Live Photos Credit: Anna Zurek
Live Gig Review by Mark Dean (Journalist/Writer/Contributor) Myglobalmind Webzine
The organisers of this “rock”day part of the British Summer Time were certainly taking a gamble. Scheduling this event on the same day as the opening of the Sonisphere Festival could have dramatically backfired. Securing headliners Black Sabbath meant that many Uk rock fans faced a dilemma of choice. However securing a very strong supporting cast in the shape of Soundgarden, Faith no More and many others proved to be a winner. Despite the British Summer Festival being an established brand, this was my first year of attending the event. A beautiful sunny day and an excellent location in the heart of London and the omens were certainly looking good. Unfortunately due to an over demand on photo passes we were only allowed to shoot the event from the crowd, but we were determined to make the best of things.
Despite several smaller stages playing host to a variety of other acts we decided to focus our attention on the main stage acts. Unfortunately due to congestion on the way in we missed Soulfly. Next up on stage were Motorhead and I was very keen to see how legendary front man Lemmy would be bearing up following his recent health issues which had caused the cancellation of two tours. Any thoughts of seeing the band deliver a half-hearted performance were quickly dispersed. Motorhead as usual gave their all in a customary ballsy but short set. Staples Ace of Spades and Overkill being my personal highlights.
Faith No More were approaching next-and like many I was very puzzled by the transformation of the stage with flowers and plants covering its lip. The band had not played in the UK for quite some time. This helped to generate an air of keen anticipation among the now large crowd. The band themselves arrived dressed bizarrely in clerical garb-the reasons for which were never made apparent. Faith No Mores set was a bit hit and miss-engaging the crowd on the well known songs. Many of the crowd reveling in bygone classics like “”From out of Nowhere”and “Epic” which still sounded as fresh as they had in their eighties heyday. However the inclusion of two new songs in a short festival set lost the crowd, and I feel definitely proved an error of judgement. Of the two new numbers one featured keyboard player Roddy Bottum assume lead vocal duties-and illustrated a different musical style for the band. Ending with their unique take on the Commodores hit song”Easy”helped to bring back the audience interest.
Soundgarden one of the musical pioneers of the”grunge”era were due up next. Trying to recall, and I arrived at the conclusion that this would be my debut viewing of the band in a live setting. Quite surprising as their “Superunknown “release which would form the cornerstone of their set stands tall as one of my personal favourites. As is the norm at festivals the sound quality from the stage improved dramatically for their set. They were not blighted from the technical issues which had plagued both Motorhead and Faith No More. Their rendition of that album through its varying musical tempos and styles was a pleasure to witness. From the raw power of tracks like opener “Let me drown”, through “Superunknown”were they were joined by Mike McCready of Pearl Jam. Some of the songs were extended to allow some instrumental free form improvisation. However they still managed to engage the audience and did not distract from the overall performance of the songs themselves. Chris Cornell’s vocals managed to capture both raw power and emotional eloquence. Playing an entire album in a festival setting could have proved a high risk strategy, but the band managed to carry it off effortlessly. It was a pleasure just to have been there to witness it.
Heavy metal legends Black Sabbath were the head liners-with many rumors circulating and stating it was to be the bands final show ever. Having seen the band on their UK tour in December, I was keen to see if they had made any adjustments to their set. I guess the old maxim holds” if it ain’t broke..don’t fix it.”The set remained as it was. Two new songs from their comeback album”13″nestling comfortably into a greatest hits set. The band looked and appeared energised, even Tony Iommi shaking off his health problems to run around the stage at several points during the set. Ozzy’s vocals traditionally a hit an miss affair in a live capacity retained and remained effective throughout the performance. All the classics still sounded great-no matter how many times the band have played them over the years. Sabbath looked to be enjoying what they were doing. Their was no reference of any farewell or ending of the band emitted from the stage so that question remains unanswered. The introduction of a new and younger drummer seems to have given the band a much needed shot of energy these days-I guess only the ravages of age and illness can determine the answer to that question. If this was to be a final farewell,the band could not have exited in better style. A master class of a performance from the truly legendary band.