Avenged Sevenfold at Download Festival 2014 review

'Avenged Sevenfold blow up Download Festival on the opening night'

Photographer: Shirlaine ForrestAnna Hyams, Ali Ryland on 14 June 2014

It's pretty standard fayre for headlining bands to step it up a notch theatrically at Donington, and Avenged Sevenfold are definitely living up to expectation with an extraordinary stage set of enormous cathederal-esque archways, and pyrotechnics galore.

Promising the eager crowd they'd play a changed-up setlist, Avenged Sevenfold do not disappoint. "I don't think we've played this one on this continent in eight years" muses M. Shadows, before 'Burn It Down' crashes triumphantly around the crowd's ears.

It's not all heavy guitar and games, though. "And the darkness comes at the right time... put up your lighters and cell phones" implores Shadows, as ballad 'So Far Away' is dedicated to drummer Jimmy Sullivan, who died of an accidental overdose in December 2009.

As the opening chords of 'Nightmare' strike up, fans look up askance as a slight spray is felt. Having decided that it's not a thrown bottle of water breaking out upon the air, more fans begin to clear the arena; rain is Download's fucking nightmare.

Another unavoidable hiccup ensues as Synyster Gates humbly performs an extended guitar solo... to 'God Save the Queen'. No, that's not the Sex Pistols. Yes, the national anthem. Still, the luckless patriots weren't to know that it would fall on deaf ears.

Rolling through a hit-list of favourites, the likes of 'Afterlife', 'This Means War' and 'Beast and the Harlot' are well received but it's 'Hail To The King' that is met with a great roar from the front. The noticeable post-Offspring exodus to the campsites takes some of the oomph out of the atmosphere, only to be reignited with the sizeable flame cannons perched atop the walls either side of the main stage.

A double encore sees ballad 'Seize The Day', and decidedly weird 'A Little Piece of Heaven' come to pass, with Shadows quipping ''This song is about murder... That's how you know we're in a fucked up country, that gets the biggest cheer. How about sex after murder? [cue even bigger cheer from the crowd] well, y'know, if it's what they like...''

Avenged Sevenfold close out the set and Download's first night, with popular second album hit 'Unholy Confessions', to which Drummer Arin Ilijay gets the absolute power trip of sending up the last mass firework explosion with a from-standing crash of the kit.

Check out all the other highlights from Friday at Download Festival.


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