Axl Rose’s decision to up his game could hardly have been better timed for the masses who sensibly chose to follow Slash at Download 2012.

Given the fact that rock n roll’s most dangerous frontman is finally performing to the peak of his considerable powers, Stoke’s finest could easily have wilted under the pressure at Castle Donington.

Until this year Slash had no competition when it came to giving Guns N Roses fans the anthems they crave with credibility and passion. But last month’s UK arena shows saw Rose in the form of his life – laying down the proverbial gauntlet to the man in the hat. 

Thankfully it was a challenge Slash and Myles Kennedy met with relish. And instead of allowing Axl his moment of triumph one of the slickest partnerships in rock raised their own high standards to usher in the Apocalyptic Love era in style.

With his new album only a week old Slash could easily have stuck to plugging lead single You’re A Lie and focused almost entirely on better-known tunes. Instead he placed his faith in some fantastic original music including the stunning Anastacia – featuring the latest in a slew of classic riffs from the ultimate guitar hero.

But the biggest cheers were reserved, rather predictably, for the GnR hits and there was a considerable crossover between Slash’s set and that delivered by Axl days before. The two shows shared five songs ensuring even closer scrutiny of rock’s hottest contest.

Nothing can beat Slash playing Sweet Child O Mine and Paradise City but Kennedy can’t quite match Rose on the latter. With nothing to choose between the duo’s delivery of Nightrain and Rocket Queen (Kennedy was superb on this firm live favourite) it came down to Mr Brownstone as the game clincher. And even though Download loved every minute of the Slash version, those who saw Rose performing the same song would surely agree the GnR version was even better.

If the dream of a cosy reunion will never really die it seems about as likely as Steel Panther getting serious. So perhaps rock fans the world over should simply  revel in the fact that Axl’s rebirth at least offers a compelling alternative if you’re in the market for GnR gold dust. Slash responded positively. So should you.

Simon Rushworth