||AWESOME STAGE SHOWS, KILLER PERFORMANCES, RAIN, MUD AND MORE RAIN MADE FOR A MORE THAN MEMORABLE DOWNLOAD 2016
Luke 'Loki' Milne
Arguably one of England's largest and most talked-about annual music events, Download Festival carries a rich history filled with exciting stage performances, once-in-a-lifetime line-ups and a constantly growing community of dedicated fans and followers. Along with Bloodstock Open Air and Sonisphere, Download Festival embodies a huge part of British rock music culture.
Over the course of it's 13 years of existence (not counting the prerequisite Monsters Of Rock era of 1980-1996) the importance of Download Festival among alternative music communities has developed to such a point that that word still spreads across friendship groups long after Donnington has closed it's gates for yet another year.
Even in the midst of winter, you'll hear tales of awesome stage shows, killer performances, that one time one of your mates got shrink-wrapped from head to toe and thrown into a bin and - in more recent years - how much it fucking rained.
Yes folks, it's true that recent Download Festival years have been plagued by rain, and sadly 2016 has been no different. In truth, I'm bringing this up now so we can just get the fuck over it. It's England, it rains. We know this. It's not "news".
I didn't arrive at the gates of the "hallowed ground" to get a fresh tan; I came here to watch some fuckin' rock music! So fuck the rain, fuck the soggy tents and fuck the waterlogged campsites... let's talk about the real meat and two veg behind this annual festival event... the bands!
Article continues below...
FRIDAY 10th JUNE
I won't go into too much detail, but a good portion of the weight I'd initially lugged into the campsite was very steadily drunk over the course of the two days preceding the festival's musical entertainment. With no bands on either the Wednesday or Thursday I figured I hadn't started work just yet, and could take some time out to enjoy a little time to myself... a few beers wouldn't hurt, right?
Wrong. For me, Friday began with one hell of a headache. Kicking off with an ever-so-slightly fuzzy head, I set off for the arena after a quick breakfast of cereal bars and... uh... more beer.
Undeterred by the slightly grizzly start to my day, I surged through the security gates of the arena, moving the impressively oversized dog's head structure at the top of the hill and down though a thick swarm of people, settling towards the front of the crowd gathering at the festival's main stage; the newly-named "Lemmy Stage".
ALIEN ANT FARM, BABYMETAL & KILLSWITCH ENGAGE
90s rock sensation Alien Ant Farm seized the Lemmy Stage from the hands of opening act Royal Republic, booting up my festival experience with a healthy dose of distorted guitars and nostalgic sounds. Truthfully, I'm not the biggest Alien Ant Farm fan, but what 90's kid didn't enjoy their reimagining of Michael Jackson's "Annie" or the catchy, feel-good track "Movies"? Thankfully both tracks featured in their set list, and were met with a healthy and energetic response from the crowd.
I feel safe in assuming that I wasn't the only person who may not have been entirely familiar with the rest of their set, but the crowd picked up the slack for us and worked quickly to shout back the lyrics to the feel-good vibe of "These Days".
As vocalist Dryden Mitchell points out, it's a track most famously known for its music video - in which the band crash the 2003 BET awards from a nearby rooftop before promptly being arrested by local authorities. Mitchell also points out (to the sound of cheers from the crowd) that he's nearly 40 years of age… yet even in spite of this (and my lack of knowledge of the band's history), Alien Ant Farm successfully warmed up the crowd and got some bodies moving. All in all, a good start to the day.
The heavens open as Alien Ant Farm depart from the stage, unleashing a torrent of chunky, cold rain onto swathes of festival-goers. Japanese act Babymetal must be allergic to water, as they pushed their set back a little in the hopes that the downpour will subside. It didn't, so Su-Metal, Yuimetal and Moametal arrive to a thick, wet wall of cheers and applause from the crowd.
Babymetal have won numerous awards over the course of their exposure here in the west, rapidly becoming a force to be "rockened" with. Their stage time at Donnington is loud, energetic and thoroughly enjoyable, with Su-Metal gaining an admirable level of control over the crowd.
