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  DOWNLOAD FESTIVAL 2011
Judith Fisher
judith fisher
16th June 2011


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Finally, the Download Festival was upon us, the yearly pilgrimage of thousands of diehard Metallers, rockers and festival fun seekers alike to the home of all monsters of rock, Castle Donington.

Now admittedly, this year's line-up was nowhere near as strong as previous ones and this was reflected in the drop in numbers (55,000 against the 85,000 of 2010), but there were still some amazing bands ready to kick the tyres and light the fires of Rock and Metal!

I decided this year I was going to be a bit more organised in my efforts, so booked some VIP camping (sorry, but much better showers/loos!) piled up the car with more crap than I was ever going to need and on Thursday afternoon drove the hundred or so miles up to the Derbyshire countryside.

Pitching my newly bought and quite big tent was a major IQ test which I failed miserably and finally admitting defeat, had to drag in my friend and camp neighbour to help me sort out how to put the damn thing up and even then still ended up with random poles that I couldn't figure out for the life of me where they went!

With that debacle finally sorted, we went in search of the major sustenance of all festivals, booze! And yes, four hours later and staggering back a trifle merrier, we'd succeeded.

Article continues below...

   


There's no doubt about it, Download's absolutely blooming huge. Over 150 bands, five stages, thousands of people sprawled over a vast area – camping in tents, tipis, huts, buses, caravans, hotels, you name it, a funfair for the deranged or excessively drunk (the rides were scary enough just watching and judging by the copious screaming, pretty terrifying on board), a bonkers bungee run (really quite funny to watch after you'd had a few!) bucket loads of stalls selling absolutely everything you could want/need and enough different types of food to satisfy even the most picky of festival goer.

download festival 2011

Plenty of choice across the board really but as with all festivals nowadays, pretty darn pricey. £4.00 for a beer or shot pretty much guaranteed a lot of booze drunk in tents beforehand!

Slightly bleary eyed (due to bloody East Midlands airport planes flying really low over the campsite at 5.00am) but hangover free (and there was no way that was going to last), Friday morning came and with it the proper start of the Festival. Working out a rough time/stage guide to see the bands I really wanted to was the first thing on the agenda, but to be honest and with all best intentions in the world, this was always going to go tits up once other things were factored in such as bumping into old mates, the rain and the flow of beer!

download festival 2011

The theme running through this year's Festival with much anticipated Rob Zombie playing was (surprise, surprise) Zombies, and with several stalls doing face and body painting, there were blooming loads of them lurching around the arenas, definitely adding to the fun of 'people watching' during the hike from Stage 1 to Stage 2, but saying that, the Tango man dressed in a skin tight orange body suit with multi coloured budgie smugglers was not exactly pleasant on the eyes. Funny though!

On the way through the arenas and being left in stitches of laughter watching Mr Blobby being refused booze for having no ID, departing waving his arms dejectedly, I caught D.R.U.G.S. belting out some decent hard rock on the second stage, good and tight but a little generic so a wander back to the main stage where PUDDLE OF MUDD were absolutely fabulous, and for a band on at 2.00pm on the first day, were getting a fantastic reaction from the crowd who had been well and truly rocked out of its previous night's stupor.

download festival 2011

THIN LIZZY next up. I was really interested to see how The Almighty's frontman Ricky Warwick would slip into his new role as their vocalist, but from the very start he was absolutely fantastic. Ripping through 'Whisky In the Jar', 'Rosalie', 'Don't Believe A Word' and other classics, and at one point being joined onstage by Leppard's Viv Campbell, they were simply great. They may have a few more years on them now but it hasn't taken any edge off their playing and the crowd were equally enthusiastic to see them back on stage.

THE DARKNESS were finally back after a long hiatus, a very Johnny Depp-esque Justin Hawkins sporting an interesting moustache and spectacular tattoos was belting them out as well, if not better, than he used to. I'd forgotten how many great songs these guys had under their belts, hits like 'Only A Feeling', 'Dancing On A Friday Night' and 'I Believe In A Thing Called Love' getting everyone dancing and singing with gusto.

