After eleven years in the game, it’s safe to say, Download still reigns as one of the highlights in the summer festival schedule. With Donington Park once again opening the gates, all was ready for a weekend of pure adulteration for the metal masses that salute like this \m/ and know how to make the perfect circle pit.
With a line-up that is filled with a variety of rock and metal and their respective sub-genres a clash finder is a good idea, though leaving it in your tent isn’t, so after jotting down the who, what, where and when it was out to face the wind, avoid the rain and pray for a little sunshine. Making our way up the hill to the Zippo Encore stage was more like a safari complete with sightseeing opportunities. It’s not until you get to the summit that you can appreciate the vastness of the festival, yet being so big there’s still a sense of community, as Metallica said last year ‘Donington Family’ and it’s true.
After watching Down start their set on the main stage our choice of band for the tea time slot was Europe. Having missed their set last year, due to traffic, Europe finally made the stage. From the start of their set it becomes clear that Joey Tempest is a full on legend, after decades in the game he still manages to entertain a crowd. With a seven song set flying by starting with Rags To Riches and consisted of tracks such as Superstitious and Scream Of Anger there were air guitars in every direction. It wasn’t until the familiar sounds of ‘derr derr de de la derr derr’ that the crowd really find their feet at the introduction of The Final Countdown. There’s singing, there’s jumping and there’s a lot of smiles walking through the crowd it’s hard not to join in with the fun. The fun lasted until the final riff then it was a case of making our way through the crowds to see Finish folk metallers Turasis but it was easy to get distracted by Korn. Ferocious and entertaining and probably the only time anyone would get a cheer for playing bagpipes. Staying at the main stage it was Friday’s headliners Slipknot that really lit the flames over Download. An emotional set paying tribute ex bassist Paul Gray, saw Corey Taylor produce a perfect performance and the ‘knot playing a fast paced set that lasts late into the night.
With Slipknot still ringing in the ears, the early part of Saturday was spent generally mooching between stages, bars and people watching. Black Moth and Katatonia didn’t disappoint neither did Mastodon. One of the biggest cheers of the weekend was for Motorhead, of which most people were simply waiting for them to play Ace of Spades, which is what they did and boy did they do it well. Taiwanese black metallers Chthonic drew an interesting crowd, I’m pretty sure most of them were there to drool over Doris Yeh, what a chick! Playing with them onstage were the Oriental Orchestra which provided a gentle backdrop to the heavy sounds they are known for. Breaking free from the Pepsi Max stage was a bad idea as there was no room under the big top whilst Kvelertak were playing, they sounded immense though. Queens Of The Stone Age muted those who have recently knocked them but the night belonged to Iron Maiden. As a Spitfire plane flew overhead we raised a bottle of the bands own brew, Trooper ale, to the Maiden. A sterling set playing a selection of the hits including Can I Play With Madness, Run To The Hills and ending the encore with Running Free let many people with happy faces and a bit of a slur from one Trooper too many.
The final day always has a bit of a heavy head swinging it over it, maybe it’s a bit of a hangover or maybe it’s the thought of being the final day to party, still there was a day full of bands ahead and the mighty Rammstein closing the show to look forward to.
Little Ceasar on the Pepsi Max played a bit of old school rock, with songs entitled Rock and Roll State of Mind and Rum and Coke it was a tad cringe worthy but vocalist Ron Young certainly knew how to shake his stuff. Bleed From Within certainly rocked it and threw out a great performance, whilst stalwarts Coal Chamber and Five Finger Death Punch showed the young uns how things are done ‘round these parts.
Up on the Zippo Encore Ghost surprisingly played in daylight and drew in the crowds. With Papa Emeritus the II at the pulpit he commanded the sermon to a tee, with the backing of the nameless ghouls. Their brand of doom is twisted with rather melodic tones, which all add to their charm. Speaking of charm, there’s no one quite like Jared Leto. Such a pretty face but what a big head it sits on. Nevertheless he manages to make girls weak at the knees and with his band, Thirty Seconds To Mars, produce somewhat of a poppy noise which to the hardcore Downloaders is a bit of a mystery why they are there. When it comes to the Sunday headlines there’s something of a stalwart, Sonic Boom Six are in the back of beyond at the Red Bull Stage, Limp Bizkit are rollin’ on the Zippo, Rammstein and their pyros are on the main and Satyricon are joined by around 50 people in the Pepsi Max. Stopping by to watch the first 20 minutes of Satyricon it felt bad to turn around and head over to the main stage for Rammstein, but still it was Rammstein and boy did they end the weekend with a bang. Playing track after track for two and a half hours was a wondrous event, a celebration of the weekend as a whole and one not to forget.
Download 2013 you did us proud.