Another year is over and another Download festival has been a complete success. The most annoying thing about Download is not the usual complaint you would hear about a festival, and it only really occurs in the early hours of the morning. This issue I have is caused by the fact that the festival grounds are right beside East Midlands airport! This is not annoying during the day as the music drowns out the plane sound, but in the morning it can be quiet alarming. Been woken up at 6am to the ground shaking and engine noise so loud that you think the plane has landed in the campsite and is coming straight for you is not a great feeling to have! That said – that is about the only negative thing I can say about Download, and this year the organisers pulled out all the stops for the 30 year celebrations. This was never going to be just any old Download line up. The line up consisted of bands that covered just about everyone’s taste. Young, old, male, female, glam rock fan to the trash metal fan and anyone and everyone willing to rock their little sock off had someone to see over the weekend.
First up for me on the Main stage on Friday was Them Crooked Vultures. I had heard the self titled album a few times before the festival but I have to say I was blown away by the performance at Donnington. I suppose nothing less is to be expected from a band consisting of a Foo Fighter, a QOTSA/Eagles of Death Metal member and a legend like John Paul Jones. I had one main purpose on the Friday, and one band that I was not missing but I am very happy that I got to see these guys live. Not to be out done by anyone – AC/DC came to the festival with their very own stage! All the other stages had closed by 8.30 for when the behemoth band came on – I mean who wants to play at the same time as them anyway! I was speaking to a few bands the next day who said that there was no point in playing at the same time as AC/DC as the stages and tents would have been empty. Point taken as from where I was standing it seemed like the entire world had turned up to watch AC/DC rock Download. The band pulled out all the stops with a set list consisting of old and new favorites such as Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be, Big Jack, Hells Bells, TNT and War Machine to name a few. The guys were on flying form and there was not one person in the crowd that wasn’t giving it everything they had. Afterwards we retired to our campsite on a high after seeing them live for a few beers, music talk and to make use of the amazing fold up table we picked up in Halfords. Best €36 I ever spent!
The Saturday started off with the usual imaginary near plane death experience that I always get in the campsite. I opened my tent to another amazing day at Download. I had a very busy day on Saturday and I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to catch as many bands as I would have liked too, but as I sat down to write this article I realised I had seen more than I thought!
The day started with a performance by Godsized who were playing the Pepsi Max stage and they were brilliant. I had never seen them live before but this is a band that did not disappoint and had the crowd amped up. I was speaking to the guy’s afterwards and they were on a buzz after playing their first Download. You will defiantly hear more from them in the future. Next up was Rolo Tomassi. I only got to catch a little bit of the set before I had to run off but I was very impressed with what I seen. For such a tiny delicate front woman – my god can she sing! After a few interviews I headed straight for the Red Bull Tent to watch Rock Sugar. You have to appreciate a band that take classic songs such as Metallica’s Enter Sandman and Journey’s Don’t Stop Belivin and somehow manage to make them fit together in one song called Don’t Stop The Sandman. Rock Sugar is not to be confused with a fad and something that is going to go away in a year’s time. The tent was incredibly packed with fans who wanted to hear these amazing mash-ups live, and much like Steel Panther last year – a tent is defiantly too small to hold these giants!
After some bopping to Rock Sugar, I caught some of Lamb of Gobs and Megadeth’s set and then onto The Blackout in the Pepsi Max Tent. My only major clash of the weekend occurred on the Saturday night with Michael Monroe and Rage Against the Machine playing at the same time. I spent equal amount of time at both but I have to say I was blown away by Monroe’s performance. Being a massive fan of his music and also getting the amazing opportunity to interview him earlier in the day I was in awe of the energetic front man who had the crowd eating out of his hand from start to finish. An amazing set from the band and incredible performance. They were defiantly one of my highlights of the weekend. Afterwards it was back to the campsite after both bands had finished to discuss the day’s events over some more beers, and the night took a ‘turning Japanese’ twist when our faithful Halfords table crumbled under the pressure of 4 hyper music fans talking about the day.
The final day of events at Download kicked off with amazing day weather wise. The sun was shining from early morning but unfortunately that was short lived. My day started off with Florida metal band Nonpoint in the Pepsi Max stage. These guys have been touring constantly for the last ten years and you can really tell. They are really tight as a band and brilliant live.
The next stop was the main stage for some Saxon. I have seen the legends before but I am always impressed with them and they were followed by glam metal legends Cinderella. Slash was up next on the main stage and I was a little skeptical about what reaction this band would get. I knew that it was either going to be the best show that it could be or else a complete disaster! I am very pleased to report – it was amazing. Slash and the guys put on an amazing show taking songs from his solo records and also Guns N Roses classics such as Sweet Child O Mine and Paradise City. The heat was at its peak at this stage and I will admit that I had to take a little break on the ground for abit during the set but he brought an electric atmosphere to the festival.
The end of the glorious day came minutes into Billy Idol taking the stage. For someone who has been around for years he looks incredible, and has the energy of man half his age. It was brilliant to hear the classics such as Rebel Yell and White Wedding live. After a little break and my last interview I ran over to the second stage for another one of my highlights for the weekend – Steel Panther. The guys played in a tent last year, and you could hardly get near the tent to even see what the band looked like. There was such a buzz about the band and nearly everyone you spoke too was going to check out the Californian glam metal band. Steel Panther could definitely make it to the main stage for next year. They are brilliant live and very funny. There was a great atmosphere in the crowd after their set. After a gut wrenching performance by Airbourne, which included Joel O’Keeffe climbing up the side of the stage and playing from the very top of the scaffolding– it was time to make a move towards the main stage for the final act of the weekend.
Aerosmith have been through a lot over the past year, with rumors of conflict in the band and possibly splitting for good, but thankfully they managed to put the differences aside and get back to doing what they do best. Unfortunately the same could not off been said for the sound during their set. The weather played a massive part in the disruption, and it was a shame as the band was amazing. Steven Tyler has one of those voices that don’t need to be aided by additional instruments. His vocal cords alone would provide a spectactual show but with Joe Perry and the rest of the band adding to the mix – it is an amazing show.
Another year has ended and I can honestly say that I was very sad to leave the festival grounds. Although I am glad that I will be leaving the plane noise behind.