Inside the arena, there are four stages; the Ronnie James Dio Stage, the Sophie Lancaster Stage (named after the murder victim viciously attacked because of her goth appearance in Lancashire in 2007), the New Blood stage and the Jägermeister stage. There are copious food stalls offering everything from pulled meat to waffle cones. There are bars serving beer, spirits and cocktails. There are fun fair amusements such as bungee cage and bumper cars. There are even medieval battle re-enactments between knights dressed in full body armour wielding real swords and shields. There is plenty to see and do here when not in front of the stage. And all the attractions are close enough to the stages to enjoy the music in the background anyway.
Parading around the festival arena we see plenty of revellers in fancy dress – Superheroes, Smurfs, Mankinis and Cross-dressers. There is also a multitude of humorous t-shirts to be seen:
“I’m not an Alcoholic. I’m a Drunk. Alcoholics go to meetings”
“F*ck Genres. It’s All Metal”
“Fat People are Harder to Kidnap”
“Cheer up Goth – Real Men don’t wear Make-up”
and stretched across the chest of one buxom lass “Weapons of Mass Distraction”.
Only the Sophie Lancaster Stage is open on Thursday night – and the headlining act of the night is TRAGEDY – a heavy metal tribute to the Bee Gees. They provide a soft entry to the festival with a theatrical show laden with sexual innuendo, cheesy jokes, and glittery spandex. They play Bee Gees classics such as “Night Fever” and “Staying Alive” with pounding, up-tempo drums and heavy metal guitar riffs. One of the highlights of the set list is “It’s Raining Men” complete with the heavy intro to Slayer’s “Raining Blood”. The opening drumbeat and guitar riff are instantly recognizable to any self-respecting thrash metal fan – however, much self-respect is quickly lost when the capacity crowd in the venue find themselves rocking out to the Weather Girl’s 80’s hit. Lance, the band’s on-stage sidekick provides even more comedy to the act, with his incessant towel-drying and glitter-throwing resulting in the band vanquishing him from the stage to be crowd-surfed around the big-top tent whilst showering the audience with even more glitter.