Having been up in the vicinity with friends since Wednesday, we were in full party mode by the time Friday came around! As we were staying in a nearby hotel, (much easier to tart ourselves up), we simply got up and drove the small distance over to the venue on Friday in eager anticipation… Instead, we found ourselves sitting in a long queue of traffic with the world and his wife for what seemed like a lifetime! When we finally arrived and were relieved of twenty quid for the ‘miles away’ car park, we began our route march to the venue… One of the first things we noticed was that the venue had been moved outside the racetrack; it was now far more compact than before! (Yes, we now know it had moved the year before, but we didn’t go to that one). The ‘smaller feel’ to the festival was later to become the bane of the weekend as over crowding and bottlenecks resulted in the missing of bands and crap views. Having grabbed a beer, we wandered around soaking up the music and atmosphere. We caught some of LIMP BIZKIT’s set who were really on form before we settled down to watch Korn who played a thundering set finished with a cover of Pink Floyd’s brick in the wall!
The first dilemma of the weekend came when we were faced with… Do we see MOTLEY CRUE or FAITH NO MORE? One of us opts for Crue whilst the other opted for Faith No More. FNM don’t disappoint and a red Suited Mike Patton was on form playing well-loved classics to some of their more quirky material. Let’s hope this reunion is around for the foreseeable future… Motley Crue however, were their usual sleazy selves… Dirty comments made by the band members, sex fuelled songs, women baring their breasts to the ‘titty-cam’ and eager leopard-print clad fans made it another heavenly Motley experience!
No prizes for guessing who went for Sleazy Crue and who went for FNM…
With Day 1 over, it was time to check out the Download Village!
Day two… It took a little while for us to get back into full steam after the party on Friday, so we took it easy at first watching a few bands here and there when we finally decided to divide our time between DRAGON FORCE and THE ANSWER, who were practically on at the same time. Dragon Force were on form, their usual entertaining, speedy, manic selves. The Answer however, proved to be a treat with their head shaking, foot taping rock n roll, which had a huge group of us dancing away on the grass!
We went to see PENDULUM to find out if they lived up to the hype… As we jostled for space, the crowd was by far the biggest we had seen for a ‘non-headline’ band yet, and it was an effort just to get half way in the field towards the stage! BUT, it was all worth it! Pendulum proved to be one of the highlights of the weekend for us, possibly only to be rivalled by THE PRODIGY for sheer manic dance ability! It quickly became obvious to us that they should have been placed much higher up the bill as it felt the whole of Download had gathered for this band! Another reason the early slot let them down was that the daylight took away the impact from their amazing light show which highly complements their music. Pendulum gave 100%, but it was a shame someone didn’t have the foresight to place them higher up the bill. After just short of an hour’s dance mayhem, they left the stage, and left us gasping for breath!
Wandering around, we caught a spot of THUNDER… Even though they have now decided to bow out of the world of rock at the end of their tour, they played a tight set with their classics sounding as good as back in the day. In a way, it was bitter sweet to watch them, as it made us feel that the scene will be the poorer place with their absence (despite Danny Bowes now looking the epitome of Dad Rock). In the end, we left Thunder early because we were desperate to see MARILYN MANSON and wanted to get a good spot. How sorry we were! Manson’s set was laboured, stopped, started and was quite frankly, dull! Diva Manson had clearly eaten too much of something (pies maybe) and was sluggish onstage with a crap outfit. Bored but also very disappointed as we are Manson fans ourselves, we headed off for a beer, other stalls and to prepare for… THE PRODIGY. When we got there, the second stage was over crowded and rammed right up the hill towards the burger vans! It took half the set just to battle for a decent view. This problem was created by the new Download site, as the area was definitely too small for what was going on. Security looked very nervous and you could tell they were thinking the same thing… As for the band, Keith Flint was the usual deranged looking nutter, inciting frenzy to the crowd. Like Pendulum, it was still daylight and it took away the impact from their light show. However, The Prodigy were on the money and after we had danced our feet off to their set, we limped round to catch the end of Slipknot and take part in a curious version of musical bumps that had the whole of Download sat on the ground in unison at one point! Magic.
With Day 2 done and dusted, it was back to the Download Village again to continue the party!
Sunday was a day of far more classic acts. Like Sat, we took things relatively easy at first and sat down for lunch on the grass during DREAM THEATRE. They were quite good, but by the end of their set we’d had enough of ’20 minute jam sessions’ and blokes with no shirts on playing air drums…
We had really been looking forward to ZZ TOP’s set. It started off with the foot tapping, head nodding feel you would expect, but the momentum was soon lost and the set began to drag as long as their beards. Thankfully, it’s pace was rescued with a few back to back classics like Sharp Dressed Man and Legs which woke people up again. Once we’d heard our faves, we didn’t really want to risk things, so we dashed off to get a decent viewing spot for STEEL PANTHER, the spandex clad, parody of hair metal. In fact, they really turned out to be one of the highlights of the day! Fun and lively, the crowd lapped up their crude, rude, piss-take send up of all we love and hate about glam. They proved to be much more entertaining than we thought they would be and damn fine musicians to boot! A great laugh.
After their set, we hurried from the ‘Panther tent’ to the second stage to catch some of BUCKCHERRY. However, this proved a fruitless effort as the crap venue layout created a serious bottle neck and only ensured we saw them bidding farewell…
We decided to cut our losses and find a good spot for PAPA ROACH. As we settled down on the grass with our booze, it became apparent we could see nothing! Not because we weren’t in a good spot, but because the land was so flat. If you sat down all you could see were people’s knees or the back of camping chairs! After we had a grumble about it for 10 minutes, we were forced to stand up and block people’s view sitting behind us instead. Lol! But it’s ok; Papa Roach was worth standing for!
As for DEF LEPPARD, What can we say? They played a blinder of a set, they sounded great and proved that they are still one of the heavy weights of Rock. They had a huge area of people (including us) bopping away to every track and were definitely a fitting end to a fantastic weekend.
As we (and thousands of others) walked off into the night to the strains of ‘We’ll Meet Again’, it was off to the Download load village a third time and the Silent disco! A few hundred people in a tent dancing to rock with headphones on, very weird, but it’s actually great fun! The real treat came when the three or four hundred people crowed into the karaoke tent were privileged to witness possibly the best act of the Download weekend… Two DJ’s (who shall remain nameless), knocking out a thunderous version of AC/DC’s Highway To Hell which gets heads banging and fists punching the air!!