Metal Music in Notts: Then VS Now

Words: Alex Mace
Thursday 06 February 2020
reading time: min, words

Notts has had an esteemed love affair with metal music for decades, with devil horns being thrown up to the skies and genre-dwelling titans visiting this great county ever since Rock City swung the floodgates open in 1980. So, for those who adorn the spike and patch-covered jackets we thought we’d take a trip down hellfire lane, as well as a look to the fiery future, to see which heavy metal legends have come to owd Nottingham and who, in 2020, are yet to go. We’ve even sorted them into their venue stomping grounds to keep things geographically neat and tidy…


Rock City

Then: Megadeth – Secret Show (Thursday 3 June 1993)
Under the clever guise of Vic and the Rattleheads (affectionately named after the bands mascot Vic Rattlehead), Megadeth surreptitiously mounted the main hall at Rock City in the early nineties – we’re not sure how effective the masquerade was – but those who weren’t in the know must’ve pinched themselves. What followed was a setlist for the ages. Being held in ’93 meant the thrash titans had already released four of their most seminal albums to date – any contemporary fan would be in a fit of envy of those at the show. We had Tornado of Souls, Holy Wars…the Punishment Due, Sweating Bullets, Peace Sells, In My Darkest Hour and Anarchy in the UK? Could Nottingham have been treated any better?

Now: Wheel – Saturday 8 Feb 2020
You’d be a fool to underestimate them on account of their relatively fresh faces. With two EPs and one full-length album to their names, as well as a nomination in the 2019 prog music awards, Wheel have put out some of the most thought-provoking and cinematic examples of progressive metal in recent years; and, in 2020, they grace Rock City’s Beta stage. If you prefer your ventures into the undergrounds of music to be mediated and less of a ruthless battery of the senses then these guys might be the ones to get the wheel turnin’. If you have the time we’d highly recommend seeing their Beta performance to scoop up those bragging rights before they inevitably blow up.

Rescue Rooms

Then: Gojira (Saturday 10 November 2012)
For those familiar with the many modern monarchs of metal, you’ll know that French progressive metallers Gojira are considered royalty. Nowadays they’re off touring, conquering arenas and headlining festivals in front of five-figure crowds, so to have seen them play the intimate enclosure of Nottingham’s Rescue Rooms to a 450-capacity must’ve been an absolute riot. If they could just swing by for a quick brutal performance at Rock City that would be much appreciated, cheers lads.

Now: High On Fire (Wednesday 24 June 2020)
It was only last year that High On Fire quite deservedly picked up their Grammy for best metal performance (Electric Messiah was an absolute blinder) after almost two decades of solid releases that would make any doom metal fan grin in glee; now it’s time for their inaugural appearance in Nottingham. Looking ahead to June when we’ll all be melting away under the summer blaze, High On Fire may not sound like the best way to cool off but their invasion of Rescue Rooms in June will certainly be worth offering up an old shirt to be doused in sweat.


Then: Rolo Tomassi – (September 2008, May 2009 + November 2015)
I think you know you’ve got a damn good venue when you’re reeling acts in to complete their hat trick of shows; Rolo Tomassi is one such band. Crafting a mediated sound across twelve years, bouncing from strength to strength whilst managing to avoid fading into obscurity as well simply staying afloat amidst numerous band line-ups; these things don’t usually go hand in hand. It’s our luck really that they seem to have a little thing for Nottingham; let’s see if we can get to six Bodega shows by 2022 eh?

Now: Employed to Serve (Sunday 8 March 2020)
Unforgiving and unapologetic hardcore. That’s what we want; that’s what Employed to Serve delivers. Hailing from just an hour up north in Sheffield, Justine Jones and co. are one of modern time’s messiahs for that rush of urgency and panic flooding through your headphone drivers and they’re returning to the proving grounds of Nottingham’s Bodega to remind everybody that they shout louder and better than most. Do your brain a favour and go release some pent-up aggression with them this March.

Motorpoint Arena

Then: Ghost (Sunday 17 November 2019)
There are probably about a thousand sub-genres you can slap onto Ghost – we could tussle for centuries about wherever they best fit this, that or whatever hazy sub-genre you could conjure up – bottom line is these guys are heavy and those chugging riffs are still knocking about the walls of Motorpoint Arena since their 2019 conquest of Notts. It’s important to remember that this was supposed to be a gig. Ghost failed on that front because what we got was delightfully reminiscent of a musical complete with comedy sketches, guitar solo battles and onstage antics that would better suit the Benny Hill theme than rampant riffage and satanic symphonies. Come back soon guys, we miss you already.

Now: Ozzy Osbourne with Judas Priest (Sunday 8 November 2020)
The rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle can be personified no better than by the Prince of Darkness himself; Ozzy Osbourne. It’s not a lifestyle we’d recommend but Osbourne has emerged from it as a medical marvel who relentlessly propels his solo career in a variegated manner that only Ozzy could; in other words, the guy’s a bit mad. After a spat of illness that put No More Tours 2 on the backburner, Ozzy has once again inexplicably defied all knowledge of human biology and arisen to a state of well-being that can put him back on the road. Metalhead or not, to witness the metal equivalent of Jesus give a satanic sermon in Nottingham’s Motorpoint Arena is not something to turn noses up at; instead get down there this November and get exercising those neck muscles.

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