The debate is raging. Is the Download 2010 bill one of the best ever as Castle Donington bids to celebrate its 30th anniversary as a festival venue?
Or have organisers thrown too many eggs into one very expensive basket at the expense of beefing up the bill with quality and consistency from top to bottom?
There’s no doubt that the big three of AC/DC, Rage Against The Machine and Aerosmith as headliners are as strong as anything any other festival has to offer this summer.
And when you throw the likes of Them Crooked Vultures, Bullet For My Valentine, Stone Temple Pilots and 30 Seconds To Mars into the mix it’s a wonder anyone has the temerity to suggest this isn’t the best rock and metal shindig around.
Where Download has gambled in recent years is in the move away from its heavy metal roots towards a more diverse bill – in 2010 spanning everything from Lawnmower Death to Cinderella.
There’s heavy rock, thrash metal, classic rock, hair metal, prog and even, in the case of Billy Idol, pop rock.
As a fan of guitar music in all of its rockiest forms – indie is the devil’s music by the way – I love the fact that one festival pulls together the top acts from every field. And puts them in one big field.
The chance to see Dommin and Saxon alongside Ratt and Motorhead on the same stage on the same day is surely what Castle Donington is all about. Showcasing Dillinger Escape Plan back-to-back with Steel Panther is both brave and brilliant.
Of course for some Download has become everything to everyone and, as a result, is losing some of its killer punch. And the announcement of 22 varied acts this week seems to have polarised opinion rather than offer conclusive proof that Castle Donington is the place to be this June.
But the vibe, camaraderie and community spirit which underpinned 2009’s event proved that rock and metal fans of every genre mix well.
And it suggested they enjoy each other’s company as much as they enjoy casting their eyes over bands normally way beyond their musical comfort zone.
The day Download trades its inclusivity for a narrow-minded line-up lacking versatility is the day it will lose its unique spark. But the proof will be in the financial pudding.
Last year’s festival was a sun-soaked sell-out and if Live Nation repeat the trick 12 months down the line they’ll know they’ve got it right – again.