Encouraging the frontlines to open a circle pit during their performance, Su-Metal isn't entirely convinced we've given it our all and excitedly spurs the crowd on with shouts of "Bigger! Bigger!" as they blast through "Gimme Chocolate" and "Megitsune". As the backline of musicians carve a thick scar of sound across the beating rain, the three frontladies unfold a captivating and colourful mixture of song and dance for the crowd's entertainment.
Say what you will about them, but Babymetal's unique blend of stylistic choices and on-stage presence taps into a market that remains largely untouched by western metal acts, and for this reason they've won my vote as one of the top performances of this year's festival. As their popularity continues to swell, I'd certainly like to see them higher up the bill in future appearances, with more flexibility over stage theatrics – I reckon they could put together a positively staggering performance if given the opportunity.
Pushing on though the afternoon, American Metalcore act Killswitch Engage bring puns to the punters in the form of guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz, as the entertainingly cocky guitarist wastes no time in roaring some hilariously vicious comments down the microphone about exactly what he's going to do to our girlfriends. I'm not sure my editor will be too pleased if I start throwing some direct quotes around, but let's just say that I'm glad I currently don't have a partner!
Regardless of what Dutkiewicz has planned for our significant others, the crowd rattles with laughter as he coaxes a broad smile from the recently-returned vocalist Jesse Leach between tracks. Musically speaking, their performance is thick, heavy and brutally satisfying as they tear through some of the classic tracks featured in their lengthy career in the industry - "My Last Serenade", "Hate By Design" and "My Curse" featuring at the forefront of their time onstage.
And yes, Leach absolutely stacked it on the rain-slicked stage, ending up lying on his back as the crowd gasps in surprise. Props to him for smiling it off and continuing to sing from a horizontal position before rejoining those of us who have full control over our limbs – even while intoxicated!
LEMMY KILMISTER TRIBUTE
A moment's pause.
A heavy void lies between musical performances in the late afternoon of Friday here at Donnington... a gap that everyone is aware of. Though the arena grounds begin to fill with Korn fans looking to lay claim to a good spot ahead of their performance, many fans remain fixated at the spot, poised with anticipation.
This void we're presented with was to be filled with the return of one of England's most treasured rock acts – Motörhead. Sadly, with the passing of Lemmy Kilmister in December 2015, the stage would not be lit with the sounds of his coarse voice growling out the lyrics of "Ace Of Spades".
Instead, official timetables of the festival now list the presence of a "Motorhead Tribute", and it's unclear to many punters as to what this means... surely it's not going to be a covers band?
No. Not a covers band.
The large screens that hug the main stage flicker to life as Lemmy's presence arrives at Donnington one more time. Footage from previous Motörhead appearances at Download rolls across the screen, broken up by quotes from friends, family and fellow musicians that span a broad timeline of generational icons of rock music.
Metaltalk slapped a huge milestone on this event, publishing our exclusive news article no less than ten minutes after the tribute had wrapped up to the sounds of roaring applause and intoxicating chanting.
The full article can be found here.
MISSING IN ACTION, PRESUMED WET
Due to a series of unfortunate events (which would seem more at home in a teen comedy flick than a festival review) the aftermath of Killswitch Engage's performance on the Lemmy Stage resulted in me squelching my way slowly back to camp to clean up, warm up and throw on some extra clothes... thus missing Korn's performance.
Word travels fast, however, and I'm well-informed that the American nu-metallers rocked a huge crowd with "Got The Life" and "Freak On A Leash". By the time I returned to the arena, the ground had melted into a slurry of thick mud and discarded paper cups, and I know of at least one of my social media followers that got caked in a layer of brown goo during their set.
Sounds like a riot, and I'm gutted to have missed out. Until next time, Korn!
HEADLINE ACT – RAMMSTEIN
"Ja, nein, Rammstein!" chants German vocalist Till Lindemann, a man once featured in Roadrunner Records' "50 Greatest Metal Frontmen of All Time". There's no disputing this fact, and a positively-charged crowd blares the powerful chant right back towards the stage in a state of pure adrenaline and excitement.
With the sky falling dark on Donnington, the German metal act absolutely dominate the main stage of the arena, belching forth a gut-wrenching, awe-inspiring sound that erupts over the tightly-packed crowd. Musical highlights occur in their setlist with "Ich Tu Dir Weh", "Mein Herz Brennt" and a cover of Depeche Mode's 1986 single "Stripped".
