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#239 Download Festival @ Castle Donington Donington Park (June 15th 2014)

Headliner: Aerosmith

Who I Saw:  Aerosmith / Pretty Reckless / Steel Panther / Volbeat / Richie Sambora with Orianthi / Buckcherry

Remarkably we woke up on Sunday morning feeling relatively fresh…I stress the word ‘relatively’ there. Despite this we had both come to the conclusion that we didn’t actually have to stay in the tent for a third night…in fact we came up with the excellent idea of packing up early and getting everything in the car in the morning. This meant that after seeing Aerosmith we could leave straight away. So as we packed away the tent (I say ‘We’ it was really Mark as anything I tried to do I was quickly told it was wrong. Instead I watched while he expertly packed and so my plan of being utterly useless worked) the thoughts of a nice hot bath started to form in my mind. First though there was a full day’s music ahead of us…and what a day it was.  

Download Festival 2014.jpg

Having not gone near the main stage all day on Saturday we barely moved from it on the Sunday. This was a weekend of seeing many bands for the first time and that included Buckcherry, a group with a charismatic lead singer with attitude (Mr Scramble would disagree) and a shit load of tattoos. I thought they were hugely impressive and was a good way to start the final day.

One of the many reasons for booking tickets for Download was for the chance to see another rock hero, Richie Sambora. He along with the super cool Orianthi played the main stage early afternoon. Although he looked a bit nervy and had some sound issues early on he soon relaxed and played an excellent short set including my favourite Sambora track Stranger in This Town. He finished with a stunning version of Wanted Dead Or Alive which nearly brought a tear to my eye. I really have to see him in a small venue soon. 

Continuing the theme of hearing rock bands I had completely missed before (mainly because of my 'listening to Christina Aguilera'years) we sat back and watched Danish band Volbeat. Huge in many other countries they have never quite hit the same heights in the UK. They were highly impressive here and they were yet another band that showed there is no small link between having a strong front man and being a top live band.

Steel Panther have three albums that should not be underrated. Yes they are taking the piss out of the very music they play but they do it so damn well. Not only are they incredibly funny (including a certain joke from Satchel about Taylor Momsen and Richie Sambora) but they are also an excellent live band. Completely sexist of course but isn't all rock music? I heard rumour of a policy this year at Download of not showing any topless girls on the main screens. Didn’t stop Steel Panther though as they had no end of female volunteers willing to get semi naked on stage for 17 Girls In A Row. As the complete gentleman that I am I really didn’t know where to look...Death to all but Metal indeed.

We prised ourselves away from the Main stage to see a band that I am hugely undecided on. They have two great albums, a great sound, a hot lead singer…what is there not to like? The thing is I am not sure I really buy into them. The Pretty Reckless seem to be just a vehicle for Momsen and her ‘rock chick’ act and seeing her on stage with three older musicians seemed a little odd to me. Why should I care though when the music is excellent...and although I felt they weren’t at their best at Download (guitars whacked up to the max for the occasion?) it was enough to make me want to see them live in their own right. Maybe I’m disappearing up my own arse (Mrs Rock thinks so) and should just enjoy their music for what it is…top notch rock.

Download Festival (Aerosmith) - Donington Park June 15th 2014

We wandered back to the main stage to see the mighty Aerosmith who had the honour of closing the whole festival. I have seen them a few times over the years, including this very place back in 1990, and never get tired of them. In truth I wasn’t expecting anything special from them here, after all they had headlined just four years previously. I just expected them to be good. What I didn’t expect was them to play the almost perfect festival set and although only one song from their latest album would normally be pretty terrible, for a festival crowd it was probably not far wrong. I love this band and Tyler is the front man to beat all front men. He was undeniably brilliant here. It probably helped that the show was being filmed, if you put Tyler in front of a camera he will perform, but to see him look and sound better than ever was pretty astounding.

And so as Mama Kin came to an end the realisation that the weekend was finally over struck home. After a discussion on Jaws, a few selifes and another long walk back to the car it was generally agreed that we would be back. For now a hot bath and a comfy bed awaited.

Festivals can be mixed affairs but there is something special about Donington. The atmosphere was so friendly and so relaxed. People who, back in the real world, may feel like they are on the outside of society feel so at home here. I loved the weekend and I know friends old and new did to. Every single person who went to Download would have had a different experience. Checking out fans top ten bands of the weekend it shows what a variety of artists were on show. I didn’t see (or have even heard of) a lot of the bands listed. Who cares though?  We have all the time in the world as I doubt Download is going anywhere anytime soon.

Ticket: June 15th 2014 / Wrist Band / Weekend Guest Wrist Band / Car Park Ticket Front / Car Park Ticket Back

Ticket Price: £185 Weekend Camping Ticket

Set Lists: