The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

Download 2010

Day 3, Sunday 13th June

Donington Park, England


Our first band up was Saxon - the third time I’ve seen them and they were the best ever, delivering strong performances both musically & vocally, and not looking their age at all! Biff had a great rapport with the crowd, and performed all the songs from the “Wheels Of Steel” album which, like the festival, is 30 yrs old this year. A real crowd pleaser of a set.


Next up on the main stage were Cinderella, and again, vocally & musically they held their own excellently!! (Spoiler - you will see a pattern emerging here…) I would not have thought that a poser rock band from the 80’s would still sound as fresh as they did, but they were musically very strong - Tom Keifer played piano, sax, guitar as well as lead vocal and the whole band put in a stellar performance.



Then it was Slash and, well - he OWNED Donington! I saw Velvet Revolver on their second album tour in a university venue, and it was an awesome show, except for Scott Weiland!! I love Slash's new album & really wanted to see it live; in fact it was the primary motive for going to the festival in the first place!! Myles Kennedy is a fantastic vocalist – he nailed Revolver and G n’ R songs perfectly, looked the part, and Slash was clearly having loads of fun playing, jumping all over the place! The new album’s songs – ‘Ghost’, ‘Back From Cali’, ‘By The Sword’ and ‘Starlight’ - all hold up perfectly on stage, and it was great to hear the crowd singing along to songs that were only released three months ago. Oh yeah - I almost forgot (not likely!!) there was one other song from the new album performed... ‘Dr Alibi’ – that’s right, the one that Lemmy sung... and he’s here today to sing it at Download!! It was fantastic to witness that collaboration that you wouldn’t get anywhere else.



I must add that up to this point the day was glorious - so hot & sunny in fact that I ended up with the reddest, most sunburnt face in the world and had to endure some embarrassment at work the following day! However, shortly after Slash came off stage the heavens (and cosmos by the volume of it!!) opened and it rained. A lot! I always thought the "mud-at-English-festivals" thing was a bit of old hype, but no, no - I can confirm that even the hardest driest ground quickly turns to a mud swamp when it has more than a few thousand people on it.



We stayed at the main stage for Billy Idol, and this posed us with a dilemma. Whilst not a particular fan of Idol, he undeniably has a lot of classic songs, and his guitarist is VASTLY underrated! However, we also needed time to peruse the merchandise stalls and get something to eat, so we stayed in the main stage area but left the crowd, keeping one ear on the performance. From what I heard, and the end that I saw, he was great. Again - all the crowd pleasers were played so that you felt you knew the stuff without even realising!



After a small but not really noticeable schedule delay, Motorhead took to the stage. This was also the third time for me seeing them play, and also perhaps the best. They seem to suit outdoor festivals better than indoor arenas, but that’s just my experience. Lemmy was his usual inebriated self, but holds it together like the godfather of rock & roll that he is. There were two fire breathing/gasoline spitting dancers that came on stage during the set - again, not something you'd normally get at a regular gig! Their set was great, all the classics you’d hope to hear and played with perfect tightness, power and attitude, and when Lemmy returned the compliment, inviting the undisputed star attraction of the day Slash onto stage with Motorhead to play ‘Just Cuz You Got The Power’, the close friends obviously had a blast playing together and the crowd were in metal heaven. Not a single note was played on the day that had me thinking "Oh, you’re showing your age now, you should retire", not just with Motorhead, but throughout the entire day.



When Motorhead finished their set we crossed the huge site over to another of the five stages to hopefully see Steel Panther. However, we weren’t so lucky as the rain delayed the main stage, but not the others. We had planned to see Steel Panther, followed by Airbourne, but we got there just as Airbourne had begun their set. Now, its far too easy to dismiss this band as AC/DC wannabes - they make Angus Young look like a hermit and they really impressed me - far more than on the radio. The songs, whilst classic rock & roll and not pretending to be anything other than, are still original and varied. These boys really mean it! They attack the stage with such enthusiasm, attitude and balls that you cant help but enjoy the show. There was a minor technical error - in so much as all the power went out; but it was caused by the lead singer/guitarist climbing the full height of the stage left rigging to play guitar; then he climbed a bit higher up to stand on the very top of stage left, to finish off the solo - all in the name of rock & roll. All was fixed though in just a couple of minutes, and the show carried on with possibly more energy than before.



We were watching Airbourne whilst Stone Temple Pilots played on the main stage. I am not a fan of them, never have been, and don’t hold Weiland in the highest regard at all. Not wanting to cause offence - this is just my personal opinion, plus having heard Myles Kennedy nail some VR tunes earlier with Slash, Weiland had even less opportunity to impress me. Anyway, I imagine that STP would have been the only let down of the day. Scott was his usual drunk and/or strung out self - and clearly not the hardened performer OR drinker that Lemmy is - he was self-indulgent, unenthusiastic and uninteresting. Just catching the end of STP’s show as I prepared my place in the crowd for the headliners, I certainly don’t think I missed out on anything good…


And so onto the headlining act - I know what you’re all wondering...are Aerosmith the ridiculous, bloated parody of themselves that their failed US tour last year suggests? Well, surprisingly NO!!! They came on stage on time, albeit after a massive stage change, carpeting laid, huge lighting rigs hung and so on.



I have always wanted to see Aerosmith live, but was a bit apprehensive following their Spinal Tap-escapades last summer, but yes, Steven Tyler CAN still cut it. He was very relaxed, singing naturally and tunefully whilst at the same time strutting his gold-sparkle clad self along the runway like an old pro. At times I got the impression that Joe Perry really wears the trousers in the band, it occasionally felt like Tyler was on his best behaviour - no self indulgence, no over-squawking, just belting out the songs reliably, interspersed with some harmonica.


However, there were long periods of band jamming, a very blues orientated set which generally suits me fine, but the improv parts went on too long, especially since Perry doesn’t have a striking lead guitar style and the drum set up is pretty straight forward. As a full package, Aerosmith sound great, but as individual parts it doesn’t work so well. Perhaps it was the fact that by this stage we were soaking wet, sunburnt and covered in mud up to our knees?! As I said, it was a mostly blues based set list, with quite a few surprising choices such as ‘Train Kept A Rollin’, ‘Back In The Saddle’, and a few from the “Honkin On Bobo” album; as well as the expected hits and a very moving performance (both by Tyler & the whole of the crowd) of ‘Dream On’. All things considered, Aerosmith were a hit.


So Donington Park celebrated their 30th birthday in a lot of style - there was an attendance of approx 120,000 over the 3 days, and if my experience is anything to go by, not a single one would have gone home disappointed.


Lucy Griffiths