Welcome to the Jungle - It's our report from the second day of Download 2018
After a refreshing spot of DO.OM Yoga up at The Village you are cordially welcomed to the jungle of Saturday at Download 2018 after the madness and pyro of Friday. There will certainly be only one band on everyone's lips as almost anywhere between 80,000-100,000 people flood through the day admission gates at the top of the arena. Lets see if they turn up on time...
Over on the Avalanche Stage pop punkers The Bottom Line get the crowd bouncing for far too early on an already scorching, grass bleaching Saturday morning but this is Download Festival and no rules apply here. Bringing their pogo inducing sound to the tent, the more grounded new material comes across best. Next up on the Dogtooth Stage are Scottish rockers Anchor Lane who play a set of traditional rock n' roll with a groove that defies their young age, and are ones to watch out for in the future.
Over on the Zippo Encore Stage a meeting of minds is taking to the stage although a little late with the super group POWERFLO. If, like me, you are a fan of mid 90's Metal and Hip-Hop, especially the Roadrunner records era music, this band is for you. Consisting of members from Fear Factory, Cypress Hill, Downset and Biohazard these bruisers bring their version of hard core that the masses lap up. A band that respect the past but are living quite easily in the present.
Photo Credit - Jennifer McCord
Over on the Main Stage, quite literally umm... struts The Struts! For a band not too far into their career the band have a huge stage presence and in their frontman Lucas a star for the future. Grandstanding around the cavernous stage, preening like a peacock, he brings a pomp and circumstance not seen since the mid 80's of Queen and Freddie Mercury. A revelation and their new material, especially new single 'Body Talks', surely means they will be higher up the bill in years to come. With a distillation of their rocked up 70's glam the band have been making headway oversea and clearly eat up the rapturous applause from a their home town (they mostly hail from nearby Derby) crowd
Photo Credit - Caitlin Mogridge
Parkway Drive have quite rightly just released the album of their careers in Reverance. An album soaked in groove and melody, talking about something we all deal with in life and experience, that of death. The Aussie boys bring one of the hottest stage shows seen in many years and quite literally eye brow removing heat, the stage is ablaze with pyro as the bands showcase their brand of Metal. Leaking Cemetary Bloom into The Void is a master stroke and one the crowd go mental for. Lead singer Winston McCall instructing the crowd to "send your surfers, I want you to swarm this motherfucker" as they lay into a brutal "Idols and Anchors'. As drummer Ben 'Gaz' Gordon spins 360 degrees the stage erupts in flames (including the drum kit) as they finish on a crushing Bottom Feeder. One last surprise awaits though as a stage wide front backdrop shows UK arena dates for January/February 2019. This band have just stepped up a huge milestone in their careers.
As Black Stone Cherry exit stage right after a Country tinged set of soon to be classics, the sun starts to finally set and the arena is at maximum capacity. Front to back, left to right, there is very little space in which to move. The mighty Guns N' Roses are due on at 7:50, I look at my watch as the clock strikes 7:45 as what I've heard about Axl rings in my ears but then something out of this world happens...the opening bars of It's So Easy start and the band arrive EARLY. Yes, EARLY. For a reported £5 million of the Queen's money, Duff, Slash and Axl, three of the original five Gunners are up on stage. The band plow through a nearly three hour set of classics, deep cuts and even some covers for good measure. The set is akin to a religious experience for this 35 year old music fan. When Axl screeches "Do you know where you are Donington, you're in the jungle baby, you gonna diieeeeeee!!" he has the capacity crowd in the palm of his hand. Slash peeling off the staccato riff like his life depended on it.
Every word is sung back to the band, every solo harmonised back to Slash as he stands at the end of the ego ramp, the sun shining down on the stage in perfect synchronicity, as he peels off the solo to 'November Rain'. Guns N' Roses have history with this very stage, when thirty years ago in 1988, fans were crushed when they played that's years Monsters of Rock festival. Whatever was paid to the band to play this set, it was worth every god damn penny, and Axl turned up early. The capacity crowd are no longer in a field just outside Derby, we are all in Paradise City and no one wants to leave.