Glitter in the forest ; In one of the region's biggest weekends of the year for live events, thousands enjoyed busy bills at Download and Sherwood Pines, while venues were packed nearer to home. Joel Wainwright, Phil Viles, Jayne Garfitt, Alan Geary and Shezad Khalil report
Download - Friday Donington Park Joel Wainwright FOR better or worse, for richer or poorer, the avowed rock and metal fans made their annual pilgrimage to Donington Park. As ever, the perfect summer festival weather is never guaranteed and it was a day where brief, but heavy, showers traded with sunny spells as readily as the merchandisers traded plastic ponchos and T-shirts.
Whether they were sporting proper waterproofs or fancy dress, thousands roamed the arena to see their favourite bands or indulge their adventurous natures on the fairground rides. The new zip line, hoisted high above the throngs, seemed a welcome addition judging by the amount of participants.
As for the music - well, there's never any shortage of diversity at Download. Local lads Emperor Chung opened the Pepsi Max stage to an already rain-soaked crowd and throughout the day there were decent stints from the likes of Papa Roach, Down, Volbeat and Korn, while Zico Chain's brief set on the Red Bull stage was a personal highlight.
Headliners Slipknot could hardly hope to match their epic and award-winning performance from 2009 but, despite some short safety stoppages due to broken barricades, the boys from Iowa nicely finished off the day for the wet and weary.
Download - Saturday Donington Park Joel Wainwright AS much as we'd sometimes like to, it's just impossible to be everywhere at once. For the Download faithful, there's so much to see and do that inevitable sacrifices have to be made.
Even the fastest on their feet would struggle to flit from stage to stage and, with Saturday's crowd always that much larger, treading through the mud-soaked arena can almost be a bit of a chore. Thankfully, Donington enjoyed much longer pockets of sunshine, giving those with tired legs a chance to spread out and appreciate their chosen acts.
Black Star Riders, basically a rekindled Thin Lizzy line-up, entertained the soaked in the welcome sunshine before giving way to a mixed afternoon and evening from Mastodon, Alice in Chains and Queens of the Stone Age.
Along the way, Lemmy and Motorhead paid a nice tribute to former drummer Phil Taylor, bringing him on stage to take the applause with the band.
Saturday's main event - the only event in the minds of thousands of their fans - was the two-hour onslaught of Iron Maiden. Ushered in with a fly-by from an RAF Spitfire, Bruce and co delivered every one of their classic tracks.
Blondie/Lightning Seeds Sherwood Pines Jayne Garfitt WITH a star- studded line up of not one but two great bands, expectations were high as people entered the arena hidden among the trees at Sherwood Pines.
The Lightning Seeds were up first - but as a warm-up act were more than a little underwhelming.
While the band favourably chose to play all the classics, such as Lucky You and Life Of Riley, the acoustic versions failed to ignite the sell-out-crowd. Even Sugar Coated Iceberg was slowed right down, almost to the point of being dull.
Luckily, Blondie's arrival on stage, with Deborah Harry in a hot pink outfit, got the crowd going almost straight away with One Way Or Another. With Harry's voice as strong as ever, even at 67, Blondie belted out their most popular hits including Hanging On The Telephone and Atomic. Union City Blue didn't quite receive the same reception but, unfazed, the band carried on in to The Tide Is High, soon getting everyone back on their feet, swaying along with the trees. Coming back on stage to an encore of Relax, Call Me and Dreaming there was no doubt that Blondie rocked the forest.
Paloma Faith Sherwood Pines Phil Viles THERE are some things in life you can rely on. Paloma Faith bringing an air of elegance and sassiness to this small woodland clearing in Sherwood Forest is one of those. Snaking across the stage in a slinky, sparkling green vintage dress, dangerously high heels and fascinator, she's sexy and sultry, but apparently a little thief, too, if opener Agony is any example of her kleptomania as it blatantly robs the chorus from The Killers' Mr Brightside.
She's also a little bit zany.
Her in-between-song banter is delivered with a sharp comedic charm, yet she's capable of seamlessly transforming herself back into sassy mode with consummate ease, particularly on soulful covers of INXS's Never Tear Us Apart and Etta James' I'd Rather Be Blind.
Elsewhere the glossy New York is polished gold, Stone Cold Sober is a glam stomp of soul-funk, Blood, Sweat and Tears is unabashed 80s disco and 30 Minute Love Affair is like a lost Madonna number.
Her voice is powerful and silky, and she saves the best until last. Picking Up The Pieces is majestic, with swirling ticker tape turning the stage into a giant snow dome. Emotive yet joyous, it rounds off her glistening, entertaining set perfectly.
Inside Out Of Mind Lakeside Arts Centre Alan Geary WITH Tanya Myers's Inside Out Of Mind we're at a hospital, in an assessment centre for dementia patients. This isn't so much a play in the traditional sense: narrative content and development are not important.
But you might come away from it with a close appreciation of what it's like to be in such a place. More importantly, you might have greater empathy for the people involved, staff as well as patients.
In fact, when the message properly kicks in, it could be regarded as a piece of agitprop demanding better pay and proper training for the folk who look after dementia sufferers. People who doubt that all nurses etc are angels might not buy it, but a lot of people will. It is, after all, a powerful piece of theatre.
Acting standards are high, particularly when it comes to Maurice Roeves, as Mr P, Maxine Finch (Grace and Elsie) and Joanna Macleod (Muriel and Brenda). Lighting is outstanding; at the start it superimposes on the set the suggestion of a forest with things darting about like neurons. This is a ground-breaking collaboration between Meeting Ground Theatre Company, the Lakeside, the NHS, Nottingham University and The Institute of Mental Health. It runs until Saturday, June 29.
Jugni Nottingham Playhouse Shezad Khalil SONIA Sabri Company, a Birmingham-based group established by artistic directors Sonia and Sarvar Sabri have spent the last decade involved in experimenting with and delivering the traditional South Asian dance form of Kathak. Their latest composition; Jugni, meaning female firefly, was a performance that was influenced by the idea of female empowerment.
With a strong cast of five female performers, Sonia's skilful and meticulous mixture of emotions that modern women endure across the globe, ranging from sentiments of love, pity, anger, jealousy, subservience to authority, supremacy and control. So effective and ingenious were the dance phrases through the use of shape, form, speed and timing that the performance took Sonia's choreography to another level as the observer was able to look beyond the styles of dance that the artists had been trained in as their bodies began to communicate a language of their own.
Scored by tabla maestro Sarvar Sabri, Jugni is a masterpiece as it celebrates the emancipation of women in today's world.
Iron Maiden and Oueens of the Stone Age pictures: MARK FEAR Paloma Faith picture: LAURA PATTERSON
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