Day three at Bloodstock, and as the sun rises over a field strewn with crushed beer cups, burger wrappers and more wasps than is strictly necessary, dull as dishwater British metallers Beholder take to the stage. It’s not that they are bad – per say, but they have nothing amazing in their arsenal either. And following a poe faced, preachy bit of between song rabble rousing that utterly failed to get roused rabble from me, I decided that buying a beer and a burger was the thing to do…
Girlschool have existed as a band for over thirty years. And by now should be a well oiled rocking machine, able to entertain a festival or tiny club show with slick professionalism. But they can’t. They are all over the place. Kim McAuliffe and Enid Williams should be a hard rock machine – but sound like a pair of mums drunk on dry white in a Weatherspoons. The fact that the songs just wash over the crowd with no connection whatsoever is not a good sign either.
It may be the beer, but I seem to be seeing a lot of people dressed in the red and black battle paint of Turisas. A LOT of people. With a crowd so into the party hard, drink hard, rock hard message of Battle Metal the Finns could fart into a trumpet and get a furious mosh pit going. There is no fart-trumpeting though – there is a rock hard set of festival pleasing folk metal – and a Boney M song being shouted by thousands of metal heads at the top of their lungs is always a pleasing sight.
Viking Deathsters Amon Amarth head up the evening, and with a catalogue of hummable, fist waving mid paced death they are the perfect early evening entertainment. Johan Hegg is a truely engaging frontman, and seems to be enjoying himself, as well he should. Easily winning the crowd over with a little UK vs Germany noise making competition, they deliver some crushing riffs, and pounding drumming that destroys eardrums and sends those in the crowd blessed with long hair into a windmill frenzy.
The suns sets, darkness envelops the field – evil is in the air. Satyricon take the stage. Satyricon have certainly evolved their sound from their days as true Norwegian black metal stalwarts. Their cut down, danceable new material is like some kind of ultra evil disco. Not that that is a bad thing. Satyr stalks around the stage – his new haircut making him look like a black metal Patrick Bateman – and throws the best frontman shapes of the festival. Ending on the la – along old school black metal pomp of Mother North, they are definitely the coolest and coldest band of the festival.
IT’S THE FINAL FUCKING COUNTDOWN! Yes – Europe in their first ever British festival appearance. They may be best known for their one hit wonder, the second best known keyboard riff in rock (after Jump) and big bloody hair – but they are the continent’s answer to Bon Jovi. And in a good way. They are genuinely a highly polished rock machine who know how to use a massive stage and big audience to full effect. They pull a bunch of wickedly hot rockin’ tunes out of the bag and throw off their novelty band status (at least in this country) completely. And when The Final Countdown does hit, it sends the crowd, me included, into a feelgood semi -dance – semi – pogo – thing ending the weekend on a high.