Day 3 of Download. The big finale and our last trek around the race track to the arena to another day of awesome music and awesome bands. Sunday (as with previous years) kept to more of a Classic Rock orientated main stage theme and showcased a variety of different acts from Blues Rock to Hard Rock to Rockabilly and everything in between! Metal heads too had a great selection of bands to enjoy across the other stages! Here’s the final instalment of our three part Download Festival 2014 Review.
If you missed our previous coverage of Friday and Saturday’s happenings at Donington here are the links you need:
Scribes Sunday began with LA Hard Rockers Buckcherry who were tasked with the job of trying to awaken a rather tired and hung-over Download crowd. Led by the swagger of frontman Josh Todd, the likes of ‘All Night Long’, ‘Sorry’ and of course, the crowd sing-a-long to the mighty ‘Crazy Bitch’ definitely kick-started our morning in style. 5/10 They were followed by former Bon Jovi axe-man Richie Sambora (complete with Orianthi on guitars) who received more of a luke-warm response, save for the Bon Jovi tracks – ‘Wanted ( Dead Or Alive)’ and ‘Lay Your Hands On Me’ which livened up proceedings considerably. 5/10 Blues Rock virtuoso Joe Bonnamassa arrived next on Main stage, and dazzled with his immensely impressive, crazy-mad, insane guitar skills. The overall performance however, was a bit too low-key and didn’t particularly resonate with the Donington crowd – but there’s no denying the talents of Bonnamassa and his band who gave a fine performance. 6/10
The three-way Sabaton, Black Stone Cherry not-so-secret-set, Volbeat clash left a lot to be desired (someone please invent cloning for next year, yeah!?) and after some serious coin-tossing we elected to Volbeat it up on Main stage. The UK has rather slowly warmed to Volbeat (compared to our friends in Mainland Europe) with the band taking bigger strides each time they descend on our shores, this time making their Mainstage debut after a trio of appearances on 2nd stage in previous years. And they looked utterly thrilled to be there – especially Rob Caggiano who genuinely smiled his way through the entirety of the bands set. The band slayed with their “snazzy” riffage, opening with the awesome combination of ‘Doc Holliday’ into ‘Hallelujah Goat’ to a rammed main stage. The light-hearted Rock anthems followed, with ‘Radio Girl’ and the stellar ‘Lola Montez’ providing the perfect summer festival tunes. The snazziness kept coming with the heavy ‘Dead But Rising’ and one smashing performance of ‘The Hangman’s Body Count’ before proceedings were closed with ‘The Mirror and The Ripper’. Based on this performance the only way is surely up for these Danes (and American!). 8/10
And then came the next best thing to Van Halen, Steel Panther. Back at Donington and back with a brand new album, Download Fest sure got a treat from the get go with the band opening with “Pussywhipped” quickly followed by ‘Party Like It’s The End of the World’ – and party Download did. Fellow new tracks ‘If I Was The King’ and ‘Gloryhole’ were oh so wrong, but oh so right and the old-school “panther” faithful’s from ‘Feel The Steel’ were as always well-received garnering the biggest sing-a-longs of the set – especially Asian Hooker! The banter and wit was as hilarious as ever but the highlight was when the entire band became “Lead Guitarists” gaining acoustic guitars for ‘Girl From Oklahoma’ – Lexxi did a particularly great job when he’d finished applying that lip gloss! ;-) Perhaps it’s not too far-fetched to suggest that if the momentum and hype for “the panther” continues that they might just land themselves a headliner slot in the not-so distant future… they truly are Maserati’s in a world of Kia’s. 8/10
Steel Panther strutting their stuff. Photo by Jenna Foxton.
Next on main stage, the Gods that are Alter Bridge took to the stage. Opening with ‘Addicted To Pain’ the anthems and awesomeness kept on rolling with rock’s classiest band delivering a phenomenal performance. The highlights were plenty with a mix of old and new tracks present on the set list with ‘Come To Life’, ‘Ghost Of Days Gone By’, and ‘Isolation’ sounding fantastic. Yet it was the lengthy tracks that really impressed, with the mighty classically led intro of ‘Cry Of Achilles’ and stunning ‘Blackbird’ showcasing the band at their very best. Myles Kennedy got a brief break, with Mark Tremonti showing his vocal chops on ‘Waters Rising’.‘Metalingus’ sounded massive with Myles taking a stroll down to the barriers and high-fiving as many people as he could, including singing and holding the hand of one lucky punter (Myles fan boys/girls in the arena looked on in jealously!) as the crowd ecstatically sang at the top of their lungs.
