Download Festival: Friday - 10th June 2016
"Mud, mud glorious mud..." We get to to this year's Download Festival on the Friday morning bright and early for three days to experience a downright dirty mix of music, mud and mayhem. With three classic (returning) headliners in Rammstein, Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden, and a few bands nipping at their heels it looked set to be a fun three days. Then it rained....and rained...and rained. As I write this it's probably still raining. Just for a laugh. 75,000 people, lush grassy countryside and rain. They do not mix. When it rains at festivals it unfortunately takes the edge off, it literally dampens the spirit. Rather than wandering round the stalls and laying down to top up your tan, you are looking for the nearest shelter....along with thousands of other people. Regardless of the weather, that old Dunkirk spirit truly kicks in and you get on with watching the greatest show on earth. Let's take a look through Friday's bands.
There's something to be said when the family connection of a headliner, in this instance Bruce Dickinson's son, Austin, has his own band on one of the larger stages of the bill, especially one so new as this. As Lions currently have the sum total of two songs at present, so have a lot to prove if they want to justify their spot on such hallowed turf. And you know what, they do just that. In spades. With a morning crowd, you live or die with crowd interaction and Austin commands a connection, asking everyone to put their arms around each other and jump. Musically the band are tight and locked into the groove, especially on songs like 'The Fall' and closing anthem 'White Flag'. With an upcoming US arena tour with Five Finger Death Punch, this band will soon be even tighter and more anthemic. Their sound will suit the enormo-domes of the US perfectly and with an EP announced for July, this young band look set for big things.
With the return of Jesse Leach back in 2013, Killswitch Engage arrive back on the hallowed turf with a point to prove after disappointing reviews of this year's Incarnate record. Storming onto the stage with that albums stand out track, 'Strength Of The Mind', the band are on fire from the beginning, with Leach unable to contain a smile as he looks out over the Donington masses. Adam D is on fine form spewing his amusing one liners as normal. Even the frontman falling over in the wet and cutting his arm can't change the mood. The metalcore masters show how things get done.
As the big screens fire up and the rumbling bassline of 'Overkill' fills the arena, the one and only Lemmy Kilmister shows up on screen, the horns (and beer) are up in the crowd and a cry reaches to the heavens. So where Motorhead should have been playing, after Lemmy's untimely death late last year, we have a tribute where the royalty of rock n' roll talk about the great man himself. While the tribute was nice, what I and the crowd present would have really enjoyed was a mash up of bands singing Motorhead classics, rather than standing in a wet field watching a screen which we can do at any point on YouTube from the comfort of our home.
What can be said about Korn that hasn't been said before? The band arrive just as the heavens open once again with a raging rendition of 'Right Now'. The sound that floods the field is crystal clear and has the groove required especially coming from Fieldy's bass or Jonathan's bagpipes. A delicately plucked opening to 'Falling Away From Me' continues the hits, alongside classics such as 'Blind' with a particularly loud crowd response to the opening "Are you readdddyy?". It's the first time for me seeing the band live so I can't say whether they were just going through the motions or whether Korn are always like this, but it really looked a right on effort from where I was standing.
The rain continues to fall but nothing will light a fire under the spirits of a rock crowd like the highly flammable stage show of Germany's greatest export. Rammstein come on to a fury of flames and fireworks and remain at this level throughout the show. Delivering hit after hit, the crowd are wild at watching the carnival of freaks put on their show. Onstage flamethrowers, S&M inspired outfits and the humiliation of Til Lindermann's band mates are all par for the course. Performing 'Ohne Dich' acoustically is a curioso thrown into the mix but the crowd lap it up. With so many songs of note, the hits roll in but leaving afterwards it does feel we need a fresh influx of Rammstein material and for them not to rely on old hits this far into their career.