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Published: June 17th 2006
Pre note: Non metal fans might find this blog boring and irrelavant. Bad language will be used.
After a 9 hour flight and 3 hours in transit from Heathrow, Leanne arrives from Durban, South Africa. Matt's friend had come over just for the Download Festival and within an hour of her arriving, we are in the car heading north. I had bought tickets shortly after I arrived in England and with a line-up like this one, there was no way I was going to miss it. Running for 16 years and held at the legendary Donington Park, the Download Festival is 3 days of heavy metal mayhem. After an hour and a half we are welcomed to Donington Park by signs and follow the mass of cars filing into this quite rural area. Driving into a massive park, I notice the literally thousands of cars as we make our way to the gates. Small signs with "Welcome to the jungle" and "Throw the horns" indicate we're getting close until we are met by a large sign reading "Welcome To Download". After we set up camp, the festivites draw us to the main village where a sizable selection of
I painted that anarchy sign on the front of Matt's new car. We got a few wierd looks driving around
beer stalls and shops keep the revellers happy. Clothes, accessories, rings, natural highs plus every different kind of food imaginable fill out the village and are littered all through the park. There was also a healthy dose of festival rides and stuff to keep the kids happy while there was no bands to check out of a night. From there I looked down across the field to the main stage where the first bands of the festival were already in full swing. After a kick back with a few beers and bit of a shop to find myself and bandana and a funky new hat, we made our way into the main bowl and headed for the main stage. The sun was out and not a cloud in the sky, plus it was hot, about 35 degrees I heard. Roadies and helper-outs were frantically running around on stage setting up for the next band, Strapping Young Lad. We find a place towards the front of the stage as Devin Townsend and co hit the stage. They blast through a short set of frantic metal that only SYL can deliver broken only by a few jokes like the joker Devin is
in between songs.
The next band to hit the stage was the first of many bands I was here to see, Soulfly. I personally believe that thier latest offering, Dark Ages, is thier strongest to date and so was very keen to check them out. They blast straight into the album's opener, Babylon. They crammed as many songs into thier 40 minute set as they could. The set consisted of songs like Bleed, Eye For An Eye, Primitve, Jumpdafuckup, Seek 'N' Strike, Prophecy, their ripping new one Frontlines and the all time Sepultura classic Roots. It was probably the best show I have seen them do and the crowd was very into it. For some reason, Leanne went into the mosh with no shoes so we left after Soulfly to get some proper protection for the feet. I didn't have a desire to watch the following Coheed & Cambria so her and Matt got some shoes while I got some food. They weren't interested in seeing the headliner for that day but I sure as hell was, so I made my way to see one of my all time favourite bands, Tool. Before that however, I had to plough
Throw the horns!!
We are getting close
through what was left a painful Deftones set. Chino up on stage acting like a singer and far from pulling it off. Maybe it's just me but everytime he opens his mouth to sing it comes out sounding like a dying cat and it makes you want to slit your wrists to escape the horrid wailing. It's not long before they leave the stage and make way for the days headliner, Tool.
Thier new album 10 000 Days has taken me a good few weeks to sink in but I have my fav tracks and most were played during thier set. A mighty cheer goes up as they take the stage and they waste no time kicking straight into Rosetta Stoned taken from thier latest release. Over the next two hours or so they perform a stunning set that featured some of thier greatest songs such as Sober, Stinkfist, Forty Six & 2, Ænema, Schism and Lateralus. As well as the opener they played Vicarious, Jambi and The Pot off 10 000 Days. With thier usual show, Maynard usually hids up in the back in the darkness away from the front as much as possible. Since the sun was
They call them a TWO man for a reason
still out, although he wasn't at the front of the stage, he was still clearly visible for the first half of the show until the sun began to set and I was able to snap off a few shots. As usual, he had alot to say in few words such as "Speaking of download. We have a new album out, some of you bought it." His quirky side also came out in comments like "How many people are not wearing shoes? Oh that sucks because the person beside you was pissing on the ground." It was a truely magnificent set and the highlight of the festival so far. Matt crashed pretty early so Leanne and I took a walk. We thought it was an intelligent idea to get on one of the rides that were happening so we picked one and lined up. We were locked into this small seat attached to one of 3 arms coming from a central tower. It began to spin which was fun then it twisted, rotated and sped up. Before long I was feeling like I was in a washing machine being tossed and turned and I couldn't wait to get off. Once it
Didn't we pitch ours near a blue one??