Rammstein's headline performance falters only once, during the widely popular "Feuer Frei". From what I could tell, a backing track (purely intended to add depth to the performance and NOT for any dodgy lip synching) skipped a small section of track, causing Lindemann to audibly stutter, in an attempt to catch up with the track. As the rest of the band carried on playing, it sadly jerked the live performance a bar ahead of the backing track for the remainder of the song. Speaking with crowd members afterwards it would seem that very few people noticed, as the band ignored this hitch and powered through regardless to finish the song with bombast.
I've been a fan of Rammstein for well over 10 years now, yet I've never actually had the pleasure of experiencing their live stage performance. Shocking, I know... yet their reputation most definitely precedes them. Their headline performance here at Download 2016 allows me to experience first-hand the tales I've heard of their explosive stage presence – and I quickly discovered that that's no metaphor.
Pyrotechnics, fireworks, coloured smoke and pillars of red-hot flame scorch the night sky as Rammstein work their way through an equally-hot setlist. Theatricality is a key element here, and as Lindemann straps himself into a large metal structure warped into the shape of two large wings, I find myself grinning with anticipation. Lindemann's body rises up from the ground and the crowd unleashes a deafening roar.
The stage lighting blares and the flames lick towards the sky in a full-bodied crescendo, with Rammstein leaving the stage pulsing after a powerful encore of "Sonne", an acoustic performance of "Ohne Dich" and "Engel", bringing an end to the first night of live music entertainment. The walk back to camp is muddy, wet and grim, yet filled with excited chatter about the day's performances. Spirits remain high in spite of the rain, and the rest of the night is spent sinking a few more beers to entice a comfortable night's sleep.
SATURDAY 11th JUNE
It's day two of Download Festival's musical entertainment and I never want to hear the words "Hold the door!" ever again. Breakfast today consists of a fairly suspicious "burger" absolutely drowned in ketchup and mustard.
...Also beer. Again.
WEARING SCARS & INGLORIOUS
It's a relatively early start to my day, with one member of my camp keen to catch the 11:50am performance of Northampton-based band Wearing Scars. It's been a while since I caught up with the guys (you may recall my review of the launch party of their debut album) but I'm keen to see how they've progressed since the tail end of 2015.
As we head to the Dogtooth Stage, it's clear that Wearing Scars have amassed a keen following – some (I assume) having followed the trail of guitarist Andy James, formerly of Sacred Mother Tongue. The tent packs out quickly and frontman Chris Clancy wastes no time in populating the nearby air with his impressive vocal presence with tracks like 'Stand Alone', 'Become Numb' and the highly popular 'Butterfly'.
I don't tend to sing lyrics back to bands during their live shows(!) but I will confess that I bawled the chorus of 'Wounds' right back to the stage with a broad smile planted on my face. It might be their first appearance here at Download Festival, but it's been a strong start for Wearing Scars, and the crowd's reaction to their performance has been positively infectious throughout.
A quick hop over to the Encore Stage for yet another familiar band. Dubbed "the next Iron Maiden" by some, Inglorious are fast becoming a hot name on many rock journalist's lips and first caught my eye at their own album launch party at the Gibson Showrooms. As with Wearing Scars, they're newcomers to Donnington Park and vocalist Nathan James bursts onto the stage in a flurry of excitement to greet the gathering crowd.
In truth, nerves may have caught Nathan James in their sticky web. While the band kicked off in admirable form, the vocalist seemed to be struggling through what seemed to be an initially over-energetic physical display. My companion (whom I had dragged from the Dogtooth Stage) seemed initially to be a little unimpressed, but I kept edging him to stick around for one more song... James was bound to steel his nerves and open up the floodgates soon, and when he did, I wanted him to see it.
And then, without warning, the floodgates fucking explode – during my favourite track from their debut album, no less! As James centres himself for the slightly calmer pace of 'Holy Water', his voice unashamedly barrels through the air with power and precision, steaming through tracks like 'Unaware' and 'Until I Die' while maintaining a high quality throughout the second half of their performance.
Watching Inglorious perform on the Encore Stage, it's apparent that James is intended to be the centrepiece of the band, and with good reason. In spite of a slightly shaky start, he finishes on a highly-polished, ball-breaking high note, bringing the end of their debut performance at Donington to a shining, vibrant end. The crowd, myself and my (initially) unconvinced companion are left positively buzzing with approval.
Incidentally, their well-crafted set list also saw the emergence of 'No Good For You', a track that will feature on their upcoming studio release, and it's a cracker!
SPECIAL DELIVERY FOR DOWNLOAD, SIGN HERE PLEASE
With a little time to kill between bands, I caught up with my MetalTalk colleague Liz Medhurst in the Guest Area of the arena. With the rain of the weekend taking a brief hiatus for now, we took the opportunity to share a quick drink and discuss our plan of action to catch the first of the day's big events – the arrival of Ed Force One!
Once again, MetalTalk HQ was positively buzzing with activity in preparation for this event and you can read our very exclusive article on Ed Force One touching down at East Midlands Airport right right here.
SIXX:A.M. AT 2PM? SOMEONE MISSED A BEAT THERE...
Now in his late 50s, Mötley Crüe bassist and founder Nikki Sixx may not be a "spring chick" any more... but he's sure as shit still got fire in his soul. 2007 saw the inception of a new project, Sixx:A.M., co-founded and fronted by vocalist-slash-producer-slash-loads-of-other-stuff James Michael – who's previously worked with Crüe as a producer.
2016 brings Michael and Sixx straight down onto the Lemmy Stage, greeted with cannon-fire applause and raucous cheers from fans of both the old and the new. I haven't mentioned it up 'til now, but the vast age range of festival-goers here at Donington is honestly inspiring.
As Sixx:A.M. tear through a high-octane performance of vocal flights, guitar-frenzied heights and a wealth of tracks from the recently released 'Prayers For The Damned', highlights appear in the soaring tracks 'Rise' and 'When We Were Gods'.
Michael's vocal performance is captivating and slick with an on-stage swagger that oozes confidence. Sixx, of course, slams down on his bass and strikes a couple of power stance poses, melting the hearts of any woman careless enough to stand too close. I mean, he's Nikki bloody Sixx, he doesn't have to do much to be cool... he just is.
Props to the backing vocalists too, who had just as much fire and grit in their vocal performances as Michael himself, with a visually gripping chemistry forming during heartbreak anthem 'Everything Went To Hell'. As the band depart from the stage, I nip back to the Guest area to grab myself a bite to eat...
MEGADETH & THE SPIRIT OF LEMMY AWARD
...sounds like a Harry Potter book.
Breaking into 2016 with the release of their fifteenth studio album 'Dystopia', Megadeth represent one of rock and metal music's staple, need-to-know artists – one of many that appeared at this year's Download Festival. For me, it's a huge privilege to see them perform live; 'Youthanasia' was the first album I ever bought and I can still remember the sheer thrill of breaking into 'Addicted To Chaos' for the first time.
Though they're not getting any younger, Megadeth prove they're still fuelled by more than just history and reputation. Steaming through their set, however, it seemed (quite truthfully) as if the band were in a hurry, with Mustaine cutting crowd chants of "ME-GA-DETH, ME-GA-DETH!" between songs before they had even left the floor. I mean, I know festivals run on a tight schedule, but Mustain actually calling his fans out on it – especially when the band could have just cracked on with it - seemed a little strange.
Megadeth's set featured a plethora of tracks from their latest album, with just enough time for the band to squeeze in performances of some of the classics here and there - 'Sweating Bullets', 'Symphony Of Destruction' and of course 'Holy Wars' to name a few - much to the delight of an absolutely packed arena.
Nikki Sixx wasn't out of the clear yet either, with Mustaine calling him back out onto the stage for a dual performance of 'Anarchy In The UK', a track both Megadeth and Mötley Crüe covered in 1988 and 1991 respectively. Incidentally, the track was also parodied by comedy rock band Green Jellÿ in 1993, but they were apparently left out of the loop on this one...
I'm not going to deny that it was a fucking pleasure to see Megadeth in action at Donington. I'm also not going to pretend that it was a little weird for Mustaine to essentially tell his fans to stop enjoying themselves. But, overall... I'm not going to ignore the fact that it's fucking Megadeth. They could set fire to my nan and I'd still love 'em.
