Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Funeral For A Friend, Deftones at Download Festival, Saturday 11 June 2022.
There are a few more acts until the big one, and I’m shocked to say the weather still isn’t bad. A few drops of teasing rain fall down, but Donington refuses to play host to yet another wet weekend, and we stay safe.
Download Festival – Saturday – Part Two
Words: Monty Sewell
Photography: Stuart Isteed
Deftones – Apex Stage
Safe that is from everything but the number of stage dives that take place during Deftones’ set. It’s surely got to be a record. The longtime face of the band Chino Moreno riles the crowd up with his maddening vocal abilities that range from high-pitched siren screams to the low grumbles of Metal.
“It’s been many, many years we’ve been coming to download, and we wanna say thank you so much,” Moreno calls out, mic cord wrapped around himself as usual.
My Own Summer (Shove It), Sextape, Diamond Eyes, Swerve City, Be Quiet And Drive (Far Away) make appearances, to name a few and Deftones bring their diverse influences to life in a festival that loves them. Moreno also brings out his 1996 white Gibson SG during the set, and they bring their time on the main stage with screams demanding an encore.
“Make some noise if you’re excited for Iron Maiden!” And, of course, the crowd goes wild.
Funeral For A Friend – Avalanche Stage
Post-hardcore, emo fore-fronters Funeral For A Friend headline the Avalanche Stage (Hosted by Kerrang). With frontman Matthew Davies-Kreye suffering heavily from hay fever, “Hands up my fellow hay fever sufferers out there! Pollen, you can fuck off!” it’s not the best time to be in the middle of a field but a damn good time to be at the Avalanche stage.
The tent is packed out, and the energy is high as they bash through fan favourites, including Rookie Of The Year, Roses For The Dead and Juneau.
There is a unified feel amongst the crowd as Davies-Kreye breaks into an impassioned speech to introduce their latest track, She Drove Me To Daytime Television. “There is some aggressive, nasty right-wing hatred going on,” he says. “The media are making us turn on each other. That is not the fucking world I want to live in!”
Ryan Richards impresses with his scream vocals on top of his drumming, and there’s a lot of movement under the blue misted lights that make for a visually fantastic show.
Megadeth – Opus Stage
The Opus stage is packed. To. The. Brim.
Megadeth draw a good crowd on any day, but it’s a smooshed nightmare clambering my way to the front of the pack to get a good view of the band. A vertigo enabling drum kit is stacked five feet high, forming an imposing figure as owner of the kit, Dirk Verbeuren, takes to the stage first.
Opening with Hangar 18 and running through legendary samples of their discography from albums Dystpoia, Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying, Countdown To Extinction and Hidden Treasures, it’s an absolute buzz to stand by as the axe-wielding Dave Mustaine conducts a fine show with some incredible moments. The visuals are spectacular, with a multiple-screen backdrop flashing in time with each bass drum slam.
“Good evening Download! Are you feeling good? You look great!”
Symphony of Destruction is, of course, a high point, with Kiko Loureiro and James LoMenzo standing on either side of Mustaine; all three on equal turfs as the power hammers of Megadeth.
The guitar technicalities translate into show-worthy demonstrations, and they well and truly remain in one of the ‘Big Fours’ of American Thrash Metal.
Iron Maiden – Apex stage
Then finally, we are here. Here for what we came for. Here for what many have stood at the front of the main stage barriers since the horribly early hour of 10 am this morning for. For the juggernaut. The monster. The band that everyone knows. Iron. Maiden.
Having just about caught up with the time delay, the main Apex stage was well and truly prepared for the highlight of Saturday night at Download Festival 2022 to begin.
UFO’s Doctor Doctor plays out to the masses to signal the start of something great. The sky turns to a mythical pink clouded backdrop, and as everyone shuffles forward, the sheer volume of Maiden-hungry music lovers is overwhelming. The band appear to the almighty roar of the crowd: Steve Harris, Dave Murray, Adrian Smith, Janick Gers and Nicko McBrain take their positions all to look out upon their vast audience on tenterhooks.
Bruce Dickinson bounds onstage, and the guys kick things off with Senjutsu before Stratego, The Writing On The Wall and Revelations. The decor appears hand crafted, styled to fit their initiating back catalogue of legendary tracks. It’s the perfect setting with samurai red huts hanging on either side of the platformed drum kit and a smattering of raised stage areas.
It’s not long before a katana-wielding Samurai Eddie appears, much to the delight of the people below him. The Iron Maiden mascot parades the stage before Dickinson calls to the people, “I’m gonna move house for a minute.” The screens then go blank as the band leave the stage.
The sound of a motorbike is heard before the rumblings of a storm begin. Blood Brothers, Fear Of The Dark, and Hallowed Be Thy Name are thrown at us full pelt. Dickinson’s vocals are unquestionably at the top of their game. He even takes a break to casually don a flamethrower with duel outputs, spurting fire out as a giant, horned Eddie devil head moves behind him. It’s both menacing and exhilarating in equal measures.
Sign Of The Cross and Flight Of Icarus also guide us through, right to The Number Of The Beast. The obligatory voiceover booms across Donington park as thunderous as it is poignant. It’s simply tremendous, and the skill of the long-running instrumentalists can never be underestimated as Janick Gers does his usual guitar flipping showmanship after a killer solo.
“The last three years have been shit,” Shouts Dickinson. We couldn’t agree more, but right now, it all seems like a blip in the distance under the music of Maiden. The band finish, but with even the impartial listeners of Iron Maiden murmuring how they haven’t heard “those songs”, we know the show is far from over.
I mean, we’d just be disappointed if what happened next didn’t!
A giant union jack flag enters, in the hands of Dickinson, as the band smash through The Trooper. A uniform-wearing Eddie galavants onstage, and the two duel until Eddie is defeated. The Clansman then pieces Maiden’s two most popular songs together with great triumph – leading into Run To The Hills. If Nottingham didn’t hear the mass sing along to that last number, then I’d be surprised!
We hit the end of the road with Aces High and then leave the area to Monty Python’s Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life. It was a stunning show, but the greatest thing was when talking to people who couldn’t make it to Download, hearing every one of them say something along the lines of “I’ll catch them on their next tour!”
It seems to be comfortable knowledge within the scene that Iron Maiden aren’t – and won’t be any time soon – done.
I suppose as long as Bruce has his flying license, they’re good to go.
MetalTalk Download 2022 coverage can be found at MetalTalk.net/tag/download-2022
Download 2023 will see the festival celebrate its 20th anniversary with an additional day, meaning four days of live music in total. Limited early bird tickets are on sale now at downloadfestival.co.uk
Highlights of this year’s Download Festival will be broadcast on SKY ARTS on 9th and 10th July at 9pm. Download Festival 2023 was a record breaking year.