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Download Festival – Donington Park, Sunday 16/6/2013

HALLELUJAH!! The sun’s out!! You know that feeling of satisfaction you get when you really, really earned something?  100,000 people have that feeling today.

Musically, it’s a fairly mellow one. We mooch about catching a little of The Ghost Inside (brutal and shouty), all of Graveyard (fantastic, precise stoner-rock, which always sounds better in the sun, if you ask me), some of Masters of Reality (much like Graveyard) and then we get aurally assaulted by Amon Amarth.

Incredibly, every member of the band looks like James Hetfield at a different stage of his career and the singer sounds like the Cookie Monster. They have a longboat on stage with them and songs called things like ‘Twilight of the Thundergods’. If you like your riffs heavy, your lyrics mythological and your shouting shouty, they’re your band. I don’t so much, mind you.

Rival Sons had a rough time here last year, technical issues cutting their set down to just a few songs, but they’re back this year to make good. There’s not much we can say about them that we haven’t already, but they sound fantastic and any band with only a half hour set that has the cojones to play an eight minute psychedelic freak-out about the fate of Native Americans has to be applauded.

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Sadly, The Gaslight Anthem are a bit of a let-down, sitting uncomfortably after Stone Sour and struggling to fit into their hour-long set. They still sound great and songs like Howl, The ’59 Sound and Biloxi Parish are delivered with vim and vigour. They just don’t seem at ease and the on-stage banter fails miserably. It’s a shame, as they’re a superb band with a great frontman, but they surely don’t belong there.

Surprise of the weekend goes to 30 Seconds To Mars, who I am expecting to be awful and are actually really rather good. Jared Leto knows what he’s doing with a big crowd and their emo-pop-rock gets the masses going. Yes, they’re on before Rammstein and are an uneasy fit, but they do what they do well. Giant balloons emerge as if from nowhere, Leto gets about 50 hysterical young folk on stage with him and he flits about the crowd shooting people with a penis-shaped water pistol. They won’t change the world, but they’re good for a little pogo!

And what do you say about the headliners? Rammstein brought the biggest, most ridiculous, bombastic stage show I’ve ever seen. You may have seen bits of it on Youtube, the flame-throwers, the fireworks, the mis-treatment of the keyboard player, the foam squirting cannon, but you have to be there to fully appreciate it. Even if you took all the theatrics away, they still sound immense. They are the benchmark for any live band anywhere in the world both sonically and visually and I sincerely doubt that Download will see a better set to close the festival in the near future.

Same time next year, yeah?

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Categories: Reviews

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