Download Festival 2015 : Saturday Review

Love Zombies xvi

After a wet and wild night, we are more than ready to get out the tent and into the arena for day 2 of Download. So, fully waterproofed, off we go.

First on the menu is Love Zombies. We’ve never seen them live before but heard good reports from people with a fine taste in music. Plus the little tent is right next to the entrance; and the bar…

Love Zombies mash up a lot of punk and pop and come out with a crazy and energetic mix. Front-lady Hollis “Likes to touch people” and we see that in action as  she’s out greeting the front row in attendance before the gig even starts. On stage she’s everywhere too, darting around between her bandmates and alternates the keytar with a can of lager like a pro. The whole band are a bundle of energy and they are one hell of a way to blow away the cobwebs early in the morning!

A powerful voice backed by some real punk stomp and a whole lotta attitude. What’s not to love?

New Years DayContinuing with some female fronted rock’and’roll, New Years Day are next on the Jake stage. The band look like a cross between The Misfits and Wednesday 13 while frontwoman, Ash, looks every inch the rock chick.

Whilst the band punch out some great tunes, Ash’s vocals are a bit shouty at times. Maybe it’s over excitement but our ears are hurting.

Beer time. Looking out across the site is amazing today. There are the ultra-well prepared folks in full mountaineering gear and wellies and then the less prepared. Converse and a hoody aren’t likely to protect anyone for long from the constant downpour Saturday has to offer. Amazingly, most people are still smiling as they trudge around. There’s not a lot that can stop Download having a good time. it’s not like we can come back when the weather is a bit better is it?

Let’s get on with it!

Emp!re are a good time band. Their upbeat and fresh sounding rock transports us away from the reality of the mud for a short time. We’ll be checking them out at Wildfire where hopefully they’ll have a bit longer to play for us!

Emp!re

Hands Like Houses aren’t really our cuppa. We can’t like everything but something just doesn’t click with us today. Plenty would disagree, mind you!

Hands Like HousesPoor old Ace Frehley rarely gets any good press these days. Someone is always telling him where he’s gone wrong, but today he is on top form performance wise.

Switching between Kiss classics and his own similarly crafted solo material; it is a proper straight rock’n’roll show from the Space Ace.

‘Parasite’ and ‘Love Gun’ are early Kiss hits to be unveiled alongside the awesome ‘Rip It Out’ from his own band. ‘Snowblind’ is also as close as you can get to Kiss without it actually being Kiss before the inevitable ‘Shock Me’ gets an outing. Ace’s biggest song from his time with Kiss goes down a storm before ‘Deuce’ finishes off complete with smoking fretboard and extended jam session.

If Kiss are as good as that tomorrow, then we’ll have been spoiled rotten this weekend.

NorthlaneNorthlane are a band that constantly appear on the radar at CB. We’ve never seen them, so we slide down the hill to see what all the fuss is about.

The atmospheric ‘Obelisk’ opens things up and the contrast between the melodic and the heavy is just about right to suck us in. Marcus looks like he’s been sleeping rough for weeks but he puts some true effort into his vocals that you can see through his multiple facial expressions. A great set, and well worth the trek to the Maverick stage.

Back up the hill (which is a bit harder in these rivers of mud) for ROAM. Definitely the bounciest band of the weekend, you would think the Jake stage was on fire looking at them leap around the place. Yet another discovery for CB on the smaller stages, ROAM will be going into the ‘Must Investigate’ list when the dust has settled on the festival.

There are endless amounts of big names on the main stages, but you really do get a fuller festival experience when you have a bit of a wander around the smaller tents. CB always comes away with a new band or two they have never heard of that blew them away.

The younger up-and-coming bands can make the big names look stale sometimes…

ROAM

Carcass must have played every festival known to man in the last couple of years. Their reformation and latest album was a stonking comeback, but it’s about time we closed this chapter and got some new material on the road. We get the same set that we’ve seen everywhere from Damnation to Hellfest and everywhere in between, and granted, some may not have seen it yet; but we have.

We’re going to a wedding next week, I bet Carcass are the band on there too.

The Struts (3)Time for another meeting with The Struts. We were impressed at Soni last year by this lot so we have to come back for more at Download. And we’re glad we did.

A complete stormer of a set, everyone has a 100-mile smile on their face as Luke has the whole tent eating out of his hands. Luke is a mix of Jagger swagger, Mercury flair and as someone pointed out to CB, Joan Jett attitude. There are endless vintage-tinged rock bands out there and we would guess that they’d all kill to have this guy as their frontman. His manner and confidence is just untouchable.

They don’t make a bad old racket either. The classic rock vibes are flowing freely this afternoon and it’s no surprise to see the band wearing their hearts on their sleeves for a cover of ‘Get It On’.

