Download on Saturday
Download festival, Saturday 15th June ∏
Kevin Gaughan and Peter Coombs report
Scroll down for reviews of Alice in Chains, Motorhead, Devin Townsend and Queens of the Stone Age.
13:10 Astroid Boys – Red Bull Stage
This young punk/rock/grime influenced band from Cardiff had the Red Bull marquee heaving and positively throbbing by lunch time.
I walked into the bulging marquee half way through their set and was met by circle pits, crowd surfing and all sorts. This band, with it’s dual vocalists and pumping rap rock beats were full of energy and well laid down rap lyrics.
A great, ear throbbing way to start my Sunday at Download.
13:35 Escape the Fate – Zippo Encore Stage
The five piece young rock band from Las Vegas. Playing on the big outside stage, the crowd were getting wet, very wet as a torrential downpour dropped from the heavens.
However, none of this deterred the healthily-sized crowd from enjoying this band, a number of whom sang along to some of the songs.
They did a great job of churning out their hardcore rock songs making good use of two the singers and their show-off guitarist to maximum affect.
I did enjoy Escape the Fate, but I would have enjoyed them a lot more if I was chilling in the sun with my beer instead of shivering in my mac, wondering how much longer I’ve got before it starts leaking on my shoulders. It always leaks on my shoulders first.
Click here to see them perform at the festival
14:30 Katatonia – Zippo Encore Stage
This five piece metal/rock band from Sweden were formed in Stockholm in 1991 and have built up a respectable following since then. I will admit, I did wonder if they were Catatonia who released ‘Road Rage’ and other hits from the late ’90s, but no, this, gladly, was a totally different band performing totally different music.
Just as well, really, as they would have got bottled off the stage!
The first thing that struck me about this band was the unusual appearance. Jonas Renkse, a very long haired singer kept his face hidden behind his hair.
The music, like their clothes was dark, very dark. The slower, grungy pace worked well with the dark overtones of the songs and the guitar solos were often accompanied by all four of them windmilling with their long hair, turning their performance into a grungy look-what-I-can-do-with-my-hair show!
That said, it was good to see them.
Click here to see them perform at the festival
20:50 Iron Maiden – Main Stage
Iron Maiden were about to headline at Donington Park for a record fifth time, the first when it was the Monsters of Rock back in 1988 – I STILL have the t-shirt! This time they were performing as part of their Maiden England world tour.
As we were waiting in well behaved, quiet anticipation of what was to come, getting to know our neighbours in the crowd, we were all wondering how Maiden could possibly top their previous shows, or if they would even try.
Previously we have seen fireworks and pyrotechnics galore, not to mention the massive hundred foot tall mascot, Eddie, wreaking havoc around the stage.
Then came the rumble of a Rolls-Royce Spitfire engine, as it came into view, I thought they’ve done it, they’ve only gone and topped all previous shows before they’ve even started!!!
It was a WWII commemoration Spitfire to celebrate the end of World War II and marking their appearance as part of their Maiden England tour. It was a poignant moment, the entire 90,000 (reportedly) strong crowd were in quiet awe all at the same time.
As the Spitfire disappeared Maiden embarked on their set. They appeared to play their classics in date order, the oldest first. Including the songs that I was bought up with, ‘Phantom of the Opera’, ‘Running Free’, ‘The Number of the Beast’ progressing up to and lingering a bit on the ‘Seventh son of a Seventh Son’ album, then focussing on the newer material in the latter half of the set.
It was really good to see the original line-up, too, including Bruce Dickinson on vocals and with the slightly newer addition of Janick Gers as the fourth (!) guitarist.
Iron Maiden’s mascot, Eddie, started roaming around the stage half way through the set. Although he was only about 15 feet tall this time, he seemed dwarfed by the massive stage. I’m sure he’s shrunk a bit from when I used to see them, but then everything seems bigger back then!
Peter Coombs writes:
Alice in chains
After a hideous run to the gates at the risk of missing a personal favourite band; Alice in Chains, I thank the gods of metal that the main stage can be heard from the queuing area. I make it just in time to hear opening song Them Bones, and what a way to start a set it is!
With a bare stage, the grungers from Seattle execute a no frills set of heavy rock. William DuVall’s voice is immaculate and as powerful as ever; doubled with tight harmonies from guitarist Jerry Cantrell.
They fill their set with a encompassing (yet brief) exhibition of the band history; classics such as Down in a Hole pave way for a sample of new material including Stone and Hollow from the recently released album: The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here, all held together with the statutory deafening drums of Sean Kinney.
Motorhead, well, they’re Motorhead and they play “ROCK N ROLL”, so says Lemmy as he arrives on stage. The band flicks their amps up to 11 and launch into their set with I Know How to Die.
Motorhead are definitely not exaggerating when they claim to play ‘everything louder than everyone else’ and their sound punches the gut of those right at the back of the crowd. The song choices are great, and enjoyable, with ample time left for old school, whiskey fuelled banter; claiming we in the crowd are like mods and that we can do better, a challenge welcomed by the horde.
Wizzo’s guitar solo, was, well, it wasn’t amazing and didn’t really stand out in comparison to the rest of their set. While Mikkey Dee’s drum solo during The One to Sing the Blues was spot on, deafening and stylistically brutal, followed by the giant that is Going to Brazil.
“We have two songs left, can you guess what they are?” asks Lemmy as he kicks into Ace of Spades; the crowd go crazy, circle pits open, beers are thrown and backs are broken. As the penultimate song ends the crowds are already chanting ‘Motorhead, Motorhead’, and with sly smiles the boys finish their set with Overkill.
Click here to see them perform Ace of Spades at the festival
After Strapping Young Lad’s appearance in 2006, Devin Townsend has established a memorial place in many of our metal hearts. Needless to say; there were many excited fans eager to see the genial madman’s solo performance headlining the Jagermeister Acoustic Stage.
His set was filled with humour, musical talent and crowd participation; a little like seeing a comedian, but not in bad taste at all, Devin competes with not only Motorhead on the main stage, but a smaller, much louder band in the tent opposite his stage. He greets this challenge with hilarity, and jokingly admits the abnormality of screaming the lyrics of Deadhead will picking a quiet acoustic guitar.
“I aint screaming like a bitch!” he proclaims as the surrounding metal continues to overcast his sound; utilising the quiet moments for comical adlibs about his surroundings.
It is uplifting how much Devin noticeably appreciates his fans; being sure to perform to every person in the crowd and often inviting extra participation during his songs.
QOTSA (Queens of the Stone Age)
Feel Good Hit Of The Summer launches the long awaited Queens of the Stone Age set and celebrates the return of Josh Homme to the Derbyshire fields. As far as I can see, every mouth visible in the tens of thousands of fans is shouting along to their lyrics. In the first verse of the first song, the band already look at home; utilising breakdowns and middle 8s to complement their worshippers.
As I watch, I am totally in awe with the amount of layers these guys manage to get into the sound, every little intricacy from the recordings is somehow created live by different members of the band; most of which were done by Dean Fertita, along with his outstanding backing vocals and keyboard playing (as well as a very pleasing 12 string solo).
First it Giveth and No One Knows example Homme’s vocal talent, as the band work their way through a clever mix of songs both old and new. Each of the classics acts as an anthem, while the new songs capture the listener with exceptional musical creativity.
A few mellower songs settle the crowd and give us chance to rest before Go With the Flow absolutely smashes us all in the face, followed by A song for the Dead, with an epic outro to close an incredible set. Quite possibly the best of the weekend so far, and dare I say it, better than their recordings; if you haven’t yet seen these guys live, go get yourselves some tickets; you will not regret it!