Hapfairy's World

Symphonic metal news with a sprinkle of fairy dust

Bloodstock 2015 Report

Me at the Ronnie James Dio stage
I've just returned from Bloodstock 2015! It was a great sunny weekend, despite having a flare-up of my illness which made everything that bit harder. I did get to see some great bands that may be of interest to the readers of this blog, so I thought I'd do a mini report on that and on the festival in general.


Size - the festival is a great size, really easy to navigate and get around.

Accessibility - the disabled campsite was right next to the arena, had plenty of space and mostly decent facilities. The seating platform was busy but was easy to reach and had its own toilets.

Food - although typical highly-priced festival fare, there were a huge amount of options and a great selection for those who are veggie, vegan or gluten free.

Stages - the main stage (named for legend Ronnie James Dio) is a good size for visibility, and there are several smaller stages scattered around. There are clashes, but one good thing is that the second stage headliners are on later than the main stage ones, so you can usually watch both.

Bands - there were a wide variety of bands to choose from across all the genres of metal.

Just one of the many quirky food stalls...
Stalls and merch - if you're after metal t-shirts, patches, bags (and so on) this is the place to go. There were plenty of options and sizes for the official merch and some neat alternatives to shirts - such as badges, hip flasks and cups with the line-up printed on. There was also a useful campsite shop that sold plenty of essentials.

Toilets - festival toilets are never great, but I would say that these were the best I've experienced at a metal fest and they were at least cleaned and re-stocked with paper quite regularly.

People - plenty of fun and friendly folks! A great atmosphere overall.


Smoking - if you're not a smoker, you might want to be prepared for this aspect of the fest. People were smoking everywhere, even in the tent stages, next to the no smoking signs. Quite an issue for anyone with health problems/asthma etc.

Accessible showers - I can't speak for the other showers, but the accessible ones were not great! They weren't particularly accessible and provided nowhere to put dry clothes. Hot water was a plus, though.

Cleanliness and Crime - two things that are unfortunately a problem at all festivals these days! There was a lot of mess, and I heard a fair few reports of people having things stolen (even a skeleton was nicked). Stay safe, folks.

Skeletons: not too spooky to be stolen
Signing Tent - long queues well in advance of the start, reportedly very little time to meet with the bands, plus a rude and inconsiderate reply when asked whether or not disabled guests were allowed priority entry - all things that led us to avoid this feature of the fest.

Female vocalist representation - this point is one more specific to readers of this blog. The festival could have done with some more bands with female singers on the line-up. There was a little more representation on the smaller stages with bands like Triaxis, Winter Storm and We Are The Catalyst, but the only bigger bands on offer were Within Temptation and Delain.


Delain performed a fab headline show in the Sophie Lancaster tent - a noteable milestone for them as patrons of the S.O.P.H.I.E. charity. The setlist consisted largely of tracks from the band's most recent albums, The Human Contradiction and We Are The Others, but a few older tracks made an appearance including Sleepwalker's Dream and The Gathering. The atmosphere in the tent was electric and it was clear that the band were going down a storm. The highlight was of course a final (very appropriate) rendition of their Sophie Lancaster-dedicated song We Are The Others that had everyone singing along.

Opeth are a band so consistent that it's almost hard to review their performance, as they rarely differ. Mikael Ã…kerfeldt makes his usual self-deprecating remarks in between the songs, at one point declaring that they'll be playing a song from "the most hated Opeth album". This wasn't really a set for the older fans as it was almost all Opeth's newer, more prog, less death metal material. It was nice and mellow in the sunset, but somehow not very Bloodstock. The more unexpected appearance of Deliverance as the sixth and final track played was definitely a popular choice among the audience.

Within Temptation were headlining the Saturday of the fest and brought a suitably grand performance. Kicking off with Paradise and Tarja on screen, Sharon performed a lot of the band's duets solo (Dangerous, And We Run and What Have You Done? were also played) and mostly did a great job, though she did appear flustered at points and forgot some opening lines. Latest album Hydra was well represented, but hits from The Unforgiving (Iron, Fire and Ice, In The Middle of the Night, Faster) got a warmer reception from the Bloodstock crowd, as did those from The Heart of Everything (Our Solemn Hour, WHYD and the title track) and classic The Silent Force single Stand My Ground. As is traditional for the band, the Mother Earth hits were played at the end of the show, but this hit a big hitch as the power cut out three times on Ice Queen, forcing the band to play an impromptu drum solo and then abandon the song all together. They did manage to return for a final encore of Covered By Roses ("Where's my wine?" shouted Sharon) and Mother Earth itself. Overall a flawed but determined show from one of the best bands in the genre.

Ensiferum were the highlight of Sunday for me, bringing their particular brand of epic folk metal. The short setlist (an intro and 7 songs) was spot on, with new tracks Axe of Judgement and Heathen Horde settling in nicely next to fan favourites From Afar, Twilight Tavern (much dancing to that one) and Ahti. Treacherous Gods was a nice nod to fans of the band's first album. They closed the show with Two of Spades, a bonkers track which seemed as though it would be great live - and it certainly was. The addition of Ensiferum metal dancing girls throwing beach balls was suitably bizarre, but an amusing end to a great set.


My first Bloodstock experience was a good one. I'm looking forward to attending another instalment - hopefully in better health! There are definitely improvements that could be made, but now that I have attended all the large metal festivals in the UK I think I can safely say that Bloodstock is my favourite.


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