Sunday, 30 September 2012

Off We Go - Download Festival

It is the time of year again where the organisers of the Download Festival start ramping up to the next year’s festival. Much like Christmas, the start of the UK festival season seems to start earlier each time around, but it doesn't annoy me that Download has announced their 3 headliners for 2013 (whereas seeing Christmas items in August/September irks me). The festival booker, Andy Copping, addressed the earliness of this announcement saying that “if the headliners are booked, it makes sense to announce them” or something to that effect. I couldn’t agree more.

Download 2012 had a fantastic set of headliners and it seemed almost impossible to me that they would come close to it for the 2013 festival. That would not be a bad thing though, because they set the bar really high with the 2012 headliners (in my opinion). This is entirely my opinion, but if you look at the last 3 years, there were 2 good years and one not so good year in the middle. The headliners were:

2010: AC/DC, RATM, Aerosmith – Three really strong headliners, capable of headlining most/all rock festivals. AC/DC in particular a strong booking as they don’t tend to play festivals anymore. 

2011: Def Leppard, System of a Down, Linkin Park – Bit of a weak set of headliners for me. Def Leppard are a good band and I want to see them live, but they also headlined in 2009, and it was too soon for them to come back. SOAD were immense at Download (went for that day especially to see them). Haven’t really cared for Linkin Park in about 5-6 years. 

2012: The Prodigy, Metallica, Black Sabbath – Three really strong headliners again. The Prodigy are the best and biggest non-rock band to play Download in its history. Metallica playing the Black Album in full was a superb show and the return of Black Sabbath to home soil was something special.

Looking at this, I assumed Download 2013 would not be to my exact tastes and I probably wouldn't end up going. Then in the last two weeks, they have announced the three headliners for the 2013 festival. They are:

Friday - Slipknot
Saturday - Iron Maiden
Sunday - Rammstein

They are a superb set of headliners. Two of them played Sonisphere 2010 and I thought then that Soni 2010 had a great set of headliners. Download 2013, despite having 2 of those bands, looks better. I'll explain why later. For now though, I'm going to look at the bands.

1)    Slipknot

Slipknot was somewhat of an unexpected booking, but I am happy with it. I say unexpected for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I think with rumours and leaks, people (myself included) were expecting Pearl Jam to be announced. I think, being honest, I'd have preferred Pearl Jam - but that is only because I've not seen them live. Back to Slipknot though, it is their first appearance at Donington since they headlined the festival in 2009 and they released a live DVD of that show. I watched it being streamed live and it was really good, so I can only imagine how good it was to be there in person. Another reason why Slipknot was an unexpected booking as they have no new material to promote. They recently released a best of album but nothing new. I hope they will mix up their set a little from their last UK visit (Sonisphere 2011) but even if they don't, it will still be great as they are a superb live band. There is one song I'd like to see live which I've not seen them play live which is My Plague. That song is one of the three that got me into the band (along with Wait and Bleed and Left Behind). Slipknot bring it live and the show that comes with it is always good.

2) Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden was the first band to be announced for Download 2013 - what a start! Iron Maiden is always a good band to see live so this again is a superb announcement. Iron Maiden at Download 2013 is a better announcement than Iron Maiden for Sonisphere 2010 for one reason - Maiden England. I'll be completely honest - when it comes to Iron Maiden, I prefer pre-1992 Iron Maiden material than the newer material. Don't get me wrong, it is good stuff, but the classic era material is classic for a reason. In my opinion, The Somewhere Back In Time tour was better than the A Matter of Life and Death tour, and the Maiden England tour will be better than The Final Frontier tour. The Maiden England tour focuses on the Seventh Son era of Iron Maiden with some other classic material from around that time thrown in. The setlist of this tour played in the USA is:

1)    Moonchild
2)    Can I Play With Madness?
3)    The Prisoner
4)    2 Minutes To Midnight
5)    Afraid To Shoot Strangers
6)    The Trooper
7)    The Number Of The Beast
8)    Phantom Of The Opera
9)    Run To The Hills
10)  Wasted Years
11)  Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
12)  The Clairvoyant
13)  Fear of the Dark
14)  Iron Maiden
15) Aces High
16) The Evil That Men Do
17) Running Free

That is an excellent classic packed Iron Maiden setlist. I still prefer the Somewhere Back In Time setlist but this set has a number of Maiden songs I have not seen live so I am really happy with it. Iron Maiden is another superb live band and a cracking announcement for Download - their first Donington appearance since 2007.

