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Page last updated at 08:34 GMT, Monday, 15 June 2009 09:34 UK
Download festival 2009 reviewed

By Greg Cochrane
Newsbeat music reporter

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Backstage at Download festival

The best thing about metal and heavy rock is that it never really goes out of fashion. Primarily because it was never hugely in fashion.

Since starting in 2003, Download is now established as the UK's premier rock-fest inviting 80,000 tattooed, pierced, sun-burnt, happy - there is an incredibly friendly atmosphere - people to worship riffs, feedback and lank hair.

Fitting those criteria perfectly, Californian rap metal crew Hollywood Undead open the main stage on Friday.

The seven-piece weave together the shtick of Slipknot - they wear 'scary' masks - and the melody of Linkin Park in impressive fashion.

First day

Following that, Merthyr Tydfil's cheeky emo-pop sons The Blackout pay homage to the other bands on the bill that day - Korn, Limp Bizkit and Faith No More - by playing a medley of spiky covers.

You Me At Six's Download tour

"They're all on after us so we've probably quite annoyed those three headlining bands," jokes singer Shaun afterwards.

Next up, Toronto's cartoon-rockers Billy Talent are like a coiled spring - older material like Try Honesty sounding particularly crisp.

Killswitch Engage are by far the most technical band of the day - devastating riffs, exquisitely pulled off.

Elsewhere on site, Enter Shikari play a sweltering mid afternoon secret set at the Tuborg Tent.

Not a limp return

A lot has changed in eight years, since Limp Bizkit played proper live shows with their original line up.

Not though the length of Fred Durst's shorts, his omnipresent red cap or his band's brand of pre-millennial angst.

Nor, Donington's apparent love for nu-metal.

With guitarist Wes Borland dressed up like some kind of devil cockatoo the band rattle through Break Stuff, My Generation and Nookie.

Two Fred Durst-a-likes get hauled out of the crowd and on to the stage like a pair of particularly violent backing dancers.

Catching them as they jump back into the crowd, Ryan from Leicester says: "You wonder what it'd be like to do it up there...unbelievable."

We also clock at least one broken nose emerging from the spectacular moshing.

Reformed headliners Faith No More are determined to make this a moment, decorating the stage with a flowing pair of burgundy velvet curtains.

In a matching a red suit and cane Mike Patton, sporting a devious pencil 'tache - is basically Heath Ledger's Joker fronting a particularly dirty soul-metal dinner party.

Prodigy plan Dizzee collaboration

They start with a tongue in cheek cover of Peaches And Herbs Reunited before visiting Epic, Evidence, Easy and a cheeky cover of Lady Gaga's Poker Face.

And whilst their reception is by no means berserk, it is an exercise in suave rocking.

Second coming

On to Saturday and journeymen Anvil christen their first appearance at Donington Park for 27 years by revealing their new album will be called Juggernaut Of Justice.

Later that night they'll headline the Tuborg Tent with characteristic glee.

Mid-afternoon, and main stage security have built themselves into a reinforced semi-circle as if preparing for war as Australian drum 'n' bass metalers Pendulum arrive - it's officially their 150th show.

The band of last year's event might not have the subtlety of the Prodigy or Chase And Status but they do have one trick (Rob Swire's synth) which works superbly well.

With The Prodigy watching side of stage (Pixie Geldof, James Nesbitt and Brian May are also here) a re-worked cover of Voodoo People and Slayer's Reign In Blood ignites some field-spanning jumping.

After banning people taking pictures of his personal chemical toilet backstage Marilyn Manson is either on form, or not, depending on how together you like your rock stars.

He's joined on stage after each song to have his make up retouched and generally throws an entertaining paddy as he re-starts songs like Sweet Dreams after they come apart at the seems.

Download Festival
Download festival's main stage

Spectacular headliners

There's a reason that returning big-hitters The Prodigy have sold tons of albums this year - it's because they throw parties like this.

Their appearance headlining the second stage is less of a gig more of a tectonic shift, with the ground separating between your feet.

Maxim dedicates Warrior's Dance to Slipknot, while Keith Flint travels 20 metres out into the crowd to ride a security man's shoulders. Spectacular stuff.

"I've dreamed about this moment since I was 12 years old," says Slipknot's Corey Taylor.

He's not kidding, as the nine masked metal musketeers put everything they have into their headline appearance back on the main stage.

Flame throwers, pneumatic drum kits and mass screaming, it has it all. A thundering dream, realised.

Final push

A wine red Harley Davidson parked backstage can only mean one thing. ZZ Top are on site. Sunday is more of a return to the days of Monsters Of Rock.

The crowd, thoroughly baked by the dry sun, squeeze their final bit of energy to greet vintage performances from Journey, Whitesnake and headliners Def Leppard.

With one final rush of amplified feedback Download is done for another year. It's probably been their best yet.



SEE ALSO
Top bands rock Download festival
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Hollywood Undead whip up a storm
Friday, 12 June 2009, 06:29 GMT |  Music
Manics set to record new material
Monday, 15 June 2009, 06:34 GMT |  Music
Manics album inspired by Richey
Tuesday, 4 November 2008, 16:48 GMT |  Music
Joy Division stars form new band
Friday, 12 June 2009, 10:04 GMT |  Music

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