I know this is a few days after the facts, but I had to write about it.
Rock Werchter in Belgium has been celebrated as the best festival in the World for several years in a row. Its organisation, security and musical line-up are unparalleled and an example for other festivals. For 4 days in the first weekend of July, the festival welcomes visitors from around the globe to enjoy music from the best bands and the greatest new artists.
A few years ago, the organisers of this festival decided that it was time to branch out and give more and different audiences a chance to enjoy their favourite music at Werchter. They came up with 2 new concepts: TW Classic and Werchter Boutique.
TW Classic brings the greatest music of all time to the stage. Bryan Adams, Lenny Kravits, Simple Minds, The Black Eyed Peas, Depeche Mode, Moby, The Police, Elton John and Sting are just a few of the amazing artists that have graced the audience of TW Classic with their greatest hits.
And then there’s Werchter Boutique – the person who came up with this concept is an absolute genius! Werchter Boutique changes every year and the line-up is adapted to suit a specific audience.
In 2008, a dream came true for thousands of screaming young teenage girls and their families when Tokio Hotel was the headliner and Santana and Dutch band Doe Maar provided the necessary impulse for parents to want to accompany their sons and daughters to the festival.
In 2009, Madonna brought her Sticky & Sweet tour to the stage at Werchter and in 2010 Prince was the headliner, again bringing completely different audiences to this small town in Belgium.
Werchter Boutique then skipped a year, only to return with its greatest stunt to date. This year, Werchter Boutique catered to fans of metal music: the festival headliner was one of the greatest metal bands in the world: Metallica. And I was there.
Let me be extremely clear: I am not a metal fan. The music is too loud, the songs are usually just a blur of guitars and drums and people screaming into a microphone in ways that make me want to chop my ears off. But I have never seen a more amazing live act than Metallica. I must have seen them perform for five or six times by now, and I’m blown away every time.
We bought tickets to this festival months ago, when the only band confirmed to play was Metallica. In the months that followed, the following ‘supporting acts’ were announced: Ghost, Gojira, Channel Zero, Mastodon and Soundgarden. All great bands of the metal genre, but they were clearly no more than that: a way to pass the time before Metallica would take to the stage. I can’t really say very much about them: I didn’t like Ghost (to much like a fancy dress party), Gojira was simply too loud, I appreciate Channel Zero as they are a Belgian band and they used to be really good (used to be, that is, now…not so much), I skipped Mastodon and they were just background music to us while we were having dinner in the back of the festival grounds and I can see why Soundgarden was the second greatest grunge band after Nirvana… 20 years ago. I do still love their song Black Hole Sun, that was the only thing that got me up off the grass with my hands in the air.
At about 21:00, when the sun was setting behind the stage, it was finally time for Metallica to make this day worth the money. And by god did they ever deliver!
Metallica performed their legendary Black Album in its entirety, with The Unforgiven, Enter Sandman and Sad But True as my personal favourites. The band celebrated the 20th anniversary of this album that meant their worldwide breakthrough and made them the greatest metal band in the world, and they have not lost any of their enigmatic charisma. The lights and fireworks were perfectly in tune with the surprisingly beautiful melodies and clever lyrics of their legendary songs. I thoroughly enjoyed the concert, was screaming from beginning to end, trying to keep up with James Hetfield’s powerful vocals and incredible energy. If you’ve never seen this band, you should. I promise that you will not regret it!
I wonder what Werchter Boutique will come up with next year – it will take another stroke of genius to top this year’s overwhelming success!!