Bloodstock Open Air 8 – 11th August 2013
Catton Hall – Derbyshire
Review by Diane Parkes
It is not that often that I can firmly state that I am proud to have been born and bred in Derbyshire, BUT every August as I see the metal masses gathered at the now world-famous Bloodstock Open Air festival I could literally burst with pride. From its inception in 2001; when it was just a small 1 day indoor festival located at the Assembly Rooms in Derby, to its present-day location in the extensive grounds of the beautiful Catton Hall in Walton On Trent in Derbyshire it has gone from strength to strength. It is now quite simply a ‘must attend’ for metalheads of all ages, both sexes and those who enjoy all diverse genres of metal – for 3 full days every August, from thrash to folk, there is always something to suit everyone’s musical palate.
Originally the ‘baby’ of Paul Raymond Gregory and Vince Brotheridge back in 2001 it is still today, 12 years later, very much a family-run concern and those concerned in the smooth running every year now also include Vicky Hungerford, Adam Gregory & Rachael Greenfield. The posse of vital staff also includes Will Johnson, Simon Hall and Lisa McNally, to name but a few! A special mention here too for Ruth in the office who is always both helpful and efficient.
Bloodstock simply gets more popular and bigger every year and this year is no exception, with around 15,000 said metalheads expected for 2013. It now proudly boasts almost 100 rock/metal bands and acts performing on the four well placed stages: The Jagermeister Stage, The New Blood Stage, The Sophie Lancaster Stage and the main stage, the Ronnie James Dio stage. Late-night entertainment after the bands have finished for the day takes place also in the Sophie Lancaster tent, with the 4 DJ’s of the Apocalypse playing music for your enjoyment, accompanied, for those inclined that way, by very scantily clad lady dancers! For festival-goers enjoying a spot of down-time there are fairground rides, large metal market and essentials camping shops, plus numerous assorted eateries; serving everything from burgers to vegan food, donuts to crepes! Of course the drinkers are catered for too by The Bloodstock Arms in the main arena and the Serpents Lair VIP bar, (located in the separate VIP enclosure); stocking 80+ different real ales and ciders. Last but not least there is also the Signing Tent, professionally run by ‘Big Phil‘ and the crew, giving those who have the patience and stamina to endure lengthy queues a chance to meet their metal idols and even get their merchandise signed \m/
Despite being quite simply an awesome metal festival, Bloodstock, as faithful patrons will tell you, is almost an ‘entity’ to us metalheads; a place to meet up with old friends every year, and also to come away having made many new ones too! Yes of course it is about ‘THE MUSIC’ primarily, and every year more and more awesome bands seem to make it onto the bill, but it is also about ‘The Metal Family’ too, the after-hours drinking/talking parties and barbecues, the shared (and often hated – but a means to an end) camping experience, the ridiculous photos that keep us entertained often for weeks afterwards when the ‘post-festival blues’ have well and truly set in, and it is also about helping and supporting others – and from someone who has just done their third Bloodstock with two broken/crippled feet, believe me, you could not meet a nicer, more helpful bunch of guys and girls!!
I think by now the majority of people know that Bloodstock is well known for its support of the Sophie Lancaster Foundation, I should think there is not anyone that doesn’t know that the Sophie Tent is named after the young girl so tragically killed simply because she was ‘different’. The sheer volume of metalheads sporting ‘Sophie wristbands’ every year warms my heart and the merchandise stall for this worthy cause also does a roaring trade in these wristbands, t. shirts and other items, all aimed at spreading the word on ‘Social Inclusion.’ For more information please go to: www.sophielancasterfoundation.com
Another charity supported by Bloodstock for the past few years is ‘The Teenage Cancer Trust’. This year will be the third year that this well-deserved organisation has been the official charity partner for Bloodstock. 2012 saw a staggering £4,775 donation headed there and this year it is anticipated that figure will crash through the £5,000 mark! Ways to support this charity vary from the t. shirt amnesty to the raffle, with the fabulous prize of a Yamaha Bass signed by none other than metal-god Lemmy from Motorhead. Signing sessions also aptly took place in the Sophie tent, where ONE FOR SORROW, STATES OF PANIC & MIA KLOSE were exchanging autographs for donations. Last but not least, all patrons with ‘Guest Passes’ gave a £10 donation too. For more information please go to: http://www.teenagecancertrust.org/
Also this year R.A.C.P.A UK (Rock Against Child Pornography & Abuse UK) were given the opportunity to set up a stall at the side of the Rock Society tent. Registered Charity No. 115 1556, R.A.C.P.A UK’s mission is to
“Raise awareness of child pornography, sexual abuse, and abuse of all kinds, no
matter whether it be physical, emotional, psychological, or any other form, and
whether it takes place on the internet, at home, in schools or in public.”
