Ozzy Osbourne at DOWNLOAD 2018: Reviewed!

It’s possibly the sunniest day of Download’s entire history and we’re collectively scorched after spending our Sunday rocking out to a wealth of amazing bands and artists. The swirling masse of black clothing is now contrasted by a beautiful tinge of red sunburn and vampiric-sorts are cowering under their parasols awaiting The Prince of Darkness himself… Ozzy Osbourne.

O Fortuna rings out heralding Ozzy’s return, both to Download – having performed last with Black Sabbath in 2016, and been a previous host of festivals at Donington with his own Ozzfest before – for this metal Brummie, it’s pretty much home. Two giant rectangular screens flank a cross-shaped one in the centre of the stage, which begin to scroll through a timeline of Ozzy-through-the-ages, including a school mugshot which elicits an ‘ahhh’ from the crowd. Like some kind of surreal supermarket of the damned, Ozzy’s unmistakable disembodied call comes across the tannoy “I can’t fuckin hear you… louder…”. Anyone who’s ever seen him before knows that this is pretty much all he’s going to say, for the next two and a half hours, no matter how much you yell back. He probably genuinely can’t hear us.

Anyway, finally legging it out in a black leather trench coat – and I do mean legging it, this is actually a pretty spritely Ozzy we’re getting tonight, and at 69 years old it’s no mean feat. Starting off with a site-wide howl we’re treated to ‘Bark at the Moon’ replete with moon and wolf visuals and Ozzy very literally throwing his head back for a howl. I was genuinely concerned he was going to tip over backwards at one point but was immediately distracted by guitarist Zakk Wylde’s indominable shredding on his signature swirl Les Paul. The man can honestly do no wrong.

As a crowd-surfing inflatable T-Rex bobs along the front row, Ozzy ditches his jacket revealing a sparkly bat top – it seems old tropes never die, and 1980 release ‘Mr Crowley’ harks back to a time where bat-munching was just, so on trend. Black Sabbath track ‘Fairies Wear Boots’ has the whole arena singing along but it’s not easy to forget the magic of seeing Iommi himself rocking this a mere two years ago. Truth be told, it doesn’t have the same gravitas.

‘No More Tears’ and ‘Road to Nowhere’ are both heavy hitters but it’s once again the Black Sabbath tracks that really get the stamp of approval with this crowd. The stage screens are aflame and air raid sirens wail in the night; ‘War Pigs’ is a wall of voices chiming in on a veritable metal anthem. If you don’t know the lyrics you’re basically desecrating Donington’s unholy ground, to be honest.

Ten minutes worth of Tommy Clufetos’ rumbling drum solo has everyone cheering, and gives Ozzy a bit of a break before heading into ‘I Don’t Want to Change the World’ and ‘Shot In The Dark’ which is accompanied by the most magnificent 80’s Tron-esque visuals. With a chant of “one more song” arena-wide, ‘Crazy Train’ is as massive as it ever was and Ozzy is doing a frankly stellar job considering he’s just shy of 70 and basically pickled with his history of drugs and alcohol. After a brief interlude, he’s back on for ‘Mama I’m Coming Home’ to the dismay of many (it is crap though isn’t it…) and as per the technology age we view a blanket of phone-lights in place of cigarette lighters thrust into the air. Anyway, it’s all quickly made up for with a rousing performance of ‘Paranoid’ to cap off the night in style.

Say what you will about Ozzy’s singing – he’s pretty much always sounded like that, I will always be appreciative of getting to witness one of heavy metal’s greats in the flesh, because there’s nothing in the world quite like live music, and this is history in the making.

© Image courtesy of Download Festival: Matt Eachus

© Image courtesy of Download Festival: Matt Eachus

Bedford Park Concerts 2017 Preview

Bedford Park Concerts is back for 2017 after a very successful event last year which showcased the legendary Tom Jones,  rapper Dizzie Rascal and many more. This year we will see the return of an amazing jam packed three day line up. Friday 4th August will will see Bedford's biggest 80s and 90s themed party night with seven awesome retro acts which will include the likes of DJ Dave Pearce who is best known for hosting BBC Radio 1's Dance Anthems, Ex Neighbours star, musician and Australian favourite Jason Donovan, 80's band Go West, Nick Kershaw, 'Dreamer' artists Livin' Joy, Rozalla and Baby D who brought us singles "Let Me Be Your Fantasy" and "Everybody's Gotta learn Sometime".

