Download 2015 @ Donnington Park

Download Festival 2015 Review @ Donnington Park
12th June – 14th June
Review by Toria Morgan

Download Festival is the UK’s premier rock festival, held  at the famous Donnington Park race track. The Festival pulls in around a whopping 90,000 music lovers per year and puts a massive 3 million pounds back into the local economy. The festival started in 2003 and is the most popular rock and heavy metal festival in Britain, arguably the world. The first Download Festival was created by masterminds Stuart Galbraith, Tom Pyke and Andy Copping in 2003 as a follow up to the Monsters Of Rock Festival held in the same location between the years 1980 to 1996. Rather than run as a single day event Download was initially a two-day event, thankfully it expanded to a much needed three days in 2005 and thus the Download experience was born.

The festival itself has seen an astonishing array of rock and heavy metal giants headline. Bands such as Iron Maiden, Korn, Metallica, Slipknot, Black Sabbath, System Of A Down, Motorhead, Avenged Sevenfold and many, many more. If you think of one of the greats, they have probably played at the Download Festival.

The festival originally coined its name as a rebellious act. The word ‘download’ was something of a swear word in the music industry at the time, yet the very act of downloading brought the fans together and attracted a wider audience to the genre. With Download’s now well earned reputation as a festival for the rebels, the misfits and the misunderstood, it almost made sense to give it a controversial name. Now I personally couldn’t imagine it being named anything else.

The festival kicked off on 10th of June and ended on the morning of the 15th. Bands don’t start at Download until the Friday the 12th, which gives Download goers two days to get ‘settled’ and get their festival on. The last band, the headlining act finishes in the night of Sunday 14th, campers have until the next morning to gather their belongings and return to normality to face the inevitable ‘post Download blues’ that occurs in the weeks after the amazing experience. Download provides a high and a sense of belonging you can’t get anywhere else but this festival is not for the faint hearted. It is a lot of effort, a lot of walking but a lot of fun.

Camping Options

Tent My tent in Press Camping. That space around me didnt stay spacious for long.

Download is hard work most of the time, if you aren’t asleep you are walking endlessly all day. Exposed to the elements, wondering whether your tent is still standing and hoping that when it eventually rains, that it does not flood.

The option for most is the normal campsites. After the long, long slog to the regular campsites you will find yourself camped in conditions you didn’t even know were legal in this country. It will resemble a party-slum hybrid as time passes. Your tent will be almost, if not completely, on top of the neighbouring tent. These conditions are off putting at first but after a few hours the sense of community factors in and you become friends with your neighbours. Everyone is in the same boat here, we are all cramped and exhausted but you meet people you would never ordinarily get the chance to meet, all with music in common, and in an atmosphere of fun and excitement.

Download does provide a campsite for the disabled. From what I could see outside it looks ideal, lots of space and better amenities, though it is still a fair walk from the Main Arena; just nowhere near the distance of everyone else’s campsites.

I do often see children and parents at this festival. There is an option to camp in ‘Quiet Camping’ formerly known as ‘Family Camping.’ This campsite is available for anyone to book, it has a noise curfew and requires a special wristband to enter it. This keeps belongings safer than they might normally be and gives a chance to get a good night’s sleep. There is also ever so slightly more space and a slightly more bearable toilet situation for the same price as a normal ticket. I recommend this for first timers and people who are over the party scene as it has a much more chilled out atmosphere. My first Download experience was in Quiet Camping, so it is not full of ‘stick in the mud’ silence lovers. It is more for people who really want a quiet night sleep.

There is always the option to camp in Quiet Camping but go and party in the other campsites with the lively lot, since any wristband can enter the normal campsites but only a Quiet Camping wristband can enter Quiet Camp. The way I worked it in my first year was to visit the other campsites, drink with friends in their tents and then return to my camp for some peace and quiet when I want to sleep ad not be lumbered with a party aftermath.

Another option is ‘Camp Loner.’ Does pretty much what it says on the tin. A campsite full of people camping alone, also a campsite full of people looking to make new friends. I wouldn’t hesitate to camp in there if I was in a situation where I was completely alone at Download. The thought actually appeals to me if I’m honest, as adults we don’t get many opportunities to make new friends, this seems like the perfect opportunity and an alternative to going travelling.

There is of course the option, for the well off amongst us, to go in VIP, aka RIP camping. RIP Campsites are closer to the car parks and the Main Arena so it is not as much of a slog for RIPs. They have fancier toilets and showers and much more space. After experiencing all campsites at Download, I would happily shell out the extra cash for an RIP campsite.

Download also boasts a ‘Glamping’ option. You can hire a bus, a yurt, a bell tent, a cabin and even stay at the Download Hotel. The festival also accommodates campervans. I personally look forward to experiencing the Download Hotel one day as it is situated in an ideal location half way between the Download Village and the Main Arena.

Facilities

The ‘Download Village’ is a wonderful communal area just beyond the main gates. It has a place to shower, buy food, shop for emergency camping supplies and even do a spot of clothes shopping should the mood take you. It also has a whole host of entertaining things to do from fairground rides, to a cinema and this year, there was even a haunted looking chapel to get married in Vegas style.

Download Village Download Village by day. Photo Courtesy of Leanne Sullivan.

 

Download Village Download Village by night, photos courtesy of Leanne Sullivan and Andrew Wallwork

A few things worth mentioning about the Download Village is the superstars who are stationed there to look after us. They have their own Download Hospital in the village. I visited to have a nosy, they have trained staff nurses and doctors to look after the injured and the sick.

The festival also has its own Police Station within the village, filled with helpful officers there to keep the peace and watch out for our safety. There is a comforting police presence at Download, not overwhelming so it feels like a prison but they are present. I managed to collar two bobbies on the beat to escort me into the ‘Quiet Camping’ area when I was separated from my friends. Since I didn’t have a wristband for Quiet Camp I couldn’t enter. Though I was bordering on panic, they were reassuring and helpful and assisted me in finding my group again. I cannot tell you how thankful I was for their help!

Next door to the Police station is the Welfare Office. A lovely and much needed place where those who have over indulged end up, so as not to clog up the hospital. These guardian angels are there to watch over and monitor those who have had a bit too much, there to ensure their safety and a swift recovery. I spoke to these lovely people and while I don’t envy their jobs, I was thankful to know that they were there.

In the middle of the Download Village you can find The Samaritans. A tent filled with beanbags and friendly faces. If a person has problems, or just needed a chat these guys were there to lend an ear. I fully understand their presence and regularly saw people paying a visit. It is surprising how lonely a person can feel in a crowd of 90,000 people.