stopped, we stumbled off like we were completely drunk, not walking in a straight line and crashing to the ground ready to throw up. I thought of how I had to chug a beer before I could get on, needless to say we regretted the intelligent decision to get on this ride so we made our way back to the tent to lay down. The 3 of us crammed into a 2 man tent and attempted sleep. However it was freezing cold, the ground was uneven and hard plus there were drunk idiots running around screaming "WAKE UP" and "METALLICA!!!!" at 4 am. Not fun.
After still feeling woosey from the ride and a night of no sleep, we emerge from the tent like the living dead. At 7am there wasn't much happening so we took a quick trip into town to get some essential supplies like beer and a toothbrush which me in my haste had forgotten to pack. Joining the crowds once again at the main stage, the first band of the day was kicking in. Satyricon put on a decent show. Bloodsimple followed with nothing terribly impressive. Arch Enemy hit the stage after that and
Me, Matt and Leanne wait for Soulfly
Angela Gossow delivered a performance that most guys would struggle to keep up with. Highlight of that show was Ravenous. Alice In Chains was, that I'm aware of, the softest band on the bill and came on next to put on a pretty good show. By this stage I was pretty exhausted so layed on the hill and listened rather than saw.
I wasn't really there to see them, but Stone Sour was by far the days highlight so far. Corey is a fantastic front man and really knows how to work up a crowd. He also was the first of many bands to say refer to the World Cup. "I don't know if you know this but it's one-nil in the football right now England!" I had heard the mighty roar from the crowd gathered around the massive screen earlier so assumed that was the case. Avenged Sevenfold graced the stage next and delivered a pretty decent set, I'm not really a fan but enjoyed it none the less.
From this point on was the part I had been most looking forward to. The relatively new kids on the block, Trivium hit the stage and exploded into
Rain. As thier set progressed, I noticed something. It was mainly Matt but they were strutting around the stage like they were gods on earth. There is no denying the amazing success they have experienced in recent times but they aren't huge yet. Thier heros, Metallica are obviously a large influence and Matt was strolling around like he was the second James Hetfield. The problem with all that is that they didn't work to get the crowds respect or attention, they just kind of expected it. That being the case, it put a bit of a downer on the music and it was a little lifeless. However the pumping tracks like A Gunshot To The Head Of Trepidation and Pull Harder On The Strings Of Your Matyr were definate highlights.
As they were wrapping up I pushed my way out of the crowd and headed straight for the Second Stage were Within Temptation were finnishing thier set. The band to soon hit the stage is easily my most favourite band of the last 5 years, Opeth.
I left home too early to see them play at the Big Top in Sydney so was very excited to see them
added to the line-up. The bad thing is they only had 40 minutes and with Opeth's songs being the length they are, they could only squeeze in 4 masterpieces. Thier first presence on stage was met by a tremendous roar from the crowd, the loudest I'd heard in the festival so far. The familiar opening riff of The Grand Conjuration pummels the ears and the crowd goes nuts. Right from the outset they were marred by crap sound and technical difficulties but like true metallers, they soldiered on. The next song was a very heavy version of the stunning Closure from the Damnation album. In the lull betwix songs Mikael explains that they are the only cock-rock death metal band around and the following is cock rock classic, The Leper Affinity. The crowd goes wild. "Usually I say really stupid things between songs but since we don't have much time, we'll continue" They kick into Deliverence. Half way through the song, both guitars went out and they had no choice but the stop. The crowd, showing thier support, began chanting OPETH OPETH with deafening volume. Mikael was humbled by the show of good faith and made sure the problem was
Some people go to the full extent
fixed ASAP. Not letting a little technical glitch getting in thier way, they picked up from where they left off and continued the song. After they finnished, the cheer was so loud that I never heard another band recieve such an ovation except perhaps for the following band I was to see. I raced back to the main stage and staked my spot as close to the front as possible for my most anticipated bands.
