Tool, Smashing Pumpkins, and Lamb Of God performing at the Download Festival Donington Park on Sunday 16th June 2019

Review by Kevin Cooper

For the final day of the Download Festival, most of the muddy revellers had gone past caring about the conditions and the weather, and looked forward to another day of great music.

And they were not disappointed as American heavy metal band, Lamb Of God took to the stage with an eleven song set list that started with Omerta and then saw a mixture of both old and new songs that entertained from the off. With the band sounding sharp, front man Randy Blythe was charismatic in his own way as they delivered a completely energizing set.

With such classics as Walk With Me In Hell, Now You’ve Got Something To Die For and Ruin showcased Blythe’s booming gutturals, and when paired with Chris Adler’s crashing drums and the band’s instrumentation, it all made for a primal experience.

With Blythe winning the head banging competition and guitarist Mark Morton giving out the death stare they brought their set to a close with Laid To Rest and Redneck. With a tangible beat and rhythm to their music and their powerful drumming and solid bass lines coupled with their crushing guitar work, they were a great band to open the evening session of the final evening of the festival.

Reportedly one of the world’s greatest alt rock bands, Smashing Pumpkin were up next, with guitarist Jeff Schroeder now a regular after D’arcy Wretzky left in 1999. This is a band that always stood out because of their ability to mix up loud, quiet, loud grunge, dreamy, swirling guitar tones and big riffs. And last night was no exception.

From the more aggressive guitar heavy songs such as opener Zero to Cherub Rock to classics like Bullet With Butterfly Wings, Billy Corgan led the Smashing Pumpkins through an exciting set list of their best tunes that took the audience on a nostalgic trip down memory lane.

With a majority of the original members performing on the same stage, which seemed impossible a few years ago, the band passed through the likes of Tiberius, Disarm, and Superchrist, reminding the crowd of their distinct and varying sound.

The Everlasting Gaze grabbed attention and a cover of Black Sabbath’s Snowblind induced a mass sing along. With Corgan’s voice in shockingly good form, they finished with the mind blowing The Aeroplane Flies High (Turn Left, Looks Right) to the absolute delight of the crowd.

Its thirteen years since leading American metal band, Tool, last played Donington and they returned to top the bill on Sunday. And judging from the crowd’s reaction, it had been well worth the wait.

Playing some of their best known songs, they opened with Ænima which garnered a collective cheer from the crowd as Adam Jones’ signature bluesy guttural riffs were instantly recognisable. Surrounded by glistening lights, spectacular visuals, and a giant pyramid which materialised behind drummer Danny Carey’s kit on the big screen, when the yellow lights beamed down, it was an eerie atmosphere that whipped around the Donington arena.

With Adam Jones on guitar, Justin Chancellor playing the bass, it left Maynard James Keenan sporting red trousers and a Mohawk to show that he has lost none of his vocal prowess. Due to release a new album in August they tried out new track Descending which started off slow and built in classic Tool manner.

New song Invincible was accompanied by psychedelic renderings of a strange skull and foetus with bared teeth, before they dropped into Schism, one of their most commercially recognised songs to date, which was accompanied by their iconic video that is still as utterly bizarre and creepy as it was back in 2001.

Not known for between song banter, Keenan did ask the crowd to put their hands up if they were under 27 because “you weren’t even a sperm when this song was written” before launching into A Part Of Me.

As they finished with Stinkfist, it was generally agreed that their appearance had been a triumph, because as with the Tool of old, the focus had been on the experience, and what an experience it had been. And with the clash of scheduling it was bittersweet for the many Tool fans who wanted to see Slayer, who were playing their final show as headliners of the Zippo stage, and vice versa.

With Download over and tickets about to go on sale for next year, the overall reflection is that the Festival had been an unmitigated success. With the inclement weather and the mud bath that had been the camp sites, thankfully these festival goers were not deterred. Leaving Download to get home for a warm bath and comfy bed, all of the tribulations will be forgotten next year as we prepare to do it all over again.