Download Festival: Saturday - 11th June 2016 - Donington Park
In part two of our Download coverage the rain stopped... for about two seconds. Remember that scene in 2005's Charlie and The Chocolate Factory where Willy Wonka takes his guests down the chocolate river? Well Download Festival 2016 is starting to look like that under foot. I'm not a huge fan of wading through mud, I don't own a boat and I left my Speedo's at home so this is getting harder as the day begins.
Hailing from the same neck of the woods as Muse, Reigning Days produce a solid showing with recent single 'Empire' getting an airing. With rain pouring down outside hopefully this up and coming band gained a few more fans sheltering from the weather. Definitely a band we'll be watching closely.
Sometimes new music can sound old. More often than not it's a detriment to a band but not so for storming Bristol based alt-grunge rockers Milk Teeth. Being on one of the smaller tent stages means the place has burst at the seams and is overflowing into the field. Milk Teeth have a buzz brewing and this feels like the epicentre of it. Running through a truncated half hour set means there's not much time for talking but what there is, is used well, from cussing out band members playfully because they lost lead singers Becky's food and vodka for the weekend or standing up for LGBT rights with a heartbreaking rendition of 'Kabuki'. Songs such as 'Swear Jar' and closer 'Vitamins' get the crowd jumping with a vitality and a 'you should have been there' immediacy that reminds you of the grunge heyday of Nirvana 25 years ago. Set of the weekend? Abso-bloody-lutely.
With their recently released sophomore effort Aggressive gaining critical acclaim, Beartooth on the main stage have something to prove. Flying out of the traps and insisting the crowd kneel before jumping up at the breakdown of opener 'The Lines' sets the standard for the rest of their set. With the energy coming off stage, the band feel on edge and wired in, with this transferring to the crowd and vice versa. The only downside to this madness is when the sound fails near the end of one track and lead singer Caleb Shomo sounds out of key for a moment. Another band to keep an ear out for.
Partying like it's 2005, Atreyu return to Download after a lengthy hiatus and read from the metalcore textbook. With a short set on a big stage, there's a sense they need to remind people, and they pull out the big guns including their well know cover of 'You Give Love A Bad Name'. The crowd enjoy a good sing along and the smile on Alex Varkatzas says it all.
Megadeth, or Megadave and friends as it is these days to be honest, return for their annual Download set. Once again they appear midway up a festival bill below bands that started after them and have surpassed them commercially, the 2016 exhibit: Deftones. At this point in their careers it feels like Megadeth are coasting on past glories with an odd new song thrown in. That can be said for a lot of bands but especially this one. The hits are played with the same type of energy akin to your grandmother getting up from her chair. Same thing, different day, little to zero energy spent. They're not bad per se, loud and on point, but thrash metal needs to be played by angry snot nosed youths, not middle aged men with no bite.
The heavens really open at this point and it's noticeably on stage also. Sometimes this can be a good thing, energising a band, other times bands turn cautious. Deftones are absolutely the former. Frontman Chino Moreno in smart shirt and jeans combo is drenched before colossal second song 'My Own Summer (Shove It)' but he keeps the smile on his face for the duration. You really cannot lose with Deftones, they are quintessentially professional bringing that anger and bite on each and every song, even cheekily dropping a line from 'Black Sabbath' from tonight's headliners into one song. A joy to behold.
And so, to the headliners. Since Black Sabbath were announced as Saturday's headliners and this being their final UK show, numerous tickets have been sold off of that basis. Just like when I went to their 'final' shows in Birmingham in December 1999, this show is not their final UK show, with dates released at the festival showing them playing a further 'final' run ending in February 2017 in Birmingham. I don't believe it for a second. I won't be going off of this performance and the ticket prices for that run (topping out at £107 on regular ticket sites not resale ticket sites) As mentioned in our Download preview, Black Sabbath live and die on the vocal performance of Ozzy Osbourne. Tonight is no exception, Ozzy muttering behind the scenes as their intro tap plays 'I can't hear you' and 'louder' with as much enthusiasm as a dead bat(!). The trio of opening songs are Ozzy vocally at his worst. Voice cracking, little to no energy and even going so far as messing up the introduction of their drummer. As hit after hit is let loose onto the field the band are on form and Ozzy finally hits his stride with 'Into The Void'. On this performance in 2016 nearly 50 years after they formed, this truly feels like it's coming to the end. With Tony Iommi bravely fighting cancer and Ozzy clearly not having the energy or voice anymore there is something to be said for going out on top. Unfortunately for us here in 2016, the Sabbath had their day way back in 1975. A disappointment but I was glad to see them one last time.