3) Rammstein

I've heard the words "Rammstein rumoured for Download" since I first went to Download in 2006, and I suspect they were rumoured before then. They had never appeared at a UK festival until the second leg of the European "LIFAD" tour, which appeared at Sonisphere 2010. One thing which people always say about Rammstein is that the live show is amazing. Having seen different versions of it, I can confirm this is true. They are also a great live band. Much like Iron Maiden, the tour which followed the "LIFAD" tour was a best of tour. The setlist was:

1)    Sonne
2)    Wollt Ihr Das Bett in Flammen sehen?
3)    Keine Lust
4)    Sehnsucht
5)    Asche Zu Asche
6)    Feuer Frei!
7)    Mutter
8)    Mein Teil
9)    Du Riechst So Gut
10)  Links 2-3-4
11)  Du Hast
12)  Haifisch
13) Buck Dich
14) Mann Gegen Mann
15) Ohne Dich
16) Mein Herz Brennt
17) Amerika
18) Ich Will
19) Engel
20) Pussy

That to me is almost the perfect Rammstein set list. It needs a little more LIFAD (Waidmanns Heil) and some other material from their back catalogue (Zwitter, Benzin, Rein Raus) but I don't know what I'd cut from the setlist in incorporate these songs. The stage show was utterly mental to go along with that show. I expect the songs that were on the "B Stage" to be cut for their festival setlist - because I don't expect there to be a "B Stage". That would make their set more "festival friendly" in terms of length. I know already that it will be immense and I know that Rammstein finally playing Download is a big deal. I think their quote about playing Download is arguably the best festival related quote ever. Picture the scene, Download 2013 is the 11th Download Festival. I suspect the bookers have tried, or have wanted to book Rammstein for most, if not all of them. So for the 2013 festival, Download has finally booked Rammstein. When asked, Rammstein said the following:

"It's just a festival, not a moon landing".


So the 3 main bands out of another 100+ to be announced have been announced and Download 2013 is looking awesome. I have already booked a hotel (as the camping last year, whoa) and booked a ticket so Download 2013 is on. I am hoping for some great bands in the undercard but I'm already excited for the festival. Well played Download, well played. 


The mornings are getting colder and slightly darker and it has been raining a lot lately. This usually means winter is on its way, which frankly, is a bit shit. But I’m not writing about the winter and cold weather today. I am looking back to the summer because it was a superb summer for this country. It was a summer which gripped almost the entire nation and had us all united, supporting the athletes and sportsmen/women who represented this country. I think throughout the Olympics and Paralympics, we all watched sports we had never watched before and have a new found passion for sport. If nothing else, that is a pretty damn good legacy for the Olympics/Paralympics to leave behind – but I am confident the legacy will be so much greater than that. Future members of Team GB will have been watching London 2012 and be inspired to be the best they possibly can be. Again, I’m not talking about the way off future, because I want to look back to this year and ask one question – which certainly has no simple answer.

Who will win BBC Sports Personality of the Year?

There are so many potential candidates this year from the Olympics and Paralympics alone that it could be the first time, that I can remember anyway, that there will be no footballers in the list. In my shortlist, I will have a footballer, but I can already reveal at this stage he isn’t my pick to win. I am going to be brutal to cut my list down to the people I have but here is my shortlist of 10 people (In no particular order):

1.       Andy Murray
2.       Bradley Wiggins
3.       Mo Farah
4.       Jessica Ennis
5.       Ben Ainslie
6.       David Weir
7.       Ellie Simmonds
8.       Sir Chris Hoy
9.       Rory McIlroy
10.   Frank Lampard

Now, there are a lot of big hitters in that list. There were also some people who I had to cut from that list that if it was longer, they absolutely would have been added. Such names as Jade Jones, Nicola Adams, Sarah Storey, Laura Trott, Victoria Pendleton and Greg Rutherford should be on that list. The only reason they are not is because this year is a stacked list. The only person I’d remove from my list to accommodate one of them is Frank Lampard – and then which one should I add?! I do not envy the BBC for having to create a shortlist of 10. I wondered for a while if it would be worth splitting the award into Male and Female awards but almost as soon as I thought that, I figured it would devalue the award. There is one Sports Personality of the Year (SPOTY) and that’s the way it should remain. Anyway, here are 10 people on a shortlist, why them?

Andy Murray

This year has been coming for Murray – and what a year it has been. Respectable showings in the Australian Open (semi final) and French Open (quarter final) were topped by a superb yet heartbreaking showing at Wimbledon. First British male singles finalist since 1938 and sadly, he lost to Roger Federer. His response I imagine was mirrored by many people around the country when he lost. I know I was gutted he was unable to win on home turf in Wimbledon. However, the year improved for Murray. At London 2012, he picked up a silver medal in mixed doubles with Laura Robson but extracted revenge over Federer for the Wimbledon final just weeks earlier by winning (in straight sets) the Olympic gold medal (the first British male to win the singles tennis Olympic gold since 1908). That lot probably would have got him the nomination, but then he secured his place on this list and possibly winning the whole thing by finally winning his first major, defeating Novak Djokovic to win the US Open. All in all, 2012 has been a stunning year for Andy Murray and a definite on the shortlist for SPOTY.

