Good Charlotte – Friday – Zippo Encore Stage
As the end of the first day approaches it’s like being transported back to 2002 with Good Charlotte subbing for second stage headliners Sum 41. Unlike Sum though Good Charlotte have improved over the years and seem stunned at how many people came to see them. Having never played the festival before, and not being particularly heavy it’s a pleasure to see mid-aged classic rock fans donning their Metallica jackets joining forces with twenty something pop-punk fans to sing-a-long with a band synonymous with fun.
There’s a huge balance between the old and the new with some tracks hitting almost two decades in age and some coming from last year’s Youth Authority album but the band know what the audience want and give it to them in bundles as opener ‘The Anthem’ and fourth song ‘Boys & Girls’ prove. Yes Good Charlotte are a nostalgia band that make us feel happy thinking back to our teenage years but they’re also a fantastic current band with newer track ‘Life Changes’ proving that they can pack just as much of a punch in 2017.
The five piece are no longer spring chickens but they way they work the stage and call on the crowd is perfect with just enough sing-a-longs pushed, without it feeling like the crowd were taking over from the band. With a new tour announced for later this year we can’t wait to see what’s next in store for the band as you know you’re going to get fun when it comes to GC. 9/10 RW
AFI – Saturday – Main Stage
More often than not, when musical acts have been around for more years than you can count, they tend to make you feel older than you’d like to admit. While AFI’s brand of punk with a gothic flair isn’t quite as common nowadays, it’s the ageless performance of their superb front-man Davey Havok that makes it easy to forget the many years that have passed by. While his look may have gone through quite a transformation, he’s still got a sense for the dramatics that we hope will never fade – Havok’s brief serenade of the cameras left a hypnotising effect.
Despite such a gap in time, it seems the hits the band unleashed into the world over a decade ago haven’t lost any importance in today’s world. They didn’t feel out of place or aged. Contradictory, while newer tracks like ‘Snow Cats’ are great in their own right, you can’t help notice how they fall just a little short in comparison to the likes of ‘Girl’s Not Grey’, ‘Love Like Winter’ or one of their biggest hits ‘Miss Murder’.
It’s been a long time coming for AFI’s debut performance at Download and to no surprise they have delivered one of the highlights of the weekend. There is no way for long-time fans to not feel gratified to witness the band at their finest, and it seems after 25-odd years they are still capturing new hearts. 9/10 SW
Simple Plan – Saturday – Avalanche Stage
Simple Plan are one of those bands who have, by some miracle, remained consistent even after more than a decade of being together. Consistent lineup, consistently good albums (although sometimes with too many years in between!) and consistently putting on memorable shows tour after tour. On the back of celebrating their 15th anniversary of debut album No Pads, No Helmets…Just Balls, the Canadian pop-punk heroes made their way to the uncharacteristically mud-less Download Festival, as they headlined the Avalanche stage on Saturday evening.
Although the festival set was not technically part of the anniversary tour, they didn’t hold back on the nostalgia. Playing the hits we grew up with like ‘Addicted’, ‘I’m Just A Kid’, ‘Welcome To My Life’ and ‘Perfect’, there were plenty of chances to relive those teenage years we’ve thankfully now left behind. It is evident that the band have remained so much more than just a blast from the past though, with more recent singles like ‘Jet Lag’ and ‘Summer Paradise’ receiving great reactions from both older and younger fans alike.
Though the band were one-man down from their original lineup (with bassist David Desrosiers not taking part on this tour) but that didn’t take away from their performance, where there was no shortage of sing-alongs or banter. It’s always a guaranteed good time with Simple Plan, and Download was no different. 7/10 SW