Starcrawler kicked the proceedings on second stage at Downoad off with a set where the attention was clearly focussed on their painfully thin singer Arrow de Wilde. I suspect it’s mainly an act as she staggers around and generally comes across like she’s off her head on drugs. She chokes herself with the microphone cable and while she does a good job of singing, I just felt the theatrics drew attention away from their musical ability. Without the theatrics it would have been a better set.
Next came Led Zeppelin. Oh wait, no it’s actually Greta van fleet, it if you’ve listened to this band you’ll understand. Back in the 80s Kingdom come were described as Led Zeppelin clones, and the same charge is levelled these days at Greta van fleet. Is sounding like Led Zeppelin a bad thing? Probably not – sounding like one of the greatest bands in history is hardly a criticism, but at the same time they probably need to get some songs that develop their own sound and identity. The vocals are truly astonishing – you really could be listening to a young Robert Plant, and the rest of the band are. Lordy good at what they do too. If you haven’t heard anything by Greta van fleet then they’re a band well worth checking out.
Turbonegro are a band that have a devoted following with many fans dressing up and quite a few were here today. They’re one of the most unusual looking bands – as someone joked, “it’s like the village people gave up disco and started making rock music”. With one of the band dressed as a cop, and several others in costume too, it’s a fitting comment. Their singer is a big guy covered in tattoos who delights in putting on very camp mannerisms as he performs. They’re great fun to watch, but the important part is how they sound, and that’s easy to describe. It’s great rock music with a fun feel good factor. They’re a real highlight of the day, and coming after Greta van fleet, it’s a great couple of hours of music.
Dead cross might be a new name to many people, but the men behind the band are well known – on drums you have former Slayer drummer, Dave Lombardo, and on vocals it’s Faith No More’s Mike Patton, which is an interesting mix, so I was wondering what they’d come up with. Well the answer is a loud heavy punk/hardcore sound. It’s good – despite hardcore not being a genre I’m a big fan of.
Kreator made their Download debut here on the second stage today. It’s hard to believe it’s taken so long to get these German thrash legends on the bill, but now they’re here they seem determined to make up for lost time. Taking to the stage they immediately fire off the confetti cannons, covering everyone in red confetti as they launch into “Phantom antichrist”. Before long the confetti is replaced by towering jets of flames as they race through their six song set. It’s a short set but an absolutely fantastic one.
Body count came next, featuring the legendary hip hop star and actor, Ice T. Having seen them a week earlier I knew what to expect – damn good heavy music with the word “Motherfucker” being used regularly. They’ve got an intimidating image with knuckledusters built in to the mic stands, and a masked man carrying a (presumably fake) shotgun standing to one side at the front of the stage. While most eyes are on Ice T, the rest of the band are great to watch as they put in great performances. After asking who the youngest fan was in the crowd, he brings out his two year old daughter. Opening with Slayer’s “Raining blood” the set includes “Talk shit, get shot”, “Manslaughter” and “Cop killer”. It’s a great set.
Meshuggah brought some fantastic progressive metal to stage 2. It’s music that’s complex and highly technical, but whereas some bands that get to complex are quite boring to listen to, Meshuggah still have plenty of mass appeal.
Alexisonfire certainly have a good following and the huge crowd certainly enjoy the post-hardcore outfit’s set. It’s a high energy performance and one that shows why they’re so high on the bill.
Marilyn Manson is an odd performer – sometimes he’s an absolutely superb performer, other times he’s truly awful. Thankfully while tonight isn’t the best I’ve seen him, it’s far better than previous festival appearances. The endless costume changes really should be far slicker rather than causing a delay to the start of the next song each time, as it does interrupt the flow of the set. A set with plenty of hits goes down well as does a surprise duet with Cradle of Filth frontman, Dani Filth.
Rise against closed the second stage with an energetic performance with lots of running around and jumping off risers as they race through their set. It’s impressive stuff but I left early to get a decent view for Ozzy’s set on main stage.
Ozzy Osbourne closed the festival. I’ve got to be honest, like may people I had fairly low expectations for his set as he’s not impressed recently, but I’m not sure whether Sharon replaced him with a clone or if he’s just in the best form he’s been in for years, but this was one hell of a good set. With just a handful of Black Sabbath classics (“War pigs”, “Paranoid” and “Faeries wear boots”), the set was primarily Ozzy’s solo material, with plenty of classics – “Crazy train”, “Mr Crowley”, “Shot in the dark”, “Bark at the moon” and more. Ok given the choice I’d skip the drum solo, and Zakk’s guitar solos, but other than that it was an amazingly good set. What a great way to end a weekend of music at Donington.
Once again Andy Copping proved the critics wrong with some inspired choices of acts. People moan all year round about the band choices and why certain bands should be on higher/lower stages, but the man really does get it right most of the time. Giving a band like Lawnmower Deth a chance to play the second stage and seeing them repay his faith by pulling a huge crowd and putting in a great set is fantastic to see, but he’s also giving bands like Parkway drive a chance to show they’re big enough and can put on a good enough show to be considered as future main stage headliners.
Download has been an exhausting weekend, but it’s a festival that’s always worth going to – you’re drawn by maybe just a handful of bands, but once you start checking out the rest of the lineup you’ll usually find great bands you’ll enjoy on all day if you visit the different stages.
Is it too soon to start planning for Download 2019?
Check out the rest of our photos from Sunday at Download 2018 here – https://flic.kr/s/aHsmk55zMr