Bradley Wiggins

2012 has been a big year for Bradley Wiggins. He won a gold medal at the London 2012 games (Olympic Time Trial Champion) and in doing so, became one of the most decorated British athletes in Olympic history with 7 medals (tied with Sir Chris Hoy). However, what will likely be seen as his bigger success of this year will be him winning the Tour De France. Previously, no Briton had finished better than 4th (Wiggins had previously finished 4th). He not only won, but he won convincingly as well and was even able to allow Mark Cavendish the chance to win the final stage of the tour. Olympic success and beyond – this has been a superb year for Bradley Wiggins. A big favourite for SPOTY and someone who could well be up for a well deserved Knighthood.

Mo Farah

Farah is on this list purely for how good of a London 2012 he had. 2 gold medals on the track for Team GB is a stunning achievement for one man. The first came on what has now been dubbed “Super Saturday”. Mo Farah won the 10,000m race and did so in impressive fashion – taking the lead just before the last lap and holding it all the way until the finish. He won the 5,000m in an equally sublime fashion as the race a week earlier and capped off a superb games, creating multiple “moments” of the games. Could be an outsider for the overall SPOTY prize, but I really think this year’s success coupled with the work he does with the Mo Farah Foundation should see him on the New Years Honours List. Sir Mo Farah has a nice ring to it.

Jessica Ennis

The poster girl for the London 2012 Olympics made her Olympic debut at these games, and what a debut it was! Ennis won the Heptathlon Olympic Gold medal in superb fashion – setting personal bests as she went through the various sports that make up the heptathlon. A debut Olympic gold for Ennis means she should be on the short list for SPOTY 2012 – She has finished 3rd twice before (09 and 10). It is impossible to know if she will go one (or two) better at this stage.   

Ben Ainslie

London 2012 cemented what we already knew about Ben Ainslie - that he is one of the best ever Olympians.  He is definitely in a class of very few when it comes to Olympic competitive sailors. At London 2012 he won a gold medal which meant he became the first person to win medals in five different Olympics in sailing and the second person to win 4 gold medals in sailing. Ainslie was chosen as the flag bearer for Team GB at the closing ceremony, capping off a superb games for him. Possibly an outsider for SPOTY, but someone who will surely be promoted from his CBE.

David Weir

David Weir won 4 gold medals at the London 2012 Paralympics. That in itself is all I should need to say, but I will go on. He won those 4 gold’s in athletics, winning the 5,000m, 1,500m, 800m and finally the marathon. To get his gold medals, Weir travelled over 35 miles during the course of his races. Channel 4’s tagline for the Paralympics was “meet the super humans” and this sums up the feat of David Weir exactly. 4 races, 4 gold’s.  

Ellie Simmonds

If Jessica Ennis was the face of the Olympic Games, then Ellie Simmonds was the face of the Paralympic games. Being the face of the games is pressure enough for anyone (I’d imagine), but to handle that in the way Simmonds did, aged only 17, is something worth seriously commending. What is also worth commending is that Simmonds had a superb Paralympics, winning two gold’s (200m individual medley. 400m freestyle), a silver (100m freestyle) and a bronze (50m freestyle). Seen by the bookies as an outsider for the main prize, but that can only be due to having a stacked year.

Sir Chris Hoy

The 2008 winner of the BBC SPOTY award has had a superb year much like everyone else in this list. He was the flag bearer for Team GB at the opening ceremony and won 2 gold medals, one in the Team Sprint and one in Keirin. Getting the two gold’s at London 2012 made Hoy the most decorated British Olympic Athlete of all time with 7 medals (6 gold's and one silver). I can only assume that the London games were Sir Chris Hoy’s last Olympics, and what a way to sign off.

Rory McIlroy

2012 has been a pretty good year for Rory McIlroy. He became the second youngest man ever to become the world number one in the gold rankings and he also won the USPGA Championship by a record 8 strokes. He has become the first European to win four PGA Tour events in one season and still has a chance to improve on what has already been an impressive season. I am finishing this writing on the final day of the Ryder Cup, where presently, Europe is losing 10-6. If McIlroy does something to cut that deficit and help Europe win the cup, I would expect to see his odds of winning the BBC SPOTY cut significantly.

Frank Lampard

When trying to think of a footballer to add to the list, it was a tough call to make. I opted to go for Frank Lampard for one reason – he captained Chelsea when they won Europe’s top football prize – The Champions League. I’m sure that John Terry will come on stage and celebrate with him should he overcome what I can only imagine are huge odds to win BBC SPOTY. I’m not meaning in this blog to come from a demeaning place when discussing Lampard. I sense that I am a little. I felt there needed to be a footballer in the list, and any other year, this achievement could well see him finish top 3, but I just don’t see it this year. A shame.

Well, that is my top 10 and I feel as though it could easily have been a top 15 or 20. This year’s SPOTY will have a stacked shortlist, filled with people who on any other year would be the favourite. Below is my guess from my shortlist

1)      Andy Murray
2)      Bradley Wiggins
3)      David Weir

It’s a tough call for anyone to make, and I will be watching the show wondering how the UK as a whole will vote (as it is a public vote). I’m looking forward to finding out who wins this year, and that excitement will really kick in once the shortlist is finalised.