Black Sabbath, July 4th 2014 @ Hyde Park, London U.K.
on July 8, 2014 3:53 PM in
Walking into Hyde Park under some grandiose green, blue and yellow archways set up at the north entrance, one gets a sense that big things await inside.
One wouldn’t be far off the mark.
The best example would be the massive main stage. Flanked on either side by giant fake trees whose foliage reaches out across the top of the stage in both directions, it makes for a very picturesque place to watch acts perform their craft.
The only negative I think that can be said about this big beautiful stage were the placement of the audio monitors hung just to the outside of the stage trees. While they did their job pumping out the sound, the 13 vertically hung monitors on either side tended to block the good part of the giant screens behind them, leaving people stationed further back in the crowd to catch only the lower half of people’s bodies while completely obscuring their faces a lot of the time.
Although at first glance there seems to be a wide variety of food vendors scattered about the place, it can be very difficult at times so sate your hunger. The lineups can grow to sickening proportions, especially between acts’ sets.
Soulfly opened the main stage Friday with Prophecy, the title track from their fourth studio effort. This was my first Soulfly experience and they came with a level of intensity that definitely made me happy to be there. By the time they got into their song Arise the crowd was well into it and formed a fairly substantial circle pit to show their appreciation. They closed out their set with Eye For An Eye.
Motorhead moseyed onto stage for their set and straight into their classic Damage Case. Although Lemmy’s vocals at times got muddied up amongst the rest of the mix during their set, these legends brought a solid performance. Following Doctor Who, Motorhead’s man on the skins Mikkey Dee immediately went into an inspiring drum solo that had the crowd in awe. During Killed By Death they were joined on stage by Whitfield Crane of Ugly Kid Joe fame to lend his vocal chops to the number. Closing their set with Ace of Spades and Overkill it was safe to say the crowd was more than pleased with what they saw.
The stage was then set for Faith No More. With white planters of flowers set neatly about the stage amongst white tables and white screens it made for a cool contrast when the Faith boys took the stage clad in black vicar outfits complete with white collars. Mike Patton seemed quite cheerful and playful throughout the set, frequently crossing his chest, albeit in what appeared to be an inverted form, spouting “the power of Christ compels you” along with some other Exorcist quotes. At one point during their cover of Easy he joked to 1 part of the crowd near the front, “It’s ok metalheads, you can sing along”. Having been off the scene for some time they showed absolutely no signs of rust, blistering through a 14 song set that even included 2 brand new songs. Their first since the 90s.
*If any of you boys from Faith No More happen to be reading this, please, do not squander this incredible gift that you posses any longer. Your set was amazing. The world is ready for a new FNM album.*
Soundgarden took the stage in a decidedly low key fashion. In the absence of flashy lights, video imagery, pyro, or any other of the common gimmicks that can go along with rock star entrances, the boys walked calmly on to stage, instruments in hand, and got in position. It was at this point Chris Cornell announced the reason for this was to first explain to everyone that the band had decided that for only the 3rd and likely last time ever, they would be performing the album Superunknown in its entirety to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its release. This decision elicited a mighty roar from those in attendance. Chris even showed off his sense of humour at the conclusion of 1 song that contained a minor slip-up by saying to the crowd “I bet you didn’t know you were coming to a 40,000 person rehearsal!” This great event was even supplemented by Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready joining the band onstage to play guitar on Superunknown’s title track. It was just another special addition to an already incredibly special night.
That brings us to the guests of honour. The mighty Black Sabbath. Opening with their seminal track War Pigs the foursome were firing on all cylinders. Anybody that initially doubted Ozzy still had the chops for it would very likely have come away with a different opinion. The man sounded good, and his supporting cast seemed in top form as well. After the Wall Of Sleep Geezer Butler slipped into an impressive bass solo that led seamlessly into N.I.B. A truly beautiful sight to behold. After Fairies Wear Boots, Tommy Clufetos had his turn to show off a bit, viciously hammering his kit through its own solo. Not even a light sprinkling of rain during the last couple songs could dampen anyone’s spirits. The only downer is the fact that a noise curfew stipulates the bands need to be done by 10:30pm. Given the location of the event and the headlining act in question, I don’t think it would have been too much to ask for that rule to have been a little more flexible for that 1 night.
In the end though the curfew was only a minor detail as there wasn’t a downtrodden face to be spotted exiting the park. In a day filled with both special and historical moments, the prevailing feeling in the air was one of satisfaction and victory.
This day alone made the entire trip to Europe worthwhile.
And I still had 2 days of Sonisphere to look forward to yet…