It’s been away for a long long time, but on June 4th 2006 it made its return, and what a return it was. Not only did they have Deep Purple headlining,they had Alice Cooper, Journey, Thunder, Ted Nugent, Queensryche and Roadstar on the bill too!
I arrived at Milton Keynes National Bowl at about Midday with Ian. The queues looked scarily long, but we were soon in, after a quick search. The venue itself is massive. It looks like an old Roman Amphitheatre, and the term “Bowl” is not a wrong one.
We had a little walk round and soon found the Beer and Refreshment stalls. There were a load of stalls to look at with lots of lovely things for sale, too. We decided to go down to the stage and find a spot for the day. We managed to get quite close to the stage and sat down for a little while, enjoying the sun.
We weren’t waiting long until Roadstar (formally known as Hurricane Party) opened the day with a cracking set, this band will go far. They are such pretty boys too. The crowd reaction was a little understated, which is a shame as I thought they deserved better. They started off the show with “Let’s get it started” how clever. And they kicked arse from then on. It’s a shame they only played for half an hour to be honest. But I will be seeing them again, and I’d recommend you do too.
Second on the bill was Ted Nugent, the nutter. The stage was set up with a big American flag and the amps were covered in army type material. America Fuck Yeah, from the film Team America started playing and he came out on stage. This amused me greatly. His set was good, if not a little long winded, he’s an excellent guitar player, and this is not in dispute. His solos were a little tedious toward the end though. He played all my favourites, though, Wango Tango, and Catch Scratch Fever, and quite a good cover of the classic AC/DC track Baby Please Don’t Go. He amused the crowd with threats of skinning his bassist alive if he didn’t get his bass amp fixed so they could get going. An odd man, but so talented.
Next up were Queensryche. Whose entrance was accompanied by some rather odd soundtrack of people talking, setting up the scene for the song they opened with. I wasn’t that keen on them in all honesty. Not my thing, rather gothic dark and wailing. The stage show was a little theatrical and confusing as the words weren’t clear in the songs. But they entertained the crowd, anyway.
Onto Thunder, and what a difference they were amazing. They know how to entertain. Playing a blinding set with all the songs Thunder fans have come to know and love over the years. The lead singer Danny Bowes was even nice enough to announce the football results for everyone. They had everyone singing along to very song. At one point when Danny wanted to show off his singing skills he had to tell the crowd to shush and listen, and of course got a roaring round of applause for his efforts. Incidentally it has to be said that Danny’s voice has improved a lot from their early recordings, in fact this band just gets better and better. Go. See. Them, now.
Journey haven’t played in the UK since 1980, and the 26 years away from our shores didn’t go unmentioned. They did apologise for their absence, and after the reception they got I don’t think they’ll stay away for that long again. They played some absolute classic songs no music lover should have missing from their collection, in my opinion. More singing from the crowd. Some beautiful and rather soppy numbers were in the mix, which were lovely. A perfect set, with no complaints from me or anyone else in the audience.
I was far too excited about seeing Alice Cooper live. I’ve heard all the stories about his stage shows, and he didn’t disappoint. The stage was set with a purple velvet lined coffin, a guillotine and a huge banner of Alice’s eyes as the backdrop. His band entered the stage after what seemed like and eternity, it was more like 20 minutes, but I didn’t want to wait! Such a showman, he gave the crowd everything they wanted and more. Playing almost every single one of my favourites, I’m 18, Only Women Bleed, Schools Out, Is It My Body, and Poison. And there only the ones I can name offhand now. The stage show was excellent. His daughter was so entertaining too, wearing outfits to go with each set of songs and making everyone laugh if nothing else. During the show the crowd started shouting “We’re not worthy” which amused Alice greatly. During the show he assembled bits of corpse into the purple lined coffin, and then got beheaded. His ‘head’ was then placed onto the corpse. This magically turned into a very healthy Alice. If he ever loses his voice he should take up as an illusionist. We were treated to a full hour and a half of sheer entertainment, which was worth the ticket price alone. I’ll be seeing him again, too.
Deep Purple were in short amazing. Playing a fantastic set of songs, accompanied by a light show, this annoyingly played havoc with my camera. We’d moved away from the stage a little at this point, the long day had knackered me out. But it took nothing away from the music. Plus the use of the video screens was very handy as we missed little of what was going on on stage. They opened by video screen footage of them all getting out of one case in a backstage area. My only and only complaint was Gillan’s dress sense, wearing what can only be described as a dodgy 80’s waistcoat for the second half of the set. They played all the classics, ending the night with Black Night, how perfect. They left the stage and went back into the case they had emerged from, and disappeared.
With that the return of the Monster was all over, until I hope, next year.