Three years on from AltCorner’s last trip to Download (we couldn’t make the pilot, boo!) it was finally time to return to the hallowed ground of Donington for Download Festival 2022.
First on the agenda was definitely a visit to the new village, which is all on concrete and honestly one of the best decisions made by the organisers! Although the weekend was completely dry save for a few time it tried to rain, it was definitely a good move to stick the village on the concrete and make it more central to everyone.
After seeing some aerobics on the Doghouse stage including an early Newport Helicopter, it was time to get the music started.
On Thursday night we caught a set from Led By Lanterns in the RIP village and it was the best way to start the festival off. The band were full of energy and the crowd were absolutely loving it.
First up on Friday for us was Bury Tomorrow on main stage and it was a great way to start the day in the arena. The band gave fans two live debuts in DEATH (Ever Colder) and LIFE (Paradise Denied) as well as hit single Black Flame.
All throughout the set, there was an abundance of energy and it was clear to see how happy both the band and fans were to be back. Dani Wynter-Bates and Tom Prendergast’s contrasting vocals worked well together throughout the set and I’m sure security panicked when Dani gleefully exclaimed about how there was no pre-set security meeting telling him he couldn’t encourage crowd surfers and he wanted to break the record for as many people over the barriers as possible – which the crowd complied with, although we’re not sure just how many made it over.
Next up was Black Veil Brides who performed a set of some of their biggest hits, with two recently released tracks thrown in. The snare drum sounded a bit off throughout the set, but other than that it was flawless as the quintet played their way through the likes of Faithless, Wake Up, Rebel Love Song and the classic closers of Fallen Angels and In The End. They also performed Crimson Skies and Scarlet Cross from new album The Phantom Tomorrow.
Frontman Andy Biersack spoke about how great it was to be back in the UK which is where the band first felt welcomed and supported all those years ago.
Skindred took to the stage for what is arguably the best set of the weekend, particularly in terms of crowd participation.
Main stage was absolutely rammed for the Welsh rockers to take to the stage in the blazing sunshine (a complete contrast to the downpour throughout their 2019 set). From the first note right through until the end, every member of the crowd were hanging onto every word spoken and sung by frontman Benji Webbe.
There was banter throughout as tracks like Rat Race, That’s My Jam and Kill The Power were played, and a remix of Jump/Jump Around and We Will Rock You/Big Tings had the crowd singing along.
As testament to the crowd, an early, unprompted Newport Helicopter took place at the start of Warning, to which Benji later remarks “you’ve already done it early, but now it’s time, you know what to do” before calling on an as expected huge crowd doing the Newport Helicopter. It was a fun and engaging set.
Sweden’s Normandie were up next on the Avalanche stage and unfortunately we only managed to catch the end of the set but could tell just by the reaction from the crowd as Hostage and White Flag were played that Normandie were on point as usual.
Later on the Avalanche stage we took in the packed tent for the mysterious masked wonders that are Sleep Token. The band has seen a fantastic and well-deserved rise in popularity over the past year and a half/ two years and they performed well as they played through tracks including Hypnosis and Jaws. Personally I felt the sound was a bit off compared to seeing them at the Heavy Music Awards in 2021 but it did little to detract from the performance.
Back to main stage and A Day To Remember put on a good show as they played a range of tracks from across their back catalogue including All Signs Point To Lauderdale and Have Faith In Me.
Following ADTR it was over to the Avalanche stage again for the headlining act – The Ghost Inside. Frontman Jonathan Vigil was extremely humble as he spoke about the band’s last UK performance being at Download in 2015 and their first back following the devastating bus crash was this headlining set seven years later. There were huge cheers as he recounted their journey with getting back to playing shows and the support they have had from fans throughout the period.
The band put on one of the best sets of the weekend too as they played through the likes of Still Alive, Pressure Point and One Choice.
KISS were the final band of the night and they put on a relatively good show beginning with Detroit Rock City and which included the compulsory fire breathing and tracks like Calling Dr Love, I Was Made For Lovin’ You and Rock and Roll All Nite.
Saturday began with an 11am start on the Avalanche stage for Aniimalia. The band won Kerrang’s The Deal competition which saw them not only snag a spot on the stage but also a record deal with Marshall Records.
The set – which featured recent single Silver Linings – showcased the band’s promise with energetic movement and a great sound.
It was expected we would miss The Raven Age opening main stage due to the clash with Aniimalia, but the Download gods were in our favour as main stage ran half hour late, meaning the band came on as Aniimalia were finishing. The Raven Age’s classic rock was a great way to open the main stage and get the fans hyped up for Iron Maiden that evening. From opener The Day The World Stood Still to closer Fleur de Lis, the band had the crowd hooked and joining in.
