I am aware of how painfully British it is to talk about the weather, but this weekend was truly something else. There was no getting away from the downpour and squelching cesspit of mud that consumed its festival dwellers like quicksand. Having said that, the musical acts that stormed the stages of this year’s Download were worth the water.
Monday morning felt painfully dull in comparison to the three days of epic performances from a collective of rock n' roll royalty. This year Download really had it all, from bewitching melodic metal to J-Pop via retro-rock anthems.
Here’s a roundup of some of the best of this year’s Download festival.
Photo: Jenny Lyne
As the first headliners of the weekend they had some high expectations to meet, and they set that bar very high for those who would soon follow. On stage, there’s an underground vault type set, flamethrowers, grown men dressed as sci-fi-esque pirates and a man dressed in a glittery onesie pacing a treadmill whilst performing blinding riffs on a synth machine. What else was to be expected from the emphatically self-aware heavy metal band?
Wonderfully camp, funny and terrifying all at the same time; these industrial metal legends certainly have a lot to offer when it comes to a live show. Delving into their back catalogue, they performed favourites such as ‘Du Hast’ and ‘Sonne’ that were met with raucous applaud by horn wielding fans. Although a little is lost in the translation, it’s made up for by their performances; you are still able to have a firm grasp on the feeling and emotion transcribed through each song.
Overall, they played the majority of songs that was to be expected however, one of their last songs was an acoustic performance of ‘Ohne Dich’. All gimmicks were suspended for this beautifully arranged piece that reminded us just how great a musician each of them are. Seeing a side to the band that is hardly ever shown was spellbinding.
Ich tu dir weh
Du riechst so gut
Mein Herz brennt
(Depeche Mode cover)
Ohne dich (Acoustic)
Photo: Jenny Lyne
It’s well known that rock and metal are the most giving for aging musicians, and with Black Sabbath that is truer than ever. With this year marking their last tour since the band formed in 1968, its feels right that one of their last festival appearances should be Download. After all, this festival was born and raised out of the music they had pioneered. These fields are the hallowed home of hard rock.
This final performance paid tribute to a long and lustrous career that Sabbath made for themselves. They needn’t bother reinvent their stage presence as this would have felt in genuine, however, they didn’t waste time performing new material either with their latest album from 2013 not getting a look in.
Instead, attention was paid to the classics with performances of ‘War Pigs’ and ‘Paranoid’. However, this highly anticipated performance didn’t have the same bite it had in previous years – which is understandable with Ozzy Osbourne turning 68 in December. High notes in ‘War Pigs’ proved difficult to reach by Ozzy, and that star quality which was once unmeasurable paled in comparison to the other headliners.
In all, they delivered a memorable performance that will be thought of fondly by diehard fans. Which, at the end of the day, is what I’m sure they were aiming for.
Black Sabbath Played:
Fairies Wear Boots
Into the Void
Behind the Wall of Sleep
Hand of Doom
Children of the Grave
There aren’t many people that can lunge around the stage at the age of 57 wearing an unimaginative black hoody and beige cargo trousers and still perform like the God of Rock. Sadly, Bruce Dickinson doesn’t quite pull this off either.
Nevertheless, Iron Maiden’s performance in Donington on Sunday was definitely one the highlights of the overall weekend. Late to the stage, Maiden teased us with a short video depicting Bruce’s plane the Ed Force One being thrown into the audience. The tacky goodness of the low-bit graphics is synonymous with metal and rock performances, and it hits the nail on the head as the perfect way to kick off the show.
The set featured a Mayan temple ruin complete with pyrotechnics and smoke machines – everything needed for an adrenaline induced performance. “Those of you in the audience who remember this song coming out would be classified as fUcking old, but we will call you legacy” jokes Bruce before belting into ‘Children of the Damned’ which sets the tone for the rest of the set. The originals are counted on the bulk out the majority of the set, although some new tracks from The Book of Souls album are also given their show time.
Continuing the theme of nostalgia, Maiden’s headline slot fits in well with previous days. However, this begs the question when will the pioneers step aside so we are able to welcome fresh blood to the top of the bill?
