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Download Festival 2016: the big review

Live Review

Venue: Donington Park, Derby

Heavy rain, heavy rock and heavy hitters – Download Festival 2016 had it all. Here's the ultimate review featuring Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden and Rammstein


It’s only Friday afternoon and Download already looks like Beelzebub’s very own steaming piss moat. After a week of ominous rumbles, the heavens have finally opened, closely followed by the gates of Hell. For hours now, the weather gods of Valhalla have been literally jizzing down dirty great waterfalls of soul-drenching misery. Travellers to Donington, weary from train delays and long traffic jams, arrive to pitch their tents on a site already ankle deep in liquid mud. And so it will continue all weekend. Welcome to Drownload. Oh joy. Hail Satan.

But are we downhearted? Hell no. Because we came to Donington to raise our devil horns one last time to some living legends, including Black Sabbath’s final Download appearance, and raise a glass of the hard stuff to absent friends like Lemmy, who was booked to play here before inconveniently dying back in December. Indeed, this whole weekend feels like a tribute to the late Motörhead frontman, especially with the main stage now bearing his name. On Friday afternoon, a compilation of the great man’s past Download performances and interview clips plays as a homage on the big screen.

Lemmy also makes another screen appearance on Friday in Gutterdämmerung, one of the festival’s more bizarre attractions, a black and white film about delinquent youth tribes battling over a diabolically possessed guitar, accompanied by a live band playing rock classics, including Ace Of Spades. Stylishly directed by Bjorn Tagemose, this schlocky horror picture show is a visually ravishing but barely coherent mash-up of pulp western, sci-fi and 1950s teensploitation tropes. The all-star cast includes cameos by Iggy Pop, Grace Jones, Slash, Josh Homme, Nina Hagen and more.

Henry Rollins also co-stars in Gutterdämmerung as a homicidal priest, appearing both on screen and live onstage at Download. After the screening, he reappears onstage to pay tribute to Lemmy. “If you knew his music, you knew him,” Rollins claims. “He was his music.” The film ends with a brief clip of the man himself, grinning lewdly and barking, “Fuck off!” at the camera. Remember him this way: the Rommel of rock, dressed as a Nazi general, swearing like a bastard.

From the archive

From the archive

From the archive


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