Gig Of The Week: Download Festival
WHO: Download Festival
WHEN: Friday June 11 to Sunday June 13
This year marks the 30th anniversary of Donington as the mecca for rock and metal. Arguably, the most famous and prestigious location for any rock festival in the world. It began in 1980, with Rainbow headlining the first ever Monsters Of Rock. And continues this year, with AC/DC, Rage Against The Machine and Aerosmith headlining three main stage on the three days, with over 100 bands booked to appear.
Download promoter Andy Copping knows all about the heritage and history of Donington – he actually went to the first one as a paying customer.
“It was an incredible experience,” he recalls. “And there’s always been just something special, a spirit about the location. Everyone knows it. Of course, the bands are massively important. But Download goes beyond that. People get to meet old friends, and make new ones. It’s the music that brings everyone together, as a big family.”
This year, the festival again has a classic rock feel on the final day, when Aerosmith will be joined on the main stage by the likes of Motorhead, Billy Idol, Slash, Saxon (who played on the bill at the very first Monsters Of Rock!), Cinderella and Ratt.
“Last year we took a risk by having a classic rock slant to the final day. To be honest, I didn’t know if it would work. But that was hugely successful. So we’ve gone for it again. Of course, the bill is nice and varied as well. We are mixing in the experience with the fresh, and that’s the way we’ll keep it.”
Download is also paying its respects to two major figures, both of whom have died in recent months. The main stage has been rename din memory of Maurice Jones, who originally promoted the Monsters Of Rock, while the second stage honours Ronnie James Dio. It’s this ability to connect the past and the present which makes the event one of the highlights of any British summer.
“It still astonishes me that people turn up and start camping a couple of days before the festival actually begins. But they do! There’s literally nothing open, but they’ll wander around the whole site, and just get the feel for the place. There can’t be many other festivals in the world, where the atmosphere builds so early. It’s something that keeps Download as something apart – it is the people’s festival.”
Find out more at www.downloadfestival.co.uk