Milton Keynes Bowl

June 20 1998

14 bands. It's gonna be a toughie to do. So, back and forth, in and out. Bits missed, sunkissed. Whatever.

So anyway, the car gets parked up in an official car park, otherwise known as a field, and a fiver is charged for the privelage. Nice to know they don't make any money out of it all, Vicky and I head off in search of “the Bowl” and it’s found near the queue that is on to get in. And the skies open as the big man upstairs decides to take a piss again. It's supposed to be hot here.

Entering the bowl, one of the first things you notice is the cost of things. Program 10 quid. T-shirts 15 quid. Beer 2.50. Nice to know they don't make any money out of it all.

Nope, sorry. Actually the first thing you notice is the MUD. The fashion accessory for any festival. Modelled by all the best people.

And it’s amazing that you can actually meet people there, so somehow Zoe, Liam, Andy and others who I don’t know are found. Ok, so they’ll probably be lost at some point in the day, but it’s still a minor miracle.

Oh yeah, and there’s at least 3 Welsh flags around. Ah, they never let me down. Shame about the Scots one on a twig. I guess all the English ones were in France. Didn’t see any Romanian ones. Oh sorry. Hehe.

The promised Never Never Land theme park thing is a bit of a disappointment really, as in, pretty much non-existant. Though there is a place selling CDs, which is nice. And places to get tattooed and pierced, if that’s what you want to do.

There's a bit of time to kill before the first mob are due on, the mighty Pitchshifter. The announcment is made, for those that didn't know, that Korn aren't appearing, and have instead been replaced by Therapy? The mud is already appearing, and mud skating is an activity that will become a common occurence throughout the day.

The other thing to notice, thank God, is that the two stages are virtually next to each other, so at least that means there shouldn't be much hassle wandering back and forth shouldn’t it? Well shouldn’t it??.

You’re all very naughty people ... JS Clayden

Midday and the first action occurs. Pitchshifter take to the stage, and open up with Microwaved. It's an awesome song, and looking around, that wonderful festival atmosphere is going, as people just stand there an watch. Not sure what to make of it all. Is it metal. Or should that be METAL. There's not much time for talking today, so it's just on with the songs proclaims JS prophetically. Actually, they get interrupted by talking on the main stage “please stop throwing mud at the stage”. Oh yeah, like that’s really going to stop people. “You’re all very naughty people” comes the Monty Pythonesque reply from Clayden, “what would your mothers say?” They manage to zip through Virus, Triad, WYSIWYG and Genius, which is dedicated to the genius down the front who JS just happens to have singled out. I think they got through Subject to Status as well. They should've just been about to do the awesome Please Sir, but er, sorry, we haven't got any time to do any more songs. Ooops. First mistake of the day. Not sure it really worked for the 'Shifter today.

Following the ‘Shifter is a swift doseage of the Fear Factory. Except at the moment we're on a mission for the delightful festival accessory known as a toilet. Hold your noses please. They're delightully found opposite a hot dog stand. Similarities anyone. Now I'm not one to suggest where festival food comes from ....

The strains of Demanufacture accompany other strains at the moment I guess, and Self Bias Resistor, so that by the time we've wandered around to the back of the bowl and are watching the Fear'ed ones on the giant vid screens, they're going through two new tracks, including the next single. Hi Tech Hate, Edgecrusher. Something like that they were called. And well, I'm sure that after a while they're going to sound good, but at the moment with the sound (Pitch)shifting from side to side, and up and down, it's not really the most sensilbe suggestion. Replica and Scapegoat fare better, being, as they are, well known by people. Though I think Burton could've come up with a slightly different speech to the one that he used at the NEC gigs about Sabbath being around and wanting to hear us ... blah di blah di blah.

And with barely a breath to breath, Hed(PE) are taking to the next stage. And they pleasantly surprised me. I've only listened to the album about three times, but the first couple of songs seem to suggest to me that I ought to remedy that. The one that I did recognise was their Slayer one. Or at least, the one that reminds me of Slayer. Started to loose momentum to the end of the set, as the jams seemed to set in, and unfamiliarity tapped me on the shoulder and said "hi". Still, the people watching from the stage seemed to get into it, including Benji from Dub War, Aimee from HWP and her mom.

