And so, the final day of Download 2014. And this time it’s overcast. The rain has not been hard but it’s definitely a lot cloudier than before – a welcome relief for many of the punters. Elliott and Ant give their opinions on this final day.
For me the day started with Jake E Lee’s Red Dragon Cartel  who played despite some speculation following the Spinal Tap like events of the last week with tour dates cancelled then on again and a war of words. Happily this didn’t seem to bother them today and they put in a grreat set with songs from their debut album, and endign with a song Jake E Lee wrote and performed withOzzy – Bark at the moon. The debate after their set was all about the vocals on that last song, with the general verdict being it was a good performance but it just feels strange hearing someone other than Ozzy singing it.
Over on the Red Bull stage, Arthemis  had a good crowd as they worked their way through a great set. As always the music and vocals are spot on and there’s some excellent guitar playing. Winger  put in a good performance over on main stage, but then after the changeover came Buckcherry . I’ve seen them several times before and they’re usually great live but today they just seem uninterested and the set is so poor I head off to find food rathe than waiting to hear “Crazy bitch”. Things then go from bad to worse as the crowd is soon bored to death by a very dull set from Richie Sambora  whose set just feels unexciting, and even wheeling out a couple of Bon Joni songs (“Lay your hands on me” and “Wanted dead or alive”) fails to salvage the set.
In the same way that Holland gave the Spanish a good kicking in the World Cup on Friday night, so Dutch outfit The Charm, The Fury (7) do the same to the Pepsi Max stage with intense, tighly played metalcore. The Treatment (8) pull a huge audience on the third stage (which could be due to the rain) but the amount of people who know the words to their songs suggests that they could be playing open air come 2015. People are spilling out for the return of newly reformed Crazytown (8) whose new material sounds great but pales in comparison to the sing-a-longs of ‘Toxic’ and ‘Butterfly’. But they could learn a lesson or two from Black Stone Cherry (9) who find themselves playing their ‘secret’ set to a full tent and a good 200-300 people around the outside. “So a few of you found out we were playing today then” jokes frontman Chris Robertson – but the set is anything but jokey. The four-piece from Kentucky are on blistering form and couldn’t sound any better – if the arena tour in October goes well they’ll be headlining Donington by the end of the decade, if not sooner.
Joe Bonammassa  was considered a surprising choice to play main stage, but the blues guitarist puts in a performance that proves he more than deserves a slot at Download. It’s a pretty heavy set from him and sounds great with plenty of guitar solos thrown in during the set. We get songs including “Oh Beautiful”, “Song of yesterday” (a Black Country Communion song), “Slow train”, and “The Ballad of John Henry”. I particularly liked the way he included a short section of a song by The Who during a guitar solo which was instantly recognisable. A great set.
The Black Stone Cherry  secret set had been widely rumoured as their presence at the Golden Gods made a Download appearance seem inevitable, and it was announced in the morning, so it was no surprise that the tent was packed solid – and people were 50 deep outside the tent listening to their set. Playing songs including “White trash millionaire” and “Blame it on the boom boom” it was obvious why they had such a big crowd, and I’m fully expecting their arena tour later in the year to sell out.
Kicking off the Zippo Encore Stage this morning are Swedes Avatar (8), who fell rather flat on tour with Avenged Sevenfold in December but are on much better form here today and even self-confirm for next year. Red Dragon Cartel (6), the new outfit formed by former Ozzy guitarist Jake E. Lee, start things off slowly on the Stephen Sutton Stage but in the traditional ‘Classic Rock Sunday’ that Download has grown to know – even if the band’s cover of Bark at the Moon is let down by the vocalist. The same holds true for Winger (6) – for everyone who remembers them it’s a good nostalgia trip but otherwise, most are, ahem, ‘Headed for a Heartbreak’. Buckcherry (6) are entirely dependent on whether Josh Todd gets out the right side of bed or not, but they keep the momentum going for now.
Seether clashed with Steel Panther which could have harmed their chances of pulling a big crowd (or helped them), but they stillg et a great crowd on the Zippo stage for their grungey sounds. They’re not a band I’ve listened to before but I was impressed by their set, and judging by this performance then their forthcoming album is going to be worth looking out for.
Volbeat (8) have never had a problem putting on a great show – they’re big, ballsy and always great to watch – but coming from Black Stone Cherry to watch them made them appear more underwhelming than they actually were. No such problems for Steel Panther (9) though, who are just the greatest party band in the history of forever. Funny and filthy but never straying too far over the line, they turn everything up a notch, and with penultimate song ’17 Girls In a Row’ bring the exact amount on stage and then send them down the runway in catwalk style, before getting three to kiss each other. Finishing with ‘Death to All But Metal’, they leave to rapturous applause. The tempo naturally slows in places for Alter Bridge (9), but this is a different beast altogether and they are stunning in so many alternate ways to Panther – most definitely another band who could easily headline the festival in a few years. The magic peaks at the end when Myles Kennedy – on the form of his life – leads the Download faithful through an acoustic rendition of ‘Watch Over You’ as the sun disappears for the last time. A stunning way o set up tonight’s main event.
The pretty Reckless  should have been far better than they actually were, but singer Taylor Momsen seemed to spend too much time trying to look sexy and pose rather than focussing on delivering a good set. Some of the songs had intro tapes that added absolutely no value and felt out of place so it would have been better if they were dropped. When they actually concentrated on playing, they put in a great performance and I did enjoy their set.