With Muse, Slipknot, Enter Shikari + BABYMETAL - the moments that rocked

You're home, you're dry and the mud has been scraped from everything that you own. There's still a ringing in your ears as your fading hangover is tinged with a hazey and boozy nostalgia, one of decadence and deafening noise. You're back from Download, and you wish you were still there. 

Well, you've a year to wait until next time, so relive the best bits of magic and madness from the weekend here. 

These are the 14 absolute greatest moments of Download Festival 2015 - and the sets that rocked the hardest.

1. Muse silence their critics and make history
It was never  going to be anything less than historic, was it? Here stands a band who have headlined Glastonbury and Reading & Leeds two times a-piece, sold out pretty much every stadium on the planet, yet still had a huge challenge to face: headline the hallowed hard rock ground of Donington Park and prove the heavy metal purists wrong. 

With flames, fireworks and a whole lotta' fury, the space-rock trio did exactly that - and for a 'stripped back show' it brought Vegas-style visuals and theatrics to the muddy fields of Donington. However, the lack of the usual bells, whistles, lasers and robots of the Muse show was noted, leaving only the music to do the talking.

Using the excuse to drop some harder, heavier and rarer cuts from their back catalogue to win over the Download faithful, Muse not only showcased the louder corners of their massive new album Drones, but delighted their hardcore masses with the likes of Origin Of Symmetry's 'Micro Cuts' and 'Citizen Erased', along with the rarely played one-off single 'Dead Star' and Showbiz B-side 'Agitated'. 

Matt Bellamy may have fallen on his arse halfway through opening track 'Psycho', but ultimately Muse further proved that not only are they the finest live act on this Earth, but the shining jewel in the crown of British rock. Huge hordes gathered as far as the eye could see, with thousands upon thousands witnessing what can only be described as pure rock pleasure. The challenge was accepted, the target was destroyed. There is nothing they can not do. 

Photo: Thanira Rates

2. Enter Shikari prove themselves future headliners
Competing with a closing set from rock royalty Kiss is a feat that would leave so many bands trembling in fear, hiding from that giant wiggling tongue in the sad knowledge that you'd likely be playing to no one. 

But not Shikari, hell no. With a career-spanning set before a mind-blowing light show, the band tore through a show of such energy, compulsion and variety that we are left in no doubt that it's just a matter of time before they step up to headline main stages. 

Every band member is given time to shine, with a sound that takes in all genres from techno to pop to sheer rock brilliance - blending the best of them all to create a world that can only be Shikari, never seeming contrived. Our bodies still ache from the full force of their set. Fetch the anaesthetist. 

Photo: Tom Pullen

3. Something pretty terrifying from Faith No More
Appearing dressed in purest white in a set decked out in beautiful bouquets of flowers may seem entirely at odds with the filth, mayhem and darkness of all that surrounds them. Of course, the very stage presence of FNM frontman Mike Patton was menacing enought to strike terror into the hearts of the sodden hordes gathered. With a Saturday night show packed with the dark rock classics of 'Epic', 'Matador' and 'Motherfucker', FNM more than set us on the course for a night that meant Sunday morning was going to be anything but easy. 

Photo: WENN

4. Eagles Of Death Metal kick the mud off your dancing shoes
"Ladies," snarled Eagles frontman Jesse 'Boots Electric' Hughes to a chilly afternoon crowd, "this one's for you." And thrilled they were too - hell, who wouldn't be? Every hip-shake, breakneck riff, and feel-good rhythm was loaded with enough bravado to dance away those last day blues, proving that dancing shoes are the ultimate cure for trenchfoot. There were rumours abound of Josh Homme joining the band on stage, but all you really need is a wink from Boots Electric to have yourself one hell of a time. 

Photo: Thanira Rates

5. The Darkness bring barbarians
If you want old school theatrics, you can always count on The Darkness, who went back to the oldest of schools with Justin Hawkins being carried on stage through the audience atop the shoulders of Viking Barbarians. A fitting intro, because as always, The Darkness want war. In a short, sharp set of old favourites, new gems and countless guitar solo stadium moments, The Darkness proved victorious. 

The far less than 'secret set' saw The Darkness pack out the Maverick tent with fans spilling well out into the wet afternoon, but nothing could kill the spirit of a band still driven by a decadent love of life. The winds of trend may change, but The Darkness remain - the last of their kind. 

Photo: Thanira Rates

6. A Day To Remember give us exactly that
A Day To Remember made the most of their time, playing a full and relentless repertoire including Common Courtesy anthems, 'Right Back At It Again', 'Best of Me', before flashing back to Mr. Highway's 'Thinking About the End from Homesick'. They certainly lived up to their name, bringing mud pounding dancing to the Main stage, we’re lucky we made it out alive.

7. Evil Scarecrow introducing the phrase 'dancing robot crab' to our vocabulary
This is probably to most fun heavy metal band to grace the Maverick stage, punching out bass drum beats and electric riffs.

Just when you thought you couldn’t enjoy metal more, they played their classic song 'Robototro'n, joined by a larger than life cardboard robot dancing like a crab causing a left to right swell from the crowd, all hands aloft, pinching the sky. Yes, really. 

8. Slipknot fought through rain to strengthen bond with fans
Slipknot headlined the main stage on Friday night amidst a heavy downpour of unrelenting rain.

“We should tell Andy Copping to rename the festival Down-Pour Festival 2015,” lead singer Corey Taylor joked, continuing to tell us that: “this is close to being one of the rainiest festivals we’ve ever played”.

