I got dragged out to Ivory Black’s in Glasgow after the Taste of Chaos tour on Saturday night. I gather it’s cheaper than the Classic Grand and full of less kiddies than the Cathouse. It was also flipping near empty! A shame as the music was excellent.
The point of this post, though. As I sat, helping drink the bar dry of tequila (why? I hate the stuff) there were two TVs on the wall in front of me. One was showing Penelope Spheeris‘ The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years. The other had last year’s Sonisphere “Big 4” video recorded in Sophia, Bulgaria.
The girls in our group seemed focussed on what Poison looked like in 1988. I was wishing the sound was up so I could hear Anthrax’ set.
However, as the older film approached its end, the final band featured playing live was Megadeth – featuring a very baby-faced and sneary Dave Mustaine. The band were on a small stage with no security. Fans were clambering up and launching themselves off with wild abandon – I can’t remember the last time I saw a stagediver at a gig. Seriously.
At the exact same moment on the other screen, Megadeth were finishing their set (in the lashing rain) in an arena or football ground in Bulgaria. A huge pit in front of them keeping them maybe 10m from the nearest fan. A huge sound setup. A crowd of maybe 50,000 or more.
It was just one of those coincidental moments, and it made me wonder… back in that first video did Mustaine have even the slightest inkling he’d be playing such a different environment around twenty years later? And who else would have believed that such a niche band would go on to such things.
Not just them, obviously. Metallica were also featured in both films. It just so happened that both Megadeths finished their songs/sets at the same time in front of me.
I can’t recall who, but apparently some tosspot on Radio 1 recently said that rock and metal is dead. Again. People like that obviously have no clue what they’re talking about and live in an little world of their own. All it takes is one glance at the gig listings in a magazine, or a check online to find the countless tours and festivals taking place.
The Download festival has arisen from the ashes of the old Donington Monsters of Rock. It now runs for four days. Sonisphere has appeared from nowhere and is adding new countries to its touring festival each year. Bloodstock. Hard Rock Hell. Damnation. High Voltage. That’s just the tip of the iceberg – and that’s only the UK.
Bands that didn’t even hit the heights of the likes of Metallica are still touring. Some are making comebacks, some never went away. In the last few weeks I’ve seen Annihilator and Exodus, to name but two.
Despite a continued lack of radio support (come on, Radio 1 – one show a week… at midnight?) heavy metal has continued to live and breathe for decades. It’s constantly being written off, but it has the most dedicated fans of any genre of music.
The internet has definitely helped – as it has with other types of music – allowing new bands a cheap outlet for their demos. This has without a doubt made a huge difference, especially around the late 90’s when thing were a little sparce in the metal field.
But now we have bands like Poison selling out arenas in the US. Lawnmower Deth, at the other end of the scale, are playing a couple of gigs a year after 15 years or so in retirement. Judas Priest are still going despite the band being old enough to have grandfathered a huge proportion of their fans.
You can have your own opinions about the music, but there’s no denying it. Heavy metal is here to stay.
Just deal with it.