Metallica tours Sonisphere in Knebworth, Europe, Far East and Australasia

Australia and New Zealand Metallica World Magnetic tour dates have now been confirmed!

Metallica will headline a series of European concert festivals throughout June and July of 2009 entitled Sonisphere. The venture is being organised by Stuart Galbraith (previous worked on events like the UK’s Download and Monsters Of Rock festivals) backed by investment of more than $100 million from AEG (company that operates the London O2 centre) writes The Times.

The 2009 Sonisphere festival tour will play in Holland, Germany, Spain, Sweden and Finland, before culminating in a two-day event at Knebworth on the weekend of August 1-2, with a capacity of 60,000 each day. Tickets go on sale on Wednesday 11th February, priced at £125 for the weekend.

Metallica in Far East and Australasia in 2010

Metallica, the American heavy metal band, which has sold more than 100 million records worldwide, will headline Sonisphere at six European venues in 2009, with the tour set to be expanded into the Far East and Australasia next year.

Metallica’s involvement is part of a multi-million-pound deal that will see them play at the festival for at least three years. The group has been brought on board by their agent, John Jackson, the creator of Sonisphere.

Lars Ulrich, the drummer of Metallica, said: “Knebworth is the paramount concert experience. To be part of Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, Robbie Williams, Oasis, that’s an incredible shortlist to be on. It’s still a little unreal.”

That such a major event is being launched during a recession is testament to the strength of live music. The concert business had its biggest year in 2008, grossing just under $4 billion worldwide.

Interview with the Metallica Sonisphere promoter

Metal Hammer have an interview with Stuart Galbraith, the veteran festival promoter.

What’s the setup?

Galbraith: ”We have one main arena with a stage at either end, nothing like stages next to each other like what you see at Reading. Our headliner for Saturday is Linkin Park, and our headliner for Sunday is Metallica, and the two backups are Mastodon and Lamb Of God, and they’re just the shape of what’s to come. The full lineup will include include some really special guests, and some really big surprises.”

Any hints?

Galbraith: ”Let’s just say there will be killer special guests. We’re thinking quality, not quantity, and you’ll be able to see all of them. I think that Download for instance can get Slipknot and Prodigy, but then there’s the worry that they’ll be playing at the same time if you want to see both. We won’t have that issue. And we’re just running for two days, as I did with Download in 2002. I’d rather run two days of brilliant quality than stretch to three days. It’s all well and good having 100 bands over a weekend but some of those will be filler, and there will always be conflicts if you’re running five stages. So we’re going to run two outdoor stages, which is what we did in the latter stages of Monsters of Rock, and we’ll be alternating between one stage and another to keep the music continuous.”

That’s a heavy lineup – is Sonisphere a metal festival?

Galbraith: ”It’s a rock festival – I wouldn’t limit it to metal, we’re broader than that but we’re not indie-schmindie. We’re not Arctic Monkeys or Radiohead.”

How will you set this apart from competing festivals like Download and Reading?

Galbraith: ”The reason I think it’s going to work is that from my side of things, I’ve been involved in promoting festivals since 1984. I did Monsters of Rock for 12 years, I started Download in 2002, which went from two to three days, and I watched what happened with Download and I think they made a few fundamental errors. Download would have been better to take a year off last year and been honest with themselves, saying they didn’t get a decent bill together. That’s what we did with Monsters Of Rock where we took a year off saying we couldn’t do it. That experience has given me the confidence to make a new festival this year.”

Galbraith: ”The reason I think it’s going to work is that from my side of things, I’ve been involved in promoting festivals since 1984. I did Monsters of Rock for 12 years, I started Download in 2002, which went from two to three days, and I watched what happened with Download and I think they made a few fundamental errors. Download would have been better to take a year off last year and been honest with themselves, saying they didn’t get a decent bill together. That’s what we did with Monsters Of Rock where we took a year off saying we couldn’t do it. That experience has given me the confidence to make a new festival this year.”

What’s the capacity?

Galbraith: ”60,000, which means we have space for everybody to camp. We’ll have early campsite arrivals at 3pm on Thursday, and checkout at midday on Monday. We’ll have a full-on experience: a cinema, a fair, market, jugglers – everything you’d expect at a full-on festival. We’ll also be running a campsite stage with brand new bands and DJ sets as well. And we don’t have a strict noise curfew like Reading or Download so the party can go until later. The idea is come and camp for a weekend and have a good time.  I’m expecting a lot of people to come along just to come along for the vibe. We will also have Sonisphere festivals happening throughout Europe in the run-up to Knebworth in Holland, Spain, and Finland among others but Knebworth will be the biggest, grand finale of them all. And it’s only 45 minutes from London!”

2009 Metallica / Sonisphere European festival tour

  • Sat 20 June Goffert Park,Nijmegen, Holland (with Slipknot)
  • Sat 4 July Hockenheim, Germany (with Die Toten Hosen)
  • Sat 11 July The Forum, Barcelona Spain (with Slipknot)
  • Sat 18 July Folkets Park,Hultsfred, Sweden (additional bands still to be announced)
  • Sat 25 July Kirjurinluoto,Pori, Finland (with Linkin Park)
  • Sun 2 August Knebworth House,Stevenage,UK (additional bands to be announced)