Personally I am a sucker for clothes shopping at Download. I want all the band tees to cling to in the when I am at home missing the Download experience, you can also buy cheap jewellery to remember the trip by from the likes of ‘Extreme Largenenss’. There is the option to buy some funky sunglasses that one will only ever wear at a festival, that stupid hat from ‘Prat In A Hat’ with horns on is available to make us feel like a Viking or perhaps a flower headband to channel your inner hippie is more up your street. Thankfully all these things can be found in the village.

The food stalls in the Download Village and Main Arena aren’t your typical burger vans, though you will find them too. There are things like The Noodle Box serving Chinese food. There are Mexican food stalls, Argentinean food and even a place serving Shawarma, which any Iron Man fan should be excited about. Turns out Shawarma is not to be missed.

Shawarma The Shawarma stall.

Another food stall that deserved special mention is Notso Katsu which served the most amazing chicken katsu curry and above all, the absolute saviours of my experience were Carbonis, serving up the finest Bacon Brioches in the entire world. So rest assured, even the pickiest eaters like myself will not be stuck for choice.

The village also provides a place to shower and lockers to charge your phone and store your valuables. However, there are stalls that will charge your phone for a price in a variety of different ways. You can buy a new and fully charged battery for your phone or leave it with them on charge, but the option I went for was to buy a ‘power bank’ with a full charge. The power banks can be bought for fifteen pounds and come fully charged. Imagine a small box as long as your palm and around two fingers in width that contains a USB port. Simply plug your phone into it and it acts as an external battery pack that eliminates the need to leave your phone anywhere while it charges. Charging on the go was easily the best option. For fifteen pounds that comes with a power bank and two tokens that you can exchange for another power bank per token when it runs out. If you return the power bank at the end of the festival they refund you five pounds. So really it is like ten pounds for three full charges of your phone.

Download Survival Guide

For those who have never been to Download, do not expect your first moments at the venue to be a walk in the park. Expect to find a parking spot and lumber yourself with only what you can carry and begin your arduous journey to your campsite.

*A word of caution to the over eager, MAKE MULTIPLE TRIPS. You will think to yourself, surely it can’t be that far to the campsite. Trust me. It is. Even if you have been before, sometimes our rose tinted Download spectacles make us forget the mission we endured last time.

*Take a trolley or anything with wheels. I guarantee you will be the envy of all the fools carrying their lives turtle style on their backs. But be prepared to pick it up when the grass and gravel hits momentarily and sporadically.

*Download went cashless by using RFID Dogtags, which was a revelation in itself. It hit the news that the system crashed but i had no such trouble. I actually preferred it, I didn’t have to fight with a wallet or loose change while buying drinks when I was itching to get back into the audience and watch my favourite artists play. It was a hell of a lot easier to function not having to constantly clutch your pockets to check if you still had your purse and phone. Though it was much easier to spend without feeling like you had spent. Typical credit or debit card syndrome, something to keep an eye on. A good thing about using this method is that each time you spend the dog tag reader machine tells you the manount of money you have left.

A word of caution: top up your RFID Dog Tag before you go to avoid my situation, a dodgy internet connection and battery life depleting by the second. This makes topping up on the internet when you get there a nightmare. There are designated areas in the village to top up but when you have been walking all day and arrive at your campsite, the last thing you want to do is go and locate one of these. The first thing you want to do is go and find a cold drink to buy, but with no cash on the dog tag, that is not going to happen. It is so easy to top up online, just do it at home.

*For twenty pounds you can recruit a ‘slave.’ A member of the download staff to wheel your gear in a trolley to your campsite, including as many trips back to the car as you need. Finding them is a problem, by the time I came across one I was already at death’s door and discovered my money hadn’t gone through on my R.F.I.D Dog Tag yet (sometimes it can take a few hours). Believe me, by this point you are willing to pay almost anything for someone to take your bags off you and twenty pounds feels like a bargain.

*Fitness freaks were getting their jog on as they made the trip backwards and forwards between campsite and car. People clutching bottles of water in full jogging attire were going ‘army style’ and making the torturous journey into a workout. An option for the mentally and physically prepared who want to endure the shower situation and don’t care about making their hair last for five days.

*Invest in dry shampoo and wet wipes. You may think you will be fine to use the showers, but when you discover the distance from the showers to your campsite you may think again. Sneaky tip, buy Babyliss Gas Cell Powered Straighteners. Though gas is not allowed in Download I have never once been stopped for them during a search. This is because the gas cell is tiny and the plastic container that it comes in is almost impenetrable to anything short of a chainsaw. No gas can leak either due to the cap having a ‘one way flow’ system to make it impossible to spill. It’s just basically a battery. One cell lasted me the entire trip and I still have some left in them now. They also heat up to 210 degrees. Ideal for sorting out the frizz in an emergency.

*I recommend taking only the bare essentials. Do not take food, it will only weigh you down and there are a plethora of delicious food vans to choose from never more than a short walk away from wherever you are. If you think about it, taking food means you also have to take a barbecue, plates, cutlery, a washing up bowl and washing up liquid. It’s just not worth it, you simply don’t have time to cook. Another point is anything raw won’t last more than a day due to the heat.
As a tea drinker, I am unable to function without a morning brew. I thought taking tea, a kettle and a hexi stove was the answer, since gas is not allowed. However my Hexi stove and fire lighters got wet and were unusable by the time morning came round. Luckily I had camped strategically opposite the amazing food van Carbonis who served the best food and drinks.

*Take enough money. Expect to spend anything between £3.50 to £7.50 on a meal plus around £2 for a non alcoholic drink. Plan to eat maybe twice a day but make each meal large to tide you over. Alcoholic drinks are anything from £4 upwards.

*Do not expect nice toilets. The first few days are bearable but after that, you pretty much go full Bear Grylls and survival instincts kick in. You manage to schedule as few trips as possible, identify the good toilets and the bad ones and just hold your breath. Luckily the loos in Media and Guest Camping were almost 5 star in comparison to the arena and normal campsites.

*Expect extreme weather conditions, either blistering heat or torrential rain. In every Download experience, the first day has been one or the other, never in between. 2015 saw my arrival day turn out to feel like Sahara equivalent conditions to this unsuspecting fair skinned individual with no sunscreen. One of the members of our group was caught in a queue for two hours and was badly burnt by the time evening fell. Note to self, take sunscreen and after sun if you don’t feel like spending money on it there.

*The only shoes you need are wellies, don’t try and bring a selection because I can guarantee you will not wear anything else. Everyone is in wellies, and the people who aren’t are wishing they were. When that inevitable Download downpour hits unexpectedly in the middle of the day, one minute it will be sunny and you’ll be choking on the dust kicked up by the masses, the next you will be wading through shin deep mud. Just don’t bother, coordinate your outfits with wellies or hiking boots. Ladies, a dress or denim shorts and wellies are surprisingly festival chic. Top it off with a headband or a straw hat and you’re good to go.

