Def Leppard take Download back to its roots
23 years from their last visit to Donington Park
Def Leppard's Joe Elliott
Photographer: Shirlaine Forrest15 June 2009
After a day that saw Whitesnake, Journey and ZZ Top take to the main stage, Sheffield's finest cranked out
such hits as 'Pour Some Sugar On', 'When Love And Hate Collide', and of course 'Let's Get Rocked,
as images of the band's early career flashed across the big screen at the back.
"See the hair on my arms? It's up, man. just like it was in 1986," says frontman Joe Elliott, before the band break into 'Rock Of Ages'.
The last time Def Leppard played Donington was in 1986; their first show after drummer Paul Allen lost his arm in a motorcycle accident. Elliot paid tribute to his bandmate's spiritual rebirth - but wasn't above poking fun at Allen's tears of nostalgia.
Trivium drew the short straw, making up the main competition over on the Second stage. However, they were determined to go down fighting. Aside from some tuning problems at the start of 'Fugue', they made the best of the situation with the storming 'We Are Fire', and the single that started it all 'When The Light Dies'.
The Main stage wasn't short of legends earlier in the day either. Despite their early slot, Journey still brought out the crowds for the classic 'Keep On Believin'', while Whitesnake's 'Is This Love' brought one of the best crowd singalongs of the weekend. However, it was ZZ Top who really showed the youngsters what rock'n'roll is. Every move perfectly executed with almost psychic timing, 'Gimme All Your Lovin'' and 'Smart-Dressed Man' proved that age truly is no barrier where great festival sets are concerned.
"I can't believe it!" said Fiona, 38, from Burton-on-Trent. "I don't know how old ZZ Top are, but they are still brilliant. They make me feel so young! There's so many old rockers here, I could actually have a sugar daddy today!"
More recent legends of (nu-) metal Papa Roach kept things ticking over, greatest hit 'Last Resort' justifying the love of an impressive turn-out on the second stage. It wasn't all about the old school, though. Pulled Apart By Horses scored points early on, climbing into the crowd and up speaker stacks over on the Tuborg Stage, and Fei Comodo staged a wall of death over at the Red Bull tent.
However, the biggest small stage buzz of the day was reserved for the UK debut of Steel Panther. Thousands gathered both inside and outside the Tuborg tent to hear the eighties spoof metallers banter about "fucking hot bitches" and "slipping on vaginal juices" between the hilarious ballad 'Community Property', 'Party All Day' and 'Turn Out The Lights'.
Check back for our review of Download Festival 2009.