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Download Festival 2018 Highlights – Saturday

Sweeeet chillld o’ minneee! The day finally arrived when Guns N’ Roses stepped back onto Donington’s sacred soil to once again lay rightful claim to the Main Stage.

Find out all about their phenomenal show and all of the other highlights from the Saturday at #DL2018.

The Pink Slips

Synth punk rockers The Pink Slips brought out the sunshine as they opened the Main Stage at 11am. The Pink Slips didn’t just play live music, they put on a whole performance; front woman Grave wriggled around on stage, laying down and dramatically smearing her bright red lipstick down her face and the microphone.

‘Gimme’ and ‘I’m Ready’ sounded huge on the large stage, which would later be the domain of Grave’s dad – Duff from Guns N’ Roses. The set flashed by with their music being like a youthful middle finger to the world.

The Pink Slips

The Struts

Derby boys The Struts took to the Main Stage with as much swagger as Mick Jagger to play to a massive hometown crowd. Singer Luke Spiller, looking like he just walked in from Sunset Strip, fantastically helmed a set packed with singalong moments.

‘Put Your Money On Me’ had everyone ready to dig in their pockets to handover their Download Loyalty vouchers. Yearning youthful ambition dripped from the anthemic ‘Could Have Been Me’ as Luke prowled the stage with unabashed ease. Closer ‘Where Did She Go’ was the jewel in The Struts’ very glam crowd as Luke did Freddie Mercury proud with ‘oh yeah!’ callbacks. As Luke said, “Ladies and Gentleman, remember the name The Struts”.

The Struts

L7

What do you do if your drummer breaks her arm 48 hours before a massive show? If you’re L7 you do what you do best, keep rocking. With drummer Dee Dee’s right arm in pink plaster, L7 took to the stage with only one rehearsal with their new drummer Jola under their belts and tore into the sleazy sludge of ‘Andre’.

A short but sweet set on the Zippo Encore Stage, the band flew through ‘Fast And Frightening’ from their debut album ‘Smell The Magic’ as well as ‘Everglade’ from their career defining sophomore album, ‘Bricks Are Heavy’. Front woman Donita Sparks radiated with the same fierce attitude as when she dropped her kecks on British TV back in ‘92 as she snarled her way through ‘Sh*t List’. Closing with grunge classic ‘Pretend We’re Dead’, L7 left everyone hungry for more.

L7

The Fever 333

Who doesn’t love a secret set? Downloaders were treated to a extra special surprise set on The Avalanche Stage hosted by Kerrang! Radio from The Fever 333, the newest band from Jason Butler formerly of Letlive, as it was the band’s first show outside of the US.

As the lights dimmed a hooded figure approached the stage and stood dead centre. The hood was ripped off to reveal Jason who launched into the  chant,  “All we had to do is awaken the power in the people”. Not a moment went by when Jason stood still; after just one song he was in the crowd, arms and legs flailing, as he got up close and personal with the crowd.

The rest of the band mirrored his frenetic intensity with what they played to create a charged show. The hardcore fans in the crowd, who had sucked everything out of the EP, knew the words to every track from ‘We’re Coming In’ to ‘POV’. The band’s 30 minute set disappeared in what felt like seconds, but this definitely won’t be the last we’ll hear from The Fever 333.

The Fever 333

Babymetal

Babymetal made a victorious second appearance at Download with the Kawaii metal queens drawing one of the biggest crowds of the weekend so far on the Zippo Encore Stage.

The story of how the chosen seven were summoned by The Fox God to spread Babymetal’s music around the world played out before exploding into the banging riffs of ‘Megitsune’.  Everyone’s Babymetal favourites ‘Gimme Chocolate’ and ‘Karate’ had the crowd erupting into a mass singalong and dance off. The band wrapped up with an exhilarating version of ‘Road Of Resistance’ and once again did The Fox God proud.

Babymetal

Air Guitar UK Championships

Contestants from across the globe from Wigan to Brazil competed with their best flying kicks, sick solos and scissor jumps in the Air Guitar UK Championships in the SINDROME. In a gripping final Sven Spandex was crowned the winner! Second place went to the equally awesome  W!ld Th!ng’ and third place went to the mighty F**k Nugget. Sven Spandex will be jetting off to Finland in August to compete in the Air Guitar World Championships!

 

Black Stone Cherry

Black Stone Cherry brought the South Carolina sun and crisp blues skies to Donington Park for their late afternoon set. In our interview with guitarist Ben he described Download as being “savagely awesome”, and it wouldn’t be that without bands like Black Stone Cherry rocking out with all their guts and might on the Main Stage to a huge crowd.

Singer Chris Robertson’s gruff vocals were unmistakable as he howled out ‘Burnin’’ from the band’s latest album, ‘Family Tree’. It was another hit filled set as the band soared through their back catalogue with ‘Blind Man’, ‘Rain Wizard’ and the sing out loud as hard as you can, ‘Me And Mary Jane’. Ben still proved once again that he’s the most energetic rock guitarists out there as he made full use of the strip to sprint and spin with his signature dark blue PRS guitar.

The band took time out to slip in Bob Marley’s ‘Stir It Up’ to heat up the already hot rays beating down and a bluesy version of Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Foxy Lady’. The band kept the classics coming before bringing it all back home with the fiendishly good ‘Cheaper To Drink Alone’ and album closer ‘Family Tree’.

Black Stone Cherry

Parkway Drive

If any band deserved to headline the Zippo Encore Stage, it’s certainly Parkway Drive who’ve relentlessly pushed themselves year after year to create the most awesome live show possible. The Australian metallers kicked off with opening track ‘Wishing Wells’ as fireworks, flames and smoke cascaded around the stage to heighten the track’s savagery.

Frontman Winston screamed with intensity, “Are we f**king ready” and the crowd responded by descending into a throng of bodies and arms waving for the vitriolic vengeance of ‘Prey. There was an atmospheric start to ‘Cemetery Bloom’, screams of “we are the under dogs!” during ‘Wild Eyes’, and pure elation for the track everyone seemed to have been waiting for ‘Crushed’.

The show was an unforgettable spectacle, Ben’s drum kit span a full 360 degrees with him suspended in the air and still drumming like a pro. If there was an award for most pyro and flames used in a show at #Dl2018, it would surely go to Parkway Drive.

Parkway Drive

Guns N’ Roses

It was the headline show the Download family had been waiting for –  Guns N’ Roses on the Main Stage at Download 2018. The Los Angeles legends erupted onto the stage to ‘Appetite For Destruction’ classic ‘It So Easy’ and instantly blew the crowd of tens of thousands away.

The hits kept coming as they tore through, with the same vigor as their Whisky A Go Go days, the bluesy ‘Mr Brownstone’ and an absolutely storming version of ‘Welcome To The Jungle’, to bring us to our kn-kn-kn-knees.  It was a goosebump inducing moment to see Axl resting his arm on Slash’s shoulder as they took ‘Jungle’ to its cataclysmic climax.

Musically the band were spandex tight, Axl’s six octave vocal range was still staggeringly powerful as he effortlessly maneuvered his way through the towering operatics of ‘You Could Be Mind’. Slash’s fretwork was on fire as he sent the end of ‘Rocket Queen’ stratospheric with heavenly guitar licks enriched by a talk box. Whilst Duff looked every inch the icon as he lent his thunderous bass notes and vocals to a raw cover of the Misfits’ ‘Attitude’.

Standout moments were plentiful, but ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ and ‘November Rain’ are ones that will go down in Download history as fans, all the way from the front of the stage to the Dog’s Head on the hill, shouted along in unity. There’s nothing quite like a Guns’ cover version and for the first time in 31 years they played ‘Shadow Of Your Love’ from their former band Hollywood Rose. They also took time to slip in a menacingly heavy version of Velvet Revolver’s ‘Slither’, a stripped back version of Jimmy Webb’s ‘Witchita Lineman’ which was complimented by Slash’s 12 string Spanish guitar outro and a touching version of Soundgarden’s ‘Black Hole Sun’.

The set came to roaring, all conquering close with the defiant strut of ‘Nightrain” before the band quickly came back on stage to deafening screams for a three song encore. Starting softly with ‘Patience’, Axl, Slash and Duff built up the anticipation with a cover of The Who’s ‘The Seeker’ before finally unleashing the iconic intro of ‘Paradise City’ as a huge fireworks display shot up into the night sky. As the band bowed, it was clear tonight paradise city was right here in Donington.

 

 

 

 

Guns N' Roses

Relive the rest of Download 2018 with our Friday and Sunday highlights articles. Missing Donington? Tickets for Download 2019 are on sale now!