The ritualistic buying of T-shirts appears in full swing. I'm guilty, acquiring the HWP Satan shirt, which of course, is a fuck you to Hollywood Records, featuring as it does, a Satanic Mickey Mouse. HR of course being owned by Disney. Connection!

Slayer take to the stage with South of Heaven, and we find comfort on some of the less muddy grass behind a truck where the beer was being sold. It's nice moment. The sun is out, the Sky is blue, supping a lager, as Slayer say "fuck you". Ok, so I was never good at poetry. They seem to continue through a greatest hits set. Slayer, sunshine, and a nice watered down cardboard cup of Carling. What could be better. By the time I venture from behind the truck to take a gander, the Reign in Blood miniset is begining to take effect. And it's still sounds awesome. Part of me wasn't sure if I wanted to see them again today as it was just going to be the same, but well, Jesus Saves, Raining Blood and, of course, Angel of Death just can't be argued with. And they're not. But what has that King bloke been taking?

Entombed were next on the smaller stage. I've seen them 4 or 5 times last year, and good as they were, this is time for a break again. So it's back to the grassy knoll behind the truck. Though I did venture down towards the stage towards the end of the set. I think I got stared at by people, or at least the system of a down t-shirt did, so I ran away. Hey, I scare easily. Anyway, Entombed seemed OK and that was it. It was nothing special. Some new tracks were OK, but even Like This With The Devil didn't quite light things up.

Not that things need lighting at this point. That sun is really begining to burn. You enter the realisation stage that tomorrow morning you are going to look so stupid. Red face and arms and nothing more. Sizzle sizzle frrrrry. Still, at least you can comfort yourself in the knowledge that 60,000 others look even worse than you do. If only you knew. And by this time, we’ve managed to loose pretty much all of the people we were there with. Or maybe they lost us. Who’s to say?

Over on the main stage, it's time for Soulfly. And what do you know. Out they come. The sound is absolutely fucking awful. MAX is inaudible. The mouth is going, cos the vid screens show that, but nothing emerges from the PA. Eye For An Eye is going though. 10 for a voice might've been more appropriate (think about it, and if that doesn’t work, then give up). It's a shortened version of the UK tour set. It kinda works better in this setting I think, and what I think is of absolutetly no relevence anyway, because the number of Soulfly shirts that are wandering round is phenonmenal. And that’s ignoring the fact that a t-shirt that can wander is pretty fucking clever in the first place. If a t-shirt count was appropriate, they would've headlined. The band that is, not the t-shirts.

Of course we get some Seps stuff. And a few tracks from the Soulfly album. Logan still doesn't really look as if he fits. Or maybe he does, it's just that it's at odds with that Machine Head image. Clad in a Stuck Mojo top. You'd have thought on a day like this he'd have been topless. That Brazilian instrument thingie is here again. Some little kid does Fred's part in Bleed. Max did say who, but, well, the sound was still shite. Highlight as ever was Benji's appearance. Ok, people seemed to show "love and respect", so let's see that turned into success when the next Dub War album emerges.

HWP are due next on the smaller stage, so we wander down towards the front. Shit it's hot in amongst all these people. The sweat be pouring out of me. Oh great, hot, sticky, wet, and red. Steady once more please.

Max is out of time really, but there's two more to do. Attitude, as ever dedicated to Dana. You know my thoughts on that, but it seems to be what Max wants to do, so fair enough, and No finishes the set.

What a beautiful fucking day ... Aimee Echo

Which means that we just about have time to turn around and the Human Waste Project are onstage. Long time no see, for those of you that don't know, we're Human Waste Project from Los Angeles California. says Aimee. I wonder how many people know the real reason. And Shine starts things going. We basically get the same set as played in the December tours, save the inclusion this time round of crowd favourite Dog. And the exclusion of a few due to time. So it was similar to the previous gigs. Ok, so there’s minor flaws within this review. My brain got frazzled today so it’s throwing a tantrum.

