Copenhagen June 15 2012
I’m drinking coffee in my room listening to Howard Stern and packing my bags for my flight home Sunday. We’ve got two shows left, CopenHell today and Metal Town in Gothenburg tomorrow. Lots of great bands playing these two; Slayer, Mastodon, Lamb Of God, Brutal Truth and many more. It’s been a great two week run over here. The shows have been some of the best of our career, specifically Download.
I’m going to back up and give you a little Donington Anthrax/Download/Monsters Of Rock history.
The first time we played at Donington was in 1987 when the festival was still called Monsters Of Rock. The bill was Cinderella, Wasp, Anthrax, Metallica, Dio, Bon Jovi. For us to be playing at Donington was something we never thought we would do. It was legendary, something we would read about in Kerrang! and Metal Forces. We had never played anything even close to the size of Donington at that point in our career. I remember thinking how do I even prepare for a show like that? It was just too big to wrap my brain around it.
The day of the show we woke up in our hotel in Nottingham and it was raining. We already knew that this was the norm, some of our crew had warned us about the great UK summer weather. Well the rain didn’t dampen (yeah I know, but I’m too tired right now to choose another verb) our excitement as we headed over to the site. It pretty much pissed down rain on Cinderella and Wasp. About ten minutes after Wasp finished the rain stopped and the clouds started to thin out. Was it actually going to clear up for our set? We hit the stage about 20 minutes later and the sun had broken through. The already insane levels of excitement we were feeling were uncontrollable by that point and when that massive crowd of 80,000 responded to everything we did, feeding us a massive amount of energy, we took it and channeled it into what was at that point the best show we ever played. Our set was over before I knew it, time flying whilst having fun and all that. The rain held out for Metallica’s set as well and started up again as soon as they were finished. Afterwards one of the magazines that reviewed the show said that “Mother Nature loves thrash metal.”
Later that evening Kirk Hammett and I, on the piss as they say, heard that Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley were backstage watching Bon Jovi from a monitor in the VIP tent. We were like two 13 year-olds hiding behind a column in this tent watching Gene and Paul and trying to get up the nerve to go over to them. After at least ten minutes of us giggling like schoolgirls we finally walked over and I started to introduce us to Gene and Paul. It went something like this:
Me: Ummm, uhh, hi, uh, hello, uh Gene…. we’re ummm…
Gene: (looking at me) You are Scott Ian from Anthrax and you (looking at Kirk) are Kirk Hammett from Metallica and you both played great shows today, congratulations.
We couldn’t believe Gene knew who we were, it was mind boggling. We made small talk for a few minutes, met Paul as well and then Kirk and I were off into the midlands night high on our bands and the performances we gave, high on beer but mostly high over the fact that we had just met The Demon and he recognized us as two of his own.
That was my first experience at Donington.
The second time we played the festival it had been changed to the Download festival and in 2005 it was actually the Ozzfest show. Anthrax were a few months into the reunion tour with Joey Belladonna and Dan Spitz so it seemed fitting that we’d be playing at Donington again 18 years after our first time. We had a great slot, third from the top on the main stage, Black Sabbath closing. We were honored to be back so long after our first appearance at Donington and to be playing with Sabbath was another wildest dream coming true. Our show that day was a good one, not as insane as our first time but certainly memorable just for the privilege to play to 70,000 passionate metalheads.
And that brings us to last weekend, our third and best Donington experience if for no other reason than getting on that stage 30 years into our career and being received by that sea of insanity in front of the stage, it was a transcendent experience for me and it reaffirmed everything I love about being in this band. There is no better place to play my guitar than on that stage.
Once again, it was an absolute privilege for us to be there to share what we do with the best fans in the world and I can only hope we get to do it again. We were all worshipping music, big time.