Sonisphere Day One, Knebworth, July 8 2011

The Big Four not only did their bit to make one third of this festival an absolute triumph but they also made UK history.

This was the first time the quartet were in the same place at the same time on British shores.

And in their collective climax they smashed Knebworth and pulled off a few surprises along the way. 

In pre-Big Four anticipation Japanese Voyeurs proved yet again that grunge isn’t dead and Diamond Head showed showed just why they they’ve had exerted such a great influence over their mighty thrash successors.

Assisted by Sepultura’s Andreas Kisser, Anthrax transformed light afternoon atmosphere into something a little more chaotic and screeching – a true gem of a performance.

Dave Mustaine’s Megadeth continued a good run of form but it was Slayer that demolished even the most sceptical in the massed ranks out front.

Metallica were as professional as expected but so much more. Lars Ulrich was as cool as ever in the heat of the competition and James Hetfield’s voice was unstoppable.

Their set – well over two hours – ended with more history and a memory to treasure forever. Every member of the Big Four appeared together – alongside Diamond Head’s Brian Tatler – to thrill an awestruck crowd one final time.

But it wasn’t over for the festival hardcore. Killing Joke provided some post-punk power before bluegrass jokers Hayseed Dixie put a smile on some tired faces.

Sylosis will mark the start of day two with Cavalera Conspiracy, Bad Religion, Watain and Gojira all guaranteed to keep the momentum going.

But the last word goes to the Big Four: Four-nomenal.

Calum Robson