So at 5:30 this evening, Sonisphere made their big announcement regarding the first headline acts for their return to Knebworth next July. If you missed it, a teaser appeared out of the blue on the internet last week announcing the return of the Sonisphere festival at Knebworth following its hiatus since the 2012 event was cancelled despite having revealed Kiss, Queen and Faith No More as headliners. I thought at the time that it was a huge shame as I had really enjoyed the festival when I went to the first one in 2010 as it was a really well organised, friendly festival with a great mix of music. I was definitely going to miss it.
Given that history, it was obvious that Killimajaro, the organisers of Sonisphere were going to be looking for some huge names to headline the return and that they were going to make massive first announcement. They certainly delivered on that front by announcing both Iron Maiden and Metallica, who will be playing their only UK dates in 2014 at the festival, as their first headliners. This is huge, they are undoubtedly the biggest metal bands in the world right now and have never shared a bill before also, as seems to be custom now, it is with the added gimmick that Metallica’s set will be “By Request” with their set list being decided by a fan vote (you just have to buy your tickets online in order to vote).
Despite being a big fan of both bands, I can’t help but feel underwhelmed by this announcement. It’s not that this isn’t a big announcement or that both Iron Maiden and Metallica aren’t amazing bands to have at a festival, it is just that it’s been done, they have both played major festivals in the UK numerous times in the last decade or so. Download has the same problem, none of their headliners, except possibly Avenged Sevenfold as it is their first headline festival slot, are anything new, even Avenged Sevenfold are festival regulars, just usually lower down the list.
Iron Maiden headlined the first Download in 2003, Reading and Leeds in 2005, Download 2007, Sonisphere 2010 and Download 2013. Metallica played a secret show in the tent at Download 2003 and headlined Reading and Leeds 2003, Download in 2004 and 2006, Reading and Leeds in 2008, Sonisphere in 2009 and 2011 then Download in 2012. That is 13 times in 10 years between them. Linkin Park headlined Reading and Leeds in 2003, Download in 2004 and 2007, Sonisphere in 2009 and back to Download in 2011. Aerosmith also headlined Hard Rock Calling in 2007 and Download in 2010. Even Avenged Sevenfold have played UK festivals in 2006, 2009 and 2011. We are just getting the same headline acts on a never ending sushi conveyor. When I went to Download in 2012, I didn’t even bother going to see Metallica, I chose the Union instead, who I hadn’t yet seen in contrast to the 4 times I had seen Metallica in the last 10 years. A bit of variety would be nice.
I think the problem here is conservatism, no not the political kind, the attitude kind. Promoters are just not prepared to take too many risks, they want the safe money, the bands that are guaranteed to draw hundreds of thousands of people. They are not prepared to offer bands that elevating slot from main stage warm up acts to headliners. Only twice in recent years can I remember headline choices that seemed surprising to some when first announced and that was Biffy Clyro at Sonisphere and Avengend Sevenfold at this years Download.
Still this is a huge announcement, even if a little repetitive, and I can’t wait to see how the rest of the line up turns out as Sonisphere was a really good festival and I am really glad to see it return.
Let me know what you think using this poll.
Here are a few words from those involved with next years festival.
Bruce Dickinson, Iron Maiden:
“We all grew up in England well aware of the importance of the legendary concerts at Knebworth, and scarily it all seems quite recent! Without being clichéd, it really is an honor and privilege to return to play there with the purpose of celebrating some of the finest moments in British rock history from inspirational bands like Pink Floyd, The Who, Zeppelin, The Stones and Genesis.
This will be the last concert of our ‘Maiden England’ Tour and it is very fitting to end a long and hugely enjoyable tour in our own back yard. We have tweaked the ‘Maiden England’ set list a bit to make it more representative of our whole 80s era and to give the fans something a bit different, especially as this will be the last of our three tours with an historical perspective. If you are there on the day it is highly likely that you will hear some of these songs played live for the very last time ever. So on an occasion like this, a celebration and the end of a chapter, you can be sure we will do our utmost to give our fans one hell of a show and go out with all guns blazing.”
Lars Ulrich, Metallica:
“This just works on all fronts:
Metallica and Knebworth, Metallica by Request, Metallica and Iron Maiden.
To be invited to co-headline the 40th anniversary celebration at the legendary Knebworth House is truly a mindf*ck. Considering the iconic bands whose performances at Knebworth are part of rock and roll history, it’s not only a next level honor, but a somewhat humbling undertaking.
And what could be more fitting on our third Knebworth go-around than to play an all-request set, chosen entirely by the fans? We are soooo excited about the limitless possibilities of our friends picking what songs Metallica get to perform on this forthcoming evening from the nearly 140 songs we’ve recorded throughout our ride. Who knows what crazy challenges will be thrown our way? Maybe a song that has never been performed live before? Maybe a few deep cuts that haven’t been aired in ages? Maybe a couple of your toe-tapping favorites? An obscure cover? Whatever happens, it will be unique, it will be special, and it’s all up to you.
Add the cherry on top…co-headlining with Iron Maiden, who are a big reason that Metallica exists in the first place. Although we haven’t played together on the same day since 1988, this is the closest we’ve come for 25 years, and for all our fans who share the same love for Iron Maiden as we, the band members do, this will hopefully amount to what many rock fans would consider a dream bill.
BRING IT ON!!!”
“During our two year absence we’ve continued to believe in and work hard on Sonisphere. We said in 2013 that if we had the right line up then we would be back, and that’s exactly what we’ve got in 2014. The omens were obviously on our side when we secured the two biggest and best metal acts of all time in the year that also brings the 40th anniversary of the first concert at Knebworth.
Our excitement at being able to offer Metallica and Iron Maiden on the same bill for the first time ever has been hard to contain. To do so in a year of great celebration for the iconic venue is very satisfying. Sonisphere 2014 is going to be a legendary year!”
Keep your eye on this Blog for more updates and if you want tickets go along to http://www.sonisphere.co.uk.
Turn on, Tune in and Rock out!