They've not lost any of their humour either, one costume change sees Justin clad in an lovely silver and black tailed body suit! Funky clothes and all, they're a terrific live band, a very talented bunch of guys and they looked like they enjoyed every second of this belated return. Welcome back boys, you've been much missed!

Last band of the night for me was DANZIG. Having previously seen Def Leppard play here in 2009, and good though they were then, I opted to see the feisty Mr Danzig play the tented Pepsi Max stage, especially with it now lashing down with rain. With the talents of ex Prong man Tommy Victor on guitar, this was a fine, fierce show from the man in black (except for the sound problems which led to threats from him re punching someone's lights out!) and the awesome 'Mother' sounded every bit as good as the day it came out. A quick shimmy back to the beer tent for the remainder of the night, and for Friday, that was all she wrote.

Literally!

*****************************
download festival

Saturday morning and yes, there it was, the hangover. Ah well, two Nurofen down the neck and happily off we go again! After a fairly slow start trying to up the caffeine intake as much as possible, we headed into the arena to get the morning murk blown away by some serious music.

CLUTCH were absolutely outstanding, their bluesy stoner rock liberally laced with wicked slide guitar was just out of this world and within seconds they had the seething mass that was a very packed crowd dancing and boogying just as hard as they could. Neil Fallon was in stunning form with that incongruously deep and rich voice of his, and them finishing off with the irresistibly wonderful 'Electric Worry' was without doubt one of my highlights of the weekend.

With the quick dash from Stage 2 to 1, the question arose, how the hell were Down going to follow Clutch's amazing performance? 'With difficulty' was the response to that.

Phil Anselmo was his usual full on, Metal monster self but was getting awful tetchy when he found it tough going to light up the Download crowd. This aside, it didn't take them long to kick into full gear and their cracking set was as big, bludgeoning and brutal as ever.

So, cobwebs out, adrenaline up and running and before the Master of macabre ALICE COOPER hit the stage, it was again time to check out that festival favourite, the beer tent. Purely for research (again) you understand.

A couple of hours later, my grinning friends and I were trying to work out how the hell so much time had passed and got our backsides out to check out some of Alice's set before the mighty System Of A Down started up. And fine it was too, as lithe and svelte as ever. Alice Cooper can still rock with the best of them and with a set list that included 'Billion Dollar Baby', 'No More Mr Nice Guy', 'Hey Stupid' and 'Be My Frankenstein', he was blooming marvellous. Unfortunately, and as much as I wanted to see more, it was time for the big one of the night, SYSTEM OF A DOWN.

Ye Gods, I was expecting them to be good, but they were absolutely bloody EPIC! Huge, immense, bonkers, irresistible, the works.

download 2011

Clad in a hoodie and jeans, Serj Tankian cut a slight and unassuming figure until he opened his mouth then, as expected, all hell broke loose! The crowd were going absolutely nuts for this band and it was easy to see why. SOAD were tight as a new drumskin, never missed a note and just completely went for it, thumping out track after track with 'Toxicity', 'Chop Suey' and 'BYOB' winding up the bouncing, moshing, singing crowd to fever pitch.

I have no idea how, but their bizarre blend of Metal, punk, ska, thrash, hardcore, rock and whatever else they like to throw in, works to amazing degrees, add to this the fact they are massively talented musicians and can be as delicate in playing as they can be brutal, and the results are one totally unique, humungously brilliant, awesome monster of a band.

*******************************

download festival

Sunday.

Oops. The toasts we raised to celebrate the triumph of SOAD (and as many other things as we could think of) the previous night were beginning to come back to haunt me Sunday morning and the goddamn fly bys of the East Midland planes were really taking their toll on any amount of any sleep to be had. Still, the first band on my radar for this final day weren't on until 1.15, so movement was very limited for a while. And then came the rain.

Jeez, this wasn't just rain, this was sodding biblical. Starting around the 10.00am mark, down it came and kept coming until about 8.30pm that night, turning everything into one big, slippery, muddy mess. Oh the joys of good wellies, a waterproof jacket and a very big beer tent, all things that saved the day for me and many others! But I get ahead of myself, first things first.

HELL.

