As we arrive at christening of Lemmy’s Bar at Bloodstock Open Air 2016 at promptly 5.30 p.m, there is already a hefty presence in attendance waiting patiently for master of ceremonies to arrive. As we wait in the sunshine, we get to admire the breathtaking portrait created by the very talented and founder of Bloodstock Open Air, Paul Gregory, as well as a canvas ‘memorial wall’ for fans to write a message to Lemmy.
Bloodstock supremo, Simon Hall informs me that the memorial wall, will later be auctioned for charity and fresh one will be added each year, which is a decision that gets our approval 100%.
Finally, after a rapturous applause long time Motörhead guitarist, Phil Campbell appears with his wife Gaynor and their family, before emotionally dedicated the bar to the mourned legend of heavy metal, whilst sipping a Lemmy, a drink specially named after the rock and roll hell-raiser. Although an emotional moment for all in attendance, Phil stays focused and grabs the scissors to declare the bar officially open! Let the weekend begin…..
One of the best things about the Bloodstock Festival is the development of bands through the Metal 2 The Masses setup, and Norway’s Sublime Eyes are one of four perfect examples on the opening evening of the festival, having played the New Blood Stage in 2012.
It’s always good to kick off a festival like Bloodstock with a band that are a lot more than just a straight forward death metal band. These guys look so comfortable on the Sophie Lancaster Stage, there’s obviously been a lot going on with them since their previous appearance here, very polished and they are getting the crowd moving as the first band our of the stage. There’s definitely some thrash elements in here and the 100% being given on stage is definitely having an effect with the crowd and the response As with most bands that have a short amount of time to work with a large portion of the set comes from their most recent release, last years Sermons & Blindfolds, but they’d be crazy not to, it’s a bloody good album. Never bad to see a circle pit and a wall of death within the first half hour of any weekend, I hope these guys will be back soon.
There’s a pretty big crowd in the tent already when they kick things up a gear or two, with more people making their way in as they progress the track “Shellshocked” (which is probably the highlight of the set) which is an absolutely cracking track from the Sermons & Blindfolds album. Sublime Eyes rumble along with a killer riff after killer riff and drums that beat holes through your chest. At one point lead singer, Arvid maks a journey from the stage to the barrier and it’s great to see so much positive interaction between punters and bands which continues throughout the weekend across all stages. Sublime Eyes pulled off a fantastic performance all the while laying a perfect path for what has yet to come. 4/5
Next up on this opening night of Bloodstock 2016 we have Karybdis, a London based technical/melodic death metal 5 piece, who released Samsara, a very strong sophomore album earlier this year. It was back in 2013 that they were over on the New Blood Stage and as they take to the now packed out tent, they display a huge amount of energy that is immediately devoured and reciprocated back by the throngs of Bloodstock’ers who throw the horns and bang their heads in appreciation.
There’s plenty of melody in their music and this makes it more accessible to the festival audience. Rich O’Donnell (Vocals) is an absolute bundle of energy, and he’s ready to go right from the first note, bounding around the stage and putting in some massive jumps, and he certainly has a hugely different spoken voice to how he spits out guttural vocals. The band manage to fill the large stage with Rich’s presence and energy adding a lot to what they do. Their particular brand of death metal works well for me and obviously plenty of others in attendance.
Material from Samsara sound awesome this evening and really go to show that the band is moving in the right direction. Tracks like “Avarice” show this band at their absolute best, full on aggression, blasting in your face and getting the crowd moving with peaks in activity from all corners of the tent.
Another really good performance on what’s turning out to be a brilliant opening night. It seems pretty obvious that any of the bands that have played here before are determent to try to show how far they have come since their last appearance and thankfully each of the bands are making cracking progress, Karybdis is another name to keep an eye on. 4/5
It seems to be a strong night for London with Sümer hitting the stage, these guys play prog metal at massively high standard, Sümer are really terrific, they hit the stage and they just start blowing you away from the off. Truthfully just on listening to the band you get an impression that they are from somewhere else in Europe, there are some passages that remind me very much of Riverside. The band were mostly showcasing tracks from the truly excellent 2014 album The Animal You Are, their sound is spot on, every element of this set is enough to get you to stand back and just go WOW!
How a band that plays music like this is perceived by a festival crowd is always an uncertainty but it’s safe to say that the Bloodstock crowd loves great music, and the musicianship of the 5 piece is just off the scale, the sound is spot on, so tonnes of props to the sound guys and you can just feel a lot of people around you are really getting into this, the reaction of the growing crowd after each song is getting louder, a sign in itself that this is a cracking set. Something else that should be mentioned is that the guys are loving it on the stage, there’s a great vibe emanating from them, and you know what even without vocals this music is strong enough to carry itself, there’s shades of dark and light (maybe weighing down on the dark side a little more, but that’s great) the vocals just add an extra layer.
