Download Scotland 2004

Metallica'a first performance on Scottish soil for a decade (featuring LARS ULRICH on drums!) plus Slipknot, HIM and Korn's Jonathan Davis in a kilt! Even the dreaded rain wasn't going to spoil this one!

[r-zone1]By the first chord of ‘Blackened’ all the gripes, moans and groans have been forgotten. Why was it being held midweek? Why did the Scots have to stump up as much cash as the English for a tiny fraction of the bands? Was Glasgow just being used as a warm up show for Donington?

[l-zone2]At that precise moment no one cared. Metallica where playing on Scottish soil for the first time in almost a decade and the peripheral issues were well and truly redundant. Finnish love-metallers Him and nu-metal titans Slipknot and Korn had all been and gone, treating the metal masses to their varied blends of chaos. It was the time of the Godfathers of modern metal to own the stage.

The signs were promising from the beginning of the day, with the sun splitting the skies above Glasgow Green from mid afternoon, creating an almost bowling green like arena for the day’s festivities. In true Scottish nature, the beer tents were packed from the minute the gates opened and by the time Him graced the stage they could have bashed away on a tambourine for an hour and the crowd would have applauded kindly. Fortunately the tambourine had been left in Finland and the only bashing pasty-faced Ville Valo and company did was of the myth that they were a one-trick pony.

Recent chart hits ‘Buried Alive By Love’, ‘Funeral of Hearts’ and ‘The Sacrament’ were all polished up and served to the crowd, proving the rising quintet had every right to sit alongside the US supergroups on tonight’s bill.

[r-zone3]With over six hours of stage time on offer, and the scorching sun bearing down on Glasgow’s city centre, the metal masses would have been forgiven for expecting a short break to re-acquaint themselves with the event’s kind sponsor, Miller. However, the head on most drinkers’ beers hadn’t settled before the unmistakable opening chords of ‘Eyeless’ pumped through the stacked speakers… Queue mayhem.
Iowa’s nine-man noise machine have been off the beaten tour circuit for a couple of years, mingling with lesser bands like Stone Sour, Murderdolls and To My Surprise, and at one point many had fears that the spectacle of seeing Slipknot perform live may have been committed to legend.

Tonight’s show doesn’t do the awesome nontet justice and the main culprit for ruining what should have been a memorable show was the organisers’ decision to use the D shape safety barrier over the T shape system favoured by the fans. Thousands of fans were crushed against the secondary fence while only feet in front of them a select few mingled with enough space to set out a deck chair and enjoy a drink or two. The move effectively created a void across the entire field killing off any chance of a real festival atmosphere.

Anyway, back to Slipknot; ‘Wait and Bleed’, ‘The Heretic Anthem’, ‘Pulse Of The Maggots’… From the old to the new every track is vehemently spat out by Corey Taylor and the mass sit-down midway through ‘Spit It Out’ (before the masked frontman orders the obliging crowd to ‘jump the f*uk up!’) is a spine-tingling sight to behold. With only a basic backdrop, a theme of the night, and no pyro or light effects which intensified their last visit to Glasgow the band relied solely on their material. Not quite the legendary set we have come to expect but no real disappointment either.

[l-zone4]By the time leather kilt-clad Jonathan Davis arrives on stage with the almighty Korn, the night just gets better and better. Kicking-off with ‘Right Now’ from their latest album ‘Take A Look In The Mirror’, the Bakersfield five-piece demonstrate why they have outlasted the generic nu-metal jibes unfairly aimed at them in recent times.

The band sound perfect, ripping through each track like hungry young upstarts, and their impassioned performance makes them impossible to watch without at least nodding along. The unforgettable ‘Blind’ and rift-laden ‘Here To Stay’ steal the show but it’s the short burst of Metallica’s ‘One’ midway through ‘Shoots and Ladders’ that transform the several mosh pits at the stage front into circles of carnage.

[r-zone5]Thirty minutes later James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett and Robert Tujillo introduce themselves with ‘Blackened’. Another two hours on around 25,000 screaming Scotsmen and women have enjoyed a feast of some of metal’s finest hits, selected by legends who once again prove they have no peers. Anthems like ‘Sad But True’ and ‘Battery’ are blended effortlessly with the melodies of ‘Nothing Else Matters’ and by the time an encore which includes ‘One’, ‘Master Of Puppets’ and ‘Enter Sandman’ is complete the crowd can really ask for no more.

