High Voltage Festival: Saturday (2011)

Mile End station exit certainly had a slightly different feel..

Starting the day with Irish coffee and breakfasts in our local cafe of choice, we headed to Camden Town station to begin the arduous task of getting to Mile End station. One of the best things about the journey to a festival is the slow increase in the concentration of metallers in the near vicinity, and nowhere is this more pronounced than on the tube. By the time we reached Mile End it was clear that everyone was on their way, and the atmosphere continued to build as we made our way into the, admittedly grey, sunlight with nothing in our path except a ten minute walk to the site.

With grand plans and concealed sock flasks, we finished our road beers swiftly outside the gate and sauntered in to find ourselves right next to the prog stage, where Amplifier were in full swing. Moving quickly onwards, we headed to where we remembered the metal hammer stage was positioned last year, and whilst it was indeed in the same place, it appeared to have shrunk at some point over the winter to perhaps half its original size. Most odd.

With nothing happening on the diminutive stage, we continued our wanderings to fully recap on the layout of the arena, which was mostly unchanged, and paid a quick trip to the two merchandise tents to see what was on offer. The first was selling shirts from the bands of the day, with few but the Electric Wizard shirt catching our eye as potential purchases. The other, interestingly, was solely peddling shirts from last years festival, along with a few shirts from bands who had not played the festival either year, naturally at their 50–100% festival markup, which really begs the question of why anyone would buy a shirt from there, having not seen the band and their being cheaper on tinternet. The mysteries of life continue..

So it came to pass that Caravan began playing on the prog stage. From Canterbury in Kent, formed by former Wilde Flowers members David & Richard Sinclair, Pye Hastings and Richard Coughlan, Caravan enjoyed their greatest success among the burgeoning Canterbury scene in the late 60’s and early 70’s. We have to admit we knew little of the band, having discovered them merely a week before on the line–up, but having found such tunes as ‘Golf Girl’, ‘In The Land Of Grey And Pink’ (from ‘In The Land Of Grey And Pink’) and the excellently titled albums ‘The Unauthorized Breakfast Item’ and ‘For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night’. Though ‘Golf Girl’ was the only song we recognized, the set was a delight, and we were nicely eased in to a weekend of fine music.

After discovering the real ale tent and collecting a few Hobgoblins, we moved back across the field to the Hammer stage, where Ravens Creed were about to begin, a band brought to our attention by a stint as vocalist from Orange Goblin’s all round lad Ben Ward (front center of pic above). Unfortunately no longer in the band, Ward was content to taunt us with his presence behind the fences near the stage, clearly having a good reminisce about his set with Goblin last year that opened the festival for us, as indeed were we at the sight of him. The Ravens set was most enjoyable, heavy as balls, and whilst the set list cannot be found by our ‘research team’, highlights from their album ‘Albion Thunder’ include the cracking lyrics of ‘Pear Of Anguish’ and the facemelting hardcore riffs and drums of ‘Peace Through Superior Firepower’.

Having only had a few ales, we returned for more Hobgoblins and were tempted into watching a bit of Seattle prog stars Queensryche marking their 30th anniversary year on the main stage. We only caught the last ten minutes or so, apparently watching ‘Empire’ and ‘Eyes Of A Stranger’, the latter especially a nice warm–up for Theater tomorrow, solid stuff.

Formed in 1990 in Liverpool initially under the name ‘Pagan Angel’, Anathema had a heavy focus on their latest album ‘We’re Here Because We’re Here’ (2010), with a few tracks off the definitive ‘A Natural Disaster’ (2007). Being much more familiar with the latter, highlights for me were ‘A Natural Disaster’ and ‘Closer’. The second time I’d seen them, the last at Download 2007 just off the back of the album, both times they’ve impressed.

After an hours break in the ale tent, we made our way back to the Hammer stage excitedly to see Sylosis, a band we’d caught bleary–eyed at Sonisphere before midday and one we were most looking forward to seeing in full flow. With a small but enthusiastic crowd the set was intimate and contained a most excellent pit, in which we managed to orchestrate a great circle mid way through. The set list was the same as Soni, but a bit longer fitting ‘Sands Of Time’ and ‘Stained Humanity’ in the middle, from new album ‘Edge Of The Earth’ (2010) and their debut ‘Conclusions Of An Age’ (2008). Easily the highlight of the day, melodic death metal at its brutal, heavy best, with ‘Teras’ to close an absolute treat.

Unfortunately, not five minutes before Sylosis left the stage we were informed over the P.A. that Electric Wizard would not make it due to the recent events in Norway. Despite being blissfully unaware of the terrible events of the day, this rather took the wind out of our sails, and to the bar we headed, where we spent the remainder of the evening cavorting with other festival goers and generally partaking in far more Hobgoblin than was either necessary or medically sensible, resulting in a great deal of shouting and a photo of one authors johnson probably being giggled at as we speak somewhere unknown across the globe.

Too far gone to even think about attempting the tube, we bundled into a taxi and were home in our own beds before we knew it, that is to say, with no recollection of the journey, just that disconcerting feeling of being in a park one moment and suddenly waking up in bed feeling like a million pieces with an all–too light wallet the next.


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