It’s slightly overcast in Donington this morning. People are groggy, working off a hangover and trying to re-energise after Slipknot. And a great way to work up some energy is The Lounge Kittens. As superb as when I saw them open for Steel Panther, they treated us to throwing out some free croissants. Singing in complete harmony with no monitors is no mean feat. And neither is walking in high heels on an obviously wet stage. With their lounge style covers, it made old hits sound fresh like “Sad But True” and “Party Hard”. And with a couple of medleys, one comprised of pop punk, of which I recognised about half the songs but the crowd lapped it up. Of course, there was the good-humoured bitchy introductions and the “Download Megamix” featuring the works of fifteen bands appearing over the weekend with songs from Kiss, Motley Crue, Thunder, Faith No More and Billy Idol. All well-received. Even Black Veil Brides got a warm welcome!
Saturday was always set to be a slow day this year. Strange given the last few years I’ve always known it to be the hectic day. A few hours later, after being subjected to Mallory Knox, Crobot are leaping around the tent known as “Jake’s Stage”. With their riffs and grooves in full force and lead singer Brandon covered in sweat by the time opening salvo “The Legend of the Spaceborn Killer” is finished, Crobot prove they just get better and better. As they rattled through their short set, they managed to squeeze one final song in before the packed tent dispersed.
A Day To Remember followed many bands in their wake by opening with “Are you ready, Download?” I’ve heard good things about these guys. I had them pegged as a band I’d check out at Download and get an impression from there. Like most of the weekend, the main stage’s acoustics weren’t kind. Most of the time, I struggled to hear lyrics. Regardless of that, they failed to capture my attention. Mainly due to the fact I couldn’t figure out if they were punk, metal, hardcore or alternative.
A few hours later and one of the biggest surprises of 2013 are back on a far more respectable slot. Black Star Riders prove how legitimately good their own material is. Naturally there’s a similar sound to Thin Lizzy but it’s great to see them focus heavily on their newer work with some Thin Lizzy songs peppered in the set. With a great balance of both Black Star Riders albums, and a few Thin Lizzy classics, it was a set to wake up the crowd and sustain them through the rest of the day.
Some food and alcohol to refuel and a slow climb up the arena as Marilyn Manson went head to head with Muse ended the night. With five minutes to spare before they were due on and standing at the top of the arena, the crowd Muse had drawn was pitiful. Obviously a head-count is impossible but it was pretty dead for a band supposedly the best live act in the world. And as someone who spent £50 on a ticket to see them, I can assure you, there’s far superior bands playing much smaller venues
Not long after Marilyn Manson had taken to the stage and the sizeable crowd he had drawn began to trickle away. With a couple of weeks discussion, it seems unanimous that he was borderline dreadful. Mumbling between songs, the only word I picked up was “Download”. Well, that and a racist anecdote. Now, I’m a fan of edgy humour. Trying to court controversy and make a big show trying to impress (this includes breaking a bottle onstage to purposely cut himself and smear the blood over his face) is another. What little attention I had for Manson died the minute a racist “joke” was told in reference to the rapper Ice-T (why a rapper was at a rock festival, I have no idea). I’m told he took it in good humour but after hearing that, I checked out and retired for the night. And once back at camp, some of my neighbours had had the same idea.
There was heavy rumours of Alice Cooper headlining second stage on Saturday night. Considering he’s done it before and he puts on a hell of a show, I’d have been there. Or having watched half of Lamb of God on Sunday, stuck them on, given the size of crowd they got. Or let Motley Crue do it so they could have headlined in some respect with their final tour in full swing. Any of those bands would have made Saturday far more enjoyable.
Looking back, maybe an early night was best. Sunday almost needed the use of a machine to clone myself.