Download Festival 2008 - Castle Donington, England, 13th June 2008

Event: Download Festival 2008
Written by: Baz Anderson
Published: 18.06.2008


Download Festival - Castle Donington, England, 13th-15th June 2008 by Baz Anderson (168)
Donington Park is the spiritual home of rock, once being the home of the Monsters Of Rock festival from 1980 to 1996, and now its successor the Download festival running annually from 2003 onwards has stolen the show. The Download festival is a metal and alternative festival that is highly popular among fans of alternative rock and heavy metal, however with headliners of previous years such as My Chemical Romance, Linkin Park and this year The Offspring and Lostprophets many people of the metal side of things have had their concerns and in some cases total lack of respect for the festival. My mission as a metalhead was to either validate the opinions that this is a festival for young pop-listening kids, or to blow them away and quash any such claims once and for all for the sake of metal in England. Therefore with such a diverse line-up covering three stages and many styles from hip-hop and electro drum & bass to alternative punk-rock to death metal and thrash metal, the experience that will be detailed here will be one seeking the most metal out of the three-day weekend as possible.

The audience ranged from young teenagers wearing fringes and side partings, to old-timers who have probably been visiting Castle Donington since the beginning. Tickets did not sell out this year, this could either be due to weekend tickets and camping costing a whopping £150, or that two of the main stage headlining bands put a few people off, them being The Offspring who have been past their popular peak in the U.K. and Lostprophets who nobody actually liked in the first place anyway. Of course the other main stage headliner Kiss and of course Judas Priest along with many other popular bands did manage to draw in over 55,000 people to this huge musical event.

Upon arrival into a sea of cars and after an epic walk to our designated campsite we could comprehend how big this event is. Masses upon masses of people all collected here in this one field in the middle of the country. A festival this size needs to be organized perfectly, and it must be said that out of all the festivals I have been to in the various countries, Download festival seems the most organised and the most prepared for people of all kinds. Colour coded camp sites run back parallel to a long path of shops and stalls selling all kinds of things from clothes and camping equipment, to food, to shockingly even apparently legal drugs and accessories. A long long walk down the side of the Donington Park racetrack takes us to the entrance of the festival site. Three stages, many stalls and zounds of people are to be found in the festival ground. Any food item you could want to eat can be found, a place to get a massage or just sit down and relax or a motorbike ramp to watch people do trick on. Adding to the organisation of the festival, beer cups could be collected and recycled which earned whoever handed them in money depending on how many they did hand in. One man who was seen scavenging around the festival site for cups made a staggering total of £1,200 from cups he found over the whole weekend of which he apparently is going to use to go to Thailand. This meant no cups were lying around on the floor.

The main stage was probably the best main stage I have seen. A huge towering structure with two large screens either side to ensure people far away could see the action. The unique selling point of this main stage however was that it was seemingly set up at the bottom of a small hill, and so as you walked further back you walked on higher ground and so this made sure pretty much wherever you stood you could see over people's head's in front. The second stage, the Tuborg beer stage stood on concrete just past the entrance to the festival site. The size of it could have easily been passed off as a main stage at any other event. The third stage, the Gibson stage was inside a large structure and dark, but also even though the smallest stage there, it was bigger than normal stages you find metal bands playing on.

We arrived early in the afternoon but after the walk to the campsite and setting up of tents, by the time we made it to the main stage it was time for Kid Rock to take the stage, but an announcement stated he would not be performing to which the audience cheered. Apparently he had been rushed to hospital. Disturbed however took the stage early and gave a set of their modern sounding nu metal to which the audience responded well. Frontman David Draiman was wheeled on the stage in a straight-jacket and throughout the set kept making sure they had not forgotten the name of the band by persistently asking the audience to shout the name "Disturbed". Songs such as "Prayer", the Genesis cover "Land Of Confusion" and the night club favourite "Down With The Sickness" along with plenty of new album material pleased the audience before leaving and starting the wait for English heavy metal legends Motörhead.

