The final day was upon us all to quickly as we were late for our opening band. But luckily for us we could hear them from about a mile away so not all was lost. Finally we arrived for some good old fashioned horse riding, Orc slaying, magical, sword bearing, evil hoard battling chain mail clad Power Metal, in the guise of an Californian band called White Wizzard (what else could they be called?). This fun set was packed with stunning guitar lines and ridiculous lyrics, but hey…it didn’t fail to raise a smile!
StraightLines stood out on the lineup for being one of the only indie(ish) bands to take stage. So we checked them out and their spritely pop-punk influenced indie rock was upbeat and easy to like. No boundaries being pushed but after all that rock it was nice to listen to some possible future radio hits.
From new to old we travelled back in time to catch one of Britain’s veteran rock acts, the original New Wave of Brititsh Heavy Metal legends, Saxon. Silver haired and rickety bones didn’t stop them from playing in it’s entirety their Wheels of Steel album which was coincidental (as Download itself was) celebrating it’s 25th anniversary. To their credit, it still sounded great all these years later with tunes like the romper-stomper Motorcycle Man, classic era sounding 747 & the thunderous Stand Up & Be Counted. It just goes to prove that, long lives, Rock and Roll!
We reviewed TAB the Band‘s album Zoo Noises back in February, and fell for its Rolling stones-esque swagger and rough bluesy shufflings. Live they were equally as impressive. Strong clean vocals, dual guitar attack and melodies in abundance maintained a real foot-tapper of a performance which made you wanna dance! They may yet step out of the shadow of their father (Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry), if they maintain their energy levels and keep writing great songs!
TAB the Band
Crime In Stereo was the best of a line-up lull, We left after 2 thrashed songs without hint of the English language being sung or any inventive musicality. Heavy…Yes, Tedious…Also!
Crime In Stereo
It wasn’t until we arrived at Cinderella that we regretted leaving CiS. Cinderella epitomise why 80’s rock/metal acquired such a bad reputation. Style over substance, squeaky voiced, piano tinklers with generic power chords and floating melodic guitars were the worst we’d heard all weekend!
Thankfully keeping the classic side of 80’s rock flag waving high and proud was the most recognisable, indistinguishable and one of all times greatest guitar hero’s Slash stepped out onstage to the collective roar of the crowds appreciation. Slash was here for all out crowd pleasing this afternoon as he arrived boasting my favourite rock vocalist of today Myles Kennedy (Altar Bridge) as his bands frontman. Despite having a new solo album out he only played a handful of tracks from it, the slash trademark riffing of Ghost, huge ballads Starlight & Back From Cali, proggy By The Sword. Seeing as Motorhead were playing later it was no great surprise to see Lemmy making a guest appearance on the cracking fast paced riff rocker Dr. Alibi.
Lemmy & Slash
It was with great elation and suprise that Slash devoted half his set to covers from his former-bands output. For me this was simply extraordinary! To see Slash playing Gun n’ Roses covers, all taken from Appetite For Destruction, was an absolute dream come true and the man has not lost a thing, plus Myles also has the perfect voice to do justice to these classic tracks. They played a double whammy of Nightrain and Rocket Queen early set to really stoke up the crowd which was already extremely excited. Not much could put into words my feelings when the first bars of the classic Gn’R song were heard! I absolutely loved every second of it! There was even time to throw the Velvet Revolver song Slither, with ex-frontman Scott Wieland now back with the Stone Temple Pilots, (incidentally) playing later…I can’t help but feel its intention.
To round of a fantastic set of virtuoso guitar and just astounding classic rock,we all watched in awe as we were treated to yet another GnR classic, Paradise City. This performance was up there with the best of my life, let alone best of the festival.
We stuck around the main stage for a little longer, perching ourselves on the hill to see the some even more classic rock, but this time it was more of the pop variety. We were here for a greatest hit set from Billy Idol and that’s exactly what we got! all the hits were aired including Rebel Yell, Hot In The City, Dancing With Myself & White Wedding. The nice past blast was enough to keep the spirits high despite the rain which was now walling with great vengeance.
Suddenly moving between stages wasn’t quite as easy as the mud wallowed and flowed downhill turning the site into a bog in nearly 30 mins flat! The rain did not dampen my enjoyment of the end of Porpupine Tree’s majestically set of beautifully prog-rock, which can swing from astoundingly harmonious and blisteringly rawkus in one glorious sweep.
Sticking with the Dio stage, we were treated to a right old fashioned 80’s party in the shape of Steel Panther. Their unashamedly 80’s rock was perfect for the damp souls and brought smiles and laughs galore from their outrageous stage persona’s and rampant guitar rock! This was all out fun and they even managed to bring out Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian to play on Asian Hooker as well as debuting their new single I Want It That Way (Yes…The Backstreet Boys one…). It seems also that the side screen cameras were a temporary Motley Cru style titty-cam. Seeing as soon as it flicked to a female audience member, her shirt suddenly went over her head…odd!!
Enjoying a band in the rain and waiting for one in the rain are 2 very different things! The next 25 minutes of waiting dragged hugely, not helped by the fact that I could feel the water running down the inside my jacket and the cold weather taking hold of me! Still all was quickly forgotten as Ac/Dc’s homage paying countrymen Airbourne arrived onstage. These dude’s have always been a bit nuts, this show only re-inforced this view. They ran riot here in the rain, cracking beer cans open on their head and hitting a relentless barrage of power chords. New album material was good, played with the same manic vigour as their older material, plus they haven’t lost their catchy, fist pumping chorus writing talents.
Just to prove how crazy lead singer Joel O’Keefe really is, I point to the following evidence
Exhibit A) Yes, he has climbed up the stage, in the absolute pouring rain, without any safety equipment, then plays a guitar solo hanging by his legs only 30ft up!
That Really Is A Long Way Down
Exhibit B) Now getting up borderline suicidal, he really had the crowd scared for his welfare, but after more guitar solos from atop of the stage, technians turned his guitar transmitter off, forcing him to come down…vvveeerrrryyy carefully!!!
“It’s A Long Way To The Top…If You Want To Rock And Roll”
Everything after this point pales into insignificance at the stunt just witnessed, by these superb but insane Aussies!
As we headed for the final nights headline act we caught the end of the Stone Temple Pilots performance, needless to say Airbourne was a much better spectacle.
And so to the final band of the weekend, legends of rock Aerosmith, with their flamboyant lead singer Steve Tyler firmly back in the fold doing what he does best. For the third night in a row the headline act has been monumental, tonight was no exception. Tyler freshly re-united with the band after drugs problems was back at his best commanding a huge presence on stage. Joe Perry showed how to play the blues as he played some of the defining riffs of a generation.
Quite aptly the skies cleared and we recovered from the chill by being treated to Classic tracks like Sweet Emotion, Living On The Edge, Eat The Rich & Walk This Way which set the bar sky high. My songs of the night however were the genre spawning Rock-Ballad Dream On complete with perfect Tyler screams, set opener Love In An Elevator complete with Woo-Wooh sing-a-longs plus older gems Draw The Line and a rampaging version of Toys In The Attic which rounded out the show.
As the final amp was powered down with Tyler & Perry exchanging congratulations, we were left in the darkness of the damp field ready for the longest walk of the weekend…the one back home!