REVIEW: Download Festival 2018

You never really know what day of the week or month of the year it is once the Fringe Festival has been and gone, June just never seems genuine. Is summer really upon us? I’m pretty sure it was only snowing a few weeks ago? Whatever your question, June for me means only one thing… it’s time to rock at Download Festival!

After a rather ‘supposedly’ calm and collective Thursday evening start in Donnington Park, the home of the finest rock festival in England, the alcoholic beverages were opened up on the first official day of Download. First up on the MainStage were, Boston Manor, who write, produce and film all of their own music videos and truly kick started Download 2018 in style.

  Firstly they presented us with “Burn You Up” forming the first clashing mosh pits of the weekend. Secondly playing us a song from their new album that is out on 7 September, called “Halo”, which was a slightly slower pace, however couldn’t be more un-angelic if they tried. Finishing off with a boom, with “LIAKA”, their most played song on Spotify, and sure to climb higher very soon. Their tour dates have also just been released, so we should all be on the edge of our seats waiting for them to be hitting up our very own listing pages soon. 

 From Boston Manor to Download Demolition in the Sindrone, the 14th Century Armoured fighters, representing Battle Heritage Invicta on Facebook. Naturally the band drew the crowds attention on the Friday, as it was their opportunity to get involved at backing the amateur fights and get a real taste for what is was like to don a heavy suite of armour and go crush some skulls (not literally!). It should be mentioned that the majority of the public volunteers were women and boy did they give it some.

Next up were Marmozets, who you may recognise from their sell out Concorde 2 performance back in February. What’s great about the Marmozets is that you are always able to incorporate their song titles into what you’re doing and feeling, seeing as I wasn’t sure when they will be back (and I do not know, as of yet), it was absolutely crucial that “I don’t dance because I want to, I dance because I need to” and if you’re like me, you know you want to “Get Carried Away” when it comes to cutting some serious dance moves and owning the floor. At this point my companion for the festival quoted that there was a “Major System error in you” and I needed to refuel on the warm cans of beer because apparently my dancing wasn’t cut out as it usually is?! Rude!

  Hail to the Kings of rock in 2018! Avenged Sevenfold were the highlight of my festival, being both dynamic and powerful, playing an array of old and new songs, not forgetting the incorporation of some kill ass covers too. To name a few: Nightmare, Bat Country and an impeccable cover of “Wish you Were here” by Pink Floyd which was executed perfectly by M.Shadows, who in 2017 was voted the 3rd in the list of the Top 25 Greatest Front men by the Ultimate Guitar Archive, thus ending Friday at DL2018.

   Saturday bore witness to the youngest girl group of the festival, Baby Metal. Since missing them in all of my festival opportunities when they broke out onto the scene in 2010, I felt simply obliged to go see them and they were everything you’d expect from an all-girl J-Pop metal band; Young and full of energy, aggressive and loud, if you’re not a fan of what sounds like a major Auto Tune it might not be for you, but they do go all out.

  From the energetic J-Pop metallic youngsters to the Gods of Rock, probably not from rags but to most definite riches, Gun’s N Roses were backstage prepping for a 3 and a half hour set to close the door on the second day. Little did I know that Axl Rose had ordered a total traffic lock down to assure a swift exit from Download at 10:45pm that night. This made perfect sense as to why their set had finished half an hour before it was scheduled to! Outrage!

  Regardless of the short ending, it was an experience to witness. Opening with  “It’s so easy” and in no particular order “Welcome to the Jungle”, “Civil War” and “Double Talkin’ Jive” followed by Slash and Duff being let off their leashes and shredding the riffs from their guitars which enhanced the 45 minute block of cover songs they performed. One of these covers was plucked out of Slash’s hat, “Wish You were Hear”, by Pink Floyd, adding a little euphoric twist at the end of it. Now I’m not a hugely suspicious man, but was he copying M.Shadows (Avenged Sevenfold) from the previous night where they covered the WHOLE song by the Pink Floyd legends? Or was this just pure chance? Are Pink Floyd doing something that I am not aware of..? As expected, Gun’s N Roses smashed it out the park and ended the Saturday campaign, catapulting us quickly into the final day of the festival.

  The last day of every festival is always the roughest and toughest, leaving you feel mildly ill, with the last thing you want to do to be opening up the warm beers you are still yet to make your way through.

   After setting our minds straight, I and my fellow companion marched over to Ice T’s Body Count that was more than ready to slam us into the day by throwing us at Jamey Jasta and Ice T who were killing it with the time-honoured “Cop Killer”. Due to its aggressive gangster attribute it got us fully into the rhythm of the day. Following this, like any great entertainer will do, Ice T made us believe that he was going to slow things down by bringing out his 2 year old daughter from back stage! He told her and a young boy that they had reached out to in the crowd and said: ‘If you ever get bullied at school, you look them in the eye and tell them “Talk Shit, Get Shot”’. I do hope these kids were ready for what was about to go down as the whole crowd erupted with jeers and hoots causing a flight display of cups cascaded by a shower of beer and other warm fluids soaking us thoroughly. Once the set was over, it was time to sun cream up, again, tune into the Black Veil Brides and keep it calm all in preparation for the Princes of Darkness’s later that afternoon.

Marilyn Manson’s only performance in the UK this year was at this years Download Festival, featuring his unlawful classics, “Mob Scene”, “Kill 4 Me”, “This is the New Shit”. These dark and sullen songs were bringing back my teen years when I went through a huge phase of loving gothic style, but never did I join the dark side. Despite this, shining out of the dark, my “Sweet Dreams” were being assembled as the original Prince of Darkness; Ozzy Osbourne, was waiting to take the reins and close this show down.

Ozzy Osbourne, a much healthier looking and now a Golden award winning man, opened his set with the fabled “Bark at the moon” followed by the one, the only, “Mr Crowley” and then featuring “Fairies wear boots” created with his previous band and taking us back to Download 2016, where we saw a lesser-looking healthier man on stage with Black Sabbath.

   The evening sun soon settled down and hid away into the darkness, it was now much more appropriate for Sundays Glam rock and Gothic acts to finish on their podiums. With this, the crowd sang their hearts out and to “Shot in the dark” and “Mama I’m coming home”, which gave you an opportunity to reflect on the weekend that had passed and how closing with “Crazy Train” and “Paranoid” was a mere resemblance of how this weekend had unfolded. It was time to wrap up the evening and Download Festival 2018 all in all. We came, we saw and Download conquered once more.

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