Despite the day's earlier setbacks – road closures, 6-hour traffic waits to get into the site, the arena opening being pushed back 2 hours, bands missing their slots entirely (Europe) and all the campsites looking more like the bog of eternal stench than a home away from home, it's Friday night, the day has been full of rawk and it's time for a bit of a rave yeah?
Like mudcrabs scrabbling in a swamp the main stage arena is filled with dirty Downloaders heading towards the front for Friday headliners The Prodigy. 30 minutes late, the band ignite the stage with 'World's On Fire' and Keith's red trouser/white leather jacket combo can be seen jerking around a mile off.
With a cosmic ripple from the front, Breathe drops with all the force of a clubland superhit, there's no doubt The Prodigy deserve to be here – the crowd is loving it. Hits from their most recent album, the aptly named for the weather 'Thunder', and 'Omen' go down a storm with fans glow-stick dancing in a 90's rave fashion, but it's still the iconic 'Firestarter' which gains the biggest roar from the crowd.
Over on the Encore stage Slash is ripping it up with the obligatory 'Paradise City' and a shred-tastic version of 'God Save The Queen' to an absolutely rammed arena. I mean like, people standing shoulder to shoulder right up to the food stands kind of rammed. The kind of rammed where you can not only smell, but taste the person next to you. Oh and every single hand is up in the air saluting the rock.
However, The Prodigy's hit parade of 'Smack My Bitch Up', 'Diesel Power' and an encore including 'Take Me To The Hospital' is the full force finisher to the night, with lasers strong enough to bring down the East Midlands Airport planes and a barrage of strobe lighting, swampy Download goers have clearly forgotten that it's cold and wet and are just having a fucking great time.
Review by Anna Hyams
Photo courtesy of Jessica Gilbert