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Donington Park, 8-10 June 2012
(You can navigate easily from one photo to another using the direction
keys on your keyboard)
and photos by Andy Nathan (except where indicated) & David Wilson
impressive: RIVAL SONS
Great British Summer (or lack of it) got in the way of the first day,
but our intrepid reporters braved the mud and rain to give an overview
of this premier rock festival event. Here David Wilson sets the
Download 2012 looked like a bit of a cracker. From the initial
announcement of the three headliners, the bill developed to the point
where it was a more than fitting celebration of 10 years of rock and
metal's premier event. Ticket sales went through the roof and the event
was almost completely sold out well in advance, anticipation and
expectations were high.
In the week
running up to the festival, stage times were announced, schedules were
planned with military precision to maximise what we could catch across
the weekend and weather forecasts were studied. Unfortunately, the
weather would have a big part to play in the weekend proceedings and the
well laid plans went out the window before we got to hear a power chord
Friday 8 June 2012
Away from a
Prodigy headlined main stage, most of the line up at the second (Zippo)
stage read like a who'
s who of prominent acts from the early nineties.
weather related traffic gridlock and queues to get in meant that despite
leaving my Derby hotel in good time, I missed both Red White and Blues
and the Quireboys.
Photo by David
I was never
a big Terrorvision fan but with friends having raved about their
entertaining live shows was looking forward to seeing them; but despite
an eye catching red and black stage garb, I was disappointed their set
never really caught fire until the closing double of 'Alice What'
Matter' and 'Oblivion' (no Tequila, surprisingly) had people spontaneously
was fresh disappointment as despite their backdrop and gear being in
place, it became ominously clear that Europe were going to fail to show
and an announcement that they had failed to make it due to flight delays
and the weather was greeted by a mixture of boos and a good natured
chant of the Final Countdown.
was needed to lift the spirits and Little Angels provided it.
Alone of the generation of British bands that stormed the charts at the
turn of the nineties (Thunder, Quireboys etc) they had never reformed-
until now for their first shows in 18 years.
Toby Jepson, with his flowing locks and full sleeve tattoo, has
maintained the old look, but the rest of the band all looked delighted
to have returned to the stage after such a long absence, and indeed
their sound was much fuller and more rounded than in their youthful
It felt like
they had never been away with the familiar taped intro and an opening
1-2 of 'She's A Little Angel' and 'Kickin Up Dust'. In 45 minutes they stuck
closely to their hits and even one of their weaker numbers 'Boneyard' was
enjoyable, with the sideburned Bruce John Dickinson stretching out on
guitar, while it was a delight to hear 'Radical Your Lover' again.
'The Way That
I Live' was perhaps the most surprising and featured the big bad horn
section who I found less annoying than back in the day, before Toby
dedicated 'Don't Prey For Me' to the memory of former drummer Michael Lee,
at whose funeral the seeds of a reunion were sown - as the song built
powerfully from acoustic beginnings Mark Richardson'
s drumming did his
had started relatively muted but by the time of the anthemic 'Young Gods'
and 'Too Much Too Young', with horns again to the fore, plenty of people
were singing along and punching the air and I hope the reaction has
convinced them to continue the comeback for longer with a full tour.
are a band whose material I am relatively unfamiliar with, but their
hour long set was very enjoyable viewing, with a big stage set with
plenty of pyrotechnics and a bombastic, symphonic sound.
long lost their most striking feature in operatic vocalist Tarja Turunen
but Annette Olzon is an engaging frontwoman, albeit with a much more
highlight was a very celtic sounding instrumental with a bizarre looking
instrument that I assumed was some form of electric bagpipe, and in the
same mould they did a great cover of Gary Moore'
s 'Over the Hills and Far
Away'. It was frustrating that their own material did not lodge in my
memory to the same extent.
relatively little for my personal tastes on the main stage, the presence
of the iconic figure of Slash was probably the biggest single
factor in swinging my decision to do Download regardless.
I long ago
went off Guns N Roses with all the hype and baggage surrounding them:
however his set at High Voltage 2011 had reawakened my interest, yet
being too short and spoiled by a friend'
s drunken chatter throughout, I
had been left craving more.
his excellent band was fronted by Alter Bridge's Myles Kennedy, vocalist
of the moment who combines a strong, passionate voice with a refreshing
albums worth now of recent solo material they formed the bulk of the
set, with brand new songs like 'Standing in the Sun', which Myles admitted
was unfortunately named, and the new single You'
re A Lie which most of
the crowd instantly seemed to know, and now well established favourites
like 'Back From Cali' and 'Ghost'. Best of all the solo material was the
haunting ballad 'Starlight', showing off Myles voice to perfection.
