Gates are open for the third annual Stone Free Festival in the O2 and the line-up for the first day of the weekend in the main arena seems pure lush. For people who wanted to enjoy a whole day of live music, the O2 offered three different stages during the day in various venues in the O2 with a wide selection of bands for every taste, bringing together a mix of old rock and fresh new music fans and musicians.
From 11.30am onwards, the venue was blasted with music from bands performing in the Indigo, in the Orange Amps Stage (which is outdoors) and the All Bar One. All of the three stages had amazing sound, which definitely helped every band in their performance. Bands like Triggerfinger, Warrior Soul and Stone Broken (Indigo) would excite the stoner rock enthusiasts, Killit and Dirty Thrills (Orange Amps Stage) would attract the rock music fans (especially those liking jamming and solos), while the bands in All Bar One (eg Fin Taylor and Tiffany Stevenson) were more for those who would like to chill. The London’s finest stoner rock band, Orange Goblin, took over the stage in the Indigo and filled the venue with their sonic vibes, delivering a brilliant performance. Highlight of their set was their singer, Ben Ward, who kindly showered the crowd in beer and water, since the temperature had already started to rise with their performance setting the ground for the bands to follow in the main stage.
Doors at the O2 arena opened at 5.30 and the first band, Buckcherry hit the stage just about an hour after. The Californian good-time rockers blasted the venue with their rock n roll sound and energy, with a brilliant live performance that set an amazing atmosphere for the acts that were to follow. Especially the frontman, Josh Todd, delivered a breath taking performance with his dance moves rocking the stage and bringing back all that old rock n roll sleazy feeling. The area was almost full from the first moment on into the show and this was a big plus for making the performance of Buckcherry a glorious experience for both the fans and the band. Their set was eight song long but it was still enough to entertain the crowd gathered, by including songs such as: Broken Glass, Lit Up, Say Fuck It (cover by Icona Pop) and Crazy Bitch.
The crowd has already started chanting “Megadeth, Megadeth, Megadeth!” long before the band got onto the stage. As soon as Dave Mustaine hit the arena, guitar riffs and drums erupted into the O2. The band didn’t seem to engage too much with the audience during their set, however, they still delivered a legthy powerful set, including their all time rock classics with brutal drum playing (which definitely made a very big and positive impact on the whole set) menacing guitar riffs and solos and a set list that included strong hits like: Hangar 18, Rattlehead, In My Darkest Hour, Sweating Bullets, Tornado of Souls, Symphony of Destruction, Peace Sells and encore Holy Wars…The Punishment Due. Despite the lack of communication and Mustaine only commenting publicly about someone at the front who annoyed him (priceless moment), the visuals at the back were absolutely stunning and complemented his miscommunication with his fans. All of the songs were spot on and the guitars were top notch, furious and restless. All in all, it was a great performance and despite the new additions to the set from their more recent songs, they still delivered a great show.
Last band of the set was Scorpions, playing in London as part of their Crazy World Tour. The venue was packed by the time the band came on stage. The crowd was overly excited to see the band perform live, as a Scorpions concert is always a guaranteed amazing show. Despite the band not being able to run up and down the stage in seconds, their guitar and drum playing was absolutely phenomenal and Klaus Meine’s voice hit the spot in every song. Along with their breath taking playing, all of the band members ‘killed it’ with their 80s rock outfits. Their setlist included all of their best songs: starting with a strong “Going Out with a Bang”, followed by Make it Real, The Zoo, Coast to Coast and Steamrock Fever, all powerful bangers to set up the cheery mood, causing the crowd to sing along in madness and air-guitar in every solo. The middle of the set changed the atmosphere into a sentimental interlude, by playing Follow your Heart, Eye of the Storm, Send me an Angel and Wind of Change back to back, having the crowd sing along most of the lines and the acoustic guitars making it more dramatic. The ‘heavy’ atmosphere was lifted back up by ‘Tease me, Please me’, as the band brought back their cheerful set and entertained the crowd. Highlight of the set was definitely the tribute paid to Motorhead, by playing ‘Overkill’ and Mikkey Dee’s high tech several-minute-long drum solo right afterwards, where his whole drum kit was lifted up above the stage, where he excelled himself. His performance was made even more dramatic by the insane amount of lights and strobes, as well as the visuals on the back screen showing up every Scorpions album cover. The remainder of the set included songs such as Blackout and Big City Nights (with nice 80s cheesy graphics at the back and the crowd singing along crazily), then a small break and the band’s return to sing Love at First Sting, the power ballad Still Loving You (followed by a capella snippet of ‘Holiday’) and finally, Rock You Like a Hurricane, with the crowd’s biggest sing-along. Overall, it was a professional but surely highly entertaining show and I can see no reason why anyone wouldn’t love the Scorpions for serving such a nice and proper show.
Aftershow: Scorpions rocked the crowd like a hurricane and left everyone wanting more. The best way to cure a post-Scorpions depression was of course heading to the after party. I have heard no-one talk about it and I would really like to bring attention to one of what I call ‘the best night out in London’. Shot Through The Heart are a covers band going on for about two years now, playing at the Lounge 666 in Archway. Having attended it religiously for the past year, I was overly super excited to see them perform in the afterparty of Stone Free, as I knew that they would guarantee an amazing experience and a nice cure to the end of the first day of the festival. All of the musicians are exceptional, playing in other bands but being joined together to deliver one of the most fun and phenomenal performances of the best 80s hits and covers. Their setlist contains all time favourite songs that everyone sings and dances alonf to: Born to be my Baby (Bon Jovi), Crazy Nights (Kiss), Kickstart my Heart (Mötley Crüe), Still of the Night (Whitesnake), Separate Ways (Journey), Hold the Line (Toto), Thunderstruck (AC/DC) and many many many more. Playing a one and a half hour set, they delivered an amazing performance and I noticed that the whole crowd was singing along, dancing to the hits and having an amazing time. It was heads up the best way to close down the first day of Stone Free and have an amazing experience in an afterparty where it is not just a DJ but a whole band giving their all to play these absolutely favourite 80s hits.
Check out the rest of our photos from Saturday at Stone Free festival here – https://flic.kr/s/aHskDh5crQ