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Public Craving for Real Music Makes Heavy Metal Hip Again

from the Guardian UK 

For those about to rock … heavy metal set to be the soundtrack of summer

Iron Maiden, Def Leppard and Kiss among 1980s acts leading genre’s resurgence 

Owen Gibson, media correspondent
The Guardian

Gene Simmons of Kiss

Gene Simmons of Kiss. Photograph: Fred Greaves/Reuters

Turn the volume to 11 and set the pyrotechnics to stun. For those ageing fans about to rock, perhaps less energetically than before, the concert promoters and marketing men salute you.

This summer will see a slew of 1980s heavy metal acts releasing new material and playing live to hundreds of thousands of ageing rockers keen to swap their suit jackets for faded denim.

In 2007 it was the AOR reformations of the Police, Genesis and the Eagles that sold out arenas around the world and kept the cash registers ringing among loyal older record buyers who still purchase CDs and have the money for expensive concert tickets and merchandise. But this summer it will be a string of Lemmy Kilmistersuperannuated rockers – including Kiss, Def Leppard, Whitesnake, Meat Loaf, Metallica, Iron Maiden and Judas Priest – who are being relied upon to catch the next wave of nostalgia. Enthusiasts believe a range of factors have led to the long-derided heavy metal genre undergoing a renaissance.

The popularity of the video game Guitar Hero, which requires players to strum along to classic tracks with a plastic axe, has brought classic heavy metal to a new audience.

Meanwhile, vintage heavy metal T-shirts have been a favourite with fashionistas in recent years, and younger artists such as Jimmy Eat World and My Chemical Romance have cited older bands as influences.

“Guitar Hero has had a big impact in bringing these songs to a new generation. iTunes has also had a big effect. However old you are, you want to hear the best music,” said Paul Brannigan, editor of rock magazine Kerrang!

The Download festival, which began predominantly as a home for a wave of so-called nu-metal acts, this year looks more like a retirement home for classic artists.

Kiss, the US group led by Gene Simmons and famed for their iconic makeup, will play their only UK gig of the summer at Donington Park, and Birmingham-born heavy metal pioneers Judas Priest will play their first gig there since Monsters of Rock in 1980.

“It’s suddenly very cool whereas before people wouldn’t dare admit to liking this music,” said Andy Copping, vice-president, music at concert promoter Live Nation. Judas Priest“More and more people want to relive what they were doing 25 years ago and it’s really taking off for these 1980s acts. For the most part these bands are just unbelievably good live – they put on big, big shows.”

Other older acts to appear at Download include Motorhead, Saxon and Testament. Elsewhere, Iron Maiden – one of the most popular heavy metal acts during the 1980s – have toured almost constantly since frontman Bruce Dickinson rejoined the band in 1999.

He draws a distinction between artists like Iron Maiden and Metallica, who are still attracting new fans, and the likes of Def Leppard and Whitesnake who appeal mainly to their original audiences. Meat Loaf, the singer best known for his Bat Out of Hell trilogy of albums, is also planning to tour this summer.

Many of the acts have reunited not only to play live but also to record new material. Whitesnake recently achieved their best chart placing for 30 years, Judas Priest are planning a concept album with a Nostradamus theme, and the release schedules for this autumn are packed with other rock acts.

click to read full article at Guardian UK ]

Posted on May 23, 2008 by Editor

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