Friday's Schedule:
16:30 Gates Open
17:00 Rozalla 
17:40 Nik Kershaw 
18:35 Baby D
19:15 Go West
20:15 Jason Donovan
21:15 Livin' Joy
21:50 Dave Pearce

On Saturday 5th August, Leeds Indie rockers Kaiser Chiefs are expected to perform some of their most notable hits including "I Predict A Riot", "Ruby", "Everyday I Love You Less And Less" and more from their six studio albums.  Supporting will be Welsh band Feeder, The Wholls – a local Bedford Town favourite and lastly indie rock band Victoria.  

Saturday's Schedule:
16:30 Gates open
17:45 Victoria
18:45 The Wholls
19:45 Feeder
21:15 Kaiser Chiefs

Sunday 6th August the weekend event will present  Bedford Proms 'Goes To The Movies'.  This wil be an evening of beautiful west end style performances including a set from Australian Tenor Daniel Koek who starred in west end show Les Miserables.  He will also be joined by soprano singer Joanna Forest and opera vocalist Alison Buchanan who is originally from the town of Bedford.  As if there isn't enough to enjoy there will also be the London Gala Orchestra, Bedford Choral Society, a laser light show and even the infamous Delorean car from the memorable Back To The Future franchaise films and a firework finale to round up the weekend to bring it to a close.  

Sunday's Schedule:
16:30 Gates open 
17:15 Pilgrim School Choir 
18:00 Bedford School Of Speech and Drama
19:30 Main Concert 

I can see this being a very popular event. Tickets are still available to get yours while you can. 

To purchase tickets please click on the dates below

FRIDAY 4TH

SATURDAY 5TH

SUNDAY 6TH

For more information click HERE!

Rammstein – Download 2016 Review

Despite a day of heavy downpours over a now very boggy Donington Park (yes yes, we’ve heard the monikers… Drownload… Downpour Festival…), thousands of expectant faces are turned towards the main stage for tonight’s headliner – German heavy metal powerhouse, Rammstein. There’s nothing quite like a side of S&M or pyrotechnics alongside learning how to count to vier whilst headbanging, and Rammstein promise a whole lot more than just their stage show.

As a cinematic countdown begins, video screens send a message “Enjoy the show, please do not be preoccupied with recording it” and instantly Go-Pro’s are thrust into the air on ridiculous, view-ruining monopods. I mean come on, what the hell are you actually going to do with that footage man?

Regardless of the moronathon, Rammstein smash their way onstage as only they can – with giant showoff billowing clouds of pink smoke, which when combined with the ongoing drizzle turns quickly into a spatter of blood on anyone wearing lighter than black outfits. First up new song Ramm 4 sees giant firework laden platforms lowering guitarists Kruspe and Landers onto the stage and the always enigmatic frontman Till Lindemann emerges in a childcatcher-esque outfit and his patent white painted face.

The stage look for Rammstein has always been industrial but this time steps over into the cyborg realm with giant stage-high light bars which respond to the band’s instruments. Reise, Reise is absolutely gut churningly heavy, and Till sports a very fetching duffel coat over his flash-bang adorned waistcoat which explodes, quite obviously right in his face. How this band have not sustained more serious pyrotechnic related injuries I’ll never know.

The electronic intro bleeps for Feuer Frei raise an enormouse guttural roar from the crowd, and there is no shortage of actual fire alongside the music, their signature flamethrowing face cages are everything Batman’s Bane wishes he was. Keyboardist/freak on a leash Lorenz is hastily shoved into a box after being dragged around the floor, emerging later in an extremely spangly sequined suit to walk off his horrors on a treadmill whilst Till wields a giant flaming arc that sort of looks like a crossbow. You really couldn’t make it up. A crackly speaker on the right side of the stage threatens to dull Mein Hertz Brennt but as Till’s heart (flare) lights up, every single person in the arena is singing their lungs raw. Following up with Links 2, 3, 4 this is shaping up to be a stellar performance from Rammstein.

Guitar flamethrowers, fireballs erupting from the sound tent in the middle of the crowd and zip-wire fireworks streaking back and forth – every time you think you’ve seen it all, Rammstein amp it up a little more. Ich Will has everyone yelling back the required replies ‘Wir hören dich’ and so on, Du Hast is heavier than a heavy thing and Depeche Mode cover Stripped just couldn’t sound more seedy than in a German accent.

For the Encore, we are treated to the completely epic Sonne followed by an acoustic Ohne Dich but it’s Till’s ascension into angel-dom that is the real icing on this weird and wonderful cake. Giant metal wings loaded with white sparking fireworks lift Till into the air above the stage floor for Engel and it is motherlovin’ glorious. Leaving us with a brief “Thank you. Danke schoen, you’re amazing” the stage erupts in a backdrop of massive rocket fireworks and the arena is engulfed in smoke. There’s nothing more to say except that Rammstein are arguably one of the best metal acts of our time and here’s hoping they don’t leave it too long before returning with even more incredible shows.