I think it's fair to say that Metallica are my favourite band of all time and the performance they were about to give would forever put that claim in cement. Ever since the Black album graced my ears in 1991, I found my musical calling with metal. I stopped listening to crap like the Baby Animals and started delving into the likes of Slayer, Pantera, Sepultura etc... Metallica was the birth of that so not only my favourite but my most important. I have been lucky enough to see them 3 time previous but none of those performances would compare to what I was about to witness.
I was hot from another scorching day and tired from the endless activities but those small
Relaxing after Soulfly
worries soon disappeared. A small excerpt from the film The Good, The Bad & The Ugly was projcted from the large screen either side of the stage and the theme music played has become a traditional way to start a Metallica show. The Ecstasy Of Gold begins, the crowd goes nuts. Lars takes the stage and runs around like an excited little kid. As the other members join him, the crowd starts to crush towards the front. The first chords of Creeping Death evicts a massive cheer from the crowd and the band plays it to perfection. "HELLO DONINGTON!!" James yells, the crowd replys with a massive ovation. The familiar opening sitar riff of "Wherever I May Roam" blasts through the speakers and the crowd goes crazy again. After a few more classic Metallica tracks like The Unforgiven, James asks the crowd if they want to hear a new song. We all cheer in approval. "OK this is a new song off the up coming album and it's called... "The New Song". A lack of title didn't deter us from clapping and yelling with excitment. The four count happens and we hear one succinct chord. Lars laughs in embarrasment at
Looking out over the sea of people. Note the plane, there is an airport right next door and evertime a plane flew over, the crowd would let out a cheer and chug thier drinks??? Don't know how that started. With all the planes flying in, there were some very drunk people.
his mistake James walk to the mic "It's short but pretty good though right?" They try again and nail it this time. The lengthy track starts with a cool intro followed by a really heavy rocking riff which whips the crowd into a frenzy. I thought the song was really cool, kind of a mixture of sounds from St. Anger and Master Of Puppets. The song finishes and everyone seems really happy with what they heard.
After a few more brilliant songs, the band leaves the stage and a small video starts to roll on the screens. It explains about how in February 1986 the band enters the studio and starts recording what would become one of the most important albums in metal history and a favourite for fans. In continues to explain that to celebrate the 20th anniversary, what were about to see is the album performed in it's entirety I could not believe my eyes, every track from Master Of Puppets performed from start to finnish. The film continues, the camera pans over a sound desk and a few bits of sheet music. As it pans past a picture of Cliff Burton, the crowd roars. The camera
In midst thier set
finally comes to rest on a shot of reel to reel tape. It starts and the intro to Battery begins to play. The crowd cheers as the band explode onto stage keeping the song going as it kicks into the heavy section. The band of course then follow with the title track Master Of Puppets which was performed without fault. During the chorus, the crowds singing along with "Master, MASTER!" which was so loud, it nearly drowns out the band. After a disturbing performance of The Thing That Should Not Be, James starts with Welcome Home (Sanitarium). Upon completion he asks the crowd what the next track is and everyone screams Disposible Heros. After Leper Messiah, Rob stands on top of the landing and plays a short little ditty before beginning the chord progession to Lars' drums that opens Orion. Kirk and James join them and they continue to play the whole song. It's one song that I've been dying to see live and now I have. I was in pure heaven, I could have died happy right then. I looked at some of the crowd around me and everyone was standing, fixated on the band as they played one
Yer, there's a few people there
of the most stunning of Metallica tracks. The historic moment was naturally finnished off with a punnishing performance of Damage Inc. Once they finnished the video screen showed the words "R.I.P. Cliff Burton 1962 - 1986" and everyone cheers with love and respect.
