Metallica have been festival mainstays since their appearance in the original incarnations of Monsters of Rock festival in the 1980’s- a celebration of all things hairy and leather-clad that takes place on the same Derbyshire site as the annual Download Festival. For over a decade now, the San Franciscan quartet have bounced from one UK festival headline slot to another, and does a year pass without them headlining a festival in British shores.

The metal titans remain safe in the knowledge that if they Download or Sonisphere’s booking honchos don’t come beckoning, there are plenty of other festivals just as keen to have them. To Metallica, their inaugural Glastonbury appearance will be just another huge event they can tick off their to-do list. Granted, metal has often been criminally under-represented throughout Glastonbury’s history, but the genre already boasts several continually well attended bastions of its own.

Metallica will headline Glastonbury's Pyramid Stage

Despite a continued following that ranks among the largest in heavy music, Metallica are also hugely unrepresentative of the current state of heavy metal and despite the release of new records, they are now fervently considered a heritage act. Most pertinently, there are a wealth of bands more deserving of the Glastonbury headliner accolade and who would treat it with greater significance. For Metallica, however, playing to tens and even hundreds of thousands of people is almost a daily occurrence.

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As unimaginative and predictable as a Lars Ulrich drum solo, the headline slot may be justified by their commendable thirty-five year legacy but it is one blighted by a recent slew of awful (St. Anger), mediocre (Death Magnetic) and laughable (Lulu) releases. Here is a selection of bands more deserving of the most prestigious of festival honours:

Fleetwood Mac

Fleetwood MacFleetwood Mac had previously hinted at UK Festival appearances

How many in the Glastonbury crowd will be able to sing along much of Metallica’s set-list bar ‘Enter Sandman’, ‘Nothing Else Matters’ and, at a stretch, ‘Master Of Puppets’? Very few, I would imagine. Both Tusk, Rumours and Tango In The Night are regarded to be legendary records in both a critical and commercial sense, responsible for producing singles that have cemented themselves upon the popular consciousness as true pop masterpieces after ubiquitous rotation since their release. Anyone between the ages of 16-60 can repeat the chorus of ‘Don’t Stop’ or hum the vocal melody to ‘Songbird’. As such, Fleetwood Mac would bring together both young and old in both musical unity and universal appeal with irrevocably more candour than a two hour Metallica shout-along. Recent shows at London’s O2 Arena prove just how much esteem Fleetwood Mac are held in by the British public.

David Bowie

 David Bowie
Bowie has never played the prestigious summer event

The Thin White Duke is long overdue a major festival appearance and despite the recent release of a superb comeback album in 2013’s The Next Day, he is yet to take to the big stage to perform any of its tracks. One of the most artful and beguiling performers in the business, a Bowie headline slot would prove to be one of Glastonbury’s greatest bookings; inevitably being met with huge public admiration and phenomenal demand, due in part to the rarity with which Bowie now tours. In fact, the musical legend could single-handedly account for the sale of every single ticket were he to be announced as headliner, leaving the rest of the line-up to keep the crowd amused before his performance. His appearance would ensure a crowd of particularly astounding expanse. On the other hand, there is a very real threat that Metallica will be playing to a half empty field given their announcement long after the tickets had sold out and Glastonbury’s typical indifference towards metal.

The Libertines

Carl Barat 
Carl and Pete are once again on the comeback trail after their last jaunt in 2010

Despite now orchestrating their third reunion since the band imploded less than a decade ago, the fact they are headlining their own edition of the British Summer Time Festival series suggests that despite the very public drug issues and dodgy career moves from the band’s dual figureheads in Peter Doherty and Carl Barrat, The Libertines still command a loyal and extensive following. What’s more, their fan base who grew up with the band are now well into their twenties, witnessing their initial exposure in NME and the then revolutionary utilization of relatively archaic social media.

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The good ship Albion, although now devoid of much of its once youthful and drunken charm, are a prime candidate for night-time nostalgia act, best enjoyed whilst edging into the unknown waters beyond ‘tipsy’ and into full on drunken furore. Sure, their immediate cultural relevance may have abandoned them sometime in 2005, but the ramshackle quartet would provide a more spontaneous and unpredictable spectacle than the well-oiled Metallica light show and flamethrower rigmarole. Also, Pete could really do with the money.

Black Sabbath

Black Sabbath 
Black Sabbath attending the 56th Grammy Awards

The originators of heavy metal, they laid the blueprint and without Tonni Iommi’s doom-laden proto-sludge riffs and Ozzy’s demonic howls, Metallica and every other metal band would be plying a sound far removed from metal as it exists today. Certainly, it would usher in a rather gloomy headline slot, but their association with the occult would be a fitting tie-in with Glastonbury’s traditionally emphasized spiritual element. A little flirtation with darkness never hurt anyone, right? The Midland rockers also possess a serious set of tunes, from the instantly recognisable crossover hit ‘Paranoid’ to the crushing riffs of ‘Iron Man’, Black Sabbath would instigate mass headbanging whilst avoiding the irksome pitfalls that Metallica are sure to exploit: extended guitar solos, several encores and Lars Ulrich. Furthermore, the band have recently released their 19th studio album, 13, which although far from their best work, was still a hugely enjoyable collection of pure classic rock riffage. Despite their advancing years, Sabbath are still immovable rock heavyweights. 


Thom Yorke and co last appeared at Glastonbury in a surprise performance in 2010

Radiohead lay claim to one of the most fantastic headline slots in Glastonbury’s history. Taking to the pyramid stage in 1997, shortly after the release of their esteemed album Ok Computer, Radiohead produced what many regarded to be as one of the greatest concerts of all time. They returned in 2003 to perform tracks from Kid A and Amnesiac which ushered in a new era of postmodern experimentalism between rock and electronica. A surprise slot in 2010 wetted appetites for a return of the experimentalist group to the very stage that helped Radiohead ascend to the highly revered group they are today. With a new album in the works, a return to the Pyramid Stage is somewhat of an inevitability. With their mix of supremely danceable electronica, euphoric rock anthems and Thom Yorke’s spasmodic dancing, Radiohead posit a triple threat and are an emphatically more enticing prospect than Metallica’s continuous assault of blaring riffs and squealing solos.   

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