For those of you who may be unaware, Bloodstock Open Air is a UK festival which began at the Derby Assembly Rooms in 2001. After four successful years, the decision was made to turn one festival into two. One would remain at the same venue, while a bold, open air venture would take place at Catton Hall in nearby Walton-on-Trent. The outdoor festival proved to be a hit, the indoor show was subsequently dropped, and the annually held event has gone on to expand in both size and stature ever since.
Thursday’s festivities were kept fairly low-key as usual, with short, enjoyable sets from Karybdis and Sumer, with Ireland’s Psykosis left to really get the party started. The evening was rounded off by the newly renamed Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons (formerly Phil Campbell’s All Starr Band), the former Motorhead guitarist ploughing through a selection of Motorhead covers plus ‘Heroes’ by David Bowie, ‘Sweet Leaf’ by Black Sabbath, and ‘Sharp Dressed Man’ by ZZ Top. Joined on stage by Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider and Pepper Keenan of COC for a truly memorable version of ‘Born To Raise Hell’, the band eventually brought things to a rousing climax with a cover of ‘Silver Machine’ by Hawkwind.
Friday is where the entertainment really begins at Bloodstock though, and you don’t get much more entertaining than songs about unicorns and space wizards followed by a battle cry of “We are Gloryhammer and we sing songs about hammers!” Evil Scarecrow followed, and you simply haven’t lived until you’ve held your pincers in the air and scuttled from side to side for the mighty ‘Crabulon’. Corrosion of Conformity played a typically crowd-pleasing set of which my only criticism would be ‘Clean My Wounds’ being used as the backbone for a rambling, ten minute long jam session. Venom‘s Legendary bassist/vocalist, Cronos, snarled and joked his way through their set, but the band let themselves down with a poor choice of songs. No such problems from Behemoth though, who played latest album ‘The Satanist’ in its entirety before finishing with a blistering encore of ‘Ov Fire and the Void’ and ‘Chant For Ezkaton’.
Britain has always held a special place in Twisted Sister‘s heart and it really showed in their last ever performance here. Drawing the biggest ever crowd for a Bloodstock headline act, it was the perfect send off for one of the finest American Heavy Metal bands to ever grace a UK stage. Diamond Head finished off the evening on the second stage in competent, if unspectacular style. At least they didn’t sound like a tribute act to themselves like they did the last time I saw them.
WORDS BY GARY ALCOCK