The final day of Bloodstock is always hard going.
Sunday is hangover central as you always think you can have a blow out as there’s “just one day left“, there’s that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach that the festival is drawing to a close and your butt cheeks ache like buggery from the miles of walking and jumping you have done. Fans livers, are by now, no doubt screaming for mercy and backs and noses are red raw from the continued glorious sunshine.
It’s a credit to the organisers that the line up today is one that makes all the above irrelevant. Beers are already being purchased, remainders of the dreaded late night noodle craving lay discarded (or upchucked) in small piles dotted about the arena, and the dodgems are already being utilised. The smells of the freshly cooking breakfasts in VIP are causing major droolage and the toilets are clean. The thought of leaving is currently weighing heavily on my mind.
One thing you may have noticed at Bloodstock is the visibility of the Gregory family. Wandering round the arena, listening to the bands they book and checking on their brood like clucky Mother Metal Hens. Today is no different. Vicky and Rachael are still smiling, Adam still has his earpiece surgically implanted into the side of his head like a cyborg and Paul being as ever, approachable, friendly and chatty with anyone who shakes his hand. I bet that hand had a lot of shaking this weekend…WAIT! I can hear soundcheck!, my spirits immediately lift.
So who did Silent Fox manage to get to see today then? Yes. I am still Silent, and I’m sick of it now. I can’t growl, I can only display my rapey face to show my appreciation. Rapey face is usually kept private.
Judging by the amount of the band’s t-shirts visible as they stroll onto the stage, I think it’s safe to say NILE  were a very popular booking. And they are obviously very happy to be there too. It is an early slot for the brutal American death legends and the crowd are revved for what is about to hit them. As the first chords are struck, the heavens open. Shit. Where’s my hoodie. Never mind the rain though, I think Hell’s gates just opened, I can hear 10,000 Apocalyptic Horsemen riding towards me. Oh wait, it’s Kollias, pedalling out beats that would strip skin from his ankles, and the faces of the first ten rows. Fucksake, this is immense! It’s like having your ears being raped by angry bears. It ended way too soon for my liking, not that I’m saying I want to be raped by angry bears. I just appreciate the fact that thousands of people joined in with me going absolutely crackers and losing parts of my brain somewhere in Catton Hall grounds.
If anyone finds the pieces, please return them.
I have never seen Evile [9.5] put on a bad show. Never. For some reason, ‘reviewers’ of this particular band appear to think that if a band smiles and jokes, they are not worthy. They are not ‘metal enough’. I say a huge Fuck You to those people, well, at this point I have to do it in sign language but you get the idea. I am one of those that loves it when a band interacts with it’s fans, and I am also a fan of songwriting, stage presence and nail your balls to the wall with a power gun Thrash metal.
Evile have all 4 and proceed to shred up the RJD stage wearing huge grins. Selecting a a set aimed at maximum neck damage was the way forward, and the choices were good (said in a Morgan Freeman God Voice) The fans, including myself, are lapping it up. From my stage left position, a sea of cousins IT’s are punching the air along to every line.
The live stream imposed a “no swearing on stage” rule, so enthusiatic Matt Drake (the one with the lovely Dave hair) urged eager Bloodstockers to “Get your flipping horns up, you plonkers!”. Horns are duly thrown again. And again. And again.
Rousing singalong choruses with Cult and Infected Nation make me annoyed as I can’t even squeak them, Evile is music to sing whilst headbanging. Oh well, I best headbang then. An Evile thrash attack is intensified by the fact ever member of the band can be watched, and my eyeballs were flipping between the lads like a kitten watching a laser pointer. As the opening note to In Memoriam is struck, their heart rending tribute to fallen bassist Mike, rain starts to fall, and I find that it’s not just the odd raindrop wetting my cheek. I blame being tired and in pain, obviously. Finishing the set with Thrasher I find my jaw starting to ache as I realise I have probably had a Perma-Rapey Face on for the duration. Once again, Evile smash it. Matt, in response to fans declares as guitar straps are removed from shoulders..
“You’re fucking welcome!” And we are fucking grateful.
