Live Gig Photos

Bloodstock Open Air 2019: Sunday August 11 – Four stage thunderous climax closes festival in style.

Words Adrian Young with added “Well actually…” from Adrian Hextall

Pictures: Adrian Hextall \ MindHex Media

Header and Gallery Shots: Olga Kuzmenko \ Olga Kuzmenko Photography

Its Sunday, it’s the final day and the weather isn’t too bad and we are looking forward to a most excellent day of metal.

First, up for us today is “Ross the Boss”. Ross Friedman was one of the founding members of Manowar in 1980 and was part of the writing team along with Joey DeMaio who produced the classic true metal albums spanning from Battle Hymns in 1982 to Kings of Metal in 1988. At this point, he was asked to leave or was fired depending on the version of events you believe.

Between then and now Friedman played in many bands without the critical or commercial success of Manowar and as a sideline, he owns a baseball batting practice center in New York and 2006 stared playing Manowar songs again and the idea of the Ross the Boss band was formed.

So, what did we get today? We got a huge slab of the best of Manowar and if you closed your eyes you could believe it was 1988 all over again as they opened with “Blood of the Kings”. This is because vocalist Marc Lopes sings in a similar style as Eric Adams and his voice suits the music.

He is also a very energetic frontman and took full opportunity afforded him by the extended stage with its runway into the crowd and worked hard to sell all of the songs.

KK Downing was billed as a special guest and he came out to play with the band for the last four tracks all of which were Judas Priest songs except “The Green Manalishi” which was originally by Fleetwood Mac but covered by Judas Priest.

I would have been happier to see four more Manowar tracks but judging by the crowd I was in a minority.

AH: Have to agree with AY on this one. The RtB set was something else and a major highlight of the weekend. Given the ‘real’ Manowar deems themselves too big to play Bloodstock (despite the setting being perfect for them) this was the closest we would get to hearing some of those classic anthems in a live setting. To lose 15-20 mins of the set to KK Downing as a special guest was a real shame. Yes it was great to see him playing again but maybe give him an all-stars slot on the bill and rope in a load of celebrity rock mates.

A quick brew and a dash of songs from Soilwork who were touring in support of their first album in four years Verkligheten. Lead singer Björn “Speed” Strid can also be found guesting on the new Tarja album offering quite a different vocal approach to the roars that greeted us at Bloodstock.

Next up was former Twisted Sister frontman and metal legend Dee Snider who never fails to deliver and seemingly has the power to stop the rain. He asked for the rain to stop and it did. That is some heavy metal power.

Apart from the music I have to mention the charisma Dee Snider has while on stage. He had the whole crowd laughing with a rant and rave about people going to the toilet during his set but they always stayed for Twisted Sister. As a long-standing performer, he knows how to pace the show and sell the songs.

As far as the music goes there was a mix of the classics from the Twisted Sister era and also tracks from Dee Snider’s solo career and the latest album including “American Made”

AH: You know you’re on a winner when Dee Snider has an open and very vocal discussion with Mother Nature, giving her the finger and explaining how it doesn’t rain for Dee Snider when he’s on stage. Thankfully Mother Nature took heed, turned tail and for the rest of the day, the sun came out, the rain stopped and the winds died down. If only he’d has a word on the Saturday when the high winds threatened to finish the day’s proceedings earlier and forced Cradle of Filth to postpone their set by 24 hours. Joking and laughing about Mr Filth, Dee explained how Dani’s vocal style was represented even when having a simple conversation. “How you doin’ Mr Filth?”….. “Grrraaahhh!

In between the jokes and banter with the crowd, Dani Filth and Mother Nature, the music, which saw tracks from his new opus ‘For The Love of Metal’ sit comfortably alongside Twisted Sister classics, got everyone bouncing and singing back to one of the best front men that rock has seen over the last 40 or so years.

AY: All credit to Bloodstock and Cradle of Filth for rescheduling the show that had to be canceled on Saturday due to high winds affecting the stage rigging.

I have to admit this was not a band for me. Dani Filth seems to have adopted the “strangled cat” method of singing which took away from a band who musically and visually are excellent.

He stalked the stage and used the extended walkway to maximum effect as masses of flames shot out from all over the place, yet another band who would benefit from playing when it is dark rather than under the late afternoon sunshine.

One highlight was “Her Ghost in the Fog” which was excellent live and sent the crowd into a circle pit of Gothic delight.

Gallery 1: B.O.A. Sunday August 11 2019: Olga Kuzmenko \ Olga Kuzmenko Photography

AH: Well actually…. I desperately wanted to enjoy CoF but like Ade Y, it wasn’t meant to be. They seemed, looking at the forums to be another band that divides the crowd right down the middle with most of the focus being on Dani’s ‘unique’ vocal style. There’s a reason they’ve continued to sell out shows and produce albums for the last couple of decades to they clearly have a following but even focusing on the music and trying to ignore the voice, it just didn’t sway it for me. A planned trip to the London Palladium in October to see them perform a special show in the iconic venue has now been crossed off the list.

