For many people Down will always be Phil Anselmo’s other band, but the number of live appearances over the last few years seem to have elevated them to being his main band and that works out just fine for the hordes of fans at this year’s Bloodstock Open Air Festival.
Opening with a simple jam to get themselves in the mood, the crowd are so excited that they start circle pits to that before the gig really gets going with ‘Eyes of the South’.
Phil seems in fine spirits, bantering with the crowd in a way I’ve never seen him before and the tunes just keep coming with ‘Witchtripper’ from the first “Down IV” EP getting a particularly strong reaction.
After dedicating ‘Lifer’ to Dimebag the on stage banter keeps coming with Pepper Keenan and former Honky guitarist Bobby Landgraf ‘ trading riffs and poses throughout the set while Phil threatens to go put on corpse paint.
Just when all the necks in the crowd are starting to give up from all the headbanging, Down drop a double banger in the form of ‘Losing All’ and ‘Stone the Crow’, before teasing everyone with a few bars of ‘Walk’ by some band called Pants Tearer or something…
No encore from this band instead they simply wrap the night up with a fearsome rendition of ‘Bury Me In Smoke’, which as ever culminates in the outro being played almost as long as the rest of the song, by several musicians from other bands on the line up. I probably would have been more impressed had I recognised who any of them were, but it was still an enjoyable moment.
As the last chord rings out there isn’t a single dissatisfied person in the crowd and Down proved they are more than deserving of the headline slot here – maybe other UK festivals will take note.
Photos by Sabrina Ramdoyal