But there is
no denying that it was the prospect of the heart and soul of Guns and
Roses playing G'n'R classics that had attracted such a huge crowd to the
second stage, and they were liberally dotted around the set - 'Nighttrain',
'Rocket Queen' in which Slash was allowed to go off on extended
improvisation for the only time in the set, and 'Mr Brownston'e all songs
not only which Myles made his own, but timely reminders that 'Appetite
for Destruction' defined a generation.
were nothing compared to the response to 'Sweet Child O Mine' with a great
take on what has become Slash'
s signature guitar solo, followed by him
playing the National Anthem!
Velvet Revolver days also got a great reception, before he and his band
returned for the inevitable 'Paradise City'. The firestarters of The
Prodigy may have been wowing the main stage at the time, but for us
classic rockers it was Slash who lit the blue touch paper on a cold damp
leaving early and travelling down from Scotland we hoped to get into the
arena in time to witness Red, White & Blues on the second stage. Traffic
and parking chaos though ensured that not only did we miss Red, White &
Blues, despite the fact that the arena opening was delayed, but we also
missed The Quireboys, although we did hear most of their set whilst
traipsing through the mud to the arena entrance. Their set sounded like
a good one, although shortened due to the late start, with 'Hey You' and
'7 O'clock' being the highlights.
Angels set we decided to head across the arena to the Pepsi Max tent and
to catch a bit of Machine Head on the way on the main stage. We
soon discovered though that making any progress in the muddy conditions
was akin to taking your life in your hands.
catching part of Machine Head's set, which proved to be their usual
consummate display of metal at its best, which was finished off with a
mass singalong version of 'Halo', we then caught the opening number from
'While She Sleeps' in the tent.
We then made the decision to forego
Slash's set and to head to our hotel to regroup for the following day's
assault on the fields of Donington Park and to slaughter a bar of
chocolate to the gods of good weather. This was, of course, after we
waded back to the car and managed to get stuck in the mud four times on
the way out. Download day 1, one to remember for all the wrong reasons.
Saturday 9 June 2012
A rare trip
to the main stage for me to see Saxon provide a link with
Download's history as Monsters of Rock, albeit at the ridiculously early
time of midday and buried near the foot of the bill.
one recent song, 'Hammer of the Gods', they wisely packed their 40 minutes
set with classic oldies although I did notice that the likes of 'Power
and the Glory' and 'Princess of the Night' were relatively unfamiliar to a
crowd younger than at their headline shows.
with his flowing grey hair and overcoat, has the look of an old sea dog
these days but remains one of rock's best and most endearing frontmen,
while he and the band had a blast running out onto the walkways in front
of the stage. Given how choreographed some shows are, I love the way
Biff even put a choice of three songs to crowd acclamation before 20,000
feet won the vote.
sound of Paul Quinn and Doug Scarratt's guitars swirling in the breeze
and a truncated set which didn't even include '747 Strangers in the
Night', it wasn't perhaps a vintage Saxon set but 'Denim and Leather'
and 'Wheels of Steel' were great singalongs as usual, 'Strong Arm of the
Law' made a welcome return to the set, and appropriately they closed
with the classic romp of 'The Bands Played On', written about their
appearance at the first ever Donington in 1980, long before most of the
crowd were born.
it was a double helping of Gun for me beginning on the
Jagermeister stage with a quintet of old and new songs which worked well
in acoustic format - not least new song 'Last Train From Central' which
is becoming an instant classic and a haunting 'Taking On The World'.
later I had crossed a quagmire of an arena to see them play a packed
Pepsi Max stage, and was somewhat surprised that three of the six songs
were new ones, even though 'Butcher Man' impressed with its heaviness.
Its Over' got things boiling up nicely but short sets are the order of
the day at Download, and over it was once Word Up had the whole of the
tent joining in, a shame as the likes of Steal Your Fire would have gone
down a storm.
delivered one of the sets of the weekend. The tent was packed as they
played a mix of old favourites and new tracks from their forthcoming
album ' Break The Silence' all of which were greeted very
enthusiastically by the capacity crowd.
cheers though were reserved for 'Word Up' with mass crowd participation
throughout which closed the all too brief set. If the guys had any
doubts about this comeback and new album, they should be heaving a
collective sigh of relief after the reaction they received here, a job
Nathan: It was then back to the acoustic stage for Toby Jepson's
second set of the weekend- interestingly the fact he did a set of Little
Angels material without his bandmates suggests that he has been the
driving force behind their reunion. He reprised many of the classics
from the day before, with the addition of 'I Aint Gonna Cry' and
'Backdoor Man' being cleverly interpolated into 'Young Gods'.
