At the top of the hill overlooking the main stage is the most trafficked advertising spot on the Download site, a three sided wooden construction advertising the Dead Daisies new album Revolucion. There’s clearly some momentum (and some money) behind this crew of roving rock rogues, and a sizeable, curious crowd gather to watch the band’s late morning set.
There’s much to admire: they have riffs that crunch and groove, they toss their plectrums into the crowd at every opportunity, and they look at home on a big stage. But despite throwing all the right shapes, they’re not completely convincing. Maybe it’s the early start, but Marco Mendoza’s “Come on people, don’t give up on us”, during Midnight Moses suggests that the band aren’t entirely convinced by the reaction either. There are, however, some genuine highlights: Richard Fortus shines throughout with a series of fluid, searing solos, and the closing Lock ‘N’ Load brings everything together for a rousing finale as Mendoza spectacularly tosses his bass towards the wings.
The crowd has filled out by the time HEAT arrive, and they benefit from a much warmer welcome. Last year’s Tearing Down The Walls has the band tottering on the edge of much bigger things, and their music, which could initially be perceived as affectionate parody, is now a force in its own right. Songs like A Shot A Redemption, Mannequin Show and Living On The Run glisten and gleam like Foreigner taking on the best of Guns N’ Roses as singer Erik Grönwall spins like a rotary clothes line in a gale. He’s the undoubted star of the show, and ends the set by clambering down the front, borrowing a phone from a punter, taking a selfie, then handing it back with a high-five. He then climbs into the crowd and spends the end of the set joyously bouncing up and down, before being hoisted out by security and returning to the stage as the last notes ring out. One final cartwheel, and it’s over. Top points for style, mind. (FL)
Next up, the Von Hertzen Brothers. We’d wondered how the eclectic (part progressive, part straight-up rock) Finns would fare amid the mud and metal of Download. So it’s a relief to see frontman Mikko (Daz-fresh in his white suit) get stuck into some ‘rawkstar’ crowd-rousing, before opening with two of their hardest-hitting tracks - hot from new LP New Day Rising.
Vocals are a little strained and patchy at first, following an initial sound imbalance, but smooth out for the Soundgarden-meets-Zeppelin thrust of Trouble. The band seem to properly relax for the sweeter Flowers And Rust, as well as soaring new single Hold Me Up. By the time velvet-voiced guitarist Kie takes the mic for rollicking rocker Coming Home, they’re really embracing their big-stage mojo. So it’s a shame they have to finish, having just properly hit their stride. Still, leave ‘em wanting more (PG).