Monday, 18 June 2018

Stone Free Festival Saturday 16th June 2018

A celebration of all things rock! No truer statement sums up the Stone Free Festival. 

If you aren’t aware of this festival, it is after all relatively new. Since 2016, the likes of Alice Cooper and Ritchie Blackmore’s Deep Purple have topped the bill. 

So 2018 had to be special, right? 

The O2 itself was fully immersed by Stone Free, many parts taken over by various stages and a huge Vinyl collectors fair. This alone was like an all encompassing art gallery, with vinyls of all colour and style on offer for the smorgasbord of rock n rollers coming into the mighty dome. 

So throughout The O2 as previously mentioned, there were a variety of small stages set up to show off not just the biggest that the rock world has to offer, but also a chance for some younger or heavier articles from our world. You could also sit in the luxury of a plush cinema to watch the iconic cult classic `Wayne’s World`, all as part of your ticket price! 

Headlining at the Indigo rooms, located on the side of The O2, the venue heralded probably the heaviest of bands that would appear at The O2 for the whole weekend, Orange Goblin. A band that having just released their newest album `The Wolf Bites Back’, it was the perfect opportunity to showcase a heavier brand of Metal that fans of tonight’s main stage headliner may not be too familiar with. Definitely, on tonight’s efforts, a band that needs to be seen by more people. This also highlighted the effectiveness of the scheduling over the weekend, in simple terms; those who arrived early could sample the many bands and activities that were on show. 

Right let’s get onto tonight’s heavy hitters, opening the main stage is `Buckcherry’. Unfortunately, this writer wasn’t able to check out their high octane rock n roll as the queue to get into the venue was being held up by the rigours of security checks, annoying but very necessary. 

Up next, and they certainly shouldn’t need any introduction, is the mighty `Megadeth’. Heralded as one of the Big 4 of Thrash Metal, Megadeth showcase tonight just why they have lasted for such a long time. They power through so many hits and even a couple of rare gems make the set-list. Dave Mustaine and David Ellefson are both in fine fettle and being flanked by younger gentleman, songs like `Symphony of Destruction’ and `Peace Sells’ are only a taste of what Megadeth have brought to table for so many years. Technically inspired metal with superb song writing and topical lyrics that appear to be relevant in any age. 

Megadeth Photo Credit: Nathan Kerridge-Porter

If you’ve seen this lot before you will know just how good they are live, Germany’s premier rock band `Scorpions’. Formed way back in 1965, the Hanover outfit are not exactly young men but boy can they show the whipper snappers a thing or two. The show itself is a pure extravaganza, with a smorgasbord of highly lit TV screens that showcase important concepts from the band’s massive back catalogue that they picked out for the heaving O2 audience. Pure and simple, Scorpions are showmen. With a rising Mikkey Dee during his drum solo, and Rudolph Schenker with a smoking guitar is the perfect demonstration of what Scorpions bring to the table; sheer entertainment. 

The band has so many hits, even those who came to the show not really knowing the might of the Hanover heavy weights may know some of the songs; they are simply that much a part of pop culture. 

`Rock You like a Hurricane’ is a perfect example of a song that was written for the 1984 album `Love At First Sting’, and they still kick serious ass playing a song that I’m sure you’d be sick of playing for 30 years. Yet they play like it’s the first time, and for some in the audience it may well be their first. 

Scorpions Photo Credit: Nathan Kerridge-Porter

So Stone Free Festival at least on Saturday was a resounding success, although even for Scorpions the entirety of The O2 wasn’t utilized. However, due to the amazing opportunities for up and coming bands plus the vinyl fairs that are on show, The O2 is the perfect venue to house the Stone Free Festival. Yes Wembley Arena might have been sold out, but the experience you get by making it a mini festival under a tent the size of The O2 is great for those who don’t want to camp outside, and certainly do not want to deal with the English weather. 

9/10 – A Classic Rock festival for the age, keep it up! 

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