a Deadman were one of the few disappointments of the weekend after
their excellent show earlier in the year - they started well with the
trailer trash anthems 'Lowlife' and the 'Bitch Came Back', but singer
Tyler Connolly seemed to be going through the motions in slightly
lacklustre fashion and his uncharismatic bandmates could not plug the
gap, despite a good last song in the Fire Woman-esque 'Bad Girlfriend',
not to mention the quip of the day when after teasing with the riff from
'Paradise City' he said ‘how come you guys know that – we only just
wrote that song'!
band of the day were The Union, whose set still attracted a
respectable crowd in the Pepsi Max tent despite overlapping with
rapidly becoming my favourite contemporary band as the soulful vocals
and Geordie swagger of top-hatted Peter Shoulder seem to have given Luke
Morley a fresh lease of life.
well of inspiration was running dry in Thunder, the likes of 'Watch the
River Flow', 'Step Up to the Plate', 'Remedy' and 'Obsession' still have
his trademark blues rock riffs, but a new freshness to them. Peter even
shares the lead guitar duties, notably on 'Black Gold' which reminded me
of classic early period Doobie Brothers.
varied in pace, with the dreamy ballad 'Saviour', and 'Black Monday',
which has a 60's feel whether musically through The Doors or lyrically
through the Kinks. But they saved the best till last with 'Siren's
Song', which with its ‘who-oh-oh' battle cry seems to have become a live
favourite within a very short space of time.
weather gods appeased with the Galaxy offering the previous night, the
day dawned dry and bright and we headed out once again with high hopes
of a better day.
falter early on though due to heavy traffic again around Donington and
slow progress into the carpark which was still in a poor state.
meant that, like The Quireboys the previous day, I got the 'live album'
version of Saxon as we walked to the entrance, but what a soundtrack,
'Power And The Glory', '20,000 Feet' and the unofficial Donington anthem
'And The Bands Played On' all eased the trek, it would have been good to
see them though !
things underfoot had improved considerably inside the arena and we were
set for a good day. Halestorm were just finishing off on the
second stage as we arrived and judging by the crowd reaction Lzzy and co
had provided the goods.
Photo by David
off though with Newcastle's finest Ginger Wildheart. Ginger can
always be relied on to provide excellent, catchy rock with a twist and
opening with 'Another Spinning F**king Rainbow' he and his band had the
crowd bouncing from the off. Playing a set comprising of solo material
laced with a few choice Wildheart classics including a killer version of
'Suckerpunch', he could do no wrong and provided a great half hour's
Photo by David
After Gun, a
quick dash was in order to the main stage for the mighty Steel
Panther. There was a huge crowd amassed at the Jim Marshall stage
for this one and once again Panther didn't disappoint.
'Supersonic Sex Machine' they could do no wrong and with the masses
screaming along from the opening bars, success was ensured before they
reached the end of the track.
the most of their allotted fifty minutes playing a mix of numbers from
both of their albums including crowd favourites 'Asian Hooker' and the
singalong classic 'Community Property', listening to 50,000 people
singing this in unison put a large smile on my face.
though saved the best till last when they invited Corey Taylor on stage
to join with them on 'Death To All But Metal', if the crowd had been
with them before, this pushed them over the edge. This was yet another
triumphant set by Steel Panther and with the reaction of the crowd it
makes you wonder just how big this phenomenon can get, it will be fun
finding out that's for sure.
Photo by David
Panther after that reception may have been a daunting prospect for most,
but not for Jack and Kyle, once you have beaten Beelzeboss himself a
Download crowd are a breeze. Tenacious D to be fair had the crowd
in the palm of their hand from the moment they stepped on stage.
duo of Black and Gass did what they do best and played out their
respective parts to maximum effect with the crowd loving every minute,
whether they were rocking out with 'The Metal' or showing their more
sensitive side on ' F**k Her Gently'.
cheer though was saved for the anthem that is 'Tribute' and with the
on-stage 'Fenix' spraying confetti they left the stage to resounding
the 'D' was always going to be a tricky task and as this was left in the
hands of Biffy Clyro I did fear the worst.
though, are festival veterans now and are well versed in what a crowd
expects. The trio had chosen a greatest hits set which went down well.
It was the first time I had witnessed them live and I came away
impressed and by the time they rounded off with 'The Captain' I think
they had gained a bit more support for the Biffy cause.
Photo by David
left the stage clear for the one and only Metallica. By now it
had been publicised that the set would contain the entire Black album
played in reverse but the knowledge didn't lessen the anticipation.
