Download 2015: Andrew W.K.
Venue: Download Festival, Donington
When it's time to party, Download always parties hard!
“This song is about partying!” beams Andrew W.K. from his piano. No shit, mate. That only narrows it down to, ooh… your entire back catalogue.
If there's one man who can surely lift the gloom around this mud and rain-soaked festival, then it's surely the most positive man in rock. And miraculously, thanks to everything happening onstage (and off) - and the constant feeling of euphoria throughout his 50 minute set - it’s pretty easy to ignore the grim surroundings and get into the party atmosphere.
Even before he arrives, the jam-packed tent is screaming ‘Party! Party!’ like a particularly pissed-up football crowd, and when W.K. finally does bound onstage after an elongated build-up from his band, to erupt into It’s Time To Party, the place goes every shade of balls-out crazy.
Anyone who might wonder out loud if a man who ostensibly has one song is capable of pulling off a headline set will eat their words. After seeing him solo on a pizza slice shaped guitar, tinkle the ivories for ten minutes while his guitarist (a Hawaiian shirted gent simply called ‘Dave’) throws out t-shirts to the crowd and hear the formulaic, dumb yet wonderfully loveable likes of We Want Fun, She Is Beautiful and I Get Wet, it’s impossible not to crack a smile.
If we're to be critical, it’s fair to say that Andrew doesn’t ever quite scale the same heights as his last visit to the UK when he played the I Get Wet album in its entirety backed by - at the very least - three more guitarists and a bloke dressed as a banana. Compared to that, this is a much more stripped down affair with just the five musicians onstage, but you can’t argue with the sheer force of goodwill emanating from the stage. When the inevitable closer of Party Hard does arrive, preceded by a 30-second countdown as if to say, “this is New Year’s Eve and the beginning of the rest of your life!” and accompanied by a man dressed as a fox playing air guitar (OBVIOUSLY!), you’d struggle to see a bigger explosion of pure glee anywhere else at this festival. It’s a proper ‘hairs on the back of your neck’ moment. What a party! ...what mud?