Thursday, 28 July 2011


I feel my real "welcome to your new home" moment will be seeing the Specials play at the Ricoh Arena in October, but in the meantime, I was diverted by Home of Metal, a summer-long project with tentacles all over the Black Country radiating from an enthralling exhibition at the Museum of Birmingham.  
Even if you're not especially Metal, it's exciting to see Rob Halford's rhinestone-studded leather suit and Black Sabbath's massive light-up cross, and the inclusion of big looming chunks of 1960s industrial machinery to give things a bit of context.  
In fact, context is what this exhibition does best, I could have stayed in the mockup of Ozzy Osbourne's mum's front room all day looking at ye olde newspapers (favourite line: "the free-love pads of Edgbaston").  
It's also fascinating to see, via old records and posters, the divergence of the early "scene" into prog, pop, metal and beyond into NWOBHM, thrash, industrial, goth and who knows what's next.  So much of the exhibition relies on keepsake and souvenirs from those who went to the gigs and bought the records that the "fan days" on which anyone can book a table to exhibit their collection is a stroke of genius, and I find myself wishing all museums did this.
For six quid (and I am fully aware that you'd be lucky to pay double that for a comparable exhibition in London), it was a fantastic insight into metal, the Midlands, and the relationship between them.
Things learned: Bolt Thrower were signed to the record label of fantasy wargame company Games Workshop.  There is a Walsall Museum of Leather.
Favourite exhibit: Napalm Death KitKats and sweets made by Japanese fans.

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