Ahhh, post-festival blues, don’t you just love ’em? Download Festival 2015 has been and gone and for the 80,000 or so punters that attended, it’s back to society and the grindstone. But for those of you who can’t quite let it go yet, here’s the first day of the madness relived in all its glory. Sitting comfortably? Good.
Counterparts (7) begin the day with a sizeable audience in the Maverick stage tent, the Canadian’s energy delivering a well-aimed punch to the face for all concerned and blowing away the hangovers from the previous night. It seems the UK cannot get enough of Blues Pills (8) – they’ve travelled to these shores on a number of occasions over the past 12 months and they’re still pulling in the crowds, the Zippo Encore Stage packed to see the Swedes give another stunning performance, and Elin Larsson gets better with every single show, close to becoming one of the best in the business. Packed as well is the Maverick Stage for Beartooth (8), who are fast becoming one of the best new bands to come out of America, songs like I Have a Problem and closer Body Bag sending bodies flying and a huge reception. They’re destined for bigger things. Clutch (7) need very few introductions and give a rousing performance, although playing under overcast skies means there is a somewhat muted atmosphere around the Main Stage. Make no mistake, Earth Rocker and The Wolf Kindly Requests… sound as great as ever, but they’re definitely a band to be enjoyed in the sun.
The one thing missing from Five Finger Death Punch (8)‘s set is the appearance of Rob Halford for Lift Me Up, but that aside it’s another indication that this band could well be bill-toppers within the next five years or so. Precise, dominating and doing as much as they can to bring the live experience to all ages, it’s another triumphant showing – and the sound of 50,000 people shouting ‘Fuck you!’ to opener Under and Over It is a moment in its own right. It’s criminal that Dragonforce (7) are playing indoors this year, and the fact that the Maverick Stage tent is overflowing by a good 10-15 rows outside is justification for this. It’s a very strange set though – the first three songs are all from new album Maximum Overload which is only warmly received, but they then surprise everyone by bringing out the pint-sized girls in Babymetal and covering their song Gimme Choco!!. It receives a massive cheer, but is undermined by sound problems. Judas Priest (8), on the other hand, suffer from weather problems, as by now the heavens have opened and everyone’s getting a soaking. Not that it matters, mind you – forty years in the business and they’re still as good as ever. Tight as a drum and bringing as much of a production as possible, they tear through their set with aplomb. Plus, you’re not going to find a better closing four songs as Breaking the Law, Hell Bent for Leather, Painkiller and Living After Midnight anywhere, any time.
Those of us who saw Slipknot (9) on their UK tour in January will know just how brilliant their new stage show is. Everyone who’s seen them in general over the years will also know how intense they are live. Tonight, however, they once again rise to the honour of headlining Download and surpass everything they’ve done before, save for maybe their mindblowing set at Donington in 2009. The crowd are singing XIX as loud as they can, and the hurricane that is unleashed the moment Sarcastrophe kicks in is monstrous. ‘I’ve got a name change for Andy Copping – welcome to Downpour 2015!’, yells Corey Taylor amidst the rain and the mud (ironically, there isn’t any during Psychosocial – what’s all this about the rain killing us all again?) and the first UK performances of AOV and Killpop go down an absolute treat. Then there’s the staples – Duality is sung so loud you probably won’t find a parrot within the whole of the Midlands who doesn’t now know the chorus and Spit It Out, once again, give us the glorious moment of 80,000 people kneeling in a field and jumping up as one gigantic family. An encore of (sic), People = Shit and Surfacing round everything off nicely and despite the drenching that everyone is getting, it’s a happy Download that finishes Day 1, not least because Slipknot have once again laid waste to the place they call home.
The Heretic Anthem
The Devil in I
Wait and Bleed
Before I Forget
Spit It Out
People = Shit