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Avenged Sevenfold and Bullet For My Valentine, Download Festival - review and pictures

Rock heavyweights Bullet For My Valentine gave an excellent performance during the band’s 70-minute set last night.

The Welsh stars played before a packed crowd of thousands, as fireworks and pyrotechnics shot into the air while the band delighted fans.

Bridgend-born frontman Matt Tuck looked awesome; his youthful appearance making it hard to believe he is nearing 40. It could be argued he looks better now than he did when the band first began back in 1998.

But it was his wide-ranging vocals which made the set - that, and the tremendous guitar playing from Michael Paget and thunderous fast-paced drumming from new permanent member Jason Bowld.

Bullet For My Valentine. Photo credit: Sarah Koury

Among the show highlights was the band’s brilliant rendition of 2008 fan favourite Scream Aim Fire, which saw Matt and bassist Jamie Mathias form faultless harmonies as Michael stunned on guitar.

“What a beautiful sight,” beamed Matt.

“It is long overdue to be here my friends; back at the home of rock and metal. It’s been five long years.”

And the band most certainly made up for any lost time with their superb, powerful set.

13 Avenged Sevenfold. Photo credit: James Bridle

Headlining the main stage for the night was Californian heavy metal group Avenged Sevenfold, the start of whose performance was signalled by an excellent solo from guitarist Synyster Gates.

But the band’s show was unfortunately underwhelming, with sound issues plaguing the set from the get-go; making lead singer M Shadows’ usually awesome vocals sound tinny and the drums like sharp claps.

The poor sound levels, which left M largely without any backing vocals, meant huge chunks of the crowd were abandoning their show by 9.30pm - something I would never expect to see at a headline slot; especially not one from what is usually such a solid, impressive live act.

Avenged’s song choice was varied, however, and many of their selection pleased a wide variety of fans in the crowd - Synyster and fellow guitarist Zacky Vengeance impressing throughout.

Avenged Sevenfold. Photo credit: Matt Eachus

Despite the issues, the band soldiered on to play a full set, filled with hits new and old, including Bat Country, Nightmare and Hail To The King.

The group also treated fans to an unexpected, emotional rendition of Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here, which M dedicated to US celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, who was found dead yesterday, suspected to have taken his own life.

“We’ve lost too many people to suicide,” said M, before the song began.

“It doesn’t make you weak; we all have those feelings. Reach out to each other.”

Stunning great pyrotechnics and fireworks were used throughout Avenged’s set - with some of the flames being so huge, they sent massive smoke rings flying up into the sky.

You Me At Six. Photo credit: Jennifer McCord

Shepherd Of Fire also featured in the band’s show; the opening chimes of which provoked joyous shouts from the crowd.

Other bands which played the Donington Park festival yesterday included Volbeat, Bad Religion, Napalm Death, You Me At Six, and Korn frontman Jonathan Davis.

Headlining this evening are classic rock idols Guns N’ Roses, with Axl Rose, Slash and Duff McKagan all set to grace the stage from 7.20pm.

More bands due to perform today include Black Stone Cherry, Thunder, and The Temperance Movement.

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