Download Festival 2012: Donington Park

[wide]downloadbanner | Download Festival 2012: Donington Park[/wide]This was the weekend that Donington Park turned its green fields into a big mud bath, some renamed Download as Brownload others as Drownload. As the heavens opened on the first evening of the festival it didn’t put off the punters, as one thing was clear: it was time to ROCK!

After delays on the Friday due to the adverse weather conditions Fear Factory opened the Jim Marshall stage. Bringing their industrial metal kilt to the forefront of the festival whilst on the Zippo Encore Stage Bradford’s Terrorvision managed to get the audience jumping to old favourites including Oblivion and Alice What’s The Matter. Smartly dressed in their red and black outfits, Tony pelted around the stage covering every inch with lunges and fast paced vocals. A definite crowd pleaser and a triumph for the band that have spent the last year or so getting their career back on track.

Back at the Jim Marshall stage it was hard to work out what the hell NOFX were up to. Mid set Fat Mike and Co. pulled a seemingly poor comedy routine including jokes about Mexicans and each other which went over most people’s heads. Missing out on their punky edge it appears that NOFX may have lost their FX.

The rest of the mud swilling day saw Billy Talent, Machinehead, Opeth and many many more breath their influences through Donington Park, paving the way for main stagers for, love them or hate them,  Chase and Status who in turn pumped up the crowd ready for the headliners The Prodigy. Flint and the rest of The Prodigy opened up and from start to finish pumped the crowd full of their hardcore electo rave anthems. Electrifying and faultless they lit up the festival and proved why after more than twenty years in the business they are not to be messed with. Hit after hit came pounding through and a triple encore including Take Me To The Hospital and ending on Their Law vibrated through the arena.

Saturday seemed to bring about a stuck in the mud kind of feeling, shoes were lost and there was such an ever slightly sinking feeling that if you stood for too long you’d be sucked under into the depths of Donington. Still there were no excuses for standing still, heaps to see and plenty of horns to be revealed.

A quick glimpse of who we saw include Saxon, Don Broco, Turbowolf, them of the acrylic face paints Black Veil Brides and those who brought a hint of Hollywood to the East Midlands, Steel Panther. Steel Panther showed the glam side of rock, it was all about the bad taste jokes, the titties and the sex, they were followed by Tenacious D. Jack Black and his trusty sidekick Kyle managed to entertain a huge sing-a-long incorporating Fuck Her Gently and Tribute. Festival favourites, beard rockers Biffy Clyro always go down well with a crowd, though, in places, may have not been heavy enough for the Donington faithful.  Skindred created uproar with their ‘Ragga metal’; there was dancing, screaming and a guitarist wearing a horse’s head, a near enough perfect warm up for the Zippo Encore Stage’s headliners You Me At Six.

Saturday night belonged to Metallica, performing 1991’s The Black Album in its entirety with a few other tracks thrown into the setlist. To keep the crowd on its toes the album was played back to front kicking off with The Struggle Within and ending on a prolonged Sandman which incorporated the bands love for Download and Donington Park. ‘Donington, Metallica family’ chanted by James Hetfield which led the devoted into a rhythmic recital safe in the arms of their newly extended family. Playing for just over two hours they encored with Battery, One and finally closing with Seek and Destroy.

As echoes of Metallica faded into Sunday, it was certain that the Sabbath was going to be a special day. The sun was shining for the first time of the festival and it was already set to countdown for our headliners, Black Sabbath.

As people lolled about the Park making the most of the sunny weather (yes sun at last!), there was still plenty to see on the final day of 2012’s Download. Riff bending Black Spiders tore up the Zippo Encore Stage whilst Devil Driver paved the way for Kyuss Lives! Ugly Kid Joe brought about a nostalgic edge to their performance with their well known cover of Cats In The Cradle and Everything About You. They may have been underground for a few years but from the sounds of their new digital EP. Stairway To Hell, it’s like they’ve never been away.  On the Jim Marshall Stage it simply went metal as Lamb of God paved the way for the mighty Megadeth, whilst over on the Pepsi Max Stage the ‘anti-secular’ Ghost were tied against Soundgarden in the line-up. Observing people running to the Pepsi Max stage in search of the answer to what and who Ghost many quickly turned and sprinted in the opposite direct with one look at them. The Swedish ‘super group’ have their own little ilk with rather happy songs about Satan, a certain taste for some that didn’t wash well with other, though their performance rather creepy with their outfits the music was rather delightful.

Soundgarden gave played their first gig in 15 years on UK soil, a highlight for many as Chris Cornell and friends played selected tracks from their back catalogue dating back to the early 1980s ending on  Beyond The Wheel, with the most sought track being the second to last played Black Hole Sun. As wistfulness briefly fell over the majority of Donington Park, it was time for the weekend’s headliners and the one we’d all been waiting for, Black Sabbath.

An almost complete original line-up, as drummer Bill Ward was missing, saw Ozzy and company ready to rock Donington and shake its roots. A bit of a shaky start from the main man didn’t last long, as with menace in his eyes Ozzy took the crowd on a journey back to their early years. Fast and impeccable Ozzy threw out lines that were welcomed by the Donington faithful. Playing track after track including Snowblind, War Pigs and Tomorrows Dream and finally ending on Paranoid confirmed why the original ‘Monsters of Rock’ Black Sabbath brought 2012’s Download Festival to a close in the flow of fireworks on  a night no-one there would ever forget.

Bigger and better than ever, 2012 brought 139 bands and almost 100000 people to the festival to celebrate Downloads 10th birthday. There was rain, mud and sunshine but mostly there was a celebration of music, some unconventional, some a bit downright strange and some simply outstanding. Download Festival 2012 we salute you \m/


Huge thanks to Gary Wolstenholme, who was working with Thrash Hits over the weekend, for the use of his music photos from Download 2012.

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