As a farewell gesture Lars suggests to the crowd that Metallica should play Scotland every year… 25,000 Scots heads agree.,

[r-zone1]Him, Slipknot, Korn and Metallica; arguably the finest night of metal that has ever graced Scottish soil. Which presents the organisers with one small problem, how do you follow it up?  Take one, much adored, ear shredding quartet with true metal credentials. Mix in a bit of sexy, nonchalant punk, sprinkle a little legendary magic and finish with two of the most popular flavours from both sides of the Atlantic. Ladies and gentlemen; Machine Head, The Distillers, The Stooges, Lostprophets and Linkin Park.

Download Scotland may have received mixed reviews, some reports stating it was a solid platform for future festivals while others laughed it off as financial flop, but one point which hasn’t been contested is the quality of the performances over the two nights. It was a crime that a band with Machine Head’s reputation was opening the action but in true Rob Flynn fashion he shrugged it off and let the music speak for itself.

[l-zone2]Crashing into the set with the six-minute slab of meaty riffs, soaring vocals and vicious drumming which is Imperium, Glasgow Green simply erupts in response. “It’s not too early to be drinking vodka, is it?” enquires Mr Flynn. Quite possibly the most ridiculous question to ask several thousands drunken Scots during a lovely summer’s day. But the cheers go up anyway and we are rewarded with the legendary ‘Davidian’, ‘Ten Ton Hammer’ and ‘The Blood, The Sweat, The Tears’, each vividly memorable long after they’ve been played out.

The visual highlight of the day comes after Rob asks the mosh-happy crowd to show him a circle pit. A 50ft wide cyclone is created in front of the stage, hundreds fleeing for cover, many not successful, but after everyone is pulled back to their feet and dusted down Machine Head salute the insanity and exit to a rapturous applause. The majority of Thursday’s bill are renown for splitting public opinion; for every Linkin Park Underground member or Lostprophets devotee there’s a snarling Tool or Slayer fan who hates them.

[r-zone3]But today it’s The Distillers who seem to get the love/ hate treatment. While the front half of the crowd bounce along to the in-your-face lyrics of ‘Hall Of Mirrors’ and catchy, yet depressing, ‘City of Angels’ the back half warm up their pitching arms, many loo-rolls just missing the band by inches. Brody Dalle doesn’t do herself any favours with her cold stage persona and barely utters one word between tracks. Coupled with the fact she can barely be heard when she does sing, The Distillers do themselves a great injustice and leave without making anything like the impact they should have.

[l-zone4]Next up, the day’s real headliners, The Stooges. Iggy Pop reunited with Ron and Scott Asheton, punk Godfathers touring again for the first time in over 25 years. The fact that The Stooges were tearing down musical barriers as Linkin Park were crawling around in nappies may be the reasoning behind Iggy’s taunts of being the ‘only real band’ of the day. Or maybe the bronzed frontman was kidding, it’s hard to tell. “We are The Stooges and we’re happy to be here. Hell we’re happy to be anywhere!” proclaims Iggy before launching himself onto a speaker and dry riding it. As they cruise through 1969 it’s impossible not to watch the stage, The Stooges are engrossing and by the time they’ve wrapped up their set another generation has been subverted.

No doubt Lostprophets choked with embarrassment when they were told what slot they’d be playing. Above Machine Head and Iggy Pop? Only three years ago they were supporting eccentric Italian metallers Linea 77 on a toilet tour of the UK. Amazing what a couple of high profile singles and a break in America can do for a British act. Fortunately Lostprophets show they have what it takes to mix with the big hitters by putting on a slick performance which mixes the raw edge of their first album ‘The Fake Sound of Progress’ with the catchy radio hits on ‘Start Something’. ‘Burn, Burn’, ‘Last Train Home’ and ‘ShinobiVsDragonninja’ prove to be the highlights while two ‘walls of death’ throughout the latter hit is just too good to be true.

[r-zone5]What’s left to be said about Linkin Park? They make Lostprophets’ rise to fame seem snail paced, they have infested every music station from Smash Hits to Scuzz and they have a fan base age range from five to 50 years old. Every track seems like an aged gem and everyone sings along with as much enthusiasm as Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda themselves. All the singles are pristinely executed and an old, hip-hop styled track, ‘Step Up’, is plucked from the days the nu-metal superstars were called ‘Hybrid Theory’ for a bit of diversity. ‘One Step Closer’ draws the two day spectacular to a close in style.

Whether Download Scotland 2004 was a financial disaster, soon to follow Gig on the Green down the pan, or a success which marks the beginning of Scotland’s annual metal extravaganza is yet to be seen. Either way, it will be remembered fondly by all those who were there.