The crowds ovation was massive however the show wasn't over. They continued with a few Metallica classics like Sad But True and a very loud crowd version of Nothing Else Matters. The vibe was electric as a 77 000 strong crowd yearns for more. The stage erupts in an assault of pyrotechnic explosions to signify the impending One. After they play the obligitory Enter Sandman, they leave the stage once again and are drawn back to sing (with the help of some of the crowd on stage) the Misfits' Die, Die My Darling. They finnish off with the classic Seek And Destroy.
I was awe struck at just how good the show was and it is now officially my favourite performance by any band. Some people are calling it the greatest and most celebrated performances that Donington has ever seen. Although it was my first, I wouldn't be at all surprised. What I loved about
the show, apart from the highlights, was the fact the band not only played the songs perfectly but they still visibly love performing the songs they have played thousands of times before. Every song was played with so much emotion and effort and you could tell by the smiles from the band that they still just get over the vibe they get from playing to such huge crowds. They all take it in thier stride though and its one reason it makes them undoubtedly the biggest rock band in the world.
Dispite a better sleep, I woke up very tired, sore and with no voice. In terms of bands I wanted to see, today was the biggest out of the three so I thought I'd stake out myself a good spot and just watch bands all day. Matt and Leanne had already taken off earlier so I made my way from tent to main stage to check out God Forbid. Matt kept raving about them so I thought I best check them out. The man comes out on stage "Hello Donington, get ready for another day of metal. Please welcome Breed 77." As the crowd cheers, I wondered
what was going on and where God Forbid was. Matt had taken my line-up earlier so I couldn't refer to it. Then I realised I don't need it, there are heaps of line-ups around me. I look at the back of one of the passing Download Festival 2006 shirts with all the bands on the back and sure enough God Forbid are playing on the second stage. I was too tired to go over there so I stayed put and I'm damn glad I did. Out of all the bands that I saw who I wasn't there to see, the welsh Breed 77 was the best. A fusion of hard rock with spanish acoustic guitars and a vocalist with a very powerful voice all made it a very entertaining show. They were also very popular with the crowd as the place was surprisingly packed out for an 11am band. Once the band finnished, the crowd seem to halve and the overrated Hatebreed took the stage. I could only stand a few tracks before I thought I'd get a jump on the next band I wanted to see.
I made my way to the second stage where a group called
Zebrahead were on the cusp of completing thier set. The crowd was going off as they seem to have been for all the bands on this stage of "lesser" bands. They made thier way off and the roadies started to set up for Soilwork. I had seen them before but was yet to see Soilwork since the release of (in my opinion) thier best album to date, Stabbing The Drama. The drum kit is rolled out and I'm perplexed as to why Devildriver is written on the bass drum. I ask one of the guys standing next to me and he is also confused as he was here to see Soilwork as well. After asking a few more people and getting the same reaction, I ask one of the security up front and he sends someone to find out what's happening. While I'm standing there, 6 more people come up and ask the same thing. Later, an offical looking guy comes up and says they pulled out for unknown reasons. Just then a guy comes out on stage an explains just that to the masses and Devildriver has stepped in at the last moment to fill the gap. Everyone boos
and leaves. As I head back toward the main stage, I look back and see a sea of people flooding out of the area. Apparently I wasn't the only person to be dissapointed about Soilwork not playing. I later found out that the singer had a problem with his voice and so had to cancel, not much you can do.
It wasn't a total loss though, it gave me a chance to see the main stage act. I was a little dissapointed that Soilwork were scheduled to play the same time as Dragonforce but now I could see them anyway. For those who don't know Dragonforce are one of the fastest power metal bands around and the guitarists play solos that are just redicuously quick. They are so fast that some people believe that they sped up the footage in the film clip to Through The Fire And The Flames. I had to see this first hand to believe it. I staked out a place that would be mine for the rest of the day. They explode onto stage like a wound up ball of energy and blast into thier first song. Running around like hyperactive kids, they provide
The rock god solo
Trivium during A Gunshot To The Head Of Trepidation
quite and entertaining show. So the answer to the question, can they pull it off live? well... sort of. They are quick, no doubt about that, but a few "technical problems" around solo time made me wonder. After all said and done, they are bloody good but a little questionable.
