Today we saw the larger Heroes Stage in use, with Beast in Black the first band we saw treading the boards after Dalriada had played earlier. Unfortunately we missed them due to playing with the kids (hey, it’s a family festival), but BiB were a great band to open our own day.
Great heavy metal with a power edge and some very high-pitched vocals, they had as large a crowd in front of them as any band had managed at the peak of Thursday’s show. “Blood of a Lion” with its quiet beginning had the crowd clapping along before going full tilt, fists punching and windmills… windmilling. Their set was full of similar treats and I’m sure many people left with sore necks.
The crowd took a step to the left (cue Rocky Horror references) for the bombastic ReinXeed, a band I had never heard of before. They certainly had some dedicated fans, though, as they had been stood at the stage while Beast in Black played. Fronted by Sabaton’s own Tommy Johansson, they play a higher tempo style of power metal with Johansson’s vocals being somewhat higher on the pitch scale than Sabaton’s Joakim’s! Really entertaining, and it’s great to see an artist spread their wings into a side project in which they play a different role.
Hulkoff rocked the larger stage for an hour or so with songs with titles that sounded like Viking legends, but the highlight of their set was actually after they finished (no offence to the band!) – a couple getting married on stage! The crowd dutifully agreed to be witnesses, as far as I could gather with my limited Swedish, and cheered the vows and chanted “Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!” afterwards. A throaty rendition of “Here Comes The Bride” managed to turn into the into to Sabaton’s “Swedish Pagans” and we remembered where we all were.
Drying the happy tears, attention moved back to the smaller stage where Bombus engaged with a small but dedicated audience for the first extended set of the day. More of a hard rock sound, I enjoyed their set from the comfort of the slopes in front of the bar while my son drove virtual cars at speed around a city in the kids’ area.
The first time I saw Týr they were supporting Sabaton so it seems fitting that I catch them again at the Swede’s own festival. Commanding a large audience, their stage presence is unmistakable despite their lack of motion. They just demand attention with their Faroese lyrics and powerful riffs. The audience responded well, unsurprisingly, though there was no wedding this time! Instead a birthday (the sound tech) and the news for those who didn’t know it that Terji was leaving the band after 17 years, and that today’s show was his last.
Orden Ogan played Bloodstock last week, but I missed them due to working backstage interviewing loads of bands. I’ve heard a lot about them and I was glad to finally get to see their powerhouse performance in front of the biggest second-stage crowd of the day. Fitting into the more traditional theme of the festival – power metal – the German combo covered old tracks as well as numbers from their recent release Gunmen, culminating in a grand version of “The Other Side”.
Closing the main stage tonight were perhaps an odd fit to the bill, glam rockers extraordinaire, The Darkness. Always good for a bit of glitz and glamour, the UK bunch were backed by a superb light show but played to a less than packed venue as many people left after Orden Ogan. Their loss, frankly, as Justin and the boys put on as good a show as I’ve ever seen from them.
Replete with trademark humour which had some audience members laughing out loud, the band played a great set covering all the classics as well as one or two more recent numbers. Dragging out the end of every song as if it were their last, the showmanship on display was simply incredible and Hawkins’ interaction with the crowd is amongst the best in the business. I hope Nat from Bury St Edmunds enjoyed their dedication!
Highlight of the night was obviously bouncing like an idiot (around my embarrassed son) to “I Believe In A Thing Called Love”, the expected closer but we did get just one more song which, as Justin promised, went on “for fucking ever”. They managed to drag “Love On The Rocks” out to over 20 minutes with extended solos, riding into the audience on the back of a security guard, posing… you name it. And it was bloody brilliant.
For those who stayed (and in fairness, many were watching from the bar area up the hill), they left a huge pile of socks by the merch tent which were blown off by the show. The audience may have been sparse, but The Darkness gave it their all as if they were playing a packed Wembley. Hell, if you shoved them in your gran’s front room to an audience of six, they’d put on the same show.
One of Britain’s two representatives at the festival (I think) were a great way to end our Friday night. Sadly, with a tired 10 year old, we had to call it an evening before Nocturnal Rites took to the second stage at half past midnight.