Welcome back to my epic Donington ’95 tale! If you’re just joining us, you might need to read part 1 first!
Now where was I?
Aaaah, White Zombie were on next. They were such a cool band and came up with some cool, unique songs. Not that Rob Zombie doesn’t continue with that style, but that line-up wrote Astro Creep 2000, and that’s one hell of an album! They played all the songs I wanted to hear: Electric Head parts 1 & 2, Thunder Kiss ’65 and my fave More Human Than Human. Top stuff. We were getting more used to this mosh pit thing now, so we went in a bit further and still came out unscathed!!
At this time of the day, I was pretty excited. I knew what was coming next. It was a moment I’d been waiting for since I first got into rock n’ metal. He was here. The reason I got into it. The reason I picked up the guitar. Slash was about to play. That instantly recogniseable figure with the wild hair, top hat and trademark Gibson Les Paul was about to grace the stage! Snakepit came on stage, and my day was complete. Ex-GN’R rhythm guitarist Gilby Clarke was also in the band, so my excitement was added to from seeing him there. If memory serves correctly, Matt Sorum wasn’t there, but he was on the album.
They played a few from the album ‘It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere’, a few Guns songs, and even one off Gilby’s solo record ’Pawnshop Guitars’. It was a great song called ‘Cure Me or Kill Me’. They ended on Snakepit tune ‘Beggars and Hangers On’, which was a personal fave (and one I never thought I’d hear live again ‘til I caught Slash’s current solo tour with Alterbridge singer Myles Kennedy). The clouds broke and the nice weather kicked in at that point! “Looks like we brought the sun out everybody”, said Eric Dover, Snakepit’s as then frontman. By the end of ‘Beggars…’ I was all sung out and chuffed to bits. When you see your idols for the first time it’s quite something.
Next up were Slayer. Gotta be honest, I was pretty intimidated by the thought of watching Slayer. There’s a reputation that Slayer crowds have, but regardless I was looking forward to em. I only knew 2 or 3 songs. My fave being ‘Dead Skin Mask’. Still is, actually! They were good. Slayer does what Slayer does best – Evil, Satanic thrash! Raining Blood, Angel of Death, South of Heaven… all the classics. Needless to say, I stayed out of the pit for this.
Where we at now? Oh Skid Row! Haha, yeah, these guys were ace! We’d just got a copy of their 95 album ‘Subhuman Race’ which was ace. Much more heavy than early stuff, but still very Skid Row sounding. Great track on there called ‘My Enemy’ (which on the day Sebastian Bach dedicated to the Queen). Love that tune, but it has a god awful guitar solo in it!! But yeah, they were great. They played ‘Slave to the Grind’, ‘Youth Gone Wild’ and a bunch of new and classic songs. Loved it.
You see some crazy shit at festivals. The sorts of things you wouldn’t normally see. When you’re surrounded by thousands of people who just want to drink and rock out, you’ll spot these things cause they don’t care! You’re in the company of like minded people. At one point, there was a group of dudes just standing chatting casually. One was quite openly having a piss, in full view of the world, like he did this regularly. This was another one of those moments that cracked us up. I mean, I understand that there’ll be a band on shortly and you don’t wanna miss out, or that the bogs are generally minging, but, come on!
I think one of the more fun festival traditions that I picked up on at Donington was the bottle fights!! If it was on the floor and wouldn’t cause injury of death, it was an acceptable projectile! Empty plastic bottles, small, medium or large, (or a 5 litre carton, but I’ll get to that story later!), plastic pint glasses, rubbish… You name it, it was thrown. Whenever there was a lull in the proceedings, bottles were thrown! It gives such a great feeling of satisfaction to watch someone throw a bottle and see it spin through the air and ‘ping’ off the top of an unsuspecting stranger’s head. Not so funny when they hit you though!!
There was a full bin bag of rubbish that a few guys tried to throw, but it was ripped, and just poured back on them when they got it in the air! Nice.
At one point, there was a circle of people standing around by us throwing stuff. Our mate Dave picked up a plastic pint glass and filled it with sand, just to give it a bit of flight weight. Standing mid-circle of people we didn’t know, he swung and flung the glass underarm. Unfortunately for the poor sod standing directly in front of Dave, the glass had a split in it, and he suffered a mouthful of wet sand as it hit him square in the face! Classic. Got Dave a laugh though!
Back to the tunes. Therapy? were next. The line-up was hand picked by Metallica… apparently and Irish noiseniks Therapy? were 2nd on the bill after only Metallica themselves. Quite an honour for the band. That’s some doffing of the cap if you ask me! They came out in the suits and fake taches that they’d been wearing for the ‘Infernal Love’ album tour. They blasted through a set of some of my fave songs: Nowhere, Die Laughing, Loose, Diane, Screamager, Teethgrinder. They were ace. Tim’s fave song was Therapy’s cover of Joy Divisions ‘Isolation’. If you can see the footage from Headbangers Ball or Noisy Muthas of this, we’re pretty sure you can see Tim bouncing on the spot at the back of the pit screaming “ISOLATIOOOOOOON”. He was getting some serious hang time on the bounces too!
