After the previous day’s activities, the Rocksins team and friends did what any veteran Download attendees tend to do. You probably think this means get a decent amount of sleep, when it reality it means blasting some metal into the wee hours and getting considerably less sleep than one should, perfect preparation for what will be the busiest day of the festival. In case you missed Rocksins’ coverage of the Friday of Download 2012, you can read it right here.
In a Rocksins first at Donington, Jamie had the distinction of being one of the very few non staff members present in the arena before they opened the gates on Saturday morning and was sensible enough to have his camera with him, so we’ll be bringing you a picture special from behind the scenes in the arena on Saturday morning very soon.
Kicking off the day’s festivities in the arena at the Zippo Encore second stage were a band called Page 44. They were a band previously unknown to us, but they are an energetic UK rock four piece who seemed genuinely delighted to be playing the big time at Donington and were also very grateful for the support they received from the quickly swelling crowd. Their brand of rock is unlikely to define any new boundaries in the genre but they were very good at the type of music they play and there’s definitely a bigger future ahead for them, so it’s very likely they will grace the hallowed turf at Donington again .
Longtime friends of Rocksins’, one of the most anticipated sets of the day for us was from Fozzy. Making their first return to Download since 2005, there was a huge crowd in place to see the return of Frank, Paul, Billy, “The Duke” Rich Ward and Y2J himself Chris Jericho (though sadly he didn’t bring the light up jacket from his most recent run in WWE). As one would expect with The Fozz, they were full of energy and boundless enthusiasm throughout their whole half hour set with Chris conducting the crowd in his usual masterful fashion (and swiftly turning a bunch of “Yes” chants into “Fozzy” ones.
The debut of new song Sandpaper showed some promise for the forthcoming new album, while God Pounds His Nails and the always popular Martyr No More had the masses of Donington bouncing and headbanging along. Finishing off an all too short but sweet set with usual closer Enemy, the only complaint about Fozzy is that they didn’t get long enough on stage. Memo to Andy Copping, get them booked again in 2013 with a longer set next time please .
The Fozzy Setlist Was:
Pray For Blood
God Pounds His Nails
Martyr No More
Saturday continued with the encampment at the second stage as following on from Fozzy were one of the rising stars of 2012, US hard rock band Halestorm. Their album “The Strange Case Of…” has been one of the albums of the year thus far so it was going to be very interesting to see how they translated into the live environment. Rocksins was also able to spend some time chatting to Arejay and Josh from Halestorm on the Friday of Download and that exclusive interview will be up here very soon.
So, do Halestorm work in a live environment? The answer is a resounding Yes. Lzzy Hale sounds just as impressive live as she does on record and despite some issues with the sound early on Halestorm ripped through recent single Love Bites and other new material such as Mz Hyde and Freak Like Me in very impressive fashion. Not to be outdone by his sister, Arejay is a whirling dervish behind the drum kit (including launching one of his cymbals halfway across the stage at one point) whilst bassist Josh and guitarist Daniel are on fine form too. Finishing off their half hour set with I Get Off from their first, self titled album, Halestorm are a band who are clearly heading rapidly for big things. Expect their next appearance at Download to be on the main stage or at the very least a much longer set [7.5].
Halestorm’s Download Setlist Was:
Love Bites (So Do I)
I Miss The Misery
Freak Like Me
It’s Not You
I Get Off
After Halestorm (and the obligatory Donington chicken wraps for lunch), it was time to hit the main stage for the first time to see florida’s finest metal exports Trivium. Having always made a significant impact on Donington on their three previous visits, it was going to be very interesting to see what happened this time around. With an enormous crowd waiting to greet them, the intro of Capsizing The Sea quickly gave way to the (now obligatory) almighty opening salvo of In Waves. Old favourites Rain and Pull Harder made early appearances, inciting general chaos and circle pits aplenty while the band made full use of the extended stage space with Metallica’s snakepit setup in use all day long, indeed playing in front of the snakepit must have been something of a dream come true for the band, Matt and Corey in particular.
New material such as Dusk Dismantled and Black meshed well with older songs such as The Deceived and the popular set closer Throes Of Perdition in a very solid performance that solidifies Trivium’s position as one of the leading metal bands of their generation, we’re all now just waiting to see if they can take the final step up that they almost made on their first breakthrough several years ago. Time is still on their side, so our money is on them doing it [7.5].
Trivium’s Full Download Setlist Was:
Capsizing The Sea (intro)
Pull Harder On The Strings Of Your Martyr
A Gunshot To The Head Of Trepidation
Throes Of Perdition
From modern metalcore/thrash to comedy glam metal and from Florida to California as next up were the Sunset Strip veterans Steel Panther. Making their main stage bow at Download after a very successful UK tour earlier in the year, this was a great chance for the Panther to literally strut their stuff, and so they did. Whilst not quite as razor sharp as they were on their recent UK tour (which you can read a review of here), Michael Starr, Lexi, Satchel and Stixx were still on very entertaining form, entertaining the masses with some of the really good songs off new album balls out such as Tomorrow Night and the always popular Just Like Tiger Woods alongside some old favourites like Community Property. Steel Panther are well known for having guest contributors to their songs, and with festivals being the way they are, a certain Mr Corey Taylor joined The Panther on stage for an awesome rendition of Death To All But Metal to finish things off in triumphant fashion . The Panther are back in November for a full UK tour, do not miss that.