Aimee seems a little more wound up, we came all by our lonesome, cos we don't have a record label anymore. Everyone say Fuck Hollywood Records. Drugstore. Powerstrip sees a seemingly mass pogoing session. You may not like it now but you will. It's difficult to see how far back the reaction is going. Hopefully a long way. You guys at the back seem like you've never seen a woman before. Exit Wound. Aimee's mom at the side of the stage taking pictures and generally seeming to enjoy things. Disease as ever finishes things, dedicated also to Hollywood Records. Aimee finishes up by promising to be back real soon. Let's hope they're right. Probably band of the day for me. But then, you knew I was going to say that didn't you.

Christ, where are we. Oh yeah, in the middle of a field and still sizzling. Sun cream is begining to feel like a really sensible concept at the moment.

But Pantera are about to try and raise the temperature even more. It's been a long time, and Phil is out to let people know that they're back and they're real metal. Sorry. METAL. I've kinda gone off them over recent years. It's nothing to do with turning my back on metal or any such bollocks. More to do with the fact that, for me, the recent albums just haven't had such good songs. But today is a fair mixture. Suicide Note Pt 2 sounds particularly vicious. It's tight and precise. We're wandering to the signing tent at the moment, where the queue is of a length which is quite frankly silly. And there’s some particularly vicious mud patches. The trainers just ain’t going to recover from this. I think we have a casualty. But they’ve served me well. But still, could we just have a moment of silence for them ....


We hang around, and Dan spots Vicky and goes to get her coat. It's been to the States and back with HWP and is now adorned by signatures of people from way too many bands. Hmmm, she's now one up on the jealousy factor.

A piece of Maidens' Number of The Beast is belting forth from the Texan Terrors (had to get that one in), and sounds fantastic. Never forget how great and important a band Maiden have been. It may not be trendy these days, but it sure as hell is influential, and for all those bands who are keeping things real, being so honest in their influence and roots, and then take the piss out of Maiden. Take a good look at yourselves in the mirror when you claim to be real and honest. One of the highlights of the day. Fucking Hostile is the follow-up. Cowboys From Hell and Becoming. It actually started to drag a bit. Seemed they were on for a lot longer than they were. Maybe I'm just begining to wilt in the heat.

Ok, this doesn't really have much to do with Ozzfest, but, why is it that blokes can be in the sun a few minutes, and we begin to look like shit. The hair gets scraggy, face boils up. Look hot and disgusting. The women still look immaculate. Or at least some of them do. It's just not fair. Anyway, back to the action?

And the action now is provided by Life Of Agony. It's going to take the duration of their set to get over to the stage. As a result, you can't really hear to much of the first half. By the time we get over there, they're going through some stuff from Ugly. Forgotten which one now, and Weeds follows. Whitfield is doing a good job it seems filling Keiths shoes. He does resemble him vocally. I was sceptical, and still need to see a full on, able to see the band type gig, but, well, he didn't get bottled, and that's a good sign. So maybe we have two good bands as a result, LOA and Keith's new band Absolute Bloom.

This is getting a bit long isn't it. Well, it was a long day. A long hot day. A long hot day in the mud. My trainers are ruined. Dead. I've got to break my boots in now, which is going to kill my feet. C'est la vie.Of course, now is the tester. Korn pulled out. Therapy? stepped in. A fine band in their own right, but will they be able to hold their own in the eyes of all the disappointed Korn faces. Well, I don't know as you'd have to ask them. Still, for my mind, I was happy enough.

Ozzfest is more popular than the World Cup ... Michael McKeegan

Opening with Nowhere, Martin is wearing a ludicrous Stetson hat, and Andy and Michael are here to ROCK. And then ROCK some more. It is a ROCK set. Die Laughing is up next. Michael takes to the er, mike. Conducts polls which exlusively reveal that Ozzfest is more popular than the World Cup. The electric chello, the HEAVY METAL chello is brought out for a few numbers, including Isolation. Knives elicites the response you'd expect, Stories is still theWildhearts cousin. And Michael is still having a ball.

