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Download Festival (Saxon, Steel Panther, Metallica) - Donington Park - 9th June 2012 (Live Review)

Tuesday, 19 June 2012 Written by Jon Stickler
Download Festival (Saxon, Steel Panther, Metallica) - Donington Park - 9th June 2012 (Live Review)

Following on from our Friday review, Saturday morning arrives and, blinking into the light like some weird breed of bearded mole, I emerge from my tent to find the rain has held off and we're good to go for a dry day at Download. YES!

Saturday's main stage bill kicks-off with an appropriately named band for the morning, As I Lay Dying. Blasting the hangover out of anyone sprightly enough to catch their early set, California's As I Lay Dying unleash their brand of metal-core sparking the emergence of the first mosh pits of the day. I salute you guys. Mosh pits at 11am? Good job.

Up next we have Saxon hitting the main stage, arguably one of the most seminal British metal acts to ever perform at Donington. Hey?? Say that again?? Biff Byford and co on the main stage at midday?? An unusual time slot for a band as loved as Saxon but sure enough the fans are out in their masses enjoying a performance that features as much power and glory as a headline act. An energetic Biff states “It’s good to be back at Donington,” before the band continue what is their fifth appearance on the hallowed grounds. Saxon are a constant fixture in the live calendar and to see them still giving such enthusiastic renditions of 'Heavy Metal Thunder,' 'Denim And Leather,' 'Wheels of Steel' and 'Princess of the Night' gets both the hands and voices raised of everyone in attendance. Saxon close their set with the aptly-titled 'And The Bands Played On'. Despite Biff claiming that “this might be the last time we play here”, we can only hope to see Saxon back at Donington sooner rather than later.

Midway through the afternoon we have the irrepressible Steel Panther getting their balls out on the main stage. The huge lycra-lovin' crowd lap-up the comical sleeze rock, either that or it was just the sheer number of tits on display. Cameramen, both on stage and amongst the crowd, waste no time in capturing the more “stripped-down” side of Download 2012 as Michael Starr, Satchel, Lexxi Foxxx and Stix Zardinia utilise every inch of Metallica's modified snake pit catwalk to rock through a set drawn from debut album 'Feel The Steel' and follow-up 'Balls Out'. Following tracks including 'Supersonic Sex Machine, 'Asian Hooker,' 'Just Like Tiger Woods' and 'Community Property', its time for arguably the biggest surprise of Download 2012 so far, the appearance of Slipknot singer Corey Taylor who is invited on stage to help out on 'Death To All But Metal'.

Trudging over to the second stage we're excited to see arguably one of the UK's best live bands, Skindred. Ask anyone who has witnessed Benji and the boys in action, there is absolutely no chance of shoe-gazing at this gig. The set borrows from 2007 album 'Roots Rock Riot' and debut offering 'Babylon', hell, we even get a slice of Beyonce's 'Single Ladies' – to which Benji responds with “I'm disgusted you even know it” - and AC/DC's 'Back In Black' thrown in for good measure. Closing the performance with the simply awesome Newport Helicopter (if you've not yet heard of it, where have you been??), its been a ragga-metal party for the duration of the show. Surely a pretty lofty main stage slot beckons for these fellas next year?


Following California's Steel Panther, Tenacious D take to the main stage. Performing in front of a giant inflatable cock phoenix, Jack Black and Kyle Gass deliver an entertaining performance which isn’t far from the comedy delivered by Steel Panther. In my opinion, it doesn’t quite meet the the same standard of what Steel Panther brought us (perhaps due to the lack of tits on display), however, the duo are extremely funny and Black's storytelling is brilliant. Perhaps swapping the Steel Panther and Tenacious D slots around may have worked better? I'm not sure such a high slot on the bill is right for a comedy act that has only 3 songs that everyone knows. Despite this personal niggle, the D still deliver a top show. Lets not forget the sing-a-long of the weekend too, “...this is the greatest and best song in the world. Tribute.”

Now lets face it. There was always going to be a fair amount of people hating the fact Biffy Clyro were billed as a sub-headliner at Download. Not to mention they were booked to support the biggest metal band in the world. “This is metal festival,” they cried. Those yet to experience the tidal wave of sound that Biffy create at their live shows take heed. The Scottish trio killed it at Download, giving a very worthy sub-headline performance – at the personal request of no other than Mr Hetfield and the gang. Bringing with them a stunning stage set-up, the trio entertain an enthusiastic crowd with tracks from throughout their back catalogue. 'Mountains,' 'Who's Got A Match,' 'Living Is A Problem,' 'Boom, Blast & Ruin,' 'Bubbles,' 'Many Of Horror,' 'The Captain' and many more feature in a jam-packed set, thoroughly deserved of it's position on the bill. Mon the Biff!

A dusky, drunken Download arena prepares itself for the big finale of the day. The arrival of metal's grandaddies. The pioneers of thrash. Metallica. Kicking-off with 'Hit The Lights', Donington is thrown into an electrifying opening consisting of aforementioned 'Hit The Lights,' as well as 'Master Of Puppets,' 'The Four Horsemen' and 'For Whom The Bell Tolls'. Metallica deliver their 1991 'Black Album' in reverse and to hear tracks such as 'The Struggle Within,' 'My Friend Of Misery,' and 'The God That Failed' live in all their glory is a real treat, despite not being the ideal tracks you want to hear at a 'tallica gig. The wild moments are reserved for the album's big guns 'Enter Sandman,' 'Sad But True,' 'The Unforgiven,' and 'Nothing Else Matters,' before James Hetfield gushes to the huge crowd addressing us as his extended Metallica family. 'Battery,' 'One,' and 'Seek And Destroy' are all kept for a curfew-interrupting encore, however, nobody here is complaining as Metallica look as though they could go on playing all night.

Check back to Stereoboard for Download Festival Sunday review soon. For further information on Download Festival's 2012 line-up, please visit www.downloadfestival.co.uk.

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