As the sun rose once again for the final morning of the 2022 Download Festival, many thoughts were on the mind of Team Rock Sins. How lucky we’d been with the weather and just how bloody good Iron Maiden had been the previous evening among them. For those who haven’t seen the other parts of Rock Sins Download 2022 coverage so far, links can be found below:
Download Festival 2022 Friday Review
Download Festival 2022 KISS special feature (review / gallery)
Download Festival 2022 Sunday photo gallery
Kicking things off at The Apex, Sunday’s pick for a band getting a fairly unexpected big spot on the main stage was the German wolfpack aka Powerwolf (8). Surprisingly only playing one song off of their 2021 album Call Of The Wild, which wasn’t even a single, the setlist was tailored for an audience that would likely be hearing their music for the first time. With that, they proved that even if power metal isn’t your thing, they’re one of the few bands that when they nail it, it’s hard to ignore. For people who happened to stumble on them due to them playing the main stage, it could quickly become repetitive as the songs start to blend into one another. It’s a great spot for them to be in though, similarly to when Sabaton got a similar slot back in 2017. The majority of the Download audience will buy into the theatrics of it all and Powerwolf are more than happy to oblige a set full of power metal singalongs with a ton of crowd participation. KD
Fairing much better than his Alter Bridge bandmate Myles Kennedy did on the same stage on Friday, Mark Tremonti and the rest of Tremonti (8) give their huge audience a well paced, highly enjoyable show on the Opus Stage. The set is full of tracks from across the band’s catalogue, highlighting their proficiency at turning out good quality albums far more regularly than most of their peers do these days. 2021’s Marching In Time was arguably their best album to date and the three songs chosen from that album all sound fantastic and are very well received by those banging their heads and pumping their fists along to every word and every riff. Mark Tremonti is in fine voice throughout, reminding everyone that while he is best known for his shredding abilities, he is a fine vocalist as well. A concluding salvo of Marching In Time’s title track, combined with old favourites Another Heart and Wish You Well showcases Tremonti at their riff filled best. A longer set next time would be both deserved and welcome. JG
Rise Against (8.5) bring a more than a little punk rock attitude with them to the main stage this afternoon. The slow opening bass and drums of Prayer of The Refugee signalling their entrance to the stage and eliciting cheers of recognition from the front row. The tension in the air is palpable and as soon as the first desperate chorus hits, its like the touch paper is suddenly lit and waving arms turn into circle pits in the blink of an eye.
The band continues to pick up steam, increasing the tempo with seemingly every track. Jumping from album to album, piecing together a mix of revolutionary anthems that spans their near twenty five year career and offers plenty of feel good moments for existing fans and newcomers alike.
As quickly as the chaos began, so it comes to an end however. After a heartfelt final call to arms from lead singer, Tim McIlrath. The band dip briefly back into their latest album, Nowhere Generation and just as excitement in the audience is reaching it’s peak, they turn things up one more notch with a double bill of Survive and Saviour to finish things off. Leaving a slightly worn out but very happy crowd behind them.
Danish rockabilly quartet Volbeat (8.5) seem incredibly happy to be back here at Download and not in the least bit phased following Rise Against on the main stage. With the stomping rhythm of Devils Bleeding Crown having no trouble amping up the audience once again.
The Danes enthusiasm is infectious and before long everyone is having just as good a time as they are. Singing along to Lola Montez and dancing around their camping chairs up on the banks far away from the front of the stage.
There are few other bands this weekend who can provide the same kind of spectacle as thousands of sunburned metal heads pumping their fists in the air and singing Dusty Springfield, but Volbeat certainly know how to deliver a festival moment when it counts! HL
For some, the most anticipated band of the entire weekend of the 2022 Download Festival were Spiritbox (10). With The Avalanche Stage tent positively overflowing at the sides and the back, it is a wonder the organisers didn’t put them on a bigger stage, such was the hype around their first ever UK live show. For those who were lucky enough to get in the tent, they will be glad Courtney LaPlante and the boys weren’t moved up, as it was a set that is going to go down in Download Festival history.
From the beginning cry of CUT DOWN THE ALTAR from the opening Circle With Me, The band and audience were as one for the full thirty minute set. Courtney LaPlante part stalks and part glides her way around the stage, inciting chaos in the audience with a simple hand gesture or facial expression. She has stage presence in spades, amply helped by Mike Stringer on guitar and the former As I Lay Dying bassist Josh Gilbert on four string duties, who are both all over the stage. Indeed, Josh helped fill in admirably for Sam Carter on the blistering Yellow Jacket.
