Another day – more hay! The rain had finally stopped but it was far from summery on Saturday and with 100,000+ people due to call in, underfoot conditions quickly became pretty awful! There was however a day of music to be enjoyed, so that was what we did.
SAXON get a short and early slot on the main stage that would be unthinkable at most rock festivals abroad. The veterans have headlined festivals around the world and have enough tunes to play all day. That’s how it goes when the line-up is as tasty as this years Download though and Saxon make the most of their time. Classics such as ‘Denim and Leather’ and ‘Wheels of Steel’ are mixed up with rarer cuts like ‘Power and the Glory’ and newer tracks such as ‘Strong Arm of the Law’. The band leave us thirsty for more with ‘The Bands Played On’ and play on they did…
GINGER WILDHEART was joined by a cast of his usual friends including Chris Catalyst of Eureka Machines and Sisters of Mercy fame. A short time slot again means that we are left thirsty for more but Ginger’s choice of what to fill it with was perhaps more controversial. Opening up with new album standout ‘Another Spinning F*ching Rainbow’ would be fine along with a more festival friendly greatest hits set. That’s not how this man rolls and also in the set are a few less than classic Wildhearts songs such as ‘Mazel Tov Cocktail’ and more new tracks that half the crowd don’t realise exist yet. A great ending of ‘Inglorious’ puts a smile on most faces, but you’ve got to wonder whether a 10 minute song is wise in a 30 minute set?
A quick sprint across the entire width of the arena gets you to the second stage just in time for ex-Wildheart bassist Danny McCormack and his reunited YO-YO’s. They dash through the set just as quickly as I ran there, and prove to be a surprise highlight of the day. A set consisting of all the highlights of their Sub-Pop debut is just what we want after a hit-and-miss Ginger set.
The late afternoon billing of STEEL PANTHER and TENACIOUS D looked awesome on paper. Steel Panther certainly delivered their usual blend of great heavy metal with buckets loads of smut and comedy. Corey Taylor joined the band for a final rendition of ‘Death to all but Metal’ and moods were high. Tenacious D fared less well. Starting with a huge batch of material from their new album, the crowd were less enthralled by the music and the D’s comedy falls flat after the hilarity of Steel Panther. Not even ‘Tribute’ can save them when they finally get onto their classics, and the highlight of the set was probably the massive Pheonix in the shape of a penis on the backdrop.
METALLICA are what about 99,000 of the 100,000 people have come to see though. They waste no time in treating us to what we’ve come to hear either. ‘Hit the Lights’ followed by ‘Master of Puppets’ followed by ‘The Four Horsemen’ followed by ‘For Whom the Bells Toll’? That’s how it’s done. Then the Black Album in full (but backwards) is a great celebration of an album that has shaped so many of the other bands here today. Lets be honest, it’s not a faultless album but the highlights far outweigh the moments when you’re standing waiting for the next song to come around. ‘Enter Sandman’ is of course the end of the Black album stuff accompanied by James Hetfield’s usual stumbling crowd interaction. Nobody can accuse him of preparing his lines…
Things are stepped up another notch for the encore. ‘Battery’, ‘One’ and the inevitable beachball finale of ‘Seek and Destroy’ mark another classic Metallica performance at Donington.