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DOWNLOAD FESTIVAL - Top 5 Headliners (According to us)

(Image: Download/Ben Gibson)

Right ok. Download Festival is SO CLOSE. Hang on let me count.

37 days. That's five and a half weeks away. So, if you're umming and ahhing over if you should go I'm here to convince you to go, by regaling you with my favourite headliners. Lets do this.


5. Avenged Sevenfold - 2014

First things first, I need to pre-face that this list will ONLY contain headliners I have seen. With that clear, I'll start with a headliner most doubted.

Now I don't mean doubt as in MCR 2007 doubt, but more of a 'Are They Headliners?' doubt. Andy Copping came out in full force behind A7X when they were announced and goddamn he was right. Bringing with them a stage that would have made Rammstein jealous, including a giant throne and flames that actually made the arena warm that weekend.

The Californians pulled what I thought was the biggest crowd that year, maybe a good portion went to see if they were any good, but they stayed to the end.

I need to give a shout out to Linkin Park here, for performing 'Hybrid Theory' in full. They nearly made the list, purely for bringing every member of our team back to their teenage years for a night.


4. Iron Maiden - 2007

Iron Maiden's 25th Anniversary of 'Number of The Beast' coincided with their 2007 Download slot. Coming back for their fourth slot at Donington, the other two headliners seemed almost redundant on the lineup (apologies to Linkin Park again here, no apologies to MCR).

It was an emotional event for the band and the crowd sung along to every word. With multiple appearances from Eddie, the set was, to me at least, the strongest I've seen them at Donington.

It's always a treat to see Maiden at Download, so make sure you catch them next time they grace the Main Stage (I'm looking at you 2018).


3. Black Sabbath - 2016

The End.

Was the name of the last Black Sabbath tour. Got you didn't I? Probably not, but I tried.

2016 marked the final appearance of Black Sabbath at Donington. After countless shows and love shared with the festival that was so close to home for the Brummie boys, it was fitting that this was their best Download.

The rain may have been pouring (not that Ozzy would have been dry either way, thanks to his constant running around), but it made no difference. Ozzy, Tony, Geezer, you were a class act and Ozzy, I'll see you soon (again, looking at you Download 2018)


2. Rammstein - 2013

The next two here were difficult. Most call on the following two headline slots when we talk about Download headliners. Here I go.

Rammstein 2016 was a phenomenal show. Showing off their new song, 'Rammvier', it topped the weekend without a question. But their Download debut makes their 2016 performance seem like a MCR headline slot (again, not sorry).

I sat down and recorded my exact thoughts on this, so here's a transcript .

'I'd seen Rammstein before multiple times, including at a festival (Sonisphere). But something was different about this time, the crowd has an electricity to it. About 5 seconds before they came on stage, I was about 10 rows from the front. 5 seconds after the first drum beat, I was against the barrier, dead centre. I'll never forget the stripped back, piano version of 'Mein Hertz Brentt'. Ignore the pyro, the cock cannon, everything. I cried. For the first time at a set, at Donington, in all the years I'd attended, I cried. And to top it off? Being told by Till Lindemann, that he loved us. This is a man who doesn't talk to a crowd, so yeah. Something different, something unforgettable.'


1. Slipknot - 2009

To choose between Rammstein '13 and this wasn't fair. But Slipknot squeeze it, as Rammstein were concreted in Heavy Metal when they played '13, but 2009 was the year that Slipknot made themselves Monsters of Rock (ok, I'm sorry for that one).

You can watch the full set (I'm not telling you where online), a Blu-Ray of it was produced, so I don't care how, but go and watch it. School yourself on the history. Then you'll understand how it tops this list.

Looking back at it, especially now with the absence of Paul Gray ever since in the UK, is an experience. The music was on point, the crowd control was the best Taylor ever has or will be and the stage show but the other '09 headliners to shame. Clown was jumping in and out of the audience, Corey seemed to almost cry after talking about it being a dream to headline Donington, every moment of their set was a highlight. 80,000 people. 80,000 Slipknot fans. 80,000 people getting 'the fuck up'.

So there you have it. 5 INCREDIBLE headlining slots. And my money reckons there's at least one happening this year (honestly, I reckon it'll be two history making sets). Get your tickets now. And get them here.

Images: Download/Ben Gibson/Jen O'Neil/Matt Eachus/Kennerdeigh Scott/Adam Elmakais

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