It was 22 years since the Quireboys last graced the Castle Donington stage and back then they were one of only five bands on one stage at the legendary Monsters Of Rock festival.

Times have changed to a quite mind-blowing effect and more than two decades on it was easy to miss the fact that Spike and his pals were back on familiar turf.

Tucked away on the second stage on a delayed day one, their set suffered from the fact that thousands of fans were still queuing to gain entry to the sodden site. 

And even if you made it over to the Zippo Encore stage in time to see the Quireboys then half of the standing room available was deemed unsafe until the dying stages of the band’s truncated show.

Yet Spike has always loved a challenge and it took more than terrible weather and a relative lack of support to blow the genial Geordie off course.

The Quireboys have always played to whoever, whenever and wherever and the band’s lack of pretention and positive approach is part of their enduring appeal. In fact every festival would benefit from a rousing rendition of 7 O’Clock.

It’s easy to forget that this was once a band managed by Sharon Osbourne, with a number two UK album under its belt and the image to challenge Guns N Roses. These days that success might seem like a distant memory but the Quireboys are writing the best material of their careers right now.

The current line-up is a decade old and their live sets scream togetherness, tightness and toughness. A focused Download set – capped off by the powerhouse ballad I Don’t Love You Anymore – proved the point.

A similarly sweet acoustic set 24 hours later went down a storm and Guns N Roses fans will be in for a treat when the Quireboys open up for Axl and co. in Switzerland next week.

Simon Rushworth