Welcome to the first in a three part review of the 11th annual Download Festival. Once again, rock fans from all over the world descended on the hallowed turfs of Donington Park in Derbyshire for a five-day extravaganza that saw the festival outdo its previous years’ lineup by quite a considerable length. So sit back and read on…
Did it rain at Download this year? Of course it did, but not to the washout standard that hit Donington Park in 2012, meaning that the arena actually opened twenty minutes EARLY on Friday morning as opposed to two hours later. This also meant that Rise to Remain (6) finally got to play after seeing their set cancelled the previous year, and it was a solid enough start to proceedings, with new song ‘Over and Over’ going down well with a decent-sized audience. The heavens opened during Palm Reader’s (9) performance in the Pepsi Max tent, which played into their favour as punters ran for cover and saw one of the most brutal sets over the entire weekend, ‘War Between the Head and the Heart’ in particular going down an absolute storm. Uriah Heep (7) kept things ticking over nicely on the Zippo Encore stage – they might be into their 44th year as a band but they still know how to rock – before Dragonforce (8) turned it up a notch further and blasted their way through five songs of power metal bliss. Europe (8) got stuck in traffic and missed their slot in 2012 so were keen to make up for lost ground. Inevitably the tempo was taken down a notch, but they know how to have a good time, and you really cannot mess around with ‘The Final Countdown’ – it’s a live experience in its own right.
The Main Stage found itself packed for Korn (8), back in the UK with original guitarist Brian ‘Head’ Welch for the first time since his departure in 2005, and the quintet didn’t disappoint, blasting through hit after hit after hit in a set that sent every single person into a crazed frenzy; the place was shaking for a good few minutes after they’d finished. It’s something that Bullet for My Valentine (7) would have struggled to match even if they’d been on form, which makes it all the more disappointing that they let themselves down with a completely unnecessary guitar solo in the middle of the set when they could have replaced it with another song. It’s a shame, because they brought fire and a good stage prescence.
And then, it’s all down to Slipknot (9) to round things off in the only way they know: with as much insanity as possible. So much insanity, in fact, that the show gets stopped on more than one occasion because the barricade separating the audience from the stage breaks and needs immediate attention. Dressed in white Iowa-era boiler suits and opening with a jaw-dropping ‘Disasterpiece’, the eight-man juggernaut blasted through a further nineteen songs that covered the whole of their career, including a stunning version of ‘Sulfer’ and a rarely performed ‘Gently’. Corey Taylor proved to everyone yet again why he is the best metal frontman of the last fifteen years, ruling the stage with an iron fist and holding 90,000 people in the palm of his hand. It’s not my position to state whether or not it was better than their 2009 headline show, but it’s come damn close if it hasn’t, and it brings the first day of Download to a VERY satisfying close.
Slipknot setlist (intros in italics)
Get Behind Me Satan and Push
Wait and Bleed
Before I Forget
The Blister Exists
Pulse of the Maggots
The Heretic Anthem
Spit It Out
People = Shit