What a difference a day makes! Not the most rock and roll saying you’ll hear, but I bet it was uttered by many on Sunday. The sun had appeared, it was warm and the mud was (nearly) all gone.
Any cobwebs left over from the previous day’s drinking were soon swept away by DEVILDRIVER. The main stage had a very Metal lineup on Sunday (as you’d expect when those old fellas from Birmingham were going to close the stage later on). Two giant circle pits meet Devildriver before they’ve even played a note and remain spinning throughout the majority of the set. Frontman Dez commands and controls the whirlwind of y0ung bodies with ease but is not on the very best form today. His roar often disappears into spoken word in the longer verses and he lacks the stage presence that usually comes automatically. His pneumonia is obviously still lingering, but elsewhere there’s nothing to complain about. The rest of the band smash out a razor sharp set.
KYUSS LIVES! offer something completely different. The original stoner legends are now reduced to just half of the classic lineup, but that doesn’t mean they can’t do those classic songs the justice they deserve. Opening up with one of their best known cuts ‘One Inch Man’ after the rumble of ‘Hurricane’ and slotting in a double-header of ‘Thumb’ and ‘Green Machine’ later on demonstrates a clever use of short set. Some kids left at the front of the crowd from Devildriver look confused at the lack of circle pits (and indeed the instruction to create such a thing). Those in the know however stand, nod their head and soak in the good times. To an untrained eye Kyuss Lives! may have just bombed on the main stage. They didn’t though.
RIVAL SONS suffer some technical problems and are left with twenty minutes to reward those who walked up the hill to the second stage too see them. They pull it off easily. Their 70’s classic rock inspired sound goes down a treat in the warm sunshine. BLACK LABEL SOCIETY bring back the heavy stuff with a hammer blow on the main stage after the brief chill-out of the previous couple of bands. Zakk Wylde barks out a bone-shattering set of tracks old and new. The increasingly swelling crowd lapping up the guitar gods every riff and headbanging can be seen from the front to the back of the arena. Newer tracks like ‘Crazy Horse’ and ‘Concrete Jungle’ sit comfortably along older ones such as set closer ‘Stillborn’. The highlight of the set is the mid-session guitar solo by Zakk. A fast and furious heavy metal cliche, that is not seen enough these days. Who knows how long it went on for? I guess Mr Wylde isn’t known for being shy and retiring…
Continuing the American metal on the main stage were LAMB OF GOD. The band like this festival, they filmed their DVD here and today Randy Blythe christens it the “best festival in the world”. You get the feeling he does’t say that every day too. The band rampage through anger filled set with cheesier grins than those Cheshire cats people always talk about. Plenty of stuff from new album ‘Resolution’ and the familiar crowd movers are belted out with precision. Job Done.
The return of SOUNDGARDEN would have probably warranted a headline spot any other year, but who are we to complain about too many great bands? Soundgarden and the grunge scene that they were so heavily part of, was famous for stripping back to just the music. No fireworks, no spandex and certainly no big stage productions. The tradition was continued tonight. Chris Cornell can still hit those high notes and the band fire off a great spread of tracks from their back catalogue. Not just the greatest hits here, we get ancient tunes like ‘Gun’ and the ultra low-key closer of ‘Beyond the Wheel’. Near Perfection from Seattle’s reunited crew.
What better way to end the 10th anniversary celebrations of Download than to get BLACK SABBATH to close proceedings. Answers on a postcard if you think you know, because I don’t. Ozzy comes out in usual cheerleader fashion to liven up the crowd to the slowest and most sombre Sabbath song in the catalogue. Of course he manages it and everyone goes wild to ‘Black Sabbath’. The sound is the best it’s been all weekend, and the rumble of Geezer’s bass and hammer-blow of Iommi’s riffs could have started any number of natural disasters. There are no complaints about the set list either. From the obvious inclusions (War Pigs, Tomorrow’s Dream, Iron Man) to the less common (Under the Sun, Behind the Wall of Sleep, Dirty Women) everything offered by Sabbath is lapped up by the crowd like another returning hero.
There’s only one way to finish, and amongst the miss-firing pyrotechnics, ‘Paranoid’ rings out to put Download to bed for another year. Black Sabbath steal the show at the best Download yet. Here’s to another 10 years.