It was torture waiting for the gig to come around. I can’t remember the exact length of time but I potentially had the tickets for six months. Then with less than a month to go Ozzy pulled out which was disappointing.
The day finally arrived and the first band I saw was Behemoth. I wouldn’t go out of my way to see them again. However, they did have excellent stage presence and the crowd seemed into them.
Soon after they finished Anthrax took to a nearby stage. This was pretty much a greatest hits package. They didn’t play anywhere near long enough which was a shame. Anthrax deserved more time, forty minutes doesn’t do them justice. Hopefully they’ll return soon on a headlining tour.
After Anthrax I took some time to check out what else was going on. I caught up with mates and saw Code Orange and Alien Weaponry. Code Orange were a hardcore band that didn’t do much for me. The highlight being that they played in a circus like tent. I would have loved to see a band I liked play there. Alien Weaponry get credit for being so young with the band having three 17 year old guys from New Zealand. Their alternative style of metal being alright but regardless of what I thought at such a young age they certainly have a future.
I returned to the main stage area to see Alice in Chains. They almost stole the show. Their near hour set was super impressive to the point that I wished I was more familiar with their music. Mostly though, it was all about Would which has always been a favorite so hearing it live was certainly memorable. I definitely want to see them again.
Immediately following was Judas Priest, the band I wanted to see the most. Kicking off with Firepower they were incredible. Given how long they have been going they did a pretty good job of playing songs from throughout their career. Personal highlight was when they played Turbo Lover because I’ve pretty much memorized it. To make it even more significant they followed it up with Rising From Ruins which is probably the best song from Firepower. Halford, at 67 was taking deep breaths at times but still seems to have plenty left.
Finally, it was Slayer. Being their final world tour this was an emotional performance. I am not in the loop like I use to be so this was a nice reminder as to how much I love Slayer. Fatigue had well and truly settled in but I managed to soldier on. This was not easy as Slayer charged through songs like Mandatory Suicide, Postmortem and in particular Chemical Warfare. With Ozzy’s no show this meant we pretty much got the full Slayer set which I appreciated. It was the perfect ending to Download.
This was a great day of metal. Flemington Racecourse wasn’t too much of an obstacle course and it was a well organized event. While there are still considerations I now have the festival bug. Hopefully Download can have a similar lineup again next year and I can do it all again.