Unfortunately, Eyes From the Mosh Pit were unable to make Download on the Friday due to other commitments which was a little bit disheartening for us, but still on the Saturday morning, the car was loaded, 'Honk if you Horny for Download' in the back of the car with the Eyes From the Mosh Pit logo positioned in the back window.
We set the sat-nav for download and after dropping our daughter with the grandparents we set off at 8.30 on a miserable looking Saturday morning. The journey seemed to take for ever and I was like a dog in a car, occasionally wanting to wind down the window, poke my head and we got closer and closer. The air, the feel, everything, you could sense the atmosphere at download as you left the M1 to edge closer to the car park. Unfortunately, we had a hell of a walk from the South Car Park to the Arena for our first days action. This would not normally be a problem, but today was important because our friends in Broken (www.brokenmetalband.com) from Wakefield were playing for the 2nd year in a row. Very few bands succeed in this feat, as normally the organisers say there is a 'play one year, not the next' with the bands. After a frantic rush through the thousands of 'zombified' hoards re-entering the arena after the night before, we set off for the Pepsi Max tent. We arrived just as 'Broken' to the stage. Lucky us!!!
What can I tell you about Broken? well, funnily enough you don't need to be told much about these guys, you just need to go and listen to them. Compared with last years show, the lineup has changed and there is a more heavier, distinctive sound to the band. As you can tell from the new single part of the same veinwhich you can download from their website. Sometimes, a change can be good, and we were hoping that this would be the case. We at Eyes From the Mosh Pit upon entering the Pepsi Max stage, made our way through the good crowd assembled to watch these soon to be Yorkshire Titans. Marie made it to the front, and me stood directly behind, slightly to the right of centre stage in front of Fraser the bassist. We know the band quite well, and the sound, the feel, the whole enigma of playing at download can be quite daunting for some bands. Not in this case, Steve with locks tied back, and growling vocals at the ready, aidly assisted by Neil on shredder. Proved diligent! The band had a swagger like they belonged there. Mark on drums, pounded out the broken war cry relentlessly throughout the set. The interaction and enjoy by the band was there for all to see, Neil and Fraser catching up on stage to play. Their Jacksons' gleaming like a ray of sunshine in the sky. From in the Mosh Pit I can tell you the crows really enjoyed what Broken had brought with them. People who walked in through the set, came up to us asking us who the band were, and that they proved a great hit with them, as they were going to go and check them out. I can tell you with pride we could shout from the rooftops 'they are 'Broken, check them out you won't be disappointed'. It is just the start you wanted from the days festivities at the festival. Boom! There it was.
After 'Broken' we managed to go and get a breathe again, and find out who was on what and at what point. I mean we were in such a rush to get to the Pepsi Max stage we forgot all about the big erection that was stood tall and proud like it was on Viagra. Impressive I need to say. After checking our surroundings, we made our way to the Zippo Encore stage to watch 'Heavens Basement' now for those who know what we do, will know that we met the guys when they supported Mark Tremonti on tour at the Manchester Ritz in July, our first gig as Eyes From the Mosh Pit. The guys blew us away with their effervescent set, and explosive hard rock antics. On the back of their critically acclaimed 'Filthy Empire' Marie hadn't seen these Hard Rockers before but had all the goss in advance from me who cant rate them highly enough. Marie is hard to impress at times, because every band has to meet her standards of 'Buckcherry' which is very difficult to, and Marie was still sulking a little after her favourites pulling out. Now, as the infamous tweet goes by Jimmy goes 'He doesn't pull out of anything' a lot of impressing had to go on.
Heavens Basement took to the stage, and almost immediately got on with what they do best, hard rocking, fast living, hugely entertaining songs. The crowd immediately caught the infection and everyone in tandem lapped up the whole set. Aaron even went for a bit of crowd surfing during the set as the crowd interaction went on for inevitable 30 minute set, singing along. Which I am sure still gives the guys a buzz everytime it happens. If you didn't get a chance to see the guys at download you have to, ney you MUST check them out on their UK tour in July. For those around Manchester this is at Soundcontrol. After Heavens Basement, I took Marie to the front of the arena, to the main stage where a Buckcherry should have been playing and we saw a little fairly unknown band called Black Star Riders were playing in place of her immortal Buckcherry. Now, a few quick facts about Black Star Riders that you need to know. Firstly, they are headlining the Hard Rock Hell festival at the end of November in North Wales, two Black Star Riders are the new name of legendary band 'Thin Lizzy'. Last year the bandmates decided that they wanted to record some new material but didn't feel that they could or wanted to do it under the legendary banner of Thin Lizzy has a lot has happened to the band. So, Black Star Riders were born.
'Black Star Riders' being a new(ish) band If you see what I mean, could have been forgiven for not wanting to play the old material as they were promoting their new album 'All Hell Breaks Loose'. The band played the ultimate mix of classics from the Thin Lizzy back catalogue as well as tracks from the new album. A highly charged spectacle befitting the main stage. As a huge fan of Thin Lizzy even though I was not old enough to see the spectacle with Phil Lynott or Gary Moore it was a humbling experience for me singing along to the classics Rosalie, Jailbreak or even The boys are back in tow' my current favourites are still Cowboy song and Bound for Glory from the Black Star Riders new album. Living legends are these guys, and would have been worth the entrance money on its own to watch these guys play. I couldn't help sing along and jump around to the whole set list. You have to watch this band at some point, it is must, get yourselves to the UK tour or better yet Hard Rock Hell. One of my personal highlights from the whole festival.
