Live Music + Gig Reviews

Download 2004: Day 2, Main Stage @ Donington Park, Leicestershire

6 June 2004

On the hottest Sunday of the year so far, punters were faced with the prospect of roasting alive in their tents or hitting the arena. All but the very, very hung over have dragged themselves up by 11am, so much so that Breed 77 themselves were surprised at the packed turnout as they opened proceedings in true Gibraltan “flamenco metal” styleee.

Ill Nio faced an already warmed up crowd, who were begging for something loud and refreshing. They supplied the volume, but failed miserably to capture the attention of their starting audience, and lost supporters faster than a Prime Minister in the middle of a mid-term election campaign. And, after two terrible songs, wishing us all a “good evening” before the stroke of noon wasn’t a good sign, surely?!

Turbonegro took to the stage in their eccentric attire, with frontman Hank Von Helvete flaunting his beer belly with more front than Jordan to a sundry response from the crowd, but it didsn’t take long for songs like Sell Your Body and Ride With Us to get the hordes signing along in gleeful trash rock fashion.

Soulfly looked as pleased as any fan that they were playing and delivered the goods like the masters that they are. I say “they” – I mean Max and whichever dreadlocked ‘spics happen to be backing him on this tour! Nevertheless, blinding renditions of Roots and Eye For An Eye please the old and nu school “students” alike.

As if deliberately trying to ruin the mood left by Mr Cavelera and co, a very unsympathetic Krusher set literally thousands of Slayer fans on the warpath as the first of many bill changes were announced for the day. Slayer were being shifted to the smaller second stage due to technical difficulties, giving Damageplan the chance to step up in front of well over 60,000 fans. Now they MAY have bartered to swap Slayer for Pantera at their prime, but only half of Pantera playing all new songs? The atmosphere turned decidedly bleak as the sun beat down on many a Reign In Blood tattoo.

It didn’t look too good to start either, despite Dimebag and Vinnie’s efforts to rouse the crowd in a sort of “homecoming” spirit – it was Slayer’s lyrics that were on everyone’s mind, not barking “New Found Power!” back at the stage.

However, in the last ten minutes of their set, Damageplan instigated an absolute reversal in the mob’s reaction. The truly golden moment of which I speak involved Dimebag giving a short “loyalty” rant, followed by the biting intro riff to Walk being unleashed through the PA. 60,000 fans couldn’t believe their ears. It’s what they’d missed with Audioslave and what they’re dreaming of from Velvet Revolver – a cover of one of their previous band’s classics. Cue mass invasion of centre stage, as uncontrollable, gleeful moshpits thrashed their way through, singing word for word.

With all small children and females having safely escaped unharmed(ish), Machine Head prepare to let loose, with a lot to prove. Rumours of their latest album’s “old school” feel will have meant nothing if they couldn’t deliver the goods today. Oh, but deliver they do, like a pizza boy who’s on time with the stuffed crust special and leaves YOU a tip, Rob and the boys take to the stage with the kind of raging determination and relentless vigour that the metal scene is all too devoid of.

Barking through the epic Imperium, smashing into The Blood The Sweat The Tears and being unashamed to play all eight minutes of the ambitious masterpiece Descend The Shades Of Night, Machine Head also found time to satisfy really old fans with Ten Ton Hammer and Davidian slipping seamlessly into the best set of the day from the main stage.

With literally thousands of Slayer fans trying to track down their heroes ever-elusive set, Korn were left with a distinctly young and nu-metal crowd. But maybe this is exactly what the co-creators of the scene would wish. Jonathan Davis‘ signature “is it art or porn?” mic stand was delivered to centre stage, signalling the band’s imminent arrival, and as the cheers erupted, it became immediately apparent that the sound for opener Here To Stay was absolutely beyond belief.

For a PA that had proved temperamental to say the very least, Jonathan and his seven-stringed buddies set the crowd on fire. Got The Life, Blind, Shoots And Ladders and Faget all contributed to an ever-spiralling crescendo, with finale track F**k That possibly the only mistake of their otherwise faultless “stripped down” set.

By now you will have no doubt heard of the historic set that was laid down by three-quarters of Metallica with “a little help from their friends”. Nevertheless it would have been nice to know that they were rehearsing backstage so I could have gone for a slash in the 90 minutes I was anxiously awaiting their presence on the stage!

After far too many bottle fights, far too few entertaining PA sounds, and no chance to relieve my now bursting bladder, James and co sauntered meekly onto the stage to inform 60,000 restless fans that: “Larswas unable to make it here tonight…". Worried murmurs rippled through thecrowd, but Mr Hetfield was quick to dispel any doubts as he continued “…but Metallica aren’t in the habit of letting our friends down!”

What were they to do? If anyone filled wouldn’t it just amount to nothing more than a poor tribute? We needn’t have worried, for their “friends” took the form of Slayer’s Dave Lombardo and Slipknot‘s Joey Jordison and the next 75 minutes were a once in a life time, sometimes novel, but always truly unique tour through the back catalogue of the biggest metal band on the planet.

Battery and Whiplash were torn through by Mr Lombardo in true thrash style, to the rapturous appreciation of the crowd. With the exception of a ropey Fade To Black featuring Lars’ long standing drum tech Mr Fleming, the rest of the set was well and truly stolen by the miniature miracle that is Mr Jordison. Nervous apprehension kept his timing rigidly tense during For Whom The Bell Tolls and Creeping Death, but by the time he returned for the epic Wherever I May Roam, to cries of, “When do we get masks?!” from Hetfield, the ‘Knot’s sticksman had well and truly found his niche.

Playing each song faithful to Lars’ composition, Joey somehow managed to intersperse his signature blistering kick blasts and rolls throughout. While it’s obvious that attempting any post Black Album songs would have been risking disaster, this still disappointed those who were hoping for classics such as Fuel and Outlaw Torn as well as a glimpse of some of St Anger.

Alas, finishing their painfully short set with an obligatory dose of Enter Sandman, having played for less time than their “secret appearance” last year, many punters were left demanding more from the impromptu foursome. Nevertheless, it was a new experience and at least The Memory Remains!

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