Metallica have divided opinion like no other headliner before them (yeah, even Jay Z) and as Glastonbury kicks off, debate rages on whether or not the heavy metal band are the right headliner for the original “hippie” festival. 

Should Metallica be headlining Glastonbury?

“Hell, Yes!” By Abbey Fleming

A great deal of controversy has swamped heavy metal band, Metallica, following the announcement that they are to headline this year’s Glastonbury Festival. Most of the backlash comes from fans of the festival who do not feel that Metallica are the ‘right’ type of band to play on the illustrious Pyramid Stage, of what is known to be a predominantly ‘hippie’ festival. Glastonbury is one of the most renowned music festivals in the world. As such, organisers have prided themselves on showcasing a wide variety of music; previous headliners have highlighted the festival’s diversity, ranging from The Smiths to Beyoncé, organisers Michael and Emily Eavis have expressed their eagerness at maintaining their reputation of diverse line-ups. Country Queen, Dolly Parton will also perform at this year’s festival, as will dub-step DJ Skrillex and indie-folk singer, Jake Bugg, so why not Metallica? Diverse line-ups give festival-goers choice and means all tastes are catered for. To put it simply, those who are against Metallica headlining are not being forced into attending their performance; there will be plenty of other bands and artists playing at the same time as Metallica that might better suit the tastes of the anti-Metallica crowd. When scanning through previous Glastonbury headliners, it becomes apparent that, although they all perform different types of music, they have one thing in common: they are all top artists in their genre. Therefore, it makes perfect sense that Metallica deserve to headline as they are one of the most successful, popular and influential bands in heavy metal history. 

Read any Metallica gig review and you learn that this is the kind of performance that they give. They have played to crowds of thousands and know how to keep a large audience entertained. Metallica’s headline slot is surely great news for their many fans, but it may also be an opportunity for the band to gain some new followers. Many of this year’s ticket holders who may never have thought of listening to or going to see the band could find themselves at the Pyramid Stage crowd this Saturday night. Whether they are accompanying a friend or simply want to give heavy metal music a chance, many are likely to be surprised at how much they enjoyed what is sure to be, judging by existing concert footage and reviews, an electric performance. The decision for Metallica to headline will likely prove to be beneficial for both the band and Glastonbury. By having a heavy metal band headline for the first time, Glastonbury have allowed themselves to compete with Download Festival, which is the most popular rock festival in the UK. Although Download takes places before Glastonbury, after the headline acts were announced for both festivals, rock fans may have been swayed in their ticket buying decision; Metallica are a far more esteemed and beloved band in the heavy metal world than those who headlined Download this year. The chance to be in the Metallica crowd may have proven more enticing than Linkin Park or Avenged Sevenfold (two of Download’s headliners) and could convince would-be Download attendees to buy a Glastonbury ticket instead. For Metallica, it gives them the opportunity to perform some of their new material for both established and new fans in order to promote their upcoming album. Metallica have been supported by many other bands including fellow Glastonbury headliners, Kasabian, and rightly so: having been active since 1981, named as one of the most influential bands in metal and with 9 Grammys to their name, Metallica really deserve their place on the Pyramid Stage.

“Fuck, No!” By Jaq Inglis

Metallica should not headline Glastonbury.

Festival headlining/booking is not an exact science, there are a myriad of factors for why an act is booked and when. For a festival widely held as one of, if not the single most prestigious of its kind in the world, the pressure is on to deliver acts of strong cultural relevance that will happily part punters with £200+ a pop to watch what has the potential to be a historical spectacle and performance milestone. As a qualifier I would not classify myself as a Metallica fan, which, although is important is also not one which disqualifies the views presented. While by no means am I a fan of Bruce Springsteen or The Rolling Stones, I can still recognise both as terrific headliners, but this unfortunately is not the case here. Let us review the Glastonbury headliners over the last 5 years as the timeline goes nearly halfway to when Metallica were last important to music. 2013 :Arctic Monkeys, The Rolling Stones and Mumford & Sons, 2011 :U2, Coldplay and Beyonce, 2010 : Gorillaz, Muse and Stevie Wonder, 2009 : Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen and Blur and 2008 : Kings of Leon, Jay-Z and The Verve. In broad terms, these can be categorised into two categories as either new acts rising to or even reaching their peak (Kings Of Leon, Mumford & Sons) or reformed/miraculously still going “classic” acts (Stevie Wonder, Blur). Embarrassingly, the easiest parallel to the ‘anti-headliner X argument’ comes in the form of a fairly idiotic Noel Gallagher quote, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. If you start to break it then people aren’t going to go. I’m sorry, but Jay-Z? No chance. Glastonbury has a tradition of guitar music and even when they throw the odd curve ball in on a Sunday night you go ‘Kylie Minogue?’ I don’t know about it. But I’m not having hip-hop at Glastonbury. It’s wrong.”

The distinction comes between this and the case for Metallica in that this comment was proven to be nonsense by the fact that Mr. Carter put in one of the most memorable headline performances of recent years. This blind guitars-only view was proven to be entirely wrong and the last and loudest laugh was had by Hova himself. Although, there is the potential for a defining moment to be had by the thrash metal overlords in typical Glastonbury fashion, it is unlikely. Jay-Z’s show was nothing if not unifying and genre crossing whereas this has the potential to be quite divisive and fall on unwanting ears. Perhaps it is similarly small minded to say, but those who would usually attend a Metallica show are a different beast from the Glastonbury-goer. Although, if James Hetfield comes out and fudges a cover of “Live Forever” before smashing “Enter Sandman” this may ease the crossover nicely. As a band renowned even within their own genre and scene for poor live performances the Glasto history books are likely safe, but who knows, a Gallagher brothers’ quote later and we may see a performance for the ages.

(Credit : Noel Gallagher quote taken from NME.com)

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