Review: Norfolk’s RavenEye at Download

Raveneye, including Norfolk's Oli Brown centre, who performed at Download 2016

Raveneye, including Norfolk's Oli Brown centre, who performed at Download 2016 - Credit: Archant

With the likes of Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden topping the bill, Download is the biggest rock and heavy-metal festival in the UK – and one of the biggest in the world.

So being given the job of opening proceedings in front of a discerning crowd – with few, if any, of those present there specifically to see you – is not easy. Add to that the fact you're the guinea pig for the sound system and all the other gubbins, and the potential for problems is clear.

But RavenEye – fronted by Norfolk-born singer-guitarist Oli Brown – pull it off superbly. It's a short set, for sure, but they come out of the blocks with all guns blazing and immediately get the Castle Donington audience in the palms of their hands.

As the first band on the Encore stage, which is the second of the four Download stages, they tap into some of the showmanship that's played such a big part in rock 'n' roll history, including the frontman's trademark ride on bassist Aaron Spiers's shoulders.

The highlights of the five-song set are Breaking Out and Hey Hey Yeah, complete with its audience participation. (Meanwhile, hats off to the festival's technical team – it all comes across crystal clear and there's none of that nonsense whereby the acts lower down the bill are hindered with dodgy sound, only for things to pick up magically when the headliners arrive later.)

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As it soon transpires, RavenEye are one of only three or four acts on the entire three-day bill to play before the heavens open. The whole weekend quickly becomes a quagmire, with the arena and the campsites awash with rivers of mud.

That will all come later, though. For now, briefly, the day is RavenEye's.

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'This is pretty awesome,' says Brown as he takes in the magnitude of the event. Those watching no doubt feel the same.

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