Sonisphere diaries

Last weekend’s Sonisphere festival at Knebworth boasted one of the best bills of the year for your more open-minded rock fan. Find out how PRS for Music set list collector Gareth Kelly got on in the mosh pit...

Anita Awbi
  • By Anita Awbi
  • 14 Jul 2011
  • min read
Last weekend’s Sonisphere festival at Knebworth boasted one of the best bills of the year for your more open-minded rock fan. And, as PRS for Music set list collectors, we quickly learned we had no time to waste - stages both large and small brought moments we knew would go down in history.

There are not many places you could start your day watching a chilled-out lounge band cover some of rock music’s most popular songs, and end that same day watching one of Europe’s most feared black metal acts. And, there is certainly no other festival that would sandwich Bill Bailey - surely Britain’s greatest comedian - between two of the worlds biggest nu-metal bands!

Right from the beginning, all involved knew it was going to be something special. We couldn’t help but see how much this event has grown in its first three years, and it's on course to go from strength to strength as it matures.

The first day was all about the ‘big four’ major thrash bands of the 80s; Anthrax, Megadeth, Slayer, and of course, Metallica. The atmosphere could have been a little more electric than it actually was, but they certainly did not disappoint.

The end of the show saw members of the ‘big four’ jamming alongside Diamond Head to their 1980 song Am I Evil. They were joined on-stage by classic thrash bands Sepultura and Exodus.

Saturday proved the most varied and eclectic day with personal highlight Gallows on the second stage. Their set was tarred with sadness as the ferocious flame-haired vocalist Frank Carter announced he was leaving due to musical differences. But they put on an insane performance, which included the festival’s largest circle pit that even encompassed the sound booth in the centre of the field!

At the end of the set they demanded all watching to head over to see headliners Biffy Clyro, and an eruption of cheer confirmed that these guys were really not ones to miss. Unfortunately I had to do just that; the day’s final few set lists needed collecting.

Sunday brought a stellar line up for metal fans, but it was to be the rock world's 'marmite band' that would truly own the day.

Limp Bizkit came on and asked the fans to decide what they should play - making our jobs as set list collectors all the more difficult!

Fans were even treated to brand new song Douchebag, to which the band were rewarded with a sea of young ladies unleashing their breasts, to a rather thankful Fred Durst.

At that point I was convinced things could not get any better, but it was to be Slipknot’s emotional set that would end the weekend with a bang. The band had lost bassist and main songwriter Paul Gray, and this set was to be a celebration of his life. That it was, and although the rain was hammering down, they had the crowd well and truly eating out of their hands.

And so the festival was drawing to a close. All that was left to do was dance and scream into the early hours of Monday morning, celebrating a hard-working weekend.

Thank you Sonisphere for making me feel 15 again - it is very much appreciated.

Sonisphere Diaries, by Gareth Kelly, Music Licensing, PRS for Music, set list collector 2011.