December 2, 2023


Already an established traveling circus in Europe, Sonisphere has elevated itself to one of the premiere summer rock festivals in the UK; threatening to surpass better established venues like Download in sheer vision and scale. Not bad for a festival still in its infancy.

The Sonisphere arena consisted of two stages positioned either side of a field barricaded-in by food stalls. Among the varied clothing and camping stalls was a shisha smoking den, a tea room, a coffee and cake shop (no, not ‘that’ type of coffee and cake shop) and an oxygen bar.

If nothing on the main stages sounded appealing there were other acts to be found hiding in the many sponsored tents that were scattered around, including comedians and performance artist. I’m sure I saw flaming horses at some point.

From Placebo to Pendulum there was something to suit every taste, and then some.   Europe fanboys basked in washed-up nostalgia, while Turisas and Apocalyptica brought a cultural flavour to the weekend.  The music came thick and fast at either end, sometimes feeling like a relay race.

Such was the astounding volume of acts and performers that it was simply impossible to have crammed them all in.  Among my notable highlights were Terrovision who reminded me of why I liked them so much in the 90’s – and had me asking myself why I had forgot them in the noughties – and 60daysofstatc, who sounded as if they had traveled from another place in space and time.

I suspect Gary Newman and Alice Cooper of being the same person; dentures with differing hair pieces. Both were on good form for their collective ages. Irish metal-heads Therapy? persevered in front of a supportive crowd, enduring two power-cuts during the opening song ‘Knives’. It is an injustice that Therapy? weren’t given one of the main stages because they could have filled the Bohemia tent over ten times its capacity.

Rammstein sounded like a savage invasion, enticing fifty thousand Brits to chanting in their mother-tongue.  It was a spectacle that nearly overshadowed the mighty Iron Maiden on their homecoming. Nearly! Old skool guitar licks came thick and fast as the legendary Maiden demonstrated what a good old fashioned rock show is, was, and always will be as long as they carry the baton.

It was strange to be heading home and seeing ‘normal’ people dressed in multi-colored fabrics not made of leather and denim.  Part of me didn’t want to re-adjust to what normality was after the euphoria of Sonisphere.  But there’s always next year…?  I would definitely encourage friends, rockers, and metal-heads to carve Sonisphere in their calendars for next year.