If day 1 came with some rain, and day 2 kept everyone in suspense, with big, black clouds constantly hanging above the city, the last day of Sonisphere was as bright and shiny as they come. The line-up was a more eclectic combination of bands than in the previous day – Anathema, Stone Sour, Alice in Chains and Rammstein, so the crowd wasn’t as large at first. Also, there were a few sound issues, something which had not occurred in the previous day (although people had complained about it after the Paradise Lost performance, on day 1).
Anathema, who was first on stage, is a band that has performed in Romania many, many times before. This was probably their seventh concert in the country, and I might not be so wrong if I said they are probably more popular there than in the UK, their home country. And after every one of their gigs, people remained equally impressed with their lyricism, energy and devotion to their music. They always seemed to be playing from the heart, for the people, and that is exactly what everyone expected from this performance as well.
They were, however, disappointing. Anathema only played for about 40 minutes, half of which they sounded like their drum kit had been replaced with a metal pan. And to top things up, those who were singing along could actually be heard louder than the band. They started with Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir (which didn’t really seem to make any sense in their setlist) and failed to play some of their most loved songs, like “Flyin'” or “One Last Goodbye”.
Maybe it was because they were the first foreign band of the line-up (in both days 2 and 3 there was a Romanian band opening the show), maybe because their audience was a combination of Rammstein fans, grungy Alice in Chains fans – not so many, as we’ll see later on - Stone Sour/ex-Slipknot fans and people who were there just because they’d heard there was a good show coming up later, without caring about the music. Or maybe it was because England had lost to Germany 4-1 and they were sad. Who knows?
Next up on stage, Stone Sour (a project started by Corey Taylor, from Slipknot) were a bit more fortunate, as far as sound problems go. But they don’t have a large audience in Romania, and they both annoyed and amused everyone with their obsession for “fucking (fill in the blanks)”. “We have another fucking song for you!”, “You’re a fucking great audience!” (noooot), “Buy our fucking new album!”. Dudes, no fucking song gets better all of a sudden just because you’re fucking adding a “fucking” in front of its fucking name!
Alice in Chains
Unfortunately, Alice in Chains didn’t receive a better welcome either. As a long time fan, and someone who’d seen them before, playing in Birmingham – and loved them, I might add – I was expecting an impressive gig, which I know they are capable of delivering even without Layne Staley’s angry /depressive presence. William DuVall does a great job as a lead singer, Jerry Cantrell is at the top of his shape… and yet, at Sonisphere they were a big disappointment. They ended the gig so abruptly, that I was under the impression someone had had a stroke on the stage. They didn’t communicate with the audience at all and seemed to be there just for the sake of it, without caring all that much about what crowd thought of them.
Well, not that the audience cared all that much about them either, to be honest. They were all waiting for Rammstein. Even a fight that took place in the back was more interesting than what was going on up on the stage, and as a fan, if you started screaming and singing, you felt like a Macarena dancing monkey. As far as I’m concerned, I was happy to hear “Them Bones”, “Dam That River”, “Man in the Box” and “Would” – but that’s all I got from that gig.
The headliners of the evening completely made up for everything that went wrong on the last day of Sonisphere. They had one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen, and was by far the best I’ve ever seen in Romania. You can love or hate Rammstein, but that performance was absolutely electrifying, and it involved a lot of playing with fire. Literally.
From fireworks synchronized with the drums to actually setting a man on fire. From the members of the band blowing fire to flash pots (loads of them and so large that you could feel the heat from far away) to the band’s famous “crowd sailing” stunt, that involves one of the members (in Bucharest, it was Flake’s turn) jumping in an inflatable boat and being carried around on the audience’s arms. The crowd had already gone mad – but when Flake also picked up a Romanian flag and wrapped it around him you realized that those people are masters at manipulating the audience. They spoke in Romanian, Till wore a hunter’s hat and carried a riffle during "Waidmanns Heil" and Flake played the keyboards while constantly walking on a treadmill. It was incredible and it kept me wondering: what the hell are they going to do next? Burn the place down? It wouldn’t have surprised me.
And yet, they ended the show with such a simple and subtle gesture: they left their instruments, came to the center of the stage and bowed in front of the audience, like true performers. Now that’s a band that gives a damn – every second of that show demanded work from them and loads of training, which is something that not so many artists are willing to take on – they usually hire stuntmen to do that for them.
If you ever get the chance to see them, know this: Rammstein's show will make your every penny worth it. It is not to be missed. The festival had its ups (strong headline, efficient organizers) and downs (you don't get a true festival feeling when the event is held in the city - where people can't camp, and the bands that opened every day didn't really have the chance to give their best), but this band marked a perfect ending to an overall great experience.