Last years heavy metal cup final at Castle Donington was a bizarre experience. I ran into friends I hadn’t seen in a long long time. I’m old enough to have seen some of the same bands in the same field over 20 years earlier. This time I had the rare treat of VIP access and all the trappings that went with that (no queue at the bar and mixing with the bands themselves) but it was still a battle against the angry Norse Gods of old.
It poured with rain the whole time. I mean it fucking beat it down. Torrential. Footwear and mobile phones were lost to the sludge in their hundreds as the all consuming brown blob forever rolled down hill.
People who should have been there to sing and dance and drink and snog instead huddled under tarps and wrapped up in their winter coats to watch their bands.
I’m old now (remember, I’ve been going to this festival for over 20 years) and I have seen this sort of thing many times. Any festival veteran in the UK has. I have to say, I just love the way Metalhead’s get on with it. They look around at the seventh ring of hades unfolding around them and they say out loud “Could be worse, we could get struck by lightning”. They slide on their bellies in the mud and part ways when a tray of beers is being carried from the bar to the pit. All the while, wishing the transporter “Good luck with that Mate”.
I saw the mother of a twenty something lad in a wheelchair push him and his cart through 5 inches of mud to the merch stall to choose which Black Sabbath T-Shirt he wanted. And I saw burly bikers in the crowd carry them both back to the observation platform once he’d chosen.
I stood there freezing watching Amon Amarth, Jane’s Addiction, Monster Truck and Nightwish. All the while the mud poured into my boots, but I was smiling. As the evening grew dark I slipped and dipped the entire left hand side of body in to the light brown mudpack moving between on stage and another.
I was only down for a second and suddenly I was helped up by two Teenage Girls and a Teenage Boy. All three of them were dressed in PVC maids outfits with their hair in pigtails. It was a strange sight. They struck kung-fu poses as I thanked them and they ran off babbling something they though sounded like Japanese towards the stage for Iron Maiden.
They looked ridiculous, but they were having the weekend of their lives. Bless ‘Em.
When I finally got into my car to begin the journey home (after spending over 40 minutes pushing the back end onto the road) I set off driving, bare foot with the heaters on full. As I reached some open road, this track came on the radio. Bombastic, heavy and fast metal twinned with teeny pop vocals in a completely foreign language. It’s insane and hilarious. And it rocks!
Donington don’t ever change.