Download Festival 2022 Review

After a long break due to the coronavirus pandemic, Download Festival was finally able to go ahead this year, and it felt so good to be back! Due to transport issues (it’s typical that our car decided to break down just before the festival), we finally arrived on the Saturday to enjoy the rest of the bands.

By Jane Howkins & Amy Horne

We caught a little bit of Black Label Society on the way into their arena, seeing Zakk Wylde performing his trademark guitar skills as standard, drawing a fairly big crowd for such an early slot. We were surprised that they weren’t performing later on in the day, due to how many people were there to see them. Shinedown were the first band we saw properly, and we weren’t disappointed! Brent Smith is a fantastic vocalist and has a very charismatic appearance on stage, commanding it in style. The band went through a range of songs from across their albums, with tracks such as The Saints Of Violence And Innuendo & Monsters sounding epic throughout. Whilst we weren’t fans of Shinedown before seeing them, we certainly left as fans, and I hope to see them headline Download at some point in the future.

Next, we headed across to The Avalanche Stage to see Creeper. We’ve seen them perform a few times now and they never let us down, although one thing that did tarnish the moment slightly was the lack of screens in the tent, meaning that those of us who are challenged by stature struggled to see – it might be an idea to add screens to the tents next time around. The crowd went wild, with mass singalongs to Down Below & Misery being the flavour of the day.

Finally, it was time for the band that everyone had been waiting for – Iron Maiden. They’re getting on a bit now, but their live show was still very impressive, featuring multiple sets and a fantastic stage show that many bands sadly lack nowadays. The first hour consisted mostly of deep cuts and fan favourites, with the second half drawing from Iron Maiden’s biggest hits. Particular favourites included Flight Of Icarus, Fear Of The Dark, Blood Brothers & of course, the infamous Run To The Hills.

Sunday started with pirate metal band Alestorm, who featured a giant rubber duck as part of their stage show. The band have a great sense of humour, with pirate themed songs about drinking and sailing the high seas being very prominent. The crowd was massive for such an early set, with a party atmosphere filling the audience. We’ll definitely be checking them out again!

Old favourites Rise Against were next up – we’ve seen them at Download a few times before and whilst this time they were good, it was probably our least favourite time seeing them. The sound quality on the main stage wasn’t brilliant, which hindered their performance somewhat, with the vocals sounding a little quiet. Volbeat, on the other hand, were amazing. We’d never checked them out before, but they’re definitely a band to watch in the future, with their country-metal stylings working surprisingly well. The band were completely at ease, commanding the audience with easy skill. Their music seemed to have a huge range of influences within it, meaning there truly was something for everyone!

Classic rockers The Darkness were also performing at the festival, and we just knew that we had to go and see them. Most people were there for I Believe In A Thing Called Love, which they played with gusto, alongside the singalong classic Christmas Time (Don’t Let The Bells End). However, they were very technically proficient and we were surprised at how good their set was, considering that they’ve become somewhat maligned as a comedy band.

Speaking of comedy music, Steel Panther were up next, headlining the Opus Stage. Their brand of dated 80s cock rock went over extremely well, with catchy, semi-offensive songs working the crowd up into a frenzy. Pulling a girl onstage and pressuring her into showing her boobs seemed a little dodgy at times, but it was all in good fun, and it’s important to note that Steel Panther are ultimately a comedy rock band, poking fun at the hair metal era. Towards the end of their set, around 30 girls were pulled onstage to dance alongside them, making for a spectacle of sorts!

Biffy Clyro were the controversial headliners of the day – whilst they had an interesting light show and put on a good performance, the crowd had started to dwindle by this point. They’ve performed at the festival several times previously and have worked their way up over the past 20 or so years, so we do think they deserve to headline at some point, but it might have been a better choice to put them on the Friday or swap their stage with Steel Panther. However, a passionate set ensued, with crowd favourites and older songs intertwining together to show the best of both Biffy Clyro worlds.

Overall, Download Festival 2022 was a huge success and we can’t wait to return next year, when the festival will return for 4 days of music, to celebrate the 20th iteration of the festival!