After yesterday, the sight of no rain and straw on the arena floor is much welcomed, and it’s definitely a more optimistic punter that takes their place in front of the Lemmy Stage. It certainly buoys Avatar (8) as well, who are going from strength to strength with every performance and get heads banging early. The only downside is they’ve only got half an hour to play with, but Hail the Apocalypse and Paint It Red do enough to satisfy the early risers and are turning into household tunes. Beartooth (8) are another band on the rise, and whilst new album Aggressive might not have the same grit as debut Disgusting, the band have lost none of their hunger for tearing up venues and festivals across the world. It’s a sharp, vicious set that sees bodies moving and highlights Beartooth’s desire to rise thorugh the ranks and become the standard bearers for UK metal. They might just do it as well. Black Peaks (8) are another outfit in the same position, and although they might be playing on the Maverick Stage, they still do enough to pack the tent out and blow away any remaining hangovers. The big surprise of the day goes to Megadeth (9), who are crushing in every aspect and really benefit from a frontman who decided to get out of the right side of bed. True, Dave Mustaine’s voice is shot, but there’s an edge about it which is a huge benefit and the band are also aided by new album Dystopia which is the best thing they’ve released in quite a while. Oh, and Nikki Sixx joins them for a cover of Anarchy in the U.K, which is never a bad thing either. To boot, Dave Mustaine comes back on after the set and presents WWE superstar Triple H with the first ever ‘Spirit of Lemmy’ Golden God, a moment well received by all that are present.
Santa Cruz (7) got the day off to a good start on the second stage with some Finnish rock. They’re a good fun band, but do look slightly lost at times on the large stage – I can imagine they would have been better in one of the tents with a more intimate setting, but still do a good job of getting things going on the second stage.
Inglorious (9) are a fairly new band, but it doesn’t take them long to show why they deserve their slot on stage two – singer Nathan James has one hell of a good voice and is surrounded by a great band. After a good set from Santa Cruz, Inglorious really take things up a notch vocally, musically and in their performance. A great set for rock fans.
The men that will not be blamed for nothing (9). Now that’s a bit of a mouthful, and it’s a name that certainly gets people’s attention. Once the band get on stage they keep people’s attention – you have a couple of steampunks and a man in a dress plus a dreadlocked drummer hidden away at the back. There’s a definite streak of humour in the songs as well as in the on stage banter. While most bands sing about beer, women, partying or current topics, The men that will not be blamed for nothing sing about people like Charles Darwin or Isembard Kingdom Brunel which fits the steampunk image. They’re a great live band and I’d certainly recommend you check them out if you get chance.
Now, there are many things that Iron Maiden can do, but control the weather isn’t one of them, meaning the Ed Force One flyover (0) fails to, erm, get off the ground as no-one can see it happening due to the cloud cover. Also not happening is a Zippo Encore crowd getting behind Against the Current (3). In their defence, they are a late replacement for Architects (who pull out due to a family emergency), but they should have been added to the bottom of the bill and not put in exactly the same spot with exactly the same stage time. They come across as a Poundland version of Pvris and frontwoman Chrissy Costanza tries to prove she’s as edgy as the rest of the lineup by, umm, shaking her hair a bit. It’s ill-fitting and truly uninspiring. Thank goodness, therefore, for Skindred (8), who bring bounce, energy and power and lift everyone’s spirits immeasurably – although in true Welsh fashion, they also bring the rain. Hard. Tributes are led for Lemmy, Bowie and Prince during an empotionally charged Trouble and whilst the fallout from Benji Webbe’s apparent racial abuse of Babymetal will rumble on, tonight he’s his usual, in-yer-face self. And yes, the Newport Helicopter is still a thing and shows no signs of getting old. Over on the Dogtooth stage we find headliners Municipal Waste (7). They might be a little silly, but they’re rarely disappointing live, and once again they’re treating everyone to a thrash party of the highest order.
Wrexham based Pop-punks Neck Deep (7) drew a large crowd on the third stage. Sadly I couldn’t stay for long as I had to dash over to another stage, but what I heard sounded good.
Actress turned rock singer, Juliette and the Licks (8) frontwoman Juliette Lewis took to the stage in a white catsuit with stripes containing stars down the sides which reminded me of the outfit worn by motorbike stuntman Evel Knievel. She comes across as a very passionate singer and has a great stage presence. I certainly enjoyed her set and will be checking out her albums when I get chance.
When it comes to great live bands, Skindred (9) are a name that normally springs to mind. Their blend of reggae and metal works really well and with Benji being a great frontman they always get the crowd bouncing, and even the wet weather at Download wasn’t going to stop people having fun during their set.
And so, to the headliners. Much in the same vein as Megadeth, the fortunes of Black Sabbath (8) are dependent on the man in the middle. But on this, their final ever UK festival show, there’s not much that will spoil the show, especially not the weather. Opening with Black Sabbath itself, it’s a rousing start and despite an underwhelming response and performance of After Forever three songs in, there isn’t much that won’t deter the greatest metal band of all time from finishing their years at Donington in style. Ozzy Osbourne has definitely seen better days, but he does enough to keep things afloat, whilst behind him Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler are in complete synch with one another and are sonicallhy superb. Special mention as well to Tommy Clufetos who is an excellent drummer and has done everything he can to keep the spirit of Bill Ward alive. From the majesty of War Pigs to the total carnage of Children of the Grave and Paranoid, it’s a fitting swansong from one of the country’s most beloved imports. Long may they live on.
Black Sabbath setlist
Fairies Wear Boots
Into the Void
Behind the Walls of Sleep (with ‘Wasp’ intro)
N.I.B (with ‘Bassically’ intro)
Hand of Doom
Rat Salad (with drum solo)
Children of the Grave