Download Festival Day 1 Friday 8th June 2012
After two days of abject hell in a field due to the torrential rain and appalling organisation Fri was a god send as it meant we could actually see some bands. However these too were delayed due to hay having to be spread on the thick mud of the arena. Because of this Six Hour Sundown, Rise To Remain and Cancer Bats all had to be cancelled due to the delay (Cancer Bats however had their show moved after fourth tent headliner Gallows). So while waiting in the queue, (yes still a queue even with a late opening) I heard, if not saw, Red, White & Blues and what I heard was great with them focussing on the hard rocking songs from their debut. I can't wait to actually see them and give them a full review.
First band I saw proper were American punk band NOFX who played a hit filled set and rallied at the governments of the world with every scuzzy guitar riff and biting lyric. 'Fat' Mike's men no how to put on a show and do anarchistic punk rock with a bubble-gum beat very well. 7/10
A British power metal band playing acoustically? Well it could have worked however despite the good vocals the songs didn't really excite me in this stripped back form. Only a cover of Journey's Separate Ways went ahead and rectified this a bit. 6/10
Then we went to Europe, mainly because there were not many bands on at the same time. However after a wait of half an hour we were told that they were stuck at Heathrow and wouldn't be appearing (although why they didn't then play The Final Countdown over the P.A afterwards was anyone guess as this was the reason why most were here)
All the bands were running late so instead of seeing The Defiled we ended up watching British comedy Thrashers Lawnmower Death whose set of speed riffage shouting and gardening puns won over the crowd watching them and did so with me too. 7/10
Watching part of Billy Talent's set I was quite frightened that I recognised many of their songs with Falling Leaves being one of tracks form my youth. They played a good hits based set and seemed in good form with the set slightly altered when they invited Cancer Bats on stage to perform Hail Destroyer before ending their own set. 8/10
Having broken up in 1994 Toby Jepson's hard rockers returned to Donington in triumphant form. Again the hits were played and the crowed lapped them up. With hits such as the swinging Too Much, Too Young as well as classics like She's A Little Angel, Kicking Up Dust, Boneyard and the ballad Don't Pray For Me being played in tribute to deceased member Michael Lee. This was a great trip down memory lane from a band that was always overlooked in their prime. 8/10
Bypassing Machine Fucking Head as they were announced as the last headliner for B.O.A just days before I missed them in favour of Mikael Akerfeldt and his band of semi-merry men.
Having spent the last tour playing songs without the guttural roars Opeth rectified this in their 6 song set. They opened with the one-two of Devil's Orchard and Slither Mikael announced that after the very jazzy The Lines In My Hand that he would then play some 'favourites' and he was true to his word with the brutal Demon Of The Fall followed by The Grand Conjuration coming next before the finish came with Deliverance. As usual they all played excellently however their set was nowhere long enough to truly appreciate their songwriting. 8/10
A quick run over to the third stage for the rest of the night (thereby missing Chase & Status and The Prodigy). First on were Soil reunited with original vocalist Ryan McCombs who sounded in fine form. The bands set list was composed by the majority of their debut album Scars with many who were young in the early 2000's on a massive nostalgia trip. The heavy riffage coupled with McCombs vocals still worked very well and the band drew a huge crowd. The final song Halo was welcomed by a rapturous cheer and was slightly dampened by the failure of McCombs mic but it was saved by the crowd knowing every word. Great to see them back. 8/10
I don't know any of the songs but I knew from two members of this 'super group' that they would be good. Featuring BFMV Matt Tuck on guitar and Cancer Bats' Liam Cormier on vocals the band opened with an almost Slayer sounding song before proceeding with a set of heavy, aggressive metal with real groove and thrash influences. Cormier’s' vocals were at their violent best and even when Tuck sang he hand more venom than he does in Bullet. A cover of Fucking Hostile came in the middle of their set but on the back of playing a set of unknown songs this band is definitely a brutal side project to keep. 8/10
Devin Townsend Project
With less of a crowd than there was for Soil (due to The Prodigy and Slash being on the other two stages) the Canadian madman was always going to be the niche choice. Before the set was a compilation of internet videos and then they burst onto the stage with Seventh Wave from Ocean Machine. Due to his huge back catalogue with 5 bands there was never going to be any shortage of songs but he concentrated the first part of the set on the Ocean Machine album with Regulator before following it with a political message from Ziltoid and the crushing prog opera of By Your Command. Life was next and this segued into the three tracks from the Addicted album with Ih-Ah, Supercrush! And the bouncy but heavy Bend It Like Bender! Which were bridged by Kingdom and followed by Deconstruction’s Juular before Vampira and Bad Devil ended the set. Devin is a consummate professional and totally insane giving himself oral with a blow up dolphin, cracking jokes, wearing numerous hats from the audience and providing each song with mid-song commentary (especially on Bend It Like Bender where he proclaimed “Canned vocals!” when Anneke Van Giersbergen’s pre-recorded album vocals played over the chorus). I would travel to see this man again as he is pure entertainment. 9/10