Metal Overlord

Moshpit Mayhem

Download Festival 2012 – Surviving the mud (Part Four)

Saturday started off being a bit cold and very damp. The howling gales of the previous night had at least settled, the rain had stopped. There was much to look forward to today as there were many more bands that I wanted to see.

As per normal, breakfast was a total meat fest. Sausage, bacon, and anything else we could find found it’s way on to the BBQ and then either into wraps or pitta bread. For a while, my stomach was my best friend. We wouldn’t be hanging around the campsite too much this morning as there was a full program ahead of us. We helped our breakfast to digest with the odd beer whilst looking over the main arena, which we could see from our site. We could see that mountains of hay had been put down to try and soak up the mud. Hopefully the rain would stay off today and give us the chance to really enjoy the bands.

We grabbed a few beers for the walk, rounded up the troops, and headed off towards the main arena. Some of us were perfectly ok, some of us were suffering from a slight hangover, some were totally dying. I love not suffering from hangovers, allows me to give a great deal of sympathy to those who do. As we walked towards the main arena it became obvious that some others at the festival had attempted to kill themselves with alcohol. Much merryment was had at their expense.

As we approached the arena we could hear the strains of Fozzy floating over the air. Fozzy’s frontman Chris Jericho polarises opinion, you either love him or hate him. I personally find him quite entertaining, he isn’t the greatest singer on earth nor is he the worst, however, his in between song banter can sometimes sound like a link he would do as a wrestler on the WWE. We entered the arena as Fozzy were ending their set and headed straight to the main stage for the mighty Saxon. Saxon are a excellent live band and really deserve a better spot on the bill than a noon start. Today they roll out a greatest hits set and hit the spot with every song. When your belting out anthems like Wheels Of Steel to 100,000 people, the adrenaline rush must be immense. The crowd were enjoying every second of it, to be the ones playing the music must be the greatest feeling ever.

Next for me was the acoustic stage to see Gun. Gun in my opinion are one of the most underrated rock bands of the last 20 years. Their acoustic set drew a good crowd as songs like Better Days, Taking on the world and newbie Last Train From Central were aired. Even a broken acoustic guitar didn’t dampen the spirits of a muddy, damp crowd. The band ended their set, told us to see them on the third stage and disappeared, 25 minutes gone in a flash. Next on the acoustic stage were Soil, who gave us a half hour of drunken silliness. Totally unrehearsed, completely drunk and utterly brilliant. Next it was over to the main stage to catch a bit of Trivium. These young lads know how to play festivals and in the few minutes that I watched, were sounding very heavy. For me, it was time to head over to the third stage to see Gun’s electric set. This was one of my most anticipated sets of the weekend, as I’ve always been a massive Gun fan. The acoustic show was just the starter as this set delivered the main course and dessert. Better Days, Don’t Say It’s Over and Word Up came at us like an express train that even a broken lead mic couldn’t derail. They were one of my highlights of the weekend.

Gun finished in time for me to get to the main stage to witness the spectacle that is Steel Panther. If you don’t know who, or what, Steel Panther are then you are missing out. These boys are true 80’s hair metal with obscene lyrics, they also have the banter in between songs that would make Chubby Brown blush. Community Property, Just Like Tiger Woods and Death To All But Metal (with Slipknot’s Corey Taylor) all had crowd joining in a massive sexist sing-a-long. Brilliant. Once Steel Panther had finished it was up to the second stage to see Theory Of A Deadman. I had seen Theory Of A Deadman a few months earlier at Northumbria Uni in Newcastle and was quite impressed with what I had seen. Today however, they bored me to death, so much so that I walked away to get food and check out Tenacious D. As I was checking out the food stalls I can honestly say that I didn’t recognise a single song that Tenacious D played. Not, that it was bad as it wasn’t, it made good background music for me to eat my overpriced noodles to. I had finished my food by the time they sang Fuck Her Gently and Tribute, two songs which brought the whole crowd to life. Once they had ended their set it was back to the second stage, find the group and get ready for one of the most energetic bands of the weekend. I’m not a massive fan of Skindred’s music on CD, but live it makes perfect sense. The whole place was bouncing, dancing and singing, if this didn’t make you smile, you must have been dead. Skindred are a must see live band, amazing. After Skindred it was time for Killswitch Engage. The departure of Howard Jones and reinstallment of original singer Jesse Leach has been a great talking point for fans of the band. Howard Jones was seen as one of the best singers in the genre, could Jesse match him and do the Howard era songs justice? The answer was a massive HELL YEAH!!!!!!!! Killswitch Engage decimated the second stage, giving any of the doubters no food for thought.

I left just before Killswitch finished as I went to get my place for the biggest heavy metal band on the planet, Metallica.

The anticipation for a Metallica show starts building long before the actual gig. You have people who have never seen them before getting overly excited, people who have seen them once or twice before talking excitedly with their friends about how good they are. You then have the Metallica veteran, those who have seen Metallica that many times that you are happy to stand back and just enjoy the show. The usual AC/DC song, It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock N Roll) signals that the band are ready to come on. Then the music from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, which has served as Metallica’s intro music throughout their career, hits the speakers and the place goes mental. The band opens with Hit The Lights and from then on it’s game on. The black album is played in it’s entirity, backwards. The rest of the show is a greatest hits set. Truly magnificent from start to finish. To make things even better, the rain stopped and things started to dry out. What an end to a fantastic day.

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After Metallica, the short walk back to the campsite flew over. Everyone was in amazing spirits as we sat and drank beer. Before we knew it, it was nearly 3am and time for sleep to prepare for the last day.

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