Next after 'Black Star Riders' we went back to the Encore stage, to watch Stockholm's favourite 'Katatonia' followed by Australian metallers 'Karnivool' who on our hit list as we ventured in and out of the many shops and the heavy rain. Mainly, as download isn't download without all the merch stalls. Next on our radar, was legendary rockers 'Thunder'. Thunder are one of the bands, that just keep on at the same level for years and years, icons of the great years of rock. Danny's vocals haven't changed ever. Even with 40 years in the business, his vocals are as good as ever. Danny tried his best to get the crowd going. Eventually the battling on, got the crowd on his side, and played through all the classics that the crowd have always enjoyed, including the immortalised 'Love walked in'. All in all a great classic setlist.
Following on from Thunder, we moved from one side to the other, when I saw Fraser from Broken from the corner of my eye coming my way. Fraser was high on a mixture of alcohol and adrenaline from the set list at the Pepsi Max stage. We had a great chat, and the original notion of if you play download one year you don't play the next. Might be a little lax but Heavens Basement and Broken are in privaliged company to play Download two years on the trot. A honour and a privalige. But we didn't want to keep him too much as coming up on stage was US iconic 'Lit' who I had been wanting to watch live for years. Also, in the crowd we noticed 'Danny' from Falling Red. It is like we were stalking him, everywhere we had been, we had seen him. But we left him alone as we were there for one reason, and this was Lit's time. If you haven't heard of Lit, shame on you. Songs like 'My own worst enemy' and 'Miserable' are legendary punk songs. I got goose bumps with Lit on stage it brought back great memories for me. For fans of Lit all I need to say is 'You make me cum, You make complete, You make me completely miserable!' good times.
Next on the Zippo encore stage, were also icons 'Jimmy Eat World' I played 'futures' till it broke. The crowd was heaving at this point, everyone wanted to play with this. Jimmy Eat World played songs from their back catalogue and got the crowd jumping following on from Lit. But half way through the set, we needed to make our way to the main stage, via the toilet and food stop in to make sure we were in place for Saturday headliners 'Iron Maiden'. As you can imagine nearly 100,000 people wanted to watch Iron Maiden so we needed to get ourselves as close to the mix as possible. So, unfortunately Maiden were calling and I needed to watch them again. I have to be honest, I have seen the mighty Maiden 4 times before and loved each time but returning to the home of Metal, the set from Iron Maiden I was not going to miss. Especially, as the best times to go to the shitter is when bands are on otherwise you need to wait for half an hour for a piss. So, as a result, a piss and eat later and we saw the end of Iconic 'Queens of the Stone Age'. Last time we had seen Queens of the Stone Age was at Leeds/ Reading in about 2005 I think it was, and they seem to carry on with the same feel. I honestly, don't see the fascination with most of the 'Queens of the Stone Age' performance I couple of songs I understand but other than that I am not certain off.
Whilst awaiting the Mighty Maiden to enter the fray, near us some guys were wandering around picking up the used cardboard pizza boxes threwn around the site. We were very perplexed about this, and as everyone seemed to do was watch, as they built a cardboard pyramid. Little to our knowledge was one of their friends was fast asleep buried underneath. Then after a slight unfortunate way of waking the beast from under the boxes. He eventually awoke to find a complete blackout. Also, on the same note, a big congratulations to the guys who made the strongbow knight, that was very ingenious.
Now, it is time for the beast. 'Iron Maiden' are not a band to shun their performances, and they had already made it clear that it was going to be a gig reliving the 'Seventh Son of the Seventh Son' album taking a trip back to 1988, when they played at Download, but they promised to provide a show that they couldn't do in 1988 with Pyrotechnics and things with the immortal 'Eddie'. Just before 'Iron Maiden' took to the stage, the cameras all looked up to the skies, and before you realised the definitive sound took to your ears, and as you looked up a true icon, a 'Spitfire' took to the skyline, and manoeuvred around and did a few fly pasts, as a celebration to the 'Battle of Britain'. It surely is an impressive site to see a 'Spitfire' restored to its heyday and do a fly past' The crowd loved it. After the fly past, the crowd knew what was about to happen. The only problem, was that when the stage went dark, the sun was still out so it didn't have the same effect. But no one seemed to care. Nikko came to the stage front, aidly followed by Adrian, Dave, Jannick and Steve. The multi layered guitars, the thunderous drums, and the running bass lines hit you like a kick in the face. All this before in my opinion 'Iron Maidens Best vocalist' Bruce Dickinson, ran, jumped and screamed out to all the fans.
'Scream for me Donnington!!' the immortal cry that rang out in the night sky as they ran through a set of classics. The bands themselves admit they like to change the set list to what they feel sounds right for the locations, and sometimes the songs need to be brought out. Even the immortal Eddie came onto the stage dressed as General Custer, even with the badge and Insignia awarded to Eddie as the band were awarded their spurs at the same moment, given by the 7th Cavalery. The legends played songs from the Seventh Son and Phantom of the Opera, as well as with the tribute to the battle of Britain 'Afraid to shoot strangers' played through. The might Maiden, fail to disappoint when ever they turn up with fire and pyrotechnics, to start with. Multiple Eddie's, pyro's face melting guitar solo's and a huge crowd reaction, and the immortal and legendary 'Scream for me Donnington!!'. I can't think of a finer why to enjoy your Saturday night at Download.
Eyes From the Mosh pit