But wait, there's more!
If, like me, anyone found it a little odd that Megadeth seemed keen to power through their set, the reasons behind this became apparent shortly after the band departed the stage. Mustaine returns to the microphone, calling the slowly retreating crowd back to the frontlines to present the very first Spirit Of Lemmy award to Paul Levesque, better known by his WWE wrestling handle Triple H.
This, of course, would explain why Megadeth were so afraid of over-playing their alloted stage time.
A long-time fan of Motörhead and a personal friend of Lemmy, Triple H has long used Motörhead's track 'The Game' (written by WWE composer Jim Johnston and featured in Motörhead's sixteenth studio album 'Hammered') as his entrance music to WWE events - with the band even performing live renditions of the track at three separate Wrestlemania events.
Once again, MetalTalk HQ sprang into action at the time and a full breakdown, including some heartfelt quotes from Triple H, can already be found right here. Make sure you come back though, yeah? We're not quite done here...
SKINDRED & BLACK SABBATH
It's pissing it down again, but this time I've come prepared, armed to the teeth with... yup, you guessed it, bin bags! Function over fashion I figure... and with Skindred about to hit the Encore Stage, I don't want to miss out.
Benji Webbe and the rest of the Skindred lads "fucking smashed it" as Benji would likely put it. 'Doom Riff', 'Kill The Power' and 'Sound The Siren' (from latest release 'Volume') lie at the forefront of their performance as the rain drills down on an unphased crowd, fully focussed on seeking enjoyment in the Welsh band's aggravated, feel-good sound.
A fleeting emotional moment trickles into the predominantly positive vibe of their set, in the form of a chilling acoustic performance of 'Saying It Now'. The song is introduced with a sobering speech from Benji, who explains (in so many words) that the song was written in response to the loss of a number of his own friends to cancer. It's a brief moment of respite during their hectic, loud and energised performance, but it adds a welcome level of new depth and dimension to their performance.
Catching the tail end of the mainstage performance from Deftones, I position myself as far forward as possible for the final act to hit the Lemmy Stage tonight – Black Sabbath.
As the rain drives into the crowd and Sabbath's intro video kicks in, I realise that I'm potentially standing, ankle-deep in mud, crushed paper cups and half-smoked fag butts... in a moment of music history. If you truly believe that this is Black Sabbath's final tour, then this really is "The End" for many fans present tonight; the final chapter of a tale that holds roots in the late 60s.
Once again, MetalTalk HQ were in full force to bring our review out as soon as the final notes left the stage, but before I post the link to the review I would like to personally comment on how absolutely incredible it was to see Ozzy, Iommi and Butler on stage together.
Iommi hasn't lost a beat in his guitar playing, and though Ozzy has been tossed about the place a few too many times, he still demonstrates an awesome level of power over the huge, devoted crowd gathered at Donington. I've honestly never seen so many horns thrown into the sky at a frontman's request. Congratulations to Sabbath for a truly inspiring performance.
Check out the full review right here
THINGS I'M PISSED OFF TO HAVE MISSED
Beartooth, whom I keep hearing good things about and The Men Who Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing, because reading through their history was freakin' hilarious, but also made me madly curious. Seriously, Google them sometime, you won't be disappointed.
SUNDAY 12th JUNE
It's the last day of Download Festival 2016, and my morning consists of lazily collapsing a tent whilst simultaneously drinking beer and swearing violently at mud. You might think (by reading these introductions) that I didn't actually have any fun at Download Festival. This, however, is entirely untrue; I'm just a really, really grumpy bastard first thing in the morning.
...just ask my ex.
FRANK CARTER & THE RATTLESNAKES & TREMONTI
Aaaalrighty then, day three started with a LOT of packing. Our group had decided that instead of sticking around for the car park chaos of Monday morning, we'd slip off unnoticed after the last performance of the night.
Unfortunately, this meant that around the time Sweden's Amon Amarth hit the stage, I was sliding around in chocolate mousse, trying not to drop my stupidly heavy backpack. Thankfully, my trusty companion Liz Medhurst took up the sword to deliver yet another live review shortly after their performance peaked.
Click it. You know you want to... it's right here.
Did you click it? Mmmmmmm.