Mark Tremonti & Myles Kennedy shredding away. Photo by Tom Martin
An unexpected appearance of the much-loved ‘Watch Over You’ was a welcomed addition as Myles Kennedy took to the stage alone performing a spine-tingling perfect acoustic version of the song. They finished up with ‘Rise Today’ ending on a real high note. If there is any justice in the world, a headliner slot surely awaits Alter Bridge the next time they return to Donington. They have the songs, the fan base and the classiness. No band deserves it more. 9/10
Following a drama-filled build up to Download Festival with a brand new drummer at the 11th hour and Matt Heafy blowing his voice out on the bands U.S tour with Volbeat, the odds were well and truly stacked against Trivium in the wake of their headliner performance on 2nd stage. You’d be forgiven for writing off the band before they began… and yet they somehow managed to pull it together and deliver the goods.
With a revised set list (they were due to play *that* 05 set list that catapulted them to great heights) the band soldiered on delivering a solid performance. Opening with ‘Brave This Storm’ any doubts were cast aside from the off. From then on, the band cleverly engineered their set list around songs predominantly driven by clean vocals, with back-up from bassist Paolo Gregoletto and, lead guitarist Corey Beaulieu doing a sterling job on the harsh vocals. A mention must also go to new man Mat Madiro who really stepped up to the occasion delivering a tremendous performance on the drums sounding as though he had been with the band for years – never mind just a few weeks! Trivium would be mad not to get him permanently based on this performance.
The Ascendancy era material elicited great responses from the Download audience with frontman Matt Heafy remarking “Don’t you dare stand still” as the packed out second stage jumped in unison when ‘A Gunshot To The Head of Trepidation’ rolled around. ‘Pull Harder On The Strings Of Your Martyr’ saw the circle pits spin wildly as CO2 cannons blasted, whilst ‘Dying In Your Arms (for the ladies!) and ‘Like Light To The Flies’ sounded tighter than ever. Material off the band’s latest offering ‘Vengeance Falls’ shone too, with the crowd singing along to the intro guitar riffs of ‘Strife’ before all hell broke loose as the biggest circle pit of the entire set kicked off, and ‘Through Blood, Dirt and Bone’ surely contributed to some serious Monday “Bangovers” as heads banged and fists pumped violently.
Trivium during their triumphant set. Photo by Jamie Giberti
The under-rated Crusade album was represented by THE ‘Anthem’, as the crowed frantically yelled every word as sparks erupted over the stage on the guitar solo finale. The evening was ended with ‘In Waves’ as Matt Heafy personally thanked the UK for embracing the band and making it the bands second home before instructing the crowd to give it everything they had left in the tank as crowd surfers flung over the barricades, heads banged, the moshers danced, all to massive applause.
Even with the odds stacked against them, Trivium somehow delivered one of weekend’s best sets - a real testament to a band at the top of the game, still with so much more to give. 9/10
Joining Aerosmith half-way into their set, we regrettably missed the likes of ‘Love In An Elevator’ and ‘Cryin’’ (Curse the clashes of good bands!) but arrived in time to catch splendid renditions of ‘Same Old Song And Dance’, ‘Janie’s Got A Gun’ and ‘Toys In The Attic.’ And then came one of those “Oh my god!”, pinch me moments as the band began ‘I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing’ with Steven Tyler on the main stage runway with a white grand piano. The atmosphere was surreal with the 80,000 strong crowd singing every word under the starlit sky. Friends swayed in unison and everyone had wail of a time. And if that wasn’t enough, a gentleman stood just a few rows behind us proposed to his girlfriend during the song, to cheers all around.
The amazing Aerosmith. Photo by Andrew Whitton.
It didn’t end there with timeless classics ‘Dude Looks Like A Lady’ and ‘Walk This Way’ hitting the spot. Saving the best until last, the encore arrived with the single most Rock ‘N Roll moment of the entire weekend during ‘Dream On’, which saw Joe Perry soloing on top of the grand piano! They ended spectacularly with ‘Mama Kin’ - A truly epic conclusion to an epic weekend of Rock and Metal. 10/10
There ends coverage of Download 2014 for another year - at least from Claire's perspective. Our second Scribe on the scene at Donington Rachel's review will be coming in the next few days - stay tuned!