It was all coming to a head now. Metallica were on next and Tim, Dave, Andy and myself were pretty hyped up for it after all the decent bands of the day. Ok, Dave hated Therapy?, but the buzz was still there! We were ready. We’d eaten and had a drink, managed to keep our belongings through the pits and avoided all incoming projectiles for the entire day… til now.
Metallica were due on. The Ennio Morricone music from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly came on and the crowd was ready. We’d scooched a bit further forward given that Tim was a massive Metallica fan and wanted to get nearer. The music finished and there were massive cheers, then an announcement said Metallica had cancelled. “BOOOOOOOOOOOO”. Was only a joke though!! Don’t worry.
Seconds later they came onstage, all guns blazing, Hetfield with a storming new mullet, straight into ‘Breadfan’ and ploughed into an amazing set of songs that I knew. Enter Sandman, Wherever I May Roam, Master Of Puppets, etc… They were amazing. So this is what a massive headlining band at a festival felt and sounded like. Unfortunately, the set was marred for me by an incident during Breadfan. I said before we’d not been hit by anything til now. Well, just as they were starting, and my adrenalin was buzzing through the system, some absolute bastard decided: “I know, I’ll throw one last thing…”
It was a 5 litre plastic carton. Full, I might add. Full of orange drink. With the lid on tight. This… brick hit me right in the side of the head and it bloody hurt!! I felt dizzy, and it gave me a headache that lasted the rest of the night!! I was not amused, but I didn’t let it spoil the set.
It was loud, it sounded great, there were pyros, and I was buzzing my tits off! They premiered 2 new songs that day that they’d never played live before, and were written for their next album. They were ‘Devils Dance’ and ‘2×4’. Both of which never made it on to Load, but did surface on Re-Load.
I remember a point during ‘One’ where my mate Tim scared the snot outta me too!! It was just at the fast bit. The double bass bit was on, with Lars giving it the beans!!! The guitars and bass had just kicked in. ‘At this point, I tapped Tim on the shoulder to ask him something just moments before Hetfield started singing. Tim turned, just as the vocals started and screamed “DARKNESS!” right in my face!!! I didn’t know the song that well back then and completely did not expect that to happen. Made me jump!! Also made me laugh afterwards, cause his face was in as much mental anguish as the dude in the One video would have been if he could move his face! Hahaha.
It was an awesome set, and they did play ‘So What’ so I got to sing and swear along. From memory, and I have seen Metallica several times since, I’d have to say this time was probably the best.
Really enjoyed the whole festival, even with that near death experience earlier in the day! My first real gig, my first festival, my first moshpit, I saw my hero, I heard some great bands and it was all finished off by Metallica and a load of fireworks!! Tremendous.
The only thing left was getting out of there and getting home! We made our way across what I can only describe as ‘a war zone’, back towards the exit. The ground was littered with small fires, what looked like dead bodies (but was actually pissed people unconscious) and err, litter. Bottles, cans, chip wrappers, paper plates… We were walking along, talking to each other, ensuring one another that what we’d just seen was ‘ace’, and stamping on empty bottles as we went. Dave’s bright idea was to leap in the air and land both feet on a 2 litre plastic bottle. Now normally, this would do no harm and just crush the bottle. This particular bottle had the lid on, and was going nowhere. Dave landed both feet on it, and as it wasn’t giving way, the bottle shot forward, leaving Dave… without a leg to stand on! As the bottle went forward, Dave’s legs simultaneously went into the air, like you’d see in a comedy film or cartoon. He hovered in the air for what seemed like minutes, then hit the ground on his back. Man, it was funny. There was a German chap sitting close by who witnessed the incident. He looked over, laughing, held out a fist, shook it and said “Tosser”. Couldn’t agree more. It was piss funny!
We got to a narrow ramp on the way out. Hundreds of us, all squished together, trying to get out. Someone started making sheep noises, and then we all did it. “BAAAAAAA, BAAAAAAAA, BAAAAAA!” for a good 20 minutes. Just needed a giant metal sheepdog to herd us outta there!
Now the hard part. Where did we leave the friggin bus???? We only had a certain amount of time to find it or it’d go without us. We thought we had a rough idea where it was, but after 15 hours of metal and a knock on the head I hadn’t got a clue! We were all a bit lost, but we eventually got back to the bus, and in plenty of time!!
After what seemed like an eternity, the bus finally made its way out of Castle Donington and we were on our way home to a well deserved wash… and a shit in clean toilets!!
So there. That’s my first gig. August 26th 1995. A pretty accurate account. Remember yours?