After several years of questionable weather, culminating in the epic ‘Drownload’ of 2016, the 80,000 black-clad music fans that descended on Donington Park for the 15th edition of the UK’s largest rock and metal festival clearly hadn’t come prepared for sunshine. Wellies: yes. Factor 50: not so much. By day two, the crowd was a whole lot more colourful than usual.
The blue skies also conjured smiles and, while Download 2017 won’t be remembered for the best musical line-up in the festival’s history (for me, that one’s a toss-up between DL2013
) it did deliver some of the best atmosphere I’ve experienced here over the years. And, for a festival where both bands and fans always seem to bring their A-game, that’s saying something.
Download was the first festival to offer glamping and its RIP
(see what they did there?) packages are still among the best in the industry. Whether you’re entertaining clients or treating a metalhead employee to the incentive of the century, you can rummage among a wide choice of tipis, lodges, Airstreams, bell tents and hotel rooms, knowing they all come with access to the well-designed guest area next to the main stage.
And that’s where we caught some of the weekend’s highlights. Prophets of Rage set the bar with a belting performance on Friday night and Aerosmith brought the show to a sweet close with a ‘last-ever UK show’ that made rock n’ roll look effortless. The most memorable set though came from Aussie rockers Airbourne – not only did they bring enough energy to fuel a jet back to Sydney, they also had their own kangaroo and a cool box full of beers for the fans. We might as well have been down under.