RIGHT. The "Surprise Band Of The Weekend" award goes to Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, whom I had absolutely never heard of until Sunday. Long story short, I'd arrived at the Maverick Stage a little ahead of time to watch Tremonti (more on this later), and was presented with an absolutely packed-out tent of cheering, jovial festival-goers.
Unable to get anywhere near the stage, I hung around the back next to a really happy guy, who was half-naked and covered from head to toe in mud. As you do. Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes are onstage, my official Download Festival lanyard tells me, and by 'eck do they seem like good fun.
Carter (former Gallows and Pure Love frontman) and his 'Snakes are a young English punk band, formed only recently in 2015. They must be bloody good to be performing at Download already, and even though I couldn't see a bloody thing (apart from my muddy buddy), I revelled in their raw, unapologetic sound. So too did the punters, it seems, as when Carter orders a huge circle pit that stretches OUTSIDE the tent itself (and we're not talking about a little two-man tent here), the crowd splits to allow for a slick, brown racetrack to form.
It takes fucking ages for the tail end of the circle pit to get back into the tent – so long, in fact, that Carter has the band play a particular song twice in order to get everyone back into the tent – how considerate!
There were three things that sold Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes for me. First, Carter's unashamedly British sense of humour and quick-fire puns. Second, the catchy, sticky lyrical abuse of "I Hate You", which the whole crowd roared back at the band throughout the whole performance. Third, Carter took a moment to record a video for his daughter Mercy...in which he simultaneously states that the crowd will keep her safe during gigs, but that he'll also fuck up any one of them that touches her – again firing off some cool British humour from the tongue.
Much like with Inglorious and Wearing Scars, the presence of Mark Tremonti here at Download Festival is one that I've been most keen to catch onto, having reviewed both Cauterize and Dust right here at MetalTalk.
After a quick turnaround, the band arrives on the Maverick Stage, bursting into life with "Another Heart". Now with three albums to pick and choose from, Tremonti's set list covers all bases. "Cauterize", "Catching Fire" and "You Waste Your Time" all make an appearance, and for me it's interesting to see how the guitarist's studio releases (which I've played to death) translate to a live performance.
The sound is a little muddy, yes, but it's still clear enough to latch on to, and hard enough to rock out to – which of course, is the most important thing! Tremonti's stage presence is brutal, with each band member lunging in and out of some muscle-tearing headbanging as they play... yet it doesn't affect their ability to play as one might expect.
Truthfully, I'd have liked to have seen a little more personality from Tremonti between songs. Other than introducing each track and occasionally spurring on the crowd, there was very little interaction between the guitarist and his fans. As previously mentioned I understand that time is precious when strapped to such a tight scheduled, but a little bit more character breaking through between songs would have added an extra layer of enjoyment for me. A minor hitch, really, as their musical performance was spot on.
THE GHOST OF GHOST
I've heard a lot about Swedish metal act Ghost, and was looking forward to seeing them perform on the Maverick Stage after Gojira - that's the French band, by the way... not the giant, America-hating lizard. Sadly, the band were forced to pull from the bill due to Laryngitis, much to the annoyance of one elderly bloke I met, who'd travelled from Middlesbrough "because the missus loves 'em".
Hope your missus is well, random citizen. More about Ghost can be found right here.
DISTURBING THE PEACE
I'm pretty sure everyone was thinking the same thing as they headed to the Lemmy Stage to watch Disturbed... will they play "Sound Of Silence"?
Of course they did, but before then came a forceful set of Disturbed's Greatest Hit(s), including "Ten Thousand Fists", "Liberate" and "Stupify". Though the crowd is thick, those in my immediate vicinity are starting to look a little weary from an action-packed weekend, their responses noticeably subdued in comparison to earlier days of the festival.
"Sound Of Silence" kicked in at the midway point of Disturbed's set. In case you've been living under a social media rock, it's the song that recently launched Disturbed into a much broader spotlight than usual. This is thanks - in no small part - to a performance of the song on late-night American talk show "Conan".
Shortly after a video recording of the performance hit the internet it went viral, and suddenly it's the coolest "new" thing ever - in spite of the fact that the track has been available on Disturbed's latest album Immortalized for... oh... about a year now?
