It’s hard to believe, but it’s been five years since Fightstar last graced the hallowed grounds of Donington Park – and it’s clear that their fans have been waiting quite some time to see their return.
Some things never change, either. To their right, Slipknot are preparing to headline the main stage, just as they did during that baking hot Download of 2009.
But the sunshine has long gone and this evening’s torrential downpour drives several thousand people towards the Maverick Stage. For 45 minutes, the four-piece play to a heaving tent hungry for nostalgia - and shelter - and make the most of their opportunity.
Opening with Paint Your Target, a track taken from their 2006 album Grand Unification, the post-hardcore mob have the tent jumping with some hefty, downtuned riffs and sickly sweet vocal harmonies. Frontman Charlie Simpson has come a long way from his pop star past and despite enjoying an acclaimed solo career, it’s obvious that he still has a soft spot for his post-Busted band. Grand Unification Pt 1– taken from the same release – has the entire tent singing in unison before it’s final moments inspire a huge pit to break out among those near the barrier.
There’s barely any respite for those seeking refuge from the rain as the tent begins to leak. The foul weather doesn’t stop those in attendance belting out You & I with the band before Palahniuk’s Laughter – from the 2005 EP They Liked You Better When You Were Dead – threatens to bring the tent down. The intervening years show they’ve not lost their touch either. They dole out volleys of Deftones-esque riffing and have those who’ve made their way into the tent bang their head in appreciation. After some tentative reunion shows earlier this year, it’s likely that the band will once again be an ongoing concern on the strength of tonight’s set.
Fightstar Photos: Leigh van der Byl