As one may have expected, the place erupts into a full blown war zone for Spiritbox’s breakthrough hit Holy Roller. It’s a scene of pure joy all around the Avalanche Tent, one might say the happiest circle pits of the weekend. Courtney’s vocals on Holy Roller live (and in general) have to be seen in the flesh to be believed, there is a power there that few vocalists of any gender could match. They take things down a notch for the closing Eternal Blue, which is equally as impressive, but in a different way. “Download, UK, this has been a very good first date, we will buy you dinner next time!” remarks Courtney as Spiritbox sign off from a momentous first UK show. They’ll be back, and if you missed them this time, do not miss them next time. JG
Ask anyone who still has a nu metal vein going into their heart about Korn and they will instantly remind you of the form they have been in during this chapter of their career. Nearly 30 years in, KoRn (8) have played the role of the band that you go to see to hear some classics from back in the day but they refuse to settle for being a nostalgia act. Of course, they still play the hits but it never feels like KoRn karaoke, you can still see and hear exactly why so many people fell for them in the first place. The few newer songs that find their way into the set amongst the stonewall must-haves are proof of that too. 2022s Requiem and 2019s The Nothing add Start The Healing, Worst Is on Its Way and Cold to the mix as live debuts in the UK and they sound just as full of life as the mammoth hits that they stand shoulder to shoulder with.
If the sheer volume of their performance, which had an impact on The Darkness playing on the second stage, wasn’t enough to announce Korn’s return to Download, their set opening sure was. Coming out with Here To Stay, Got The Life and Falling Away From Me back to back is a complete middle finger to the times when KoRn weren’t shown the level of respect that they get now. It’s hard to imagine them pushing through that final barrier to get to a headliner spot but as far as bands who have been doing it for this long and playing these slots, there’s a serious argument that KoRn are the best band for the job – especially when they can finish with a combo like Freak On A Leash and Blind. KD
Hair spray and lycra at the ready, it’s time for Steel Panther (7.5) who are headlining the second stage tonight here at Download and even though most of the crowd know exactly what they’re in for. You can still spot a few first timers in the audience from their shocked expressions as the lyrics to opening track Goin’ In The Backdoor begin to sink in.
Once you remove the intended shock factor however, musically the band are on point. Satchel whizzes around the fretboard, dealing out tasty glam metal licks as fast as his fingers will allow. Giving Michael Starr all the room he needs to preen and pose like a caricature of an 80’s frontman that’s been cranked all the way up to eleven. An appearance by Justin Hawkins who joins in on vocals for Party All Day gives everyone a good chuckle or two as well.
There are a few jokes that fall flat, the bands cover of Crazy Train, along with an obligatory Ozzy impression from Starr is almost a little too on the nose with the Prince of Darkness in hospital this weekend. Lengthy crowd participation number Weenie Ride has the female audience member that’s been plucked to sit on stage looking a little uncomfortable at times too.
All in all, it’s difficult to take too much away from a performance that has so many people walking away with smiles on their faces. A few more songs and a little less stand up next time might be nice though. HL
Many have questioned if Biffy Clyro (9) should be headlining here at Download this weekend. While they may not have the years of experience under their belts of say Kiss or Iron Maiden, the Biff can still close a festival day with the best of them though. As can be attested by anyone that saw their sets here in 2012 and 2017, they encountered the leaner and heavier Biffy Clyro you don’t usually hear on Radio 1.
Unfortunately however, for most the lure of an early start to the drive home is clearly too great. Because even as the band are kicking things off with DumDum, a steady exodus of Downloaders can be seen walking away from the mainstage towards their respective car parks and campsites.
The dwindling audience doesn’t seem to phase Simon Neil much, who leads the band into a well constructed setlist that seamlessly blends familiar favourites like The Golden Rule with newer tracks like Wolves of Winter. Both of which sound immense. However by the halfway point the lack of crowd participation does start to rob them of a little of their momentum, despite the bands best efforts.
They soldier on regardless, but its a shame to see the arena so empty during an otherwise impressive sounding headline performance. Biffy still go out with a suitable bang, as one final barrage of fireworks lights up the sky during Many of Horror. However, we can’t help but think a different headline slot might have given the boys from Scotland a better chance of leaving us on an even bigger high. HL
With close to 100,000 people passing the gates of Donington to come to the hallowed turf over the course of the weekend, Download was well and truly back in it’s full form after the enforced three year gap. The festival has been extended to four full days for the 20th anniversary in 2023, and there will many, many people counting the days already. We are among them. For those eager to get early bird tickets, you can grab them on this link. Until next year, Team Rock Sins signing off from Download 2022!
Reviews by Kyle Dimond (KD), Jamie Giberti (JG) and Hank Leyland (HL). Photos by Jemma Dodd.