Featuring rock and metal bands ranging from veteran British groups “Saxon” and “Heaven and Hell” through to the latest young bands from around the world such as “Airbourne” and “The Defiled”, it saw the usually sedate Knebworth estate turned into a mecca of metal.
On a much smaller scale than Glasto, Sonisphere aims to cater purely for rock and metal fans although the inclusion of “Bjorn Again” and a semi-acoustic travelling minstrel group called called “Blaas of Glory” performing rock covers in the billing didn’t illicit the onslaught of “piss bombs” that I’d half expected.
Highlight of the weekend by a country mile for me was Anthrax. Having grown up on them, it was fantastic to be able to shoot them again, then head straight into the crowd to enjoy the atmosphere.
The emergency drafting of former singer John Bush resulted in a hastily compiled Bush-era setlist but that certainly wasn’t a problem for me. As ever Scott Ian looked the perfect example of rock coolness.
Having enjoyed shooting the features aspect of previous festivals, I thought I’d do the same here and found a few little amusements but on the whole, the general crowd was far too well-behaved. Obviously matters were different in the mosh pit..
Having not really followed all that’s going on in the rock world, I had to get a few tips from various people with the advice to go and see Canadian group “Fucked Up” a bit of a gem. For those not in the know, lead singer Father Damien spends the show setting fire to his chest hair, igniting aerosols and falling all over the crowd. Scars on his forehead demonstrate how the bands performances usually end up. The fact that he’s a BIG fella makes quite a sight too. Now when this is combined with half of the audience being there for the decidedly tamer rock group “Thunder”, the clash was rather fun..
One of my favourite finds of the weekend came with a chance spotting of this tattoo. I really need to know what the story is. Surely it can’t have been intentional?
Having no idea on the security arrangements on-site, I decided to book into a hotel which proved rather pointless as I ended up having to drive 19 miles to reach it. Home was only 29 miles from the festival site. Doh.
Which leads me to the main point of the weekend, Metallica. If you’re going to shoot a festival, everything naturally acts as a build-up to the main event. On both days, I’d filed shots of people wearing Metallica shirts as Knebworth prepared for the headliners to take to the stage but when the time came, the bands management decided to block agency access. Newspaper photographer? Fine, come on in. Agency? Nope. It just leaves me baffled every time this happens. Why do bands think that agencies are automatically going to start making illegal copies of t-shirts while the Daily Mail will want to run a photo-set of a heavy metal band? I was angry about it last night but today I’m just confused. If anyone has any idea what the logic is, please let me know.