My expectation for the first two days of Download was somewhat low in terms of the line-up, given my predeliction for the classic rock era. However the stunning weather went some way to raising the spirits and Blackwater Conspiracy rewarded a sparse crowd on the Zippo Encore Stage with an impressive set of southern rock flavoured tunes.
Amongst the other highlights, Five Finger Death Punch didn’t carry on the brutal opening throughout their set and went a little flat midway through. However I really enjoyed what I saw and they engaged the crowd throughout even coming down off the stage to greet the knuckleheads who had weathered the baking hot weather to see them.
Prophets of Rage, playing their first UK/European show, are quite capable of headlining with the wealth of material they have to pick from with their associated bands, Public Enemey, RATM, and Audioslave. Rap fused with metal has often left me bewildered and politics in music is a potent although sometimes off-putting mix.
Tax The Heat were touted as the next big thing a few years ago and I wondered what all the fuss was about. Thankfully I warmed to them after catching them at various indoor and outdoor festivals, today they cemented their reputation as a good honest rock n roll band. Look past the sharp dressed suits and focus on the songs and it becomes clearer why they are one of our brightest bands at the moment.
The same can be said for Raveneye, the recent supports slot with Kiss in Europe have done this power trio a power of good and their songs suit a big stage.
The main stage today was hardly exciting for a hardened classic rock fan and only Creeper showed any real individuality compared with the likes of Pierce The Veil, AFI and A Day To Remember.
Ten years ago Biffy Clyro appeared further down the bill, as headliners this year I found their set mindnumbingly over complicated. More suited to Reading or even Glastonbury and judging by the thinning crowd I wasn’t alone in making my way to the second stage and Rob Zombie.
Compared to much on offer this weekend – with a general lack of impressive stage sets or production values – Zombie and his crew provided real – memorable – entertainment.
The organisers of this year’s event might need reminding that Castle Donington is historically a rock/metal affair. Thankfully normal service would be resumed on the Sunday.
Review and photos by Darren Griffiths
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