Regardless, here at Donnington, Draiman's vocals flicker occasionally into some slightly pitchy notes, yet all in all it's a striking performance of their take on the 1964 Simon and Garfunkel classic, and receives a full-bodied reception from the crowd. The second half of Disturbed's set is a blast, with Draiman pulling up various artists to engage in a medley of classic tracks.
Lizzy Hale (Halestorm) arrives onstage for a visit to U2's "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For", Blaze Bailey thunders through The Who's "Baba O'Riley" and Breaking Benjamin frontman jumps up for a quick jaunt of Rage Against The Machine's "Killing In The Name Of", which of course snatched the top slot of the Christmas charts back in 2009 – much to the annoyance of Simon Cowell.
Once again, Metaltalk HQ shuddered into life to bring a live report of events as they unfolded. The report also includes a quick-fire review of Finland's Nightwish, who tore the Lemmy Stage a new one in preparation for the final headline act of Download Festival 2016... Iron Maiden!
Nightwish report right here.
CLOSING THE IRON MAIDEN ON DOWNLOAD FESTIVAL... UNTIL NEXT YEAR!
It's almost time to say goodbye to the chocolate mousse soup we festival-goers have made of Donnington Park and Download Festival... but there's one final act to blast through before the curtains draw on the stage(s).
There's been a running theme throughout the entire day, the silent flash of a subliminal message everywhere you look. As punters have poured in - either stale from the campsite or fresh from home with a day ticket – there are Iron Maiden t-shirts absolutely fucking EVERYWHERE.
Sunday's performances have flashed by in a blur, and suddenly the crowd are fixated on the Lemmy Stage for one final time, greeted with words that conjure a wash of excitement, anticipation and thrilling chills...
"Scream for me Download!"
Bruce Dickinson's been in the business for a looong time, and his power to control both stage and crowd is a sight to behold. Tonight's performance from Iron Maiden drives home the fact that even after all these years, Iron Maiden are still taking many of today's younger bands to school.
For one final time over the course of this weekend, the weird kid slumped in the corner of Metaltalk HQ fiddles with his glasses, sniffs a little and begins to receive powerful telepathic messages from myself and Liz Medhurst. Tapping away at his keyboard like a skinny little word-ninja, he brought forth one final almost-live report of events. Click this link and give him a slap on the back on your way out the door.
Fuck me, this has been quite the journey, hasn't it? Three action-packed days, filled to the brim with FOUR STAGES of musical entertainment. A fully functioning, on-site village with stalls catering to all our food, drink, clothing and camping needs. Fairground rides, the WWE NXT events, silent discos, DJ events and cage dancers at The Pound…and so much more that I've probably failed to mention.
The truth is, we're a music website, so while I'm fully aware of the social media explosion surrounding security concerns at this year's festival, the state of the portaloos and the terrible hot-dog-with-egg-slapped-on-it that one of my camp buddies was served... it's just not what I felt needed to be mentioned in full – at least not here.
I'm fully aware that I've probably missed out on reviewing your favourite band, but in case you're not clued up; Download Festival is absolutely huge. All in all, this year featured over 100 bands over the course of the weekend. That's fucking massive.
I'm also aware that I may have had a slightly different experience to your average punter; my reasons for being there were different, I had access to guest areas and the option of camping directly opposite the arena. Being a press member does have it's perks, as you'd expect.
But I chose to camp with the rest of the punters to experience a more true sense of the festival. My shit got wet and I was woken up at stupid o'clock in the morning by some drunk prat falling into my tent. I chose to brave the portaloo queues at weird hours of the day, experiencing a moment of sheer horror when I realised I had wandered carelessly into the end portaloo and could at any moment be toppled over by a flying dropkick to the back of my plastic poo portal.
I chose to experience the festival as you would, so that I could tell you this next part with complete and utter sincerity. Download Festival 2016 was an absolute blast. Fuck the weather, fuck the cold, fuck the long walks to and from the arena... I was there to experience some awesome music and celebrate my passion for rock music, and Donnington gave me all that and so much more.
I would like to personally thank anyone that volunteered to work at the festival, all the official organisers, the bands, sound technicians, anyone who served me beer or gave me directions... you're all heroes. Thank you for an absolutely awesome week, and I will see you all next year!