Sunday, August 12, 2018

Review: Bloodstock Open Air, Saturday, and the music

Lzzy Hale, vocals and guitar, Halestorm
This is NOT Alestorm. This is Halestorm, Aftershock 2017
See below for the real Alestorm info! (any excuse to include
one of my photos... any excuse. Pirates make a good excuse.)
Before anybody asks: I do not have photos from Bloodstock Open Air this year. I was there to enjoy the music as a festival-goer, not as a photographer... but that didn't stop me wanting to grab a camera each and every time I saw a picture... next time!

Saturday's lineup at Bloodstock Open Air: spread across four stages, from early until very-very late. These are the performances that most drew me in to their musical being. If you were there, you may have different favourites: that's part of the joy, we all find something to celebrate.

Orphaned Land  (Sophie Lancaster Stage)
I'll start with these guys because of all the Saturday bands, they were who I had travelled to see.

Would the show be as inspiring live, as Unsung Prophets and Dead Messiahs? on record? You bet it would... from the opening notes of The Cave, through songs from earlier albums including Mabool, to the very-last, post-midnight notes, they kept the audienced entranced, clapping, cheering. Such a presence. So very happy I heard Orphaned Land's music. And so very glad I made it to Bloodstock Open Air.

Performing on the S.O.P.H.I.E. stage, Orphaned Land performed immediately after main stage headliner Gojira's set on the main stage; unusual timing at the end of the night, but it allowed everyone to return from Gojira and hear the entirety of Orphaned Land's set. Brilliant move!

Next year in Jerusalem. It's a date. If you know what I mean.

Power Trip (Ronnie James Dio Stage)
Huge energy from Texas, Power Trip were on the main stage, early in the day. Inspired the first Wall of Death on Saturday at 12.13 p.m. You know, where the crowd splits in two, like the biblical Red Sea... and then rushes at each other. Never seen one? Google it and see. Ignore the motorbikes. There are no motobikes involved. Not one. Just a million crazy metal-heads having fun.

Septicflesh (Ronnie James Dio Stage)
Melodic-symphonic-death-doom-metal from Greece, with a wonderful, booming vocal. And cool artwork. Very, very cool artwork. Giger-esque but more organic. If that makes any sense as a description. I'm doing this without photos... mind pictures. Check out Septicflesh here.

Vola (Sophie Lancaster Stage)
Very interesting sound inspired by everything from 70's progressive through industrial to extreme metal; the band hails from Denmark. Take a listen here.

I totally fell in love with their set: the industrial, get-up-and-dance beat that went on, and on, and on. The two drummers, pounding, pushing the music. The makeup, the thrown and caught drumsticks, the runaway bass, the vocals. Not always the most-eloquent lyrics of all times, but hell who cares when you have that beat. We were dancing. Great set. I want more Combichrist.

Well-deserved main-stage headliner, Gojira brought not only their huge music from France (it's so beautifully heavy, it must take a mountain to hold), but also an enormous light show, best of the Bloodstock day. I have seen Gojira many times in the USA, and they always put on a wonderful show. Gorgeous... and if you went into the Bloodstock art exhibition, there were a set of paintings by Gojira drummer, Mario Duplantier. I wanted to take them all home...

Exhibition of paintings by Mario Duplantier

Cannibal Corpse
As well as pirates (see below), there were a huge number of people wearing Hawaiian shirts. In amongst all the usual black T's with band logos and inspiring messages: Hawaiian shirts.

Just blame it all on Ace Ventura.

(Cannibal Corpse was my teen daughter's musical weapon, just as Black Sabbath was mine. I can't say that I ever learned to love their entire repertoire, but over the years, I have learned to appreciate the skill and the complexity, the vocals and the following. And my mum loves Ozzy. It all works out in the end. It's all music.)

This was my very first encounter with Alestorm. You are hearing that right: Alestorm. I'm not dropping the H. Ale (as in beer) Storm (as in thunder). Not Halestorm, who I last saw at Aftershock late last year, and who have recently released a new album, Vicious... Alestorm are nothing like Lzzy and crew! Nothing. At. All.

This is where the pirates come in. Just before Alestorm's set, when I had no clue what was about to go down, another pirate--this time a young woman in full pirate gear, from tricorn hat to swashbuckling sword, topped off by a not-so-pirate clear, plastic rain-poncho, almost barrelled into me yelling, "Where's the boat gone? Where's the Effing Boat gone?" swiftly followed by three other (male) pirates, and then disappeared back into the crowd. I looked up onto the stage, and there wasn't a boat, but there was a giant rubber duck. The crowd was excited, roiling, like a tide on the turn. The band came on stage.. perhaps the only member of the Pirate Metal genre, they are certainly unique, and we might want it to stay that way! Originally from Perth in Scotland, the band's music is a metal twist on the seashanty and other folk-inspired delights... it's rollicking good fun, and while they are singing and making the music, a whole ocean of beings swims across the surf of the crowd.

The Effing Boat reappeared on top of the audience, carrying the young piratess across the hands and heads of the crowd, right into the pit, over and again, many times with different yoyagers. Then there were at least three species of (inflatable) whale, a few sharks, and several dolphins. A swan, a flamingo, a huge, yellow duck, a few rubber rings, and a banana. There is always a banana somewhere. A large parrot put in a reappearance, looking a little deflated, hanging out on the shore up against the barrier. And the audience was full, full of pirates (somewhere in the middle, I hope, the revitalized and regenerated Comatose Pirate from the Sophie tent!

Alestorm have toured the world and have a huge following here; they've been to the USA on Warped and many other tours, but I somehow seem to have managed to miss them until yesterday at Bloodstock!

There were many, many more excellent bands; I've just highlighted those that grabbed me by the heart, eyes, ears and soul, or who are (still) holding my brain ransom for sixteen pieces of eight and a wooden leg. Full Bloodstock Open Air 2018 lineup here. Making your plans for next year yet? You bet!

See also: Review: Bloodstock Open Air, Saturday... the story, the experience, a near-miss, and a few comparisons with my USA experiences

If you are visiting Toon's Tunes/Cameras and Cargos for the first time, you can bookmark the site here. Photo galleries from many festivals and concerts worldwide, including Aftershock (California), Chicago Open Air, Louder Than Life (Louisville, Kentucky), Houston Open Air, TBD and City of Trees  (Sacramento, California), Cropredy and Cromer Folk (UK) and Marillion (Poland, Netherlands, UK and USA) can be found here. Follow @alisontoonphotographer on IG, @alisontoon on Twitter, and @therealtoonstunes on Facebook.

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