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#238 Download Festival @ Castle Donington Donington Park (June 14th 2014)

Headliner: Linkin Park

Who I Saw: Status Quo / Twisted Sister / Wildhearts / Toby Jepson / Skid Row

Waking up in a hot sweat on a Saturday morning not realising where the hell I am was not necessarily a new experience for me. However add in the tent in the middle of a patch of nettles and it made for an even more unpleasant way to greet the morning sun. Once I had regained my bearings the general state of my uncleanliness became apparent. I had to get clean and also get the hell out the tent as it was becoming uncomfortably hot. Yet despite this I still decided against taking a shower. In my defence the showers were a good half a mile away and I had a banging headache and the sweats all of which did not bode well for any potential shower run. Instead I turned to the one essential item of any festival experience…Baby Wipes.

Download Festival - Donington Park June 14th 2014

Baby wipes are a wonderful invention capable of doing far more than their intended use…however even they struggled as I tried to use them to wipe away dirt and grime from every nook and cranny on my body…not the easiest thing at the best of times but especially when sweating so much crouched in an Argos tent. Clean? Well clean…ish.

Eventually we left the tent and got some fresh air (as fresh as the air can be whilst walking through a festival camp site). Time for some more music and so back to the Zippo stage for Skid Row. I know that JohnnySolinger has been singer (and a good one) with the band for fifteen years but that actually only includes two studio albums. Have they progressed much since the days of Sebastian Bach? Judging by their set here it doesn’t seem so but it did remind me what a superb album their 1989 debut is. An enjoyable but pretty underwhelming set then and one that left me dreaming of an original line up tour however I think there is more change of Axl and Slash holding hands in truth.

One of the best stages at Download is the acoustic stage. It was here that I got to see one of my rock heroes, Toby Jepson. I saw the Little Angels many times back in the day and managed to catch them on their reunion tour in 2012. Jepson is a very good front man who knows how to win a crowd over and he was relaxed and in good form here. The quality of the songs he played shone through acoustically and backed by long time cohort Dave Kemp they played an enjoyable set with last year’s Raising My Own Hell and Angels classic Don’t Pray For Me the standouts.

Download Festival Twisted Sister - Donington Park June 14th 2014

After Jepson we were back to the Zippo stage for the rest of the night via the bar where we spent some more of those wonderful beer tokens that seemed to last forever…not sure why. I do think that the organisation at Download is just superb. The beer tokens are one aspect that really helps things flow. Never once did I have to queue for more than 30 seconds at the bar and the ease of which the staff served everyone while managing to be so fecking happy was extremely impressive. Big hats off to them all.

We met back up with Mr Scramble and more Twitter friends (is there any better kind?). I have chatted to them about rock music for years on the one social media form that I actually like…and am addicted to. Meeting them at the home of rock seemed apt and enhanced the feeling that rock crowds are all part of one big happy family. Ages ranging from teenagers to 60+ year olds, mainly male yes, but also plenty of women of all ages. All existing in the same space with everyone friendly and in good form. There is so much choice of band at Download that everyone has a different experience. Yes timetable clashes are an unfortunate downside but hell if that is the only downside then isn’t that great? For me the Saturday meant going old skool big time. 

I caught some of the Wildhearts withGinger in his usual sparkling form although again I was busy chatting to the Twitterati. In doing so I managed to piss off a girl sat down near me. I pissed her off so much in fact that she gave me a little punch on the leg. Bless. Although she probably had a point as I was talking over Ginger. Hey I was excited to see my new friends. On another day I would have liked to have seen Linkin Park on the main stage but I wasn’t budging from Zippo. Two bands that I had always wanted to see...the mighty Twisted Sister and Status Quo...were playing that stage and a large crowd gathered to see a master class in how to be a front man. If you have never witnessed a certain Dee Snider then to put it mildly he is an astounding lead singer. That doesn’t tell the whole story though as he is more than a front man. Someone who can work the crowd as much as him including throwing in jokes about 9/11 and the Wheelchair fans, and it being extremely funny, has to have the magic touch. I Wanna Rock was immense of course but the whole set was a pleasure to see.

Status Quo are a completely different animal to Twisted Sister and lack some of the charisma of Snider but they share the knowhow that can only come from years of playing live. Strangely I was a little bored for the beginning of their set despite the guitar sound being one of the best of the weekend. For the last half an hour though it was hit after hit with Down Down being especially good and I went away thinking that I would have to see them again again again…..

The night was rounded off by watching England play football which is never a good thing…back to the camp for another interrupted sleep ready for Day 3...

Ticket: June 14th 2014 / Wrist Band / Weekend Guest Wrist Band / Car Park Ticket Front / Car Park Ticket Back

Ticket Price: £185 Weekend Camping Ticket

Set Lists: