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Download Festival 2019 – Friday Highlights

Let’s get, let’s get, let’s get ROCKED! The Friday of Download 2019 was in one word – legendary – with epic sets from Last In Line, Clutch, Jinjer, Whitesnake, headliners Def Leppard and oh so many more.

Read on to catch up on all of the highlights from the greatest rock and metal festival in the universe.


Last In Line have the huge honour of kicking off the 2019 edition of Download Festival over on the Main Stage. The band are more than equipped to handle opening #DL2019 considering most of the members used to perform with the late and great Dio.

Opening up with ‘Landlslide’, devil horns are thrown into the air from the get go. ‘Year Of The Ghost’ also has people roaring back at frontman Andrew Freeman, but nothing quite matches the rifftastic ‘Give Up The Ghost’- complete with a mini drum solo Vinny Appice to top it off. A mighty fine start to the weekend.


Winners of Kerrang! Radio’s Finding Fresh Blood Competition,  PENGSHUi, open up the Avalanche Stage like their headlining it with ferocious opener ‘Control’.

Combining the velocity of grime with the spirit of metal, Pengshui get the entire Avalanche Stage chanting the chorus of ‘Don’t Like Me’ with front man Illman working the crowd into a frenzy.

The insidious flow of ‘No Control’ closes the set and has the crowd thirsting for more as Pengshui leave the stage.


Classic rock legends Skid Row step up onto the Zippo Encore Stage nice and early to inject the crowd with some huge anthems. When their 1989 hit ’18 And Life’ makes its appearance just a couple of songs in, it’s hard to find someone who isn’t banging their head along to it.

All hangovers are pushed to one side for the first class fist-pumping anthem ‘Youth Gone Wild’ to finish an awesome set.


Armed with a singer channelling the spirit of a young Axl Rose and an Iron Maiden-inspired trio of riff lords, Norway’s Kvelertak bring their black-n-roll heavy metal party to the Zippo Encore Stage. Clapped onto the stage member-by-member, ‘Åpenbaring’ opens proceedings with a bang that never goes out. During ‘Nekroskop’, frontman Ivar Nikolaisen announces its his birthday, to which the Download faithful come together to sing him happy birthday.

Although the band sing in their mother tongue, the one-two punch of ‘Mjød’ and ‘Månelyst’ has the entire crowd singing along word for word. Consider the Zippo Encore Stage stunned.


Few bands can marry both hard rock and country music together in one tight ten-gallon hat sized package quite like Atlanta, Georgia’s Blackberry Smoke. A perfect example of this gets an airing today in ‘Waiting For The Thunder’ and when they mix ‘Come Together’ by The Beatles into ‘Sleeping Dogs’.

It’s surprising that no one has tried to combine light moshing and line dancing into one with this lot. Maybe that’s something that someone can try and come up with when we invite them back to Donington once again.


Maryland groove-rockers Clutch bring the rock and roll sing-alongs to the Download Main Stage. They fire out ferocious fan favourites from last years ‘Book of Bad Decisions’, including the chant-inducing ‘How To Shake Hands’ and ‘In Walks Barbarella’.

Frontman Neil Fallon is as energetic as ever, grooving across the stage telling each songs story with unwavering passion. From songs about the goodness of fried food (‘Hot Bottom Feeder’) to Clutch’s old-school riff-and-roll attitude, there’s something for everyone during their mid-afternoon outing.

Closing the set with sing-along anthems ‘Electric Worry’ and ‘X-Ray Visions’, Clutch leave the Download Main Stage victorious once more.


If murder cases, crime documentaries, and general real-life stories of macabre are your kinda (body) bag then SKYND are that extra bit of darkness to the soul that you’ve been looking for. The outfit’s eponymous front woman is surrounded by her unidentifiable masked bandmates, who ironically bring the songs about some of the world’s most notorious and prolific serial killers to life.

Opened by recorded sound clips from news reports of their crimes, the likes of Gary Heidnik and Richard Ramirez all get their own songs about their atrocities to sound that’s like a more EDM-driven and arguably more jarring Nine Inch Nails. A disgusting delight.


Coming all the way from Chile in South America, the dynamic duo of the Bullicio Puppets are certainly a special addition for their UK debut. Backed by some live drums courtesy of Aaron Urbina, a puppetteer pulls the strings of the boastful head banging frontman pulling his guitar strings.

Bullico Puppets blast through a full as hell medley of many of Metallica’s iconic hits, including ‘Sad But True’ and ‘Battery’. They bring a riff fuelled few moments of something different, yet familiar and fitting to these hallowed ground of Donington.


The God, the legend that is David Coverdale walks out onto the Main Stage and it’s clear Whitesnake are here to lay claim to Download 2019.  The band’s set is a deadly mix of stone cold classics and fresh new anthems from their latest album, ‘Flesh & Blood’.

‘Slide It In’ sounds as fresh as when it was first released in 1984, ‘Trouble Is Your Middle Name’ purs harder than David’s vintage Jag and ‘Shut Up & Kiss Me’ shows David Coverdale is pitch, growl and scream perfect.

There’s many stand-out moments galore, guitarists Reb Beach and Joel Hoekstra have a guitar duel with some seriously slick fretwork after ‘Trouble Is Your Middle Name’. During ‘Get Up’ drummer Tommy Aldrige does a jaw-dropping drum solo that has his sticks then hands to smash out some epic beats.

Closing the show with the 80s classics ‘Here I Go Again’ and ‘Still Of The Night’, Whitesnake leave the stage after giving it 110% and showing us what true showmanship really is.

Slash featuring Myles Kennedy & the Conspirators

Our favourite top-hatted shades-wearing axeman, Slash makes a victorious return to Download Main Stage after headlining Download 2018 with Guns N’ Roses. Opening with the call-to-arms salute of ‘Call Of The Wild,’ Slash alongside his his counterparts, Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators, play a set filled to the brim with riffs, riffs!

Fan-favourite ‘Back To Cali’ is pure crowd singing along, whilst ‘You’re A Lie’ and ‘Anastasia’ from 2014’s ‘Apocalyptic Love’ has everyone bringing out their air guitars, as Myles Kennedy jumps on the guitar for maximum riffing.

Bassist Todd Kerns hops on vocals for ‘Doctor Alibi’, whilst a late-airing of Guns N’ Roses classic ‘Night Train’ put smiles on everyone’s faces. Closing out with a chorus of ‘woah-oh’s during, ‘World On Fire’, Slash leaves the stage with yet another remarkable moment added to his legend.


There aren’t many bands this weekend that will have their front man come out on stage donning a fancy red and black cape, but Eagles Of Death Metal are that band. Jesse Hughes is a captivating front man, but one that doesn’t take himself too seriously as fun and upbeat cuts like ‘I Want You So Hard (Boy’s Bad News)’ show.

Bassist Jennie Vee helps to add a definite groove to ‘Cherry Cola’, and a surprise cover of ‘Moorage Daydream’ by David Bowie makes an appearance after winning a quick fan-led vote between that and a Bon Jovi song.


Those lucky enough to catch Ukranian monsters of metalcore Jinjer in on The Dogtooth Stage are bestowed with a thrilling treat.

Vocalist Tatiana Shmailyuk performs some seriously impressive vocal acrobats –  one minute she’s delivering soaring cleans melodies and at the other some gritty gargoyle-like roars. Are Jinjer the best heavy band that Ukraine has to offer? Yes. Yes, they are.


Rob Zombie

Bringing Halloween to Download four months early, hellbilly shock-rocker Rob Zombie has the Zippo Encore Stage moshing from the start to finish of his set. Opening with a one-two punch of ‘Meet The Creeper’ and ‘Superbeast’ from his classic album, ‘Hellbilly Deluxe’ – the atmosphere is electric.

The entire crowd chant on command, ‘We Wanna F***ing Party’, before the Rob and his band let loose the groovy boogie of, ‘Living Dead Girl.’  The party-starting anthem ‘Dead City Radio And The New Gods Of Supertown’ keeps the good vibes flowing, whilst a now-classic cover of The Beatles ‘Helter Skelter’ had everyone dancing.

Getting everyone to wave at an airplane overhead during, ‘Everybody’s F**kin’ In A UFO’, Rob Zombie is full of bravado and charm. Another high point of the set comes when Rob throws a salute to the punks of Download and slips in a cover of The Ramones’ classic, ‘Blitzkreig Bop’, halfway through the White Zombie’s classic ‘Thunder Kiss ’65’.

Closing out with the ultimate horror fan anthem, ‘Dragula’, Rob Zombie proves once more that he’s a firm fave of the Download fam.

Def Leppard

It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for, Def Leppard are back with the Download Family and, if that’s not enough, they’re going to rock us with their classic 1987 album, ‘Hysteria’.

The unmistakable solo of ‘Woman’ rings out across the packed Main Arena and it’s clear tonight’s set is going to be one of the biggest singalong in Download history. Launching into ‘Rocket’ and ripping into ‘Animal’, the band have the same kinetic energy as when the album was released 32 years ago.

Classic ‘Love Bites’ ripples with raw emotion as dusk falls behind the Main Stage and Phil Collen’s iconic solo in the middle eight drifts across the captivated crowd. The pace is instantly picked back up as Joe spits out the iconic opening line, “step inside, walk this way”, and we get hot and sticky sweet to the iconic ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’.

The musicianship tonight is beyond sleek with Joe’s vocals as good if not better than when the band formed 42 years ago. Before ‘Armageddon It’ Joe introduces guitarist and also Last In Line band member, Vivian Campbell, and he effortlessly picks out the song’s opening solo. Fellow guitarist Phil Collen is as he told us in a recent interview also at the very top of his game as an axeman.

Before ‘God’s Of War’ a touching tribute is shown on the screen to Def Leppard guitarist Stephen Maynard Clark who sadly passed away in 1991. Joe changes the end lyrics of the album’s title track to David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’ and it’s without doubt Def Leppard are our heroes this evening. The swoonsome charge of ‘Love and Affection’ closes an iconic chapter in the band’s history and tonight’s set.

But, you know the band can’t leave it there. Walking back on stage for an encore ‘Let’s Go’ from their self-titled 2015 album the momentum of the show goes from charged to explosive. Joe jumps down into the crowd shouting ‘are you ready for this?’, whilst guitarist Phil Collen fingers go wild on the fretboard as he brings the track to an exhilarating end with drummer, Rick Allen.

Lighters instantly go up in the air and arms are flung round shoulders in the crowd for the raw passion of 1995 classic, ‘When Love and Hate Collide’. But, once again Def Leppard aren’t going to let the energy drop as Joe utters the immortal words every Downloader wants to hear, ‘do you want to get rocked?’ and ‘Let’s Get Rocked’ howls out and Donington loses it’s collective mind.

Before ‘Rock Of Ages’, Joe takes time to show love for Download saying it’s  exactly 10 years since the band first headlined in 2009. Saying what we all feel, he says Donington Park is a “very spiritual place”, giving a special mention to drummer Rick Allen as who could forget the band’s performance at Monsters Of Rock, the first show for the band after Rick’s accident, in 1986.

Closing with ‘Photograph’ from ‘Pyromania’, Def Leppard once again came and delivered an iconic headline set. As Joe leaves the stage, he says, “until next time and there will be a next time” and we already can’t wait.

Want more from Download 2019? Check out the Download 2019 Thursday Highlights and highlights from Saturday, including the mighty Slipknot‘s headline set.

Download Festival returns to our spiritual home of Donington Park on 12th-14th June 2020. Tickets on sale now!