One of the members of our group (the same individual who got burnt) made the mistake of wearing trainers on the Friday, a storm hit and he was left wading through shin deep mud in trainers while I glided effortlessly in my beloved wellington boots. Download will chew you up if you fail to prepare or become too fashion conscious.

*Always have an emergency poncho. They don’t take up much space and when the rain hits like it did mid Slipknot performance, you won’t be able to go and seek cover because there is none. Neither can you put an umbrella up in a crowd, you will just end up committed to standing in sinking mud, exposed to the elements from above.

If you can avoid these pitfalls, your Download experience will be much more pleasant. The amazing thing about being in such close quarters with people is that you quickly start having a good time. This is not your usual festival, this is no ‘Park Life.’ People don’t come to Download to fight and cause trouble, you never hear of anyone being stabbed or maimed in any way. This is very much a festival to have a good time at, where everyone is in high spirits. It seems everyone is on the same page and never, in all my Download experiences, have I or any of my friends been involved in any sort of violence or confrontation.

On this experience I was camped alone in Media and Guest Camping, seemingly next to what might as well have been the characters from The Inbetweeners. A bunch of harmless and hilarious lads that put me at ease. I never worried for my belongings or safety once.

Friday 12th June

Dragonforce

Friday came round quickly and I was ready for a full day of bands to kick off. The first band on my agenda was Dragonforce. They played on the 3rd stage, also easily identified as ‘the one under the blue tent.’ Dragonforce is a British power metal band from London. Formed in 1999, the group is known for its long shiny hair and even longer, rapid guitar solos and fantasy-themed lyrics in their music to add to their retro video game-influenced sound. You might know them as the guys who took the top spot of the hardest song on Guitar Hero. ‘Through Fire And Flames’ is that song that, let’s be honest, everyone was waiting for. They didn’t disappoint when they played it either. This song could be heard emitting from the stage and the familiar sound dragged people over to watch. People were singing along from right at the back.

Though the sound during the set was not as good as it could have been, the vocalist Marc Hudson had brought his a A game and carried through. The band were playing flawlessly, it really was just a technical error. The prevailing opinion was that the song ‘Cry Thunder’ was where they brought it back. Suddenly the set takes an unexpected turn.
The band were joined by the unmistakable Babymetal on stage, which was news to me but I managed to enjoy it anyway. I looked around in confusion and everyone seemed in the same boat as the young members of Babymetal bounced onto the stage. The band ploughed out the song ‘Gimme Chocolate’ while Babymetal did their thing. I couldn’t actually believe what I was seeing but it happened. I saw it with my own two eyes while I stood stunned and gawping.

Babymetal’s song ‘Road Of Resistance’ was debuted late last year at the O2 Academy and is a collaboration between Babymetal and guitarists Herman Li and Sam Totman from Dragonforce so an onstage unity made sense after looking into it. It was definitely an experience.

Clutch

After that I high tailed it over to the main stage to watch Clutch. Clutch are an American band from Frederick, Maryland. The band formed in 1991 and the line-up has included Neil Fallon on vocals, rhythm guitar and keyboards, Tim Sult on lead guitar and backing vocals, Dan Maines on bass and backing vocals and Jean-Paul Gaster on drums and percussion from the very beginning. Clutch have released ten studio albums and are now signed by their own record label, Weathermaker. I admire their self efficiency and confidence. They oozed a cool calmness as they took to the stage.

The sun stayed out for them as they played, and they played extremely well indeed. The audience received them well throughout their set and they seemed to take it all in their stride. Their sound is tinged with a sort of southern country vibe as they perform songs from their album Earth Rocker. I hadn’t heard them before but I have since found myself listening to these guys. It was the perfect festival setting of great polished music, sunshine and an enthusiastic crowd.

I couldn’t pick out a flaw in their sound, playing or vocals. I found out that this was their first Download appearance but I would never have guessed. It was apparent that they were attracting people like myself, who hadn’t heard their music before as I noticed the crowd growing bigger and bigger by the minute. I admire a band that can pull in new listeners just by watching them live.

They ended on a climactic song called ‘Electric Worry.’ This was a great way to kick off Download, leaving everyone on a high note and ready for what was coming.

Five Finger Death Punch

Coming up on the same stage was Five Finger Death Punch. Having previously bought a few of their songs I was quite looking forward to their performance. It seemed like the good weather might even hold out for them.

Five Finger Death Punch are a heavy metal band from Las Vegas, Nevada and were formed in 2005. The line up has changed a little over the years, the original vocalist and bassist have been replaced but it doesn’t seem to have deterred them in the slightest. If fact, they seem to be going from strength to strength, I would go as far as to say their success is snowballing right now and Download welcomes them back after a six year absence. These guys set the bar high with a clean and well rehearsed performance that got the entire crowd moving and jumping in the blazing sunshine.

The band have released a total of six studio albums from which they played an array of songs. I could identify such hits like ‘Burn M.F.’ and ‘Under And Over’ plus many more lost to the excitement of seeing such a good band play. I really got the feeling that I was privileged to be standing so close to the stage for these guys, it seems they are most definitely on the up and I could see them as headliners one day. Watching the fans react when their favourite song was played was great to see. Early in the day and early in the entire festival, everyone was moving. They seemed so grateful for the crowd turnout and they were an absolute pleasure to watch.

Judas Priest

Next up were Judas Priest. The band that inspired many members of today’s metal industry to pick up an instrument. Guitarist Sammy Duet of Goatwhore told me in an interview that K.K. Downing was his personal inspiration. He will be pleased to know that when I saw Judas Priest’s current members on stage I could still see definite style resemblance.

Judas Priest are and English Heavy Metal band originally from Birmingham and formed in 1970. They have recorded album sales of over 45 million and MTV hailed them as the second ‘Greatest Metal Band’ of all time. A title that sounds harsher than it was taken I’m sure. Number two of all time is a great achievement.

A leather clad Rob Halford took to the stage to massive applause draped in the Black Country flag. What an entrance and reception. I got the feeling I was witnessing music royalty. I knew these guys influenced so many of the current bands and you can really see their talent.
These are a band that really seem to love what they do. They take great pride in their music and performance and they pretty much know they’re top dogs, still. A bunch of diehard fans in the front created a pit throughout the set, clearly these guys were their heroes.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching these legends, they performed songs such as ‘Metal Gods,’ ‘Jaw Breaker’ and ‘Hell bent for Leather.’ The energy was right up the entire time and the crowd engaged throughout. Chanting their songs back at them. I was with a couple of hardcore Judas Priest fans and their responses were mixed. One of them was overjoyed, loving every second and brimming with excitement but the other was left a little flat by them, one complaining about the pattern of the set having all the energy at the beginning being only slightly enthused by the encore song ‘Painkiller.’ While the other lost his mind when they played his song, so I guess it all depends on how many times you have seen these guys live beforehand.

On the one hand, why change a format that works? On the other perhaps it is better to mix it up so that the ‘know it alls’ of the crowd can be satisfied. I however, having never seen them live before was blown away both by their fandom and their music. I totally understood now the high status of this band and the reason for their fans loyalty. These guys are still pulling in new fans, even in this day and age. Seeing them live was an experience and a half for me. I felt so privileged to witness the legends in the flesh.

Slipknot

Speaking of legends, it was headliner time. Slipknot were up next. Since my early teens I have been a huge fan of Slipknot. By this time in the day the heavens had opened quite badly already and then died off again. Luckily I had foreseen the weather change and returned to my tent to put my wellies on. By the time I returned to the Main Arena, mud had reared its ugly head and ponchos were being donned.

A typical British summer evening had fallen and the light was fading, but now it was the rock giant Slipknot’s turn to take to the stage. People had been gathering early for their spot. The arena was packed to the back walls, I have no idea who was playing on the other stages at this point because there was nowhere else on the planet that I would rather have been. Standing in the Download mud waiting for the makers of the soundtrack to my teenage years was extremely exciting.

Slipknot Slipknot

A note of anticipation hung in the air as we waited. Though they weren’t even on yet, the start time approached and an excited hush descended over the Main Arena. Then the stage began to make noise and lights errupted.

Slipknot are an American heavy metal band from Iowa and formed in 1995. The band are iconic, with their performances in creepy cool masks and all those dreadlocks, all that movement and talent. I know, from posting to Twitter and Facebook live in the audience, what these guys mean to the fans. I had people messaging me to tell me that this band were the reason they are still alive, people telling me that their music got them through the toughest times in their lives. Another messaged me to tell me they had already seen them live and I was in for a treat. Slipknot must be consistently brilliant live because it was true. These really are rock gods of our time for people to find more comfort in music than anywhere else.

They played all the greats, personally I was hyped up from the beginning, only being pushed over the edge when they played such classics as ‘Duality’ and ‘Before I Forget.’ The songs were performed to absolute perfection. My arms were in the air and standing still was not an option. When I looked around everyone was the same way: there to worship at the Download altar.
Front man Corey Taylor seemed overwhelmed by the crowd’s response, he called us his family and I truly believed he felt that way. He said that the UK had always made them feel like they were ‘from here’ such was their reception every time. And this reception was no different. I actually felt glad for the band, the fans were clearly and openly adoring them. He called Download ‘hallowed ground’ showing us he understood what it meant to be here and even proposed a name change to ‘Downpour’ because the rain was only getting heavier since darkness had fallen and rain was coming down in droves. Corey even came out to the front of the stage to get rained on with his fans. He told us that he felt like he was home and to a huge fan like me, it was such an immense feeling.

 

The downpour deterred none of us however. I was dancing in the rain like no one was watching, this moment alone was enough to erase the hardships of the long journey from my mind. This moment was worth everything to get here. To stand in a field full of people unified by listening to one of their favourite bands of all time perform live, it doesn’t get better.

 

Slipknot had the works. Though it was only the Friday night, they had fire erupting from the stage, an amazing light display and the drummer even had a wildly rotating drum kit. To be fair, they had the least special effects out of all the headlining acts but they did not need them. The needed no help, no gimmicks. They held their own.

 

They even performed ‘Jump Da F**k Up’ and all 90,000 of us squatted down in the mud, on our own accord, ready to jump up on his queue. Corey was overwhelmed by the response and demanded the stage lights be turned to the audience so that he could get a good look at us all. He looked to his band in amazement and they exchanged shocked faces. To be united that way by a band is such a good experience. I can barely describe it, and when said band notices its fans unity, well it makes us fan boys and girls feel all warm and fuzzy inside. He kept saying ‘Oh My God’ at the way the crowd’s reacted, responded and all together lost their minds for Slipknot.

Slipknot @ Donwload Festival Slipknot @ Donwload Festival

In conclusion, I’d had my mind blown by one of the greatest bands in the world and I was devastated to see the back of them. He bid us farewell and thanked us and if I could have thanked him back I would, I certainly attempted to make my voice heard with the rest of them before they left the stage, until next time.

With a hoarse voice, drenched from head to toe I started the journey back to my campsite. Anyone who has been to Download will know that the journey out of the arena and back to the village is a treacherous one. Imagine 90,000 people all heading in the same direction, through mud that had been churned into a buttery consistency, trying to get out through two gates and be filtered to where they need to go. It is like a scene from Quarantine. Everyone is on a weary high, being pelted with rain and wading through shin deep mud.

Slipknot Slipknot

This is usually the time we are treated to such classic festival goings on as repeatedly shouting ‘Fenton!!!’ Or shouting the name ‘Alan!’ until someone else further along hears it and shouts ‘Alan’ and the name ‘Alan’ is carried on a Mexican wave of voices all shouting ‘Alan’ for no reason other than to see how far it can travel. Another classic is when one person shouts ‘Spartans! What is your profession!?’ and the response is a Spartan battle cry, repeated three times, as loudly as possible by every single person in ear shot. It just doesn’t get old.

Luckily for me Press Camping is right opposite the arena so I abandoned my friends and returned to my tent, bacon brioche in hand to find that it had been totally flooded by the downpour. In too much of a good mood to care I retreated to the thankfully dry sleeping compartment to listen to the pouring rain on the roof and deal with it in the morning.

There are parts of the Download experience that put strain on us but I can assure you they are all totally out shadowed by the great times available. The sense of community, the endless parties, the fact that everyone is there for a good time and of course the bands. It is like a break from real life and whether you are with friends or alone like I was, a good time can be had by all.

Saturday 13th June

Hollywood Undead

The following day kicked off with Hollywood Undead. I actually don’t mind a few of Hollywood Undead’s songs, at lease I used to. The ones I do like are absolute party anthems, just a little sexist and homophobic. They are quite unlike most bands on the scene. They categorise themselves as ‘Rap Rock’ and hail from LA. They formed in 2005 and after a slightly turbulent start, managed to secure the current members they still have today.

The band burst on to the stage in their usual style, faces covered in masks and full of energy as they performed their hit song ‘Undead.’ With this song, these guys really bring it. This is such a high energy song, really gets the crowd going. It was probably my favourite song of theirs and while they performed it well, their set went in pretty much the same order as it did when I last saw them play Download in 2011.

Hollywood Undead @ Download Festival Hollywood Undead @ Download Festival

This is the kind of song that makes you feel pumped up, maybe a little angry and defiant. It is all about defending themselves. The song is like a retaliation, a middle finger to all those who oppose them. It is full of swearing and punchy lyrics. Over all I like the tunes and performance, but there was the aspect of it being exactly the same as the last time I saw them and crowd interaction left a little to be desired.

They pulled in a good crowd, not the biggest but by no means the smallest. They played at a time of day where there was a slight lull. The weather was drizzly and overcast and the mood was a little low. It is hard to go from the last band you saw being Slipknot in dramatic weather with songs of epic standards, to this.

There were a lot of people down at the front who were thoroughly into it and there was nothing particularly wrong with their set. They also played their other anthemic song ‘Everywhere I go.’ This song is an ‘in your face’ party starter. The kind of song that is played during pre drinks in a ‘frat house’ or whatever the English equivalent is, before a big night out or a party. It is about getting drunk basically and having a good time.

The downside? their songs objectify women to the extreme and a lot of their lyrics have slightly homophobic undertones, it makes them seem dated and behind the times. Listening to them in 2015 is a little like listening to your slightly senile, accidentally racist grandparent tell you how it used to be back in the day. It makes you wince and want to buy the book for old people called ‘Why You Can’t Say That Anymore Grandad.’

Perhaps I am being too politically correct, I know that nowadays their lyrics are unacceptable, but the other side of the argument is that these songs were written in a time where everyone on the rap scene was talking this way. Whether they have shot themselves in the foot, or will do well for being a bit ‘provocative’ I don’t know. Their outlook on the world has made them seem extremely out of touch and even Eminem was criticised for the same choice of words in the past. Homophobia is a big word to throw around I know, and I don’t really think any of them are, I just think they use these loaded words to pack a punch. But it does seem that 2015 is over it and it is time to have a rethink.

I definitely think any new lyrics they come up with should be thought about a little harder, but their old songs are so catchy that some will actually forgive them for the ‘blokey’ lyrics. I do suspect that it is just their style and image, even though it is no excuse and they should still be held accountable like the rest of the world.

I don’t think they are actively trying to perpetuate sexism and homophobia but they are guilty of throwing around the word ‘faggot’ and ‘queer’ quite a bit in a very derogatory sense, plus the usual words thrown around in relation to women which don’t bother me personally, even though I know they probably should in this day and age. They even asked girls in the audience to get their boobs out, but they are a bunch of ‘tough guys’ guys from LA with seemingly violent backgrounds. I don’t know, maybe they have unmet childhood needs but their defiant and rebellious attitude is what sets them apart and while it is infectious, I secretly hate myself for putting up with them in the past purely because of the lyrical content and my own previous ability to overlook all the obscenities. In conclusion, the band have good tunes but appalling lyrics and I am torn on my verdict as to whether they are still good or not.

Will they change with the times? Or will they be so defiant that they go down with their homophobia propelled ship. I guess time will tell. I can’t help guessing that they won’t change because all publicity is good publicity, even if it is damning in nature.

Parkway Drive

I managed to catch a small snippet of Parkway Drive shortly after. Parkway Drive are a metal core band from Byron Bay, Australia. They formed in 2002 and have released four albums to date, each going from strength to strength in their own scene.

They pulled in a dedicated crowd as the rain began to fall heavily. They had a high octane mosh pit and really fuelled the crowd with their music and energy. These guys were so much different from Hollywood Undead personality wise. They were charming and easy going as all Australians seem to be. They seemed unpretentious and likable characters and quite frankly, I was glad to finally stop holding my breath in the hope that Hollywood Undead might just stop talking and quit offending everyone already. They didn’t, but Parkway drive cheered me up about it and were a breath of fresh air in comparison.

I have heard some bad reviews of their new song ‘Vice Grip’ but I didn’t mind it at all. They played quite a few fan favourites but the crowd really amped up the excitement factor when they covered Rage Against The Machine’s ‘Bulls On Parade.’ That was a fantastic cover and even got me moving.

Marilyn Manson

Shortly after I made my way over to the Encore stage to see one of my favourite artists of all time, Marilyn Manson. This guy was one of my absolute idols and a peculiar choice of heart throb for my teen self and alternative teenagers the world over. I loved his music, his look and his badass care free personality. I loved how he went against the grain and pushed boundaries. Notice all of my compliments to the man are in the past tense.

For those who don’t know, and I don’t know how they would not know, Marilyn Manson is an absolute goth culture icon. Originally from Ohio, he describes himself as a musician, songwriter, artist, actor, painter and more surprisingly, former music journalist. The former music journalist should have engaged his knowledge of live performance as, to be frank, the man did not do so well up there on the Encore Stage that day and it was devastating to watch my one of my favourites off his game.

Other reviews painted the picture of him being back on form, I don’t know what show they were watching but it certainly wasn’t the one that I saw. I saw Marilyn Manson almost a decade back in concert in Manchester and he was absolutely fantastic, a great showman and I honestly counted myself amongst his biggest fans but I was really not impressed with this performance.
He arrived on the stage, full of promise and excitement. It was as soon as he began his first song I thought to myself that something was off. My reaction was not alone, I eyed up everyone standing around me and they seemed to be thinking the same. So I waited and listened to him play through the hits. I got through ‘Disposable teens,’ ‘Mobscene,’ ‘Sweet Dreams,’ all the ones you would expect. I know these songs inside out and he was still no better as time passed. He seemed to be slurring, he was out of breath and barely saying his lyrics. He just seemed to be making his classic screamy screech to perfection but not actually forming any words. I really don’t want to accuse him of being under the influence of something but I had no idea what was wrong with him. He could have been tired, feeling lazy, maybe a little uninterested. I didn’t want to believe that the king of goth culture had lost his mojo.

He said odd things too, apparently the reason he was wearing sunglasses (so he said, not that anyone asked) was because the audience was ‘so green it was blinding him.’ Since Corey Taylor was super grateful for everyone’s turn out I was a little taken aback. Though I suppose that it is Marilyn’s image to be unpredictable and a little offensive, maybe lay off biting the hands that feed you. He also went on to make a joke that fell apart. I can’t remember exactly how he worded it but it was mildly racist and worded horrifically wrong.

People were shaking their heads and walking away, and I stuck it out for as long as I could. It was tough to watch one of my idols not doing so well and eventually I gave up and began to join the people walking away.

Then he began to play ‘Dope Show.’ One of my favourite songs so I stop in my tracks and turn around hopefully. Unfortunately that too was not up to scratch so sadly I walk away before he taints any more of my love for him, excuse the pun.

Muse

This is when I went to the Main Stage. Lo and behold Muse were in full swing. I have only ever liked a few songs by Muse, I never really gave them a shot or even much of a second glance and I was a bit depressed about Marilyn Manson, but Muse were absolutely killing it!

Muse are a British rock band from Devon and formed back in 1994. The band consists of Matthew Bellamy on lead vocals, guitar, piano and keyboard. Christopher Wolstenholme on bass guitar, and backing vocals and Dominic Howard on drums, percussion and synthesisers.

Considering there are just three of them making the music, they make quite a big sound!
I found myself bouncing over to join in with a song I knew and before I knew it I had forgotten my grief for Marilyn. They were spectacular live and though I had my doubts that they were good enough to headline Download on the Main Stage they really, really delivered and I was so incredibly wrong. They had a huge crowd and despite how often they chart in mainstream music, they have a lot of genuine music aficionados amongst their fans. Technically they were easily by far superior to anyone else that day. Their sound was perfect, there were no faults or flaws in their performance and the awards they have won for live music are indeed well deserved.

Darkness fell rapidly as I watched them and as it did the stage came to life. Amazing light shows wowed the audience. Then they set off giant cannons of red confetti and white streamers into the air during the epic song ‘Mercy’.

Gasps of awe followed as the audience was showered in red. All hands were in the air trying to catch it. It was visually stunning to be part of and the act of showering us in confetti, streamers and the activated smoke machines made the stage look like it was a blaze with red and orange flames. It was easily the most amazing moment of the entire Download experience for me.

Muse @Download Festival Muse @Download Festival

They released huge inflatable balls during the epic climax to the song ‘Reapers.’ The balls were unleashed upon the crowd and volleyed about by everyone clambering to touch them and push them back into the air. It was amazing to see and the inflatables were huge. Clearly they were designed to burst after a short time and eventually they all disappeared to the disappointment of everyone hoping to get a volley in. Still though they set quite the scene, it looked ethereal, alien almost. From where I was stood with the lights behind them they looked like planets colliding.

 

Muse @ Download Festival Muse @ Download Festival

They played ‘Super Massive Black Hole,’ ‘Time Is Running Out’ and a plethora of other fan favourites. They truly were a joy to watch. For the encore they played to astoundingly good ‘Knights Of Cydonia.’ Another Guitar Hero special of mine. As if their set wasn’t insane enough they finish with this song, this song that stops people who want to leave the arena before everyone else does in their tracks. We were all at the mercy of Muse at this point. No one was leaving, I too was committed to watching them until the very end.

 

Muse @ Download Festival Muse @ Download Festival

I heard people saying how surprised they were at their talent and how good they were live. A ripple of shock was sent through Download that night as we were all reminded that the British music scene didn’t die with Judas Priest, these guys are owning it in their completely original way. Muse are on top of the English rock scene and quite rightly so. I never thought I would be here giving them this much praise but I was honestly blown away by how on form they were and how they show absolutely no signs of stopping. They single handedly pulled Saturday out of the gutter, and everyone present agreed.

Another day passed and I return to my waterlogged tent, again enjoying the high that only amazing live music can deliver. I find myself never wanting to leave this place. Returning to normality at this point feels like a death sentence and I am painfully aware that I only have one day left in this fantastic atmosphere.

Godsmack

Godsmack @ Download Festival Godsmack @ Download Festival

Sunday I kicked off with Godsmack. Godsmack are an American alternative metal band from Massachusetts. Since their formation in 1995 they have released six studio albums that have seen songs featured in video games and film. One song in particular called ‘I Stand Alone’ was featured on the video game Prince Of Persia: The Two Thrones and also in The Scorpion King to this date is one of my favourite songs.

The band have gone from success to success, touring with Ozzfest, Download Festival to name a few as well as many of their own arena tours. The Mayor of Boston even declared the 6th of August ‘Godsmack Day.’ A day that, now I know about it, will be acknowledged.
The band kicked off with the song ‘1000hp’ to raucous applause from the audience. It was a wet afternoon, overcast and grey but Godsmack were undeterred. Front man Sully Erna even commenting on how grateful they were that, though they had a middle of the day slot and the weather was appalling, there was a huge turn out from their fans.
I gauged the mood of the audience as they played, everyone was moving, there was a pit down the front and faces were smiling and nodding along with the songs. Rain came down harder and the dedicated bunch donned ponchos and put hoods up, just to stand there in the mud and watch Godsmack do what they do best.

Having never seen Godsmack live before I was extremely impressed with the vocals from Mr Erna. He sounded just like he does on the tracks and his technique seemed effortless. He reached all notes perfectly and, in comparison to Marilyn Manson wheezing and slurring his way through his set on the same stage the previous day, this guy breezed through like it was no big deal. They sounded polished, like the tunes was just flowing from them with ultimate ease.
They played fan favourites such as ‘Something Different,’ ‘Whatever’ and then finally they played the song I had waited twelve years of my life to see live. The opening bars to ‘I Stand Alone’ began to play, the distinctive dirty screech of the guitars being bent and moulded into Godsmack’s signature sound. The crowd, myself included, went wild.

His vocals were perfect, the instruments were perfect. The moment had come where I finally heard this song live and they did not disappoint at all. Every harmonisation and riff was exactly how it should sound and I commend them for delivering this song in such a spectacular way. This was good, old fashioned, no frills rock music delivered by a modern band.

The song drew to a close and the band left the stage, I was semi convinced they would come back and do an Encore, wishful thinking as I wanted to hear more of my favourite songs. I had hoped for the song ‘I F***ing Hate You.’ But in good showman style, they left me wanting more. Perhaps I will catch them in concert next time they are in town and get to hear it then.

Billy Idol

Next on my list of must sees was Billy Idol. I didn’t actually realise how many of Billy Idol’s songs I knew until I heard him play them all. Billy Idol is an English rock musician, songwriter and actor. He has been on the scene since around 1977 and cut his teeth in the punk rock genre, the man must be pushing sixty but to my delight he has still got ‘it’ by the bucket load!

Personally I hadn’t been overly excited about seeing Billy Idol, I was in the vicinity of the Main Stage when he made his appearance, actually I was stood in the queue of a food stall to get my hands on some curly fries since my energy was flagging. Then I heard a song that I was surprised to know. The opening of ‘Dancing With Myself’ began to play and I turned around to see, rather clearly and closer than I expected, a blonde and bouncing Billy Idol taking to the stage. He began to sing and that was it, my mood lifted immediately. A song I recognised from my childhood was playing. It started with a toe tap and before I knew it I was dancing in the queue for my curly fries. I turned around to see everyone else in the queue also poncho clad and dancing along to ‘Dancing With Myself.’ Even the people in the food stall were dancing as they were serving.

Billy Idol Billy Idol

This was a spectacle that I hadn’t seen at Download yet. Usually the dancing is more like excited jumping, moshing and fist pumping but this was different. There were happy smiles on everyone’s faces, couples young and old were dancing together in a mock giddy Waltz, twirling each other and laughing out loud. The entire audience as far as my eyes could see were dancing merrily like dads at a family ‘do.

Billy Idol seemed like a humble guy, though he had clearly gained a lot of success over the years, he was a pleasure to watch, even when he was just speaking to the audience. He said he would be playing some of his hits and then went on to laugh that his hits were about thirty years old and released before a lot of us were even born. He seemed so jolly and nice natured, though the rain was drizzling everyone was now in good spirits because of the infectious charisma of the man.

Billy Idol Billy Idol

He went on to sing such classics as ‘White Wedding’ which had us all dancing like it was the 80’s again. The man has energy in spades and wherever he is getting it from, I want some. I would be happy to be at least half as full of vitality when I am his age. He had a fantastic and enviable tan, a deep V in his white shirt with trademark bleach blonde hair and to be frank, he looked amazing. I was well and truly in his corner by the time the set drew to a close. He stripped off to his waist to cries and whoops from the audience.

He even treated us to his massive hit ‘Rebel Yell,’ I would go as far to say he sounds better now live than he even did on his old tracks. His tunes belted out and were so well received. I was happy that I’d made the decision to hang around the Main Stage when I did. I would put him up there as one of the best acts at Download 2015, while he is not heavy metal, the man is damn entertaining.

Slash Featuring Myles Kennedy And The Conspirators

Slash Featuring Myles Kennedy And The Conspirators Slash Featuring Myles Kennedy And The Conspirators

Coming up on the same stage was the real reason I was here. My new and current favourites were about to take to the stage. It was time for the mighty Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators. Myles Kennedy, described as rocks current ‘golden boy’ lived up to his status.
As we all know, Slash is a rock heavy weight, being the guitarist of Guns N Roses and the super group Velvet Revolver. He is a British – American singer songwriter, though it is hard to believe his British half is from Stoke…of all the exotic places in the world. It was around 2009 that he teamed up with vunderkind Myles Kennedy.

Myles Kennedy is known for being the lead singer and guitarist of the ‘successful in their own right’ band, Alter Bridge. However now I’m pretty sure that Slash has stolen him. They have collaborated on the astonishingly good albums Apocalyptic Love and World On Fire. Both of these albums seemed to burst on to the music scene from nowhere and take the rock world by storm. Personally I have both of these albums on repeat on a daily basis. It has been the soundtrack to my 2015 and helped me fall in love with the old style rock scene again.

Slash Featuring Myles Kennedy And The Conspirators Slash Featuring Myles Kennedy And The Conspirators

The sound of the albums is like no other out there at the moment. It sounds like classic rock, every song sounds like a hit from around the times when Guns N Roses were in their hey day and music was on the up. Dare I say it, it sounds better. It is as though these two lived the era the first time round and then brought it back, improved on it and put it out there for all of us to enjoy so that this generation could experience the wonder of theirs.

On first hearing Slash and Myles together, I admit had my reservations. I was a hardcore Guns N Roses fan to begin with. To the untrained ear at first he sounded a little like Axl Rose. But within one song I was won over. That song was called ’30 Years To Life.’ I followed it up with ‘World On Fire’ and then I was hooked. Myles Kennedy is not a poor man’s Axl Rose, more of an Axl 2.0 for those who want to compare the two. Now I feel like there is no comparison as Myles wipes the floor with almost everyone attempting this style of singing. Give it a few days listening to these two, his astounding vocal range and talent coupled with Slash’s oldschool riffing and you will be left like I was: Axl who? To many that will be blasphemous to say, but give Myles a chance, the kid knows what he is doing. You won’t be disappointed by the sheer talent of the man.

Slash Featuring Myles Kennedy And The Conspirators Slash Featuring Myles Kennedy And The Conspirators

I stood waiting eagerly in my Slash ‘World On Fire’ band tee, having not left the Main Stage since Billy Idol to ensure a good place in the crowd. They took to the stage and it was like watching history unfold right before me. Slash had his classic top hat and shades on, he was just yards away from me. We were seeing a living legend standing before us on that stage and he played so well, the seems to flow from him with ease. Myles belted out the opening song ‘You’re A Lie’ to the sound of screaming female fans, myself included. Did I mention that not only is Myles ridiculously talented but an absolute heart throb to boot? Well seeing him in person was no let down and the males of my group admitted to a giant man cush.

 

Slash Featuring Myles Kennedy And The Conspirators Slash Featuring Myles Kennedy And The Conspirators

The two of them could have easily just performed songs from their albums together, the fans, myself included, would not have batted an eyelid. I would have been overjoyed to see them play the albums I had listened to all year. But it seemed Slash was feeling generous and Myles was up for the challenge as they treated us to four Guns N Roses songs, including ‘Nightrain,’ ‘You Could Be Mine,’ the smash hits ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ and ‘Paradise City.’ They threw in ‘Slither’ by Velvet Revolver for good measure and while we all knew Slash could play his own songs, it was Myles Kennedy who pulled it out of the bag, performing the hits even better than Axl Rose.

The man was on fire, he sang effortlessly and the audience lapped them up up. His crowd interaction was phenomenal and he oozed a cool confidence, completely holding his own standing next to Slash singing the monster hits we all know and love. He and Slash clearly have an adorable bromance on the go, regularly stopping in passing to interact with each other. It was great to see.

As for the songs from their own collaborations, we were treated to such fan favourites as ‘Avalon,’ ‘The Dissident,’ ‘World On Fire’ and ‘Anastasia.’ Anastasia is a powerful song and Slash played it on a double necked guitar, one half acoustic and the other electric. The intro to ‘Anastasia’ sounds like an acoustic Spanish mash up that then catapults us into and electric storm of awesome sounds and explores just how wide Myles Kennedy’s vocal range is and just how talented Slash is at the help of his ship.

The set ended all too quickly with ‘Paradise City’ Easily the climax of the entire experience was now over, I feared from here on no one would live up. The general feeling of the crowd that I could gauge was that this set was performed perfectly. I heard a thousand compliments for Myles Kennedy’s performance and if I’m honest, they were all true. He and Slash are a force to be reckoned with and it is obvious why they have gravitated towards each other. Musically they are a match made in heaven.

