Download 2015: Slash & Motley Crue
Venue: Main Stage, Download Festival
Donington Park veterans return for another racing lap of the paddock
Next up it’s Slash and his merry men (AKA rock’s singing golden boy Myles Kennedy, and Bret Fitz and Todd Kerns on drums and bass), kicking off with You’re A Lie. As we near the end of a weekend of highs and iffy moments, this is something of a masterclass in ‘how to get it right’. No screw-ups, no unnecessary faffing - just one immaculately thrashed-out piece of hard rock’n’roll after another. Slash may be considered ‘the sensible one’ from the Guns N’ Roses by some, in contrast to unwieldy Axl Rose, but when his performances are this irrepressibly reliable and easy to enjoy, this has to be a positive thing.
World On Fire, a little boggle-eyed and manic on record, relaxes in a live setting. Established favourites like Back From Cali go down royally with the pogoing penguin-huddle of punters, and Anastasia introduces Spanish acoustic noodling. For all his iconic, guitar god presence, it’s almost weird to hear Slash actually speak - introducing Myles Kennedy, in very un-posy American tones. Like hearing a wise druid break his vow of silence. Not that this makes for a holier-than-thou vibe; the whole band seem to have a very unpretentiously happy blast.
In truth, Slash could have pulled off a very well-received set with his own, non-Gn’R material alone. But of course he whips out a trio of old faithfuls to finish - Sweet Child O’ Mine, Velvet Revolver’s Slither and Paradise City. Slash is a current artiste, but he isn’t afraid to give crowds what they want either (PG).
Sunday night, and a paunchy Keith Lemon lookalike in an armoured codpiece is tunelessly screeching Anarchy in the UK on a stage ablaze with flame cannons, burning pentagams and scantily clad female dancers. Did Johnny Rotten die for this? Yes indeed, Mötley Crüe have clearly decided to stage their pre-retirement Final Tour with all the tasteful sophistication that has defined their 35-year career thus far, throwing in tributes to the Sex Pistols and Gary Glitter along the way.
Thundering through a riotous cock-rocking set that is equal parts cocaine, hard liquor and near-death experiences, the glam-metal godfathers are finally facing the inescapable truth that they cannot remain the oldest swingers in town forever. Are they boorish, salacious, politically incorrect, and subtle as a punch in the testicles? Yes, all of the above. But are they also cartoon party monsters leaving the stage with an absurdly enjoyable big-bang spectacle? Undoubtedly. For those about to no longer rock, we salute you. (SD)