I had arrived at Knebworth a little later than I would have liked therefore missing the 1st few acts on the main stage. 1 of these I was told the 1st night I was in London was a must see. Although there was some initial disappointment due to that, I would luckily get a chance to rectify said mistake a couple of nights later back in London.
The 1st act I was able to catch on Saturday was Anthrax, another first for me in my live experience repertoire. As I had expected it was very high energy from start to finish that spawned a few substantial circle pits over the course of their 7 song set. At one point the band propagated an audience wide salute with what seemed like every arm in the park raised to the sky giving the infamous devil horns to pay tribute to the late great Ronnie James Dio. A touching sight to behold for a legend that left us too young.
A few of us hit up the comedy tent at one point where John Robertson was well into his own set and absolutely killing it! If you like laughing this is a guy you will want to check out. After alternating between picking on both the security guard at the front of the stage and on himself, he picked an audience member out of the crowd to help him with his next joke. Once set up, John started playing Enter Sandman on the ukulele before climbing over the guard rail & crowd surfing on his stomach with a fist outstretched in front of him into the audience member he had stationed towards the back. Once the fist hit the guy he fell backwards precipitating all crowd members behind him to fall backward as if hit by a shockwave. It may have been because this all happened at a snail’s pace that made it that much funnier but in the end it was quite the sight to see and actually worked quite well.
John Robertson, comedian. Check him out!
It was now time for the air show. Bruce Dickenson, in his very own WW1 replica triplane, took to the skies along with 7 other pilots to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the Great War. With sound effects of both music and gunfire blaring over speakers on the ground, the pilots all flew their pre-planned circuits mimicking some old school aerial dogfighting. Though it may not necessarily have been the most spectacular visual experience in the world, it was definitely cool for what it was.
Deftones took to the main stage directly after the air display opening with Diamond Eyes. After completing Be Quiet & Drive, the Sacramento boys dove into a rendition of My Own Summer with a level of intensity that seemed to electrify both the crowd and the band themselves. At one point during their 14 song set Chino was even off the stage slapping hands with fans. With 7 studio albums under their belt, they were able to put together a fairly comprehensive setlist that touched on most of their records from their debut right up to their current Koi No Yokan.
Slayer closed out the Saturn stage Saturday before Maiden took to the main Apollo stage. Opening with Hell Awaits, the band began ripping with the typical intensity you can always expect from Slayer. By the time they burned into their second song The Antichrist every arm in the place was in the air, pumping away with either fists or horns. After pounding out 11 relentless songs this fierce foursome returned with a 2 song encore consisting of South Of Heaven and Angel Of Death. Brilliant departing songs.
Opening with Moonchild, Iron Maiden wasted no time jumping right into their bevy of classics. If you were seeing Bruce for the first time, running back and forth at top speed above the stage slaying every note, you may think he was still jacked up on an adrenaline rush from flying in the airshow. Even if there was any residual adrenaline from that left event I can assure you, that was not the case. This was just Bruce being Bruce. This man seems not to age. It is quite something to watch as he gives it his all every single time he has a mic and a stage to work with. Every guitar solo these vets belted out during their set seemed to be of the crispest I had heard in the last 2 days. True professionals. Pressing on through classics like The Trooper & Number Of The Beast the intensity never abated. During Phantom Of The Opera the crowd was wowed by 4 giant flames shooting up from the stage followed by immense showers of sparks at the end of Run To The Hills. During the final song of their main set the giant Eddie with the flaming head from the Seventh Son album cover appeared above Nicko McBrain behind the stage, complete with the writhing stomach in his hand. Maiden never skimps out on the visual treats.
Coming back for the encore the boys ripped through Aces High before the penultimate The Evil That Men Do. With this being the culmination of 3 solid years of touring for the Maiden England tour, Bruce promised the crowd of some “big things to come” before closing the evening with Sanctuary.
Incredible set by these incredible men.
Having etched my very 1st ever day at Sonisphere into the history books, I was amped and ready to get at the 2nd!
It wouldn’t be many hours later before I would be at it again.
Goddamn I love festivals.