The set is topped off by Luke jumping into the crowd and getting everyone around him to sit down. Just like putty in his hands they all do, and the master of ceremonies gets everyone jumping and roaring on his command.

The Struts are just about the most joyous thing we’ve experienced since we found out our dog-tag actually worked!

Every Time I Die are Download veterans and the crowd surfers have descended into the Maverick stage ready for battle. The band maintain a steady stream of bodies coming over the barrier, keeping the security busy for the whole set.

ETID have a great knack for mixing the super-heavy with some glorious hooks. Maintaining their energy just as well as the crowd, you can’t help but enjoy this set. Great stuff, that’s put a new lease of life into our legs, which is a good job because it’s back to the Zippo stage.

Black Star Riders are a perfect festival band. Similar to Ace Frehley, they alternate the new with the old mixing up the latest Radio 2 hits such as ‘Bound For Glory’ and ‘Finest Hour’ with stone-cold classics that spark instant crowd sing-alongs like the ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’ and the timeless ‘Whiskey In The Jar’

Ricky sports his new close cropped hair while Scott beams his constant smile underneath the mandatory rock star shades.

Now, time for some big stage action with Faith No More.

The stage is decked out all in white and with more flowers than Elton John’s wedding. Seriously, it looks like a florist up there. FNM are on fine form from the opening ‘Midnight Cowboy’ through classics like ‘Midlife Crisis’ and the massive ‘Epic’

Patton is in a mischievous mood, pinching a security guard’s headset and warning of a terrorist threat and most comically handing the microphone to a poor chap being stretchered out of the pit to finish off ‘Easy’ for him.

Comical, assuming that that bloke is alright , of course.

Try reviewing Andrew WK without saying ‘P*rty’

Andrew WKIt’s impossible. Andy hits the stage to the kickstarter of ‘It’s Time To Party’ – plays a load of other songs about partying (plus ‘She Is Beautiful’) and then, counting down from 33 to build anticipation… he brings out ‘Party Hard’

Andrew WK has a few great tracks that have packed the Maverick stage tonight but there’s a twenty minute phase in the middle where he’s treading water a bit. Everyone is waiting for ‘Party Hard’ after the first few songs. A fifteen minute set would suffice..

Out of the four headliners tonight we want to see all of them, and we’re not doing too badly. A rapid paddle over to the Zippo stage means we can catch Marilyn Manson in action. Mazza has had a few flops in the UK at times, Download 2009 springs to mind as a pretty mediocre affair but tonight he’s on form.

His set is still a little disjointed and awkward at times as he isn’t really the banter king and he tends to have a break in between every song, but performance wise and set list wise; he’s bang on the money.

‘Disposable Teens’ and ‘mOBSCENE’ get the gathered masses stomping in the mud while ‘Tourniquet’ is a welcome addition to any Manson show.

Time for another squelch across the site.

The day started at the Jake Stage watching Hollis with her Love Zombies crew and the Jake Stage would be where we finished it too. Again, with Hollis and her Hey!Hello! crew.

Whilst Saturday’s main stage headliners, Muse, were enthralling the masses with their epic light show and fireworks a tent full of folk were getting a mini headline set of their own. We had glitter and pyro too, with some (almost) in-time explosions emphasising the impact of Hey!Hello!’s sonic racket. And smoke, in fact we may have had more smoke than Muse…

This was CackBlabbath’s first chance to see the new look Hey!Hello! Blonde bombshell Victoria has been replaced by the aforementioned Hollis; another blonde bombshell.

HeyHello 1It’s not a straight swap though. Hollis it seems has taken Hey!Hello! by the scruff of the neck and given the band some real attitude. Never short of instant hooky tunes; Hey!Hello! have always been a firm favourites here at CB, but before this weekend it all just seemed like another one of Ginger Wildheart’s side projects; something to keep him busy and support his main bands.

It seems incredible to say it, especially when we are the Wildhearts nuts that we are, but in the new look Hey!Hello! Ginger really has to take a back seat. It’s a role he looks comfortable in too; happy to let Hollis run the show with her warm but in your face manner. Not to mention the bundles of energy that are the Rev and Toshi bounding around the stage.

The set list picks itself, we’re only one album in on the Hey!Hello! journey so we expect to hear ‘Black Valentine’ ‘Swimwear’ ‘Lock For Rock’ and ‘Punk Wars’ and that’s what we get. However, we are treated to a new song and confirmation that album number two is in the pipework. ‘Don’t Stop Loving The Music’ is a typically catchy pop rocker and a rather good motto for the night too!

A wet old day, but nothing could dampen the music on offer. Another legendary day at Download.

Band of the day? The Struts (by a country mile!)