Thrilling in the Name - Download organisers have got the headliners spot on!

United Kingdom United Kingdom | 17 February 2010

The masterminds behind Download Festival’s bills have landed some cracking triple whammies in their time (Tool, Metallica and Guns ‘n Roses in 2006) and unforgivably served up some cringeworthy lows (Kiss, The Offspring and Lost Prophets in 2008). But there can be no argument about the top drawer trio of AC/DC, Rage Against The Machine and Aerosmith this year.

The Aussie music institution are the rock coup, not just for alternative-minded events, but for any major festival on this island. Iron Maiden, Metallica, even Black Sabbath with wee Ozzy shuffling around can’t compete with the seismic pull of AC/DC, and, as if to prove a point, they crammed stadiums from London to Glasgow on consecutive nights last summer without a sniff of a spare brief up for grabs.

Okay, with the slack internet leak that they were playing weeks before it was confirmed, the showpiece announcement was met with shocking indifference, but that won’t matter a jot to the ticket-buyers come June - many of them making the trip to Donington for the first time under the shiny banner of Download.

Rage Against The Machine is another no-brainer. Every booking agent worth their budget was desperately trying to nab the reformed rap-metal quartet in 2008. Rumour had it that Download were winning that signature race before the Leeds and Reading combo proved too enticing for the easily irritated Yanks.
With a shock Christmas No. 1 under their belts and the glare of publicity surrounding the resulting free gig they'll play in London, RATM will ride a wave of hype and drama all the way to Donington, where they'll rip the field in half with another devastatingly hostile performance.

American movie-soundtrack giants Aerosmith are the weakest link this year, but following the successful punt on Def Leppard to close Sunday's 'classic rock' day last summer, it's one well worth taking.

They might seem as relevant to your typical Download-goer as a MiniDisc album sale, but faced with the prospect of another Metallica, Iron Maiden or Slipknot show, even the most grudging, narrow-minded DevilDriver fan would have to admit it's refreshing to see some 'new' faces on the stage.

And that's the fundamental selling-point of this year's top trio: it's all as refreshing as a few old-timers and a group of middle-aged anarchists can possibly be.

AC/DC don't bounce between rival events year-on-year; RATM are far from notching a Biffy Clyro style home-run of the nation's biggest stages; and most folk thought Aerosmith perished with Bruce Willis at the end of Armageddon.

With Sonisphere desperate to land a knock-out blow with Rammstein and Iron Maiden, High Voltage springing up from nowhere with ZZ Top and ELP, and even smaller fish like Bloodstock Open Air upping their game significantly with the capture of Heaven & Hell, Download have netted a hat-trick, which still sees them lead the way in 2010.

By Gavin McInally.

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