The Sonisphere express rolls into Spain, three weeks before it hits Knebworth, for its hottest outing yet. The hard rock fiesta, taking place in an industrial suburb of the Spanish capital, has attracted more than 30,000 fans over its two days with temperatures rising to over 45 degrees. Scorchio!
After Danish rockabilly metal sensation Volbeat and Bullet For My Valentine got the sun-baked crowds on their feet, Barnsley metal legends Saxon invaded the stage at 6.30pm, with singer Biff Byford roaring: “Espana! Well done for beating Germany! Fill your head with heavy metal thunderrrrrr!!”. The grey haired veterans powered youthfully through their armada of classics, as kids young enough to be their grandchildren filled the front-rows, moshing away blissfully in Slayer t-shirts. When the singer jokingly asked the crowd if they’d prefer a new song or 747, the result was no surprise.
“We love Spain!”, beamed Biff, to the enamoured crowd, before referring to the host nation’s first ever World Cup Final, “Good luck on Sunday! It’ll be a good match. Unfortunately we’re on a f**king plane then, so you better play well!” The impressively sprightly aged rockers then closed with an extended Wheels Of Steel, featuring a paella of audience participation that would have made Freddie Mercury proud.
With virtually no time to catch breath between sizzling sets by Hertfordshire prog rockers Porcupine Tree and LA shock rockers W.A.S.P., this overflowing gazpacho of metal thrills soared to new heights as thrash juggernaughts Slayer did what it says on the tin and mowed down all in their path with their supreme double kick assault. The combination of the likes of Mandatory Suicide, Dead Skin Mask and Reign in Blood, performed under a dramatic red sunset, with Tom Araya addressing the crowd exclusively in Spanish only compounded the sense of what a daunting prospect it would be for Faith No More to have to follow that.
At twenty past midnight, the legend that is Mike Patton stepped onto the stage, itself decorated minimally with just some red drapes, him sporting a dazzling silver suit. His chums had also made an effort to stand out from the black t-shirt & combat shorts hoi paloi, very smartly attired in pinstripe suits with carnations. For a tiny moment, once their welcoming roar had subsided, you could hear a pin drop. And then, for the next hour and a half, they absolutely killed it.
It wasn’t just the armada of pioneering classics or the fact that the likes of Caffeine and Be Aggressive have matured over the years like a fine Rioja and resonate with even more poignancy and vitality now than back in the heyday; Nor was it just the crowd-delighting tortilla of tongue-in-cheek covers that included Lady GaGa’s Poker Face, Stevie Wonder’s Sir Duke, The Commodores’ Easy and set-closer Chariots Of Fire; Nor the neck-hair rasing delivery of Epic, with Patton seated, dramatically static, towards the back of the stage for its sublime duration; Nor the frontman hurling himself into the crowd and tumbling over their arms all the way to the mixing tower and back, nor even their explosive encore rendition of We Care A Lot. what made this headline show so very special and unforgettable was the sheer investment into the performance by the entire band from start to finish. Whether through sobriety, maturity or just a reinvigorated passion for their creation (one that has undoubtedly left a greater legacy on a generation of bands that followed than almost any other), Faith No More looked and sounded the best they ever have. Patton’s earlier stated fears that a reunion would be inappropriate can now be officially laid to rest – this wasn’t nostalgia, it was a truly majestic rock band at the very top of their game. Scorchio!
Today sees temperatures even higher than yesterday and how appropriate that Rammstein are headlining tonight. Team VF are also bouncing about like sangria-fuelled teenagers in anticipation of today’s sets from the likes of Annihilator, Deftones, Alice In Chains, Soulfly, Megadeth, Meshuggah and more. Stay posted for our reports of the action and photos.