The temperature rises in Imola as Sonisphere continues to rumble across Europe. We catch Funeral for A Friend, Guano Apes, The Cult, Alter Bridge, Sum 41, My Chemical Romance and Linkin Park laying waste to Italy…..
Getting into the venue today was challenging to say the least – the small matter of an hour’s drive to the venue, collect media passes, walk 5km in the blistering mid-day sun – Easy.
The first band for us was Funeral for a Friend. They were on our flight the previous day and seemed like really good guys. Onstage they were blistering; provoking circle pits to break out at random throughout the crowd. Finishing their set on a high, the crowd were ecstatic and the atmosphere in the arena was electric.
Next up for us was Guano Apes. Their blend of melody and hard rock went down amazingly well. Front-woman Sandra Nasic was powerful, charismatic and she didn’t miss a note. This band has been around for a while and it shows. They worked the crowd expertly and reaped the rewards. Great work Guano Apes, the surprise band of the day for me.
The Cult were next to grace the stage and they put in a great shift! Without question the busiest side-of-stage audience of the day, it’s clear that this band have has the respect of the industry as well as that of the thousands of fans on the other side of the barrier. They belted out their biggest hits to a mass sing-along. The feel good factor in the stadium was at an all time high.
Alter Bridge took to the stage next and they were really on form. With only 45 minutes to play there was no messing about… well except for the guitar dual between Myles and Mark, but that kinda messing about can always be tolerated!
They opened with the awesome ‘Slip to the Void’ and from there on in it was high octane rock all the way until the closing number, ‘Rise Today’ which was the only mid tempo song of the set. This was Alter Bridge’s final show of a 5 week run in Europe, and despite being tired and homesick, the guys put everything into it. A powerful set from an awesome band.
Hot on the tail of Alter Bridge, and with big shoes to fill, were Sum 41. Initially playing to a smaller crowd than AB, the place quickly filled up, and it became apparent that the band have had many more hits than I realised. They ended their set with a rousing Metallica mash up which led into their big songs ‘In Too Deep’ and ‘Fat Lip’.
Incidentally, I saw lead singer, Deryck, backstage swigging Jack Daniels straight from the bottle, it was amusing to see such a tiny man swig from such a large bottle… it was almost the same size as him.
Second on the bill this evening is My Chemical Romance. They have had a lot of big singles and tonight’s set is basically a run through of them all. Despite the crowd seeming to enjoy their set, the empty space between songs was filled by chants, en masse, of ‘lin-kin park… lin-kin park’ which I imagine can’t be very inspiring. Pink of hair and tight of jean, Gerrard Way persevered through the set and ultimately the band were triumphant, however there was no mistaking the band of the night…
Linkin Park’s presence had been felt backstage all day, as their very, very large bodyguards patrolled the dressing rooms, press and catering areas, keeping a constant eye on everything and everyone.
Intimidating as they seemed, I happened to be sat opposite them at lunch and we got talking. They turned out to be great guys and a few hours later one of them patted me on the back and called me ‘bro’ as we passed each other in a corridor… I felt like I had been accepted into the giant-guy club as mostly everyone else who crossed this guy’s path received little more than a stern, slightly menacing gaze.
When the band arrived, fate would have it, I ended up in an elevator with Chester Bennington. I have been fortunate enough to meet more rock stars than I can remember over the past few years, however very few have the gravitas, presence and star quality that you would expect. Chester definitely has those qualities. Even if you had never heard of, or seen Linkin Park, you would know this guy was a rockstar just by being in his presence. We had a quick exchange, a shake of hands and he was swept away amid a sea of entourage. For the record, he came across as a really nice, pleasant and respectful guy.
Upon taking the stage, Linkin Park instantly had the crowd in the palm of their hands. The set comprised of mainly the hit singles that have spanned the band’s 10 year career, along with 2 newer tracks which went down extremely well with crowd. The light show and sound quality was, as always, totally awesome and as they finished their set, the atmosphere at Sonisphere Italy was supercharged.
The band exited stage left to a waiting limousine and was whisked away into the night, like the untouchable rock gods that they have become.
Sonisphere Italy was incredible, and as the mighty festival continues on its quest around Europe I don’t see how it can fail to impress the tens of thousands of rock fans that wait in its path.
Fan Reviews will be posted here later!