Download Festival 2009 - Castle Donington, England, 14th June 2009
|Event:||Download Festival 2009|
|Written by:||Baz Anderson|
Download Festival - Castle Donington, England, 12th-14th June 2009 by Baz Anderson (145)
The sun was unrelenting, so much for rain. The Sunday started with some people packing away and taking tents back to their cars in preparation for after the event. Again the arena opening up at ten in the morning with the first band on at eleven it was a relatively early start again. The Sunday had quite a remarkable line-up. Download 2008 blew its load on the first day with Mötorhead, Judas Priest and Kiss in a row, but this year the last day together was most definitely the highlight.
Justin Hawkins may have left The Darkness and caused them to split, but that doesn't mean the rest of the band can't continue to rock on. Stone Gods kicked off the first day in great spirit playing songs from their only album and one from their coming album. These guys have a great sound and will definitely stick around for a lot longer. Singer Richie commented that this day was just like a day at the Monsters Of Rock in the eighties, and he was right, just look at the bands to come.
Before we got into the orgy of rock to come, there was a little matter of God Forbid on the second stage. The band seemed friendly and their extreme music was good, but in the hot weather there wasn't a lot of energy in the audience. The band didn't provide anything exceptional and probably won't be remembered by many. Over on the main stage Black Stone Cherry were rocking out with a lot of people. They are a popular band in this country and went down well with the audience, probably a bit too well for their set.
It was time now however to brace yourself for a Donington special starting at half past two in the afternoon and lasting until late. We were going on a journey back in time to the eighties, and what better way to start than with Journey themselves. Journey had one of the greatest rock singers in Steve Perry, but the band have recently released a successful new album with a relatively younger singer, Arnel, from the Philippines. This isn't just any singer though, he is not just one of the best singers from Asia, but he must be one of the best singers in the world at the moment. Hearing Journey plod through a set of classics topped off with "Don't Stop Believing" and "Any Way You Want It" wasn't just mind-blowing from the band's side, but the audience also seemed to sing along to every word. There were only two large mistakes at Download this year, one was The Prodigy not being on the main stage, and the other was Journey not being allowed to play longer than forty minutes. We all wanted it. Best set of the festival.
Perhaps the black sheep of the final stretch of bands being that they are not quite as long-running as the rest, Dream Theater were back at Download had their slot to the pleasure of many people. The set kicked off with "Pull Me Under" but soon fell into a heap of newer songs and musical "arousement" if you see what I'm getting at. Nothing particularly catchy or great to sing to, they weren't just the black sheep because of time, but also because of their unhealthy obsession with playing their instruments as technically progressive as possible. The set lacked spirit. The same however cannot be said for the following trio to grace the stage of Donington.
ZZ Top walked on stage and owned it from the start. The three beards, even if one only is by name, put on such a smooth set of American rock music visiting all of their hits with a large screen behind them showing various promo videos for the songs they were playing. "Sharp Dressed Man" and "Legs" sounded great, there was a huge cheer from the audience as "Cheap Sunglasses" started. During "Legs", Billy and Dusty swapped their musical weapons for white and fluffy substitutes to the amusement of onlookers. Nothing went down as well as "Gimme All Your Lovin'" though, as they closed and left a very happy audience indeed.
Whitesnake had the longest second spot of the festival who themselves had an hour and a half. David Coverdale was back and was clearly extremely pleased to be back. The last time Whitesnake played Donington was when Monsters Of Rock was around but David made it clear to us that he thought Download had the same spirit as the previous Donington festivals. They had a long set and so there was perhaps a little too much guitar soloing, however talented, in between songs and sing-along parts in the middle of songs, but these small things aside the band put on a fantastic show with a set covering many albums. David Coverdale is such a nice man and it was perfectly clear to everyone that he cared about us, but also it was clear how comfortable he was on stage, it was like he was at home in his living room on stage in front of seventy-odd thousand people. Closing with "Here I Go Again" and "Still Of The Night" from the self-titled album, these had the thousands watching all singing along to these absolute classics of rock and metal. The most natural and un-forced feeling set of the festival.
So that left leaves just one more. No, not Trivium, although these being on the second stage at the same time made sure it was just the true rockers for the crescendo of this marvellous day. The final spot was left for Def Leppard who came onto the stage to a relatively quiet audience who seemed strangely quite reluctant to sing along to much. Unfortunate as apparently the show was being recorded. The band did start somewhat slow and it was only by about half way through the set that the band were in full swing and the audience were in fine voice. Compared to the Whitesnake set before, Def Leppard seemed somewhat forced, perhaps trying a bit hard to make the audience react. But nevertheless the classics finally came out and set the audience on fire. Hits like "Animal" and especially the super-cool "Pour Some Sugar On Me" sounded awesome over the arena speakers with the tens of thousands of people behind backing up with their singing. Closing the set with "Let's Get Rocked", the Donington audience definitely got rocked, and will have left extremely satisfied with the day's events.
As expected, trying to drive out of the festival was not an easy task as cars were queued up to the M1 motorway about six miles away. But nevertheless we had time to reflect on what an amazing adventure Download 2009 was.
It's simple, Download Festival rocked. If you are against the festival for whatever reason, you are against real rock music like the bands that played here on this day. Download is the biggest and best rock festival this country has to offer, drawing thousands of people from over seas. The site is next to the East Midlands Airport and so aeroplanes are constantly flying over the top, especially making a noise at night, but this can be overlooked. A world record was also broken at the festival as 440 people air guitared along to "Ace Of Spades". You don't have to look far to find some amusement. The festival had 7,000 staff working to make sure the festival ran as smoothly as possible, and because of the festival, £4,000,000 was put back into the local economy. Attractions like the cinema and various theme park rides at the campsite as well as the bands ensured the most entertaining weekend possible. Download Festival, Donington Park, the spiritual home of rock. It rocks on.
Many thanks to go Alex Darling for accreditation.
Written, and photos by Barry Anderson.
||Written on 16.06.2009 by Member of Staff since 2006.|
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