And so there goes another Download Festival. A week on and I've got severe withdrawal symptoms, which is generally the case as I sit on the Sunday editing together my Download Review show, which you can listen to on TotalRock Radio, Monday 20th June from 6-9pm (BST).
It features some of the bands that played over the weekend, along with my interviews with Cheap Trick, Black Stone Cherry, Alter Bridge, Thin Lizzy, Dio's Disciples, Disturbed, Collapse, Million $ Reload, Starseed, Kill 21, Heaven's Basement and Never Means Maybe.
And back to my weekend... I never learn and always make the mistake of travelling to Download on the Friday morning, which then consists of a mad rush to get there, find accreditation for passes, pitch the tent, run to press, do some interviews and finally relax and watch some bands.
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First up for me was FM who played the Pepsi Max stage, a very gentle way of easing into the weekend, but I never fail to smile when they play. As ever, their set was great, albeit way too short and definitely missing some of their classics.
I managed to miss most of the other bands I wanted to see that evening, due to the rain and trying to catch up with so many people and of course eat! Something I generally forget to do at festivals and then wonder why I feel so bad after necking so much vodka.
But fed and watered we battled the elements and made our way out for Friday headliners, Def Leppard, and what a great way to get you in the party mood. I've read other reviews of their set and most people complained about the amount of ballads. Well, all you need to do to enjoy it is grab someone stood next to you (or the boys from The Virginmarys in my case) and dance round like a crazy fool. Tracks from my favourite Lep album, 'Pyromania', seemed to rule the setlist, hence why I probably enjoyed them more than most. Pyros, impressive backdrops and some good old singalongs made for a great way to close the first day.
And so on to Saturday, which was the day I was looking forward to most. Not just because it was sun cream day, but because some of my favourite bands were playing.
Skin on the Jagermeister acoustic stage were great and I can't wait to see a full electric set later this year. Nev and Myke looked comfortable to be back at Donington Park, almost as happy as when I saw them play Monsters of Rock in 1994. Finishing their set with 'Look But Don't Touch' left the crowd wanting so much more; roll on High Voltage.
I managed to catch a little bit of Skindred, as I walked through the site to the media area to start my interviews for that day. And you can certainly see why they won Best Live Act at Metal Hammer's Golden Gods. Benji Webbe's Union Jack coat was visible from the crowd, even watching from as far back as me.
And after my interviews finally came to an end, I made the trek up to the second stage to watch three of my favourite bands play back-to-back. Now that's what I call a Saturday night festival party.
Cheap Trick took to the stage and played quite an odd selection of songs, but did include hits, 'Dream Police', 'I Want You To Want Me' and 'Surrender'. Rick Nielson seemed to have ordered in an extra few thousand picks to throw into the crowd tonight and Robin Zander showed Vince Neil how to front a band, with his all-white ensemble.
And they were a great way to warm you up for the Gods of Metal, who were next on stage. Twisted Sister took to the stage with an unusually glam-less Dee. And their performance proves that it's been twenty eight years too long of them being absent at the home of Metal.
All the favourite tracks were packed in there and Dee even had a little pop at Live Nation for putting two acts on at the same time and making people choose. The best thing about watching Twisted Sister, apart from the fact that they are one of the best live bands to hit any stage, if not THE best, is the way that Dee Snider manages to command the audience, as if in charge of some 'Twisted' cult. A nine track stonking set culminating with the absolute classic 'I Wanna Rock', left the hordes of rockers desperate for more.
And how could Alice Cooper follow that? Well quite simply he couldn't! Don't get me wrong, I still loved it, it just didn't wow me, like the Long Island boys just had. With a set full of the usual props, I wonder if it's time to either change his show, or desperately overhaul them for the days of the big screen. The guillotine just doesn't have the same effect when shown up close.
It was a great mix of tracks and contained the usual singalongs, ending with 'Elected'. But as I walked back to the campsite I was left singing Twisted Sister, and long into the night too.
For the final day, I awoke to that lovely sound of rain falling on my tent, wondering just how long it would last, and as I peeked outside I realised it wasn't going anywhere. So fully kitted in wet weather gear, I traipsed onto site.
Running for cover in one of the many tents in the VIP or Media area when the rain fell at its heaviest. I attempted to go and see Starseed in the Pepsi Max stage, but just couldn't get anywhere near it, so off I went back to the safety of the tents. Until the question of whether to brave the rain for Buckcherry or not was raised. And the general consensus was that we'd go and see them. And I'm so glad I did. Read my full review of Buckcherry on here for just why it was worth risking hypothermia.
Finally there seemed to be some sign of the rain stopping, just in time for The Cult. By the time we got up to the second stage, it had stopped and The Cult opened their set with 'Rain'. I thought this might be a bad omen, but it stayed away. Billy Duffy made a remark about everyone looking like a bunch of fishermen and when the camera cut to the crowd you could see why. The Cult managed to warm us up and I almost love watching the audience dancing, more than the band.
And so it was time for the final band of the weekend for me. Rob Zombie. Wow, what a show. If you were at the UK tour anytime in February, you'll know just how visually stunning the show is, but this turned it up to 11. However, the giant pink balloons kicked into the crowd for 'Sick Bubble-Gum' on the tour were replaced with tiny little multi coloured beach balls for a festival. A very odd decision.
The pyros and constant flames were very welcome to warm us up and people started peeling off layers and the fisherman look. 'Superbeast', 'Living Dead Girl', 'Super-Charger Heaven' and 'Thunder Kiss 55' were my personal favourites, but the absolute brilliant way to end a festival was with his encore 'Dragula'.
On my way back to party into the night (Lady Starlight was playing an 80s cheese fest in the VIP tent) I noticed how empty the site had become. Well I guess a combination of persistent rain and Linkin Park is enough for most people to make an early escape.
After all the negative comments I've heard about Download and the weak line-up, I have to disagree. There were enough bands to keep me entertained and the best thing was that were hardly any band clashes throughout the weekend. Well done Mr Copping, now let's get it back on track for 2012. Poison and Van Halen please!