"We are Motörhead... and we play rock 'n' roll" - it could only be Lemmy and the Motörhead chaps on the stage to play a methodical set of dirty rock 'n' roll the only way Motörhead can. Old favourites from the obligatory "Ace Of Spades" to new favourites such as "Killers" from the "Inferno" album did not escape the set. The band were understandably so comfortable on the stage, Lemmy in between songs talking and sharing his old-fashioned humour with his worn voice only can be done the way he does. My first time seeing the band and it was a great experience, especially the couple of fast speed metal type songs that really got Mikkey Dee working the way he likes to. Opinions overall varied from person to person however some not so impressed, one thing is for sure though and that is Motörhead are one of the most rock 'n' roll bands still out there going strong.

Metal gods Judas Priest were special guests and only non-headlining band with their logo on the flyers and took to the stage next. Judas Priest played at the very first Monsters Of Rock in 1980, and so twenty-eight years later still playing at Donington Park must have been an experience for the band. Rob Halford emerging from the tower on the left wearing silver robes kicked us into "Prophecy" from the new album to start things off. "Metal Gods" followed and we were off into a long set of Judas Priest classics and songs that don't usually see the light of day live. "Breaking The Law", "Electric Eye" and "Painkiller" can always be expected, but we were treated to songs such as "Sinner", "Dissident Aggressor" and more obscure songs from popular albums such as "Eat Me Alive" and "Devil's Child". "Angel" took place of ballad from "Diamonds & Rust" which was quite missed, and also "Death" from the new album seemingly killed the audience as it is a less than energetic song.

Still, the Priest reigned supreme as always and delivered the goods with songs such as "Painkiller" that sounds so epic live, and "Hell Bent For Leather" with the motorbike. Rob Halford hit most of the notes perfectly but was not without a little fault, he even gave us a death metal grunt at one point. This guy has the heir of a living legend though, he commanded the audience like the way Freddie Mercury would have with so much pomp and bombastic attitude. When the audience sang following his lead there was an echo afterwards from the power of this huge audience that was taking part in this. Electricity was in the air but unfortunately "You've Got Another Thing Coming" had to close things leaving us wanting more.

Thankfully we were about to witness set of the festival. Kiss had made so much of a stir. Everyone wanted to see them in action and boy did they deliver. Everything Kiss does on stage is a thousand times bigger, louder, bolder, camper and hotter than any other band. A ridiculous amount of speakers covered the stage and two extra large screens were placed at the back of the stage. The band came down to the stage from a platform lowering them down to the ground and launched into the classic couple "Deuce" and "Strutter".

The whole of the original "Alive!" live set was played complete with extra long guitar and drum solos in-between various songs and plenty of fireworks around every corner. The band were lifted into the air again and a huge ending concluded the "Alive!" set, and this had already lasted the length of a normal headlining set but the band seemed to want to play all night long and came back and delivered classic after classic such as "Shout It Out Loud", "Love Gun", "I Was Made For Lovin' You" and others finishing with "Detroit Rock City". Kiss sound so much better live than on CD, seeing Kiss live is an experience everyone should have at least once in their lives. The set included everything, Gene spitting blood and fire, opening his wings and flying up to a platform high at the top of the stage, the Space Man shooting fireworks out of his guitar and Paul zip lining across the audience to a platform in the middle.

This was not the Gene Simmons show some people may have expected, if anything he took a back seat and it was the Paul Stanley show. The full set must have lasted over two hours and a quarter, it was a mammoth set that these black and white dolls didn't make boring at any point. There is no doubt that for the majority of people at the festival, seeing Kiss will be the main memory of Download 2008. Kiss can still rock a massive audience and do it is fantastic style, if you get the opportunity to see them, you will not regret it.

