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The 10 best moments at Download Festival

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The first Download Festival took place at Leicestershire’s Donington Park – the UK’s spiritual home of rock and metal – in 2003.

In its inaugural year, Iron Maiden and Audioslave headlined the two-day, two-stage bash. Since then, it’s grown into something of a monster. This year, Slipknot, Muse and Kiss head the three-day bash across its five stages.

Over its 13 year history, there’ve been hundreds of jaw dropping moments. To recount them all would take hundreds of hours. So we called upon the help of Download boss Andy Copping to describe the festival’s 10 best moments. Within hours, he delivered the following list – there’s no order of hierarchy, because that would be impossible – but asked us to write about these pivotal events because he had a festival to run or something…

**It has long been the case that metal fans who have not heard a Prodigy album or seen a Prodigy show shudder at the thought of them. It has also long been the case that, once they have done either – but particularly the latter – they change that view pretty quickly. It was a chain of events that repeated itself in 2006 when The Prodigy were announced as second stage headliners and festival-goers looking for an excuse to be outraged found the perfect thing for the job. The pissing and moaning, however, was somewhat drowned out when the band’s set of hammering beats, righteous aggression and full on fury erupted to prove that, once again, The Prodigy kick arse no matter the setting. That rock ‘n’ roll royalty Guns N’ Roses were headlining the main stage at the time – and in the process of being bottled, walking off, throwing instruments at cameramen and generally being arseholes – while the upstarts were owning the second stage made things all the sweeter for The Prodge. 

The Prodigy's Keith Flint: Photoshot/Hulton Archive

**It’s the sets that are out of the ordinary that shine the brightest. Bands tour the European festival circuit for much of the summer, playing the same set over and over again. Often it leads to polish but not something genuinely memorable. When Korn singer Jonathan Davis was admitted to a London hospital with a blood disorder shortly before Download, the sensible thing would have been to cancel and say sorry. Everyone would have understood. Instead, though, the show went on with guests like Slipknot’s Corey Taylor, Avenged Sevenfold’s M. Shadows, Trivium’s Matt Heafy and Skindred’s Benji Webbe filling in for Davis superbly. Everyone who saw it will remember it forever: a lot longer, perhaps, than they might have done had it just been a normal gig.

Korn 2006: David Silveria, Fieldy and Munky and right, Fieldy with Avenged Sevenfold's M. Shadows
Photos: Nigel Crane/Redferns

By 2014, Linkin Park had moved so far away from their roots that the thought of them delivering juddering nu metal riffs to a festival crowd seemed as likely as them playing naked. After a couple of albums of drum loop-inspired nonsense and noodlings, their days as multi-platinum deliverers of polished angst and field-wide moshpits seemed long gone. So when they rolled into Download that year and played the whole of their Hybrid Theory debut, it was as if the past 14 years had not happened. Those who had experienced it the first time, experienced it again in its full glory. Those who were too young first time round and thought Linkin Park was simply beard-scratching musos who had long since embarked on a mission to the centre of their bumholes suddenly discovered what all the fuss was about. 

Linkin Park's 2000 album, 'Hybrid Theory' and right, Chester Bennington
Photo: Ollie Millington/WireImage

Slipknot’s Saturday night set at Download in 2009 was their first ever UK festival headline performance and one that meant the world to them: brilliant, monstrous and magnificent it would live with almost all of them forever. But it was not what their singer Corey Taylor would take home from the day. Faith No More had marked a particularly traumatic moment in his life – shortly after a suicide attempt as a teenager, he had watched the band perform Epic live on MTV and found it so mesmerising that it gave him hope for his future. FNM were the headliners on Friday night in 2009 and played their own brilliant set too, but for Taylor, meeting the band for the first time backstage was mind-melting. It was that he remembered far more than his own band’s triumph.

**Slipknot's Corey Taylor and Faith No More's Mike Patton
**Photos: Mick Hutson and Gary Wolstenholme (Redferns)

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