'Ecstasy Of Gold' intro video, Lars appeared on stage and launched into
the drum intro to 'Hit The Lights'.
were in stunning form with the best sound I have ever heard at a
festival, their sound engineer really knows his stuff.
Puppets' followed, but before long we found ourselves immersed in the
Black album in all its glory. From 'Struggle Within' to 'Enter Sandman'
we were reminded why this became one of the biggest selling albums and
all tracks were accompanied with an amazing video and light show.
consisted of 'Battery', 'One', Seek And Destroy' and a barrage of
fireworks and explosions. This was a consummate display of heavy rock at
its best and rounded off day two nicely.
Sunday 10 June 2012
Max tent was bursting for the lunchtime appearance of colourful Finns
Reckless Love. It was bit disconcerting to see singer Olli Herman
sing opener 'Animal Attraction' in jacket and shades rooted to the spot
but he was soon his normal energetic, bare chested self on stage and the
likes of 'Badass', 'Born to Break Your Heart' and 'Beautiful Bomb' had
everyone singing along.
during 'Hot' I was rather discombobulated to hear quite how much of the
sound seemed to be coming from a backing tape. They finished with 'On
The Radio', another example of how they have written some of the most
insanely catchy tunes in a long time, but there would be no harm in
ditching supporting tapes for a more stripped down live sound.
atmosphere had been cooking for Reckless Love, nothing could prepare for
the incredible loyalty Edguy generated from a tent full of
followers. Singer Tobias Sammet is quite a character though he toned
down the chatting for a short set, and the German power metallers had
the whole of the tent punching fists in the air and singing along to
'Superheroes' and 'King of Fools', not to mention the tongue-in-cheek
'Lavatory Love Machine'. I did think his Bruce Dickinson-esque vocals
were rather thin and drowned out, but it was churlish to complain.
Dorian Gray of hair metal is exactly the same brash, hyperactive and
foul mouthed frontman.
the Zippo (second) stage, and finally meeting up with fellow GRTR!
scribe David Wilson and his family, I enjoyed Sebastian Bach's
set. It must be over 20 years since I last saw him, but the Dorian Gray
of hair metal is exactly the same brash, hyperactive and foul mouthed
Photo by David
To add to
the sense of nostalgia, in a seven song set he and his band served up
authentic versions of several Skid Row hits - 'Slave to the Grind', '18
and Life', an impressive 'Monkey Business', my own favourite, the
acoustic driven ballad 'I Remember You', and 'Youth Gone Wild', which
naturally caused a mass eruption of fists in the air.
Wilson writes: Someone born to play short, sharp festival sets is
Sebastian Bach. It may be 18 years since Skid Row were at the top of
their game, but judging by the number of faded SR tour T-shirts on show
there is still a lot of love around for the band.
with a frantic 'Slave To The Grind' Seb could do no wrong. New song
'Kicking and Screaming' followed, but it was the Skid Row favourites
that really whipped the crowd to fever pitch, '18 and Life', 'Monkey
Business' and 'Youth Gone Wild, proved that the often mooted Row reunion
could be a highly lucrative affair.
what a festival set should be and Mr Bach played it perfectly, a true
Nathan writes: My final band of the weekend was Shinedown. I
really enjoyed their London show from a view at the back of the
Roundhouse, but, down in the pit this time, was unprepared for the
incredible intensity with which they go about putting on a show and to
which their fans respond, even with singer Brent Smith's exhortation to
introduce ourselves to the people next to us, which is very un-British,
'Sound of Madness', 'Diamond Eyes' and 'Devour', with drummer Barry
Kerch pounding his kit furiously, were uncompromisingly heavy, then
after the rousing, more melodic sounds of 'Unity', the ballad 'Second
Chance' was accompanied by an incredible, almost revivalist atmosphere,
of people waving their arms in the air and singing.
atmosphere reached an even higher peak when during recent single
'Bully', roadies helped Brent venture deep into the crowd to lead the
singing. In an all too short 40 minutes Shinedown demonstrated exactly
why in the States they are already festival headliners and on this
evidence are on the verge of a similar breakthrough on these shores.
Wilson writes: Shinedown are in the ascendancy at the moment and the
area in front of the second stage was rammed by the time the guys
stepped out into the glorious sunshine.
Brent Smith has a great voice but he goes about his business very
seriously, rarely cracking a smile, he actually makes me think of a
plump Axl Rose. The band's music though is first rate and the band had
the talent and drive to turn their allotted time into one of the
festival highlights, they also played my track of the weekend, a
stonking version of ' Devour' which won them bonus points straight away.