The same went for Those Damn Crows who followed on main stage. Opening track Who Did It was a great way to start the set and the Bridgend rockers showed just why they are on the rise in the UK and beyond.
Banks Arcade were up on the Dogtooth stage and the New Zealanders put on a great show. Tracks like Be Someone and Smile had the crowd going and there was a shoutout to the people camping next to the band all weekend for feeding them each morning, which was met with a cheer.
Bassist Harlen Allen-Jones decided that he would leave whether they played the last song down to fate (and skill) by backflipping off the stage. If he did it without damaging his guitar, they’d play the song and thankfully for the crowd, he nailed it.
Holding Absence were up next on the Avalanche stage. To show how much hype there was for the set, we weren’t even able to get into the tent to see them and had to contend with standing outside and listening. It sounded like frontman Lucas Woodland was struggling a bit with his voice, particularly when talking, but testament to his vocal range and the band’s talents, they absolutely smashed the set.
Bush were over on second stage which was a fun, nostalgic set as they played through songs including Machinehead, Blood Rover and Everything’s Zen. It was a rare chance to catch the band live and Downloaders took the opportunity by turning up in their droves.
Back on the Avalanche stage was Australian pop-rockers The Faim, who returned following their debut Download in 2018. Despite some issues with the sound desk, the quartet put on an incredible show with frontman Josh Raven commanding the stage and crowd like a veteran.
The set consisted of a mix of old songs including Saints and the Sinners, Summer Is A Curse and new tracks including Flowers, which is an unreleased song from forthcoming album Talk Talk.
It was a trip over to main stage then for Deftones to play. As someone who admittedly has not really listened to the band, I went in completely blind and while they performed a range of their hits well, it wasn’t my thing.
Iron Maiden were closing the night and they began with an interesting backdrop of a Japanese village and the title track of recent record Senjutsu.
Samurai Eddie made an appearance of course as Stratego and The Writing On The Wall were also performed from the recent record.
After showing off some of the recent material, it was time to get into the Legacy of the Beast tour mode which saw tracks like Run To The Hills and The Number Of The Beast performed along with Iron Maiden and Blood Brothers.
First up on Sunday was a trip to the Avalanche stage for Static Dress. The quartet put on a tight show which showed just why they were chosen to play at Bring Me The Horizon’s Malta weekender and the Heavy Music Awards. It was entertaining and energetic and great way to kick off Sunday morning.
Up next on the same stage was Dead Posey. The US duo, who were joined on stage by their band, put on a great set which showed off Danyell Souza’s stage flair and fab vocals.
Over on the Dogtooth stage next for one of the top sets of the weekend, Anchor Lane. The Scottish rockers spent the Saturday handing out flyers advertising their set and new record and it paid off as they played to a tent full of fans and those interested in hearing them for the first time.
Anchor Lane’s set was crammed full of energy and tight musicianship from the trio. They were extremely well received.
Over on second stage we caught Tremonti. Unsurprisingly Tremonti’s set was incredible, with fans young and old alike getting involved and enjoying the guitar wizardry of Mark Tremonti.
They performed a number of hits including If Not for You, My Last Mistake and Marching in Time. Drummer Ryan Bennett was a sight to behold as he put on one of the best drum performances of the weekend.
Transatlantic rockers Kill The Lights were over on the Dogtooth stage and brought raw energy to the mid-afternoon crowd. The crowd were impressed by the band as they played a number of tracks including recent single Dead From the Start.
It was clear from the performance that not only was each member talented individually, but they gelled well together as a group, providing the exact blueprint for other supergroups like them.
Korn put on a good show on main stage with tracks including Freak on a Leash, Falling Away From Me and Cold. They also included a bit of One by Metallica and Queen’s We Will Rock You.
Biffy Clyro closed the evening and weekend with the best headline set of the 2022 festival.
With their trippy visuals on the big screens, the Scot’s’ set was enhanced and the crowd loved every minute of it, particularly the use of pyrotechnics which provided a bit of warmth in the chilly June evening air.
There was an earlier than expected performance of Mountains and tracks including Black Chandelier, That Golden Rule and Wolves of Winter were included in a mammoth set that saw the crowd singing along to every word.
The band closed out the set with arguably their biggest hit Many of Horror and a lovely firework show.
Overall Download Festival 2022 was class and we cannot wait until next year!