December 7, 2010 by Dan Swinhoe
First off, I fucking Love Down. They are amazing and their debut ‘Nola’ is the greatest example of Stoner, the Nola sludge scene and metal as a whole and you should all buy it. Rant over, sort of.
This package documents the bands first tour in four years, and their first ever foray into Europe. They had no new record, no label backing, and everything was done word of mouth. Needless to say the whole tour was sold out. And more importantly, the Nottingham leg was my first ever gig.
Four years later every fan at those gigs are foaming at the mouth waiting to hear this, so you can imagine how heartbreaking it is to say that it’s shit. Live albums are meant to give you an ‘almost there’ feeling, but this is a bland and poorly recorded attempt. And it’s such a shame to have to say it.
The major problem is with the recording; Down are all about the huge riffs that compel you to bang your head, but they’re barely audible, the crowd are louder in parts, and what your left with is a mostly drum and vocal CD. And even then it’s no saving grace. Phil Anselmo is one of the greatest voice and faces in the world of Rock and Metal, on stage and record he always delivers. But he isn’t given the justice he deserves and sounds flat. Songs like Eyes Of The South lack the power while Learn From My Mistake lack the emotion that they should have.
Down are amazing songwriters and a powerful unit live, and I can tell you first hand these two disks don’t compare to that night one iota. But all is not lost. After listening, it’s time to watch the DVD, and all is forgiven.
Following the same setlist at the actual tour instead of a random collection like the audio disks, you realise straight away this is the major feature and the CDs nothing more than an after thought. The shows on offer make the disk sound like a poor tribute band.
The footage is high quality, and more importantly, the sound is crisp. And most importantly, you feel like you’re there, and witnessing something special. The true quality of the songs comes through and Phil sounds on the top of his game. Songs like Temptations Wings, Ghosts Along The Mississippi, and Jail feel as great as they did on record and at the gig itself. The set ends with Bury Me In Smoke at their Surprise set at Download, supported by a sea of people.
The bonus stuff is nothing amazingly special, a mish mash of Anselmo rants, jamming and randomness, Kirk on the toilet pushing it a bit too far, but still, a guy taking a poo is always worth a giggle.
This is definitely one for the fans, and as long as you watch the DVD and avoid the other disks it’s one the fans will be able to go back to and enjoy over and over.
Spotify Playlist: http://tree.sharemyplaylists.com/downnola