36 Crazy Fists hit the stage and give a decent performance but they still haven't given me anything to take interest in. People are raving about this band but I'm not fussed, there's nothing very exciting about them.
I always felt two ways about In Flames. I liked them but never really got into them. I had a ticket to see them in Prague but chose not to see more than the first song. I even said hi to Anders as he walked past me before the show but still wasn't that fussed. I then heard the latest release, Come Clarity. It's a killer effort and was excited to at least those tracks. They wander out and deliver a great performance, however Anders wasn't winning over non-believers with his "Sweden are gunna kick England's arse in the soccer" comment. First of all everyone, like the English do, corrected him
Sun sets over Donington
That's when all the crazy people come out
that it's FOOTBALL!!!!!! not soccer and then booed when he made his comment. He did redeem himself slightly when he explained he saw Sweden play and they were crap so he hoped England would win. Still if I was in a band playing in England, I would just not mention football.
I had been dying to see the following band for years because they have never, at least to my knowledge, toured Australia. Lacuna Coil took to the stage and gave a stellar performance. Let me assure you that Cristina can pull it off live, her voice is just as powerful on stage as in the studio. They of course made a reference to the World Cup claiming thats its only a matter of time before England and thier native Italy meet and implying that Italy will come out victors.
By this time Matt and Leanne had joined me so I went to get something to eat while they held the spot. Upon my return, Cradle Of Filth had taken control of centre stage and were blasting out thier horrid brand of black metal. I have never really been a fan but I respect them because they have
The crowd goes wild
been doing what they do for so many years against all odds. That very ideal was put to the test as bottles and eggs were thrown at them on stage. The "singer" retaliated with statements like "Who brings and egg to Download? Honestly" and "If your gunna throw something at me, at least try to fucking hit me" while pointing to his head as if wearing a bulls eye. In between songs he tried his hardest to get the crowd to yell really loud but was met with a half hearted cheer everytime. "What the hell was that? I thought we were in England. Give me a scream Download!." Not quite reaching his level of acceptance, he probed again "Shit, it's like were back in Germany, SCREAM!!!" Not much more happened. "Jesus! It's going to be a long day with you lot." After nearly an hour of high pitched screaming, demons, goth girls and angle grinders to the chest, they were finnished.
Bullet For My Valentine played after that then Funeral For A Friend. I'm afriad I'm not big on either of those bands so I took a nap on the ground after Bullet For My Valentine's Hand Of Blood.
A snake pit opens up and people go insane
Not since 1992 has Metallica and Guns N' Roses shared the same stage at the same show. Some of those shows ended in riots and tonight was apparently heading the same way. I heard rumors floating around during the day that Axl was at the races in Silverstone and it was questionable as to whether he would make it. I also heard that if they don't play, "shit will go down" as one man put it. I have never considered myself a fan of Guns N' Roses but I don't mind putting on an album or two now and then so I wouldn't be that upset if they didn't play. We waited for what seemed like an eternity and people were getting restless. I started to become a little apprehensive as the crowd around me begin to look very agitated. Maybe he didn't make it, maybe "shit WILL go down." But in the nick of time we hear a familiar sound. Yes they are coming out, and 7 minutes early. It must be the first time in history the Gunners have started early. A far cry from the days where fans would wait up to 2 hours before they
saw anything. The same note repeated with the delay effect, yes we know this where this is going. Soon after the opening riff to Welcome To The Jungle cranks through the speakers, the crowd goes nuts, all the band takes to the stage... but where's Axl? When he finally drags himself on stage the crowd roars. "Do you know where you are?" We scream in the affirmative. I had pretty much lost my voice all together so not much came out but I didn't care, I screamed anyway. After Welcome To The Jungle they played a whole host of tracks off Appetite For Destruction. It wasn't long before the trouble started.
