Bloodstock 2014: Down

Phil Anselmo and co. headline the first night of Bloodstock

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Given their much vaunted pedigree and annual excursions on the European outdoor circuit, it’s unsurprising that the New Orleans legends’ first time headlining a UK festival is made to look so easy.

Coming out with little fanfare Down launch straight into cuts from the recent EPs, which more than hold their own against the likes of Pillars Of Eternity and Eyes Of The South. A formidable wall of sound emits from Pepper Keenan and recent recruit Bobby Landgraf’s strings, while Jimmy Bower’s drums pound out the grooves, each beat rumbling across the field. But it’s Phil Anselmo who really steals the show.

The frontman has clearly never needed to alter his presence, stalking the stage, bottom lip protruding and succeeding to look like the baddest mother on the block. But he’s also become more adept at showing out his lighter side, cracking jokes, talking gibberish and revelling in the good-time vibes. The none-more-Sabbath Conjure is dedicated to the boys from Aston, while the chants of ‘Dimebag’ ring out before the indomitable Lifer. But the Pantera homage doesn’t end there, with a short rumble through the immortal Walk aired for the delight of all.

Finale Bury Me In Smoke consumes all with its colossal, smothering riffage, with members of Orange Goblin, Krokodil and more joining them onstage in a long, drawn-out crescendo. Though inexplicably missing songs from III: Over The Under and dipping in places, Down’s set delivers exactly what a headline slot should: a celebration of metal.

Adam Brennan

Rugby, Sean Bean and power ballad superfan Adam has been writing for Hammer since 2007, and has a bad habit of constructing sentences longer than most Dream Theater songs. Can usually be found cowering at the back of gigs in Bristol and Cardiff. Bruce Dickinson once called him a 'sad bastard'.