GRASPOP METAL MEETING 2011
We had a slow, caffeine filled morning before heading into the breakfast tent. The cool, grey, wet morning after a hard night called for bacon and eggs, but again my wishful thinking. I wanted it so bad I could even smell it. Was I surprised when on offer for breakfast was a choice of the usual baguette and sides or BACON AND EGGS WITH SIDES! Thank you, metal gods.
During breakfast I was getting messages from Australia and metal-rules.com’s very own Achtur, that Ozzy Osbourne had cancelled his appearance for the day. It didn’t phase Ray and I and we waited to get the full story atthe press centre later.
Entry to the festival area on day 2 was much easier as the hordes of campers were firmly ensconced in the camping area.
When we got to the festival site the festival T-shirt I wanted had sold out, then the details of Ozzy’s cancelling due to laryngitis was posted everywhere with a revised schedule which put WHITESNAKE and PAIN on at the same time…I KNEW I’d end up paying for those bacon and eggs somehow and I cursed Ozzy Osbourne so his larynx would fall out for good.
Forced with the difficult decision of choosing between WHITESNAKE and PAIN, every time either of their names came up in conversation, as well as Ozzy Osbourne’s, I broke into my overly dramatic thespian self flinging the back of my hand on my forehead shouting ‘Oh! The pain!’.
It took almost 7 years for me to see LACUNA COIL live and now I seem to be see them every year.
Their set didn’t differ much from the last couple of times I’d seen them containing so old favourites mixed in with a new song or 2 like Underdog and I Won’t Tell You.
One really great thing about Cristina Scabbia is that as glamorous as she looks in videos and promotional photos, this little lady is not afraid of getting rough, hot and sweaty on stage in true metal style.
One of my favourite newer songs, To the Edge ripped. Heaven’s a Lie is always a crowd pleaser as is the DEPECHE MODE cover Break the Silence.
I got into Spellbound and, of course, no LACUNA COIL set would be complete without the Guitar Hero featured Our Truth.
Greek power metal at its best is what I will say to start off. Guitarist Gus G fronts this band but doesn’t take away from the other members as they all displayed their talent on stage with singer Apollo having a great voice for this type of music. Delivering songs from the 2008 album “The Premonition” and later “Days of Defiance”, rhythm guitarist and keyboard player Bob Katsionis showed off his skills when it rained by playing with a towel on top of his keys and also playing guitar and keys at the same time. Some of the song highlights were World on Fire, Mercenary Man and Falling to Pieces. All in all a great performance and guess they won a few more fans with this show!
And one of them would be me! Ray had been playing a fair bit of FIREWIND at home and I’d always sing along with the catchy Mercenary Man.
Why FIREWIND hasn’t attracted more attention until now is really surprising. Gus G playing for Ozzy Osbourne has definitely introduced this band to a new audience.
FIREWIND started with Blind Leading the Blind, then Head Up High with a keyboard solo which appeared to be a bit of a crowd favourite. I was also impressed with Katsionis’s playing and showmanship.
The recognised the dual guitar introduction for Mercenary Man, followed by another favourite of mine, Set the World on Fire. We were then treated to a big of a musical interlude full of guitars and keyboards.
The rest of the set consisted of To the End of Time and a sing-along of the introduction to GOTTHARD’s Lift U Up (I thought they were going to do the whole song as a tribute to the late singer Steve Lee).
After I Got the Power a chant of ‘Fire…wind” sang out from the crowd and the set ended with Tyranny, then Falling to Pieces.
FIREWIND’s performance was so good, not even the steady rain could dampen this girl’s spirit.
While walking around the festival site we watched a large number of gambling promotions running – large number for such a small festival. A couple of rapscallions cheekily took off with a 1 metre square dice from one of the promotions. I’d like to think they had also taken offence.
With some time to kill before WHITESNAKE/PAIN – cue: ‘Oh! The pain!’ – we headed to the metal market. I was happy to be able to walk out with a bag full of metal goodies including the limited edition Amon Amarth release with figurine and some new releases. The entry to the press area was beside the signing session stall and a long line greeted us. When I looked to see who was up next, I was further taunted to see it was PAIN – cue: ‘Oh! The pain!’
I have to comment on Belgian weather – four seasons in one day. Saturday averaged around 18°C and cloudy, then raining, then cloudy with a little rain, followed by sunshine, followed by more rain. It was cool enough for me to wear my long leather coat and new, over the knee, waterproof boots, which I’d scored in
After much dramatisation – cue: ‘Oh! The pain!’ – I had chosen WHITESNAKE over PAIN. My long-time love of the band just couldn’t let me go and watch PAIN. (Plus, I keep nudging a certain Australian promoter to do a HYPROCRISY/PAIN tour in
Every time I see
So Reb and the rest of the guys, *clear throat*, I mean WHITESNAKE started playing the Best Years of my Life and Mr David Coverdale emerged – ‘Mr’ because I have huge not-worthy respect for the man. Then, with a howl usually saved for Bad Boys, WHITESNAKE launched into Give Me All Your Love.
