United Kingdom | 01 August 2009
Early evening saw a fleet of blacked out vans pulling into the production area, and a strict no-smoking policy enforced in the back stage area, as clean-living headliners Linkin Park arrived on-site...
Taking the stage to a chorus of cheers, the Californian sextet dealt out hit after hit as the sun set over Knebworth Park, including 'Numb', 'In The End' and 'Crawling'. The surprise of the night came when frontman Chester Bennington used the appearance to debut his new project Dead By Sunrise, as part of the encore to a rapturous reception, ending the main arena activity on Sonisphere day one.
The UK's first ever Sonisphere festival had kicked off with Chicago hard-rockers Soil taking the Saturn stage at midday to wake up amassing crowds who had started to pour in an hour earlier. It didn't take long for the festival to get into gear with the first crowd surfer arriving 90 seconds after the first note was struck!
Stand out moments started with Skindred taking the stage to the Star Wars 'Imperial Death March ' theme, whipping up a frenzy with their hard-hitting raga-punk, teasing the crowds with Queen's 'Under Pressure' (as a tribute to the legends' famous Knebworth concert in 1986) before unleashing their own rip-roaring 'Pressure'.
In a surreal twist that showed that metallers do have a sense of humour, a black-clad Bjorn Again opened with 'Waterloo'. Incredibly, not a single bottle was thrown, and the 45,000 crowd were won over by the time 'Gimme Gimme Gimme' was dropped. The Abba tribute act were as surprised as we were by the warm reception and they reciprocated by ending their set with a cover of Metallica's 'Enter Sandman'.
Legendary US thrashers Anthrax rocked the Apollo stage for one of the most memorable sets in the band's history. Reunited with former long-time lead vocalist John Bush for a special one-off performance, the band kicked things off with 'You Can Not Kill What Doesn't Die' before the crowd were literally 'Caught In A Mosh' for song three. The band were having so much fun they ran over their allocated set time by 15 mins, treating fans to an encore of 'Only', 'Indians' and 'Bring The Noise'.
Aussie rockers Airborne blew the Knebworth crowd away with a highly energetic set of hard-hitting rock. Living up to their namesake, frontman Joel OKeefe risked life and limb scaling the Saturn stage's scaffolding in the pouring rain to entertain the crowds from aloft. Twisting his body around the poles, OKeefe shredded and sang while holding on for dear life.
Over in the Bohemia tent, a last minute time change saw Coheed & Cambria play an intimate set for the lucky fans who managed to squeeze into the overflowing marquee. After missing their ferry, the band we forced to give up their slot on the Saturn (second) stage over to Japanese mentalists Fact. Claudio Sanchez and co. played an electrifying set in the intimate tented setting giving the assembled throng a rare chance to see the band up close and personal.
Bullet For My Valentine used their Saturn Stage performance to treat the Sonisphere crowd to previously unheard material. The welsh metallers - who had come direct from their appearance at Germany's Wacken festival the previous day road-tested some new songs, as well as throwing in familiar faves such as 'Scream Aim Fire'
For those with the energy left to party on, veterans Thunder performed their last ever show in Bohemia, followed by The Wildhearts who kept the noise going til 1am. 3am marked the official end of the first day as the party wound down with comedy and the rock and silent discos, but there were still some murmurings of festivities on the campsite til the early hours before the campers declared lights out.
Stay posted for our full coverage of Sonisphere UK, including reviews and photos.