BLOODSTOCK OPEN AIR 2019
Bloodstock Open Air Catton Park, Derbyshire. 8th to 11th August 2019
Saturday at a festival always holds high expectations, and fortunately these were being met on all counts here.
Words: Liz Medhurst
Pictures: John Inglis
The quality of the new bands coming up through the ranks is always good to see, and the Metal 2 The Masses platform comes up trumps every year in providing a varied and full New Blood stage. There are still opportunities even if you don’t win your heat however.
Black Falcon are shining examples of this. The Bradford-based band didn’t get through via the final, but impressed so much that they were asked to come anyway, and play a slot on the Jägermeister Stage.
Speaking to lead singer Dave Ayres in the press tent before their slot, he tells us that the band have recorded their first album, ‘Turn Around And Face The Sun’, and it’s hoped that the title will be a portent of the continuing good weather. It’s his first Bloodstock, so a fantastic way to make a debut.
Thankfully the sun did shine and the band pulled a very healthy crowd who enjoyed their huge riffs, and anthemic heavy rock with punchy vocals. Black Falcon have gigs lined up around Yorkshire for the rest of the year, on this showing they will hopefully get a wider reach, appealing to fans of Foo Fighters, Monster Magnet and Clutch.
Over on the Sophie stage, German thrashers Dust Bolt are taking us through their new album ‘Trapped in Chaos’, where tracks like ‘Rhythm To My Madness’ are coming to life. It’s quite a thrash heavy afternoon as there is no shortage over in the New Blood tent this afternoon, and a tasty bit of Doom from Voidlurker too.
Surprisingly, this is the Bloodstock debut for The Wildhearts, and they went down a storm, using their incendiary power to become an instant festival favourite. Introduced by fellow living legend Krusher Joule, from the first note it was clear that this was going to be a good one.
With a new album ‘Renaissance Men’, the 1993 lineup is restored, with Ginger Wildheart, CJ Wildheart, Danny McCormack and Ritch Battersby, although we were a man down for today’s set, as Ritch was replaced by a stand-in, Cam Greenwood from Terrorvision. The energy was off the scale as they burst into the trademark glorious urgent and pile-driving sound, that was a joyous as it was punchy.
‘Vanilla Radio’ from 2003’s ‘The Wildhearts Must Be Destroyed’ really found its groove and afterwards Ginger led the crowd in a shout of “Fuck you, hernia operations!”, in reference to his very recent recovery.
New song ‘Let ‘Em Go’, all about “getting rid of the wankers in your life”, has a sense of welcome catharsis, and shows that the band are still capaable of getting right to the point after three decades, with the follow up song ‘Caffeine Bomb’ demonstrating this beautifully.
It’s nothing short of a triumph, The Wildhearts made a lot of new friends and hopefully Catton Park will welcome the hell-raisers back very soon. Judging by the tweet written as soon as they came off stage, we think Ginger may agree.
The main stage was then put on hold for the weather – the rain has gone, but the winds have risen to 60mph. It doesn’t feel that different on the ground, but on the stage it’s a completely different story, and the stage managers had no choice. In a weekend which has seen many festivals cancelled in their entirety, we are getting off relatively lightly. The screens had been lowered all day as a precaution and now the programme is stopped altogether. The New Blood and Sophie stages are continuing though, so wall to wall Metal is in no danger of being curtailed.
Cradle Of Filth were due up next, but they are now moved to tomorrow, on the RJD stage – the second time in a week this has happened, as their Wacken set was moved due to thunderstorms. Space has been made by moving Batushka to the Sophie stage at 8pm, all in a day’s work for a band who were already a last minute replacement for the withdrawn Dimmu Borgir
Action resumed at 8pm with Anthrax. They may now be regarded as old school and classic, being one of the big four, but by Odin they show the young ‘uns how it’s done. The crowd needed to let off steam after the enforced break and the pit was so full of crowd surfers after the very first track, ‘Caught In A Mosh’ that the photographers nearly came a cropper.
It’s classic, it’s done with style, it’s exactly what everyone wants. This ‘For All Kings’ tour is turning out to be pretty epic. Vocals, guitars, rhythm section, everything on point. ‘Got The Time’, ‘I Am The Law’, ‘Indians’ – all present and correct and much more besides.
And so to headliners Parkway Drive. The Australians are onto their sixth album, and the size and ambition of their stage show is increasing. There was doubt beforehand if, due to the weather conditions and wind direction, the pyro would be allowed, but the gods of Heavy Metal were smiling and the show continued as planned.
Metalcore madness ensued with cuts from latest opus ‘Reverence’ and a selection from their considerable back catalogue sounding colossal. It’s raging, it’s emotive, it’s the sound of raw grief channelled into great art form.
The stage fell into darkness, before a pyro blast like cannon shot straight into the face of the audience. The band were accompanied onto the stage by four hooded torch bearers, all very sinister, a world away from the celebratory flames we’ve seen so far – and that’s just the intro.
As vocalist Winston McCall started the slow dramatic beginning to ‘Wishing Wells’, the bleakness of the lyrics set the sombre tone for the night. There may have been plenty of jumping, and encouragement to form a circle pit, but that grief and rage was on the surface all the time.
Guitarist In A Wheelchair might sound like a song Morrissey never wrote, but it was literally true here as Jia O’Connor was pushed onto the stage a few songs in, having damaged his knee a few days before and awaiting surgery.
There’s no let up, the lighting is stark and monochrome, with liberal use of strobes, apart from when the pyro is active, and it’s astonishingly effective. At the end of ‘The Void’, as McCall cries “welcome to a world of pain”, there’s an almighty crack like a gunshot and the stage goes dark for a few seconds.
There is light and shade and even a string quartet. Brutal flames, and death growls. As headliners, they put on a memorable show, that might not have people dancing in the fields on the way back, but couldnt fail to move people.
It’s been quite a day – massive thansk to the organisers and stage managers for keeping the show on the road so brilliantly in difficult conditions. There’s a packed schedule ahead tomorrow. The day is here – the return of KK Downing to live performance for the first time in a decade as he teams up with Ross The Boss. Rehearsals have gone well and we are primed and ready for a Sunday of celebration.