Rock in a Hard PlaceBy Orlando Crowcroft
A muggy night in Abu Dhabi, 2011. Under the stadium lights a 30,000-strong sea of Libyans, Palestinians, Syrians and Egyptians wait in anticipation. Alongside them are Saudis, Iranians and Israelis. Defiance and excitement course through the crowd like electricity. Standing together, they are waiting for Metallica's first ever show in the Middle East. Many have faced untold violence, but for tonight, nothing else matters...This is the untold story of that crowd. Of the young men and women and the music they make in the backrooms of shabby houses in al-Zarqa and al-Qatif, Nazareth and Cairo. Of illegal shows in Tehran and Riyadh. Of songs that ousted a dictator in Cairo. Of exiles that have ended in glory, in isolation, and in blood. Journalist and lifelong heavy metal fan, Orlando Crowcroft, spent six years penetrating the rock and metal scene in the Middle East. Rock in a Hard Place is a different voice, one that is at odds with the Middle East of violence, extremism, war and ISIS: a voice recognizable to anyone who has ever turned up a speaker or an amp to drown out the din of the everyday, and a voice that may help unite us when we need it most.