Download 2009 - Donnington Park, Sun 14 Jun

Download 2009 - Donnington Park, Sun 14 Jun

Dream Theater

The sun is shining once again on the hallowed grounds of Donnington and this year’s Download has to have been one of the most successful metal festivals yet, the line-up has been fantastic (Faith No More, Slipknot, Limp Bizkit and The Prodigy already putting in some blinding sets) and ‘Classic Rock Sunday’ is a master stroke of festival planning. Add to the mix the friendliest crowd in the UK, a new improved site lay-out and another killer line-up and even before the first riff peels out across the field you know today’s going to be pretty special.

Skin •••• rouse Donnington with an early set, it’s hard to tell who’s having more fun them or us. Old school hard rock with a stoner vibe, ending with an upbeat cover of EMF’s ‘Unbelievable’ lifting the early afternoon spirits and leaving crowd and band grinning from ear to ear.

Weighing in on the second stage God Forbid ••• prove that there’s still plenty of space for hard and seriously heavy metal even with today’s line-up. A fearsome groove runs through their unrelenting trash metalcore, inciting the first real mosh pit of the day. More serious grooves from Kentucky’s Black Stone Cherry •••• amped up southern rock that revels in its old school roots, ending with a killer cover of Hendrix’s ‘Voodoo Child’ that just manages to stay this side of naff. Sevendust ••• resurrect nu-metal with echoes of Korn, Papa Roach and Living Colour. While Journey •••• unleash the first mass sing-along of the day with their closing volley of ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ and ‘Any Way You Want It’.

Perhaps Dream Theater ••••• and their complex prog-metal aren’t the best fit for the blazing sunshine but they dazzle with their technical prowess, a mind blowing display of musicality, it’s almost impossible to take your eyes off John Petrucci (guitar) and John Myung (bass) as they effortlessly coax the most complex rhythms from their instruments. Utterly spellbinding.

Perhaps the rarest visitor to our shores, ZZ Top ••• put in a decent show (complete with the requisite beards and fluffy guitars), but their southern rock boogie creates a lull compared to the high energy of the rest of the day. Though a triple bill of ‘Gimmie All Your Lovin’’, ‘Sharp Dressed Man’ and ‘Legs’ boost the set and reminds you why they deserve their ‘legendary’ status.

A quick dash to the third stage tent sees perhaps the most hyped band of this year’s Download as Steel Panther •••• take to the stage with the crowd literally spilling out across the field. Genuinely hysterical, their between song banter and lyrics have the crowd laughing throughout to their high octane, pitch perfect Mötley Crüe/Poison/Ratt glam metal pastiche. Fantastic entertainment, how much you’d actually listen to their records is another question.

Back on the main stage Whitesnake •••• deliver the goods with aplomb, David Coverdale leading the whole field through ‘Is This Love?’, ‘Still of the Night’ and set highlight ‘Here I Go Again’. It might be unfashionable and a bit cheesy but it’s a hell of a lot of fun.

Therapy? •••• draw another massive crowd to the third stage and their growling punk metal is as effective as ever, especially the stuttering drum & bass rhythms of ‘Teethgrinder’.

Leaving it all up to Def Leppard •••• to finish the night in style, playing Donnington for the first time since 1986. And it’s hit after hit after hit as the likes of ‘Rocket’, ‘Animal’ and ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’ easily justify their headline slot, even the ballads work in this setting. All building to an apocalyptic ‘Let’s Get Rocked’ ending Download on a high.

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