Whether you were bothered about it being cashless, clashless, painless or pantsless, nothing is left from Download 2015 now but memories and bruises.
Let's look at some of the highlights and exclusive pictures. Now those of you who have been here before (my, my darlings haven't you wintered well?) will know my MO but for those new a little introduction. I don't do reviews, I don't believe in them. I'll tell you what I thought in the steadfast knowledge my opinion means jack all. I won't be handing out scores, do I look like Len Bleeding Goodman? Whether you agree or disagree with my view I just hope you have a view of your own and if so why not put it in the comments below?
On Third stage Dragonforce were merrily doing their thing, it was all very Dragonforcey. Then a strange disturbance was felt in the force as Babymetal came on stage like porcelain Japanese autobots set on stun. They performed their J-Pop/Metal crossover song 'Gimme Chocolate!' which is both as catchy and hard to get rid of as herpes. It was a classic Download moment, filled with fun and guilty pleasure.
Friday headliner, Slipknot, well why would I ever have doubted them? Trials and tribulations of the years gone by, new members, new music, is all taken in stride. Slipknot knows how to read a festival and their set list proved this. Banging out classic after classic, beating the sodden crowd into submission; some may have called this safe, I call it shrewd.
Saturday was (mud) packed. The band of the day, if not the weekend blasted the roof of the Third Stage, and that was Body Count. Ice-T and his merry men thumped the hell out of the place. Our new leader gave us his mother f-ing speech on the pussification of men, which turned out not to be getting your face painted Eric from Kiss style. Who knew?
By Saturday evening even the toughest Downloader may have been feeling frayed at the edges. And then it happened, we all died and a beautiful bright light shone forth. Ahead of us were garlands of beautiful flowers and lo, angels decked in white came from the heavens and sang 'Epic' and 'We Care A Lot'. Faith No More, always dancing to the beat of their own drum, gave us a literally clean episode. Sponsored by Daz and looking like they were going to induct us into a cult, Mike crooned and the crowd swayed.
Saturday night headliners kicked off with Andrew W.K on Third. A packed crowd worked themselves into a frenzy before his arrival, like toddlers overdosing on Haribo. Inflatables appeared, chants of 'we want fun!' rang out. Andrew W.K came out in his trademark white (which looked decidedly grey compared to Faith No More but who am I to criticise his laundry skills?). Boom 'we're going to go into Party Hard' I thought excitedly...every single song. You soon realise his tunes are all the same and this is no criticism. Hell if it ain't broke, don't fix it. The tent jumped like a metal Zumba class on speed and fun was had.
A quick trek to Second Stage followed for a totally different vibe, and the return of Marilyn Manson. His 2009 was legendary for the wrong reasons. I remember wanting to get a teaspoon and scoop my own eyeballs out to use as ear plugs to stop the pain. The big man came out, with a fog machine was set to 11. There hasn't been such a dense smokescreen in music since Ricky Martin. The vocals were weak in places and his demeanor more dour than brooding. Prolonged interludes cut in after every other song and he made little effort to make the set cohesive. As he came back and forth it felt like Uncle Fester: The Problem Prostate Years.
Ah Muse. Let's not get into the pre-festival mass debating over the Muse booking. They were perfect, in the same way that if Download was a public girls' school Muse would be the swotty hockey captain prefect. They are faultless, the set is faultless, and the set and synchronisation would make an OCD lighting fanatic orgasmic. They said they'd rock it up and do their heavy stuff and it was obvious in places that was what they were doing but so what?who doesn't try harder when they visit the in-laws?
The overwhelming quote post-Muse seemed to be "I don't like Muse, they were the best band of the weekend" as a wave oxymoronitus overtook the masses.
Sunday was kinder weather wise and not too shabby performance wise. The L7 reunion was a joy to behold. Okay so you are less likely to be hit in the head by a tampon now as dodge an HRT patch but for those of us of a certain age (or approaching it at speed) it was a punch the air 'we've still got it girlfriends' moment. Catching up with Suzi after the set she told me about when the idea of an L7 reunion was put to her.
"I thought to myself 'yeah we should do this for the young girls' and then I thought 'hell no we have to do this for women OUR age'!"
They are still a force to be reckoned with, if anything they have that confidence of life experience to add in to their cocktail of punchy grunge.
The weekend was to end with two of the biggest names from the glam and hair days. I always knew the Motley Crue set would be emotional, being their final UK festival appearance but hadn't imagined I'd have felt my heartstrings tugged so hard. The band themselves held it together but as the cameras cut to the crowds many a person had a tear rolling down their face. It wasn't Crue at their best, and I think they are as realistic about this as anyone. Vince's vocals have faded and everyone's hips may not thrust as easily as in the past without a dose of WD40 but the heartbeat was still there.
The the final curtain drew in and it was up to Kiss to close what had been a great weekend. Could they do it? Like the flipside of the same coin as Slipknot, this lot know how to read a festival. Every Kiss trope was unleashed but not before Paul Stanley made it clear that no backing tracks or magic mic would be used in their set. At times it can be as cheesy as a Wotsit dunked in fondue but that's what I want and have wanted the minute they went back into full costume. My only complaint is no 'Strutter' on the set list, I mean really?!
Good night you Princes (and Princesses) of Rock, you Kings (and Queens) of Download.