Not the fiery pits, the band. British Metal legends HELL are back and as powerful and theatrical as ever. Crown of thorns on head and flail in hand, high cheekboned and wild eyed vocalist Dave Bower fits like a tight leather studded glove into the band, and with that other local legend Andy Sneap now whipping up the guitar frenzy, they were wickedly wonderful and a top start to the day.

download festival

Funnily enough, with the rain unrelenting, breaks between bands were taken in the beer tent and I swear, there's an exponential growth of booze being drunk with this amount of rain! A brief run out to the ever wonderful GWAR who were as disgustingly fabulous as ever, spraying gunk, gunge and gore everywhere and bringing a much needed bit of fun to a pretty foul afternoon, and then a sprint back into the warmth where the entertainment included seeing a giggling barman being wrapped in sellophane, just for the hell of it. Don't ask!

I toyed with the idea of battling more rain to see The Cult, but after having seen them play rather brilliantly last year and seeing how hard it was pissing down, decided against it which then left just my all time favourite band and Metal god, ROB ZOMBIE to see.

download festival

Now bearing in mind the whole weekend had a Zombie theme, why the hell were ROB ZOMBIE headlining the second stage instead of the main stage on Sunday where the limp LINKIN PARK were going to be is the question me and about 90% of the Download crowd were asking on the trek over to stage two.

At this stage of the weekend, normally the main stage arena is absolutely rammed with expectant rockers but this time it wasn't even half full, everyone else had upped and gone over to the other side of the hill and the chant of "Zombie, Zombie" could be heard just about everywhere! So packed you couldn't even see the mud, everyone was singing along with the dulcet tones of Johnny Cash coming out of the speakers as we waited for the main man. Lots of whoops going up when people saw themselves on the cameras, more "Zombie" chants, and expectant cheers as people scuttled across the stage between the huge, glowing blue eyed robot and fiendish skeletal mike stands. And we waited. And waited.

With us wondering what the hell was going on and the frustration of 25 minutes of waiting beginning to bubble over, finally the organs start, the flame pots roar, the back screen fills up with B movie horror and sci-fi images and the spectacular onslaught begins. Stepping out through the front of the huge robot to an enormous cheer, the masked Rob Zombie spreads wide his sinister mechanical arm and they smash into opener 'Jesus Frankenstein'.

download festival 2011

This isn't just a show, this is an orgasmic explosion of everything rolled into one, a stunning visual show of the darkly weird and wonderful, mind blowing animatronics stalking across the stage, the phenomenal songs and the lynch pin, the man himself, as wild as hell, larger than life and the bringer of the musical apocalypse, Rob Zombie.

Prowling the stage with menace and conducting the whole maelstrom, we plunge through the riff monstered 'Superbeast', 'Demonoid Phenomenon' which was just insane, 'Living Dead Girl', and 'Pussy Liquor', the band throwing in a couple of White Zombie tracks, '1965' and 'Devil Man' for good measure, before 'Dragula' just about blitzed us all.

There's no real way of describing just how bloody immense this show was, and for me and many, many others, was a fittingly outrageous end to a fantastic weekend.

Three bands ruled this weekend for me, CLUTCH, SYSTEM OF A DOWN, and ROB ZOMBIE, and although SOAD were incredibly good, the award for sheer utterly epic awesomeness simply has to go the wild man and his band, ROB ZOMBIE.

Damn - that was fun!!!


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mikkey dee BREAKING NEWS: MOTÖRHEAD'S MIKKEY DEE ANNOUNCED AS SCORPIONS DRUMMER
"We would like to continue our Return to Forever tour with James, but we have to realize that his health is priority..."

alex dickson gun BREAKING NEWS: ALEX DICKSON REJOINS GUN
As exclusively predicted by MetalTalk last week, guitarist Alex Dickson has re-joined Scottish rockers Gun...

cockney rejects WEST HAM UNITED TRIBUTE 'GOODBYE UPTON PARK' TO BE RELEASED BY COCKNEY REJECTS
"We were all born within a mile or so from the hallowed Boleyn ground and have all stood on the terraces through snow, rain and sunshine from a very early age."

ac/dc AC/DC RELEASE TICKET REFUND DETAILS FOR MOST EUROPEAN COUNTRIES
If you don't want a refund, then we'll see you at The Olympic Stadium in London as we think we're about to witness a major piece of rock history...