I’ve come to the conclusion that, as a whole, Belgians can’t sing and I’m pretty sure that WHITESNAKE share that sentiment after the giggles they tried to suppress while the crowd helped Mr Coverdale open Love Ain’t No Stranger.
I could be biased, but I’d say WHITESNAKE filled the 45,000 people capacity of the main stage area because when I looked back, the crowd was huge. The whole band joined on backing vocals for Is This Love and I was hard pressed to find someone in the crowd who wasn’t singing as well.
‘Doug Aldridge is going to play the introduction to the next song on the instrument of the devil – the slide guitar’ was how Mr Coverdale introduced the opening track of “Forevermore”, and my favourite off the album, Steal Your Heart Away. I couldn’t keep still for this one, wiggling the hips and swaying the hair.
The song was well received and Mr Coverdale tried to thank us in Belgian/Flemish/whatever they speak here, but gave up stating ‘My Belgian sucks the big one’.
Doug Aldridge picked up the acoustic guitar and plonked his butt on a bar stool for the title track ballad of Forevermore. With all six voices this song reached a higher plane live, than the album version.
Mr Coverdale introduced Doug Aldridge and
It’s great to have a whole band singing and all the voice gave Live Will Set You Free such rich tones.
The crowd was asked to ‘say a big “hello” to Brian Tichy on drums’ for the drum solo. I can count on one hand the number of drum solos that have impressed me, and this is one of them. Tichy threw his sticks into the audience halfway through only to continue the solo with his hands. He even started using his rototoms towards the end, giving the solo a Brazilian feel.
The final display during this solo was where each beat was hit with a new stick, then sending that stick over his head behind him, only to grab the next stick without missing a beat…it’s really hard to describe this, so I’ve found a clip of the drum solo. It starts where Tichy’s already using his bare hands.
Michael Devin and Brian Ruedy were introduced before the medley of Slide it In and Fool for Your Lovin’ 2011 version with a slightly altered melody.
The crowd got into the old classic, Here I Go Again, with vigour – fists were pumping for as far as I could see over the crowd and the atmosphere in front of that main stage was so contagious, even the hardest metalheads bounced on the balls of their feet singing along passionately.
‘Wanna make some noise, Graspop?’ Mr Coverdale held out the microphone to the crowd during Still of the Night, but I seemed to be the only person belting out the missing lyrics around where I was standing.
Before the last song Mr Coverdale told us to ‘be well, be safe and don’t let anyone make you feel afraid Forevermore!’ and with an instrumental crescendo the song and set ended much too soon.
We Wish You Well played as the outro while the band made its bows and the crowd moved on to other stages.
Back of the hand on forehead ‘Oh! The pain!’. Apparently, this is what I missed:Let Me Out
Psalms of Extinction
It’s Only Them
Nailed to the Ground
Same Old Song
End of the Line
The Great Pretender
I’m Going In
You Only Live Twice
Dancing with the Dead
Shut Your Mouth
‘Oh! The pain!’
BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE
To kill some time, Ray and I headed to Marquee 2 to watch a bit of BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE. We saw them at Soundwave festival in Sydney and they impressed me far beyond the girlie metal image their record company seems to have given them. Of course, the fact that the singer looks pretty buff and with hair that doesn’t stick to his head after a full, sweaty set probably doesn’t help their reputation. We bumped into our fellow-Aussie outside the marquee, shared festival experiences and before we knew it, BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE were over.
Marquee 2 with 13,500 capacity looked pretty full, but the great thing at Graspop is there are screens outside each marquee so even when they are full, you can still see and hear what’s going on, so we didn’t end up missing anything.
Whoever thought it was funny playing BLACK SABBATH’s War Pigs before JUDAS PRIEST earned themselves a curse from me for rubbing salt into the wound of my fucked up day. And I sent another one Ozzy Osbourne’s way as well – cue: ‘Oh! The pain!’
The “Epitaph” curtain fell and JUDAS PRIEST’s set began with Battle Hymn.
Ray and I stood far back to see the enhanced lazer show that was suppose to compensate me for missing PAIN – cue: ‘Oh! The pain!’.
Multiple backdrops of album covers a la Iron Maiden came up and down.
I’m not a JUDAS PRIEST fan and seeing them with Halford ‘the priest is back’ didn’t excite me. We heard Metal Gods and Judas Rising, but were heading out of the festival by Starbreaker.
We were already comfortable in the van with a stiff drink and a hot meal as Turbo Lover sounded clearly from the festival area, but were wrapped in the warmth of our bed by the time they played Breaking the Law and Painkiller which is about the time I fell asleep.