Friday, 13/06/08 / Saturday, 14/06/08 / Sunday, 15/06/08


Written on 18.06.2008 by
Baz Anderson
Member of Staff since 2006.
More articles by Baz Anderson ››


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Bararey - 18.06.2008 at 09:26  
I was expecting to see at least one picture of fans having their faces painted as Kiss, did you manage to get any?
Baz Anderson - 18.06.2008 at 14:22  
Haha, I didn't take pictures of them, no. I got there too late for the face thing really, but they did say over the radio they had broken the record. I think they painted 444 faces.
Marcel Hubregtse - 18.06.2008 at 14:43  
Btw why do you say "Paul shooting fireworks out of his guitar"? when the picture you took clearly shows Ace doing that. Maybe Paul's guitar did do it at some time during the show, but I doublt it since that would be a first time EVER hahaha.
Baz Anderson - 18.06.2008 at 14:47  
woops, sorry - that's sorted now. Hope you enjoyed reading it.
DrunkenFuck - 18.06.2008 at 23:13  
It was a great read! Truly captivating how it must have felt to be there. I started smiling when I read the Kiss entry^^
GT - 20.06.2008 at 19:13  
As always a good read there Baz. And I'm amazed how fast you maneged to get it done. Some of the pictures are a bit blurry though
Bad English - 21.06.2008 at 23:33  
Damn I like only Judas Priest, Kiss and Motorhead from first day main stage, from other stages no, but IMO its good such line ujp un one stage, even I think I wont visit it if I live near, better see bands one by one
Bad English - 24.06.2008 at 00:57  
BTW I saw something from fest in SCUZZ TV today and Iw amnst happy, only what I enjoy lil interwiew whit Judas Priest and also some samples from performencies, damn JP kicks ass I hear there be tour, hope thay come to Lv or Nordic Swe
Søren - 25.06.2008 at 19:37  
great job Baz!

here's a question for you: how many speakers did KISS have on stage??? you got a good picture of the whole stage where you can count them? judging from the pics you posted here, it had to be an insane amount.
Baz Anderson - 27.06.2008 at 14:22  
Hahaha, not including the speakers of the main stage normally it looks like there is somewhere around 158 of them.

Thanks everyone for the comments!

GT: yeh, but you have to understand I was miles back from the stage - my camera did really well for where I was.
buki of steel - 02.07.2008 at 00:14  
great job Barry.. i love the introduction of motorhead... same as in woa 06.. so classic execpt that he said that they come from england
Valentin B - 13.04.2009 at 15:58  
Hmm looking back to this it must not have been so awesome.. i mean who the hell has the nerve to give Judas Priest and Motorhead only one hour to play and Saxon only 40 minutes??? imo they had add another day to the fest ffs.
Baz Anderson - 13.04.2009 at 18:05  
Written by Valentin B on 13.04.2009 at 15:58

Hmm looking back to this it must not have been so awesome.. i mean who the hell has the nerve to give Judas Priest and Motorhead only one hour to play and Saxon only 40 minutes??? imo they had add another day to the fest ffs.

Where did you get that from? I think Judas Priest played more than an hour, and Saxon played a different day to this and I'm sure played an hour or so, not 40 minutes.

Just looking back on this, I am thinking how lucky I was to see Motörhead, Judas Priest and Kiss in one day!
Valentin B - 13.04.2009 at 18:10  
Written by Baz Anderson on 13.04.2009 at 18:05

Written by Valentin B on 13.04.2009 at 15:58

Hmm looking back to this it must not have been so awesome.. i mean who the hell has the nerve to give Judas Priest and Motorhead only one hour to play and Saxon only 40 minutes??? imo they had add another day to the fest ffs.

Where did you get that from? I think Judas Priest played more than an hour, and Saxon played a different day to this and I'm sure played an hour or so, not 40 minutes.

Just looking back on this, I am thinking how lucky I was to see Motörhead, Judas Priest and Kiss in one day!

well, one hour and 15 minutes is still not enough for bands like Motorhead and Priest. Saxon apparently played for only 40 minutes, according to the schedule posted on the event page

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