between July 4th and 6th.
When both Metallica and Iron Maiden were announced for Sonisphere, there were more than a few groans on social media.
Great bands as they are, their ubiquity as metal festival headliners has attracted a lot of whinging, but Galbraith is unrepentant.
After landing a coup of getting the UK’s only performance of the “big four” (Metallica, Anthrax, Slayer and Metallica) in 2011, Galbraith put together a vintage line-up of headliners compromising of Faith No More, Queen and Kiss in 2012. It flopped and he had to cancel.
Lesson learned, there was no Sonisphere at Knebworth last year because he couldn’t secure headliners good enough to be sure of selling tickets.
“We’ve been very open in our views on Sonisphere at Knebworth,” he said. “If we think we can put together a bill and have headliners that can sell and work, we’ll run,” he says.
“Metallica and Iron Maiden sell tickets. They enable us to run a festival which sells tickets and people vote with their feet. We’ve learned that despite comments and criticisms from people saying we want new headliners, we did that and people didn’t buy tickets.
“I’m afraid we have to work on bills that will sell and that means that we end up with repeat headliners because that is what people want to see.” Galbraith says it is “fantastic” that Metallica are playing Glastonbury, giving mainstream exposure on the BBC to a genre which is completely ignored otherwise. “It is good for both rock and metal. As we have been saying there are precious few outlets for rock, particularly on the BBC.”
It helps that Britain’s two big outdoor rock festivals at Download and Sonisphere are eminently accessible by air for Irish fans and thousands make the pilgrimage every year.
The last outdoor hard rock festival for Ireland was Download in 2006 at the RDS which featured a particularly strong line-up involving Metallica, Guns N’Roses and Alice in Chains.
Sadly, there will be no manifestation of Sonisphere in Ireland any time soon, says Galbraith, though countries such as Finland, Switzerland and Norway are able to generate the 30,000 to 40,000 minimum crowd needed to make the festival sustainable.
“We’ve thought about it, but the market isn’t strong enough to fit a festival of this calibre,” he explains. “There isn’t a strong enough metal/rock audience in Ireland to make it viable I’m afraid.”
Homegrown fans will have to be content with gigs by Slayer (July 1st) and Anthrax (July 2nd), both in the Academy, Dublin, in advance of their appearances at Sonisphere the following weekend.
Those thinking of making the trip to Sonisphere could also include Black Sabbath’s possible last ever concert which will be on Friday night, July 4th, in Hyde Park and will feature an extremely strong support bill of Faith No More, Soundgarden and Motörhead.
This weekend features one of the strongest ever line-ups at a hard rock festival at Hellfest, which is staged in Clisson near Nantes, in France. It includes Black Sabbath, Aerosmith, Iron Maiden, Slayer, Deep Purple, Avenged Sevenfold and Status Quo.
Europe’s biggest metal festival, Wacken Open Air, in northern Germany, takes place between July 31st and August 2nd, but there is no point in looking for tickets. It sold out within 48 hours.
Metallica play Glastonbury next Saturday night. Coverage begins on BBC2 at 9.30pm
Coming soon to a European stage (not) near you, clockwise from above left: Steve Harris (Iron Maiden), Mike Patton (Faith No More), Steven Tyler (Aerosmith), James Hetfield (Metallica)