Lethargy on the whole “getting to Donington” thing meant that, once again, I missed some great bands who played early on. Luckily I did get there in time to see the omnipresent but always impressive Black Spiders on the second stage.
There are worse ways to start a Sunday I suppose. The Spiders are the perfect festival band, with some killer sing-along choons and a stage presence to die for.
Maybe they’ll even have some new material soon 😉
The fact that the mud had dried out meant that wandering from stage to stage was a reasonable proposition for just about the first time this weekend, so I headed to the main stage, where Kyuss Lives! were going through their paces in front of a surprisingly (to me, anyway) disinterested crowd. Now I know the sound wasn’t brilliant but I thought they deserved more of a reaction than they were getting. Maybe their fans don’t get up in the early afternoon.
Getting a crowd reaction certainly wasn’t a problem for the resurgent Anthrax. Say what you like about the Belladonna / Bush thing (and people do, at tedious length) for me Joey IS Anthrax, and as they belted through a perfect greatest hist set the whole place was bouncing. Now I do like me a bit of Anthrax, and there is something cool about seeing a band who are clearly enjoying themselves waaaaay too much.
Time to head back to the second stage where, if you believe Sebastian Bach, there were “100,000 motherfuckers” waiting to see the ex Skid Row frontman. There weren’t and to be fair it wasn’t the best performance you’ll ever see, even by Seb’s own sub-Axl Rose standards (but to be fair he’s made a career out of being sub-Axl Rose). But he did play 18 And Live and Youth Gone Wild so that’s OK then.
CackBlabbath favourites Furyon were a welcome addition to the Download 2012 bill, OK it was slightly unfortunate that they only had a short set on the acoustic stage but they made the most of it, even dropping in a new song. It was a strong performance and hopefully it means that next year they’ll get a slot on one of the bigger stages, and be allowed to plug their guitars in.
Right, we’d had Metallica, and we’d had Anthrax so it was time to head back to the main stage for Megadeth, who have failed to impress of late, and didn’t buck that trend here. Pity, they used to be so good. Right, back to the tent for Transcend Records shining stars The Dirty Youth who were very, very good.
Unfortunately I couldn’t watch all of The Dirty Youth’s set, as we had arranged to meet up down near the front to get a decent spot for Black Sabbath. Unfortunately that meant also having a decent spot for Soundgarden 🙂
Actually, I jest. Chris Cornell has an almost cult following, and seeing him live it’s easy to get why. For someone who makes no obvious attempts to connect with the audience, there is a strong connection none the less, and although I’m no expert on the band or their output (apart from the obvious) it was a really enjoyable set and one that was well worthy of their lofty position on the bill.
Even if it did get all weird at the end 🙂
Now for the most talked about festival headliner I can remember. The reformation of the original Black Sabbath lineup was heralded as a once in a lifetime opportunity (and I think it was my third such once in a lifetime opportunity), and then all the bullshit and counter-bullshit about Bill Ward led to many threatening to boycott their performance.
Yeah, and those “this isn’t Sabbath” types changed their minds about, ohh, 10 seconds into the opening track. As Geezer’s Bass threatened to liquify internal organs and drummer Tommy Clufetos unleashed all sorts of thunder the special-event-oneter went off the scale. OK it took Ozzy a couple of songs to really get going but hey, this was a legendary performance from, well, legends.
Now, not being even remotely musical, I must admit I’d never noticed before just how technical Geezer Butler’s bass playing was. Being able to feel it deep down in your guts you fully appreciate just how integral he is to the band’s sound, much more than providing a solid foundation, he also adds some incredible flourishes.
Oh, and Tommy Clufetos is an incredible drummer, his performance on Symptom Of The Universe and drum solo that followed being something that I don’t think any other drummer (and I do mean ANY) could have matched.
People cheering on Black Sabbath = 100,000.
People shouting for Bill, like they said they would = 0
And as the last notes of Paranoid rang out and Download 2012 came to an end with an awesome firework display it was time to head back to Derby for the last time this year. For a festival that the weather had threatened to ruin, in the end it was one of the best Downloads ever. I certainly can’t remember one where two of the three headliners were wrestling in my head a week later for the not-worth-much-at-all CackBlabbath band of the festival award*, but if the truth be told Metallica and Black Sabbath were untouchable, on a plane far beyond where any of the other bands on this weekend could reach.
And, at the end of the day, isn’t that what being a headliner is supposed to be all about ?
*Oh, and in case you’re interested, it was Metallica by the narrowest of margins from Black Sabbath.