Andy explains how he walked into work one day and jacked in his job to get the band going. Now look at him. Hope for all of us maybe. Ok, so he could play guitar and sing and write fucking great songs. Minor points. It never stopped !*?!. Ohhh, it got lost in the wind.

Church of Noise is preceeded by the tale that Michael and Andy are protestant and cathololic, Graham is English, and Martin from Southern Ireland. But that doesn't mean they want to do each others heads in. A plea for peace in Ireland that quite possibly, and rightly, receives the biggest cheer of the day. Followed by the ghastly sounds of people trying to hit "THAT" note in the chorus.

Screamager finishes proceedings. At late notice they've stepped in. A triumph, and hopefully one to remind people of exactly how great a band they are. Steal of the day easily.

Coal Chamber I saw enough in December, and I do need to sit down now. So I didn't really see them, though you could hear that the roof, the roof, the roof is on fire. Better get some water then. Instead we sit on a patch which has a little more grass than some of the other patches. They were in short supply.

Foo Fighters for many were the odd band out. I guess until Therapy? stepped in. And they seemed to be worked up to fight it. I don't have the second album, so don't know the songs. It kinda washed over me a bit. Fatigue. Got the feeling many were using this as the chance to recharge the batteries. The Mexican Wave was kinda good. Weenie Beenie sounded good as well, as did a few others. And This Is A Call is a great song whichever way you look at it. Oh yeah, and we’ve found the people again. Boy do they look red. If only they knew!! Good job we still look a normal colour right?!

We're getting there now. Slowly, but surely. It's time for the Oswald. And THE VIDEO. Titanic, Spice Girls, South Park and others are sent up in the inimitable Ozzy way. And then it's a mini-set. I Don't know, Bark At The Moon, Goodbye To Romance, Suicide Solution, Crazy Train. I grew up with these. The person that introduced me to it all is no longer here to enjoy it, but the legacy remains, and it’s for that reason that the Ozmeister still holds favour with me. The voice may suffer, but it's nostalgia pure and simple. Well, that and entertainment.

And so Black Sabbath. As the sun sets, the fires are light, and maybe a chill just permeates the air. Evil suddenly descends from above, or ascends from below, a bunch of blokes old enough to be most people’s fathers take to the stage. And Satan rejoices. Or something simliar.

Black Sabbath have entered the er, building. Minus Bill Ward of course. War Pigs opens it. Fairys Wear Boots, Into The Void. Funny bit was Ozzy introducing the band and screwing up Vinnie Appice's name. And the intro to Spiral Architect. Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, N.I.B. Bill is brought on, introduced, and subsequently releaved of his shorts and boxers. Sure that must've done the old ticker a load of good. Electric Funeral, (the ballad), Children of the Grave. Tony Iommi just doesn't change. Bastard. Oh yeah, Mr Geezer. Terrible coat mate. Black Sabbath itself. It's a shorter set than the NEC, which although maybe disappointing some, was sensible after such a long day. The sun has set, and the fires are up. We're all choking on the smoke. Iron Man. There is only one encore. There could only be one song. It is Paranoid. And it's over.

Go Fucking Crazy ... The Ozz.

Long, hot, sunburnt. Tired, mud covered. Still have to find the car. People with 10 minutes to catch a connection for the train. Not a chance in hell. It took us an hour to find the car. Ok, so maybe it would’ve helped if I’d remembered where we’d parked, but hey, that’s a trivial matter. 14 bands. 11 hours. The organisation, for all that I whinged prior to the event about the line-up, was superb. It was almost too good. You just so wanted a little break between bands. As a result of there not being one, you just couldn't see it all. But really, if was hard to fault, even for a cynical bastard such as myself.

Now if only the face would start returning to an acceptable shade of burnt.