The Bloodline Better-Late-than-Never Blog

By Jeff Owens

July 14, 2010

Download Festival 2010, Third and Final Day—Sunday, June 13: Part I

Yeah, yeah, we know—we’re a day late (give or take a month!) and a dollar short on this one, but, unless you were one of the reported 120,000 people there or subscribe to Kerrang! or Metal Hammer, chances are this is still newsworthy, so here goes …

Breakfast is served.

After being pretty sensible (emphasis on the term, “pretty”!) on Saturday night but still staying up well into the wee hours, making blog notes plus downloading photos and editing video, the team was in relatively good shape and good spirits for the third and final day of the metal/hard rock marathon that is the Download Festival. In fact, I was up early enough to enjoy a fine traditional English breakfast—with a fine touch of Irish class, hair of the dog and all that!

Once again, due to a couple of our bands starting pretty early, we were in the backstage area (basically a mini-village of Porta-cabins and a large catering tent in a fenced-off area behind the main stage with mucho security) and ready to go by 10:30 a.m. There were TV weatherman-incited rumors of rain hitting mid-afternoon, but by 11 a.m. the only thing the sensible/relatively sober ones of us were reaching for was sun block!

Prior to grabbing a minibus over to the second stage (that’s how far apart the stages are—they were running transport to and from all of them and the backstage for artists, industry folk and press), I decided to take a quick wander through the crowd already congregating by the main stage. I spotted many members of the multiple-day festival club I call the “Walking Wounded”! Their distinguishing characteristics? Clearly hung-over, clearly wearing the same clothes they’d been wearing since they got there, and sporting sunburn clearly caused by an alcohol-induced snooze or five during the day! Furthermore, the odds of them passing out and missing at least one of their favorite bands? Clearly 100 percent!

Nonpoint throwing down—better than church!

Recommended by Phil Demmel!

When the one-and-only Phil Demmel of Machine Head recommends a band as worth checking out, I do. So I headed off to the second stage, where Nonpoint were one of the first bands on. Facing a field full of hung-over, sunburned metal heads on a Sunday in full daylight is not an easy task, but the boys came out and kicked ass—hard. And before long, their hook-laden brutal wares had a sizeable crowd up on their feet and going for it. How good was it? Better than church, amigos! After witnessing them play it came as no surprise to learn that they’d snagged one of the most prized possessions in metal—a main stage slot on the U.S. leg of Ozzfest 2010.

Wheels of Steel—Still (rockin’ &) Rolling at Donington 30 Years on!

By the time I’d gotten back to the main stage after B.S.-ing with the Nonpoint boys, Saxon were on the main stage and were going down the proverbial storm. While they never really broke America, Saxon was and still is an English metal institution. And aptly enough, 2010 marks not one but two anniversaries for the band—the 30th anniversary of their breakthrough album, Wheels of Steel and the 30th anniversary of their first-ever appearance at Donington. Yep, Saxon played the first ever “Monsters of Rock” Concert here in 1980, and I was one of the 70,000 metal-hungry kids that descended on this now-hallowed ground to enjoy the likes of them, Riot, Rainbow and the mighty Judas Priest! I was only 5 years old though … LOL!

FYI, back then it was a one-day, one-stage event—which is how it remained for many years. Anyway, to celebrate this monumental moment in their history, Saxon played the entire Wheels of Steel album. A smart, nostalgic move that they did well, and they deservedly got the crowd going! I caught the last four or five songs and it was a blast!

30 years ago—wow! (Donington, Aug. 16, 1980)
Rain? Not while Slash is onstage!

Saul Hudson …

… is not only one of the most popular rock guitarists on this planet, he’s also one of world’s biggest and possibly most recognizable rock stars. Hell, like David Beckham, he is a pop culture icon. I am, of course, referring to the one and only Slash—who’s not only a kick-ass guitarist but is also a hugely likeable, down-to-earth guy. He’s got the primo 3:00 spot on the main stage, and he’s not only armed with a recently released and hugely successful solo album, but he’s got a kick-ass band and a stunning “new” singer, Myles Kennedy from Alter Bridge. Furthermore, as his set list for his 45-minute set reveals, he’s clearly intent on taking no prisoners. Talk about a “no brainer”—he’s a smart man, that Saul, very smart!

Despite the weatherman’s warning of rain, when Slash hit the stage at 3 p.m., the sun was shining and so were he and his band. The tousle-haired top-hatted one was all over the stage, and on the huge wings on either side of it, which extended in front of the PA. In fact, he was literally giving Angus (Young) a run for his money on occasions. And wherever he went, that portion of the huge crowd would roar loudly. As already mentioned, his band was truly “on,” and as for new singer Kennedy, it looks and sounds like Slash has finally found a true onstage partner—a la Jagger/Richards and Tyler/Perry. Nice …

Slash's all-conquering Download set list.
Scott tearing it up on his soon-to-be-released Jackson signature model.

The Damned Things

After watching Slash and his cronies literally own the main stage for a few numbers, I made my way backstage to catch a van ride to the second stage in order to catch one of the most talked-about bands of the weekend—a never-before seen or heard act named The Damned Things. Why the buzz? Well, if you didn’t already know, the five-piece outfit is made up of members of Fall Out Boy, Anthrax and Every Time I Die. As a result, despite the fact that their set time overlapped with Slash’s, a sizeable crowd had gathered in anticipation. As I talked with one of Jackson’s favorite sons, Scott Ian, just before they went on, we could hear Slash finishing up his outro solo to GNR classic “Sweet Child o’ Mine.”

“At least we don’t have to go on while he’s playing one of the biggest rock songs of all freaking time!” Scott grins. Two minutes later, game on …

As expected, TDT rock hard but not in the way you’d maybe expect. Despite the material being completely foreign to them, the crowd get into it and the band go down a storm. Hooks, heavy riffs and cool guitar harmonies—TDT delivered the goods and despite being hampered by a retarded monitor man who did the exact opposite of what he was told, they left the stage triumphant; having left a big, fat boot mark on the throng who watched them.

Then, as we headed back in the bus to catch the next act on the main stage, the curse of Donington struck, the heavens opened and, as we say in England, it started to piss down with rain. To be continued and concluded tomorrow …

Thank you, good night!

– Nick B.