As Donington Park revs up for the Download festival, we're here to keep you up to date with all the rock rumbles and grumbles...
[r-zone1]If the emo vs metal debate that lead up to the My Chemical Romance’s headline slot was the ‘bark’, then the set was definitely the ‘bite’. The emo rockers sensationally pull off a stormingly strong set in the face of potential adversity. Sure, the bottles are flying, but a wedge of devoted MCR fans pack the front rows and make sure their idols are well protected – scores of the ‘Black Parade’ faithful take one for Gerard Way and they should be highly commended! Ditching the usual marching band attire, Way may be pushing things a little as he demands 'Have you missed us?' repeatedly (it certainly splits the crowd and there with cries of 'NO' in between the cheers), but with the menace of a full scale aerial assault, MCR win over the crowd within their first few songs. Bold, beautiful and belligerent, My Chemical Romance pave their way into Download history with a triumphant show that proves any doubters well and truly wrong.
[l-zone2]Velvet Revolver go for the covers. They treat the Main Stage crowd to the tunes that went down so well two year ago. The hard rock super group destroy Donington with Guns'N'Roses classics 'It's So Easy' and 'Mr Brownstone', as well as taking on the Talking Heads' hit 'Psycho Killer'. Throughout the set all we're hearing is 'Slash, Slash, Slash'. It's great to see them back at Download.
It suddenly makes sense! Enter Shikari blast on stage, 'Mothership' sees their drummer ditching his kit and clambering up the scaffolds. Literally sky soaring stuff!
The Dimebag Darrell Stage is absolutely heaving with people spilling outside – and there's still 15 minutes until Enter Shikari are on!
It bodes badly for Paramore as a massive bottle fight engulfs the Dimebag Darrell Stage prior to their set, but they needn't worry as the band have the packed crowd eating out of their hands from the off, everyone clapping along as if their lives depended on it.
Wolfmother play a new song, 'Pleased To Meet You', a psychedelic Soundgarden stealing tune that, while good, is dwarfed by the 'classics'. Top of the bunch has to be 'Woman' as Andrew Stockdale shows his Elvis-like chicked legs and solos like a salamander.
[r-zone3] From Autumn To Ashes very loud set comes to an abrupt end as lead singer Francis Mark dives into the crowd during the final number and finishes the song there.
We’ve just caught up with Dan Foord from Sikth who confirmed that singers Mikee Goodman and Justin Hill will be leaving the band after their current tour. It's been coming for a while – the pair decided to call it a day last month but will carry on until their current tour finishes. The remaining members are already trying out new talent and will carry on once replacements have been found.
Hinder have just received the first bottles of the day. Seemed like the crowd weren't into their Nickelback-esque rock and let their feelings known with some distinctly yellow looking liquid! The band played on valiantly though.
The Scare have replaced Neurosonic on the Tuborg Stage and pulled off one of the most amusing sets of the day so far. Lead singer Kiss Reid got bored of people standing so far away so he jumped over the rail onto the side of the crowd and started rolling around in the dust asking people to wrestle him. Superb!
Turbonegro singer Hank Von Helvete disgusted the Dimebag Darrell Stage audience by coming on stage sporting a huge dildo before demanding to do rude things to those in tight demin – outrageous behaviour!
Wolfmother's Andrew Stockdale has been posing with guitar and eye makeup for magazine shoots. The same can't be said for Gerard Way who looks confident, fresh faced and soooooo young ahead of My Chemical Romance's much anticipated headline set tonight. We overheard the singer saying he was excited about seeing Velvet Revolver tonight but bemoaned the fact he won't be around to watch Iron Maiden on Sunday. Ahhhh bless, it's a nightmare being a jet setting superstar!
[r-zone4] Everyone's going mental for Buck Cherry on the Main Stage.
Download is officially go! Drive By Arguement get things off to a flyer down at the Turborg Stage but just two songs in and a guitar malfunctions. Brushing off the snag singer Stoke coolly declares, "It's like the sixth member of the band. Let's have a round of applause for technical difficulties!" Zico Chain open the Main Stage with a roaring set to start the day. Most are making a bee line for Ill Nino at the newly named Dimebag Darrell Stage, while huge crowds also gather to watch the freestyle motorcross as they perform an array of death defying stunts.
Rumour Alert! The buzz around the site is that Chris Cornell and Tom Morello could be making a surprise appearance on Saturday's main stage. Rock rumour or festival fib?
Download Friday has finally arrived in a flurry of excitement. There's no rest for the wicked as a warm summer's morning forces sleepy fans from their tents. Salvation is found through the bacon rolls which are out in force…
Virtual Festivals: How's the day been Stuart?
Stuart Galbraith: "We had a great boardie's barbeque with about 500 people there, including the ace band Scum Face. Then we had a really positive 'questions and answers' session between fans and organisers."
VF: What was talked about?
SG: "Some people had concerns about a few of the bands we've booked. There's a lot of contraversy over My Chemical Romance but we knew that from the last discussion we had. There are a lot of MCR fans here too. We also discussed some improvements for next year, which was very positive. Fans were suggesting we put on a new talent stage, which I think is a great idea and something we'll look into for next year."
VF: So how's the festival shaping up?
SG: "It's incredible. Last night we had 25,000 people through the gates. There's been quite a calm atmosphere and people have been well behaved. Saying that, four people were arrested, literally caught red handed rifling through peoples' tents. Another four were kicked out for criminal damage. The message I want to get out is this is a zero tollerance festival. People like that are not part of Download."
VF: Other than that a good day?
SG: "Absolutely. No one's shouting at me yet!"
The Nokia Rock Up And Play tent is where it’s at right now. People are queuing to get into the cool enclosure to jig about to some riffin’ beats and old school rock. It's been a great day, full of energy and anticipation. We caught up with festival director, Stuart Galbraith, for a final word on Download Thursday.
[l-zone5]The site is buzzing, it’s awesome. The campsite has already seen its share of celebrities. Captain Jack Sparrow has just dropped by with another couple of sleazy looking pirate types before he’s joined by Chewbacca, who is doing the rounds.
We passed a huge yellow container truck with 'Emo Oil' written on the back. Could it have been Gerard Way’s personal hair styling lorry? My Chemical Romance pride themselves on personal appearance but that's ridiculous!
The bands don’t start for another 24 hours but the party has most definitely begun. Over in The Village, the boardie’s barbeque has kicked off, an event that signals the start of the festival and gives those who’ve supported and helped shape the festival, by interacting on the forums during the last year, a chance to get together and see the faces behind the threads. This year, we’re getting down to the sounds of comedy thrashers Scum Face, a two piece from the forums, who rev up the crowd with 30 second blasts of lyrical genius! Well done guys, you opened Download in style!!
A menacing mist hangs over Donington Park signalling the start of another three-day episode in rock history. As the clouds gather, the expectation around the site rises and anticipation builds. This is Download 2007 and it’s gonna rock!