Just one year ago, Sonisphere rolled into Knebworth with the line up of Metallica and Linkin Park, skeptics quick to remind them there were already a number of saturated music festivals in the European market, and the idea of a rolling festival didn't seem likely to work.
A year on, and Sonisphere has celebrated another triumphant summer, with festivals around Europe proclaiming the name Sonisphere and holding the torch high. When they come to speak of the festival highlights of 2010, doubtless few will forget the stunning performance of Faith No More at Sonisphere Spain, or the incredible reunion of the Big Four for Sonisphere Poland!
Nine events turned to 11 and the numbers rose substantially with sellouts across the continent. But when it comes to Knebworth - spiritual birthplace of UK music festivals - even the absence of Metallica couldn't deter the fans from turning up in their droves for an already well respected and firmly placed festival. In fact, some of the earliest fans to arrive on Thursday were seasoned veterans, having been here when Queen performed for the last time in 1986, Led Zeppelin played over two nights in 1979 and when Robbie Williams brought 130,000 cars down the M1 in the summer of 2003.
Stalls were set and a fairground was opened, allowing the public the chance to partake in a bit of music orientated shopping (and Rock Karaoke took a form of its own in Bohemia on Thursday), alongside the other activities on display. There was a need for it, no doubt, as the music didn't begin until Friday at 5pm, giving those early campers the chance to relax and browse in the unforgiving sunshine.
Delain [6/10] opened proceedings on Friday evening. Their Folk Metal brand proved popular wth a dedicated few, even if the words to most songs were beyond them, and most were actually fixated on the beautiful lead vocalist, Charlotte Wessels. Turisas [7/10] emerged next in their Viking costumes and war paint splendour. The Finnish eight-piece comprised of a headbanging accordionist and guitar solos performed on electric violin. Highlights from the 'Strong Bow' Tent included the performance of Dutch instrumentalists Chickenhawk [6/10] who played to a small, but dedicated, international audience.
Europe [8/10] had recently announced another UK tour, and after last week's appearance at the iTunes Festival, were ready to inflict some bad ass Scandinavian rock and roll upon the crowd. Their set was much heavier then usual, with a particular highlight being a rare outing of the track 'Scream Of Anger' and, of course, 'The Final Countdown', whetting our appetite for more.
Gary Numan [9/10] changed pace completely, with an inspiring electronically charged performance, which proves the 52-year-old is still one of the most influential performers in metal today. Later that evening, the performances of 65 Days of Static [9/10] and Terrorvision [9/10] closed the Bohemia Stage on 'Bizarre Friday' by delivering fast punching metal sets. Terrorvision may once have appeared on Noel Edmonds' House Party, but that didn't stop them from being extremely well received.
Tonight's headliner, however, proved that sometimes it can always be your night. Alice Cooper [10/10] provided hits like 'Poison' and 'School's Out For Summer', but despite his enthusiastic performance he failed to ignite the crowd for much of his set. Still, Cooper provided a fantastic live draw, and reminded us all of their magic history of the Knebworth venue, finishing the show by brandishing a needle and injecting his own brand of poison into an unsuspecting band member.