deep purple IAN PAICE AND DON AIREY SCHEDULE SOLO EUROPEAN DATES AS 2016 DEEP PURPLE TOUR APPROACHES
Deep Purple are kicking off their 2016 tour next month in Japan, before heading to Israel, Russia and Europe in June and July.

steve hackett STEVE HACKETT TO RELEASE 'THE TOTAL EXPERIENCE LIVE IN LIVERPOOL', HIS ACOLYTE TO 'WOLFLIGHT' WITH GENESIS REVISITED TOUR
"Besides, it's not as if Liverpool is known for having any good music – there's never been a good band from there. Ha!"

lacuna coil LACUNA COIL LAUNCH NEW ALBUM TITLE TRACK 'DELIRIUM'
Lacuna Coil will be making their much-anticipated return to North America as part of the 'Delirium Worldwide' tour starting in San Francisco on May 7th

bibeau YOUNG, PROGRESSIVE BAND BIBEAU OFFER THEIR FIRST SINGLE/VIDEO, 'MARK THIS'
"We were also hoping to convey the look, feel and flow of some of the classic, timeless rock and metal videos from the height of MTV's popularity..."

virginmarys THE VIRGINMARYS ANNOUNCE HEADLINE UK TOUR FOR JUNE 2016
"It's going to be so great to get back in front of our home fans again, and really important to us to play some of the towns we've been wanting to come back to..."

weapon uk WEAPON UK TO HEADLINE THE RETRIBUTION ALIVE ROAD TRIP IN MAY
"They toured with Motörhead in the 80s, including four sold out shows at the Hammersmith Odean and I have to say, we're pretty excited about this!"

headbangers ball ICED EARTH AND ENSIFERUM TO HEADLINE MTV HEADBANGERS BALL TOUR 2016: FULL DATES HERE
"So brace yourselves for the ultimate Metal experience of a lifetime! See you in front row!"

bloodstock BLOODSTOCK ADDS MORE BANDS, DETAILS METAL 2 THE MASSES FINALS AND ANNOUNCES FIRST NEW BLOOD STAGE WINNERS
Bloodstock HQ is readying to send Team M2TM out on the road for the finals, but in the meantime, there's a few more band additions to the August bill

dead daisies THE DEAD DAISIES ANNOUNCE UK AND EUROPEAN DATES FOR JULY/AUGUST IN SUPPORT OF NEW STUDIO ALBUM 'MAKE SOME NOISE'
The Dead Daisies, the biggest new name in Rock, have just recently announced the addition of Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake, Dio) as their new lead guitar player

wolf hoffmann WOLF HOFFMANN TO RELEASE SOLO ALBUM 'HEADBANGERS SYMPHONY' ON JULY 1st
"I have always incorporated classical music in my song writing with Accept, especially with 'Metal Heart', but I constantly felt there was so much more that I could do..."

jaegermeister JÄGERMEISTER RELEASE FULL DOCUMENTARY OF WORLD'S FIRST MUSIC GIG ON AIR, SEA AND LAND
"We go bigger every year and because of the nature of this world first this gig was not only a test of friendship but one of supporting each other too..."

john otway JOHN OTWAY PLANNING ON BEING FIRST ARTIST SINCE THE ROLLING STONES TO RECORD IN MONTSERRAT
"Although the old Air Studios are now derelict the studio in the basement of Sir George Martin's house is sound – it just needs rebuilding..."

fates warning FATES WARNING - NEW STUDIO ALBUM 'THEORIES OF FLIGHT' ANNOUNCED, ARTWORK UNVEILED
"There's a loose theme running through a lot of the lyrics, and this developed organically and separately..."

amon amarth RAISE YOUR HORNS AND BE IN AMON AMARTH'S NEW MUSIC VIDEO
Swedish Heavy Metal goliaths Amon Amarth are inviting their fans around the globe to be a part of their forthcoming video...

sixx am SIXX:A.M. ANNOUNCE THE "#REASONTORISE" CAMPAIGN, TOUR DATES AND 'VOL.1 PRAYERS FOR THE DAMNED' DETAILS
"It is our duty as citizens of this world to come together, communicate with one another and rise up to demand more of ourselves and our leaders."

