Bloodstock Open Air, the biggest of Metal salutes to you. You kept the faith and endured more uncertainty than has been experienced before, and a constant shifting and swapping of the lineup right up to the start with no let up even during the festival itself.
Words: Liz Medhurst
Photography: John Inglis
Many doubted this would even go ahead, but it not only happened, but it was also a triumph.
With impeccable organisation and every element spot on, the dark times faded, you brought Metal home, and it was like we had never been away. Here’s to twenty more Metal years.
And so on to the final stretch. Gloryhammer are ready on the main stage to catch us up with happenings concerning Legends From Beyond The Galactic Terrorvortex.
These mystical minstrels are here to continue our hero Angus McFife’s story and his battles with evil wizard Zargothrax. There’s been a dimensional rift, and the Kingdom of Fife is under threat from, well, god knows what.
That’s all I could gather before the inflatable unicorns started running amok raining down on my head in the mosh pit. Oh, hang on – they’ve clearly made their way down the country after the zombie invasion of Dundee.
Anyway, it’s the most fantastic bit of bloody nonsense you will see today. Underneath the silliness is Power Metal, performed by a quartet of seriously talented musicians whose storytelling ability is top-notch.
Gloryhammer. Photo: John Inglis/MetalTalk
Heavy Metal Christmas
We (well, me) often affectionately refer to Bloodstock as Heavy Metal Christmas. It’s got all the elements – a real family affair, something for everyone, surprises, fabulous presents, anticlimaxes, getting giddy with excitement, chaos, catching up with those not seen for ages, putting up with annoying relatives – and an enormous sense of peace and goodwill to all.
Today is invoking actual festive memories from years back when the NWOBHM was experienced in real-time, and the big Christmas movie was a real event.
Who is this introducing Saxon? Only Brian Blessed!
With a huge crowd-pleasing “Gordon’s alive!” before proclaiming “Cry God for Saxon, England and St George!” we were then treated to the Barnsley titans’ 40th-anniversary setlist.
Biff and co gave us all the classics, from Motorcycle Man to Denim And Leather to Wheels Of Steel. Of course, there’s no Motörhead, but Lemmy, Eddie and Phil were included in the celebrations with They Played Rock ‘n’ Roll in the set.
With the band loving playing to “a real Metal crowd”, the feeling was reciprocated and by the end of 747 (Strangers In The Night) there was nothing but love all around.
So. It’s Judas Priest. What is there to say?
This most majestic of bands, the ultimate Metal experience, the crowning glory of the genre. Do we need to say any more?
Ok then, yes.
After the strains of War Pigs died away, the trident was raised, glowing a menacing red. Already it’s the best sight of the day.
Rob Halford entered the stage looking like the love child of Papa Smurf and Liberace and burst into One Shot At Glory, a live debut. This is familiar and captivating all at once. Any speculation on how early recent album Firepower would appear was put to rest with the second song in, Lightning Strike.
It’s been so challenging to see Judas Priest in the UK over the last few years, with the tour with Ozzy having a couple of postponements even before lockdown, so the enormity of the occasion had not passed by unnoticed.
We’re starting to take it in by now – the Metalworks industrial backdrop, looking like Satan’s living room. Richie Faulkner’s rock god poses. The leather and studs. I can’t think of anywhere else we’d rather be, to be honest.
This setlist, though. No one would complain at the greatest hits of standards, but it’s packed with surprises. A Touch Of Evil from Painkiller? Invader from Stained Class – when was the last time this was even played? Same for Rocka Rolla?
And as if our emotions weren’t already on the ceiling, Rob gently led Glenn Tipton on stage for the final big three of Metal Gods, Breaking The Law and Living After Midnight. Great swathes of the audience had something in their eye, it seemed.
Midnight was also notable for the giant bull taking up half the stage. You heard that correctly. A. Giant. Really. Enormous. Bull.
Devin Townsend may have brought an elephant, but this bull kicked it right up the arse.
And that’s it, all over. A dream setlist, one of those privileged “I was there” moments.
Hopefully, Priest will last for many more years, but this is the way to do it if this really is the last time.
Judas Priest. A dream setlist. An “I was there” moment.
You can read all our Bloodstock 2021 coverage, including interviews, here.
Bloodstock have announced their 2022 lineup.
For more details visit www.metaltalk.net/bloodstock-2022-seventeen-bands-announced-for-next-years-boa.php
VAT remains at 5% on tickets, but only until September, so it is recommended to get your tickets early for next year’s festival.
Early-bird weekend camping tickets are available at the on-site box office across the duration of the 2021 event, then will go on sale online at 9 am Monday 16th August, priced at £135 (+ bkg fee) from the ticket store, as well as Serpents Lair VIP tickets, child tickets, and camper van passes (which always sell out very quickly, so don’t snooze if you’re after one).