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Download Festival 2003: SUNDAY Scuzz Stage

03 June 2003

Please click on a photo to enlarge it...

Instruction provide pretty good indie-rock with particularly pounding drums.  They have a certain arrogance to their confidence onstage, at it's not entirely unfounded.  Look out for them at other festivals this year, they're on their way up.

The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster have only 25 minutes to thrill the crowd with their dark punk rock genius.  Luckily, they've only got 25 minutes worth of songs.  They're equally adept at slow running basslines supported by rockabilly guitars as they are when fully rocking out.  In full flow, they resemble a band being thrown down the stairs at a party while being incredibly loud.  Which is most certainly a good thing.  Punkier than virtually all the bands playing for the Deconstruction later, they're very under-rated by the public today.  They draw a bigger and bigger crowd as the set goes on, but there's a good reason for that, more of which later. Guy Knight seems pleased.  Whether he'll be so pleased when he realises why the crowd's there is another matter, but he has every reason to feel great.  Long name, short songs, and they ROCK.

Rumours abound of Metallica playing after Eighties Matchbox, and it must be the worst-kept secret of the day. When the screen for Apocalyptica is pulled back to reveal an entire wall of amps across the stage emblazoned with the Metallica logo, the cat is finally out of the bag.  Luckily, VF have wind of it before everyone and are right at the front of the crush.  By the time the band eventually stalk out, there's people literally jumping with excitement before even one note is struck.  The anticipation has been unbearable, but here they are, on a tiny stage in a small tent.  'First UK gig in four years', says Lars Ulrich, 'where else but Donington?!' Indeed, and on the second stage, this is truly the things that dreams are made of. 

Thrash from the kings of metal comes flying out, and the crowd simply explodes.  There's something akin to a greatest heavy hits of Metallica for most of the gig.  Not a single ballad or indeed anything from the 'Load' sessions to spoil the fun.  The only track from 'Metallica' is 'Sad But True', which reaches new levels of pain with the drumbeats.  This is without a doubt simply the loudest show of the weekend.  Lars has his drums turned right up to 11, ensuring that the bass drum almost forces the front row of people back. Only there's nowhere to go!  Everyone wants to be a part of this; and as the band blast through 'Master Of Puppets', 'Harvester Of Sorrow' and 'The Four Horsemen', it's clear that they won't settle for the middle of the road rock of the last few albums. 

The sole concession to anything approaching a slow song is 'Welcome Home (Sanitarium)'.  And that's still a full-blown thrash anthem.  Two songs appear from 'St Anger' (reviewed here), the soon to be classic 'Frantic' with all its furious time shifts and the title track with all its attendant rage.  It's clear that there's been a shift away from their recent direction.  Just as the sound is different, the problems with 'silent bassists' having been sorted out, so is the attitude.  Trujillo fills in perfectly on bass, allowing it to guide but not dominate, as Hetfield and Hammet embark on those epic guitar duels that Metallica have made their trademark.  It's the sound of a call to arms, commencement of bombing and the explosive aftermath rolled into one.  Brutality and savagery are once again the calling cards of Metallica.  Like Maiden last night, they have something to prove to the kids.  This should settle it, even if just by deafening everyone in the tent. 

As they encore with 'Creeping Death' and 'Damage Inc', there's 3000 sweat-covered metal fans thanking Satan for this show.  It's no disrespect to Audioslave to say that once again Metallica have headlined Donington.  And that's as it should be.

Strung Out are the most hardcore sounding of the Deconstruction lot.  Blasting through songs at breakneck speed they achieve a much more metallic sound by carefully using the bass to give it extra thud.  Pounding drums allow a little more of a hard edge to the sound, and overall it comes across as far more NYC orientated than anything else in the tent.

Bouncing Souls provide light pop-punk relief for all those trapped in the tent following the opening of the skies to pour rain on this most unholy of festivals.  But to be fair, not many would stay if it were clear outside.  It's listenable, but not much more than average American Second Wave punk.  They incessantly promote themselves, but their music is so unmemorable that it's largely ineffectual.  'Johnny X' is their one outstanding song, but it's nothing special. Still, they can say Metallica supported them!



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Article by: Andrew Future, Oli Pritchard

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