Bloodstock Reviews: Blind Guardian, Candlemass, Wolf
Day two and we’re still going strong. Here are the first of Saturday’s bands reviewed.
Endearingly decked out in matching Anvil t-shirts, beer-guzzling true metal machine and all-round sound geezers WOLF find themselves unlikely lightning rods for the rock’n’roll zeitgeist. Bounding around the stage like its their first big gig, the Swedes’ shit-eating grins tell us all we need to know about why they do what they do, and their sheer, unadulterated adoration of metal is beautifully infectious.
The Swedish trilogy finishes in somewhat different style as fellow Stockholm dwellers Candlemass entrance the crowd with their booming, opulent doom. Under a suddenly blazing sun that makes their riffs fall with even more crushing force, Robert Lowe might not have the same presence as his habit-robed predecessor, Messiah Marcolin, despite his extravagant, verging on camp gestures, but there’s an even more impressive resonance to his voice that fills up every corner of this field and makes Bloodstock feel like it’s witnessing the final days of a once-glorious empire.
As the archetypal Bloodstock band, Blind Guardian were always going to be a popular headline – or in this case co-headline – choice. Their brand of slick but deceptively-complex power metal was a tough sell in the UK for many years, but by bringing together what UK audience there was for widdly Euro bands and all manner of sword-waving shenanigans, Bloodstock not only filled a previously ignored gap in the market, they brought the likes of Nightwish, Turisas and, of course, tonight’s roving band of bards to a domestic audience. Given that the Bloodstock line-ups have branched out into more extreme territory since the festival began back in 2001, and particularly since it became and outdoor event, Blind Guardian’s unifying power and the rapturous reception they receive is testament to the fact that the original vision of Bloodstock as an alternative to money-grabbing commercial rock circuses remains intact. This is a big, brassy, polished performance but one that’s full of heart and humility, and the audience respond in kind, cheering every hey-nonny note to its final resting place in the sunset sky.