Download Festival 2012 Saturday Review

Right, up and attem…

For some Download 2012 Saturday started by trying to warm up a tin of beans over a Zippo lighter in a flooded campsite. But not for me, oh no. My day started with a shower, then a stroll over to Sainsburys for a massive breakfast before heading off to catch the shuttle bus to Download. The sun was shining, the rain had stopped and all was well in the world.

After yesterday’s drama with the shuttle bus this time it was an entirely painless experience, straight to toe drop off point with no delays at all, and on site in plenty of time to get down the front of the main stage for Saxon.

Judging by the crowd that had built up for the NWOBHM legends their recent return to prominence is definitely continuing, and although they did throw in a decent amount of new material it was their classics that really got the crowd going. Maybe it was the fact the rain had stopped, maybe it was the fact that today had just been less of a hassle but Saxon were the band who, for me, really got the whole festival atmosphere kicked off. Biff’s voice may not be what it once was but today’s performance proved that more than just a nostalgia fest, Saxon were well and truly here on merit.

A quick dash across the site followed to catch the last 10 minutes of Halestorm on the second stage, well that was the theory anyway. As it turned out I arrived just in time to catch them saying “thank you, goodbye”.

Bugger.

I stayed at the second stage to catch part of a new-album-heavy set from Ginger Wildheart before heading back to the Pepsi Max tent for the frankly batshit-mental-awesome Turbowolf, followed by a first encounter with The YoYos, a band I had previously not heard much about, but one who impressed enough to be marked down for further investigation.

I guess the run of good bands had to come to an end at some point, and although they certainly seemed to appeal to a large chunk of the audience Gun just didn’t do it for me. After the disappointment of Little Angels the day before I was beginning to think that maybe some bands should leave their legacies alone.

Still, they did play Word Up I suppose…

Right, next up was the one I’d been waiting for since the announcement was made. Time to get reacquainted with The Anti-Nowhere League after a gap of, oh, nigh on 20 years..

The Anti-Nowhere League had drawn a substantial crowd, filling the tent to near capacity. It was an odd mix of people too, a blend of old punks and young Metallica fans who only knew of the band because of Metallica’s over-hyped cover of So What.

Now back in the day you were never quite sure what would happen at an ANL gig. Would they turn up ? Would Animal fall off the stage ? How many fights would break out ? Well nothing untoward occurred at all, instead the band showed all the pop punk pretenders to their throne just exactly how punk should be done, with swagger, attitude and, above all, killer tunes. Streets Of London, We Are The League, Woman and, of course So What came and went in a blur in what was, for me, one of the performances of the weekend.

I didn’t know quite what to expect, but this was brilliant.

Unlike Tenacious D, who bored the crap out of me. I mean I know Jack Black is a big star and all that, but there are other bands much more deserving of a slot on Download’s main stage.

Saxon, Gun, The Anti-Nowhere League. Talk about CackBlabbath featuring the hottest new talent šŸ™‚ Well sticking well and truly to what I know, it was time for the weekends first trip to the Jagermeister acoustic stage to catch up with Spike and The Quireboys.

The Quireboys are pretty much omnipresent at festivals these days, and after seeing them playing “full” sets a few times over the past couple of years it was nice to catch them playing an acoustic set, especially as acoustic set which contained the majority of their classic tunes.

Wildhearts, Quireboys, there was really only one name missing from the pantheon of 80s UK Rock’n’Roll bands I idolised in my youth. If Spike laid down the gauntlet for that generation, Dogs d’Amour frontman Tyla picked it up and threw it back…

Tyla is living proof that everything you have been told about the adverse effects of drugs and alcohol is very probably wrong. The first time I saw him he was climbing, and eventually falling off, the ceiling beams in the Edinburgh Venue, and yet here he was all this time later putting in a headline performance that rolled back the years.

Got to appreciate the irony of him playing How Come It Never Rains, while watching the great man while we all stood in ankle deep mud though šŸ™‚

Right, that’s enough acoustic reminiscing though, time to go and see someone more cutting edge, someone more up to date…

Well Kinda.

Biffy Clyro are something of a festival enigma to me. They’re a band almost universally hailed as being OK, and they certainly attract a fanatical following but I always think they are at their best in academy sized venues playing to a few thousand ardent fans. Once again they just didn’t seem to grab the attention of the crowd here. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is, but there was just something missing.

And so on to the main event. Metallica’s damn near annual headline slot at a UK festival. After several years of putting in average performances to ever growing crowds they blew many away at last year’s Sonisphere festival with a performance that, finally, compared favourably with the band’s heyday.

All we knew about today’s performance was that they would be playing the Black Album in its entirety, and as I think that’s their 5th best album that wasn’t too much of a selling point for me. I was more interested to see if their Soni set was a one off or if Metallica really were back as an awesome live experience.

Right, well try this for an opening salvo..

Hit The Lights

Master Of Puppets

The Four Horsemen

For Whom The Bell Tolls

People complain about Metallica headlining festivals over here almost every year, but seriously, if you’re one of those people shut up. Say what you want about Metallica “Not done a great album for 20 years”, “sloppy live”, “Lars is a cock”, today they laid all of those to rest. Well apart from the last one, obviously. I’ve seen the band countless times since September 12th 1986, but honestly, this was up there with any time I’ve seen them play before.

Predictably things did drop off a bit with the start of the Black Album, but playing it in reverse order was a masterstroke, as you knew all the time what it was building up to.. “you want heavy, Metallica gives you heavy” Sad But True… Enter Sandman and that’s it.

Job fucking well and truly done.

Encores, of course. Battery, One, Seek and Destroy. I mean what else could you ask for (apart from Creeping Death obviously šŸ˜‰ ).

Metallica owned Download. Fact.

(And if you know anyone who went to see You Me At Six instead of Metallica, remember to point and laugh next time you see them).

And that was that. No doubt in response to the comments of the previous day this time there were large illuminated signs pointing the way back to the shuttle buses, and guided to safety by The Voice I headed back to Derby and an appointment with a pint, a shower and a nice warm bed.