Machine Head came along after all,but was it worth the hassle for Sonisphere’s British debut?

The weather forecast for the weekend practically guaranteed a downpour of torrential-ness that would disturb even the mole digging deepest. The weekend was of course a festival weekend and unless Reading & Leeds comes acalling, very rarely will you find him upstairs remaining faithful to the sun for a spat of time dubbed a ‘festival’.

Sonisphere is making its British debut having trekked through the richer half of Europe with the likes of Slipknot, The Hives and consistent headliner Metallica for the past couple of months. It’s one for the metallers out there, with the likes of Mastadon, Anthrax and The Used filling the bill across all three main stages.

Knebworth Palace had never seen such crowds as the audiences started storming through the gates. It’s only a small festival reaching a max capacity of probably just under 35,000 with 20,000 of those braving the weather (with intention to at least). Not in the slightest deterred, the enthused queued to grab a spot worth staying for, preferably at the TOP of a hill.

Come opening day (a Saturday which is abnormal for us three-day festival goers) and the arena is kitted out with an array of shops, stalls and food posts, not forgetting the weather has so far held out pretty nicely, nothing to write home about at least. To add, the festival organisers can pat themselves on the back for dimensions of the lay out. The band possibilities are of course endless and to add to your viewing and listening pleasure; no two main acts play at the same time. The Apollo stage is situated directly opposite that of the Saturn and in a to and fro motion, the bands perform. Crowd congestion however, did at times become rather hectic... Nonetheless, no fans could leave disappointed that their favourite new act clashed with home-grown talent, nor could hanging around music-less be an issue. It’s an ingenious idea but one that could only work at such a small gathering and it worked well.

Soil began the weekend in pure Sonisphere style and the crowd started to get to grips with exactly what was going on. The brain clogs could be seen twisting and turning as people come to realise that they weren’t going to miss Nine Inch Nails last ever European performance because of a hideous clash with Avenged Sevenfold. On that note Linkin Park and Bullet are also feesable? With the rain holding off and such knowledge etching within the minds and souls of black t-shirts everywhere, the weekend got off to a cracking start.

As the day continued and the Dominoes queue never ended (despite stiff competition from their 24 hour breakfast rivals), the bands continued to rock out the other side of Knebworth grounds. Alien Ant Farm pulled in a pretty impressive crowd,‘Smooth Criminal’ delighting the MJ faithful.

The day pretty much continued as it began, with the crowds pouring through the arena gates (bottle and glass-less of course) to find themselves enticed by the endless fairground and partying options available. The Jagermeister stage screamed out for an audience across the weekend and finally started to draw in crowds for acts such as ‘Sharks’ as the end drew near.

With a quick mention on the awful Taking Back Sunday performance (sound to blame potentially but can they really keep pulling that card out of the bag), focus can be placed on the bizarre motives of Linkin Park’s frontman Chester and his decision to whip out his brand new band, Death By Sunrise in Linkin’s encore. Such a move must rank high on the controversy aspects of the performance and the festival in its entirety. “Bring back Linkin Park” chanted through the crowd of thousands and who could blame them. Chester’s new attempt at hitting the charts with Death By Sunrise is comparable perhaps only to a less talented Stereophonics and the band neither earned nor deserved the Sonisphere headline slot. Linkin Park however performed classic after classic, with an array of both new and old. Stick to what you know?

The rain held off and as many travelled Bohemia style to the Silent Disco, others got an early night to prepare themselves for the day we all call Sunday with a day of metal music well and truly prepared and marinated.

Mastadon and Saxon were early crowd treats, whereas Bjorn again (attending at Metallica’s request) received a much warmer welcome than perhaps one could have anticipated, because let’s face it ABBA and Heaven and Hell CD’s rarely sit back to front in a collection.

Machine Head filled the special guest hour long slot on The Apollo mid afternoon and continued their rift with Limp Biskit’s higher line up placement almost immediately. “It’s not about the nookie, it’s all about the rage” apparently Limp Biskit might argue.

Attired in Black Shorts and matching cap and topped off with a gold crested Adidas track-top, Fred Durst took to the stage Machine Head had more or less blasphemed them on and stood up morally to congratulate his predecessors for the performance. Piss taking perhaps?

However, fights aside, Limp Biskit were a weekend highlight pulling classic such as ‘Rollin’ and their ‘Faith’ rendition out of the bag to electrify the audience. New material is rumoured to be on its way now which is probably a good thing as the band were sought after to the max.

Ending on a high, Metallica produced two-hours of heavy riff driven metal and blew away any acts before or after them (despite Hundred Reasons receiving a great crowd) with old material such as ‘One’ and ‘Nothing Else Matters’ coinciding perfectly with Kerrang! Award winning album ‘Death Magnetic’.

And the weekend ends. Traffic congestion kept to a minimum. Sonisphere will return - I can guarantee it. And guess what. I even picked up a suntan; he was smiling down on us after all.