GODS OF METAL BOLOGNA 2008
The main feature of the flight to Bologna was an alarming 5 minutes over the Alps, where the turbulence convinced me my number was up. This, err, ‘danger’ left as quickly as it had arrived, and before I knew it I was in Bologna town centre. It seemed like a really great idea to walk to the hotel and site with some lads from London and Preston, despite the searing heat – should really have got a taxi as I practically collapsed when I got there. A few beers revived me as I watched Spain thrash Russia in the Euro semi final.
Friday – Fear of the Dark
The TV weather forecast called for “scorchio” all day. An early start led me to walk to the site with a couple of ladies from Tuscany. Deciding it was unwise to begin queuing at 730 in the morning when it was really hot already, I walked back into the town centre for some sight-seeing. It’s a terrific-looking place that is quite unlike anywhere I have ever seen.
Saw the Two Towers, Piazza Nettuna, Piazza Maggiore, and visited the Basilica of San Petronio, which is the 5th biggest church in the world.
Later grabbed the festival bus, which was rammed with excited Maiden fans. Had a few €4 beers and checked out the staggering array of pirate t-shirts. I remember from Massive Attack in Milan that they have more interesting merchandise outside the venue, and picked up an event shirt for €15 that was just as good quality as the official stuff and didn’t have any silly goat imagery. Rhe arena opened at 12, and I was delighted to see that it’s a bowl like Milton Keynes, with a large banked grassy area at the back.
Black Tide got the festival (and my 600th show since 1973!) going with
a great 20 minute power metal set that included a good cover of ‘Hit
the Lights’ (7)
The next band was far more enjoyable - Melbourne’s Airbourne played an energetic set that the crowd loved (7); featuring most of their ‘Runnin’ Wild’ debut, their AC/DC style rock was just what was required. It was by now 39 degrees in the arena (I know cos’ I asked at the first aid post, mildly concerned by my difficulty in breathing).
A mild breeze sprang up during Apocalyptica’s performance (6), which featured the usual cello shredding and intelligent covers – including an airing of Bowie’s ‘Heroes’ plus Metallica’s ‘Creeping Death’ and a ‘Nothing Else Matters’. The latter caused my Italian pals to go totally mental, I dread to think what it will be like when Hetfield and co pitch up here for real in a couple of weeks.
Realising that I was by now suffering from mild heatstroke, I listened to Rose Tattoo from the bar (4). Angry Anderson and the boys performed well but it felt a bit stale, especially so soon after the fresher style of Airbourne.
By now the cries of ‘Maiden’ ‘Maiden’ were constant, and I have to admit I felt a bit sorry for Californian screamo kids Avenged Sevenfold going on before Bruce and co.
They didn’t use the word ‘motherf’ until the second line of the first song, is this some sort of a record for an MTV band? The only positive things I can say about this third rate act is that they are not as bad as Fall Out Boy, and that ‘Second Heartbeat’ is a good song (3).
At 9 o’clock Winston Churchill’s Beaches speech rang out across the arena, and Iron Maiden began an absolutely stunning performance (10). Of all the times I have seen Maiden, this was the best show, even surpassing Hammersmith '05.
enthusiasm of the crowd became positively dangerous during ‘The
Trooper’, and as crowd favourites poured out I realised it doesn’t
get much better than this. I was delighted to hear ‘Rime of The
Ancient Mariner’ live again, and the crowd for ‘Fear of
the Dark’ was incredible.
Sadly the food at the festival was terrible – in the absence of a nice tortellini I tried a burger and chips, but the meat was practically still mooing. I found a shaded spot to begin today’s fun, and saw the last part of the set by Carolina Technical Death merchants Between the Buried and Me (7) – sounded pretty good, worth checking out.
Before you knew it Dillinger Escape Plan (8) were assaulting the crowd with some good old New Jersey math core. Greg Puciato was great; diving into the crowd on several occasions, although I think the set was a bit difficult for many of the early afternoon on lookers.
Oh my giddy
aunt, it’s At the Gates! To have the opportunity to see the Goteborg
guvnors live is something that I thought would never happen. Their fantastic
set was rewarded with an encore, one of the few of the whole weekend
First up today was The Sorrow (6), Austrian metalcorists about whom I remember very little.
(5) and Infernal Poetry (6) also passed without incident. The latter
act was Italian and good, as opposed to Fratello Metallo (2) who was
Italian and rubbish. An old bloke dressed as a monk shouting in Italian.
This lasted for 15 minutes and the crowd loved it.
The sun ran off and hid as Morbid Angel (7) treated us to some even more serious Florida death – it was great to hear some ‘Altars of Madness’ classics like ‘Immortal Rites’ and ‘Evil Spells’. The crowd were particularly deranged for this lot, seem to have a great following here.
Yngwie Malmsteen (5). Although in the past I have admired rather than
liked this guy, it’s great to hear Ripper Owen in the band –
that guy is quality. The guitar solos came thick and fast, and I had
it – 24 bands, a similar number of beers, heat stroke –
a very cool weekend was topped off by Birmingham’s magnificent
Judas Priest (9) – better sound, a better set list and better
vocals than in 2005, this was a brilliant set to close the festival.
The set reached back as far as ‘Sinner’ and ‘Dissident
Aggressor’, and finished the main set with an awesome ‘Painkiller’.
Next year I am looking at Metal Camp in Slovenia, or the Legacy thing in Belgrade, or Sziget in Hungary. Probably easier to just pick wherever Opeth are playing, who were the only thing I was missing from this great weekend.
By Roy Evans