Bloodstock and the moment Europe won over a field of metal fans

Bloodstock is finally upon us. As thousands of rock fans prepare for an onslaught of riffs and ale, we asked festival director Adam Gregory to pick out his five favourite moments from behind the scenes – and the story behind Europe’s now legendary set.

“For me Bloodstock is a unique event compared to a lot of the other festivals out there, and this is borne out of the big family atmosphere that everybody tends to feel when they attend. It’s not really a corporate event, but more a gathering of one big family. That’s my take on it.

“Here are my five stand-out Bloodstock moments thus far…”

RIDERS ON THE STORM “Back at Bloodstock in 2004, we’d actually forgotten to go out and buy all the riders for the bands, so myself and Vicky [Hungerford, festival director] ended up going to Asda with a great big shopping list. We were very naïve back then as to what we were doing, and we went around filling carts and shopping trolleys with alcohol and pop and God knows what. So that was a bit of an interesting one. Bizarrely, the riders haven’t been that bad over the years. I was expecting some quite horrific [requests] but other than the normal ones like, ‘I only want blue M&Ms or I don’t want any brown ones’ – they’re not too outrageous.”

The poster for Bloodstock 2004 and a pile of brown M&Ms, yesterday (now gone)

RIDE THE LIGHTNING “In 2005, our stage was struck with lightning during a bad storm. It was raining hard, and all the fans thought it was part of a light show that we had put on. They all started shouting, ‘Do it again! Do it again!’ The wind had picked up so much as well that the main stage started to tilt slightly, so it was quite a nerve-wracking moment. It was unexpected, but we got through it. Thankfully, nobody was hurt, and I guess it shows that the safety of the stages – when they are hit by lightning, they can withstand it quite readily. So there you go!”

ROCK N’ ROLL ALL KNIGHT “In 2011, Rachael Greenfield, our assistant Co-Director was brought onto the stage and we got the whole crowd to sing Happy Birthday to her. It was obviously quite an emotional moment for her, and quite a surreal one for everybody else. We don’t like being distant from the fans who come to Bloodstock – we like being out there with them. More often than not, you’ll see us walking around out the front to see what’s happening. I think you have to keep in touch and experience what everyone else is experiencing, so you can improve on it year upon year. And the fans themselves make the festival for me. Some of characters that we’ve got are amazing, from Captain Carlsberg – the guy who dresses up in a knight suit made of beer boxes – to the guys in mankinis that really shouldn’t be wearing anything close to a mankini, but they don’t care. It’s that whole concept of ‘I can be who I want to be!’ It’s all in the name of good fun.”

Captain Carlberg and Zombie Teletubbies, both having a lovely time at Bloodstock Photos: Peter Still/Redferns, Christie Goodwin/Redferns)

REIGN IN MUD “Most festivals in 2013 were severely rained out. I normally do a site visit leading up to the festival, especially when it’s wet to keep an eye on the ground. I remember arriving at the field thinking, ‘Where exactly is the field?’ As I walked through the main arena I had water up to my knees and you literally couldn’t see the difference between the nearby river and the main arena itself. I texted everybody a quick photograph saying, ‘I think we’ve got a problem’ which got people panicking. But three days later, it had drained. We’ve always got a contingency plan in place, so if it does flood we have a site remake and can move the stages around – but that was another bum-clenching moment.”

**SWEDE EMOTION **“When we announced Europe were playing in 2009, a lot of people were saying, ‘I’ll be in the campsite… I won’t be watching them… I’ll be somewhere else.’ But that night, it was one of the biggest audiences of the weekend and they put on a fantastic show, closing proceedings with the legendary Final Countdown. At that moment you could see hordes of people running from the campsite to get near the stage. It was an incredible thing to watch.”

Bloodstock takes place at Catton Park, Derbyshire until August 9. For more details, visit the festival’s official site.

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DJ, presenter, writer, photographer and podcaster Matt Stocks was a presenter on Kerrang! Radio before a year’s stint on the breakfast show at Team Rock Radio, where he also hosted a punk show and a talk show called Soundtrack Apocalypse. He then moved over to television, presenting on the Sony-owned UK channel Scuzz TV for three years, whilst writing regular features and reviews for Metal Hammer and Classic Rock magazine. He also wrote, produced and directed a feature-length documentary on Australian hard rock band Airbourne called It’s All For Rock ‘N’ Roll, and in 2017 launched his own podcast: Life in the Stocks. His first book, also called Life In The Stocks, was published in 2020. A second volume was published in April 2022.