Regarded as one of the best rock music festivals in the world, now in its teenage years (13 years old) it was once again able to boast about having a killer line up. Rammstein, Black Sabbath, and Iron Maiden were tasked with headlining this rock extravaganza. Admittedly this year’s line-up was a little bit on the nostalgic side as these bands have been around longer than most of the fans who attend this festival. Nonetheless it’s hard to deny that these are legendary bands that have paid their dues and are worthy of headlining Download again. This year the main stage was renamed the Lemmy Stage as a tribute to the Motorhead vocalist/bassist.
Download also had a good selection of bands below the headliners including Megadeth, Jane's Addiction, Disturbed, and Korn to name a small few. There was also a refreshing change with Babymetal being included to the line-up.
At least on paper, Download 2016 was looking exceptional, exciting, and absolutely awesome. Black Sabbath had announced this would be their last appearance at Donington. So there was an element of witnessing the last hurrah of a band that pioneered the sound of rock music. Sadly, the reality was something completely different, that’s not to say that the bands were under par, far from it. It was just let down by the relentless mammoth downpour which turned the arena into one massive field of sloppy mud. There seemed to be very little shelter from the rain which made the Download experience more of an endurance test rather than a wonderful weekend of great live music.
Before even getting to the arena, we had to endure car parking issues, waiting in traffic queues only added to the frustration of knowing we would be spending hours stood in torrential rain.
The first band we managed to catch were Babymetal, some would call it J-pop. For those of you unfamiliar with Baby Metal it is three young Japanese girls running around the stage performing a choreographed routine whilst singing. They captured the attention of most of the crowd at Download, however for me personally, I just didn’t get it.
The next band we managed to catch were Korn, this was a blast from the past especially when they belted out 'Shoots and Ladders', a real trip down memory lane. Korn know how to deliver a great set and how to impress a crowd with their brand of rock music. This was no exception, Korn always set the bar high for live music. Not many bands would be able to surpass a performance by Korn, but luckily the headliners were none other than Rammstein. Rammstein delivered exactly what their fans have come to expect... a pyrotechnic extravaganza with great industrial sounding rock music. The heat from the flames was greatly appreciated by the freezing crowd who had waited in the pouring rain all day. A great way to finish the first day.
Due to unexpected amount of rain, by day two Download was just one big puddle of mud. Rock music fans were slip sliding their way through the arena. Wellington boots were the essential must have for the second day.
Highlights of the second day were Megadeth, a strong set sprinkled with all of the old favourites such as 'Sweating Bullets' and 'Symphony of Destruction'. Dave Mustaine and co also proved that they are still able to write incredible rock songs judging by the material from their current album 'Dystopia'. 'The Threat is Real' taken from their current album sits comfortably amongst the classic Megadeth tracks.
Black Sabbath were always going to draw a big crowd, and sure enough they did. They had marketed this performance as being their last ever appearance at Donington. Black Sabbaths influence on rock music is never going to be matched, they have pioneered the classic rock sound. But this performance just didn’t do Ozzy Osbourne any favours. There were times when he appeared to be out of time with the rest of the band, and if it wasn’t for Toni Iommi and Geezer Butlers incredible musicianship this would have been a trainwreck. For some reason the big screens never showed any close ups of Ozzy, maybe this is an indicator of some health issues with the 'prince of darkness'. That being said, there is something special about hearing these legends of rock play. 'War Pigs' and 'Paranoid', which got an incredible reception from the soaking wet fans. An enjoyable performance but not the all dancing all singing finale that fans were hoping for.
By the final day of Download there was no grass to be seen in the arena, it was fully covered with thick sloppy mud. The highlights of the final day were Disturbed, and Iron Maiden. Disturbed have honed their live performances to such a level that you can guarantee a great show every time. This was no exception. From their set opener 'Ten Thousand Fists' to their last song 'The Sound of Silence' they had wowed the crowd with their enthusiasm and brutal brand of rock music. During the encore they performed a cover of 'Killing in The Name of' and absolutely nailed it. Obviously they saved 'Down with the Sickness' for the very last song, which left the fans feeling like they had witnessed another memorable performance.
Iron Maiden were given the task of being the final act on the Lemmy stage for 2016. Maiden were promoting their current album 'Book of Souls', unashamedly opening with 'If Eternity Should Fail' from their current album. Iron Maiden are in that envious position of having such a back catalogue of epic songs that even before they stepped on the hallowed boards at Download it was clear that some songs were going to be missed out. 'Run to the Hills' and 'Bring Your Daughter to the Slaughter' were noticeably missing from tonight’s set list. Regardless of missing anthems, this was classic Maiden firing on all cylinders accompanied by their skeletal mascot Eddie up until Bruce Dickinson (vocalist) ripped out Eddies heart.
Download 2016 was an impressive festival, there is no denying that the bad weather dampened the atmosphere this year, and made it a near impossible task to walk from stage to stage. But for me, no other festival comes close to quenching the thirst for rock music. Fingers crossed for sunshine at next year’s Download Festival.
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