Sonisphere 2013: Lack of ‘available headliners’ behind Knebworth festival’s year off

A “lack of available headliners” has been cited by Sonisphere organisers as one of the reasons behind not holding a rock festival at Knebworth House in 2013.

Promoters made offers “to over a dozen major artists” to play the UK leg of the touring rock and metal festival in the grounds of the Hertfordshire stately home next summer.

But after failing to nail down a strong enough line-up for the three-day camping festival, the decision was made before Christmas to take a year off in 2013.

Sonisphere 2012 was also cancelled this summer, after Kiss, Queen with Adam Lambert and Faith No More had been confirmed as headliners and tickets had gone on sale.

In explaining why next year’s festival won’t go ahead, a Team Sonisphere statement said: “We think it is really important that the event only runs when it has a line-up that sets it apart from the competition whilst also carrying a ticket price that allows us to offer real value for money to the music fans.

“We were hoping to do that in 2013 but unfortunately it wasn’t possible to fulfil both aims with the principle problem of there being a lack of available headliners of the calibre of previous festivals at Knebworth.

“We made offers to over a dozen major artists but for various reasons none of these offers led to securing a strong bill.”

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Organisers haven’t revealed which bands they approached to play Knebworth next year.

Linkin Park and Metallica headlined the inaugural Sonisphere at Knebworth Park in 2009.

Alice Cooper, Rammstein and Iron Maiden topped the bill the following summer.

Slipknot, Biffy Clyro and thrash metal’s Big 4 – Metallica, Anthrax, Slayer and Megadeth – all played Sonisphere’s award-winning 2011 edition.

However, Soni 2012 was dramatically axed just weeks after tickets went on sale and there won’t now be a rock festival at Knebworth next year either.

Without repeats, there’s a limited pool of marquee names big enough to sell-out major rock festivals in an already saturated market.

And it’s clear Sonisphere’s bookers were left with few available options for 2013 when you look at who is, and who isn’t, touring next year.

Kilimanjaro Live – the team behind Sonisphere – promoted Red Hot Chili Peppers’ huge outdoor gig at Knebworth Park in the summer and RHCP won’t be back two years running.

Organisers of the Download Festival – Sonisphere’s main UK rival – have already announced Rammstein, Iron Maiden and Slipknot for next summer. All three have previously played Sonisphere Knebworth.

The Donington Park 2013 line-up will also include performances by Queens of the Stone Age, Stone Sour, Bullet For My Valentine and 30 Second to Mars.

The likes of Pearl Jam, AC/DC and Rage Against the Machine haven’t confirmed any European tour plans for next summer, while Black Sabbath and Soundgarden both played Download’s 10 anniversary in June.

Seattle alternative rock legends Soundgarden also played Hard Rock Calling in Hyde Park only last year.

Meanwhile, Dave Grohl isn’t touring with UK festival favourites Foo Fighters, with the group on hiatus after headlining Reading and Leeds in August.

Heavier options such as System of a Down and Tool haven’t confirmed European festival dates either, although Tool are playing on the Ozzfest bill in Japan in May alongside Black Sabbath and Slipknot.

Of other possible festival headliners, Muse, perhaps the UK’s biggest rock band at the moment, are playing their own gigs at the Emirates Stadium in London next year.

American punk-rock trio Green Day have also booked Arsenal FC’s ground for a concert in June.

Bruce Springsteen, meanwhile, has announced dates with The E Street Band for Wembley Stadium and the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff next summer, after hitting Isle of Wight and Hard Rock Calling in 2012.

The Stone Roses and The Killers are both confirmed for the 2013 Isle of Wight Festival – having both headlined V Festival 2012 in Chelmsford, Essex, and Weston Park, Staffordshire.

They will be joined across The Solent by American rockers Bon Jovi, who are also playing a series of stadium dates next year.

The Killers have also been confirmed for T in the Park’s 20th anniversary in Scotland, along with Mumford & Sons and Rihanna.

Eminem is the first confirmed headliner for the Reading and Leeds Festivals in 2013, while Kings of Leon have announced their own UK arena tour for June and July.

Glastonbury and V have still to announce their 2013 line-ups.

Sonisphere organisers hope to bring the festival back to Knebworth in 2014 – if they can secure suitable headliners.