Anvil  are one of those bands you go “Nawww” to. Steve “Lips” Kudlow isn’t what you could consider a top vocalist, and Anvil are unlikely to ever be on “Best Album” award lists. However, they have something a lot of bands both old and new do not have, and cannot be faked. They have Andrex Puppy Blood. If you look up the phrase “Ecstatic to be on stage” There will be a photo of Steve’s face under it, wagging his tail. They perform with every fibre of their being, and they win hearts because of it. It will never be music you will Squee over, but I defy anyone not to have walked away from the Anvil set feeling like they had just been licked to death by the happiest stoner puppy uncle in the world.
Demanding spare sunglasses from a flustered looking stagehand as the sun devoured the main stage, Nick Holmes of Paradise Lost  was looking fit (even with short hair) and sounded on top form, but had to suffer what turned out to be tragically large specs for his head. On off, on off, on off.
Still, it didn’t detract from what was happening musically, and would have stopped his corneas frying.
Paradise Lost are professionals. It shows. With the odd bit of chat to the rapt audience, the band doomed their way through their entire catalogue with frighteningly impressive precision. This was what I could describe as a faultless performance, but that makes it sound a bit clinical. It wasn’t clinical, it was fucking glorious.
The sun drenched arena was awash with row upon row of singing metalheads linking arms and drooping forward hypnotically in unison. The appreciative claps getting louder with each concluded song. They know their shit, and exactly how to deploy it. I like brutal as most people know, but Paradise Lost have heavy and intense nailed down completely. These guys were one of my unexpected highlights.
I managed to catch a bit of Anaal Nathrakh  on the Sophie Stage, who from the outset decided to break faces, necks, ears, children, dogs, atoms and anything else that was breakable, delivering a blisteringly heavy opening few tracks infused with aggression, aggression and more aggression. The tent was almost full, and I even spotted a little blonde haired girl aged about 5 sat on her dads shoulders nodding along. I shall check out more of Anaal (That sounds so wrong, doesn’t it) as I do love music that leaves you feeling like you’ve been in a spin dryer filled with rocks.
It was at this stage I really needed to sit down for a bit before Sundays headline act. I made a point of heading for a long overdue pee and to guzzle some cold lager, I mean food. Guzzle some food. The air was actually filled with buzz. I think on the short walk back through the main arena, I head the word “Alice” 557 times. VIP was chocka, The Serpents Lair was full, and the sun was beginning to fade.
Ladies and Metalheads, it is time.
Alice Cooper  Gets a Ten. Actually, he gets a revised score. Alice Cooper  get’s an Eleven.
The 64 year old shock rocker that Rolling Stone once claimed was the most “Beloved Rock N Roll Entertainer in the world” had 11,000 people in the palm of his bloodied hand from the moment he set foot on the boards. How stupid must the little “He’s not metal” Elitists feel now. Considering you were all there, singing along with the rest of us, you will all hopefully now shut the fuck up.
Alice is showmanship embodied. Sticking to time honoured favourites, (or maybe I just knew every single song that Alice Cooper has ever written but didn’t realise it?) and tracks from newest release Welcome To My Nightmare 2, Cooper posed, stanced, growled, sneered and then got decapitated. There were snakes, dummies, costume changes, huge spiders, swords and blood spattered shirts. The rest of the band also didn’t disappoint, taking the guitarist line stance on one occasion and sending the front row into meltdown.
It was a finely tuned, incredibly high testosterone fuelled horror machine. And by god it was good. It also goes 100% of the way into explaining why Cooper has had a nigh on 40 year career.
The evening was coming to an end, the set was almost up and the now infamous guillotine appeared. In his shining silver jacket and top hat Alice looked every inch the Demonic Metal Politician as he told fans to put their problems aside and “join his Wild Party”, With a rocking rendition of Elected, had ballots been handed out that night, you’d have been looking at the new UK Prime Minister.
Shame that didn’t happen really, it would have been a fitting end to an absolutely outstanding show. The people surrounding me were hoarse, laughing and grinning from ear to ticker tape covered ear.
The party in VIP continued into the very small hours, with me having to communicate with scraps of pre written paper, which became increasingly hard to find after every pint. I gave up, and just jumped around with everyone else in The Serpents Lair.
Bloodstock 2012 will forever be ingrained in my memory, not just for my voice loss, but for the overall incredible atmosphere, the willingness to dress like 80’s cartoon characters, the mix of Lycra and metal studded clad fans, the top attitude of the security staff, the clean toilets (OMG!) the weather, and in my opinion, the best line up Bloodstock have given fans to date. Fucking hell I can’t wait for Bloodstock 2013.
Is it August yet?