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Family-run festival with worldwide reputation will be bigger than ever

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: July 03, 2014

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THE UK’s largest heavy metal festival returns to South Derbyshire in August with a record attendance almost guaranteed.

The Bloodstock music festival could see up to 15,000 fans at Catton Park, near Walton-on-Trent, for a feast of music led by headliners Megadeth, Emperor and Down.

Vicky Hungerford, a director of the event, says: “Megadeth are a huge act for us. They are one of the ‘big four’ metal acts and a band we have been after such a long time.

“Emperor are a huge black metal band who have selected just four European shows to do this year. So to get them here is amazing.

“They put on a huge show with pyrotechnics and epic production. They haven’t played the UK before so their headline performance here on the Saturday night is a real exclusive.”

The Friday night headliners are heavy metal supergroup Down.

Vicky says: “Lead singer Phil Anselmo is one of the biggest characters in metal. He’s a pivotal performer in the genre.”

Lacuna Coil, who were of the headliners in 2007 are back but are further down the bill on the Saturday.

“That just shows how big the festival has got,” says Vicky.

“The variance of bands is also bigger than ever. We try to have bands from every genre so that all the fans are catered for.”

Motorhead guitarist Phil Campbell has played Bloodstock as part of that lengendary band but pops up this year with his own outfit.

Vicky says: “He played last year on an acoustic stage for a bit of fun but it was so packed that no-one could physically see him.

“So he’s playing the Thursday, a warm up night before the main stage opens, this year.

“They had a ridiculous reception last year so I’m sure will be very popular this time.

“We should talk about Saxon as well. They have been big supporters of the event and played the very first festival.

“It’s their 30th anniversary and they are having their celebration at Bloodstock.”

Bloodstock founder and celebrated artist Paul Gregory has a long history of creating the artwork for Saxon’s album covers.

Vicky says: “Paul basically called Biff Byford (Saxon’s frontman) when he was planning the first festival indoors at Derby Assembly Rooms and asked if he would do him a favour and play. So it’s fitting to have them back as they reach this landmark.”

The festival has grown steadily from the 700 who attended the first event indoors at Derby Assembly Rooms 14 years ago to the 12,000 who descended on South Derbyshire in 2013.

With the festival having a track record of passing off peacefully, organisers have secured a new licence for up to 15,500 for 2014 and are confident of selling out.

“Ticket sales are up 20 per cent on this time last year and we are sure we will sell out,” says Vicky. “We have grown since we moved to Catton Hall and so we re-licensed for 15,500 people.”

Bloodstock moved to South Derbyshire in 2005 and now provides a significant impact on the local economy.

It also has a reputation for providing a great atmosphere for music fans.

Vicky says: “If you ask anyone, bands, music industry figures, fans they will tell you that it is the best atmosphere at any festival.

“One of the bands last year described it as the ‘best festival on the planet’.

“The atmosphere is key. It’s friendly – people bring their babies. As heavy as it is it’s warm and welcoming.

“I think that’s because it’s family run and there isn’t a corporate element to it.

“The people we work with, from the crew who do the lighting to the security staff, come back year after year and all know the festival.

“The fans get to know them and build up a rapport.

“We are now in our 14th year so people know what to expect. It’s not going to change a lot as if it’s not broken we aren’t going to try to fix it – the only thing we might do is slightly expand it.”

That may mean the introduction of a blues stage at some point.

Vicky says: “Blues is the origination of metal and Paul is a huge fan so next year we are thinking of having a small stage for some blues bands. Without blues there would be no rock or metal, so it will show people how it began.

“The core fans are metalhaeds but it’s nice for them to have new things to see and do while they are here.”

Part of that will be an exhibition of Paul Gregory’s artwork at the festival.

Vicky says: “There will be two huge triptychs, which will be mindblowing, as well as a piece that Paul has been working on for the last 10 months and which will be seen for the first time.

“It will showcase all his album work, his Bloodstock art and some of his Lord of the Rings work.

“You see these huge works of art that can be as big as 20ft by 8ft and it’s amazing. I don’t think any festival has had anything like this before.”

Vicky, who books the bands for the main and second stage and who is Paul’s daughter, says that the future is looking bright for the festival.

She says: “We aim to grow the festival eventually up to 20,000.

“We want to then keep it sold out at that maximum – which is a good size and not too big. Because we are family run we want to keep that spirit.”

Bloodstock takes place from August 7-10. Go to www.bloodstock.uk.com.

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