Opening with ‘Sarcastrophe’, the band battled through torrential weather, proving that Slipknot would do all they could to keep their fans happy and wouldn’t let a bit of rain stop them. The masked metallers also paused on more than one occasion to thank fans for making them feel like they were at home, in tern rewarding their cold and dedicated fan base with tracks such as ‘Psychosocial’ and ‘The Devil In I’. During track ‘Spit It Out’, the crowds were also asked to kneel down, before leaping into the sky when Taylor screamed, “get the fuck up.”

Even without former drummer Joey Jordison, the committed crowds seemed grateful for Slipknot’s commandingly powerful presence, that managed to keep them more than distracted from the rain for a couple of hours. Never has 'Cut, cut, cut me up and fuck, fuck, fuck me up' been hollered in fuller voice. Who knew the nine could keep making Download history?

9. Dragonforce and Babymetal united for surprise duet
The rumour mill was working in overdrive a couple of days before Download, i.e. would Japanese sensations Babymetal be playing a secret set at some point over the weekend?

Those rumors were turned into realities when the teenage girl, pop metal band, joined the stage in the middle of Dragonforce’s set for track ‘Road of Resistance’ - before bursting into the massive 'Gimme Chocolate'. We can't fully explain our glee, or admit to any shame, in losing our shit to knowing the choreographed dance moves off by heart. 

10. Beartooth play first ever major UK festival appearance
When Beartooth released their debut album Disgusting last year, it’s fair to say that no one could have foreseen their explosion in the rock community, nor the fact that their debut could have been something so accomplished. Yet, less than a year from release they’re already packing out The Maverick Stage at Download Festival.

The crowd completely pack out the tent and begin to restlessly chant before the band, who hail from Columbus, Ohio walk onstage to be greeted by a riled up fan base who are ready for mayhem.

As it’s their first ever major UK festival appearance fans know that their time with Beartooth is fairly limited and also pretty special, therefore fans waste no time in forming circle pits around the two tent pillars for track ‘Body Bag.

Lead singer Caleb Shomo also encourages fans to sing along during ‘Bodybag’ and in true punk rock fashion the audience do all they can to fill the room with “wooaah ooo’s” during ‘In Between’. It’s definitely safe to say that Beartooth made their mark on Download and this certainly won’t be the last time we see them play Donington Park.

11. Hollywood Undead bring jokey rap metal to the main stage
It’s often refreshing to see a band that don’t take themselves too seriously, which is exactly how Hollywood Undead managed to win over new fans during their mid-day performance on Saturday . 

After Friday’s torrential downpour, the British public were in need of a band to lift their moods and Hollywood Undead managed to enthuse together metal breakdowns with cheeky rap metal in order to do just that.

The west coast masked bandits strutted around on stage and rattled through tongue and cheek lyric buster ‘Comin’ In Hot’, where even though crowds had started off the set feeling downtrodden, through Hollywood Undead’s enthusiasm managed to dance with the band until the very end of their soggy set.

Photo: WENN

12. Slash and Myles Kennedy make for modern day Guns N Roses
It’s not every day you get to see arguably the world’s number one (living) guitar hero on the planet, which is why crowds in their masses came together to welcome Slash, joined by his band Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators, to the main stage.

Unlike Axl Roses’ current incarnation of Guns N’ Roses, Slash’s band appear timely on stage, launching into tracks from album ‘Apocalyptic Love’.

Yet it’s classics such as ‘Paradise City’ and ‘Sweet Child O Mine’ that warrant tremendous crowd participation, with Kennedy sounding every bit as powerful as Axl Rose himself.

Photo: WENN

13. Motley Crue part ways with Download Festival
Appearing onstage for the last time at Download Festival and as part of their farewell tour, Motley Crue’s lead singer, Vince Neill, said: “We’ve been around for 35 years, so this shouldn’t be seen as a goodbye, bur more of a celebration.”

The band were also joined by two scantily clad female dancers during hits like ‘Wild Side’ and ‘Girls, Girls, Girls’. A particular surprise came when the Crue decided to cover ‘Anarchy In The UK’ by The Sex Pistols, as a respectful tribute to their British fans and also explaining how punk music has shaped their sound during the 80’s. As the ban’s first ever UK festival and now also their last, emotions were running high during their stage bows to the audience, before unexpectedly returning for a final encore of ‘Home Sweet Home’.

14. Kiss bring pantomime, tomfoolery and explosions, to bring Download Festival 2015 to an insane close
Kiss are a band who really need no introduction, and as they parade onto the main stage dressed head to toe in full make up and glittery outfits, fitted with 7-inched heels, we know we’re in for one hell of a show…one way or another.

Opening with ‘Detroit Rock City’, the Brooklyn-hailing band have perfected every move they make over the last 40 years.

Paul Stanley is compellingly enduring throughout, as he keeps fans entertained with his witty stage banter and teases fans after they begin chanting for a UK tour, saying, “We still need to finish this set yet, then we will have to see what happens next”.

Towards the end of the set Stanley even attaches himself to a harness in order to be zip wired out into the middle of the crowd, as the band continue to play through ‘Love Gun’ and ‘Black Diamond’.

Kiss are wonderfully entertaining throughout and end their set with flaming Catherine Wheels, bursts of confetti and streamers, plus multiple elaborate fireworks. If Download Festival was waiting for a show, then they certainly got what they were looking for in tenfold.


Photo: Thanira Rates