For those who loved it, and there were many, tickets for “Cruelty and the Beast” on October 19th can be obtained here:

https://lwtheatres.co.uk/whats-on/cradle-of-filth/

Queensrÿche was the band I was most excited about seeing at Bloodstock 2019. I have been a fan since 1988 when the best album ever was released. I am of course talking about “Operation Mindcrime”, feel free to argue but you will be wrong.

I wondered how much the lack of Geoff Tate would impact on the whole experience. I shouldn’t have worried as Todd La Torre has the kind of voice that suits the music fantastically well and I must not forget he now has three Queensrÿche albums in the locker.

So what did we get? well as expected a mix of the old and the new which was surely going to please the crowd. They started their set with a couple of new songs in “Blood of the Levant” and “I am I”.

It was long before the band hit the back catalogue with highlights for me in “Operation:Mindcrime”, “Jet City Woman” and “Empire”. They did save the best until last when they played “Eyes of a Stranger” which went down very well with the knowledgeable crowd. The guy next to me, as they departed, instead of asking for ‘one more song’ kept shouting ‘one more hour!’ Queensrÿche clearly made an impact.

AH: OK, so yes, that was me. One hour is never enough. Thankfully they followed Bloodstock with a headline show in London the following week. Our review of that event can be found here:

Queensrÿche, Live at Islington Assembly Hall, London August 14 2019

Elevated to special guests afforded the band an extra couple of songs in the set and the opportunity to deliver a superb performance. La Torre makes me grin from ear to ear every time I hear him perform tracks from my favourite album ever, Operation Mindcrime. Those songs, mixed in with the new material from the three he’s recorded including latest ‘The Verdict” prove beyond a doubt that he’s the man to help take the band forward once more. Queensrÿche are a perfect festival band. Able to please the hard rock fans as well as the metal fans in equal measure. Stunning show, special guest status very well deserved.

AY: Now we come to the final headliner of the weekend and the final band for me. We are of course talking about the Scorpions who rocked it like a hurricane, sorry about that.

From the off, it is apparent that playing to this size and type of headline crowd and they own the stage from the start. Just a quick word about the stage show which can only be described as spectacular with all the video screens across the stage. They act as both video screens and lights and add the whole visual and aural experience.

The Scorpions are now in their 55th year of making music and it’s a testament to the quality and longevity of the music that they are still headlining all over the world.

Perhaps a way they have extended their career in the later years is the careful stage management that goes on during the show. There does see to be a lot of drum solo in the show, perhaps to give the band a rest rather meet the demand of drum fans. Klaus Meine is now 71 so it is a bit harsh of me to expect him to be flying around the stage but after each of the extended breaks, he comes back re-energized and gets the crowd going again.

As far as songs go its all the crowd favorites and it helps that so many of them are singing along classics as “The Zoo”, “Big City Nights” and what was probably the only ballad of the whole festival “Send Me an Angel”. The band finished their set with what is perhaps the most Scorpions like  song of them all, yes you guessed correctly “Rock You Like a Hurricane”

AH: With Ade Y all set to soak up 55 years of Scorpions in a 90 minute window I spent a chunk of time wandering around to watch Aussie rockers, The Lazys who, having been bounced from the Sophie Lancaster stage to the New Blood Stage to accommodate Batushka on the Sophie Stage who had moved to accommodate Cradle of Filth on the main stage who had been moved from Saturday to Sunday because Dee Snider wasn’t available on Saturday to stop the stormy weather….. phew! Still with me? Good. Before all of that, we took in both the Jailbirds with their storming unique brand of Aussie rock n roll as well as Womenowar in the smaller Jägermeister tent. The latter gave us more Manowar hits played as only a band called Womenowar could. Half girls, half guys in drag and a drummer who steered himself onto the path of “I’m a bloke, I play shirtless, deal with it…”

The Lazys are a ball of energy. The more they play, the more I want to watch them perform. This summer has been a real eye opener for fans of good rock music and The Lazys lead the charge of ‘what’s coming next’. Jailbirds would be a great addition to a tour with The Lazys and Womenowar should really open for Ross The Boss for a magical night of Manowar music. Batushka were an oddity. Visually the band have a lot of the show approach that Ghost bring to the table. Their musical style was very atmospheric and arguments aside about which version of the band is the real one (I recall another Sunday band having similar issues) they offered something quite cool to watch and listen to. Imagine a death metal version of Ghost and you’re heading in the right direction.

It was as if the latter part of Sunday exploded with a wall of talent. Much like the firework show, the weekend delivered the true finale across all four stages on the Sunday in style.

In conclusion, THANK YOU Bloodstock for another excellent and brilliant festival. See you in 2020

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