Photo: Ross Silcocks
Iron Maiden Played:
If Eternity Should Fail
Speed of Light
Children of the Damned
Tears of a Clown
The Red and the Black
Death or Glory
The Book of Souls
Hallowed Be Thy Name
Fear of the Dark
The Number of the Beast
We are all giddy when frontwoman Lzzy Hale reaches the front of the stage. Someone who regardless of your own personal preference ignitse something in us all due to her electric personality and bone-rumbling vocal ability. Opening with a track from their latest album release, ‘Apocalyptic’ gets the crowds heads banging and blood pumping.
No stage spectacle is necessary as Lzzy astonishes her audience by belting a single note for what seems an eternity as we all gasped in amazement. After a quick breath, the band launch into other well-known songs such as ‘Mz. Hyde’ and Mayhem’. Arejay gave us an excellent break halfway through the set by performing a ridiculous drum solo that featured cameos of classic rock anthems.
Photo: Jen O'Neil
Love Bites (So Do I)
I Am the Fire
I Like it Heavy
I Miss the Misery
Despite the heavy downpour, BABYMETAL didn’t shy away from performing their acrobatic dance routines throughout, braving neck and limb to give their best show. Gleefully addictive, this J-Pop meets hardcore metal band are a force to be reckoned with as they have already landed their third world tour and won Best Live Band at the Kerrang! Awards 2016. Long may they reign - all hail the Fox God.
Having just dropped their eigth studio album Gore, veterans Deftones brought their A-Game to Doninton Park by performing new music such as Prayers/Triangles alongside a catalogue of classics - bringing a much needed dose of inventive edge to proceedings. My only dispute being I wishes it was a longer set. This is an album made to be heard live.
Photo: Adam Elmakias
The Rival Sons:
The feeling of sun-soaked whiskey, all leather outfits and immeasurable charm surround the American rock band who took to the stage on Saturday afternoon. Combining blues, funk and soul into their repertoire, they aren’t a band you need to listen to for long until you learn to love them. Performing hits such as ‘Electric Man’ and ‘Open My Eyes’ they were a perfect prerequisite to Downloads line up this year.
Photo: Jenny Lyne
Bewitching tales are told by the symphonic metal band as they perform an 11 song set on the Sunday of this year’s Download festival. Gothic and haunting in their demeanor, it’s addictive and powerful stuff that’s hard to tear your eyes away from. Filling the set with much loved classics such as ‘Nemo’ and ‘I Want My Tears Back’ they remained strong from start to finish.
The Temperence Movement:
One of the most eye-opening performance was served by this Glaswegian born band as they venture into the festival circuit moving quickly onto Glastonbury at the end of the month. They closely resemble blues infused rock of the 1970s with echoes of Led Zeppelin and Eric Clapton. Let’s hope that UK tour drops soon.
Photo: Jenny Lyne
Juliette and the Licks:
Whether you’re an avid fan or new to the ways of Juliette Lewis’s musical career, there was plenty to be entertained with during her set on the Zippo Encore Stage. Confidently donning a stars and stripes jumpsuit and bandana wrapped around her head, it’s tempting to feel the need to mock inside your head as it so clearly differentiates itself from the introverted nature of some British rock bands. However, Juliette’s presence smashes through those mocking words by owning the stage with her iconic presence. Performing ‘Hot Kiss’ and ‘I Know Trouble’ she brings back that 1970s girl rock nostalgia invented by the likes of Suzy Quattro and Joan Jett. We want more of you, please.
Switching up their stadium-filling indie rock anthems for more authentically produced bluesy rock tracks from latest album GLA soon to be released in September. Opening with a sneak peak at the new material, ‘Gold Elephant::Cherry Alligator’ the album titled track showed a new side to the Glaswegian born band.
Photo: Jenny Lyne
Soulful rock comes neatly packed in the Canadian musicians officially known as Monster Truck. Opening up the Lemmy Stage on Sunday, they performed ‘Why Are You Not Rocking?’ that was brimming with guitar riffs and good old fashioned rock vocals that succeeded in the hard task of motivating a tiresome audience.