FestivalsLive Reviews

FESTIVAL REVIEW: Download 2022 – Sunday

Photo Credit: Abbi Draper

Any bleary eyes, foggy hangovers or tired souls were stirred as if a hornet’s nest was slugged with a baseball bat as the Avalanche Stage opened with a thunderous noise on Sunday. Static Dress unlocked the tent on the third and final day as the Leeds underground outfit took centre stage on the playground of the rock n’ roll immortals at Donington Park. Oli Appleyard is an all action, never standing still for too long, whipping the crowd into a frenzy frontman. Tossing his mic into the darkness high in the tent before catching it and carrying on without missing a lyric, he is quite the performer and the perfect antidote to gee up the Download faithful after two glorious but hard two days of rocking and fuel us for the final day of fun. Stabbing guitars were twinned with vocals which soared high into the upper echelons of the tent creating a turbo charged atmosphere for all who had risen early. Even some minor technical hitches couldn’t derail Static Dress, who aren’t reaching for the brass ring, they are swinging from it. 7/10

The Velveteers swaggered onto the Dogtooth Stage with as much effortless coolness as if they had just strolled off Sunset Strip in 1975. Singer Demi Demitro’s guitar playing and vocals have the charisma of Courtney Love but with the talent of Stevie Nicks. On the drums … Well, there were two. We don’t remember seeing twin drummers sharing a drum kit before, joined in the middle like a Siamese musical instrument, but it worked. Jonny Fig and Baby Pottersmith share the kit and trade smiles and nods as they pound in perfect unison, providing a thunderous backbone and foundation for Demitro to drape her stoner rock riffs and melodic choruses over to a crowd which swelled with each passing number. “Thanks so much for coming to check us out,” beams a clearly delighted Demitro from the stage as their short set ends a little too song for everyone tapping their feet and nodding in approval. We may not have known much about The Velveteers before this set but they will be on all our Spotify playlists this week. 6/10

Powerwolf served up a delicious nine course meal of arena-worthy, metal anthems to a hungry Download crowd. Massive in Europe and growing in popularity on this side of the Channel, Powerwolf have a huge catalogue of songs which reach down your throat and grip you by the spine. They are more than a power metal band, definitely more than a European novelty, they are a band who are looking up the Download card and thinking, or knowing, they can get there and knock some of the bands above them off their perch. On the continent they are considered one of metals’ best and their theatricality on stage is matched by a very select few. Demons Are a Girl’s Best Friend, Blood For Blood (Faoladh) and Werewolves of Armenia ricochet around Donington Park with power, zest and blood thirsty desire as the crowd of several thousand rise and fall with every song. Powerwolf will be back and the Germans cemented their reputation as heavy metal’s high priests. 7/10

We sing songs about revolution. There is no racism in revolution,” insists Rise Against frontman Tim McIlrath from the main stage on Sunday. The response is ear splitting, fists thrust into the air in solidarity and there is a genuine feeling of togetherness, camaraderie and belonging as Rise Against united the masses like only they can. Amidst the rallying cries for acceptance and tolerance are of course a number of on the money tracks. Satellite and Nowhere Generation are among the top of the set for me and as the final bars of set closer Saviour ring out around Donington Park, we are ready to go to war with our new brothers and sisters to take down the system. 6/10

If there ever was a band who are future headliners in the waiting then Volbeat are that band. Slipknot and Avenged Sevenfold made the jump from the undercard to the top of the bill in the last decade while Biffy Clyro have risen in more recent years. Now it is surely Volbeat’s time to do the same. An unimaginably massive crowd descended on the mainstage to watch the Danish rockers rip it up like only they can. Circle pits, anthemic sing-a-longs, mournful crooning, riffs to make your bones and teeth rattle but always playing at a frenetic pace without a single lull in their entire set, Volbeat were in unbeatable form. From set opener Devil’s Bleeding Crown, crowd favourite Lola Montez, new banger Shotgun Blues, or Still Counting, Volbeat are the kind of band built to headline festivals like this. They already headline some of the biggest on the continent and if Andy Copping and the Live Nation bookers were watching this show then Volbeat are next in line for a Download promotion. 9/10

Nu-metal pioneers Korn have amassed an arsenal to rival any of the bands on the Download bill in their storied 29-year career. After all they are the kind of band who always crank up the volume to eleven and have hooks and riffs so heavy it is as if they have been dipped in lead. As always for us the bagpipe solo intro into Shoots and Ladders is the highlight of their set. It has been my favourite slice of Korn for a long time and they didn’t disappoint. But far from the only highlight, songs like A.D.I.D.A.S, Falling Away From Me, and Freak on A Leash, ensure the boot is firmly stomped on the gas throughout their set. They were in fine form but any band would miss the melody and heavy hands of keystone bassist Reginald ‘Fieldy’ Arvizu who was unable to travel due to ongoing issues. 7/10

It is fair to say the last time Biffy Clyro were handed the keys to Donington Park as headliners, the reaction was at best – split. This time though they definitely had the crowd in their corner and Biffy have proved they have the balls, the bangers, the melodies and the backing of the Download Festival faithful to hang with the big dogs as established headliners. Over ninety minutes in the fading light The Biff brought the curtain down on an epic weekend and a welcome and much needed return to a full-length Download Festival. The world is healing, Download has returned and over three glorious days the festival helped seal our wounded rock n’ roll hearts. Biffy played their part in that with a huge crowd at the main stage hanging on frontman Simon Neil’s every word. The Scottish rockers laid out a buffet of big hitting, hard rocking songs for the Donington Park crew to feast on with Bubbles, Black Chandelier, Mountains, and Space among the songs to bring the biggest response from the crowd. 7/10

Words By: Eric Mackinnon

Photo Credit: Abbi Draper

Photo gallery features Wargasm, Powerwolf, Bimini, The Hara, Modern Error, Korn, Steel Panther and Biffy Clyro

Eric Mackinnon
Long time journo who sold his soul to newspapers to fund his passion of following rock and metal bands around Europe. A regular gig-goer, tour-traveller and festival scribe who has broken stories of some of the biggest bands in the world and interviewed most. Even had a trifle with Slash once. Lover of bourbon, 80's rock and is a self-confessed tattoo addict.