TEN years in and it took a band with 40 years of plundering ears across the planet to really mark Download’s big anniversary.
From Ozzy Osbourne’s shuffling run and frequent self-soaking with water to some of the biggest slabs of guitar-grinding rock Britain has birthed, Black Sabbath were a worthy match, not least because they originated an hour down the road.
With The Prodigy book-ending this Donington festival on an opening night that could have been re-named Drownload after a week of rain, this was a display of how rock has evolved, mighty Metallica delivering their classic Black album in full as Saturday main headliners.
South Yorkshire played its part as always, including a main stage shift from veteran metallurgists Saxon playing Heavy Metal Thunder at a time when such a song could easily have been a weather forecast.
Sheffield’s Black Spiders arguably won gold in the rude t-shirt contest and on stage Pete Spiby’s men bagged more friends, as did fellow city newcomers Dead Harts, on the more discreet Bedroom Jam stage, having won their spot.
Steel City’s Bring Me The Horizon were for once absent, but for singer Oli Sykes’ cameo appearance with You Me At Six on the second stage, a shock frock’s throw away from his Drop Dead clothing company’s thriving stall, manned by dad Ian.
By then many had forgotten Friday’s trying queues for car parks sodden by downpours, steam rising from the mosh pit for a who’s who of rock, from Yorkshire’s Terrorvision to riff lord Slash via Gallows and Soil, the latter surely one of the busiest bands of the weekend.
Rise To Remain continued a family tradition at Download – the London-based metalcore group are fronted by the son of Iron Maiden legend Bruce Dickinson – while William Control warmed up for Corporation tonight.
The usually cool Chris Cornell gushed at preceding Ozzy, Geezer and Iommi – the band that inspired him – as Soundgarden played a fitting first UK festival in 15 years, time in which returnees Megadeth and Saxon have become Download regulars.
Lighter moments came courtesy of Jack Black and Kyle Gass’s comedy-tinged Tenacious D with the rudest inflatable phoenix this side of an adult store and the faux macho outrageous, bare boob -inducing antics of glam posers Steel Panther, vying with the slightly ludicrous Black Veil Brides and Ghost for most make-up.
Post-hardcore group We Are The Ocean were possibly the freshest faces in some very muddy fields while hardcore punk meets Celtic folk outfit Dropkick Murphys matched Prodigy for most crowd lager spillage.
Chase & Status more than lived through their unlikely billing after vintage volume masters Machine Head to warm things up for Keith Flint’s fellas while Anthrax, Trivium and Lamb Of God restored traditional rock order at other times as the consummate Biffy Clyro further bridged the gap between charts and rural metal mayhem.
Rarely has electricity put been to such effective and dramatic use.