Iron Maiden day! After waking at the delightful of time of painfully early because of some dickhead plane rocketing over head we emerge into another morning at Download 2013. I take my leave early today and head over to the arena for around 11am in order to catch the classic British UFO. A bit of dry British humour and catchy songs wake up the early risers, they storm through a set featuring hits like Lights Out and Rock Bottom along with some newer material which perhaps doesn’t go down perfectly but is received well enough. They end with the obvious Doctor Doctor and excitement starts setting in for the next time we hear that song in about eight and a half hours.
I managed to secure a position at the central barrier between sets and have settled for the long haul by the time Young Guns take the stage. I can’t say I particularly enjoyed them, just not my sort of music, but the energy they performed with was at least enough to keep me interested and paying attention for the duration of their set.
Following Young Guns came ex-Thin Lizzy members, Black Stone Cherry along with our old friend, the torrential rain. They powered through half a set performing old Lizzy favourites along with some new material before playing Whisky in the Jar, when the heavens absolutely opened. Undettered they powered on and delivered a tight and unfazed set. If any complaints could be made it is that they didn’t acknowledge the weather or anything. Vocalist Ricky Warwick instead used the usual stage lines which didn’t really allow for any sort of connection. Still, they had us all singing the old standards and if that doesn’t warm you up, nothing will. The highlight of the set was during Jailbreak when I looked to my right and caught Adrian Smith of Iron Maiden strolling on by, another fine way to make us forget the weather.
Next came Mastodon, who to some played a storming set, to others a dull one. I was on the fence, they performed well and I think if we had been in a tent or a proper venue in the city they would have torn the faces off the crowd. Unfortunately some of the newer or slower songs seemed to drag in the open air environment.
Another wait followed for Alices In Chains who were the surprise of my day (or until a bit later anyway). I’ve never listened to much Alice In Chains but they brought their A game with them and powered through a set so powerful I was tempted to go on my phone right away and buy the back catalogue off of Amazon there and then.
Yet another round of the waiting game began as the stage was set up for the legends that are Motörhead. There’s not much that has to be said about them, you know what you’re getting and as Lemmy gives it the usual “We are Motörhead and we play rock and roll” they kick off into a loud fucker of an hour. Set highlight would have to be Going To Brazil which seemed to take a few by surprise, though Ace of Spades and Overkill obviously is when the crowd truly went batshit crazy. An appearance by former drummer Phil “Animal” Taylor was a nice surprise and he seemed pretty happy with the loud response.
Only two more waits until the big moment, but until then Queens of the Stone Age enter the stage for an hour and ten minutes which both seemed to drag and fly by. While the popular songs had the crowd jumping and singing away, some of the new songs killed them dead. Perhaps like Mastodon it is the outdoor environment for slow and unfamiliar songs that is the curse. Despite this, and despite some of their biggest hits being played almost right away, the crowd and the band had a good time.
The final wait was finally upon us though, and fuck me was it a wait, by now my legs were fighting with my back over who was in the most pain. All this vanished an hour later when a roadie pointed up. We all dutifully looked up, I was expecting something to go bang in the rafter. What we got was a WW2 Spitfire flying low right over mainstage causing the crowd to half shit themselves and go crazy. The pilot banked around for another couple of passes then vanished as Doctor Doctor played one more time. Then came the opening music for the set I’d been waiting for. The chords for Moonchild started and Maiden exploded on to the Seventh Son fan favourite then slid right into Can I Play With Madness? Dickinson was on absolute fire throughout, he has always been theatrical but he was pulling shapes and faces that made him look possessed. He set off flame jets with the flick of his hand during Phantom of the Opera and had the audience “screaming for me-ing” out the palm of his hand.
Three Eddies made appearances over the set; once as General Custer during Run To The Hills, once in his scribe form during Seventh Son of a Seventh Son and one more time in his album cover form, complete with moving womb, during Iron Maiden.
After a brief wait the big screens kicked back in with the rumble of spitfire engines and Winston Churchill’s speech, signalling the start of Aces High. During the final two songs, The Evil That Men Do and Running Free, Bruce took the time to market the bands new Trooper beer range and announce a special one off concert in London’s 02 (look out for that review/or just read this one again in August). The band took their leave as Monty Pythons Always Look On The Brightside of life played over the PA and I walked for the first time in about 12 hours.
A truly fantastic day but a well earned sit down was due to end the second day back at White Camp.