Glastonbury begins in earnest today, with the usual flurry of ubiquitous rain and the rows over BBC staffing.
However there has been fresh controversy this year, this time over the choice heavy-metal legends Metallica as headliners.
Since the festival began being televised in the 1990s its popularity had grown exponentially, along with the public’s expectations for the headliners.
Each year there is a huge clamour from the publicfor the most sensational headliners possible, with nothing less than a supergroup comprising the resurrections of John Lennon, Elvis and James Marvin Gaye seemingly good enough to play the iconic festival.
However the outrage which has greeted the announcement of the San Francisco four-piece as headliners has been beyond the pale.
Much of the rancour has surrounded frontman James Hetfield’s proclivity for hunting, with campaigners concerned that such activities run counter to the Peace and Love spirit of the festival.
At time of press 25,379 people had lent their signature to a petition calling for the band to be banned on the grounds that he has a “vile obsession with hunting”.
Whatever one’s views on the morality of hunting the campaign does lack credibility. Are we to ban artists from Glastonbury for any sort of objectionable behaviour and simply have Coldplay perform every year? There was certainly no outcry whatsoever when a host of headliners with nefarious pasts and in some case unabashed criminality were booked to perform.
However much of the dissatisfaction seems to stem from the fact that Metallica, with their non-ironic tattoos and unabashedly rock n’ roll image, are quite simply not Glastonbury fodder.
The fatal flaw in this argument is that of course we have been here before. The same argument was made against Jay-Z when he was selected as headliner in 2008.
Thousands of people bemoaned the choice, saying that Glastonbury and hiphop were not natural bed fellows. Oasis songwriter Noel Gallagher led the charge with his memorable quote of “Jay-Z at Glastonbury? No chance!”.
What followed was one of the most memorable headline performances of recent times. The whole country fell in love with the rapper and his record sales went through the roof.
Among those in the crowd that night was my wife and I, both big fans and swept up in the fervour.
On Saturday I will be watching from the comfort of my armchair but I have little doubt that Metallica will follow Jay-Z’s lead and do for metal what Jay-Z did for rap.
What makes Glastonbury better than all other festivals is its variety. And this weekend Worthy Farm will very much swing to the darkside.