Download 2012 - Clash Of The Headliners

Gavin McInally rates the Download bill-toppers

Photographer: Sara BowreyGavin McInally on 31 May 2012

In years gone by, VF has rightfully kicked the ageing Download dog when it's down, refused to accept its paw when the pink pooch hasn't learned new tricks and been left barking mad by the lack of imagination of some of its Donington line-ups.

The Offspring, Lostprophets and KISS headline debacle of 2008, Linkin Park making a hat-trick of top billing appearances in the gaps between their Leeds, Reading and Sonisphere outings and the inexplicable return of Def Leppard in 2011, just two years after they'd been rolled out for the same slot are hurtful reminders that Download hasn't all been AC/DC, Rage Against The Machine and Tool glories over the past decade.

This year, however, there can be no doubt that the dog deserves a bone, with a mouth watering - if not entirely original - triple whammy of The Prodigy, Metallica and Black Sabbath, supported by a sterling cast of Chase & Status, Biffy Clyro, Soundgarden, Machine Head, Tenacious D and Megadeth.

In fact, the line-up is so strong in parts, fans are facing the rare prospect of clashes next weekend. To help ease the headache, VF scribe and Download ever-present Gavin McInally has chewed over the choices fans will be forced to make each night at the Download Dog's 10th birthday bash.

FRIDAY:


Main Stage: The Prodigy (9pm - 10.50pm)

It's hard to figure out what exactly rock influenced dance troupe The Prodigy achieved in 2012 which elevated them from the second stage headliner slot they filled in 2006 and 2009 to the prime position on the opening night, but what isn't difficult to grasp is that few folk give a hoot.

Following the hotly debated booking of Chase & Status, the stage will be perfectly set for The Prodigy and all their "Download Warriors" to round of the first night in a fittingly chaotic climax.

Go see if: You want to join mosh pits filled with guys in Slayer t-shirts attempting to cut shapes like they are raving it up in Ibiza.

Zippo Stage: Slash (9pm - 10.10pm)

The ex-Guns 'n' Roses and Velvet Revolver axeman will provide the perfect contrast to the "loud banging noises" coming from the Main Stage as he treats a more cultured rock audience to his back catalogue of classics, with the aid of Altar Bridge crooner Myles Kennedy.

Go see if: You fancy joining rock royalty for the biggest air guitar party of the weekend.

Pepsi Stage: Devin Townsend Project (9pm - 10pm)

Following his triumphant outings at the more exclusive Bloodstock Open Air and Damnation Festival gatherings last year, Devin Townsend will unleash his demented visions of circus-esque metal, tinged with black humour on the masses.

Go see if: You enjoy forward-thinking heavy music which doesn't take itself too seriously. There will be hand puppets.

Red Bull Stage: Gallows (8.35pm - 9.20pm)

"Some people said Gallows were dead..." bellowed new frontman Wade MacNeil during their recent Slamdunk Festival showing in Leeds and with a surprising billing in a Red Bull Tent not much bigger than you'd find in standard camping, it would be hard to disagree.

However, if the Frank Carter-less English scene punks are going down, they won't do it without making a fuss.

Go see if: You're curious if ex-Alexisonfire frontman MacNeil can do 'Abandon Ship' and 'In The Belly of the Shark' justice. For the record, he can.

SATURDAY:


Main Stage: Metallica (8.45pm - 10.45pm)

Metallica tour so often there's a good chance you'd catch a show in your garden if you left your curtains open at night, so it's no surprise they've pulled the 'Black Album' card out of the bag in a bid to keep things fresh.
That said, their devoted hordes would still turn out in their numbers if they announced a 'St Anger' heavy set-list such is the insatiable demand for the world's biggest thrash act.

Go see if: You like Enter Sandman, Sad But True, Holier Than Thou, The Unforgiven, Wherever I May Roam...

Zippo Stage: You Me At Six (9.10pm - 10.10pm)

The scene kid poster boys have scaled new heights with their Radio 1-endorsed, infectiously meaty pop rock and it's certain to be a party atmosphere on Saturday night as they take to the stage with heartfelt choruses, which will have a field of teenage girls - and no doubt some awe-struck lads - swooning for 60 mins.

Go see if: You've you thought only Jay-Z had a 'Black Album' out.

Pepsi Stage: The Mission (9.30pm - 10.30pm)

Old school goth rock will take over Download's biggest tent as The Mission celebrate their 25th anniversary and first UK major festival show in 21 years.
It will be a hipster free zone and for many in the crowd a throwback to the vintage era at Donington that old folk never shut up about.
Go see if: You're in the mood for a nostalgic trip down an alternative rocky road.

Red Bull Stage: Cockney Rejects (8.50pm - 9.45pm)

Pissed-up proper punk from the London stalwarts for fans who've snuck into the festival in the back of their mate's van and then robbed a bottle of cider from the kids in the tent they've parked beside.

Go see if: If you want to continue West Ham's Premier League promotion party with a rendition of 'I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles. Oi!

SUNDAY: 


Main Stage: Black Sabbath (9pm - 10.45pm)

Many feared the last time Ozzy was spotted shuddering around the Download stage with his doom music-defining chums in 2005, it would be the last chance to see Sabbath in action. Few would have guessed, however, that it would be Tony Iommi's health that could put an end to such iconic gatherings.

The guitar legend is said to be fit enough to play, which makes the absence of Bill Ward due to contractual nonsense even harder to swallow, as this will, very possibly, be the final chance to see the original line-up take the stage together in the UK.

With that dream seemingly over, fans will just have to make do with witnessing three quarters of the Godfathers of heavy metal eclipsing all before them one last time.

Go see if: You're at Download.

Zippo Stage: Rise Against (8.30pm - 9.30pm)

 The melodic hardcore Yanks were a treat at Leeds Festival last year and will once again bring their socially aware manifesto to the UK in the prestigious second stage top billing.

With a heavy hitting back catalogue of Kerrang! TV favourites it'll be another chance to scream about all the world's wrongs... like missing the start of Black Sabbath.

Go see if: Your cruel mates have buried you neck deep in the field and its impossible to move.

Pepsi Stage: Periphery (8.30pm - 9.30pm)

The American progressive tech standard bearers' popularity has risen so quickly they should have suffered the bends and the chance to headline a stage at the UK's biggest metal gathering will only cement their position as a leading modern metal band.

However, Ozzy will have chucked his first bucket of water over the crowd by the time they have finished.

Go see if: You've snapped both your legs and you need treatment in the tent.

Red Bull Stage: WILLIAM CONTROL (8.50pm - 9.35pm)

Aiden's William Francis has done remarkably well for himself on his solo project and fans of his dark electronica are in for a fitting end to a stunning weekend but... you guessed it, 'Iron Man' or 'War Pigs' could have already been belted elsewhere on this rural patch of England.

Go see if: You're so blind drunk, it could actually be Sabbath you're watching.


Friday and Sunday day tickets are the only passes still available for Download Festival 2012, which takes place on Donington Park on 8-10 June.

Download Festival day tickets are priced £82.50 per day, and are sale now.

Click here to buy Download Festival tickets

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