Steel Panther’s Download Setlist Was:
In The Future (intro)
Supersonic Sex Machine
Just Like Tiger Woods
Eyes Of A Panther
Party All Day
17 Girls In A Row
Death To All But Metal
Sadly, team Rocksins did not get to experience the mighty Tenacious D. We did have a very good reason for missing them however as we were lucky to spend some time with the very cool Nick Augusto from Trivium, which will be another interview you can read here very soon. Those in our group who did see Tenacious D weren’t hugely impressed by them, but we’re unable to pass comment as we didn’t experience it in the flesh for ourselves.
What WAS experienced in the flesh was the absolutely heaving Pepsi Max Tent come time for Sylosis. It was so rammed entry was impossible, but luckily the sound carried well enough to hear everything in glorious detail as the Reading four piece notched up another impressive festival performance. Whilst they may have benefitted from one Corey Taylor being on directly after them, Sylosis’s fanbase is ever growing and this was reflected in the thunderous reaction for Josh, Bailey, Rob and Carl after every song. Finishing off their short but sweet set with Empyreal, anticipation is very high for the next Sylosis album. Lets hope they can keep up the good work .
Going from some home grown modern metal to the frontman of one of the biggest metal bands of all time armed only with an acoustic guitar is something that could only happen in the fields of Donington or Knebworth, and very grateful for the variety we are too. The reception that greeted Corey Taylor (much like Devin Townsend the night before) was bordering on hero worship levels. Unable to get a word in edgeways for several minutes until he kicked things off with a stripped down version of Stone Sour’s Bother, he was able to leave vocal duties on that and the following Through Glass to the crowd for large sections. “This is why this is the best fuckin festival in the whole world!” was Corey’s reaction to the masses. Equally as awesome was a stripped back version of Slipknot’s Spit It Out, complete with the acoustic equivalent to “Jump The F*** Up” – “Hop On One Leg”, and there was definitely something a bit surreal about Corey Taylor commanding an audience with “not until I say, hop on one leg”. We weren’t able to stay for all of Corey’s performance but he was first rate throughout what we saw and if you haven’t seen him doing his solo show it is something thoroughly recommended .
And now, to the main event. Metallica playing The Black Album in its entirety is something long dreamed about by fans the world over. Six years ago a similar dream was recognised as James, Lars, Rob and Kirk played through Master Of Puppets in its entirety in stunning fashion, and on this occasion history of sorts would repeat itself, even if they were going to play through The Black Album from back to front (a nice twist, in our opinion). The Black Album would only form part of the fun though, as after the obligatory (and wonderful) Ecstasy of Gold, as they did at Knebworth last Summer, Metallica launched into a thumping rendition of Hit The Lights and followed it up with a lesser known song called Master Of Puppets, there weren’t too many people singing along to that one. After allowing the initial carnage to settle ever so slightly, one James Hetfield bade good evening to the Metallica family and then promptly launched into The Four Horsemen, followed by an ultra chuggy sprint through For Whom The Bell Tolls. An unexpected airing (except for those who monitor setlists online) of Hell & Back from the Beyond Magnetic E.P. showed Metallica continously want to throw in the odd surprise into their live shows, and the song wasn’t at all out of place.
As fantastic as the opening half hour or so was, once the video for The Black Album hit the big screen it felt somewhat like an entree before the main course which was about to begin. There’d been much speculation in the run up to this how some of the later songs on the album such as The Struggle Within and The God That Failed would hold up alongside their more popular companion pieces such as Wherever I May Roam snd Enter Sandman, and the answer was very well indeed. The decision to play the album back to front was a hugely smart one, as it allowed the atmosphere to build and build with each song that past. Of the early selection, My Friend Of Misery was magnificient (this writer has been waiting twelve years to hear that live), and The God That Failed had considerable more power to it in a live setting. The staging also added to the occasion, with the classic snake pit layout being resurrected to extremely good effect.
Hearing the tub thumping Of Wolf & Man and the album’s most thrashy song Through The Never bookend a Nothing Else Matters sung at top volume by the fields of Castle Donington (accompanied by several thousand lighters) was a poignant reminder of the excellent variety present on The Black Album and why it is the best selling album in America of the last twenty or so years. Even Don’t Tread On Me, often regarded as one of the worst tracks on the album was full of life as Rob Trujillo in particular put his stamp on it. From that point forward it was solid gold Metallica (particularly on an extended Holier Than Thou) through to probably the loudest rendition (with band and crowd put together) of Enter Sandman for some years. It was a stunning performance and a landmark moment in live metal in the UK and in the Donington history books.
Almost everyone in attendance would have gone home incredibly happy at this point but Metallica were not done just yet. With an empty, darkened stage in view, the familiar opening chords to Battery hit the speakers and Download 2012 was treated to one of the fastest, heaviest songs in the Metallica arsenal. A mesmerising One and the singathon that accompanied the set closing Seek & Destroy were the cherries on top of this extremely fulfilling metal cake. Absolutely brilliant, Jim Marshall would have been very proud .
The Metallica Download 2012 Setlist Was:
The Ecstasy Of Gold (intro)
Hit The Lights
Master Of Puppets
The Four Horsemen
For Whom The Bell Tolls
Hell & Back
Black Album Intro
The Struggle Within
My Friend Of Misery
The God That Failed
Of Wolf & Man
Nothing Else Matters
Through The Never
Don’t Tread On Me
Wherever I May Roam
Holier Than Thou
Sad But True
Seek & Destroy
As many would have suspected, Metallica came and stole the show with a brilliant performance, even by their high standards. It would be easy to forget all that went before them but all the bands seen by Rocksins on Download 2012’s Saturday contributed to a brilliant day of rock & metal, one of the best in recent UK metal festival memory. Stay tuned for the final part of Rocksins’ Download 2012 review with the Sunday report still to come!