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Download 2015: Young Guns and 'A'

Live Review

Venue: Download Festival, Donington

The Brit rock contigent deliver an in-tents experience on Jake's Stage

For several glorious hours this afternoon, Donington felt like it was located on the Mediterranean judging by the amount of brutal farmer’s tans. But of course, the rain had to gatecrash the party. No matter, as Download comes but once a year.

By the time ‘secret’ band Young Guns hit the smallest stage at the festival, it’s obvious that their appearance has spread like wildfire. Having just finished a tour of tiny venues around the country (including a set on a London bus), the London-based quintet treat a baying throng of fans to a short but sweet set.

Tracks from their brand new album Ones and Zeros are constructed to fill cavernous arenas. On Daylight and Speaking in Tongues, vocals Gustav Wood’s powerful voice soars over their huge, textured soundscapes. With the help of dry ice and an impressive lighting, he gives Corey Taylor a run for his money in the frontman stakes and has the crowd in the palm of his hands throughout.

They close their 25-minute set with their US hit single Bones, the title track from their 2012 breakthrough album. As the entire tent sings back every word, the band look like they're in their element. This set is a real treat for those in attendance as it’ll be a long time before you see this band play in a venue this small. With such a strong new album in their arsenal, Young Guns look set to become serious contenders. (CG)

It’s now 10pm and on the main stage, Slipknot are doing their damnedest to vaporise the rain clouds with pyro and sheer volume.

On the other side of the park, ’A’ are headlining Jake’s Stage. The reunited quintet may be in their 40s – save for new member Andrew Shay, formerly of Kids In Glass Houses – and still dress like they were heading to the local skate park, but it’s reassuring to discover songs from as far back as 1998 still hold up against their later releases.

And they sound brilliant. The one-two of Monkey Kong and Starbucks whets the appetite before their blazing run-through of pro-geriatric anthem Old Folks. There’s even their nod to white reggae vendors The Police with a few bars of their 1984 single King Of Pain

“This is the only festival where we don’t feel old, because everyone’s kinda old,” beams Perry to the nostalgia fiends at the lip of the stage. They then plough into Going Down, an oddly laid back meditation on the thoughts of a passenger moments before an air crash. And how many upbeat songs can you name which references the tragic death of Sonny Bono? That’s right, just one. And that accolade belongs to ‘A’, whose utterly buoyant I Love Lake Tahoe inspires the biggest singalong of the set and an extended jam featuring Mark Chapman’s Santana-esque take on John Williams’ Star Wars theme. A bit 'Jazz Club', maybe, but perfectly executed nonetheless.

“Right, there’s two more songs before you have to go back to your wet beds,” the frontman tells the crowd before casually mention they’ll be back with new music in the future. With that, the five slam into Foghorn and end on the Top Ten single Nothing. We might be wetter than an otter’s pocket, but ‘A’ have helped us leave our wretched, rain-soaked misery outside the tent for the best part of an hour. And how ace is that? (SY)

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'A' Photos: Alison Clarke

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