The more cynical may suggest that the packed tent is due to the weather, a desire for an alternative to the black metal extravaganza on the main stage, or perhaps a hope for the repeat of the brief Pantera cameo witnessed during Down’s set the night before.
However, the reaction afforded to opener Cowboy Way proves that Hellyeah have acquired a large, loyal following on these shores since the polite, respectful greeting they were first given when they first arrived in 2007. Clearly the main draw is still Vinnie Paul, whose identifiable, pulverising drumming is given a generous position in the mix, helping the band sound absolutely colossal in the restricted environment. In fact War In Me and even the dumb swagger of Drink Drank Drunk sound far more vital than on record, with the grooves holding court and each beat precise and urgent.
Chad Gray is at the very heart of everything, with every word of his impassioned speeches about the power of the metal brotherhood greeted with roars of approval, and putting everything into his piercing screams on the likes of Cross To Bier. By the time the mass crowd-participation of the band’s namesake fills the tent with the simple, joyous refrain of ‘Hellyeah’, it’s apparent that those not witnessing the epic event on the main stage have been treated to another smaller but no less significant victory just across the field.