If you want a big rock show, you have to pay for it

Metallica live
(Image credit: Getty Images)

We should all be perfectly used to bad news by now, but there are still some unexpected revelations that shake right-thinking people to the very core. This week it’s a big one: Metallica are charging £120 for tickets to their forthcoming show at Twickenham. FUCKING HELL. Imagine that. 120 whole English pounds, just for the pleasure of seeing one of the biggest bands of all-time playing in a massive stadium, with a colossal stage production and more lights than a Christmas decorations convention. Honestly, the world’s gone mad! Those thieving rock star robber bastards! 

It’s easy to be cynical about the uproar. No one is forcing anyone to shell out 120 quid. Metallica have played in the UK countless times over the last decade alone, and they have regularly headlined at festivals. If you’ve never had the pleasure, tough. They’ll be back at some point anyway, quite possibly headlining a festival again. Meanwhile, their show costs a bloody fortune to pull off. Obviously they’re not spending enough on superglue for Lars’ drum stool, but that aside, Metallica shows are generally spectacular and almost certainly worth, I don’t know, eighty quid? Maybe ninety. After all, that’s what arena shows cost these days. If you can’t afford it, there are lots of other bands and lots of other gigs and loads of alternative things you could spend your money on. I recommend crisps. 

Here’s the rub, folks: thanks to the fact that the world helped itself to free music while the music industry went down the toilet, most bands have to tour to survive – albums are made to promote the shows, as opposed to vice versa, as it was in the past. You can pat yourself on the back for buying vinyl as much as you want; the reality is that we didn’t take to the streets in support of struggling artists when we probably should have done, and the results are playing out before us now. If you mainly listen to music through a streaming service, you’re in no position to whine when gigs cost too much. 

Add in the fact that Metallica are the single biggest band in metal (not to mention one of the biggest in any genre) and it’s hard to argue that £120 is wildly disproportionate for the Twickenham show. Ghost are the support band, for Satan’s sake. Oh, and Bokassa are opening (no, me neither, but they’re from Norway so are probably great). That’s quite a lot of entertainment bang for your soon-to-be-worthless British buck. And while it’s easy to lazily stereotype rich rock stars as money-grabbing scumbags, it’s debatable whether those moaning about the ticket prices would be happy to lose the bells, whistles and retina-frying explosions that make arena shows so exciting. That’s part of what you’re paying for. Arena shows are, to use a hideous contemporary phrase, premium products. 

It’s not surprising, given that the world is fucked and run by madmen, that ticket prices have been rising rapidly and are increasingly beyond the budgets of most regular earners. Me included. I can appreciate that, as a music journalist, I get free tickets for a lot of shows. It’s a brilliant perk. But I’m still skint in real life and entirely unable to go to a lot of the gigs I’d like to attend, particularly at arenas and stadiums. Boo hoo. Poor me. I’ll cope, I promise.

“But what about Iron Maiden?” I hear you cry. Well, yes, they don’t charge anywhere near as much for their tickets and, as an added bonus, they can play their old songs at the right speed. But to a huge number of people in this country and just about everywhere else, any arena show is too expensive. 

If you’re lucky enough to have expendable income, it seems ever so slightly petty to kick off because you have to pay 40 quid over what you deem to be the odds for what is, undeniably, a luxury purchase. Unfortunately, that’s what it costs. Life’s a shitter, isn’t it?

Dom Lawson

Dom Lawson has been writing for Metal Hammer and Prog for over 14 years and is extremely fond of heavy metal, progressive rock, coffee and snooker. He also contributes to The Guardian, Classic Rock, Bravewords and Blabbermouth and has previously written for Kerrang! magazine in the mid-2000s.