armored saint ARMORED SAINT ANNOUNCE EUROPEAN FESTIVAL AND CLUB APPEARANCES
"For our first time in Spain, it's gonna be sick! And as if this wasn't enough - Saint is playing for the first time ever in Japan..."

black country communion BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION TO REFORM IN 2017
"Preparing BCC Rocket Ship Re-launch for 2017 - all systems go."

tarja TARJA PREMIERES OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO OF HER NEW SINGLE 'NO BITTER END'
'No Bitter End', the opening track of the prequel album 'The Brightest Void', is the first glimpse of Tarja's new work – her heaviest to date...

stratovarius STRATOVARIUS RELEASE LYRIC VIDEO FOR 'UNTIL THE END OF DAYS'
"To me it's a testament to the fact that paying attention to song writing and production was expensive, but so worth it..."

brian johnson EXCLUSIVE: PROMINENT AC/DC CREW MEMBER GIVES REMARKABLE INSIGHT INTO AXL ROSE APPOINTMENT
AC/DC are covering themselves in case Axl's poor reputation for unprofessionalism manifests itself...

brian johnson THE DARKEST DAY OF MY PROFESSIONAL LIFE: BRIAN JOHNSON ISSUES PERSONAL STATEMENT ON AC/DC DEPARTURE
"I wish to assure our fans that I am not retiring. My doctors have told me that I can continue to record in studios and I intend to do that..."

thin lizzy THIN LIZZY ANNOUNCE BASS PLAYER AND NEW DRUMMER FOR 2016/17 ANNIVERSARY SHOWS
Thin Lizzy are undisputed legends and to be a small part of their lineage is a humble honor for me...

ian gillan IAN GILLAN TO PERFORM UNIQUE SOLO SHOW OF DEEP PURPLE CLASSICS IN BULGARIA
There is a possibility that Ian will also play some material from his catalogue outside of Deep Purple...

don airey DEEP PURPLE'S DON AIREY AND FRIENDS ADDED TO CAMBRIDGE ROCK FESTIVAL PLUS ATOMIC ROOSTER
Expect to hear many classics from Airey's illustrious past which includes time spent with Rainbow, Ozzy Osbourne as well as his current job with Deep Purple...

wildfire festival WILDFIRE FESTIVAL 2016 ANNOUNCE SUNDAY NIGHT HEADLINERS AND FIVE MORE ACTS
With June creeping ever closer, Wildfire Festival's impressive main stages line-up is all but finalised...

whitesnake THE END OF WHITESNAKE: DAVID COVERDALE TO RETIRE IN 2017
Whitesnake headline the UK's Ramblin Man Festival in July in what could be their final ever UK appearance...

axl rose AXL ROSE CONFIRMED AS AC/DC SINGER FOR THE REMAINING ROCK OR BUST DATES
The worst kept secret in rock is now official...

aerosmith THE END OF AEROSMITH?: NO FAREWELL TOUR CONFIRMED AT THE MOMENT
"A farewell tour is something we've talked about doing for years, let's say roughly in the last five years..."

hrh united ALESTORM, HAMMERFALL, FINSTERFORST, NAPALM DEATH, ARMORED SAINT, VENOM INC. AND EVIL SCARECROW ANNOUNCED FOR HRH UNITED
HRH United 3 will be an exclusive upgraded Metal Edition taking over the entire site @ Camp HRH, Pwllheli, North Wales...

rolling stones PROUD GALLERIES PLAYING HOST TO FABULOUS ROLLING STONES PHOTO EXHIBITION: TERRY O'NEILL TO ATTEND SIGNING SESSION
It's a wonderful book by photographer Terry O'Neill of Rolling Stones images from 1963 to 1965, an era when the Stones were just "breaking through"...

between the buried and me BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME ANNOUNCE EUROPEAN SUMMER DATES
As well as the European tour dates, BTBAM have launched a live video for 'The Ectopic Stroll' whih you can see here...

jade vine LONDON BASED ALTERNATIVE PROG ROCKERS JADE VINE ANNOUNCE ALBUM LAUNCH SHOW
Jade Vine's music has been influenced by artists such as Pink Floyd, Jeff Buckley, Radiohead, Anathema and Pain Of Salvation...
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