Review by Rhiannon Marley
Photography by Michelle Murphy
It's 9.30...the place is rammed and late bar-goers agonize between pints or pit?!
As DOWN get ready to take to the stage.
The saying 'couldn't fit a mouse in' doesn't cover it; hell, you'd be lucky to squeeze a mouse's toenail in. As the lights dim, Jimmy Bower takes the kit, brandishing an inverted crucifix with his sticks, you can smell just how serious shit is about to get. Nola classic 'Eyes of the South' bleeds into 2012's 'Witchtripper', as the downstairs pit turns into the battle for Middle Earth and bodies fly overhead.
The spectacle is overseen by Kirk Windstein's beard and Lord of the Groove Anselmo, who chucks liquid over the crowd, plays to the cameras and pulls every last thread of signature arrogance in tow.
Undeniably compelling, but as he thunders around like an angry bull and headbutts his mic, there's an unsettling twinge of insanity that would cut dead your urge to personally ask him just how many times he's informed the audience that “Tonight is a motherfuckin' special night” on the tour thus far.
The crowd are quieter for new EP slice 'Open Coffins', and the place mutates into old-school Amsterdam as the stench of weed cancels out the BO. Yet from the surge as Anselmo dedicates 'Lifer' to Dimebag, and lets loose his pterodactyl screams for 'Temptation's Wings' and 'Hail the Leaf', it's clear that the Southern heavyweights release something primal in all who listen to them.
After all, a sonic Royal Rumble between Crowbar, Pantera, Corrosion of Conformity and Eyehategod couldn't do anything else. But the real magic comes at the opening hammer-on pick of the 'Stone the Crow' riff; booze and sweatshirts are launched ten feet upwards, and its anthemic chorus unites 5000 drunken tenors and mezzo-sopranos.
The tremendous finale, as both Warbeast and Orange Goblin join the gents onstage for 'Bury Me In Smoke', sees copious man-hugging from the metal giants, with billows of smog, chest-rattling bass, and brother-love spilling onto the rows of Black Label Society cuts in front of them. Down and the boys might provide the soundtrack to a lion taking down two zebras and drilling a lioness in the backside.
They might make you want to growl and snarl and roar and break things, but they all prove that the manliest thing about being the biggest, baddest bastards of all is passion for their craft and tribe: huge, hairy monsters planting sloppy kisses and back-slaps on each other, while swigging their beers and rocking their tunes.
An epic closure to an amazing night!