My taste in music is scattered. I like a bit of everything (except classical music which is shit). Although my collection is mainly indie there are lots of Sugababes, De La Soul, Beach Boys, various musicals and Miles Davis stuff in there. To be very honest, I only bought the Miles Davis stuff because having jazz albums lying around automatically makes you look cool. I have no intentions of ever listening to it. I like little bits of Ska, little bits of Electronica, little bits of Pop, really wee tiny, tiny, tiny bits of Reggae and little bits of Opera. But my first love may turn out to be my last. Lately, I have become metal thrashing mad.
I was 11 when I saw Iron Maiden perform Running Free live on Top Of The Pops and I loved them. They were the first band in years to perform really, properly live. They sounded awful and looked like twats. How could I not completely relate to them? I taped the song off the radio and listened to it on repeat. The next year I joined their fan club. Buying any of their records was beyond me financially but it had never actually occurred to me to that buying their records was that important. It certainly wasn't as important as owning a badge with their name on it and having a badly printed crap magazine with their beautiful mascot, Eddie, smudged on the cover. Soon buying Kerrang! magazine and learning more about Iron Maiden and their equally good looking and fashionable contemporaries became a normal part of my waking-up-go-to-school-be-bored-go-to-bed life. These people fitted in nowhere but had somehow made a career of their geekiness, odd shaped bodies and terrible hair. I liked these people a lot.
Soon Def Leppard, Gillan and Judas Priest would be scrawled over my schoolbag and, as I got older, Megadeth, Anthrax and Metallica joined them. Why did I like them? Why wasn't I into the same music as my classmates and other people my age that I knew? Easy. I was a geek the day I was born and it was almost impossible to disguise that. Kids at my school loved The Specials and fighting and showing off their schoolpubes. That wasn't me. I was, and still am, almost completely hairless, my wrists are too snappable for fighting and The Specials reflected the stark reality of their generation. Like I say, I was a geek and wasn't supposed to be part of this generation and in Heavy Metal I saw other awkward people revelling in their geekiness. Plus their music was over-the-top, loud and funny. All the things none of us could be outside of the music. Not without getting a slap off a 6ft 13 year old who wears his pubes as a badge.
Plus other bands were liars. U2 were worthy, serious and tedious and sang about things they thought they could sell. Whereas Twisted Sister got drunk, put on their sisters clothes and shouted. I know who I have more respect for.
In 1987 I made the ultimate Heavy Metal pilgrimage. I went to the Monsters Of Rock Festival at Castle Donnington. I saw Cinderella, W*A*S*P, Anthrax, Metallica, Dio and (embarrassingly) Bon Jovi and as it was a Heavy Metal pilgrimage I did the decent thing and went alone. All the way from Belfast on a bus. Two days (there and back) without sleep. To meet my people.
Lately, I can't seem to stop listening to Metallica (and A Little Night Music apparently) so it was with an incredible amount of excitement that I went to see them last night. It didn't bother me that I had never been so far away from the stage in my life. I had tickets for the front of the balcony at the Odeon Cinema, Leicester Square and the band themselves where in Sofia, Bulgaria. It didn't hinder my view though because the gig was magically broadcast to the cinema. I know. It's weird. A full on Heavy Metal gig where people sit quietly, eating popcorn and staring at a screen. At least no-one was in my way or touching me or jumping up and down in front of me and there was none of that booze to ruin things. Yes, it was a very grown up affair. Heavy Metal is growing old gracefully just like me.
Just like in 1987, it was a full on festival. Not just Metallica but Slayer, Anthrax and Megadeth also. And just like in 1987, I went on my own. I didn't mean to but I did. I was supposed to go with a girl this time (God, that would have blown their minds in '87) but it was a girl who might be a little bit late and then it was a girl who might have to do a bit more work actually and then it was a girl who will probably not be there until the end. Oh, well. I can still walk in there with my head held high and simply shout "I AM MARRIED NOW. A WOMAN HAS HAD SEX WITH ME. SEE THIS COCK? I'M NOT THE ONLY ONE TO HAVE TOUCHED IT" but when I got there there were only about 30 men there (no women obviously) and, as they all looked like me, I screamed and left.
There is no way I'm going to be able to do this without booze.
A great idea smashed me in the face. I'll go on Twitter and see if anyone is around and have a drink with them. I reached for my phone and thought "DON'T FUCKING DO THAT! WHAT IF SOMEONE SAYS YES". I normally never listen to me but I had to begrudgingly admit that I had a point. Luckily, Liz Buckley is even stupider than me because she had tweeted what I hadn't the guts to tweet. She was in Central London and needed booze company. Yay! Liz is my favourite! I can booze WITH A GIRL then go to see Metallica! FUCK YOU, 1987!
We had booze in the sun and I left Liz in the company of writers and artists on the South Bank. She pretended that she wasn't jealous that I was going to sit in a cinema with a bunch of old men watching a bunch of old men singing loud old men songs but I knew her eye-rolling was fake. And Metallica were amazing.
God, I love Metallica. Big and daft and ridiculous and incredible. Big chunky riffs and disturbing lyrics and men playing fast guitar for other men who go ballistic. Well, they went ballistic in Sofia not in the cinema. They sat quietly and nodded and appreciated. All the things you shouldn't do when listening to Metallica. Muki and I sang, screamed, devil-horned and laughed. We didn't move from our seats, mind, but we joined in a bit. Then at the end, something beautiful happened.
Two things really. Metallica were joined on stage by the other three bands while they all performed a brilliant version of Diamond Head's Am I Evil? and downstairs the crowd were stirring. We looked over the balcony to see about 5 people get up on stage, dancing in front of the screen. Then 10 people. Soon 30 people. All jumping up and down, all screaming, singing and loving it. The geekiness of Metal opening it's doors to it's guests and letting them twat about like they can't elsewhere. It was lovely. Mainly because everyone who got up to "mosh" was about 16 years old. Good to see Heavy Metal is still doing it's job.