The shitty weather may have returned for the final day of Download 2016 but nothing could dampen the spirits of the rain-sodden masses as Amon Amarth's melodic death metal boomed across the field. As those who saw their set at Bloodstock last year expected no less from the band, the Swedes brought their pyro, dragons and magnificent beards to Download for a suitably heavy metal thirty minutes. They asked us to "Raise Our Horns" and, for half an hour, Download Festival did just that.
Thanks to the weather fans were needing something akin to Noah's ark to get to the Maverick Stage but that didn't stop them packing it out as Welsh rockers The Dirty Youth made their fourth appearance at Download. Trying out a couple of new tracks, the band treat fans to a short but attention-grabbing set as the likes of "Alive", "Fight" and "The One" are sung back at Danni Monroe and bandmates by fans from the front to the back of the tent. After this slick, energetic display, you be a fool not to put money on seeing their name on the bill for Download 2017.
When Pure Grain Audio spoke to Halestorm vocalist Lzzy Hale earlier in the year, she told us she was packing her wellies in preparation for Download however, looking at the high heels she was wearing for their main stage set, told us maybe she'd forgotten them. The dubious footwear didn't stop her band rocking the fuck out right from the minute they hit the stage with "Apocalyptic".
Despite the drained feeling of the audience, Shinedown, manage to breath fresh energy into all those in attendance. Amongst tune after tune of fan favourites, Shinedown were constantly thanking their fans for making the effort to come out to see them reflecting the love the fans have for them right back. As front man Brent Smith continually pointed out no band would exist without the people that love their music for which they are eternally grateful for so, as an extra treat the band repaid fans with a tremendous cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s "Simple Man" before closing with "Sound of Madness".
Disturbed are one of those bands rock fans love to hate but, like Shinedown, the Amerrican nu-metal stars are simply perfect for the Download Festival bill today. Right from opener "Ten Thousand Fists" and through "The Game" and "Stupify", this is Disturbed at their finest and, although our attentions were elsewhere meaning we missed their mid-set medley with various guests including Lzzy Hale, frontman David Draiman's familiar wails heralding the start of "Down With Sickness" ring around the site as the band sign off with the song that, all those years ago, started the UK's love/hate affair with the band.
Another highlight of Download for many people came in the form of second stage headliners Jane’s Addiction. Complete with sexy, tattooed ladies hooked and swinging from the gantry above the stage, Janes Addiction brought proceedings over on the second stage to an unforgettable climax complete with an amazing cover of David Bowie’s "Rebel Rebel" - a touching tribute to one of the UK’s finest musicians and another legend lost to us.
Download 2016 is heading down the home straight now as Finnish operatic metallers Nightwish have the unenviable task of warming the crowd up for the headliners. While they may not be to everyone's taste, the booming operatic vocals of Floor Jansen, the pyro-filled stage set and the likes of "Nemo" might not be the kind of thing the Download crowd are used to at Donington but it is hard to deny there probably isn't a more dramatic band to set up the night for the headliners than this Finnish mob.
Thankfully the rain has stopped (at least for the time being) and Download 2016 has, for many, been building up to this moment; Iron Maiden! With a stage set up depicting Mayan ruins the band take to the stage to do what they do best; rock! Playing an array of songs from new to old with many from their most recent album The Book of Souls, including one dedicated to the late, great Robin Williams, "Tears of a Clown", a song, Bruce Dickinson himself states was never intended to be played live making it a real treat for all in attendance. Of course, the old classics fans old and young were dying to hear were not left out as "Hallowed Be Thy Name", "Fear Of The Dark", "Iron Maiden" and more helped drag this wet, weary but ultimately very happy Download crowd over the finish line for another year.
Same time next year then? Just with a bit better weather please...