Alice Cooper 1, Mother Nature 0 as Finnish show goes on despite severe storm

Sonisphere Stage Damage

A severe storm that struck the Sonisphere festival grounds in Finland put one stage out of commission and damaged another. Photo courtesy Alice Cooper's road crew.

Despite a severe thunderstorm that hit the Sonisphere heavy metal music festival in Pori, Finland on Sunday, the show went on for Alice Cooper.

The storm, which struck in mid-afternoon on Aug. 8, 2010, injured dozens and damaged equipment for some bands, including that of Motley Crue, according to reports. An estimated 30,000 people attended the two-day festival.

Sonisphere Storm Damage

A severe thunderstorm at the Sonisphere music festival in Pori, Finland, damaged stages and equipment, but artists did their best to ensure the show went on for fans. Photo courtesy Alice Cooper's road team.

Here’s a first-hand account of the storm and its aftermath from Toby Mamis, Alice Cooper’s tour manager:

We all survived Sonisphere Finland. An amazing experience for all of us who were there — bands, crews, and fans alike.

At around 3:45 p.m., during the set change on the main stage after Slayer and before Alice, with Alice’s crew setting up the gear, and Maiden’s crew beginning to set up  their gear behind Alice, a tornado-like “weather event” hit the festival site, with the two stages right in the bull’s eye.

At the second stage, Iggy & The Stooges were about to go on, and Motley’s crew were setting up their gear to follow the Stooges.

Both stages got hit hard, with the second stage rendered useless when part of the ground support (which holds up the lighting, sound and roof) collapsed. On the main stage, the huge Sonisphere backdrop was ripped off the back of the stage, and crashed down onto Alice’s equipment truck.

Thankfully, nobody on either stage was seriously injured, though there were a lot of cuts, scrapes, abrasions, headaches and frayed nerves.

What had been a warm, sunny but muggy day turned ugly within minutes, as the storm rolled in with high winds, dark clouds and violently intense rain, and, suddenly, hail, as the wind swirled, the trees swayed, and it became dark as night.

Everyone was yelling to get off the stages NOW, forget trying to save the gear, run for safety.

Within minutes, the skies cleared and everyone raced back onto the stages to make sure everyone was OK, and to begin checking gear. Luckily, no band members or crew were seriously hurt, some crew suffering scrapes, cuts, bruises, abrasions and a lot of frayed nerves.

Unfortunately as many as 40 of the fans at the festival were injured during the storm, a few of them seriously, and everyone is hoping that they recover.

The second stage was declared closed and unsafe, which meant that the Stooges and Motley’s performances had to be canceled. Alice’s and Maiden’s crews were working feverishly to see what, if anything, still worked, and what they could possibly do, because the Main Stage seemed mostly OK, though soaking wet and without a backdrop.

While they, and the local stage crew, were working to dry everything out and try to put their shows back together, Slayer offered their gear, which had been loaded safely into their truck just before the storm hit, and Alice ended up using some of their band gear and their monitor rig.

Gear belonging to Alice, Maiden, Motley and the Stooges was seriously damaged, some ruined beyond repair.

Meanwhile, Iggy came over to the Main Stage and performed a short and very special “acoustic” set with just guitarist James Williamson and sax player Steve Mackay, which the crowd loved. The rain-soaked crowd waited calmly after being informed that Alice and his band and the Maiden guys, and especially their crews, were doing everything possible, and were determined to perform.

The long wait paid off after three more hours, when Bruce Dickinson walked onto the front of the Main Stage and thanked the fans for their patience and then introduced Alice, to a huge roar, as the band launched into “School’s Out” and Alice took command.

Afterwards, Alice’s crew took well-deserved and hard-earned showers and had some dinner, and off we went to Helsinki to move on to the next show, with the sound and fury of Iron Maiden’s show fading into the distance of the night.

The fans who waited got the show of a lifetime, one that nobody who was there will ever forget.


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