Glastonbury 2014: We can't police bands' politics, says Emily Eavis in Metallica row

Ms Eavis said the metal band 'have been trying to play for so long'

Its embrace of hippie ethics and counter-cultural causes made Glastonbury unique among festivals. But organiser Emily Eavis has defended the decision to book Metallica by saying the political views espoused by the event’s headline acts are irrelevant.

Ms Eavis rejected an online campaign to remove the thrash metal act from their Saturday night slot in protest at frontman James Hetfield's involvement with a pro-bear hunting documentary.

“Every year we have people campaigning,” she told NME.

“Last year we had (controversial rapper) Tyler, The Creator; we had Beyoncé anti-fur; we had Jay-Z and guns; we have this. We can’t get involved in other people’s politics. If we did that we’d rule out most bands in the world.”

Glastonbury veterans among the 135,000 fans who began to set up camp on the Somerset farm after the gates were flung open on Wednesday morning, may regret the diminution of the festival’s political ideals. Glastonbury gave CND a platform in the 80s and donated funds to striking miners before forming a long-standing partnership with Greenpeace.

This year Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson vowed never to bring his band to the festival, now a staple of the BBC’s Summer schedules, after dismissing it as “the most bourgeois thing on the planet.”


Glastonbury’s establishment credentials were confirmed when Ms Eavis’s name appeared on a list of guests expected to attend David Cameron’s “cool Britannia” Downing Street party next Monday. The party will celebrate the best of Britain’s creative talent and is also designed to recruit Tory backers before next year’s Election, according to Whitehall insiders.

Ms Eavis described Metallica as “an incredible live force and we’re totally up for it.” Her father, Michael Eavis, the festival founder, said: “I have to see what Metallica do. Metallica have been trying to play for so long – they ring every year, and they're so polite about it.”

Metallica's Glastonbury Festival set time clashes with Mogwai and MGMT

Kasabian, Arcade Fire and Dolly Parton are among the highlights of this weekend’s event. But organisers believe the radical spirit will survive at the Left Field Tower, renamed in honour of the late Tony Benn, who spoke passionately at the Left Field area reserved for political debate.

Dickinson explained his scepticism at the event’s resolutely mainstream status. “In the days when Glasto was an alternative festival it was quite interesting, but anywhere Gwyneth Paltrow goes and you can live in an air-conditioned yurt is not for me,” the singer said.