The inclusion of comedy has been one of the high points of Sonisphere for me over the last couple of years. This year was slightly different however as rather than just keeping the comedy to afternoons on the Bohemia Stage, they have gone for the big guns and brought in the one and only Bill Bailey to bring the Saturn Stage to a close.

Coming onstage to his band playing the intro of Diamond Head’s ‘Am I Evil’ dressed all in black with a cape flowing behind him, he took to the stage looking the part. Deciding to play more a greatest hits set rather than simply performing the show he is currently touring, he filled his forty-five minutes with material from throughout his career. The first half of the set featured some of Bill’s own finest songs, from the classic ‘Insect Nation’ to the emo tale of woe that is ‘Bleed On Your Panini’.

The latter half of the show relied on Bill’s ability to completely rearrange other people’s music into a different style, but still make it recognisable and often improve it. The full on dance version of the ‘BBC News theme’ and the Kraftwerk re-imagining of The Wurzel’s ‘I Got A Brand New Combine Harvester’ have been in his set for a while and sounded excellent here with a full live band backing it up. The newer material slotted in well with a West Country version of ‘Poker Face’ before slowing things down getting the crowd to sing-along with Simon & Garfunkel’s “Scarborough Fair’, before bringing the band back to play a Rammstein version of the folk classic which even got a few pits starting up around me.

It’s testament to the man’s talent that the pouring rain didn’t hinder the show, and the large crowd stuck around for his entire set.  He professed a love of Mastodon at one point and seemingly he did take the time to check out a few of the bands that were on during the day. He finished off here with the car horn version of Metallica‘s ‘Enter Sandman’, which he had hinted at before the festival with a couple of YouTube posts. A triumphant set, a gamble that paid off, and something that will have other festival organizers worrying. Sonisphere seem to do things differently, and dare I say, better.

Bill Bailey setlist:
Insect Nation
Love Ballad
Oi Satan, Have A Word With Yourself
Leg Of Time
Bleed On Your Panini
Cars (in French)
BBC News Theme
Combine Harvester (Kraftwerk Version)
Poker Face (West Country Version)
Scarborough Fair
Scarborough Version (Rammstein Version)
Das Hokey Kokey
Enter Sandman

Photos by Danny ‘Sambuca’ Ackerley