Another year, organised, enjoyed and packed away.
For me personally, this year’s line-up wasn’t as good as some of the previous years but it’s obvious that it was pretty darn epic for a lot of people by the fact that this year was officially the busiest BOA on record with over 11,000 attendees!! And couldn’t you jolly well tell with the lack of tent space!
It’s always a good idea to arrive at Bloodstock on the Thursday for choice of camping space and of course, those Thursday bands over at the Sophie Lancaster tent (Viking Skull was particularly popular with a full, animate tent), but CHRIST… Those Friday arrivals had next to no choice of where to pitch their tents. Finding an available space in the first place was like finding a needle in a haystack. If you had the luxury of sleep, it was soon disturbed by people falling onto your tent from trying their luck at the guy rope maze… This year being at its peak difficulty level – Super hard triple crisscross level!
If Thursday’s bands weren’t a good enough warm up for the rest of the festival, then the bin jousting on Midgard campsite surely got the entertainment vibes flowing. Banana man seemed to be on a winning streak, but it all got a bit much to follow when it was banana man VS banana man.
It was surprising to see that the breakfast bands were pulling in crowds as big as the other bands throughout the day… Not only present, but animate too! On a normal day, who’d have the energy? Festival vibes must come with bonus energy! This year’s festival breakfast included the likes of The Commander In Chief, Benediction, Malefice and Kobra & The Lotus to mention but a few.
This year it was disappointing to see that there were some missing usual suspects and cut-backs such as the Viking fighting, cup collecting/recycling and even less campsite toilets and taps. However, the cut backs on toilets wasn’t necessarily bad as they were considerably cleaner than previous years and … wait for it … even had toilet roll and hand sanitizer in them! Tap cut backs was a particularly bad idea as there were 6 taps either side of Midgard as oppose to the 16 taps either side last year. People waiting to fill up water bottles began to complain about those brushing their teeth and vice versa. Oh and not to forget… Half of the taps on one side of Midgard mysteriously disappeared and never made it back! Tap thieves!
The weather was certainly on our side this year… Not a wellie in sight. Instead there were plenty of lobsters walking around and plenty of drinks at hand. The Bloodstock Arms is always a popular spot and this year it certainly kept up that reputation. Shade, refreshments and a pretty good view of the main stage, what more could we ask for? Possibly cheaper drinks right? £3.90 for a can of cider! They certainly had us by the balls in that weather!
Friday’s bands most certainly set the standard for the weekend to come with bands such as The Commander In Chief, Iced Earth, Watain, Dio Disciples and headliners Behemoth.
Dio Disciples were a particular highlight of the day. The set was full of classics from Ronnie James Dio’s career as a solo artist and with Rainbow and Black Sabbath. The show was a great tribute to Dio and with performances like these, Dio’s great work will continue to live strong!
Although not a fan of Behemoth myself, I followed the news about front man, Nergal’s, victorious battle with leukaemia and it was this strength and bravery that inspired me to stick around to catch the show. Even after the life changing battle that Nergal encountered, he still marches on in life and his career and his performances have taken no sacrifices! After the third (and lengthy) song – Moonspell Rites, Nergal announced that “it feels good to be alive”… A touching quote from an inspirational man! Kudos to Nergal!
A personal highlight of the weekend for me was Testament on Saturday but I was a little disappointed that they didn’t play some more of the expected classics. However, they are forgiven for playing Native Blood from their latest album “Dark Roots of Earth” – a first time for the UK. Towards the end of the set, banners were put up on stage reading “Randy Free” followed by the 1999 track D.N.R (Do Not Resuscitate) in dedication to the recent release of Lamb of God front man, Randy Blythe. The overall set varied between old, new and classic songs which made it seem to be driven more towards the Testament fans as oppose to being a general crowd pleaser.
The whole of Saturday’s line up was arguably the best of the weekend. The performances from bands on Saturday were particularly energetic and entertaining. Benediction was a great start to the day and even with vocalist Dave Hunt on crutches, there were no sacrifices. Over at the Sophie stage, Dripback were certainly having no problems filling the tent from front to back. Although not to my personal taste, the crowd seemed to love the energy and liveliness of the band.
Saturday’s headliner – Machine Head drew a massive crowd which was slightly unexpected considering the controversy going on pre-BOA by certain people. The crowd was probably the biggest of the weekend (even bigger than Alice Cooper maybe). The band played a great set which was even determined by the fans with voting systems put in place before the festival. A delight for most fans I suspect! Not only was the set-list pleasing but the inclusion of flames, jets of smoke and projected images also added to the atmosphere and gave the show that extra entertainment factor. Machine Head’s performance at Bloodstock 2012 also marked the 20th anniversary to the day of their first ever concert.
Other notable performances for Saturday were Hatebreed and Chthonic, who drew great crowds and provided top class entertainment.
This year’s Sophie stage seemed much more popular than previous other years, almost being full to the brim throughout the weekend. However, some bands suffered some unfortunate clashes with the main stage bands such as Battalion who put on a great, energetic and powerful show but suffered a clash with Nile who seemed to be winning the crowd over (even with the rain), while Battalion entered the stage to a crowd of about 20. However, it wasn’t long before the tent started filling out … For Battalion or to avoid the rain? I’d like to think for Battalion as they were an entertaining band but I fear that the rain might have helped them along a little bit.
Sunday, the final day of the festival… The day that no one wants to end because the next day is Monday… Going home day! But what better way to end the festival than with Alice frickin Cooper!
For me, this was the first time seeing Alice Cooper live in the flesh so it was pretty exciting. I’m not a huge fan of Alice but seeing him live was on my bucket list. I don’t know many songs so I was glad that the classics I was familiar with made an appearance. Since I don’t know many songs, I thought that I might get bored not being able to scream my lungs out to the songs but I was far from it. Alice Cooper is a real showman with a wardrobe for a 1 and a half hour set bigger than my wardrobe at home and a real crowd pleaser.
If you weren’t that interested in watching Alice, then maybe the giant glitter filled balloons that were thrown into the crowd during Schools Out caught your attention or maybe the fact that Schools Out soon turned into Another Brick In The Wall.
So, if at this point you weren’t entertained by the billion outfit changes, classic scream your head off songs or the giant glitter balloons then surely the mega confetti canons in the middle of final song – Elected, got you going? … I thought so!
What a brilliant end to a brilliant weekend. Not only did Alice Cooper close Bloodstock, but Bloodstock closed the European leg of the Alice Cooper – No More Mr Nice Guy tour!!