There’s a such a variation in sound in what they do, it’s the guitar and drums that hold most in my memory, the changes from sharp cutting to smashing gut punching riffs is seamless, throw in Taria’s bass running all over the map and excellent backing vocals, this band is just that good, everyone active on the stage, feeding off the energy in a now full tent.These guys played the New Blood last year but they more than deserve a higher slot on a bigger stage, and in reality this wonderful performance should elevate them again, it was another of those moments where you think to yourself “I’m so lucky to be here tonight”, the Thursday at Bloodstock isn’t always too hectic, with people not being able to travel till Fri, or just deciding 3 days is enough excitement for them but anyone that missed this band, on this night has definitely missed out, stunning performance. from a band that you can only see rising higher. As the crowd bays for more all we can say is thank you Bloodstock, thank you Sümer. 5/5
Net up are Ireland’s very own thrash loons, ‘Psykosis’ who sprint onto the stage like the place is on fire! Opening with ‘Hunt to Kill’, front-man Grant Walsh wastes no time in thanking Bloodstock Open Air for turning up to party with them. The Dublin fourpice kick it into high-gear and we get treated to one of the most passionate performances of the evening. There is a shout out to Cuchulainn, an old legendary figure from Irish folklore, as guitarist chants “Abu! Abu! Abu!” riling up the entire audience into a frenzy with tunes from their upcoming album Welcome to the Psyko Ward.
Their drinking anthem “Sea of Beer” involved just that… lots and lots of beer… thrown from the stage! The band also brews their own ale and brought plenty of it with them to the festival. Before signing off with ‘Toxic Fugitive’, they encourage everyone to look at the New Blood Stage to see the new dudes on the block just like they were two years ago. It can show that BOA is a stepping stone to greatness and one that can be relied upon for many years to come with fresh bands pouring through the doors everyday. 3.5/5
Phil Campbell All Star Band emerge to the chants of “Lemm-my! Lemm-my! Lemm-my!” There’s no mistake who everyone is thinking about here. Opening with” Big Mouth” the crunch is delivered upon arrival. The Sophie Lancaster stage is packed with rabid punters and a tremendous feeling of respect and love not only for each other but for the reason we are all here today – Heavy Metal.
With a defining sound that is Motorhead-esque to some degree, Phil Campbell and Co, take us to school with a selection of classics which includes Black Sabbath’s “Sweet Leaf” and just to give us an extra buzz we get “R-A-M-O-N-E-S” and “Orgasmatron”. If you could see the smiles surrounding me, it looks like we all suffer from Smilex Gas from Tim Burton’s incarnation of BatMan! We get another jewel in “Sharp Dressed Man” by ZZ Top but then none other than Twisted Sisters’s Dee Snider comes out and gives us “Born to Raise Hell”! I’m having a hard time containing myself, because this is seriously one of those “I was there” moments.
We’re also given “Heroes” by another fallen rock titan David Bowie. The chance of this night getting any better is slim, but I’m wrong. The audience is ordered to open the pit open up and prepare for the one and only “Ace of Spades” followed by “Killed by Death”. The tribute to the granddaddy of heavy metal is very fitting. He watching us from afar and doing his thing for his fans one more time at Catton Hall. Every single person in the tent is transfixed on the band and the atmosphere is electric! There is an older guy crying beside me with a smile on his face and sings along with lyrics and it really echoes how we all felt. Phil Campbell’s All Star Band, end the show with a crack across the head with “Silver Machine” bringing Thursday night to a gripping close. It was a mesmerizing opening night and if this is where the bar is for the other bands on the bill this weekend, then this is going to be one hell of a festival 4.5/5.
Behold! The birth of the ‘Hall-Ball’!!! Finally capping off the nights live entertainment, was the much talked about ‘Hall Ball’ in which Beholder vocalist, Bloodstock booking agent and all round legend, Simon Hall was coaxed into doing a forward roll for charity for the Sophie Lancaster Foundation. With the grace of a professional pixie-like ballerina, Simon pulled it off to a deafening roar from the hordes of approving punters! Take a bow Mr. Hall, you did good! 5/5
Shaun ‘Beans’ Martin
Photography – Down The Barrel Photography © 2016
© Overdrive 2016
Keep your eyes open for part 2 of our Bloodstock Open Air 2016 review.