The first UK performance of MetallicA with Rob Trujillo took place at the very first Download Festival way back in 2003 when the band played a short slot on the second stage in the middle of the day, before headlining the following year, albeit this time without Lars Ulrich. In the 10 or so years since, Rob’s predecessor has released an album with Echobrain, toured with Ozzy Osbourne, took part in a reality TV show supergroup, recorded with Voivod released some stoner improv jam shit, been inducted into the Rock & Roll of Fame with his old bandmates and gone on to play at all 4 of MetallicA’s 30th Anniversary shows following them all kissing and making up. Now, in 2013, Jason Newsted finally makes it to Download.

In the fucking tent…

As Newsted’s bandmates (drummer Jesus Mendez Jr. and guitarists Jessie Farnsworth and Mike Mushok of Staind) take the stage to mass applause it isn’t until the man himself appears that the tent is almost lifted off its pegs.

Opening with ‘Heroic Dose’ everyone is soon banging their heads and raising the horns before Jason pauses the action just long enough to say “SOLDIERHEAD!” and set everyone off again with the first song any of us heard from this new outfit.

It’s understandable in some ways why many people have describe Newsted’s sound as being like Motörhead, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable and Jason himself has clearly learnt a lot about fronting a band from the 20 years he spent alongside one of the best there is, particularly when ‘King of the Underdogs’ has been given an additional intro of the middle 8 from MetallicA’s ‘Creeping Death’, giving rise to several thousand people chanting “DIE! DIE! DIE! DIE!”

In fact, this is quite a shrewd move on Jason’s part as it can be quite difficult at times to REALLY enjoy a whole set of songs that you’ve not heard before, so to throw in something so recognisable and iconic in the middle whilst still maintaining that sense of “I am Jason, this is what I do”, is sure to give that energy boost and keep that interest and excitement.

Sadly, tent gigs at festivals always go far too quick and so it is with great pleasure that I stayed until the end “just in case he plays a MetallicA song” and got to hear ‘Whiplash’ rip the place apart with considerably more energy and credibility than even The Four Horsemen themselves managed at Wembley Stadium a few years ago.

As the masses pile out, though, I can’t help but wonder if all the energy, applause and general high spirits were because of Jason’s music or just because it was the man himself – if the same crowd saw the same set one month later would it be as enjoyable? If one month later, the same people had to choose once again between Newsted and Airbourne (who were rocking the second stage at the same time) would they make the same decision now they’ve seen him? I hope the answer is yes because, quite frankly, the man deserves it after all these years and I think it’s right it’s his name instead of some other random word crap band name because, let’s face it, it is all about Jason.

One question I would like an answer to though – If the EP was called “Metal”, the album is called “Heavy Metal Music”, your t-shirt says “Listen to metal”, you’ve just played ‘Whiplash’ and you said to an entire tent of people that “the music brings us together – the metal keeps us together”, what the fuck was Echobrain all about?

Newsted’s debut album is out August 6th.

Newsted – Official Website

Photo Credit: Giles Smith Photography

Download Festival –  Official Website