A crowd pleasing set then that would have done them no harm at all.
dawned with sunshine and blue skies, about bloody time! Having learned
the lessons of the previous two days we decided to miss out the early
bands on the Sunday thus avoiding the disappointment and frustration
whilst sitting once again in the traffic.
unfortunately meant that we missed the Black Spiders which was a shame
but hopefully I will catch up with the guys again later in the year.
By the time
we hit the second stage We Are The Ocean were just finishing off
their set. Their brand of melodic indie rock was pleasant enough, but
nothing special and polite applause was about all the crowd could muster
though warmed up with the next band along, August Burns Red. The
band master in hardcore metal and to be honest I wasn't expecting much
but they proved to be a lot better than most hardcore outfits playing
with a lot of skill and a surprising amount of melody.
By the end
of their seven song set they had won over the crowd with an energetic
and infectious performance, ones to catch again at some point I think.
Photo by David
After a set
change and a few technical hitches, Rival Sons finally took to
the stage for a shortened set. I caught Rival Sons last year in support
to Judas Priest and I wasn't too impressed and today's set did nothing
to change my opinion.
bluesy, Doors like sound doesn't do much for me and there appeared to be
an apathetic response throughout the crowd. They are by no means a bad
band, but perhaps they were not best suited to the Download bill.
Photo by David
from the same era who had a similar level of success were Ugly Kid
Joe. I wasn't too sure what to expect as all I could remember from
them were the two big hits, 'Everything About You' and their cover of
'Cats In The Cradle', both of which got an airing during the set.
were entertaining enough and got the crowd dancing in the sunshine, not
for the last time today as it would turn out. Perhaps not an essential
'must see', but fun none the less.
Refused were up next we decided it was time to stretch our legs and
hit the doughnut stall once more, a moment on the lips, a lifetime on
the hips but who gives a shit!
I did catch
a bit of Refused but their shouty, angst ridden hardcore didn't really
work on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
time I caught Gus G and the guys was in Glasgow and the sound that night
was painfully, unpleasantly loud, so bad in fact that I bailed out.
Unfortunately it would appear that their sound engineer is Mutt and Geoff as it was exactly the same here, I think he
was mixing from the car park by the sound of things, so we didn't stick
Photo by David
wandered over to the tent to catch a bit of power metal courtesy of
Firewind. The last time I caught Gus G and the guys was in Glasgow
and the sound that night was painfully, unpleasantly loud, so bad in
fact that I bailed out. Unfortunately it would appear that their sound
engineer is Mutt and Geoff as it was exactly the same here, I think he
was mixing from the car park by the sound of things, so we didn't stick
now as we had the choice of the Dropkick Murphys on the second stage and
Soundgarden on the mainstage. We decided to head for the Murphys first
and then catch the second part of Soundgarden's set, what we didn't
bargain on though was the Dropkick Murphys being so damned
Photo by David
show is a participation sport, singing along and dancing like a maniac
are compulsory and with their Irish infused punk, banjo and bagpipes
they draw you in, you can't escape the craic.
course of the 15 tracks aired both the band and the crowd bounced
together as one, they even chucked in a fantastic cover of AC/DC's 'TNT'
which went down a storm, but it was on the faster numbers like 'Going
Out In Style' and 'I'm Shipping Up To Boston' that the band excelled.
What a great way to spend a Sunday evening.
enjoyed the Murphys hospitality longer than planned we only managed to
catch the tail end of Soundgarden's set which I must say left me
missed the best of the set, but there appeared to be little energy in
their performance and a lack of enthusiasm in the crowd which I found
surprising, as I say though maybe I just missed the best bits?
Photo by David
left one band to round off proceedings, and what a band! Black
Sabbath hit the stage to the sound of church bells and rain,
heralding the opening of 'Black Sabbath'.
It was good
to see that the guys all looked fit and well after Tony Iommi's recent
illness and we soon found out that he had lost none of his prowess when
it comes to producing some of the biggest riffs in rock.
Ozzy was on
good form as well, stalking the front of the stage and willing the crowd
to 'go f**kin' crazy'. 'The Wizard' was up next and the set then rolled
on with one Sabbath classic after another.
This was the
first time I had seen the original Sabbath play and it was a great
experience, ok Bill Ward was missing, but for me and most others I'll
hazard, it didn't really matter.
have Geezer cranking out the opening to NIB and the air raid sirens fire
up at the start of War Pigs you are just glad that Sabbath are still
around and able to produce the goods with such quality.
was the perfect end to what had been a mixed weekend, mostly down to the
poor weather and organisation. Hopefully next year the lessons will have
been learnt and the sun will shine, hell I would even settle for warm
and slightly overcast. Download 2013, don't write me off yet!
Review and photos by Andy Nathan & David Wilson
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