burger) as there was very little else that interested me until the festival headliners took to the stage.
Those headliners, of course, were Iron Maiden. Legends in their own lunchtimes and several other people’s they rarely disappoint… only this time they did. A little. I know I was shouted down for this after the performance by Sandy and Dave, but I just wasn’t hugely impressed. Far too many recent tracks (which Bruce did justify during the set) and not enough classics. For me, anyway.
I know almost everyone lived the show, but I just didn’t get to sing along enough as I’m not as big a fan of the newer material as I am of the old stuff. Also, I was hoping for a huge finale which could perhaps give Rammsteins’ stage show a 2-minute run for its money. But no. A perambulating Eddie – one of the best I’ve seen, but still just a guy on stilts – was the only “extra” we got.
Now don’t get me wrong. I really enjoyed the show. The band were as musically spot on as always, Bruce is a wonderful front man and the lighting and sound were superb. I’ve just come to expect something amazing from Maiden – and I only got something really, really, really good.
In fairness with a near 30-year history and 14 studio albums (number 15 out this month) they’d struggle to fill even a 2-hour set with everyone’s favourites, but I still feel they have too many classics to worry about pushing new stuff. At the end of the day, if a new Maiden album comes out everyone will buy it anyway.
But, hey. Not to take the gloss off another excellent performance. However, on balance I enjoyed Rammstein more simply for the spectacle. In fairness, I’ve seen Maiden around 20 times, at a guess and Rammstein only once. So far!
Overall, a fantastic festival and well organised. They need more shuttle buses and more campsite toilets for next year (20+ mins queue for a poo at times!), but otherwise a great three days. Roll on 2011. Due to work commitments I don’t think I could manage Download or Graspop next year anyway so Sonisphere better have a good lineup!