Sunshine and Heavy Metal aren’t best suited in terms of atmosphere, but that did little to dim the spirits of some 55,000 head bangers old and young at Hyde Park last Friday.
Openers Soulfly woke everyone up with their bounce riffs and down tuned punk rock attitude. Max Cavelera kept it a family affair with son Zion Cavelera on drums, and bringing out his brother Igor to run through ‘Roots, Bloody Roots’. A song they wrote together in Sepultura, and which laid the framework for much of Soulfly’s material.
Next up is Motorhead, a band that seem like they’ve always existed, and they get to it with clockwork like precision. At this stage in their career, there’s few surprises; we get all the classics, Mickey D’s drum solo, ‘Ace of Spades’ gets rolled out without much fanfare, and possibly doesn’t make it out of second gear. But complaining that they don’t hit the amphetamine fuelled speeds of old is pointless, these are cast iron legends and elder statesmen of Rock n’Roll. ‘Going to Brazil’ is glorious fun and Lemmy cracks the briefest of smiles during set closer ‘Overkill’, that’s all it takes to win over the crowd one more time.
Faith No More dress the stage entirely in white with a tasteful floral arrangement to the front. It seems they’ve been celebrating their ‘demise’ for some years now, but continue to pop back to life. Arriving onstage dressed in identical priests’ garb, it looks like we may be in for the most bizarre episode of Father Ted yet. The first part of the set is front loaded with their greatest hits, ‘Epic’ and ‘Easy’ giving the crowd their first big sing along of the day. With that box ticked, in typically perverse fashion they mine their back catalogue for gems such as the ear challenging ‘Cuckoo for Caca’ and even 2 brand new songs. Mike Patton’s voice has lost none of it’s range or versatility, when he’s not crooning or screaming like a possessed toddler, he’s quoting unprintable lines from ‘The Excorcist’. Faith No More are like a smile at a funeral, slightly perverse and never fearing to tread where most standard rock bands would have no hope of going. Here’s hoping that following this ‘solemn’ mourning, they resurrect with a new album sometime soon.
Soundgarden treat the crowd to the 20th anniversary of their album ‘Superunknown’ by playing the album in it’s entirety. Undoubtedly their creative peak, it’s an album that managed to perfectly blend hard rock with melodies that were Beatles like in complexity and beauty. The album still sounds fresh and energised and utterly devoid of rock cliche, with Chris Cornells’ voice soaring out through the early evening. ‘Black Hole Sun’ is perfectly suited to the balmy sunset opposite the stage, Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready comes out to play on ‘Superunknown’, Ben Shepard’s bass lines are fluid and almost jazz like without losing any power, there’s just so much to enjoy about the set from start to finish. Top job.
Finally headliners Black Sabbath. Founders and fathers of all that is heavy. Like Faith No More, with each gig I have to ask is this the last time? is this the one where we say goodbye? Still they sound as vital as they did when they were a bunch of pissed off Brummie teenagers. There’s no Bill Ward, but replacement Tommy Clufetos is an absolute powerhouse. Geezer Butler and Tony Iommi riff they’re way through over 30 years of heavy metal history. There’s a nod to the latest album but it’s the early classics like ‘War Pigs’, Iron Man’ and closer ‘Paranoid’ that get the crowd’s devil horns in the air.
The volume could’ve been louder from the stage but the crowd’s roar more than makes up for it.
A fact not lost on the smiles of the men onstage, who unwittingly began not just a great band, but a whole genre of music.