Day two of the Spanish leg of Sonisphere is brought to an explosive finale one day before the country's first ever World Cup final, as 30,000 festival-goers mosh in the 45 degree heat to an impressively heavy line-up.
The backstage area has transformed by mid-morning from a spacious hangout into a condensed metropolis of flight cases and crates, all bearing one band’s logo. There is no arguing with the fact that Rammstein have taken over this festival, and, after yesterday’s fun and frolics with the likes of Faith No More and Slayer, there is going to be a new regime implemented today.
Fast forward to twenty past midnight… Megadeth's set has just ended on Stage 2 and as the crowds swarm over to the main stage for tonight's headliners, they notice that an enormous, menacing black curtain has descended over the front of the main stage, blocking from view the construction that has been taking place behind it by an army of technicians.
Then, with no warning, an explosive boom erupts and the curtain falls to the floor, to reveal a German flag, covering the entire expanse of the stage. As primal screams of unadulterated excitement unite the swelling crowd, this too falls from the rafters to reveal the six members of Rammstein, split over two levels.
And so the greatest festival show of all time ignites once again in a blitz of pyrotechnics and strobe lighting.
If you’ve followed Rammstein's current world tour, you’ll already know about the flamethrowers, the keyboardist who gets cremated in a bath only to become reanimated and consigned to spend the rest of the show on a revolving treadmill, the fan who gets plucked out of the crowd and torched on-stage, the keyboardist – again – who sails out over the audience in a small boat, the big phallus that drenches the front rows in foam, the fire, fire, more fire and did we mention the fire?
We were expecting all that and, yes, it is even more spectacular than we’d imagined. What we hadn’t factored on is the gentle acoustic lullabye in the middle of the set and that crazy keyboardist again (”Flake” – VF's new hero) donating his keyboard to the crowd. We are grateful for the handy chat-up line, shared in English during Pussy – “You’ve got a pussy, I have a dick. So what’s the problem, let’s do it quick." VF wishes they had spent their teenage years in East Germany.
Afterwards, we're trying really hard to rationalise the experience of this show which was like nothing we have ever seen before. Perhaps they will come later, but for now we simply don’t have the words to convey just what an extraordinarily mind-blowing live phenomenon Rammstein are, especially in the festival field.
Rewind to early afternoon… the crowds are either taking shelter from the scorching sun under canvas-covered bar areas or getting down to some French rock n’ roll hardcore courtesy of Headcharger on Stage 2.
“You wanna dance? You gotta pay the f**king band!”, yells cheeky singer Sebastien Pierre.
Next up Canadian thrashers Annihilator coax an impressive turn-out into the sunshine on the main stage with frontman Jeff Waters quickly exclaiming, “Hace mucho, mucho calor!” It is an understatement.
After Coheed And Cambria, Sacramento alt-metalists Deftones draw the biggest crowd so far on the main stage and do not disappoint, with ecstatic moshers defying the heat to form circle pits all the way to the back, while a gathering of rock royalty that includes members of Megadeth, Soulfly and Alice In Chains pump their fists in the air, up on the VIP viewing platform.
Soulfly then take the action up another gear altogether on Stage 2, with an astoundingly powerful set. The Cavalera brothers leave the sweaty crowd begging for more, after dropping Sepultura classic Roots Bloody Roots, directing a full-on ‘wall of death’ in the audience and getting Max’s fifteen-year old son Igor up on drums to smash the bejesus out of Joe Nunez’s kit for one number.
Reformed grunge legends Alice In Chains then restore a semblance of order on the main stage and, just like Faith No More last night, sound better than they ever have, even in their heyday. After closing with a spine-tingling Rooster, singer William Duvall leads the Spanish throng in a mass football chant of “Ole, ole, ole, ole” in anticipation of tomorrow’s World Cup Final against Holland.
Over on Stage 2, Megadeth thrill fans with their light-hearted brand of thrash, Dave Mustaine in particularly jovial form, at one point announcing: ”This next song is about getting someone’s head in a vice and crushing it. Obviously it’s called Head-Crusher!”
As the black curtain comes down on the main stage, a man in the mixing desk tower hovers his finger over a red button and listens attentively for the call to come through his headset – "Es ist Zeit"…
The Sonisphere express hits the UK at Knebworth from 30 July to 1st August, with Rammstein joined by Iron Maiden, Placebo, Pendulum, Iggy & The Stooges, Motley Crue, Slayer, Anthrax, Alice Cooper, The Cult, Alice In Chains, Skunk Anansie, Good Charlotte, Papa Roach and many more.