Superdi and her James Hetfield L’arpie
This is a totally self-funding charity and apart from the obvious merchandise sales of badges, t. shirts etc a huge amount of this funding comes from the ‘L’arpies’. L’arpies, for the uninitiated, are knitted by a dedicated team of volunteers and can be anything from inanimate objects to famous people – my very own James Hetfield L’arpie was indeed born at Bloodstock 2013 – All L’arpies are knitted, sewn, assembled and accessorised from scratch, with many hours of work going into each one. They cost approximately £20 plus P & P, and every penny of this goes into the R.A.C.P.A UK coffers. Check out the charity and the amazing L’arpie guys on here .
It is hard to believe that it is a week now since it was ‘Horns Up’ and off to Bloodstock 2013 for myself and Ali Blackdiamond. Alas we couldn’t go on the Thursday, shame as I would have loved to have seen both TRAGEDY and BULL RIFF STAMPEDE perform in the Sophie Lancaster Tent.
So, we arrived quite late Friday morning, and I have to mention here how impressed I was with the speed and professionalism that Will Johnson and the V.I.P Crew sorted out my various wristbands and requirements (Disabled camp & Parking/Review Pass etc). Also impressive was that the booking-in queues/car parking at the V.I.P/Disabled entrance were a huge improvement on previous years.
We then literally threw the tent up (with a little help from friends!) and then it was time to make our way to the V.I.P Area for the first of a long list of interviews – alas we did not have the right passes to get us into the actual Press Area but how cool that we managed to secure a little corner for our meetings right in front of the ‘AVE SATANAS’ hearse; we even managed to purloin a large bean bag from over by the bar to ensure our ‘guests’ were comfortable!
Every year I order sunshine in via my dear, departed Mum, and yet again she did not disappoint! The sun was beating down as we did our first couple of interviews; interrupted by many screeched and shrieked “Hello’s” from old friends as they made their way through from V.I.P. to the main arena. Eventually we had a break and were able to sneak off to the Ronnie James Dio stage to catch most of the EX DEO set; now it has to be said that I AM rather partial to guys in skirts (hahaha make that kilts then lol) Even better, these long-haired/bearded lovelies were adorned in full Roman battle-dress with leather kilts, tunics and epaulettes. They sure had the ‘Epic Roman Metal’ look AND sound; I confess I had not heard of these guys before but despite it still being quite early on in the day they, and their music with its heavy symphonic elements, were being well received by both old and new fans alike.
Blackdiamond, Bob Katsionis and SuperDi
Back to the V.I.P. area for more interviews and then it was time for FIREWIND; Greece’s leading heavy metal band and one of my ‘must sees’ for the weekend…it has to be said though that it is a damn shame that we were stood right beside the bank of speakers that were obviously having ‘problems’…..with loud POPS emanating from them every few seconds! Despite that, FIREWIND are a popular band and soon had the crowd behind them, won over easily with excellent melodic heavy metal, audience interaction and spot-on vocals from Kelly Sundown Carpenter. Gus G (who also plays guitar for Ozzy) was as popular as ever with his combination of stunning good looks AND awesome guitar playing! Quick mention for Jo on drums and Petros on bass, and also for Bob Katsionis on keyboards/guitar who we interviewed later in the day and he was as lovely as the last time J it was a cracking set, finished off with ‘Set The World On Fire’ & ‘Till The End of Time’ and topped off with a resounding…
“Bloodstock has the best fucking metalheads in the whole of England!”
Due to more interviews/recording/photography we did not manage to catch MUNICIPAL WASTE or VOIVOD, but nothing would have prevented us from being down at the barrier for our old friends ACCEPT! Introduced by Alexander Milas, the roar from the (large for the time of day) crowd seemed to endorse the fact that these German heavy metallers are as popular as ever. Mark Tornillo appeared to be on top form, and along with Peter, Wolf, Stefan and Herman they simply stormed through their set; starting with ‘Hung, Drawn & Quartered’, followed by ‘Stalingrad’, another absolute crowd-pleaser! All too soon their (really should have been longer!) one hour set was almost over, and of course they finished with the ever-popular ‘Balls to The Wall’ and ‘Fast As A Shark’, in my humble opinion a first rate performance, and this seemed to be echoed in the crowds as we did a series of mini-interviews with random fans of all ages.
I did manage to catch some of Friday’s Headliners, KING DIAMOND, but I have to be totally honest here and was not hugely impressed. Having said that, the hard-core fans appeared to be having a whale of a time; the stage set was well done and atmospheric, with a giant glowing pentagram over the stage, in fact all the elements of a fabulous show were there – including scantily clad ladies for the lads – but whether it was a legacy of his awful health problems, or just my own particular tastes, his voice was like ‘chalk on a blackboard’ to me and I (and some other friends) eventually wandered off, leaving behind, and I hate to say this, a dwindling crowd, sorry Bloodstock, you cannot please all of the people all of the time and this really was not a headline act for me.
After the bands came a night of revelry and shenanigans with awesome friends; these included a barbecue INSIDE a Gazebo (do NOT try this at home folks, omg the smoke almost finished us off!!) lots of drinking, hysterical laughter and an impromptu visit to the Sophie tent for an hour with the 4 DJ’s of the Apocalypse; culminating with Ali and I falling into our tent cum bouncy castle (maybe best not to ask!) at around 5am! To be continued…