The final day of Download, and it’s sunny, rejoice! Well, it isn’t for long, but the optimism of a better day of weather than before really pulls people through. What is in store given the barnstorming set that Muse put on the previous night is anyone’s guess, but let’s find out, shall we?
Beginning proceedings on the Maverick stage are Like a Storm (7) whose audience easily triples, if not quadruples over the course of their set. Packing a sizeable punch, the New Zealanders play their brand of digeridoo metal very well indeed. Yep, you read that right, the aboriginal instrument is a large prescence in their sound and it transfers surprisingly well. If people were still scratching their heads at that, they must have had a meltdown when Evil Scarecrow (9) appear during the early afternoon and proceed to sing songs about robots, metal crabs and even cover the Thundercats theme tune with an extreme metal feel. ‘We’re the best band you will see all weekend….on this stage…at one in the afternoon!’ says frontman Dr Hell. Can’t really argue with that, can you? The tent is rammed once again for the return of secret band The Darkne. Well, at least that’s what their banner says – too big to fit on the stage, the end of the logo has had to be folded round and taped behind it. No matter though – The Darkness (8) remind everyone why we loved them in the first place. Justin Hawkins, ever the character, enters via the back entrance flanked by Vikings and in a shimmering blue suit before powering through Get Your Hands Off My Woman and Black Shuck like the band had never gone away. Special mention as well to new drummer Rufus Taylor, who really does look like his father’s son.
On the Main Stage, now with a strong classic rock feel about it, Billy Idol (6) is in good spirits and gives everything he can, but he is hampered by sound problems and even White Wedding fails to take proper flight. No such issues for Slash (9) though, who is just as cool and understated as he’s always been. Letting Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators take centre stage but coming back into the fore to crank out some of the greatest solos ever written, it’s bombastic and sleek. Sure, the Guns N’ Roses songs get the best reception, but Anastasia and opening track You’re a Lie are just as strong in composition and structure. It’s because of this that, for all of their production and pyro, Mötley Crüe (8) just cannot follow the big man. Not for want of trying though. Yes, Vince Neil’s voice has seen better days, but he sounds alright here despite the need for two female back up singers to help out. Musically, they’re still on point, with Mick Mars continuing to defy all the odds given his ankylosing spondylitis and the final encore of Home Sweet Home is a very emotional tribute to a band playing their final ever UK festival date. There’s also rousing renditions of Dr. Feelgood, Saints of Los Angeles and a solid cover the Anarchy in the U.K as well, whilst Nikki Sixx takes time to set everything on fire with his bass guitar. If this is what they can do with a limited festival set up, imagine what the final UK tou dates will be like.
While Slash played the main stage, L7 (8) were giving fans a reminder of the early 90s including their hit “Lets pretend that we’re dead”. Having seen slash quite a few times I took the rare opportunity to see L7 instead and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Forget Motley Crue (6) – they know how to put on a hell of a good show, but they’re long since past their best, so after a few songs I headed over to see the Butcher Babies (10) who put in one of the best performances I saw all weekend. Carla and Heidi use so much energy racing around the stage and headbanging that I felt exhausted watching. The circle pit they got showed that plenty of fans were loving the set, and there were plenty of people who clearly knew most of the songs. A great set – I can see this band playing a bigger stage next time. After Butcher Babies I managed to catch part of the Lamb of God (8) set. They’d drawn a huge crowd, and it’s not a surprise – they’re always great live.
Talking of voices seeing better days, Paul Stanley is also in that category with Vince. Effort on his vocals is second to none during KISS (7)‘s first show in the UK for half a decade (save for an intimate, fan club performance at the Forum in 2012), but the croakiness is all too apparent. Make no mistake though, they still know how to put on a performance with their zipwires, platforms and fireworks and the audience lap it all up, from that introduction to the opening number of Detroit Rock City, from the style and punch of new(ish) song Hell or Hallelujah to Gene Simmons spitting blood and breathing fire, it’s all there and all pulled off
But it isn’t a vintage KISS show. There’s a distinct lack of energy from the quartet and it does feel in places like they’re going through the motions. Their stage set up hasn’t helped either as the vast amount of space means that for all the bulky costumes and platform shoes, they cut very small figures amongst the lights and the flames. Nevertheless, when it comes to partying and tunes that will get people jumping, KISS have some of the very best and as the last strains of Rock and Roll All Night die away, they would have known that, once again, they’d done what they needed to. It’s just a shame that they couldn’t leave a firmer imprint in people’s minds.
No other band could close the festival – KISS (8) put on the biggest show of the weekend, and while it may not be their best ever performance, they’ve got such a strong catalogue of songs that this combined with the stage show and the giant video screens make this a great show.
Good Times Bad Times
Detroit Rock City
Creatures of the Night
I Love it Loud
Do You Love Me
Hell or Hallelujah
Calling Dr. Love
Lick It Up
God of Thunder
Shout It Out Loud
I Was Made for Lovin’ You
Rock and Roll All Nite
God Gave Rock and Roll to You II