EAMONN BACK IN BLACK TO DIG PRECIOUS METAL
When: Today, 8pm
Where: Hull Truck Theatre, Ferensway, Hull
Tickets: £8-£10 To book: 01482 323638
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What's in a name? Accounts differ as to the origins of the term "heavy metal". One claim is that it was taken from a line in the song Born To Be Wild, by the 1960s rock band Steppenwolf, which mentions "heavy metal thunder".
Popularity: The late 1960s and early 1970s saw the rise of bands such as Black Sabbath. The Birmingham quartet mixed heavily amplified rock with allusions to horror films – becoming pioneers of the genre.
Eamonn Fleming is a proud, middle-aged heavy metal fan – as his new one-man show reveals. Here, he tells more to Will Ramsey
H eavy metal, says Eamonn Fleming, should not be anyone's dirty little secret.
This most bombastic of genres – the wild hair, wilder screams and guitar solos that could strip the enamel from your teeth – should instead be embraced.
Eamonn knows this well. After deserting heavy metal during his late teens to become a Goth, he reconverted five years ago.
And the actor's now a proud, middle-aged fan of the genre that gave the world more bat and blood-soaked imagery than a Dracula film.
"I go to metal gigs now and I am down at the front with the 15-year-olds," said Eamonn. "They think someone's dad has got in by mistake."
The Meaning Of Riff, Eamonn's new one-man show, uses this love as a starting point.
Mixing anecdotes from his youth and musical excerpts played on a Flying V electric guitar – "I'm no Bill Bailey," he admits – the comedy explores what it means to have that 12in record, or a downloaded album, as a focal point in your life.
"At one of the early previews, one reviewer said he hated heavy metal but had loved the show," he said.
"It is really a celebration of being a music fan – there's indie, blues and classical in there – how much it means to you as a kid, and trying to recapture that.
"When I was a kid you picked your team – your genre – as it was about belonging to something.
"You lose that when you become an adult as things become more complicated.
"For me, the journey was losing that and then coming back to it."
Eamonn's introduction to metal came in 1980, the day after Bon Scott, the AC/DC lead singer, died from alcohol poisoning.
"A friend walked into school looking really distraught, but I'd never even heard of Bon Scott," says Eamonn.
"He lent me a tape and that was that. I thought, 'Oh, I've missed the boat there' – it was so energetic, so adrenaline- fuelled, it made you want to jump up and down and let yourself go."
Living near Manchester, Eamonn was soon a regular at the city's Apollo. There, he saw "every band that mattered", from Motörhead to Whitesnake, before eventually forsaking his metal gods.
"I remembered it as being this really big part of my youth," said Eamonn.
"But when I looked into it, I realised it had only been about four years, until I decided to become a Goth instead."
All remained quiet on the metal front until five years ago, when he was rehearsing a play in York.
Having spotted that a number of members of Black Sabbath were about to tour again – under the name Heaven and Hell – he went to Sheffield to watch them.
"I'd had a ticket to see the original line-up of Sabbath back in the 1980s but we'd got snowed in, so I never made it," he said.
"So I decided to go along – and rediscovered it.
"As a man of a certain age, it is music that you listen to in the car – like a dirty secret – but it is such a popular form of music. It is not going to change the world but metal is a release, like supporting a football team.
"Music helps you to explore yourself and connect with other people – it is a positive thing. I truly believe heavy metal – and music in general – is a force for good in the world."