Review by Debbie Gough, photos by Tony Gaskin
Once again, the British weather blesses the grounds of Donington as the world’s most famous heavy metal festival quickly begins to resemble the centre of a Zombie apocalypse. The eye bags of the people of Download are now blacker than the soul of Satan himself as We Are Harlot take to the stage making their first UK festival appearance since vocalist Danny Worsnop departed his former metal band, Asking Alexandria. Worsnop, as usual, is not short of confidence, controversially displaying an American flag on his mic stand despite being at an English festival and British himself. Although the band do manage to capture the audience’s attention, their performance is not as ballsy as We Are Harlot evidently believe it is and their arrogance is somewhat off-putting.
Inevitably as the slayer of six strings, Slash, shreds to his people, there is not a spot of mud that isn’t filled by someone playing air guitar. Accompanied by Myles Kennedy, who appears to be far more popular than Axl Rose ever was, the group smash into, ‘You’re A Lie’, with a riff so incredibly infectious that it is impossible to resist the urge to jump around to (although this is quite a challenge in wellies that seem to have a whole farm’s worth of crap on them).
Despite never seeing Guns ‘n’ Roses, from the reaction that Slash receives, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to realise why he chooses to tour the world with fresh faces. ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ and ‘Paradise City’ transform the whole atmosphere at Download almost instantly as the crowd drools at arguably the world’s best guitarist gliding across his Les Paul. Slash exceeds my expectations once again.
While Lamb of God’s backdrop is unveiled to the masses, who have now navigated their way to the second stage, it would appear as though weirdly, I am not the only one practically wetting themselves with excitement to see five bearded blokes run around screaming about how corrupt the government is. The opening number, ‘Desolation’, exhibits the whole ethos of the band as they are as gritty, gnarly and gruesome as ever, instantly eliminating the possibility that their strength as a band has been tarnished after the legal battles of 2012. Quickly, the crowd becomes a blur of limbs as the Virginian born and bred brothers systematically bang their heads through new tracks, ‘512’ and ‘Still Echoes’; although the new material is not quite as ball-breaking as the days of ‘Ashes Of The Wake’, it does at least wind a few big fellas acting up in the pits.
Equipped with a lighting rig so colossal that I fear I may be left blind after their set, Enter Shikari instantly infuse originality into the festival as they gracefully accept the challenge of ending the weekend on the Encore Stage. Despite cancelling their intimate show in Bristol due to illness, there is no sign of weakness that would indicate that prior to the event, vocalist Rou Reynolds has not been his usual defiant self; ‘this is music to confront’ the frontman hisses at the crowd. Oozing with energy, the band provide a rather daring set-list consisting of mainly songs from their latest album, The Mindsweep. Although older anthems such as ‘Juggernauts’ and ‘Sorry You’re Not A Winner’ allow for a sense of nostalgia, ‘Slipshod’ and ‘Anaesthetist’ seem to really get the congregation of Shikari fans thrilled as the crowd-surfers make a decent attempt at giving me a black eye. Without question Enter Shikari are one of the best bands of the festival and are undoubtedly deserving of the chance for a longer slot as they disappointingly FORGET ‘Ghandi Mate, Ghandi’.