In Flames

Next up were In Flames. In Flames are a Swedish heavy metal band from Gothenburg. They formed in 1990 and have released a total of eleven studio albums. The band had good crowd interaction and I appreciated their presence but their set, in all honesty, left me a little wanting. It is hard to follow Slash and Myles however.

Front man Anders Friden seemed in high spirits as he showed his appreciation for us standing in the mud, slowly sliding down the incline towards the stage, such was the weight of the rain falling on us all.

They kicked off with ‘Only The Weak’ and while I do like the band and listen to them, I couldn’t help but feel that maybe this wasn’t their best performance, the sound seemed off and a little hard to hear. They played one of my favourites ‘A Quiet Place’ and I’m sorry to say, I couldn’t actually tell that it was the song they were playing until the chorus kicked in, and even then I wasn’t thrilled. Other people seemed to be enjoying themselves though, perhaps the weather put a damper on things, perhaps the sound was clearer closer to the stage, but for me they weren’t as on form as Godsmack were on the same stage earlier in the day.

Motley Crue

Also playing on the Sunday were Motley Crue on the Main Stage. I was blown away by the size of their audience. It was the largest I had seen so far for an act that weren’t headlining. I was so far back I could have done with a pair of binoculars to see the stage.

Motley Crue @ Download Festival Motley Crue @ Download Festival

Motley Crue are and American Band formed in LA in 1981. The band contains such famous names as Vince Neil and Tommy Lee. By 1985 they were well embedded in the genre of Glam Metal. They have a reputation for their hedonistic lifestyle laced with heavy drug use, probably a reason for the deterioration of their physical appearance over the years. I don’t want to ruin Motley Crue and slate them for a bad performance, in the past I have listened to their music and been a fan of theirs but unfortunately these guys were another band at this festival that perhaps didn’t deliver as well as they could have.

Vince Neil sounded screechy and out of breath. He could barely make it through a line without stopping for a breather, I know they are old and slightly ailing in the health department but I do have to tell the truth!

Motley Crue Motley Crue

They played songs from The Sex Pistols and controversially enough Gary Glitter, plus a few of their own hits such as ‘Girls Girls Girls’ and ‘Wild Side’. The stage had all the frills, fire erupting and even a few backing dancers. I assumed this was all an attempt to distract us from how off their game they were, though simply jazzing up the stage did not save them.

They did however pull in the largest crowd for a non-headlining act. There was so many people who had turned out to see them the view was astonishing. It was a little like the Marilyn Manson situation, I saw fans looking at each other with disappointed faces and even a few leaving. I didn’t stick around long because quite frankly, it was difficult to watch.

Motley Crue Motley Crue

I was not to forget that this was their farewell tour, I appreciated that this was a goodbye to the fans and maybe it would be easier for the fans to actually let them go, knowing they were on the way out. They could have easily called it a day and retired but I do think the general mood was that they were there to say goodbye to the fans and not really draw in new ones like Billy Idol did.

I will say this for the fans, they were many in number and undeterred by the bad weather. These guys were clearly mighty in their day and should be respected for that, but time spares no one.

Kiss

Finally, the last act of Download 2015 had arrived. The drizzle was coming down, the temperature had dropped for the first time all weekend but the Download goers were still out in full force to see the headliners. Kiss made their appearance. The band are from Brooklyn, New York and was formed in 1973 by founders Gene Simmons and Paul Stanely. There was some controversy around comments recently made by Gene Simmons but this didn’t seem to phase the fans tonight.

Kiss @Download Festival Kiss @Download Festival

Kiss would definitely need to deliver to top the likes of Slipknot and Muse who had absolutely smashed it in the previous nights. They kicked off with ‘Detroit Rock City’ and burst onto the scene. They had their trade mark makeup on and treated us to a theatrical show in their usual unique style. They had everything from fire, to lasers, to strobe lights, dry ice and fireworks. They had a screen as a backdrop too which alternated between their Kiss logo in flashing lights and a fire breathing dragon flying around.

They played their instruments in classic unison, choreographed like a dance they all moved as one. Considering their age they had phenomenal energy and flexibility! These guys pulled in all types of people, I stood between veteran leather clad rockers and a bunch of hippies straight out of the seventies who were dancing like it was Woodstock and air guitarring with a camping chair.

Kiss Kiss

Kiss were so well choreographed it felt more like watching a Broadway show. It wasn’t an attempt to hide their short falls, it actually enhanced their performance and entertained the masses. Even if you are not a Kiss fan, these guys are not to be missed live.

At one point in the set, Gene Simmons picks away at his guitar and shows us all his shockingly long tongue, which is still shocking even though I’ve seen it a thousand times on TV. In true theatrical showmanship style he began chewing on something and fake blood oozed from his mouth to cheers from the crowd. Obviously the man still loves to shock and thrill as he stared out over the crowd like a rabid beast in all that makeup, bleeding from the mouth. Whatever the purpose was, it worked!

Kiss Kiss

They even took to the front of the stage to bust out a few riffs while fireworks shot from the end of the guitar. It was fantastic to see and a definite crowd pleaser. Towards the end of the set, during the song ‘Love Gun,’ Paul Stanley straps himself into a harness and zip wires out over the crowd. It was an astonishing performance and a real way to close Download with a literal bang. They had confetti and streamers to rival Muse, giant Catherine wheels and a phenomenal fireworks display at the end.

Kiss Kiss

The band played such classics as ‘Calling Dr Love,’ ‘War Manchine,’ God Of Thunder’ as well as a three song Encore which ended with ‘God Gave Rock And Roll To You.’ Which was coupled with the intense firework display. The last song was highly appropriate as all hands were in the air and energy levels at an all time high. It did actually feel like God gave rock and roll to us that in that moment. Seeing everyone in unison, the overwhelmingly large crowd of around 90,000, Download 2015 really delivered some rock gods to us.

Kiss Kiss

Though the weather didn’t exactly hold up and swung from one extreme to the other, the bands delivered a fantastic show and made all the rain, the mud, the flooded tents, the sunburn and the long walks worthwhile. Through all the ups and downs that Download brings with its rebellious atmosphere and even more rebellious weather, it is still, and will always be the place to be for amazing music and fantastic company.

The experience is addictive and should not be missed by any rock music lover. It is the ideal alternative to a holiday abroad, I dare say I even prefer it. You are guaranteed to make new friends, have a memorable time and still be talking about it in years to come. In conclusion, get yourselves to Download 2016, take my advice and just live it yourself.

Share
Copyright © The Independent Voice 2018