Monday, 15 June 2015

Download 2015 - Day One review

Slipknot - picture by Gobinder Jhitta/Download 2015
WHATEVER the metal purists say about Slipknot, they cannot deny they put on one hell of a show. 

They were the first headliner of Download Festival and probably my highlight of the weekend, but let's start at the beginning.

Sadly, my arrival at Donington was delayed and so I missed the first few bands I had hoped to see. But I picked things up (including a beer) with Lacuna Coil on the Main stage, the haunting gothic tones of Andrea Ferro and Cristina Scabbia easing me into the weekend.

Then came my first of many spells of stage-hopping as I took in Defeater and Beartooth on the Maverick stage, some Clutch on the Main and Allusondrugs on Jake's stage.

The latter were a bit of a disappointment, too much posturing at the front and not enough substance. Defeater and particularly Beartooth made more of an impression, while Clutch know exactly what they're doing and know how to work it.

And so we come to my first highlight of the weekend - Five Finger Death Punch

Ivan Moody leads Five Finger Death Punch
- picture by Scott Salt/Download 2015
I saw frontman Ivan Moody in the press area before hand and he was in a very jovial mood, which he carried on to the stage - kicking off with Under And Over It.

You know exactly what you get with FFDP and that's some hard rock with great vocals and Moody certainly knows how to whip up the crowd. His antics included pulling three young kids up on to the stage just before launching into the not-so-subtle Burn MF. And while the parent in me cringed every time he bellowed "motherfucker" into the mic, at least two of the kids were full-pelt moshing along.

Although they did perform Lift Me Up in their set, they were not joined on stage by Rob Halford, who provides guest vocals on the album version and whose Judas Priest were next on stage. It was one of several such collaborations that failed to be revived over the weekend. But more of that later.

I did catch some of Priest on the Main stage - mainly to say that I had seen them - but they are not really my thing and so I enjoyed a little reunion of my own.

I saw rap-metallers The One Hundred play in a near-empty tent at Sonisphere last summer and I was impressed. It seems in the interim many others have been too as the lads from Surrey packed out the larger Jake's stage tent and brought a performance to match.

The One Hundred - picture by Richard Johnson/Download 2015
It was only six songs, but they were intense and I'm still blown away by the sounds frontman Jacob Field emits from such a diminutive frame. Can't wait to see these guys mature even more in the next few years.

After The One Hundred, I did catch parts of Fightstar and Black Stone Cherry, but my eye was trained in on the main prize of the day - Slipknot. And they were epic.

There's the fire, the spinning percussionists going up and down, the imagery and, of course, the masks. But beyond that are bundles and bundles of great metal songs.

The Heretic Anthem, Psychosocial, The Devil In I, Vermilion, Wait And Bleed, new single Killpop, Before I Forget, Duality and Spit It Out were among the comprehensive setlist as well as an encore including (sic), People=Shit and Surfacing.

It's an incredible performance, whole-hearted, and Corey Taylor - like Moody earlier - knows that the connection with the fans is key to that. It's a show that (despite the huge amount of booze consumed) I won't forget in a hurry.

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