Ro­nan Mcgreevy

It re­mains as shunned as ever by the main­stream, but metal is fight­ing fit and ready to mount a sum­mer takeover of some of Europe’s big­gest fes­ti­vals. So what’s the deal with Ire­land, asks

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - MUSIC -

Love them or hate them – and the band don’t care one way or an­other – Me­tal­lica have earned the right to head­line Glas­ton­bury next week. If commercial suc­cess is the ar­biter, in the first in­stance, of what makes a head­liner, Me­tal­lica’s al­bum sales are far in ex­cess of the weekend’s other two head­lin­ers, Ar­cade Fire and Kasabian. The Black Al­bum is the big­gest-sell­ing al­bum of the past 25 years on SoundS­can, sur­pass­ing 16 mil­lion sales in the US last month, and it’s not even their best.

In crit­i­cal terms, Me­tal­lica have two al­bums in Rolling Stone’s list of the top 500 of all time. They’ve played with the San Fran­cisco Sym­phony Orches­tra and the pi­anist Lang Lang – who know what great mu­sic sounds like.

That their bril­liance has some­what waned in re­cent decades should not be a dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion – no­body be­grudged The Rolling Stones or Paul McCart­ney their Glas­ton­bury head­line slot, even though they had been stink­ing the place out cre­atively for years.

The hos­til­ity to­wards Me­tal­lica is in­dica­tive of a bunker-mu­sic men­tal­ity as re­flected in the ill-ad­vised com­ments made about them. They will be clash­ing with Scot­tish in­stru­men­tal­ists Mog­wai who dis­missed Me­tal­lica as “shite”. This from a band named af­ter a Grem­lin.

The mu­si­cal apartheid which deems it odd that Me­tal­lica should head­line a main­stream fes­ti­val only seems to be prac­tised in Bri­tain and Ire­land – where heavy metal is treated like the bold stepchild who should be heard and never seen. Other main­stream Euro­pean fes­ti­vals, such as Roskilde in Den­mark, will hap­pily mix Me­tal­lica with Sigur Rós, as they did last year, while Rock Am Ring in Ger­many has had Me­tal­lica, The Killers and Kaiser Chiefs on the same bill.

Me­tal­lica are also the head­lin­ers for this year’s Sonisphere, Europe’s big­gest trav­el­ling fes­ti­val. It trav­els to seven coun­tries this year – Nor­way, Fin­land, Switzer­land, Poland, Italy, Ger­many, and the UK, the only place where it is a multi-day event. It will play to more than 300,000 fans in to­tal.

Sonisphere was founded five years ago by mu­sic pro­moter Stu­art Gal­braith as a tour­ing hard rock fes­ti­val.

Hard rock strug­gles every­where for main­stream ex­po­sure and ra­dio air­play, but bal­anced against that, he says, is the “mas­sive loy­alty and sense of com­mu­nity” that does not ex­ist in any other mu­sic genre.

Gal­braith is par­tic­u­larly scathing about the BBC. “It is telling that the BBC has only one rock pro­gramme across its whole pub­lic broad­cast­ing net­work which broad­casts for a cou­ple of hours late at night with Dan Carter.” (BBC Ra­dio 1, Tues­day at mid­night.)

At Kneb­worth, Me­tal­lica are one of three head­lin­ers along with Iron Maiden and The Prodigy for Sonisphere UK which takes place

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