Stone Free festival serve up a meaty metal smorgasbord with their Saturday three course headline menu - Day 1 - 16th June 2018
The Orange Amps stage and the Indigo at the O2 had exhausted their last servings for the Saturday festivities. Many metallers had gotten a great taste for new and upcoming bands form a very full menu of musical hors-d'oeuvre. But now came the three course main evening menu with Buckcherry, Megadeth and Scorpions.
First from the platter and onto the table was the ever writhing sleaze shocking, hard-rocking superstars Buckcherry.
Straight from the oven came the pipping hot “Ridin”, “Broken Glass” and “Slammin”. Buckcherry is a high energy hard sleaze rock group and they never let up with Josh Todd, the Lead Singer, bouncing around like a duracel bunny and writhing like the lovechild of Steve Tyler and Mick Jagger. On to “Lit Up” a solid fan favourite and then the wonderful catchy pastiche of Icona Pop’s I love it - “Say Fuck It”. A superb fun track with its clever little thunderstruck-esque riff. And as per usual the heat was up and off came Josh’s top. Then on to “Sorry”, “Gluttony” and finally “Crazy Bitch”. All fan favourites and it showed down on the floor as everyone just joyously rocked out without a care in the world. Buckcherry just kept up the energetic outpouring of pure Californian fornication rock the whole time. They are a truly enjoyable band to witness live.
Then came a meaty course of full-on non-stop metaltastic exquisiteness with Megadeth playing their only UK show. What a coup for Stone Free Festival! From the very start Megadeth exploded onto stage like a never ending thrash flambé with a phenomenal show that left people’s jaws dropped. Dave Mustaine and the band were on perfect form.
The lights went down and on the screen came the intro, building the anticipation of the crowd which was packing out the floor and seating. And to roars of adulation Megadeth detonated everyone’s bodies into dust with “Hanger 18”. On came the thrashing everyone wanted with “The Threat is Real”, “Rattlehead”, and “Wake The Dead”. This was an incredible show and everyone knew this performance was something very special indeed. The constant animation backdrop fit the whole set perfectly.
The whole band were tight, domineering and unrelenting with the stage show they put on as they rumbled on into “In My Darkest Hour”, “The Conjuring”, and “Sweating Bullets”. Everyone has heard of Megadeth, not everyone is a fan, but by even the first few songs in the set everyone in that arena were joined in spiritual assembly with the hardcore fans crammed to the front. University Professor Jason Bivans nailed it when he said Megadeth had the “instrumental virtuosity of the NWOBHM with the speed and aggression of hardcore punk". And they maintained that epithet as they pumped out the carefully controlled aggression of “Take No Prisoners”, “Tornado of Souls”, and “Dystopia”. Then came the real hair raiser of the night with “Symphony of Destruction”, for many deciding to have a look see and say they had seen Megadeth, this probably was the emotional eureka moment. To see them play this song live was intense and you could feel the entire arena move as a collective shiver went up and down the spine. “Mechanix” kept the crowd thrashing as a
foretaste to the brilliantly delivered “Peace Sells” and the inevitable appearance of Vic Rattlehead stoking up the crowd to even greater frenzied trashing. What a gig, what a set, what an experience. But wait, there’s more. Megadeth deigned to stride onto the stage once more to seal the deal with “Holy Wars”.
The band, to put it lightly, were incredible. Dave was a consummate relaxed professional on stage with his music and his interactions with the audience, having the whole audience is supportive stitches when he pointedly smacked down a heckler, even providing a little off the cuff rendition of “You’re sad”. He was on form and smiling and laughing, and the crowd completely responded in kind. The two, band and audience, were completely in sync in the Arena.
Down went the massive curtains in the semi darkness, as the lights, like a Gotham Batman sign, firmly planted the Scorpions calling card front and centre for all to see. The rockers from Hanover were coming.
Up went the curtain and an incredible light show began, announcing it was almost time, increasing the anticipation. You could almost feel the synchronous thundering of everyone’s heartbeat as the tension grew. It was stoked even more once the intro of “Crazy World” began and on came the Scorpions starting off as they meant to go on, rocking the socks off everyone there. Again this was a performance that was going to evangelise any doubters in the audience. Everyone knows of “Rock You Like a Hurricane” and “Wind of Change” but right from the start they were blowing minds that those songs were a tiny tip of a Germanic behemoth of an iceberg. On they kept going with “Going Out With A Bang”, “Make It Real”, “Is There Anybody Out There” and “The Zoo”. Each song delivered with such panache from a tight, fully confident and on the top of their game band. Flowing easily from one song to the next and showcasing their undeniable and broad musical talent.
The light and monitor show was perfect, it never took away from the performance but enhanced it. Then came a tour de force of a medley with some of their hard rocking 70’s songs “Top of the Bill / Steamrock Fever / Speedy's Coming / Catch Your Train” before planting their rock credentials even further into people minds and hearts with “We Built This House” and the delightful “Delicate Dance” showing off how great they all are as musicians. On they stormed with an energy that would leave many younger bands gasping for breath with “Follow Your Heart / Eye of the Storm / Send Me an Angel” before the whole arena roared as “Wind Of Change” was delivered to an audience hungry for more and more of the Scorpions. Yes, this is a song played to death, but with their uncompromising live delivery it felt like it had only just been released onto the world. All through the show they made full use of the extended stage to give fans as close an experience as possible. The joy of both band at playing and fans at being there was plainly palpable.
The Scorpions gave the crowd no let up as the floor heaved and undulated with ecstatic fans in an almost unbelieving state at seeing the Scorpions on stage in the O2. Keeping the energy flowing they continued with “Tease Me Please Me” before their emotionally charged cover of Motorhead’s “Overkill” as a tribute to the legend that is Lemmy and knocked that out of the arena and across the Thames.
The rest of the band got a little break but the audience and Mikkey Dee had no such deal. Mikkey’s drum solo was just simply an incredible high energy speed induced marathon of epic proportions. The fans just went wild swaying and clapping hands in time where they could keep up. The roar of applause for Mikkey nearly lifted the roof. And that drum must have been made in Harland and Wolff!
Back came the whole band again as they finished the main set with “Blackout” and “Big City Nights”. Wow! That show exhausted the audience never mind the band, but they really weren’t finished yet as they completed the cherry on top dessert after such an amazingly full metal meal with “Still Loving You”, Holiday and a thunderous rendition of “Rock You Like a Hurricane”.
Overall, the Stone Free Festival main event at the O2 Arena was a perfect smorgasbord giving everyone a taste of three very different bands, but perfectly complimented the crowd’s taste for rock and metal. If you were there, to witness that gig, you were blessed. Long Live Rock and Metal
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Photography Pete Keye