The last few days have been something to behold, and here we are, the final day of what has been one of the greatest Downloads in recent memory, and the best is yet to come!
Our day opens with a visit to the Zippo Stage to catch classic rockers The Dead Daisies pound through their brand of anthemic hard rock which included a touching dedication to victims of the recent terrorist attacks in the UK. Following that it’s a short trip across the field to the Avalanche Stage as Harrogate hardcore outfit Blood Youth whip up an impressive frenzy with their brand of ferocious riffing.
The sun is still shinning and The Cadillac Three hit the Main stage. The southern rockers ooze with charm right from the start opening with “Bury Me in My Boots” all the way to “The South” it was 45 minutes of pure perfection. The banter from frontman Jaren Johnston held the audience’s attention, especially the ladies whilst simultaneously breaking some hearts by stating “there’s a lot of nice looking ladies out there, unfortunately I’m married so you’ll fucked!”
For the first of our two visits of the day to the Dogtooth stage, Dutch metallic hardcore troop The Charm The Fury make their return to Download in support of their recently released album Sick, Dumb and Happy with vocalist Caroline Westendorp leading the band through their metallic onslaught to a more than favourable response from this crowd. Also making their return to Download, the Love Zombies are equally well-received by the crowd who have packed into the tent as the band race through their infectious Blondie-meets-Ramones brand of rock n’ roll.
Looking away from the Dogtooth tent and their appears to be something of a dust storm surrounding the Zippo Stage.. oh, wait, hang on, that’ll be Devildriver. Yep, Daz Fafara and his henchmen make their welcome return to UK stages and, with only a short time on stage, waste no time with pleasantries as they batter through forty-odd minutes of brutal metal. Speaking of brutal, another legend hits the Zippo Stage later that day as Al Jourgensen and Ministry make an equally welcome return to the UK bring a sack load of antagonistic industrial rage with them and tracks like the utterly brilliant “Punch In The Face”.
Now, now is the time! It’s Steel Panther time on the Main stage! If anyone is unfamiliar with these guys you have truly been living off the grid! 80’s hair metal perfection who parody the stereotype of the 80’s glam rock scene. With songs delivered in their set like “Goin, in the Backdoor” and “Poontang Boomerang” the subject of their style is clear, sex and rock n’ roll! For “17 Girls in a Row” Steel Panther literally fill the sage with female members of the crowd and rock out continuing the party through the audience favourite “Gloryhole” finishing off with “Party All Day (Fuck All Night)”. Quite simply some of the best showmen around right now!
Following on at the Main stage we have Alter Bridge. No real need for talking with these guys as this American rock band’s tunes speak louder than any banter with the audience. Song after song of some of Alter Bridge’s greatest achievements including “Isolation”, “Blackbird” and “Rise Today” just to name a few. For all UK fans an announcement made resulted in a thunderous cheer when it was revealed that they would soon be playing at London’s iconic Royal Albert Hall, but this will not be just any old show, this time they would be accompanied by a full orchestra. This I must see!
While it’s clear from looking at the crowd massing at the Zippo Stage that many are getting their spot for headliners Slayer, the return of groove rockers Clutch and progressive heavyweights Opeth are certainly no time-fillers as the former have the crowd pounding their first and banging their heads to the kind of grooves that belong on festivals like this while the latter, admittedly not my first choice for the slot, demonstrate why they are held in such high regard by media, bands and fans across the metal world.
Which brings us nicely to our final band of the weekend at the Zippo Stage – the mighty Slayer. Now, let’s face it, we know this is going to be epic and the thrash veterans don’t disappoint. Sure, it’s not the full production but the band deliver everything their loyal fanbase expect from the band right from the minute they hit the stage and crash into “Repentless”. It a brutal, uncompromising performance from a band who can churn these kind of shows out in their sleep but, judging by the smile across Tom Araya’s face during one of the breaks, the thrash heavyweights are still enjoying every moment they’re on stage and provide a fitting end to a weekend of great bands.
Now it is the moment we’ve all been waiting for, the (supposed) last show in the UK, Aerosmith! Their set was 2 hours of epic proportions. With so many great tunes in their back catalogue there was bound to be a few tracks that we missed out on and for me I was kind of devastated to not hear “Shut up and Dance”, but despite this Aerosmith delivered a set to remember! From “Cryin’”, “Love in an Elevator”, “Janie’s Got a Gun” and “Sweet Emotion” to name a few. Further to their own songs we were treated to a few Fleetwood Mac covers “Stop Messin’ Around” and “Oh Well”. If that wasn’t enough they delivered a spectacular cover of The Beatles “Come Together” before closing with “Dude (Looks Like a Lady)”. Aerosmith, you will well and truly be missed, so, please let this not be the last time you grace our shores.
In closing, I feel credit must be given to the security staff that ensured all were safe in a time where terror stuck the UK music scene only a few weeks before. It is a true testament to the resolve of fans to refuse to let fear hold them back, celebrate and come together to enjoy some of the greatest bands the world has to offer.
Thank you Download, see you next year!