FRIDAY AND SATURDAY
CELEBRATING their tenth anniversary, cleverly hidden in the DOWNLOAD title, one of Britain’s largest rock festivals hit the decks running with its usual huge array of bands spanning three days and several stages. Or that was the plan. As with many things in life, plans don’t always work out like they should. As we know the heavens opened up for the run up to this year’s event, which made my normal simple journey to the site the worst ever in history. From the turn off on the M1, the few miles it is to Donington took 3 and a half hours due to the site itself opening late because of the rain and mud and a back log of traffic. Not funny at all.
So, consequently some bands didn’t play at all, Europe got stuck at some airport, and I just managed to catch the tail-end of second stage act Little Angels. They did well, considering
they’ve not played together in 18 years. Don’t Prey For Me was good as was the old crowd pleaser Too Much Too Young. And frontman Toby Jepson said there could be more shows soon so watch this space.
Over on the Main Stage I quite liked some of Machine Head’s stuff, who drew a huge crowd, unless their feet had stuck firm in the mud and literally couldn’t move. Yes, it really was bad.
Ploughing our way back to the Second Stage I was keen top catch Nightwish who I’ve never really seen before. And very good they were to, pushing the boat out with strong songs, including a tribute to Gary Moore in the shape of Over The Hills And Far Away, and pyrotechnics by the bucket load. It felt like I was watching Rammstein.
Headliner Slash came on at just after 9pm and second song in Night Train proved to be a winner as the huge crowd lapped up the old G ‘n’ R track. Slash had cleverly had a Union Jack stitched into the right trouser leg of his trademark leather pants as he and the band kept the faithful entertained.
Day two was quite a bit better in terms of the mud. Yes we’d still got it, but thankfully the depth had lessened. It was good to catch a bit of Gun, closing their set with the popular Word Up and promising the huge Pepsi Max Stage crowd a brand new album soon. Over on Stage Tow Four Year Strong delivered the goods with tunes from across their career being aired, Enemy Of The World album getting a decent plug to boot.
Having not seen them for a few years Biffy Clyro were on my to do list so spending some quality time with the Scottish gang was a must. And they didn’t disappoint with a stunning stage show and great songs like opener Mountain and Golden Rule, the boys were up and running. This band for me has done it the proper way and steadily over time developed their craft and are now producing some great albums.
Again, a huge crowd turned out to see them, as did Skindred’s loyal following on Stage Two. Getting near the front just wasn’t going to happen as everyone jumped for Warning. The sight from the stage must have been a picture.
Catching a few songs from Killswitch Engage, heavy groovy riffs interspersed with the odd half decent vocal, it really was time to move as Metallica beckoned.
Starting fifteen minutes late wasn’t a good idea but when they rocked off with Hit The Lights, Master Of Puppets and For Whom The Bell Tolls all was forgiven. At 9:25pm we got The Black Album, played in reverse order which was a good idea. Initially I wasn’t keen on the idea but it did prove to be a good move as time didn’t drag and with a great light and sound show the masses screamed for more. And we got it in the form of One, Battery and Seek And Destroy which capped the day off perfectly.
Unlike practically every other front person on the bill, it was also a huge bonus that James Hetfield didn’t swear once! Now, that’s what I call professionalism.
Words and Pictures