Sonisphere 2014 celebrated a triumphant return with three outstanding days of music this weekend. 50,000 rock and heavy metal fans descended on Knebworth House to witness live performances from The Prodigy, Iron Maiden and Metallica, who led a stellar line-up of rock and heavy metal across five stages. Sonisphere 2014 coincided with the 40th anniversary of music at Knebworth Park, following in the footsteps of some of the most legendary outdoor music events ever staged.
Friday’s main stage, Apollo, opened in riotous fashion with a slimmed down performance from London metallers The Defiled who got the party started with a troupe of sexy, stripping plague doctors. On Sonisphere’s third stage, Bohemia, German digital hardcore band Atari Teenage Riot nearly took the roof off with arguably one of the loudest performances of the weekend before Anthrax played to a capacity crowd in the first of two scheduled sets for the band over the weekend. The legendary New York thrash metal band played their critically acclaimed third album ‘Among The Living’, in full, to a rapturous audience. Limp Bizkit opened their set in style when they invited The Lounge Kittens to join them for opener ‘Rollin’ after the trio impressed Fred Durst with an exclusive performance of their version of the track in Rock Royalty earlier in the day. The main stage was closed by British crossover heroes The Prodigy who delighted fans with a set that included all of their biggest hits including ‘Spitfire’, ‘Breathe’, ‘Firestarter’ and ‘Smack My Bitch Up’.
Saturday boasted some exclusive appearances and experiences, including the very first UK performance by Japanese metal phenomenon BABYMETAL which set the crowds alight with their truly unique style of heavy metal. Anthrax moved onto Apollo, Sonisphere’s main stage for their second performance of the weekend while on Sonisphere’s second stage, Saturn, UK rockers Hundred Reasons took to the stage to play their breakthrough debut album ‘Ideas Above Our Station’ in full. As anticipation built for the main attraction, Iron Maiden, the pioneering UK heavy metal band’s lead singer Bruce Dickinson took to the skies in a Fokker Dr1 Triplane as part of an eight-strong, World War I dog fight! Bruce, along with seven other pilots from The Great War Display Team recreated some classic dog fight formations in an awe-inspiring aerial display before buglers from The Rifles played the Last Post in a touching tribute to the brave pilots of the Great War. Iron Maiden brought their epic Maiden England tour to a close with a colossal two-hour headline performance, which saw them power through hits including ‘Can I Play Madness’, ‘Run To The Hills’, ‘Fear Of The Dark’ and ‘Seventh Son’.
French heavyweights Gojira ushered in the third and final day of the UK’s best rock weekender with the obligatory crowd surfer on an inflatable whale while Mastodon wowed the crowds with an incredible main stage performance, which follows in the wake of the band’s recent album chart success with their sixth studio album ‘Once More ’Round The Sun’. Laurent “Lags” Barnard, guitarist in both Gallows and Krokodil won the award for closest shave (despite his impressive beard) when he embarked on a mad dash from the Jagermeister stage, where he closed the set with Krokodil, over to the Bohemia stage to open for Gallows. Dream Theater delivered a masterclass in prog rock virtuosity on the Saturn stage and worked the crowd into a frenzy in anticipation of the final headliners of the weekend, Metallica. Fresh from their recent Glastonbury performance, Metallica brought the house down with a set that was almost entirely requested by fans. Metallica by Request invited everyone who bought a ticket to vote for which song from the band’s massive catalogue of hits they would like to hear on the night. Unsurprisingly, the set list featured classic Metallica tracks such as ‘Creeping Death’, ‘Sad But True’, ‘Master of Puppets’ and the band’s global smash hit ‘Enter Sandmen’. The set also included a UK debut performance of the band’s new record ‘Lords of Summer’.
Stuart Galbraith, Sonisphere Festival Director commented: “We’re absolutely thrilled that Sonisphere is back at Knebworth in such an historic year for the house. Only the biggest line-up would have been suitable for this 40th anniversary year and we’re extremely proud with what we have delivered for the fans. Having been onsite all weekend, we’ve realised what a special place Knebworth is as a backdrop for Sonisphere.
Despite a little bit of rain on Saturday, the weather has been outstanding and the site has worked flawlessly throughout the weekend. Our mission has always been to deliver the absolute best experience for the fans that we possibly can and we hope we have more than delivered in 2014. The atmosphere across the site has been incredible and there’s a palpable sense of community amongst the crowd, which has been reflected in our extremely low crime figures. There have been very few incidents and feedback from bands, management and fans alike has been fantastic all weekend.
We’re already working hard on lining up headliners for 2015 and will make further announcements in due course. We want to thank everyone who made Sonisphere 2014 such a special moment and hope that they enjoyed it as much as we did.”
Henry Lytton Cobbold added: “We’ve loved all four of the Sonispheres we’ve had to date but 2014 has been particularly special because it’s our 40th year of hosting concerts at Knebworth Park and what a great way to continue that legacy with some truly classic rock echoing all the greats that have been before. Sonisphere fans are our favourite of all the concerts we stage. They are so passionate about the music and so happy to be at Knebworth that we love to see them coming up the hill each year, it’s a great thrill. What’s more, in 2014 a member of the family has finally got on the bill. What a great way to kick off our 40th year than to watch our son Ed open the show on Friday with his band Glass City Vice. 2014 has been a classic year and here’s to the next 40 years of Knebworth!”