Sonisphere Festival 2011..

Did anybody come to Sonisphere this year? Yes? Well, if you’d stopped snorting MDMA at the Jagermeister tent for five minutes, we could have said hello. I was backstage, on tour with “The Big Four”..

The Big Four? No, not Boyzone, Bieber, Bros and The Backdoor Boys. Or is it Backstreet. Memory eludes me.. I was, in fact, at Sonisphere Festival with Metallica, Friday night’s headline act. The other Big Three, naturally, were Anthrax, Slayer and Megadeath. Coo, what jolly sounding groups, eh? Almost guaranteed to plunge one into a heady dysphoria.

Of course, “The Big Four” to me means a tantalising concoction of Alpen, Fruit and Fibre, Honey Clusters and Weetabix. With that lot to start the day – and a cup of tea – the world is indeed your oyster; no feat insurmountable. In fact, after mopping out my bowl, I was just about ready to face some seriously heavy metal. Which was lucky, because there was one hell of a riotous racket on the stage that night.

Heavy Metal


‘You want heavy,’ yelled James Hetfield, the undisputed titan of metal. The crowd, bedecked in tattoos, piercings and a miasma of suicidal proclivities, roared their approval. They certainly didn’t look like the sort of people who are content with the simple joys in life: a bracing afternoon walk and a game of Poohsticks; a stolen kiss beneath a riverbank willow; nibbling a knickerless damsel’s thighs, supine in the long grass on a summer’s day.. I digress.

The camera panned the front row, the screens filling with rubicund, studded faces, each fan leering more maniacally than the last. Crumbs, there wasn’t a girl in sight that you could take home to meet the parents. ‘Raaaa,’ sang James, whipping them further into a tectonic frenzy.

Singing in the Rain


As he launched into All Nightmare Long, I stifled a large yawn and wondered whether these chaps wouldn’t be better off playing a nice tune. Perhaps a gentle waltz at a sensible volume? The lyric, ‘Hunt you down without mercy,’ wafted over the PA stacks… and I thought dreamily of dancing with an umbrella, gaily singing in the rain. Actually, that is a bit gay. You want heavy instead? Well, you asked for it..

Backstage at Sonisphere, earlier in the day, we’d been living it up like nobody’s business. Oh yes, no stopping us. Gentleman Steve even abandoned a gripping article in Model Rail to inspect the moribund condition of Knebworth’s chestnut trees. ‘Canker,’ he said, pointing sorrowfully at the browning foliage. ‘You can tell by the leaves.’


What a Total Canker


Now, Steve’s anodyne tirades are something I look forward to, generally. But he’s been a trifle disapproving of my flip-flops recently – or “safety flops”, as I like to call them when unloading lorries. He lumped them in with a disparaging attack on contemporary women’s clothing the other evening in Sweden. And in the same breath, no less, as a diatribe on declining standards. I’m dashed if I’m standing for it, frankly.

‘The trouble with modern youth today,’ he ranted, grinning inanely as usual, ‘is that everything has to have hundreds of people making an incredible din.’ His hauteur precluded any further discussion, so I nodded curtly. ‘Very boring,’ I said, and collected my brolly from the hatstand. Steve was last seen talking contentedly to himself whilst approaching the toilets. ‘Ah, must remember to wash my hands before I Canker myself,’ he was saying..