Download Festival review

Posted on 13 June 2012
By Cat Marr
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For Download’s 10th Birthday they proved that they owned the throne in the Guitar Hero Wall of Fame and celebrated their first decade of rocking with the best army of rock legends.

There was a distinct lack of 1980s sing-along classics with the absence of Europe. But newcomers Cancer Bats and Rise to Remain and newly reformed Scarborough rockers Little Angels tried to fill the void, playing for the first time together in 18 years.

Machine Head made their entrance as they picked up their instruments a huge gust of wind smacked the crowd in the face, as though by the sheer force of their music.

The Main Stage was rocked to its rafters with metal, death metal, hardcore, death-core and progressive rock so it was an odd choice past their prime that dance act Prodigy were chosen as head-liners to close the day.

Whispers around the site showed that choosing The Prodigy and Chase and Status to headline split opinion but the murmurs died down as Slash blew everyone away.

The Prodigy didn’t stir any grumbles or walk-outs from the excited fans that had waded through the mire to see them. The Electronic act won over the cynics by keeping the whole muddy population on their feet and in the moment.

Come Saturday the vicious, slushy mud had thickened and now formed a paste, with an aim to steal your wellies so the acts were lucky that they even had a crowd.

As I Lay Dying screamed down the mic as if they lay on their deathbeds, their macabre message and tenacious drum beats inspired small pits.

The festival boasts a perfect blend of rock in a musical sound-scape but Fozzy had the secret ingredient that made them stand out from the rest, a WWE wrestler. It doesn’t get harder than that.

The wrestler Chris Jericho never a stranger to a crowd, ran up and down the Zippo lighter stage owning it, singing into the camera, shaking his hair, the ultimate front-man. The crowd lapped it up.

After a little taste of Canada mixed with Americana it was time for the British invasion in the form of the Yoyos, with some punk music from yesteryear.

They took to their instruments with precision and filled the Pepsi Max Stage Tent with loyal fans with their kids in tow. The fans looked proud and rocked out like Yoyos were rolling in their prime.

Trivium, who have been a bit underground of late, hypnotised the crowds.

Their stage prowess and technicality was magnificent and there were rewarded with nine plus circle pits during their final song. They were sincerely gracious for the crowd’s support and were ecstatic to be there for their day in the sun.

If the audience wasn’t satisfied from pulling strings from the heart of their Martyr with Trivium, they were about to step into the time machine for some comical 1980s glam-rock with Steel Panther.

The 1980s-style glam-rockers came on making all sorts of bad taste jokes from AIDs to pubic hair and even quipped about “not catching herpes twice.”

The rock revellers roared with laughter and showed that underneath all that make-up they had a sense of humour, with the parody songs winning the biggest cheers.

The highlight of their performance was a duet with the unmasked Slipknot front-man Corey Taylor, who beamed like a fan-boy after they welcomed him with open arms.

With enough crotch thrusts to make Rihanna blush and record number of boob flashing from the crowd, you left their performance thinking Motley who?

The next act to tantalise the audience were comical band Tenacious D proving that dreams can come true for overweight 30-something geek-boys, if you are Jack Black, an actor-turned-rock-star.

Jack Black took a sip from the rock goblet and showed the crowd what the duo could do. They entertained but short of waiting for Fuck Her Gently and Tribute, the performance seemed a little stale.

After warming-up the vocals with Jack and Kyle the audience was ready to sing-along with Scottish rockers Biffy Clyro.

The crowd was treated to an impromptu Blair Witch Project as each member filmed their band-mates.

Metallica playing The Black Album in full will go down in rock history as a once in a lifetime experience.

The rock anthems echoed through the camp-site and caught everyone’s inner rock star.

The crowd’s reaction was hyperbolic and the pyrotechnics were just as extravagant.

And on the seventh day the ashen-faced crowd were rewarded with the first rays of sunshine, in true Brit style most of the girls bravely got out the bikinis.

Rival Sons roused revellers from their slumber on the Second Stage, waking them up with a little bit of country-tinged rock before letting the audience snooze once again. Although competent, the performance lacked charisma.

Sebastian Bachman made up for the sedate interlude with his glorious long blonde hair and Fabio Lanzoni stature and instantly drew in a hyped crowd.

The heart-felt but cheesy rock songs bought a smile to everyone’s face and his stage antics added to the entertainment. Swinging his microphone above his head at warp speed donned in his leather trouser, the cheesy rocker was back in his hey-day.

Everyone was there to get a glimpse of the Prince of Darkness himself Ozzy Osbourne. Within moments the crowd was a sea of air-punching rockers and the front of the crowd was a hive of activity in worship for the hardcore act.

Another act who have had hiatus and side projects and have dipped in and out of the music scene are Soundgarden. The band appeared and the effortlessly cool front-man Chris Cornell looked right at home. The band’s mellow rock and thick bass-lines satisfied the hungry audience.

The slightly younger members waited with baited breath for the trippy Black Hole Sun and were given their sin again.

The whole park was in ecstasy as the video montage of the band’s career played.

Then the Prince of Darkness made his entrance, his reality TV days of The Osbournes long behind him and once again he was here in the moment, centre stage, being revered for his rock music.

Though his voice trembled and he was a little uneasy on his feet, the menacing look in his eye showed he meant business.

Black Sabbath closed the festival with an explosion of fireworks lighting up the night sky: the perfect end to Download’s 10th birthday.