The Prodigy earn their place among the ranks of the headliners on Download's opening day

Download Festival 2012 review

published: Wed 13th Jun 2012

The Prodigy

Friday 8th to Sunday 10th June 2012
Donington Park, Leics, England MAP
weekend and camping options sold out, £75 a day ticket for Friday or Sunday only
daily capacity: 111000
last updated: Wed 23rd May 2012

The tenth anniversary year of Download or "Drownload" as it began to be known on site certainly will go down in history one way or another. The muddiest of years Donnington has ever seen, the opening Friday was marred with a swampy arena, and a good section of the crowd which must have been second guessing their decision to venture to Download this year. The main stage suffered an embarrassing start with Cancer Bats missing their opening set due to the unforeseen weather.

It was over to Fear Factory to kick things off for the festival, and boy what an uphill struggle it was. The set was marred with technical issues and cutting out sound. Vocalist Burton C. Bell struggled to hold up towards the end of the set also, with clearly over stretched vocals clumsily screeching to most of the latter high notes. It was a disappointingly frustrating start to a weekend which was proving more and more difficult by the minute.

Over in the Pepsi Max tent, Absolute Power (Judas Priest style rip off kids) sounded just as bad as they looked. Not burdened with the sound issue excuses that previous bands might share, their sound was one of just sheer boredom. Uninspired, predictable and bland -Absolute Power just failed to ignite any sort of decent rapport with the slowly drowning audience.

Lawnmower Deth however, knew exactly what they needed to do. Emerging to the Beach Boys' 'Surfin USA', it wasn't a moment too soon before beach balls a plenty bounced relentlessly around stage, and the Deth were in full swing. Infectiously funny and impressively dynamic – they hold their own unique take on metal. Yet one couldn't help but feel a little lost towards the latter half of the set. With songs seemingly blurring into one another, and with no real standout moments. A great effort, but still not quite exactly what this festival needed to kick out the jams.

But it was Machine Head that proved, as they always do – to be just the ticket to rile things right back up. (Vocalist) Robb Flynn appeared onstage with stone cold determined face which looked aggressively into the audience, before firing into opening track behemoth 'I Am Hell'. A furious set of seven classic tracks such as 'Imperium' and 'Aeshetics Of Hate' ensure that each and every time – Machine Head just deliver. An unrelenting roar of appreciation met each and every track, coupled with another stab at their own circle pit record at Download of 22 simultaneous pits of madness. Aesthetics of Hate certainly may not have matched that record, but damn were we close. The set ends with an ever gracious Robb Flynn, acknowledging why so many of the hardcore show up time and time again- Machine Head fucking nailed it. A gorgeously extended version of 'Halo' closes a set which would easily challenge a headline slot on sheer brilliance alone. Watch this space. Machine Head have certainly proved their chops over the past appearances at Download. It's only a matter of time before we see the Bay area thrash legends headlining here too.

Over at the Red Bull Bedroom Jam stage, Gallows emerged with one intention- to own. Emerging from stage right, and with the smallest of hand gestures, (vocalist) Wade MacNeil parted the masses in front of him like the red sea. He then proceeded to dive straight into the middle of the madness totally enveloped by the masses of bodies around him and he plummeted into the pit. A song later and many sweaty bodies beaten, Wade emerged onstage covered in mud, sweat, and cheer. Gallows are blooming brilliant on the small stage. The temperature couldn't have been warmer inside as they control the whole entire tent capacity with unrivalled ease. Yet always the gracious hosts, Gallows were more than happy to cut the set short so that Cancer Bats could emerge once more to finally close the evening in the Red Bull tent.

Friday's headliners The Prodigy, had captured something I'd never thought I'd see at a festival like this. Doubters there will always be, but make no mistake – The Prodigy has earned their place among the ranks of the headliners. A hyper speed lightshow which is only matched by the billowing bass to classics such as 'Firestarter' and 'Smack My Bitch Up' makes for a truly fantastic spectacle. Maxim Reality declared - "It's been 10 years. It's time to change gear." Change the gear they have. But couple that with the million other changes which have led us to the point of a band like this headlining at Download – then changing gears we've certainly done. The mould? Consider that well and truly broken.

The Prodigy
review by: Phil Davies

photos by: Luke Seagrave

Friday 8th to Sunday 10th June 2012
Donington Park, Leics, England MAP
weekend and camping options sold out, £75 a day ticket for Friday or Sunday only
daily capacity: 111000
last updated: Wed 23rd May 2012


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