Axl slipped on a wet patch of stage so he got the shits. He got one of his roadies to put some tape down but it was too late, when Axl is in a mood, that's pretty much the end of it all. He started abusing someone off stage threatening "If you guys aren't going to do your job, I'll just stop singing. How about that?" While Axl stood there pouting like a little girl, the crowd didn't like where this was going. He did manage to finnish
the song but afterwards claimed that they are experiencing technical difficulties and need to take a break. Axl disappeared into his little makeshift room set up to the rear of the stage that he would definately be no stranger to that night. 10 minutes of nothing. The crowd began to get restless again.
The guitarist finally filled the void with a possible piss taking instrumental version of Don't Cry. The rest of the band joins him on stage and they continue.
The controversy didn't stop there. During one song Axl walked along the front barrier right next to the adoring fans. Someone did something to upset him and he turned back to them and yelled something I choose not to repeat. After all this is a family blog lol. His mood did seem to improve until one song where it was the bassists turn for a hissy fit. All of a sudden he wildly swung his bass around before he began smashing it on the floor. He then took his child like behaviour out on an innocent cameraman at the front of stage when he threw his bass, point blank range, into the cameraman's head. He gets knocked to
the ground and nearly looses his camera. The bassist storms off the stage but the rest of the band don't seem surprised and finnish the song without him. The cameraman stands in total bewilderment shrugging his shoulders as if to say "What the...???" The 2 year old comes back out, rips the mic out of Axl's hand, apologises to the crowd and to the cameraman. "I'm really sorry about that but if you guys are going to throw shit at me, I'm fucking going home. I swear to god" Axl recieves the mic back "Well there you go" Needless to say, the bassist didn't get much camera coverage after that.
All this seem to put Axl in a bad mood again and he "performed" one song as if he did not care whatsoever. He soon announced "We are going to bring out an old friend out. It just so happens that a good friend of ours was around, please welcome Mr. Izzy Stradlin" The croud lets out a mighty cheer then began chanting "IZZY IZZY" They also later brought out Skid Row's Sebastian Bach. This finally put Axl in a good mood, he stopped going to his makeshift room
and you could see he really enjoyed it up there. At last!.
PMS aside, when the show was happening, it was HAPPENING!. Classics like Mr. Brownstone, You Could Be Mine, Patience, It's So Easy, Perfect Crime, Nightrain, Live And Let Die plus some of the greatest stadium rock songs ever like Sweet Child O' Mine, November Rain and Knockin' On Heaven's Door. The only track they didn't play which I would've like to have seen was Civil War, but with Axl's moods and the temperamental bass player, it's a miracle they even finnished the show. They did also play a few tracks off the upcoming (for the past 10 years) Chinese Democracy which was met with less of an excited reception. "Hey maybe we should record those songs and release them, that would be cool" Axl's sarcasim didn't over well as the crowd let out a groan as if to say "Yeah there's an idea" with equal sarcasim.
"I don't wanna go home. Couldn't say that an hour ago" Axl says with a smirk. I could see he was loving looking out over the sea of people and getting the vibe from the crowd. It was perfect timing
when the opening riff to Paradise City started. We all go crazy. The song is in full swing when one of the guitarists jumps down and walks up the centre of the crowd split in two by the barrier. He was right in front of me playing the solo like a rock god. The song finnished in a cacophony of explosive pyrotechnics, confetti, fireworks and a gigantic cheer from the crowd. The crowd loved it, I loved it and dispite the antics, they put on a great show... eventually.
Guns N' Roses leaves the stage, a message on the screens reads "See you next year" It hit me all of a sudden, it's over. I'd got so used to it all that it felt like habit but was never boring. This was truely the greatest weekend ever! As I leave and look back to the stage all lit up like a battleship, I think "See you next year"? ... four words. I will be there!
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