I must admit, looking out of the car window at the persisting rain as we neared junction 8 on the A1, I was waiting to see if Sam would turn to me and say “Sod it, let’s go home.” However, nothing escaped his lips except a few mumblings questioning the person’s parentage who had made the strange decision to close the slip road both sides at junction 7, the nearest exit to Sonisphere.
With no let up in the rain, we parked the car and donned our wet weather gear over our shorts and tee-shirts. This consisted of wellie boots, plastic over-trousers, and plastic cagoules with a hoods. Heaving our rucksacks on our backs, we started the 40 minute trek through the campsite towards the entrance to the arena. After about 20 minutes in the muggy heat, Sam, who thankfully always ‘volunteers’ to carry the heaviest rucksack, informed me that it was also ‘raining’ inside his plastic waterproofs. This was too much information for me, and I preferred not to think about it.
At the entrance to the campsite we exchanged our tickets for wristbands. The cerebrally challenged security man made a fleeting inspection of my rucksack, and asked me if I had a knife. Answering in the negative but questioning him as to whether he thought it would be a good idea if I had one, he looked somewhat blank and waved me on. Sam was made to turn the contents of his rucksack out on the table, holding up the queue as he re-packed it with his usual thoroughness.
One thing I noticed about the campsite; it was approximately a mile long and densely packed with hundreds and hundreds of tents. I looked around and nowhere could I see any festibogs (temporary toilets) except for a few at the entrance we had already passed. Where did all these people ‘go’ (especially first thing in the morning!)? It was a source of great concern to me as I trudged on up the hill towards the arena.
Sam was made to turn the contents of his rucksack out again at the entrance to the arena. He kindly informed the security staff that he had already turned it out once at the entrance to the campsite, but apparently this did not stand him in good stead at all. I mentioned to Sam that Security obviously thought that at first glance he must look a trifle on the dodgy side. I sailed through with barely a glance; being middle-aged, female and invisible sometimes has its advantages!
The arena was heaving on the second day (we hadn’t managed to get there at all on the first day due to a family drama), and the sounds were heavy, which is just how we like it. However, some of the earlier bands seemed rather too heavy for our taste, but we soldiered on, parking ourselves in a suitable spot in order to swivel between both stages. Sam quickly located the whereabouts of the bar, and we settled down to rock and roll to the likes of Chas & Dave (strange choice), The Winery Dogs (Mike Portnoy’s new band), Slayer, Anthrax, Deftones, and Iron Maiden. Looking at the programme I noticed that Mike Portnoy’s band had (tactfully or by chance?) been given a different day to Dream Theater’s.
There’s something odd about sitting in the rain at a festival; it’s not right. Somebody up above must have heard me, because the rain then started to only come down intermittently instead of persistently. We were brave enough to take off our wet weather gear after The Winery Dogs had finished their set, only to have to put it on again in time to watch Slayer. In the end I left it off altogether and hoped for the best. The rain did clear up eventually, but the day had nearly ended by then.
The third day started off wet again, and my heart sank at the thought of wearing my trendy plastic trousers all day. However, by the time we arrived the sun was broiling and straining to burn through the clouds. Sam dropped me off near the entrance to the campsite to save my legs, which were complaining from walking up and down unfamiliar hills and dips. I passed a ‘dead’ body laid out prostrate by the gate that leads out of the car park through to the campsite, which retched intermittently and made terrible groaning noises. A small pile of vomit lay close to his right ear, and I wondered whether to tell Sam to turn him onto his side as he walked through to meet me after parking the car. Sam assured me he was conscious enough though, and when we passed the spot on returning to the car the ‘body’ had obviously recovered and had staggered away.
The last day was the best; the sun shone, the mad guitarist from Airbourne climbed up the stage rigging again and did his usual party piece. Dream Theater were a dream, and Metallica (although late) wowed the crowds from the very first. Save us a ticket for next year, but for pity’s sake open exit 7 on the A1!