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KISS day at Download...Classic Rock's Review.

Text by: excerpted (ie: borrowed) from Classic Rock's web site.
Really blurry photos by: Me (left)
The sheer excitement got to me...sorry!.
Classic Rock has just returned from the Download Festival - and here's our quickfire reaction to Friday's proceedings:

* Black Tide - Unfortunately we missed these Miami metal upstarts due to the car park being 186 miles away from the arena. Sorry, chaps!
* Stone Gods - Strange to watch them on the Tuborg stage while standing on Tarmac (that's us, not the band). Tarmac (presumably part of the Donington race-way) is a rubbish surface for an outdoor fest. We want grass - or, at the very least, mud. Nevertheless these (mostly) ex-Darkness dudes acquitted themselves well, and overcame the absence of drummer Ed Graham with aplomb. (Graham was taken ill three days ago; his last-minute replacement was Robin Goodridge. Is this the same Goodridge who used to be the tub-thumper in Bush? Answers on a postcard, please.) Richie Edwards still has plenty to learn about being a frontman, and his voice was iffy on occasion, but we gotta admit the Gods' song Don't Drink The Water was still buzzing around our heads when we left the site in the early hours after Kiss's performance.

* Seether - A surprisingly entertaining, if somewhat dated, display of Grunge Lite. Frontman Shaun Morgan had the best voice of the day and their rendition of the ballad Broken was a real highlight, despite the absence of Evanescence's Amy Lee (who duetted with Morgan on the recorded version). Dunno why the drummer felt the need to trash his kit at the end of the show, though - it wasn't THAT exciting.

* Kid Rock - A mysterious no-show. Disturbed and Judas Priest opted to play longer sets to make up for Rock's absence. It was announced that Rock was in hospital in nearby Nottingham after suffering an unspecified accident, but we at Classic Rock heard other stories. Earlier in the week, when Rock had played in London, he was reported to have been 'bricking it' over the prospect of playing Donington in front of a possibly unsympathetic crowd. Another whisper had it that Rock had visited the scaled-down Download site and deemed it 'too small'. (It was indeed a claustrophobic, almost quarry-like, location; plenty of stones underfoot - 'scree' being the technical term - and no famous Dunlop bridge in sight.) Later in the day, Rock was rumoured to have been seen shopping for nick-nacks in Nottingham! Whatever the truth, this is good ol' scurillous stuff.

* Disturbed - We just didn't get these po-faced Chicago-ites. Admittedly the PA was surprisingly quiet for their performance and they had the worst guitar sound of all time - imagine a wasp buzzing around inside an empty lemonade bottle. But David Draiman came across as an off-puttingly arrogant, ill-tempered frontman and their best songs (Ten Thousand Fists, Down With The Sickness) got bogged down in faux bravado. Disturbed's version of Genesis's Land Of Confusion was a non-event, despite the bald-headed Draiman looking uncannily like Phil Collins on the big-screen close-ups!

* Motorhead - Excellent. Old age seems to be agreeing with bassist/vocalist Lemmy and he was delightfully incoherent on occasion - surely it wasn't entirely down to the Jack? A great moment when ex-guitarist Wurzel stepped up to guest on Ace Of Spades - cue 'manly embrace' with Mr Kilmister.
* Judas Priest - Disappointing. They didn't connect with the crowd (guitarists KK Downing and Glenn Tipton were off in their own little twin-riffin' worlds) and Rob Halford really struggled, vocally, on some of the older numbers. You can't paper over the cracks forever, boys. Rob wore some nice new overcoats, though - we were particularly taken by one that looked to have been made of armadillo hide and seaweed.

*Kiss - Magnificent in every sense, and a real nostalgia trip for longtime fans with songs such as Got To Choose, Nothin' To Lose and Parasite being resurrected for the occasion. Awesome moment when rhythm guitarist/vocalist Paul Stanley soared across the crowd on a wire to sing from a platform in the middle of the arena. The non-original members - drummer Eric Singer and guitarist Tommy Thayer - were just great; you could barely see the join. (And we don't mean the wigs!) Indeed much of the crowd seemed unaware of Kiss's heritage. Punters asked Classic Rock: "Is that Paul Stanley or someone else? So that's not Peter Criss on drums, then?" We were glad to set the record straight. Complaints? Well, we could have done with a deal more conflagration on the fireworks side (we demand wanton destruction, not pretty bursts of glitter), Stanley isn't QUITE as commanding as he used to be, and the final message on the big screens - 'Kiss thanks you Donnington' - had a spelling mistake in it, Donington only having one 'n', of course. Minor quibbles, we think you'll agree!

* Strangest moments of the festival? One: The surprising number of Kiss fans in the audience sporting Kitty Kat make-up. Was this as a tribute to ex-Kiss drummer Peter Criss, or were they keen followers of the new guy Eric Singer? We may never know. (BTW: Classic Rock went as Ace Frehley, natch.) Two: When a member of the crowd standing behind Classic Rock tried to summon up the spirit of ex-Whitesnake guitarists Micky Moody and Bernie Marsden during Kiss's set. Like... HUH?!


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